Safehaven Marine was by its Managing Director Frank Kowalski, It he who is responsible for the design and naval architecture of all his companies vessels over the past 17 years, which include the now renowned Interceptor 'Pilot' design of monohulls, which are produced in a range of 6 different sizes from 11m up to 18m, as well as the Wildcat Catamaran range and the new military ‘stealth’ vessel Barracuda.
Frank Kowalski is somewhat unique in his marine background, having being involved in the marine sector for over 25years, his early years involved skippering his own small commercial vessels offshore and indeed it was this that ultimately led him on the path of boat designer and builder. After being caught out many times in poor weather at the helm of vessels possessing poor sea keeping abilities this led to an interest and ultimately an intimate understanding of what constituted 'good seakeeping abilities' eventually resolving that it was something that was best expressed above all else as, 'a boats ability to inspire confidence and instil a feeling of safety in her crew'. It was his desire to build vessels encompassing this ethos that led him on a journey that through the study of naval architecture combined with practical experience gained through operating small vessels in heavy weather, that allowed him to design Safehaven Marines successful range of vessels.
STAFF & EXPERIENCE
Safehaven Marine employ 30 staff encompassing the full range of boat building skills. We have our own full time engineers, electricians, carpenters, shipwrights, metal fabricators and welders. All our work is carried out in house and we do not use outside contractors. This means we have full control of production capability and quality. Our FRP laminators have up to 15 yrs experience in laminating and laying up hulls and the majority of staff are long serving, loyal and highly experienced. We have a small but motivated and talented team with the experience necessary for any project.
Safehaven Marine operates from two modern factories, an R&D unit of 9,000sqft and main 10,000sqft factory being in Youghal Cork. Our premises are approved by the certifying authorities Lloyds and Bureau Veritas.
Below, factory in Youghal showing the multiple large tooling moulds to manufacture the range of vessels
Established in 1998 SAFEHAVEN MARINE are builders of Professional FRP Pilot vessels, Patrol boats, Workboats and Naval / Military Interceptors in sizes from 11m up to 18m. Safehaven have built and supplied over 160 vessels to 28 countries worldwide since being established in 1998 and an unprecedented 60+ pilot vessels supplied to ports in the last 7 years.Safehaven are considered leaders in their field, and are held in high regard throughout the industry for building vessels with great strength and engineering depth. Safehaven’s vessels also have an enviable and unmatched reputation for exceptional seakeeping abilities and are chosen by Ports exposed to big ocean waves and tidal races, and where the pilot boat must operate in all weather conditions (up to force 8-9) and in over 8m wave heights.
As well as pilot boats Safehaven have a very extensive range of Patrol boats for civilian and naval roles, Search & Rescue craft as well as hydrographic research catamarans, Safehaven specialize in custom builds of a highly specific nature. Safehaven Marine have experience in the Military Naval sector having supplied 4 catamarans to the Polish Navy and Patrol boats to Asia and manufacture the unique ‘high speed low RCS Interceptor Barracuda and XSV17 / XSV20.
After building many different types of commercial workboats including passenger vessels, fishing boats, dive and charter boats as well as recreational versions of their range, Safehaven Marine moved into the specialised pilot and patrol boat market in 2004 when their local commercial harbour, the Port of Cork, put out an international tender for their new pilot boat. The Ports Harbour Master, knowing Safehaven, and being familiar with their design of vessels, especially their Interceptor 42, suggested that they design a pilot boat based on this proven hull and enter the tender. Safehaven rose to the challenge and designed what has now, many years later has become regarded as one of the most successful pilot boats available worldwide. The Interceptor 42 Pilot is based on their medium to deep 'V' , semi displacement twin chine hull, a design which combined excellent head sea abilities, but also confidence inspiring stability and safety when running down wind in big, steep waves and ultimately fulfilling Franks ambition. Interestingly it is at the entrance to Cork harbour where Safehaven's hull designs were refined during seatrials most often with Frank at the helm to fully test sea keeping abilities. Being exposed to the Atlantic, and having a strong tidal race at its entrance, Cork Harbour has a reputation for producing an evil sea during storms in the winter months. Anyone who is familiar with the company and its excellent web site, will be aware of the pictures and videos that Safehaven have taken over the years during the course of testing their designs. Featuring some truly amazing footage of their pilot boats being tested in up to storm force 11 with 86kts of wind, and up to10m breaking seas, it makes for some spectacular viewing.
In 2005 the Cork pilot vessel was delivered and proved to be a fine pilot boat. The success of this vessel led to Safehaven securing orders for two pilot vessels for Dublin, two for Portland, for St Malo, Malta, Figueria, Averio, Bayonne, and Roenne in Denmark, Hans Kummner the Harbour master from Roenne Port commenting "Ursula, our Interceptor 42 pilot was chosen because of its strength and sea keeping abilities, she was build on time and to our complete satisfaction, and we have been extremely pleased with the vessels outstanding performance. "We wish to add that that it was a pleasure to work with Frank and his staff, and were most impressed by their professionalism and hospitality".
In 2007 Safehaven expanded their range with a new 16.5m version of their Interceptor pilot boat hull, necessitating further expansion with a new state of the art factory being built. In 2008 the Port of Sines, Portugal took delivery of the first 16.5m pilot vessel, and have been delighted with the vessel, "Our crew have been able to operate and undertake boarding in very rough conditions and they have been surprised by speed and excellent seakeeping. Now after two years and 3000 hours of operation without major problems Atalantida Azul has proved to be a very reliable, safe and comfortable pilot boat in rough weather"
This vessel was soon followed by an order for two Interceptor 55 patrol boats for the Port of Southampton in the UK. The vessels 'Spitfire & 'Pathfinder' have proved very successful in operating in the Solent, one of the UK's most busy waterways. In 2022, 11 years later the Port of Southampton decided to revamp the two vessels rather than replace them, as the crew were, even after all these years so happy with them.
In 2009 their range was further expanded with a new 14.5m design to bridge the gap between their 13 and 16.5m designs. This proved to be another very successful design with the first vessel being delivered in 2010 to the Port of Bordeaux. A further vessel 'Skua' was delivered to the Port of Liverpool in 2011 and another to Malta, this being a fine testimony as to the intimate and friendly relationship Safehaven establish with their customers, as three years after the Malta pilots took delivery of their first Safehaven Pilot boat, they chose Safehaven Marine again to build their latest vessel, and in January of 2012, the Port of Liverpool again awarded Safehaven Marine a repeat contract to replace their fleet of pilot boats, ordering another Interceptor 48 pilot for delivery in 2013. "Having had 'Skua' in successful operational evaluation over the past year, we are very happy with our new Interceptor. Its abilities have allowed us to increase the Ports operational envelope, previously when conditions over the 'bar' reached 2m+ we were forced to close the port to shipping as it was not safe to transit pilots, however since operating 'Skua' we have been able to operate pilotage even when seas exceeded 3m+ and winds of 38kts". Yet another example of repeat business derived from a happy customer with the second vessel 'Turnstone being delivered in January 2013. By 2023 35 Pilot 48's had been built.
In 2011 a smaller 11.5m pilot boat design was added to Safehaven's extensive portfolio, this again proved very successful with an order for four being delivered to the Islands of the Azores. Safehaven recently delivered pilot vessels to Algeceras in Spain, Aden in Yemen and to P&O Maritime for operations in Matubo, Mozambique and by 2015 Safehaven had delivered over 30 pilot vessels worldwide. Poignantly Safehaven built another new pilot boat for their local harbour, the Port of Cork. Six years after taking delivery of Safehaven's first pilot boat, they took delivery of Safehaven's 27th pilot boat, from their local company that are now considered world leaders in pilot boat design and production, and in 2023 ordered a third Pilot vessel.
Over the years Safehaven have been able, through experience, to engineer and equip their vessels so that down time through service or equipment failure is reduced to the minimum, with Frank commenting on this "Pilot vessels in particular have to be very well engineered, you always have to think to yourself, how will that component survive when punching through waves or impacting on a ships side, day in, day out for years, with often the minimum of preventative maintenance".
As well as pilot vessels Safehaven Marine produce their Wildcat Catamaran, a high bow buoyancy design capable of operating in rough sea states and produced in sizes from 12m up to 18m, and these have proved very successful over the years, especially in the crew transfer and offshore support sector, with several vessels operating successfully on windfarms in the UK. Safehaven have also a great deal of experience in building specialised hydrographic survey and research vessels, and have supplied survey catamarans especially equipped for multi beam sonar surveys, developing and refining over the years their own unique sonar head deployment system and delivering vessels to the Port of Liverpool, Teesport, La Reunion, Kuwait and four vessels to the Polish Navy.
Not surprisingly Safehaven have been able to capitalise on their reputation for building vessels with fine seakeeping abilities by branching out into the Search & Rescue market, several S.A.R. craft have been supplied based on Safehaven’s pilot / patrol vessels, which are all potentially inherently self righting due to their very low VCG and buoyant superstructure, with only a a few special modifications necessary for them to become self-righting all weather capable lifeboats. In 2013 the Faroe Island Resuce service took delivery of an IPS drive equipped Interceptor 48. The Faroe Islands being situated in the North Atlantic is subjected to some of the stormiest weather on the planet, and after two years of operation, Regin Jespersen, Chief Executive for the voluntary rescue teams in Faroe Island commenting “I can tell You that this boat is the best boat I have be on board and sailed on in all weathers – and it is really an All weather boat.”
Safehaven launched an Interceptor 38 S.A.R. vessel, seen in a spectacular set of photographs of her operating in 10m seas during a storm, and facing huge 10m breaking seas, demonstrating the confidence of her skipper to navigate such challenging conditions. By 2022 Safehaven had delivered 60 pilot vessels in operation in 28 countries, receiving many more repeat orders with ports now having up to four of our pilot boats operating for them. Large global operators such as P&O Maritime now have four of our pilot boats as do Svitzer'
In 2014 after successfully supplying several vessels to Naval institutions Safehaven took the initiative to branch out into the military and law enforcement sector and over a two year R&D programme designed and built Barracuda, a new high speed, low RCS ‘stealth’ enabled Interceptor / Patrol vessel for military and law enforcement applications.
In this environment, Safehaven Marine with its extensive experience and long history in supplying patrol boats designed to operate in the harshest environments, is well suited to provide coastal defense solutions based around its Barracuda range of naval & law enforcement patrol craft, with custom configured, highly reliable, proven coastal defense at an economical price. Safehaven expect that in the market for coastal high speed patrol craft will grow exponentially. Safehaven's intention is to continue to develop and expand the model range and unique capabilities of Barracuda in order to become leaders in this field.
Our history is rooted in a passion for the sea, and a deep understanding of the unique challenges that come with designing and building boats that can withstand the harshest of conditions. Frank's background in commercial fishing inspired him to create a range of boats that could handle anything the ocean could throw at them. His first designs, the Interceptor range, quickly established Safehaven Marine as a force to be reckoned with, and the company has gone from strength to strength ever since.
SETTING WORLD RECORDS
Over the years, Safehaven Marine has achieved numerous accolades, setting world records and pushing the boundaries of what's possible in marine design. In 2017, our wave piercing XSV17 vessel, Thunder Child, broke the record for the fastest circumnavigation of Ireland by an over 50ft diesel-powered boat, reaching speeds of up to 50 knots. This incredible achievement was followed by another world record in 2021, when the Thunder Child completed a 1,000nm voyage from Ireland to Iceland crossing the inhospitable North Atlantic at an average speed of 30kts.
But we're not just about breaking records. Safehaven Marine's boats are designed to be practical, reliable, and safe, without sacrificing speed or performance. Our vessels are used by a variety of industries, including port pilotage and patrol, law enforcement, and search and rescue, as well as private individuals who demand the very best in luxury and comfort.
Our boats have proven their capabilities in some of the world's most challenging environments, from the freezing waters of the Arctic to the blistering heat of the Mediterranean. In 2021, our 23m XSV20 was tested in the Arctic Circle, where it demonstrated remarkable handling and reliability in in the remotest and harshest of locations above the Artic Circle. This incredible achievement has put Safehaven Marine firmly on the map as a leading designer of boats that can handle extreme conditions with ease.
But we're not content to rest on our laurels. Our team are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible, using the latest technology and materials to create boats that are faster, stronger, and more efficient than ever before. Our range of vessels includes everything from high-speed patrol boats to luxurious pleasure craft, all designed with the same attention to detail and commitment to excellence that has become synonymous with the Safehaven Marine brand.
At Safehaven Marine, we believe that every boat should be as unique as its owner. That's why we offer a fully bespoke service, allowing you to customise every aspect of your vessel to meet your exact specifications. Whether you're looking for a high-performance yacht or a tough workboat, we work with you every step of the way to ensure that your boat is exactly what you desire.
We're proud to be based in Ireland, and we draw inspiration from the stunning coastline and rugged landscapes that surround us. Our boats are built to the highest standards, using the finest materials and craftsmanship, and we're dedicated to ensuring that every vessel that leaves our workshop is a true masterpiece.