• … the wide-ranging potential of this craft is plain to see. 
  • Safehaven Marine have taken an innovative approach to weapon deployment on the Barracuda.
  • The innovative design of the vessel utilises various stealth technologies to produce a lower radar cross section 

PBR go fishing for Barracuda to give us the low-down on Safehaven Marine’s new high-speed interceptor …

Safehaven Marine manufacture a range of highly successful pilot boats, patrol vessels, SAR craft and research catamarans, and ‘Barracuda’ – a 13m high-speed interceptor/patrol vessel for military and law enforcement applications – is the latest creation to emerge from their factory in Youghal, County Cork.

Established in 1997, Safehaven have grown within their niche markets and produced over 110 commercial vessels exported to over 14 countries worldwide. The Barracuda interceptor has been under development for two years and will be marketed to navies and law enforcement agencies around the world, alongside the company’s existing range of vessels. Its flexibility is key to the attraction of the Barracuda, whose typical operational roles will include patrol, surveillance and protection of harbour infrastructure and offshore installations, high-speed pursuit, and apprehension of transgressors engaged in illegal and threatening waterborne activities, as well as covert operations. An array of both lethal and non-lethal weapons can be carried aboard to enable even the most dangerous of tasks to be carried out successfully.

The vessel can be deployed by helicopter via its inbuilt lifting points on deck and transported easily by ship or road. Propulsion is either by conventional stern gear or water jets, and the craft is powered by a pair of 600hp diesel engines, enabling the nimble Barracuda to reach speeds of 40-plus knots when required – clearly an essential attribute in some of the scenarios the Barracuda is likely to be faced with. The larger aft deck allows launch and recovery of unmanned aerial vehicles and the deployment of additional pedestal-mounted weapons, while dive operations are enabled via a transom dive platform.

The innovative design of the vessel utilises various stealth technologies to produce a lower radar cross section (RCS), allowing it to operate with a greatly reduced degree of visibility to an adversary’s radar. The superstructure and hull design use flat-plane principles on surfaces in the craft’s forward projections to deflect radar beams away, which, together with its specialized construction and outfitting, combine to produce a vessel with a high level of stealth.

Safehaven Marine have taken an innovative approach to weapon deployment on the Barracuda. Various different types of both lethal and non-lethal weapons, including a remote control gyroscopically stabilised machine gun, can be fitted to the craft. The weapons are cleverly concealed below decks in the forward section of the superstructure, and are raised up to above deck level for deployment through large, watertight, carbon-fibre hatches built into the forward cabin’s roof section. In this way, when the vessel is engaged in surveillance or patrol, the weapons are lowered and concealed and the vessel’s RCS signature is reduced, but when the vessel is operating in pursuit or apprehend modes, the weapons are raised for deployment. Another advantage is that the vessel’s centre of gravity is kept as low as possible, which is extremely useful when operating in rough conditions.

The Barracuda can be produced at lengths of between 11 and 13 metres due to its variable geometry mould, and is constructed from advanced, lightweight, FRP-cored composites, with extensive use of carbon fibre in its outfitting. The hull’s wave-piercing design allows high speeds to be maintained in rough conditions, thereby increasing the crew’s endurance and providing exceptionally high levels of seakeeping abilities – very much as one would expect from a builder renowned for the seaworthiness of its pilot and rescue vessels. The spectacular photos of her during recent trials off Southern Ireland during ‘Storm Desmond’, which provided 60mph winds and 6m seas for Safehaven to test her seakeeping in severe weather, also bear testament to this. Indeed, the Barracuda is capable of operating in SAR roles, as the design, depending on specification, can be self-righting and able to operate with a high degree of survivability in extreme conditions.

The Barracuda is capable of carrying from 6 to 16 crew in a climate-controlled environment, all seated on high-tech shock mitigation seating, thereby dramatically reducing crew fatigue and impact injuries from operating at speed in rough conditions. Along with its range of high-tech navigation equipment, sonar and thermal/night vision surveillance cameras fitted to the vessel, and ballistic protection to level BR6 (7.62mm projectile), which can be incorporated to protect the crew compartment, the wide-ranging potential of this craft is plain to see. 


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