USGC 47-foot motor lifeboat: Star of the show

<I>LARRY KELLIS photo</I>

CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT - The 47-foot motor lifeboat (MLB) is designed as a first response rescue resource in high seas, surf and heavy weather environments and well-equipped costs a cool $1.1 million.

These boats are built to withstand the most severe conditions at sea and are capable of affecting a rescue at sea even under the most difficult circumstances. They are self-bailing, almost unsinkable, and have a relatively long cruising range for their size of about 200 nautical miles.

In 1988 Textron Marine was awarded the contract to develop a replacement for the 44-foot MLB which had been in service with the Coast Guard since the early 1970s. In 1997 the first production 47-foot MLB was accepted by the Coast Guard, and since then over 100 of the vessels have been produced. The ultimate goal is to have approximately 200 in service.

The "47" is of an all aluminum construction, is capable of operating in 30- to 40-foot breaking seas and with winds of up to 60 knots, and can survive impacts at three times the force of gravity. The 47-foot MLB is self righting, and can return to an upright, operational configuration within 10 seconds.

The boat can be operated from both an exposed bridge 14 feet above the water line (offering 360 degrees of visibility in rescue situations) or from the enclosed pilothouse (to limit crew fatigue during extended operations on the open ocean or river). To mitigate the pounding effects associated with surf operations, the 47-foot MLB incorporates shock-absorbing crew seats. These seats feature 360 degrees of rotation, lap belts, armrests and lumbar supports. The survivor compartment is watertight and climate-controlled, for survivor safety, comfort and medical recovery. The craft can hold up to 21 persons, but typically has a crew of four including a coxswain and engineer.

Focused on inshore search and rescue operations, a 47-foot MLB is equipped with single sideband HF and VHF radios for communications, as well as a VHF-FM, RAYCHART 620 electronic chart system, and GPS/LORAN system for electronic navigation. It is also equipped with an SPS-69 navigational radar system.

Length: 47 feet

Beam: 14 feet

Draft: 4.5 feet

Cost: $1.1 million

Fuel tank capacity: 394 gallons

Crew capacity: Four

Total capacity: 21

Max. speed: 25 knots

Cruise speed: 21.5 knots

Max. range at cruise speed:

200 nautical miles

Max. winds: 60 knots (sustained)

Max. seas: 40 feet

Max. towing capacity: 150 tons

Displacement: 20 tons

Power: Twin Detroit Diesels,

combined 870 horse power

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