SA RIB specialist steps in to the breach with WR 880 for Jersey waters

A Cape Town-made vessel out of the Gemini yard will do duty in the Channel Islands following a successful deal between newly-established Jersey Lifeboat Association and Gemini’s UK agent Berthon RIB Solutions.

A Gemini WR 880 was purchased through public donations in Jersey and will be used for rescue operations.

The Jersey Lifeboat Association was formed in 2018 following a dispute between the Royal National Lifeboat Institution — which manages the St Helier Lifeboat Station — and the Station crew. The WR 880 will now supplement the all-weather vessel of the new independent station.

“‘As a Jersey charity, it is incredible to be able to fund this new RIB purely through local donations, particularly given the pandemic,” commented Jersey Lifeboat Association Coxswain Andy Hibbs. “The vessel will be a fantastic asset for the station, crew and all those that use Jersey waters,” Hibbs said.

Berthon also welcomed finalisation of the procurement deal, which sees the WR 880 become the fastest inshore rescue vessel in the Channel Islands. The vessel conformed to a detailed specification compiled by Hibbs and his team in line with their operational requirements, Berthon said in a statement. “The RIB will be powered by twin mercury 225Hp, giving a top operational speed of 50+ knots being supplied by two 300 ITR long-range fuel tanks,” the statement said. “Elements of the Gemini WR 880, such as the A-Frame, had to be re-designed to accommodate the specification. The Gemini team worked for many hours to design a platform to accommodate the extensive suite of on-board electronics that will assist the JLA crew in locating and rescuing persons,” Berthon said. These included radar, remote-controlled searchlights, DF Antenna, two FLIR cameras.

In addition to the latest shock mitigation seating, the vessel also has an advanced water ballast system, supplied by Salmon Power Sports, allowing stability through rough sea states.

The Jersey deal is the latest success out of the Gemini yard which recently supplied two WR780 Rigid Inflatables for use as recovery boats by Elon Musk’s Space X.

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