BAE Systems has been awarded a contract worth almost £2 million ($2.5 million) to provide six Pacific 24 (P24) rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) to Austal, based in Australia. The RIBs, built and customized in BAE Systems’ Boats factory in Portsmouth, U.K. are being supplied to Austal to equip two Cape-class Patrol Boats under construction for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.
The P24 is a small and agile boat that can be deployed for a variety of tasks from counter-piracy and counter-narcotics missions, to force protection, rescue and logistics operations. It is used by a number of military customers, including the Royal Navy, but its versatility, fuel-efficiency and high-tech construction also lends itself to use by civil customers too. The MKIV version of the P24 incorporates the latest technologies in hull construction, including improved shock mitigation and propulsion, and provides extra safety to craft and crew by complying with rigorous Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) testing procedures, including drops, slams and self-righting trials, making them the vessel of choice for coast guard work.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago announced its intention to purchase two Austal Cape-class Patrol Boats in August 2019, for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard. The two Capes (Hulls 398 and 399) are currently in an advanced state of construction at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia and are scheduled for delivery later in 2020.
Austal Head of Supply Chain and General Manager New Builds (Australia), Ben Wardle, said, “The MKIV Pacific 24 from BAE Systems was the first choice of sea boat for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.
“Our customer needs assurance that their sea boats can perform in life and death scenarios in harsh maritime environments, including in tropical storm and hurricane conditions. The pedigree of the P24, with its range of international customers including the military, as well as its SOLAS accreditation made it the ideal vessel for the job.”
The P24’s seating arrangements for six passengers and two crew will also be specially configured for coast guard operations, including the ability to remove seats in order to boost carrying capacity and carry different loads including stretcher patients or different numbers of passengers.
In addition to the standard technical features of the MKIV P24 boat, custom modifications supplied to Austal included the installation of a ground plate that will enable Austal to supply and fit its own radio communications system.
In the U.K. the P24 is used extensively in the Royal Navy’s surface fleet, being embarked on a number of warships and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels. These include the UK’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, all its Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and Offshore Patrol Vessels.
Recently BAE Systems has developed technology to allow the autonomous operation of RIBs like the P24. In September 2019 it successfully demonstrated the first autonomous operation of a sea boat from an operational warship at the DSEI defence and security event in London.