Posts Tagged ‘ABC Marine’

Tanks for the memory

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

The first full week of resumed work at the Hayling Island boatyard building Team Britannia‘s round the world powerboat Excalibur produced some pretty impressive progress. First a bulkhead was welded into position, then the two forward fuel tanks, 6,000 litres capacity each, were manhandled into place and secured on beds of high-density rubber.

With the tanks in the bow, another bulkhead was welded behind them, followed by another further back, separating the main cabin area from the six-berth forward sleeping area. The main cabin area will actually be above the remaining four fuel tanks to go in – it will all make rather more sense when the already completed wheelhouse is welded into place on top of the hull.

And even as our ace welders from Latvia and Russia continue to work in confined spaces inside the boat, Team Britannia project leader and skipper Alan Priddy has concluded a deal with Technifast, a company manufacturing special mechanical fixings which will attach Excalibur’s enormous inflatable tubes around the sides of the boat.

At the current rate of progress, we’re hoping the boat will be in the water by late June or early July, at which point sea trials will begin, with one or two smaller world record runs before we base Excalibur in Gibraltar ready to tackle the big trip around the world.

Bear visits boat

Friday, April 28th, 2017

It would be nice to say it was a pleasant surprise, but it had actually been on the cards for some time. Even so, when renowned TV adventurer Bear Grylls paid a visit to Team Britannia‘s round the world record-attempting powerboat, under construction at ABC Marine on Hayling Island, it was still a nice boost for the project, making a story in the Portsmouth News. It was quite a coup, too, for Team Britannia’s PR director’s young son Edward. He managed to land a Cubs’ communication badge when he interviewed the Chief Scout on a wide variety of topics.

Team Britannia skipper Alan Priddy had remained in touch with Bear ever since 2003, when Alan, Jan Falkowski and I made a northern crossing of the Atlantic in the round the world RIB Spirit of Cardiff, just ahead of Bear’s own attempt via a similar route in an open RIB. Our crossing was quite a bit quicker (we set the unofficial record for a fastest transatlantic by RIB), but to be fair, we had a cabin and Bear didn’t, and that does make a big difference. And of course it wasn’t us that went on to make TV survival programmes which included the US President!

Needless to say we were delighted to welcome Bear to the boatyard, where apart from seeing the boat, he got to meet some of the injured veterans who will form part of the crew. He was also extremely interested in all of the project’s environmental angles, which include the fuel-saving hull design, the pollution-busting Clean Fuel, and our plan to monitor suspended plastic content in the sea throughout the circumnavigation.

Hog roast in action

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

When Team Britannia‘s round the world superboat was turned right side up – once described to me as “like a giant hog roast” – at the beginning of December, we had no shortage of still photographs showing the hull at different angles through its 180 degree turn until she was resting on blocks looking much more like a boat. But this recently released video conveys something more of the drama and tension of the day – a day with one or two moments where it looked as though things could have gone horribly wrong. But the professionalism of the skilled workers at the Aluminium Boatbuilding Company shone throughout.

Since my last post about the project, team boss Alan Priddy has also confirmed that the round the world attempt will now take place in October 2017. A variety of technical problems have contributed to delays so far, and after the boat was turned, a couple more came to light which have since been rectified. But that, combined with the Christmas break has meant we would be pushed to be ready to go in the spring weather window. At the very least, if we went at the tail end of it, we would be looking at a bumpier and therefore slower circumnavigation – not what we want at all!

With the boat not far from completion, we’re still hopeful of getting her in the water by the end of March or early April, and sea trials including a couple of world record runs before basing her in Gibraltar.

Team Britannia update

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Last week saw me pay another lightning visit to the Team Britannia boatyard on Hayling Island, where the round the world powerboat is progressing well with its construction. Speaking to several of the men working on her, I was struck with the care and pride which they take in what they’re doing.

A lot more metalwork has been added since my last visit, with all the stringers in place, and the keel fully built up. Hull plating is imminent, and the boat will be turned over by the end of the month. The wheelhouse is being built separately, and will then be added along with the decking.

At that point, activity ramps up somewhat, with 24 hour working to get the boat fitted out. The enormous fuel tanks have been delivered – all six tanks have a combined capacity to equal your average road fuel tanker – and the engines and jets are ready and waiting. The next few weeks will be hectic, without a doubt, but we’re getting there.

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Round the world boat construction starts

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

January 15th was the date, officially at least, that Team Britannia’s round the world powerboat project got real, where all the dreams, designs and commercial negotiations transformed into something solid. In fact, ABC Marine, our Hayling Island-based boat builders, had already made a start, but we couldn’t miss the opportunity to hold an official contract-signing ceremony at the London Boat Show.

Of course, we have been here before. Just over three years ago we started building our boat at a factory in Dudley, but it was damaged by a fire, forcing us to scrap it and go back to square one. The setback, though expensive and frustrating, gave us the opportunity to look again at the project, engaging world-renowned boat designer Professor Bob Cripps to come up with a new boat. His variation on a fast displacement hull promises to be 30% more fuel-efficient than existing designs, and combined with the benefits of the SulNOx fuel emulsion, we aim not just to bring the world circumnavigation record back to Britain, but to do it cleaner and greener than anything else afloat.

We always knew our boat had all sorts of potential, and that a successful voyage around the world would create a demand for it by anyone looking for a sturdy vessel with an exceptionally long range. Possible applications include military, survey, coastguard and search and rescue. But we didn’t expect to have 15 firm orders for boats before we’d even got ours in the water, creating employment for around 150 skilled workers, potentially in the Portsmouth area.

The initial stages of the Team Britannia build are preparatory – with marine grade sheet aluminium being ordered from the foundry, and delivered first to Aalco in Southampton for laser cutting before the parts are transported to the boatyard. In the meantime, ABC Marine have to construct a number of jigs to hold parts of the boat in place while they are being assembled.

Most ships have a keel-laying ceremony to mark the beginning of construction – we intend to do something similar when the first pieces of aluminium are welded together, sometime next month. The pace has already picked up substantially, with further press coverage such as this piece in The Telegraph. And somehow over the coming months, I need to sort myself out with a pilot’s licence, but that’s another story.

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