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Rolls-Royce at the helm of Royal Navy flagship

March 27, 2006 It seems logical that prestige automotive designers should be the go-to-guys when you wish to create an ambience of luxury – they’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s the key difference that enables a few extra zeros to be added to the price. We saw it recently when BMW Group Designworks was used by Airbus to design a luxury aircraft interior and now we’ve seen Rolls-Royce Motor Cars employed to make a special captain’s chair for HMS Illustrious – the flagship of the Royal Navy. The chair, which is appropriately finished in the finest navy blue leather with sea shell-coloured piping, was handcrafted by Rolls-Royce engineers and craftspeople at the company’s world headquarters in Goodwood. It is based on the front seat originally designed for the best-selling Rolls-Royce Phantom and has been specially adapted for its sea-faring role. The chair was officially presented by Rolls-Royce chairman, Ian Robertson, and a group of Rolls-Royce staff to Captain Bob Cooling and his crew in Portsmouth yesterday, as part of the ship’s refurbishment.  Read More

The 1250cc, 165 horsepower, 60mph Jetbike

March 27, 2006 Imagine a motorcycle that it didn’t hurt to fall off. Or one that didn’t do costly damage to itself in an accident. The Aquajet Jetbike WX-1 1250(MAV) is just such a beastie - a new type of watercraft powered by a 165 horsepower three cylinder two-stroke engine via a jet drive to offer a wild 60mph experience that is uncannily like riding a real motorcycle – without the pain of a transgression. Every aspect of the Jetbike is designed to give a motorcycle-like riding experience, from almost identical riding ergonomics and controls to the steerable front ski which has suspension, steering and handling attributes akin to those of a wheeled motorcycle, meaning you can carve turns for hours on end. For motorcyclists it represents the chance to go silly in a familiar environment without paying the inevitable price of pushing the limits on a motorcycle – a hefty repair bill, bruising, missing bark and the occasional broken bone. Sixty miles per hour on water is VERY fast so the thrills are just as heart pounding as those offered by a grand prix motorcycle and muscling the machine at those speeds provides an extreme aerobic workout such that the fitter you are, the faster you’ll go. The Jetbike is also spectacular and delivers blitzkreig point-to-point times, so it is perfectly suited to some form of offshore racing once sufficient numbers are available. Finally, the Jetbike’s engine is seawater cooled and all mechanical components are underwater at speeds below seven miles per hour. Combine this low-signature-everything stealth with extreme speed, manoeuvrability, and carrying capacity and you have an ideal platform for the potent military weapons system which is under development. The design allows for packing massive firepower while still maintaining a healthy lead as the manned military vehicle with the highest power-to-weight ratio.  Read More

The Talisman Autonomous Underwater System

March 24, 2006 We hear a lot about Unmanned Aerial vehicles from the size of a butterfly to a full blown jet, and unmanned ground vehicles have been getting their share of the limelight recently too. So it figures that Unmanned Underwater Vehicles would soon become commercially available too. BAE Systems launched an autonomous unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) Talisman at Oceanology International 2006 earlier this week and like its cousins, the latest-generation modular multi-role UUV Talisman is equally omnipotent and capable of a wide range of maritime littoral operations. Talisman comprises the vehicle and a remote control console. The vehicle is based on an innovatively-shaped carbon fiber composite hull, equipped with internal carbon fiber composite pressure vessels containing the electronics systems and payload. The hull is fitted with commercial-off-the-shelf vectorable thruster pods, which allow it to maneuver very accurately, hover and turn 360 within its own length. The hull has been designed and manufactured by stealth aircraft technology experts at the BAE Systems military aircraft sites at Warton and Samlesbury, U.K.  Read More

Ocean treasure hunting Dream Team gets celeb Captain

March 5, 2006 Exploration and treasure recovery team Deep Blue Marine had all the pieces to make a treasure hunting "dream team," except one. They needed a familiar face to launch and lend credibility to their brand. The company has solved that problem by inking a deal with celebrity James Brolin to be the spokesperson and face of DPBM  Read More

Volvo Penta’s new IPS joystick controller for boats

February 26, 2006 Old school thinking has a distinct ring to it. “If it aint broke, don’t fix it” and “It’s always been done that way for a very good reason” are the catchcries of an era long-since-past. Once upon a time, ships and boats were pushed through the water by a fixed screw propeller and steered by a rudder. Now Volvo Penta has released a new system it has dubbed the Inboard Performance System (IPS) system and turned the whole industry on its ear. With double forward-facing propellers and steerable drive units, boats equipped with the Volvo Penta IPS are significantly better than boats with traditional inboard shafts in virtually all respects: comfort, performance, environmental features and driving characteristics. Since its introduction last year, the Volvo Penta IPS has received prizes and awards throughout the world but time stands still for no man and now there’s a new enhancement that will look strangely familiar to computer gamers - a joystick. Even the most experienced boat-owners can sometimes feel uncomfortable about the prospect of docking a large boat in a congested harbour, especially if the dockside is filled with spectators! Volvo Penta’s new IPS Joystick eliminates that problem. With just a few simple hand movements, you can place your boat elegantly against the dock.  Read More

Royal Rendezvous: Queen Mary 2 meets namesake Queen Mary

February 25, 2006 Maritime history was made Thursday as two legendary ocean liners, the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Mary, met for the first time in Long Beach harbour for a royal rendezvous. The commemorative festivities were part of the Cunard Lines' Queen Mary 2's highly anticipated maiden call to Los Angeles on Wednesday, where more than 25,000 spectators turned out. As she entered Long Beach harbour on February 23, the Queen Mary 2 was met by a flotilla of 800 boats, 14 helicopters, and three blimps, as well as 6000 spectators lining the shore to view the festivities. A first-time whistle salutation between the famed ocean liners had even more meaning as the QM2 carries one of her namesake's original whistles, the tone of whose deep bass "A" can be heard ten miles away. When the original Queen Mary was built, it was the world’s largest ever ship, being significantly larger than the Titanic. It still holds the record for the most people carried aboard a floating vessel. The Queen Mary 2 is longer, taller and nearly twice as large as the Queen Mary.  Read More

Stiletto Experimental ship with carbon fiber M-hull design tops 50 knots (60mph)

The M80 Stiletto Experimental Vessel was launched this week offering a sneak peak at the next generation of military vessels. The Stiletto is an operational experiment by the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation (OFT) and its revolutionary carbon fibre structure and hull enable it to operate in shallow water, with 50 knot speeds, stability and great stealth as part of its armoury. Costing US$12.5 million to develop and build, the 88ft vessel is capable of carrying 37 tonnes at speed over a range of 500 nautical miles. The patented M-hull design transitions automatically and efficiently through hydrostatic, hydrodynamic and aerostatic lift modes with increasing speeds effectively creating a cushion of air and providing a comfortable high speed ride with great stability, and has enormous promise for a wide range of nautical applications for boats from 8 through 200 feet (see these stunning concepts). The Stiletto is powered by four 1,650-horsepower Caterpillar engines, and can cruise comfortably near its top speed of more than 50 knots (60 miles per hour). With a shallow draft of less than 3 feet, Stiletto has a three man crew, and will carry a complement of 12 US Navy Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) commandos, an11 metre rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) and either Manta and Silver Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).  Read More

Likeafish extracts air from water to enable a new paradigm in underwater exploration and l...

February 3, 2006 Air and water are two of life's staples - interestingly, two of the best ideas we've ever written up involve both. Airwater machines extract water from the air and now there's a machine which can extract air from water, on-the-fly. Isreali company LikeAFish has developed a new technology which will enable a new paradigm in underwater exploration and living. Likeafish’s tankless diving technology is able to extract air from water and could revolutionise scuba diving, offering unlimited dive time and no need for expensive and inconvenient refills. The appropriately-named company uses a method similar to a fish’s gills to extract the dissolved air present in all seawater to offer an indefinitely sustainable supply of oxygen to scuba divers, submarines and underwater habitats. The device uses a battery-powered centrifuge to lower the pressure of seawater in a sealed chamber, enabling the air to escape, in a similar manner to opening a bottle of lemonade. After separation in the centrifuge, the air is transferred to an air bag for use by the diver. The first unit will be installed in Lloyd Godson’s BioSUB this year – the BioSUB is the world’s first self-sufficient, self-sustaining underwater habitat.  Read More

The Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA-R) amphibious assault ship

January 24, 2006 The United States Defense Acquisition Board has approved the Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA)-Replacement amphibious assault ship program to enter system development and demonstration (SDD) phase. The Northrop Grumman LHA(R) will be the U.S. Navy's newest multifunctional and most versatile, amphibious assault ship, incorporating enhanced aviation capabilities centred around the STOVL F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and the V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey. The LHA(R) will be a variant of the gas-turbine powered LHD 8. This longer and wider ship will provide increased aviation capability, vehicle lift, cargo magazine capacity, better survivability, increased habitability standards and greater service life margins.  Read More

Winner takes all in Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

January 1, 2006 When Wild Oats XI crossed the finish line on December 27, it became just the sixth boat in the 61 year history of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race to take the line honours and handicap double. It also became only the second boat in history to win the magical treble (the first boat to do it was Rani under Captain John Illingworth in the inaugural race) by setting a new race record too, eclipsing Nokia's 1999 race record by more than an hour for the 628 nautical mile race. It is an enormous irony though, that the boat which was the last in contention to beat the US$10 million super maxi was the oldest boat in the race. The 41-footer Ray White Koomooloo won the race on IRC in 1968 with an elapsed time 4 days, 10 hours, 26 min and 52sec – in her time she was at the very forefront of boating technology with her lightweight four-skin, cold moulded wooden construction. This year she bettered that time by more than eleven hours to finish in 3 days, 22hours, 51min and 39sec but light winds in the final stages cost her any chance of repeating her IRC victory of 37 years ago. The mahogany-constructed Sparkman-Stephens-designed Koomooloo was lovingly restored over seven years and for the last twelve months has been heavily and successfully campaigned by Queenslander Don Freebairn. That's Wild Oats XI on the left and Koomooloo on the right.  Read More

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