Catamaran supremo Cheetah Marine have designed and built a second dive and patrol vessel for specialist police operations. ‘Five Bells’ is a vessel that represents a distinct departure from the Force’s previous craft, one possessing a multitude of special features, as PBR reports.
The 10.2m Cheetah in question has been built for the Yorkshire and The Humber (YaTH) Police Regional Underwater Search and Marine Unit to provide 24-hour coverage and replace two vessels that were previously used by the Force. The vessel follows the success of the smaller, trailerable 7.2m Cheetah built for the Cheshire Police Department in 2012.
‘The launch of the new boat marks an important day for the regional Marine and Underwater Search Unit,’ states Inspector Rob Grunner. ‘Taking possession of this vessel will open up a host of opportunities to allow us to keep the public safe, work with partners in the area to tackle crime and assist colleagues on the rivers and in the coastal areas of Yorkshire.’
While acting as a visible police presence, the core duty of Five Bells is to provide a versatile craft to facilitate the many roles of the Underwater Search and Marine Team, which include diving operations in the inland waterways and the North Sea. With twin 300hp Mercury Verado outboards producing top speeds in excess of 40 knots, the 10.2m craft can be mobilised rapidly between areas covering the coast of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire together with rivers and estuaries. Both the vessel and officers will undertake wide and varied tasks, including security patrols and border control, while assisting in searches from intelligence-led operations.
Five Bells has demonstrably good slow-speed manoeuvrability as well as a very soft-cushioned ride, removing the need for heavy and costly suspension seating. Keel bands fitted to the hulls provide protection during shallow-draught operation and multi-terrain landings. PC Roger Bennett, of the YaTH Police Regional Underwater Search and Marine Unit, adds: ‘We have moved away from the traditional RIB chosen by the police and purchased a catamaran as this provides better handling, stability and deck space. It also provides true all-weather capability and the safety and flexibility required for the crew to undertake the roles required of a Police Marine and Underwater Search Unit.’
The 10.2m Cheetah features a 2.2m wheelhouse measured from the dash to the aft bulkhead, providing a spacious interior accommodating seating for six people and a starboard side galley and workstation. Other amenities include a Webasto heating system and heads facilities in the port hull. The vessel is also equipped with safety equipment to meet the Police Boat Code Category B coding for 10 persons. In addition, a Cheetah-designed built-in extendable stainless track system from the wheelhouse roof provides lifting capabilities up to 0.5m from the starboard side of the vessel. A 12V Lewmar winch and pulley system aids recovery of a rescue sledge along with other objects that need to be retrieved from the water. Outside deck seating for four divers features dive bottle storage with generator storage below. Entrance to and from the water is via a removable boarding ladder located in the starboard side door, with an additional access ladder at the stern.
Without doubt, this waterborne police unit has secured a highly suited craft for their specialist activities, and it’s exciting to see UK innovation and boatbuilding prowess being rewarded with such a prestigious order.
The meaning behind the name
In the world of police diving, each diver is required to have constant contact with the attendant and supervisor on the surface for instructions and diver safety. This is usually achieved by using an underwater radio system. Should this fail, the diver uses a series of rope signals to communicate with their attendant. Two signals, one long pull of the rope and other short sharp tugs, are called ‘pulls’ and ‘bells’. When combined in various configurations, these signals send information between the diver and the attendant. The vessel has been named Five Bells as the meaning for this signal is ‘I have found what I am searching for’. This is a very poignant signal to the team as it’s often received as a result of many hours of meticulous searching in arduous conditions.
The Strevens take on big cats
Keith Strevens, Cheetah founder along with Sean Strevens in 1991, aged 80 and who continues to work every day at Cheetah, says: ‘The leisure marine industry is expanding its horizons and demanding more stable craft capable of delivering exciting boating, be it fishing, diving or exploring in poor weather conditions. With warmer waters bringing unusual species of sharks, whales, dolphins and tuna within a 50-mile range, wildlife watching and tag-and-release fishing are becoming increasingly popular, generating big opportunities for businesses able to supply what is required. Cheetah’s catamaran design fits these growing requirements perfectly, hence the continued growth of our order book.’
Cheetah co-founder and designer Sean Strevens adds: ‘With the introduction of high-powered diesel outboards, more workboats will head towards outboard-powered propulsion with less maintenance than existing traditional inboard installations. Our hull design suits high-powered, high-torque diesel outboards because of Cheetah’s capacity to carry heavy, powerful outboard engines. It’s noteworthy that a high proportion of our orders for 2019 are workboats for the overseas market. This includes commercial fishing Cheetahs for the South of France, hydrographic survey and university research for Saudi Arabia, and charter dives and sea safaris in Portugal.’
- Length to aft bulkheads excluding engine pods: 9.2m
- Length overall including engine pods: 10.0m
- Length overall including moulded anchor bowsprit: 10.2m
- Beam overall: 3.7m max.
- Draught, hull only: 0.40m min.
- Gunwale height: 0.70m
- Max. engine power, standard hull: 2 x 300hp
- Deck size – forward bulkhead to aft bulkhead: 4.3m x 3.6m
- Wheelhouse size – forward bulkhead to door: 2.2m x 3.6m
- Speed: 35 knots
- Simrad NSS 12″ and 16″ Evo 3 multifunction screens, 4G radar.
- Sounder with B 744V transducer.
- RS 35 DSC VHF with AIS and aerials, compass, provision for police radio. Complete system fitted, wired and commissioned, loudhailer speaker.
- 3D structure, autopilot and valves, AIS.
- 2 x 300hp Mercury Verado extra-long shaft.
- DTS controls, power trim and tilt.
- Tacho and trim gauge, launch, propeller testing and fuel.
- Fitting of engines, including all electrics.
- 3 heavy-duty isolators, one for emergency paralleling.
- 8-way switch panel, heavy-duty battery cable, extension looms, controls, instrumentation, PDI and test.
- 1 x 120amp/hr AGM service battery with charge relay.
- 2 x 85 amp/hr AGM start batteries.
- Battery charger system, switch panel, RCD trip, 240V supply circuit, 2 x sockets, 4 x 12V sockets.
- 2 x water separators/filters fitted.
- 2 x outboard engine locks.