The latest rescue vessel commissioned by the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KoninklijkeNederlandse Redding Maatschappij, KNRM) has passed an important trial at Damen Shipyards Group in Gorinchem before being entrusted to its crew. The capsize trials had to show that this youngest generation of rescue vessel is actually capable of righting itself. In four different tests, the rescue vessel righted itself to its normal position within a few seconds of capsizing – a life-saving feature in extreme conditions.
The KNRM’s rescue vessels, which have to be deployable in all weather conditions, are being designed to the most rigorous standards. Seakeepingand stability is the most crucial factors in safety. For the crew, however, comfort and user-friendliness are also key features.
This NH1816 19-meter-long rescue vessel combines all of the technical, ergonomic and operational features the KNRM wanted in a remarkable new design.
Capsizing, then sailing on
The rescue vessel’s self-righting capability was created by the vessel’s low point of gravity and the air bubble in the wheelhouse, which enable the capsized ship to right itself quickly like a self-righting bath toy. The engines and equipment on board are designed to continue operating even after the vessel has capsized.
In its nearly 200-year history, the KNRM has lost 69 rescuers to drowning. Most of those drownings occurred when rescue rowboats capsized in the first 100 years. The advent of motorized, self-righting rescue vessels not only increased safety, but deplorability as well. Nowadays, rescue missions under weather conditions that would have forced rowboats to abandon their mission can simply continue. This means that risks have increased as well.
Since 1990, at least twelve rescue vessels have capsized. Two of them, from Terschelling and Ameland, were examples of the largest category of rescue vessels and were able to handle extremely poor weather conditions. Thanks to their unique features, the rescue vessels were able to continue sailing and bring their crews of volunteers safely back to shore.
The KNRM expressed its need for a completely new type of rescue vessel in 2008. Thanks to a donation to the KNRM from Dutch insurance company ‘Noordhollandsche 1816’ (NH1816), the design phase could begin in collaboration with Damen, the Maritime Technology faculty at Delft University and De Vries Lentsch Naval Architects.
After completion the KNRM will deploy the SAR NH1816 from IJmuiden, with a permanent captain and an on-call crew. Sailors along the entire coast will carry out trials and familiarize themselves with the vessel. The rescue vessel is intended to be the future replacement for the current Arie Visser-class vessels. These ten 19-metre-long rescue vessels began being built in 1999 and they continue to deliver outstanding performance. Over the next 20 years, in order to keep the KNRM in line with the latest global developments in rescue work, these vessels will gradually make way for the new generation of rescue vessel.