It looks like the Coast Guard may be finally looking at replacing the 52 foot Motor lifeboats.
“The U. S. Coast Guard (USCG) is conducting market research in preparation for the replacement of four Special Purpose Craft – Heavy Weather (SPC-HWX). The primary purpose of the SPC-HWX is to conduct Search and Rescue (SAR) missions in extreme weather conditions to include surf and extreme seas and be able to tow larger fishing vessels. Other missions will include Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security (PWCS) and law enforcement. These boats will replace 52-foot SPC-HWX boats that were built in the 1950s and are increasingly difficult to maintain. The SPC-HWX boats will be deployed to four USCG stations in the Pacific Northwest. A preliminary table of requirements that outlines the features desired in a new SPC-HWX is attached…”
We could see this coming. One has already been taken out of service. They are approaching 60 years old, and, while they have warranted affection from those that have served on them, we can certainly do better. We have been discussing possible replacements for over seven years, here, here, here, here, and here
There are two specifications that I saw as unnecessarily limiting, first the dimensions, length, 64′, beam, 22′ max with fendering, draft 7′, and secondly the maximum speed, 25 knots. Are the maximum dimensions based on infrastructure limits, or are we unnecessarily limiting our choices? Limits on length in particular might preclude use of innovations like the Axe Bow. We really should not have to specify a maximum length, unless there are limits on supporting facilities. Competition will inevitably favor smaller craft as long as they can meet the other specifications. Higher speed is desirable and attainable, so why not add 30 knots as an objective speed and provide an incentive in the contract for reaching speeds over 25 knots. On the other hand the RFI include nothing about noise of G-force limits.
This RFI only refers to replacing the four 52 footers, but in many places, a larger, relatively fast motor lifeboat could be a suitable replacement for the 87 foot WPBs, after all you can expect heavy weather from time to time, anywhere the Coast Guard operates. If the Coast Guard does see the advantage of replacing WPBs with these larger MLBs, it is also possible to make this type of vessel ice-capable for operation in Alaska and and other Northern ports.
There should be no problem finding a builder with the appropriate experience. I expect Vigor now owner of the former Kvichak Marine Industries, Seattle, WA will be a bidder.
I do hope someone will look at the RAFNAR hull form.
Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.