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Marine

Gibbs and Lockheed Martin to develop high speed amphibious vehicles for military use

April 3, 2007 The promise of robust, affordable and extremely practical commercial amphibian vehicles for domestic purposes moved much closer this week with the news that Lockheed Martin and Gibbs Technologies have agreed to develop a family of high speed amphibious vehicles designed specifically for military operations. The resultant vehicles will advance Gibbs technologies and almost certainly increase production to far more cost-efficient levels. The militarized High Speed Amphibians (HSAs) will use technology from a fleet of prototype amphibious vehicles developed by Gibbs Technologies for consumer use, including the Gibbs Aquada, a three-person sports car, Gibbs Humdinga, a four-wheel military vehicle, and Gibbs Quadski, an amphibious all terrain vehicle. Gibbs' technology enables amphibians to travel at speeds over 45 mph on water and over 100 mph on land - and to transition from water-to-land or land-to-water in five seconds. These features provide a much needed capability for military littoral, riverine and special operations.  Read More

America's Cup secrets revealed

April 2, 2007 Since 1851, the America's Cup has transcended the sport of sailing to become a symbol of the pursuit of excellence. For the first 133 years, THE CUP was indeed the America’s Cup, as America had a grasp on the trophy which could not be broken until Ben Lexcen’s winged keel helped Australia II to victory in 1983. Since then the event has become truly global and this year we’ll see the 32nd America's Cup Match between the defender, Alinghi, and a new challenger beginning June 23, 2007. Racing starts tomorrow to begin sorting out who the defender will be and yesterday was an important day – the day when all 12 contenders had to drop the protective skirts that had been guarding the underbodies of their race boats. Although there were no visible breakthrough design innovations on the scale of the fabled winged keel, many observers were astonished by the range of solutions to the same basic design question posed by the America's Cup Class Rule. Pics of all the keels inside.  Read More

World’s First True Hybrid Tug

March 22, 2007 Seattle-based Foss Maritime has announced that it plans to build the world’s first true hybrid tug boat, a “green” vessel that will significantly reduce harmful nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and carbon emissions. It will also consume less fuel and be quieter than its conventional predecessors. The hybrid tug will look almost identical to the Dolphin-class tug boats pictured, and will match their 5000 horsepower. The hybrid tug’s drive units will be powered by batteries coupled with diesel generators and feature a modified engine room accommodating two 670 horsepower battery packs and two 335 horsepower generators.  Read More

The Kawasaki Ultra 250X – 250 horsepower that is!

March 21, 2007 The concept of a powered watercraft for personal use is roughly 100 years old this year and the earliest we can trace came about early when the remarkable polymath Frederick William Lanchester came up with the idea of putting a powerful motor in a small boat. The personal watercraft (PWC) concept took shape in the 1960s, combining the elements of self-power, small size and quick steering and though there were several viable efforts, notably by Bombardier, it was Kawasaki ‘s standup JET SKI watercraft of the early seventies which kickstarted the market. Unlike snowmobiles, motorcycles , quads and all other forms of personal powered recreational vehicle, the Jet Ski offered a thrilling experience with significant less likelihood of serious physical damage (water is a lot softer than mother earth) and a workout so physical that it promotes extreme health. Since then the PWC market has evolved into four major manufacturers with two main forms of ski – stand-up and sit-down – with the larger sit-down versions easily serving as three-person craft. I have watched it happen, as I attended the launch of the original Kawasaki Jet Ski way back in the seventies. It had a 400 cc motor so it seemed like an ideal time to reflect on how far the PWC has come in such a short time when I recently attended the launch of the Kawasaki’s latest Jet Ski, the Ultra 250X. As they have done several times in motorcycle history (the Kawasaki 500 H1, the Kawasaki 750 H2, the Kawasaki Z1, the Kawasaki Z1300, and most recently the Kawasaki ZX14), Kawasaki has gazumped all those who came before it with a single product. Kawasaki Heavy Industries prides itself on producing the biggest, the fastest, the most powerful and every few years you can count on them delivering it. The Kawasaki’s Ultra 250X model designation refers to its horsepower output. That’s 250 horsepower – capable of pushing the Ultra 250X along at around 68 mph. That’s not the biggest strength of the machine though – awesome power is available pretty much from the get-go, and simply hanging on to a machine with 250 horsepower flinging you at the horizon is a feeling like no other. The Ultra 250X hauls butt like no other off-the-shelf PWC and we can’t wait to see what the aftermarket dreams up for it and what competitors respond with. In the meantime, it’s the king of the heap. We guarantee that if you can wrestle the Ultra 250X into submission, then grizzly bears won’t pose a problem and runaway locomotives will be simply backhanded away.  Read More

The Solar Shuttle – solar-powered 42-passenger boat

March 17, 2007 Designed by SolarLab founder Christoph Behling, the SolarShuttle is the UK’s largest and most advanced solar boat. It was launched last July, and operates on the ecologically-fragile Serpentine Lake in one of the oldest parks in the world, London’s Hyde Park. Entirely pollution-free and silent running, the exquisitely beautiful SolarShuttle can carry 42 passengers in all daylight conditions, has reserve power for night-time running and even generates surplus energy that can be fed back into the national grid.  Read More

DockitJet offers both a jet boat and a jetski

March 17, 2007 The concept of using a jetski to power a larger watercraft was pioneered back in the early nineties and has yielded a stunning array of versatile PWC-dockable watercraft such as the Shuttlecraft, Windjet, Jetmate and Jetmaster, but the idea has been taken in a different direction with this inventive PWC-dockable Rigid Inflatable Boat. Instead of going with fibreglass structures driven by one and quite ingeniously two synchronised jet skis, the Dockitjet utilises an unsinkable RIB for a fast, lightweight, very stable and incredibly practical watercraft capable of carrying six people plus all their gear quite comfortably. Available in two sizes (5.0 meters and 5.6 meters), you can dock and undock the PWC of your choice in minutes and have the best of both worlds. Videos here and licensing enquiries here.  Read More

The 25 mph electric hydrofoil surfboard

March 10, 2007 A hydrofoil is a boat with wing-like foils mounted on struts below the hull. As the craft increases its speed the hydrofoils develop enough lift for the boat to become foilborne - i.e. to raise the hull up and out of the water. This results in a great reduction in drag and a corresponding increase in speed and has resulted in some of man’s more interesting water conveyances. The advent of the world’s first human powered hydrofoil catalysed a lot of activity in the area and one of several new manufacturers of human-powered hydrofoils, inventist, took the knowledge it had gained in developing the Aquaskipper and developed the Hydroglide, a surfboard with quick-charge, high-torque electric motor and a hydrofoil underneath. It’s still in the development stages but showing remarkable prowess with a top speed of 25 mph. That’s faster than the human-powered hydrofoil record, so it’s no slouch. The Ni-MH rechargeable battery has an average run time of two hours and takes just an hour to charge. Steering of the Hydroglide is accomplished with a steering bar and as the videos show, you can lie down or stand up.  Read More

The world’s first affordable recreational submarine

Yet another affordable and very compelling new water vessel has reached market. With a price in the region of an expensive sports car, the appropriately named Dutch company Uboatworx has begun producing the first affordable recreational submarine (U-Boat). Uboatworx currently builds a single seat version known as the C-Quester I with a two-seater due in June. Both C-Questers have a top speed of 3.5 mph, are safe to a depth of 50 metres and offer a dive time of 150 minutes. At just over 9 feet long, 6 feet tall and wide and weighing 1.1 tons, the submarine is small enough to trailer to the nearest boat ramp or launch from a yacht. Entry is jet fighter style through a canopy, steering is via a joystick and both the seating position and the experience are apparently quite similar to flight, though getting a license is much cheaper and less time-consuming than a pilot’s license - a three day course and an exam being the only obstacles, apart from the UKP65,000 price tag (more for the two-seater). The cabin is pressurized, a filtration system removes spent air, oxygen is added to maintain air quality and all the safety boxes appear ticked, so the C-Quester appears an out-of-the-box winner at such an affordable price. Motive force is supplied by three electric motors – so it’s a genuine plug-in electric boat which just happens to be able to operate below the surface too.  Read More

Killer amphibious vehicle - 39 mph on water and 55 mph on land

With waterfront property highly prized the world over, we see the amphibious market as one of the next great opportunities – the people with the greatest disposable income will have the greatest need for amphibians. At the same time, new techniques, technologies and materials are yielding a new breed of amphibious craft that are seemingly omnipotent. Most amphibious craft to date have been biased towards performance on land (such as the Splash, Commander, Amphicar, Platypus, Aquada and Humdinger) or water (such as the Aerosan or Sealegs here, and here). Only the Quadski seems to have a balance of performance on both, and it is limited to one, perhaps two people. Now a new technology threatens to seriously disrupt this marketplace. Fast Track Amphibian has entered the development phase for a product line of all-terrain amphibious vehicles using tracks as their means of propulsion on both water and land. Nearly all other amphibians comprise two drive systems – the FastTrack does it all with one, gaining a significant advantage in weight. The patent-pending technology that enables the tracks to work as the sole means of high-speed propulsion on water is unique. It enables a vehicle to “get out of the hole, over the hump and on to the plane from dead in the water. Videos of what this means in the real world can be found here. FastTrack equipped vehicles can start, stop and cruise on water like a boat as well as traverse diverse terrain, from ice and snow to swamps, deep mud, mountains and deserts - all at very high speeds. The first technology demonstrator can achieve 39 mph on water and 55 mph on land, all in comfort thanks to the air shocks and massive suspension system, which can be retracted or extended to suit the circumstance. The technology demonstrator carries six people at high-speed almost anywhere, giving it seemingly limitless opportunity in the areas of recreation, utility, search and rescue, ship-to-shore and military operations. Potential recreational uses include sports and racing, hunting and fishing, wilderness touring and camping. This vehicle will take you up a muddy hill in the forest better than a motorcycle, take swamp and tundra and ice and snow in its stride and enter and exit the water in almost any conditions … it is a genuine all terrain vehicle and transitions from one medium to another seamlessly. It makes very soft, comfortable, water entries at 40 mph and similarly smooth egresses at 20 mph. The first vehicles the company produces for non-military customers will be hand built and custom made for those who can afford to be the first owners of this unique machine. These vehicles will have aggressive styling, two or five place plush seating and 300 plus horsepower for speeds of 60 mph on water and 80 mph on land. More videos are available here, showing the FastTrack 1 driving down a country road, running on powder snow, pulling two water skiers, on the plane with tracks down and tracks up, a ramp entry into water at over 40 mph, and watch how easily it crosses this river. This short video shows the beastie doing 37 mph on water.  Read More

Fungus in hull paint may solve barnacle problem

February 28, 2007 Biofouling of marine organisms on ship hulls has been a global problem since man crafted the first boat. These days, many marine enterprises suffer the problem and the cost of reducing it, in aquaculture, offshore industries and harbours. In shipping alone, marine biofouling and its most significant organism, the barnacle, increase drag, adversely affect fuel consumption, increase pollution (via the workload on the machinery and downtime due to dry-docking. The annual global cost of cleaning alone is in the billions of dollars. Toxic paints are the most prevalent current anti-fouling strategy but they cause severe environmental disturbances due to the emission of toxic substances into the marine environment. Currently used toxic paints based on Tributyl tin oxide (TBT) are the first target as they generate unwanted effects at non-target organisms and will be banned by 2010, but this ban may be followed by the prohibition of other substances in marine paints. Now a new type of paint has been developed which uses an extract from the microscopic fungus Streptomyces avermitilis to poison barnacles. The fungus lives in the ocean and is extremely poisonous to acorn barnacles and other crustaceans, a feature based on the environmentally friendly defense of the fungus against being eaten. A new study from Goteborg University in Sweden has found that when this fungus is added to paint for ship hulls, the surface remains entirely free from barnacles. As little as a 0.1-percent mixture of pure fungal extract in paint is sufficient to affect the nervous system of barnacles and prevent any growth and the fungal extract is toxic only as long as the paint is on a painted surface. When the paint is dissolved in sea water, the activation of the poison appears not to take place, making the paint apparently harmless to organisms in the open sea.  Read More

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