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August 16, 2010

U.K. MOD trials PACSCAT landing craft

The U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD) has accepted an innovative fast landing craft prototype as a technology demonstrator.

QinetiQ's PACSCAT (Partial Air Cushion Supported CATamaran) Innovative Solution Demonstrator Craft (ISDC) was accepted as a trials vessel following the successful completion of initial maneuvering and propulsion trials. Between now and year's end, it will undergo a series of tough practical evaluation trials at the Royal Marines facilities at Instow, Devon.

QinetiQ was awarded the contract to manage the design and build of the PACSCAT landing craft ISDC in September 2007. In a series of contractor evaluation trials held with Griffon Hoverwork Ltd at its base in Hythe, Southampton, the PACSCAT completed in excess of 100 hours at sea that included operations at unloaded speeds exceeding 30 knots in Sea State 2.

The handover of the vessel to the MOD was described as "the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication to develop a new type of fast and functional landing craft," by Chris Ross, chief naval architect at QinetiQ.

"The PACSCAT ISDC is generating interest in the military and commercial sectors where customers are looking to incorporate the innovative partial air cushion concepts into their own future vessels to enable them to benefit from higher speeds, heavier payloads and maneuverability," said Mr. Ross,

The MOD trials - which QinetiQ will oversee - are designed to further understand the vessel's capabilities with vehicles embarked. The trials will test PACSCAT's ability to perform a variety of roles focused on the potential advantages of low and variable draft (for example, situations where high speed and high payload capacities are required in conjunction with exceptional beaching qualities.) On completion of trials and as part of the Fast Landing Craft Concept Phase, the MOD will conduct a cost and performance-based appraisal of this solution with other options determined in the MOD Fast Landing Craft Design Solutions Study.

The high speed, all aluminum PACSCAT ISDC vessel is 30 m long, 7.7 m in the beam, has a design vehicle payload of 55 tonnes and an approximate loaded weight of 175 tonnes. It is propelled by twin MJP water jets driven by MTU diesel engines.

The fast landing craft design requirement is to off-load front line vehicles from Royal Navy amphibious ships to the beach. The Innovative Solution Demonstrator Craft is designed to test at full scale the hydrodynamics of the PACSCAT hullform and to investigate its feasibility to deliver significantly faster speeds than traditional landing craft. The vessel makes use of the PACSCAT concept originated by John Lewthwaite of Independent Maritime Assessment Associates Ltd.

QinetiQ was contracted by the MOD's Research Acquisition Organization to manage the procurement of the demonstrator vessel, act as the design authority and manage the all-important safety process and trials program. QinetiQ then invited competitive bids from companies in the shipbuilding sector to bring a broad mix of experience to the project. Griffon Hoverwork Ltd. led the construction team and undertook the fit-out, setting to work and commissioning of the craft. Griffon Hoverwork partnered with Aluminium Shipbuilders Ltd. for the hull construction; BMT Nigel Gee Ltd. for detailed design; and BMT Marine Projects Ltd. for project management support.


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