This Air Rider is DEC’s (Department of Environment and Conservation), since renamed to DPAW (Department of Parks and Wildlife) latest vessel to fulfil on-site environmental management of the Northwest’s oil and gas fields off the coast of Western Australia, essentially marine park management and patrol.
The vessel is small enough for skippering by the holder of a coxswain certificate and with its modest size provides for safe offshore handling.
This hull gives excellent load carrying and ride in choppy seas.
“Well we finally did it! Sousa completed her maiden voyage to the Montebello Islands over the weekend. Awesome vessel with the real capacity for what we need!
I must say, that at times when the vessel was in the design and construction phase that I had sleepless nights wondering if it would all come together, and if were not trying to squeeze just too much into a fairly small vessel. This trip finally laid those ghosts to rest…phew.
In near perfect conditions with full tanks, 5 staff (DEC x3, DoF x2) and gear, we cruised to The Monties at 20 knots, 70 nautical miles in 3.5 hours. The four day trip was cut to three days by a deteriorating forecast and we came back in the evening/night of the third day punching into a sloppy 1.5m sea at 12-14 knots. Fuel use a miserly 19 litres an hour or 500 litres for the ~200nm round trip.
Having the inflatable Naiad auxiliary vessel (Barney) on the stern or towed behind effectively doubled our capacity at the islands, with Barney poking into the small bays and channels while Sousa kept to the deeper water; and when we came into bays with more that one vessel we were able to split up, approach and liaise with two vessels or camps simultaneously.
My thanks to you all, for your parts in making this all happen. This another vessel for the agency to be proud off.
One very proud skipper “
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