R M Trailers were approached by GAFIRS ( Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service) who are a privately funded organisation last year regarding the possible supply of a new lifeboat launch cradle for their new Delta RIB based craft.
This follows on from a previously supplied unit back in 2007 for a slightly smaller craft.
After several site visits and joint discussions between GAFIRS, RM and Vectis Marine who have supplied the rescue craft, a new concept had been agreed upon. The original design for the launching cradle only allowed the craft to be recovered bow first so every time the craft was deployed it had to be turned around with the tractor and the craft had to be launched stern first. We came up the “float through” design with side frames and recovery rollers.
The old system involved the use of a very cumbersome A frame drawbar that had to be removed each time the cradle was turned around to allow the tractor to push or pull as required, this is all very time consuming as well as hard work!
So the new unit has been designed around the idea of a drawbar system that splits after use and folds around the sides of the cradle allowing the vessel clear passage to deploy. These units are fixed permanently to the cradle and swing from the main chassis and form the drawbar by means of two heavy duty rose joints and a single pin. This allows the tractor driver and a single banksman to deploy the craft in one, or possibly two simple manoeuvers depending on tidal conditions while the rest of the crew are on board preparing to get underway.
The craft now sits on two sections of heavy duty rubber fendering, this we had to source from Holland as no suitable suppliers in the UK. This is again an improvement of the original design which supported the craft on hardwood rails, this has caused limited but notable damage during its service.
The Craft can in effect float right through the cradle meaning much quicker recovery and turnaround time, even though privately funded GAFIRS are call upon by the MCA on average 100 times a year. The side support panels have vertically fitted entry rollers on each corner allowing the bow of the craft bump its way in while working against any tidal flows, again minimalizing damage to the vessel.
The unit also features oversized floatation running gear to cope with running over the shingle beach and the proven design of the R M waterproof hub system that has served them well in the past.
All the steel work has been shot blasted and hot zinc sprayed and then paint finished in a high quality 2 pack system. This was all done by Hi –Tech Surface treatments. They very kindly allowed us to fit the unit up at their premises, this saved additional transport movements and its associated costs.
The unit was successfully delivered on site on time for Friday April 15, by Swains Transport. Swains took care of all the lifting activates on this project as well as organising all the permits to move this on the road due to its width of some 3.4m putting it in the Abnormal loads bracket.
On what was a foul day the craft was presented to the system and went in first time and is now undergoing trials and crew training for the next couple of weeks before being entered in to full time service.