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SafehavenMarine, the County Cork-based constructor of specialised workboats, have launched the latest in their series of 16 metre Wildcat 53 catamarans. This vessel is a hydrographic research and survey boat ordered by, and delivered on time to, the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR).This is the fifth example of the highly successful Wildcat 53 range, designed and built by Safehaven at their Youghall facility.

Contracts for the build were signed in December 2013, work commenced in May 2014 and she was launched in early February 2015. The build period was nine months.

AL Boom in Kuwait are the agents through whom Safehaven Marine are working and, together with KISR's technical team, the design and outfitting of Safehaven's Wildcat 53 was refined and finalised to ensure the client received a vessel suited to their exact operational requirements. KISR personnel visited the builder just once and, being very happy with the vessel’s design and progress saw no need to visit further until she was launched and ready for commissioning trials.

KISR was established in 1967 by the Arabian Oil Company to carry out applied research in petroleum, arid-zone agriculture and marine biology. It is now an independent public institution whose main research programmes include Environmental Management; Aquaculture, Fisheries, and Marine Environment; Biotechnology; Petroleum Production and Refining; Petrochemical Processes; Hydrology; Water Management; Desalination and Wastewater. It is also involved in Kuwait's efforts to preserve and protect sea turtles from extinction, which have been followed with interest by international scientific organizations and institutions concerned with marine biological diversity. The vessel will generally be operated by a crew of four on a 12 hour-shift basis, but it has room to carry 12 persons and has the facilities to remain at sea for up to four days.

The basic hull design features high buoyancy bows and a high bridge deck, providing excellent seakeeping and rough weather capabilities as well as operational economy and load carrying capabilities with a 33,000kg fully loaded displacement. The Wildcat 53 is available with two configurations of wheelhouse, one is a conventional single level design, while the KISR vessel has a raised bridge deck, separating crew from passengers and providing a higher vantage point for navigation without being too high and introducing excessive motions for the crew.

Powered by a pair of Caterpillar C18 engines rated at 873hp and driving through Twin Disc 5145SC gearboxes, the vessel has achieved 28 knots on sea trials.

The vessel has been specifically designed and outfitted for hydrographic research and survey roles in the maritime waters off the coast of Kuwait and the Gulf. For ease and efficiency of operation both internally and externally, the vessel features an ‘Island’ wheelhouse configuration. The raised helm /navigation position is fitted with a full array of Raymarine navigation equipment grouped around multiple C127 colour displays for radar, plotter and sounders and also fitted with a Comer class B AIS transceiver.

Externally the superstructure design allows for a high degree of crew safety with safe secure bulwarks all round the deck area. There is a large forward working area and a spacious aft deck which features a wide transom gate fitted with an hydraulic tilting ‘A’ frame, allowing sonar and research equipment to be deployed safely off the transom and easily recovered. Twin dive platforms have been fitted to each side providing waterline access.

In addition, the vessel is fitted with a moon pool positioned in the aft deck, and it is provided with Safehaven’s own proven design of multi-beam sonar transducer deployment system, which allows transducers to be quickly interchanged and lowered hydraulically to below keel line. This means the valuable transducers can be raised up to above deck during transits and when not in use.

The design of this system is the result of several years of in-service development over multiple vessels fitted with the system, during which continuous refinements have produced a reliable and durable system allowing the valuable multi beam transducers to be easily interchanged and angled. The transducer is lowered through the moon pool in the weather deck to below keel level, on a 150mm tube guided on nylon rollers and powered hydraulically from a long stroke hydraulic cylinder where it locates on specially machined tapered locating pints just above the static waterline and 2m above the deck, allowing total accuracy and repeatability of the positioning of the transducer, essential for highly accurate data acquisition.

The working area aft contains twin 1,000kg slip ring hydraulic winches. These allow the deployment of various towed transducers and magnetometers to be towed behind the vessel. The slip ring winches allow for data cable conections between the equipment and survey station. All of these were supplied by Spencer Carter in the UK, along with a 1-ton capstan. A Palfinger PC2700 hydraulic slewing crane has been fitted to facilitate working on deck and cargo transfer. A 40kg Bruce anchor is stowed on the foredeck and raised via a 2000w electric Lofrans windlass.

The vessel’s accommodation features a fully equipped galley in the port hull, with cooker, fridge microwave and sink and four sleeping berths in the starboard hull. A separate toilet and shower compartment is provided in the main cabin with access close from the aft deck. The main cabin comprises a dinette living and mess area and large hydrographic work benches, incorporating computer racking underneath, with a Mc Murdo weather station and computer screens.

The vessel has been designed for very hot climates with temperatures that can measure up to 50 degrees C in the summer months and is therefore fitted with light coloured external surfaces to reflect heat, The cabin roof was insulated with 50mm thick pvc insulation to prevent excessive heat transmission, and the cabin is fitted with 4x 27,000 btu air-conditioning units supplied by Dometic UK. With more than 100,000btu of air-conditioning this may appear to be over-spec’ed but it should easily provide efficient cooling, and a comfortable living area for her crew of four in the often extreme temperatures encountered in this region. A 23kw Westerbeeke AC generator provides power to the air con units as well as delivering AC power throughout the vessel’s accommodation and working areas.

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