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Can surface drives be used with rescue boats?

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France Helices recently was involved in a project with some rescue boats. In the past, we generally shied away from similar projects because of the safety risks with propellers being in the water around incapacittated victims. Surface piercing propellers can pose a real risk to safety.

However, our design team came up with a solution to the problem. The customer needed the extra speed that could only be obtained from a surface drive. What was the solution? Simple. We used two types of propulsion on the vessel.

Two 1,500 hp main engines provide power to a pair of SDS4 surface drives, giving the vessel the ability to travel to the general location of an accident as fast as possible. A third engine, a small 300 hp Yanmar, provides maneuvering propulsion with a small, central water jet in the direct vicinity of the victims.

So, the operating procedure is as follows:

  1. A call is received to come search and rescue.
  2. The SDS drive is trimmed down, the main engines started, and the vessel proceeds to the scene as quickly as possible.
  3. Upon reaching the scene, the main engines are stopped, and the SDS is trimmed full up, raising the propellers above the water.
  4. The small maneuvering engine is started and the jet takes over (under 9 knots).
  5. The victims are rescued, the small engine is shut down, the SDS is trimmed down, and the main engines are started.
  6. The vessel heads back to its’ base.

This solution gives the customer the greatest amount of speed and performance, while maximizing safety. France Helices’ design house, MDS, can design you a similar vessel to meet your rescue needs.


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More Stories By John Miele

I am currently Sales and Marketing Manager, Asia / Pacific for France Helices. Created in 1977 by Paul BEZZI, FRANCE HELICES is today an international company. French marine propulsion leader, FRANCE HELICES is also one of the international leaders. Research and development are a very important part of FRANCE HELICES program, the CAD's department is equipped with the latest computer technology, using most up to date programs. Our engineers and technicians determine from the customers specifications and designs, the type of propulsion system to suit the boat's application. They can also advise on the ideal choice of power and optimum gearbox ratio to obtain the maximum thrust. There are many FRANCE HELICES' inovations and patents such as Surface Drive System (SDS) which enable boats to obtain very high speed with excellent handling capabilities and high quality Controllable Pitch Propeller systems (CPP) for both professional use and pleasure application. The constant research using cavitation tunnel testing, guarantees high efficient propeller blade shape for our customers. More than 20 000 propellers per year are manufactured by FRANCE HELICES workshops. In all sizes from small sailing boats to large fishing vessels to navy boats or mega yachts. The FRANCE HELICES workshops are equipped with modern foundries capable of casting propellers up to 3.5 tons in NiBrAl. They are also equipped with CNC milling machines and CNC lathe machines. FRANCE HELICES has four sites which cover the complete range of production. The development of FRANCE HELICES, supported by shareholders places our company as a leader in the international market and insures a constant development, worldwide, in order to be close to the end user.