Griffon Hovercraft Limited of Southampton England has licensed Kvichak Marine Industries Inc of Seattle to manufacture its range of diesel-engine powered amphibious hovercraft.
Through its licensing agreement with Kvichak Marine and its exclusive sales agent in the U.S., Griffon Hovercraft-USA, Griffon Hovercraft Limited (“GHL”) is able to improve access to the U.S. market for domestic build requirement projects, and Kvichak Marine in turn gains access to the largest range of hovercraft available in the world to manufacture - possibly in the world’s largest market.
Griffon Hovercraft-USA (“GH-USA”) operates from its offices in Stamford Connecticut and is the sole representative for the sales and marketing of Griffon Hovercraft manufactured in the U.S.
The first order for a Kvichak-built Griffon hovercraft has already been confirmed and building has commenced. Crowley Marine Services Inc., a well known and respected vessel operator for the oil industry and a subsidiary of Crowley Maritime Corporation, has placed an order for a 20 seat Griffon 2000TD to be operated on the North Slope of Alaska for British Petroleum (“BP”). This craft will operate in one of the most inhospitable climates and under some of the most testing conditions in the world. The hovercraft will be used as a logistics vessel carrying personnel, goods and equipment to a man-made offshore production island in Prudoe Bay. The journey from the mainland base to the island is roughly six nautical miles and the sea is frozen for approximately 8 months during the year. Whereas an “ice road” is sometimes constructed during the worst freeze-overs, the ice is frequently of indeterminate thickness, creating dangerous conditions for travelling personnel. Uniquely, the 2000TD will operate year-round, during the all-water summer months, the ice formation period, the thick-ice winter and the ice break-up in the spring.
Crowley Marine and BP undertook an extensive evaluation of hovercraft, including a hovercraft demonstration project on site in Alaska. Their team visited many hovercraft operations
worldwide including the most northerly of the three Swedish Coast Guard’s Griffon 2000TD operations (which has operated in similar arctic conditions for some 10 years). Griffon hovercraft are in operation in some 35 countries throughout the world.