AEUK has sub-contracted the construction of three SEA-class Passenger Transfer Boats (PTB) that will equip HMS Prince of Wales to Diverse Marine, based in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and the vessels will be delivered to the RN later this year.
The PTBs are based on Atlas Elektronik’s (AEUK) SEA Class design and is part of a larger contract to deliver a variety of workboats, procured by the RN under project VAHANA. The 13.8m PTBs are certified for up to 34 passengers and have a crew of three – the first vessel ‘Walrus’ is pictured above. Diverse Marine were selected by AEUK to build the boats because of their proven track record with aluminium construction and ability to customise the design. Some of the other SEA Class workboats have already been delivered while others are currently being produced at AEUK’s Platform Integration facilities in Winfrith, Dorset.
Three PTBs are stowed in the large ports side sponsons that overhang from the side of the carrier and are lowered to the water vertically when needed. The PTBs are not intended for tactical use or in amphibious assault role but they allow the rapid movement of personnel to and from shore, this is especially useful where port facilities are too small to allow the carrier alongside. Typically they will take off-duty members of the ship’s company to and from shore as well as transport visitors to the ship. The QEC carriers have a specially designed platform at the stern which allows the PTBs to come alongside and visitors can ascend the permanent companionways up to 4 deck. (The boat bays are highlighted in red on the plan below).Queen-Elizabeth-Class-4-Deck-General-Arrangement-1
HMS Queen Elizabeth currently carries three of the four ALN-139 passenger transfer boats of a quite different design that were supplied by Alnmaritec Ltd in 2017. These boats all bear the names of famous Fleet Air Arm fixed-wing aircraft including Harrier, Buccaneer, Sea Vixen and Swordfish. With the delivery of the 3 SEA Class vessels: Walrus, (Gannet and Sea Hawk?), the RN will have a 7 PTBs (which allows for a ‘spare’) and the carriers can embark PTBs of either design. The AEUK PTBs are faster, up to 25 knots compared with the 18 knot ALN-139s, have a more modern look and will benefit from the broader logistic support of the more numerous SEA class boats.
The SEA Class is another success story for UK maritime industry and has the potential to attract export orders. While obviously not critical to the frontline fighting strength of the RN, the PTBs and workboats are important logistic enablers that carry out apparently mundane but necessary duties to support the fleet. The PTBs will also carry VIPs and visitors to the aircraft carriers, modern, comfortable and fast boats are important in forming a good first impression.