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 6,000sqft in Little Island Cork with the 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 110 vessels to 25 countries worldwide since being established in 1998 and an unprecedented 30+ 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.
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. Six Interceptor 55’s have been supplied to date with the design being universally praised for its overall capabilities.
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 has 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
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 one of Safehaven's most recent delivery is a 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.
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.
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.
As the world continues to evolve, the traditional global threats to a countries ocean borders has begun to change significantly. The twin threats of Global Terrorism and Piracy increasingly present significant challenges to nations as well as to global commerce. As the world economy continues to battle with slow economic growth their still exists the need for strong coastal defenses, and the ability to enforce the law in both offshore ocean and coastal waters. At the same time the need for fiscal restraint continues to shrink national defense budgets.
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.
WORLD RECORD HOLDERS
ON July 4th Thunder Child, the radical high speed vessel designed & built by Safehaven Marine set off on her world record attempt circumnavigating Ireland via Rockall.
The vessel left the Old Head of Kinsale at 10 AM on Tuesday morning May 28th with her crew of 5 aboard including skipper & MD of Safehaven Marine, Frank Kowalski at the helm and crew members Mary Power, Ciaran Monks, Carl Randalls & Ian Brownlee.
The route took Thunder Child and her crew in an anti-clockwise direction due to the prevailing conditions eastwards along the South coast, and then up the east coast of Ireland refuelling at Portrush in The North where a large crowed came out to support and cheer them on, before heading out into the North Atlantic at dusk to travel to Rockall, a desolate granite rock 500 KM from the coast of Ireland.
Managing Director of Safehaven Marine & Skipper of Thunder Child, Frank Kowalski said that overall the weather wasn’t great but not too bad, the South and East coast were the toughest legs, off the coast of Belfast they encountered 2m swells in wind over tide forcing them to slow down to 30kts. “Heading out to Rockall it was lumpy during the night which was probably the most dangerous leg of the voyage due to maintaining high speeds in the dark, but once we arrived it was fine” and for the most part were able to maintain a speed of over 40kts during daylight. Arriving at Rockall at dawn, the crew took some time out to launch their small inflatable dingy and row over to leave a small plaque on the rock, and captured some amazing images at sunrise before departing, this lost them time but according to the crew “it was well worth it to be able to touch the rock”
They then departed Rockall and heading towards the west coast of Ireland for their second refuelling point at Ballyglass Pier in Belmullet where again they had a great reception. Mr. Kowalski said “we had for the most part fair conditions for the run down the West coast, although visibility was poor at times in fog”.
Thunder Child then departed from Belmullet for the run home. On the way they stopped at Blackrock Lighthouse in Blacksod Bay where they laid a wreath for the victims of Rescue 116 with their social media post stating ‘We took time out on our record attempt to honor the crew of the Irish Coastguard Rescue 116, at Black Rock light house off Black Sod Bay. We at this time are more than aware of the great work that these brave people give to the public. We are laying this wreath today in memory of those who perished at this lighthouse.’
The South coast leg past Fastnet presented flat calm seas and sunshine allowing her to maintain 46kts on the final leg with Thunder Child roaring past the finish line in Kinsale at 52kts in a total time of 34 hours, 1 minute and 47 seconds to cover 2,067 kilometres (1,100NM), which includes over 4hrs when she was stoped refuelling or documenting video. Throughout the run she performed faultlessly, handling the conditions effortlessly and keeping her crew safe and comfortable.
The crew expressed their thanks to a number of people including the Harbourmaster in Portrush, the RNLI in Ballyglass, the Courtmacsherry lifeboat who meet them at the old Head of Kinsale and the Crosshaven lifeboat who came out as they entered Cobh, the Port of Cork for sending out their tug and the Cork Pilot Boat, The Quays Bar in Cobh, their sponsors and everyone who came out to show their support.