A specialist dive support vessel built by UK-based Meercat Workboats has been launched in a commissioning ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base.
Meercat, which is based at Trafalgar Wharf in Portchester, near Portsmouth, Hampshire, completed the dive boat for BAE Systems Ltd with funding from the Ministry of Defence.
Specialist divers from BAE Systems will use the bespoke 15-metre craft at the base – the home of Great Britain’s Royal Navy – for underwater maintenance, repairs and inspections on Royal Navy vessels and installations, including waterfront jetties.
Carmen Greenlees, wife of the naval base’s Head of Infrastructure Captain Iain Greenlees, officially named the Tedworth dive support boat in time-honoured fashion with a bottle of Champagne.
Other dignitaries at the ceremony at the base also included Naval Base Commander, Commodore Jeremy Rigby, BAE Systems Business Case Development Manager Nigel Pierce, Meercat Workboats Operations Director James Lewis and Chaplain Phil Hiscock, who blessed the boat.
James Lewis, from Meercat, said: “We are proud to be associated with such an esteemed project in partnership with BAE Systems and the Royal Navy.
“The Tedworth was a very special build for us. Being located on the same stretch of water with a local workforce gave this project great synergy.
“Being located on the same stretch of water with a local workforce, the Tedworth was a very special build for us.
“We are grateful that BAE Systems recognised the quality of our multi-purpose workboats which can be adapted for many uses within the industry.”
The Tedworth replaces the 30-year-old Hamble Guardian.
Measuring 15m by 5.8m, she is a twin screw multi role workboat with a draft of about 0.8m with a displacement of 42 tonnes. Her deck cargo capacity is 16 tonnes.
She has twin Doorsan L136Ti engines with a 33Kva generator and a three-phase compressor, achieving 460hp in total with a free running speed of 9.5 knots.
Tedworth’s AMCO-VEBA crane is capable of lifting 790kg at 14.1 metres, whilst its full hydraulic hand tool capability is provided by a separate JCB hydraulic engine.
With a fully integrated HP Surface Supplied high pressure diving system supplied by Portchester-based Divex, she is capable of supporting three divers in the water at any one time.
The vessel also has full digital communications capabilities and video compatibility.
Nigel Pierce, from BAE Systems, said: “The commissioning of the Tedworth was the culmination of a very successful project with Meercat Workboats.
“It demonstrates the high quality of marine related businesses in the area and our commitment as a company to utilising those services whenever we can.”
Divers from BAE Systems also gave the new boat their seal of approval.
Steve Coleman said: “The difference is huge – it is like going from budget car to a BMW.
“Tedworth is far more stable, there is far better vision from the wheelhouse and there is so much more room.”
The original HMS Tedworth was launched as a minesweeper in 1917 and refitted as a dive vessel in 1923 before serving throughout the Second World War.
She served as a trials vessel for divers testing a new, safer procedure of surface decompression which became known as the Tedworth Method and is still used today.
Commodore Rigby said: “Today is further evidence of some incredibly exciting activity taking place in the base. With the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers we have a secure and exciting future.
“It is great news that the name Tedworth is associated with the Royal Navy again and the vessel is vital to allow our divers in the base to be able to do their work to the highest standards.”
The dive support vessel will be the second to be delivered by Meercat after it was bought by Britain’s largest independent ship repairer Burgess Marine in September 2014. It is the 23rd vessel built by Meercat since it was formed in 2006.
Designed and built in-house at Trafalgar Wharf, the multi-purpose Meercat offers excellent manoeuvrability and deck strength.
Known for being easily transportable by road to difficult locations, Mercats are used on the coast, in ports, harbours, on lakes and inland watercourses.
Sectors served include dive support, aquaculture/fish farms, ports, harbours, dredging support, cable and pipelaying, civil engineering support, moorings and piling, port service, floating crane operation, cargo carrying, oil spill clean-up and wind farm support.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
For more details contact James Lewis at Meercat Workboats on 02392 385179 and visit www.meercatworkboats.com.