Safehaven cats for the Polish Navy

Fri, 16 May 2014

Ireland’s Safehaven Marine has just launched the first of four newbuild Wildcat 40 hydrographic survey catamarans for the Polish Navy.

It has already been delivered and is undergoing compliance trials at the time of print (May 2014). The Polish navy will use the new vessel to undertake underwater seismic studies in the Baltic Sea.

It’s a landmark for the boatbuilder in more ways than one because it is the first that has been built as a military vessel for the navy.

“It is a landmark in this respect,” Frank Kowalski, managing director, Safehaven Marine told Maritime Journal.

“The military sector is an area we want to expand into. It’s difficult to secure one naval contract, but once you prove yourself this can lead onto bigger and better things.”

The new vessel is also a milestone for a different reason – it is the 100th boat to roll out of the Safehaven shipyard since the company was established 17 years ago.

The other three vessels will be delivered throughout 2014.

A different ball game

Building a vessel for the military sector is a lot more complicated Mr Kowalski told MJ. For a start there is a lot more documentation to be provided.

But Safehaven is an expert in building hydrographic vessels and it has its own designed multi-beam sonar deployment system so is already one step ahead of the game. Mr Kowalski pointed out that this is why it was selected for the tender back in 2013.

He added that Safehaven’s Wildcat lends itself to surveying roles, under normal survey operations the catamaran has much better directional stability than a monohull resulting in less effort and fatigue for the helmsman, which ultimately improves survey data.

The reduced vessel motion in heel and yaw result in accurate data recording as does the ability to site the multi beam surveying sonar equipment almost exactly on the vessels transverse and longditudal centre of gravity.

Design features

The new MH1 is based on Safehaven's MKII version of its renowned and proven 12m 'high bow buoyancy' symmetrical hull catamaran design. But the MKII version features 200mm deeper hulls giving increased bridge deck clearance and load carrying capacity and a new flat bow design providing a larger foredeck and allowing boarding to be carried out at the bow.

Mr Kowalski explained that the benefits of the catamaran in terms of lower power requirements and greater economical operational range are largely down to its unique hull form.

This also gives transverse static stability, which means there is less rolling and motion, directional stability in following sea conditions, lower vertical accelerations and therefore smoother motion in choppy head seas.

The MKII version also has a larger deck area and more cabin space.

Previously the biggest disadvantage of the older type of catamaran hull, which featured very fine sections forward with little reserve buoyancy, suffering badly in ocean swell conditions due to slamming on the bridge deck. This shortcoming has been solved with much fuller forward sections and much greater buoyancy, giving the hull the necessary lift to prevent slamming on the bridge deck, allowing higher speeds to be maintained into larger ocean swells.

Hydro survey

The new vessel is equipped for hydrographic survey duties in the Baltic Sea and is fitted with the latest multi-beam sonar equipment deployed through a moon pool in the bridge, deck using Safehaven's in house developed hydraulic deployment system, which is operated from a dedicated work area with twin operative seats, incorporating 19" display computers with UPS AC backup power.

The multi beams transducer is deployed through a moon pool in the aft deck by a hydraulically operated deployment frame that was specially designed and developed by Safehaven. The underwater section of the sonar head mounting is hydro-dynamically efficient being of aeroform shape to minimise turbulence and pressure loadings on the mountings, the sonar head can lowered down to below keel level and be lifted up to above deck by hydraulic rams, the moon pool can then be closed allowing safe storage of the transducer during high speed transits.

A second dual beam transducer is fitted in the St/bd hull in a removable module allowing transducer interchange afloat, this is fully faired into the hull minimising turbulence.

Other onboard equipment comprises twin capstans and anchoring gear, one on each bow, an overboard launching life raft deployment cradle on the roof fitted with an eight man life raft. Storage racks and cages on the aft deck and cabin roof for hydrographic cable drums and equipment boxes. 


Power comes from Iveco 300hp engines and a Paguro 13kw generator provides AC power onboard, while twin hydraulic bow thrusters enhance manoeuvrability.

The Wildcat is very quiet, with only 70db being recorded in the cabin at 15kts, reducing to just 65db at 7kts survey speed and achieving a 21-23kts at maximum speed.

Due to the low resistance of the slender catamaran hulls, performance is excellent, especially at moderate speeds up to 20kts. Typically, horse power requirements are lower than in a similar sized mono hull. Furthermore the flat running angles of the catamaran hulls, with no hump to overcome means that there is a wide range of economical speeds, incurring no penalty in fuel consumption at transition speeds often dictated by weather conditions.

To achieve a four day autonomy the vessel is fitted with 1560 litres of fuel capacity, a 200 litre fresh water tank and water waste tank with pump out facilities. It also has a HIAB crane on its large aft deck and there are twin dive platforms, a transom mounted 'A; frame operated with access to the water via a large transom gate. A Spencer Carter hydraulic deck winch provides lifting and deployment capabilities for towed sonar equipment.

Internal arrangement

The internal arrangement of the vessel provides live aboard facilities for a crew of four to operate the vessel on extended surveys of up to four days in duration in comfortable, air-conditioned and heated accommodation, which has sleeping areas comprising four berths in three separate cabins all insulated against cold.

Featuring a central helm position and st/bd navigators position both fitted with CAB 500 series suspension seats, a dinette seating area for five people with a table between. A full galley is provided with microwave, 240v hob, fridge and sink. A separate heads compartment with integrated shower facilities, hanging lockers for crew uniforms and multiple storage lockers are incorporated throughout.

Seawork International

Safehaven specialises in offshore pilot, crew transfer, SAR and patrol vessels that are required to operate in all weather conditions. But it also builds windfarm support vessels and passenger multi-purpose workboats.

The Irish boatbuilder will once again be exhibiting at Seawork International where it will looking to reaffirm its dominance in the pilot boat and hydro sectors.

“Seawork consolidates things for us – it’s an opportunity to meet existing and potential new customers face to face and demonstrate our abilities,” Mr Kowalski added.

Safehaven has an extensive range of GRP monohulls and catamarans available in sizes from 11.5m up to 18m. As well as building, Safehaven can take care of the whole build project including design and engineering.

Over the years Safehaven has supplied dedicated hydrographic survey vessels to the ports of Teesport in 2006 (Wildcat 36), Liverpool in 2008 (Wildcat 40), La Reunion Island in 2010 (Wildcat 40) and Stornoway, Scotland in 2011 (Wildcat 53).

Visit Safehaven Marine at Seawork International this year on stand number A307.


Source:Anne-Marie Causer (15/04/2014)

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