Armstrong Marine delivers catamaran research vessel

Written by Nick Blenkey
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R/V Benthic Cat (Image: Maddie Hunt Photography)

Armstrong Marine USA, Port Angeles, Wash., has delivered a new 42 foot by 16 foot catamaran research vessel, Benthic Cat, to Orca Maritime, Inc., Imperial Beach, Calif., after successful launch and sea trials in Port Angeles Harbor.

Orca Maritime selected the design after Armstrong delivered the same 4216-CTC model to UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (R/V Bob and Betty Beyster) in 2019.

Orca Maritime will utilize the workboat in support of Department of Defense initiatives, environmental agencies, the energy sector, and commercial enterprises.

Vessel operations will include the launch and recovery of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), underwater gliders, surface and underwater sensors, remotely operated vehicles (ROV), and unmanned surface vehicles (USV).

Benthic Cat will also support surface-supplied/SCUBA diving operations and provide onboard data processing.

“R/V Benthic Cat has exceeded all our expectations for speed, fuel economy, range, and maneuverability,” said Kurt Nelson of Orca Maritime. “She fills the near shore multi-mission role perfectly.”

The vessel is well equipped for multi-day operations along the Southern California coast with two interior work stations, a foue-person sleeping cuddy, head with shower, refrigerator/freezer, and 600-gallon fuel capacity.

The catamaran features a full-width cabin with fly bridge, large aft working deck, hydraulic A-frame (5,000 lb SWL), Northern Lights 9 kW diesel generator, and Garmin/NMEA electronics package.

Benthic Cat is powered by twin Volvo D11 510 hp inboards paired with Volvo IPS 650 propulsors and Volvo electric steering. Builder’s sea trials indicated 32 mph cruise and 37 mph top speeds.

The dynamic positioning system integrates GPS navigation data with propulsion controls to automatically maintain heading and position. Joystick controls at the aft docking station and flybridge station ease handling.

Deck equipment includes an A-frame with Pullmaster PL5 hydraulic winch, a Morgan Marine 200.3 crane, Kinematics hydraulic anchor winch and 5” aft deck horizontal capstan, and 28 tie-down points for securing equipment. Rigid LED flood lights illuminate the aft deck.

Inside, three Bentley Patriot seats are provided for captain and crew. Benches with a flip down tabletop provide additional seating and storage. Two Red Dot hydronic heaters and two Dometic AC units keep the cabin comfortable for year-round operations.

Benthic Cat will enter service immediately, beginning with a week-long operation around San Clemente Island.

R/V Benthic Cat (Image: Maddie Hunt Photography)
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