A new offshore emergency response craft – the Fort Ripley – is entering service in Charleston, South Carolina, as the first commercial vessel in North America that will be powered by triple Volvo Penta IPS drives.
"Fort Ripley is a truly revolutionary boat,' said Ron Huibers, President, Volvo Penta of the Americas. "The combination of the Hunt-designed hull and our IPS drives with DPS sets a new standard in terms of speed, maneuverability, fuel economy and seaworthiness to meet multiple mission requirements. This vessel represents the future of the next generation of multi-purpose response boats.'
The US Coast Guard-certificated 64-foot aluminum boat, owned by Southeast Ocean Response Services Inc., was commissioned on October 7 in a ceremony in Charleston. It was built by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corporation, and designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates.
The new boat is equipped with three IPS drives, each powered by a commercially rated Volvo Penta D13-700 diesel engine. Each of the independently steerable IPS drives has dual counter-rotating forward-facing propellers to maximize efficiency and increase maneuverability. The IPS can be controlled from the wheelhouse or either of the two aft docking stations using a three-axis joystick. The Dynamic Positioning System (DPS) provides fully automatic hands-off precise station-keeping under GPS control. The triple engine configuration allows the center engine to decouple from the drive and power a 3,500-GPM fire pump while the two outboard drives easily maneuver the vessel or maintain position automatically using DPS.
In addition to its 3,500 GPM dual-monitor foam firefighting system, Fort Ripley features a diver platform, dual-purpose breathing apparatus recharging system, 1,000-pound crane, four-ton deck cargo capacity, VHF and satellite voice communications, day/night cameras with satellite data uplink, and a PYROLANCE steel-penetrating nozzle system. It is U.S. Coast Guard certificated for a 12-person response team.
John Cameron, President, Southeast Ocean Response Services, commented: "We chose the Volvo Penta triple IPS system because it has the power we need to get offshore to the scene of an incident rapidly, while also having the versatility to provide dedicated power to the fire pump as needed. Certainly, the predicted 30 percent improved fuel efficiency, which we actually exceeded in trials, along with the EPA Tier III technology, made this system the obvious choice.'
The boat's primary mission is to allow ships to meet US federal requirements for rapid offshore firefighting, salvage and emergency response, providing coverage between Morehead City, North Carolina and St. Augustine, Florida. It will also serve as a fireboat in Charleston Harbor, a supply boat for ships at anchor and an additional launch for the Charleston Pilots and other marine operators in the region.