Shiver Me Nanotubes! Carbon-Fiber Boat Body Protects Against Pirates
A new boat designed to escort cargo ships through pirate-infested waters is the first vessel of its kind to take advantage of nanocomposite materials.
The LRV-17 is the creation of Zyvex Marine, a division of nanotechnology company Zyvex Technologies. It’s the first crewed boat to be built from Arovex, a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic that’s enhanced with carbon nanotubes. Based on the unmanned Piranha, a similarly constructed boat from Zyvex which debuted in 2010, the LRV-17 is sort of the Crown Vic of the high seas — a spacious mode of transit for law enforcement.
Unlike the dearly departed Police Interceptor, the 57-foot boat’s carbon-fiber nanocomposite construction means it’s extremely lightweight and nimble. Weighing in at only 17,900 pounds, it has an operating range of more than 1,500 nautical miles and a top sprint speed of over 40 knots. It also has some of the lightest and most durable doors and hatches on the water, which come in handy both on rough seas and during a firefight.
Thanks to a gyroscopic stabilizer, the boat requires less attention from crew, who can then turn their focus toward spotting and defending against pirate attacks. According to Zyvex, it’s possible to crew the LRV-17 with just two people — though it has enough shock-absorbing seats for six.
For now, it’ll be crewed by specialists from private security contractor Global Maritime Security Systems (GMSS), an Abu Dhabi-based company that escorts merchant vessels through dangerous areas such as the Gulf of Aden. No word on what kind of firepower will be on board, but we suspect it’ll be significant enough to intimidate those who would otherwise commandeer a ship.
According to GMSS managing director Rhynhardt Berrange, the mere presence of the LRV-17 alongside valuable cargo is expected to help deter piracy attempts.
“The new LRV-17 boats are game-changers in maritime security missions because they are the only vessels capable of long range escort and high speeds to deal with multiple pirate threats,” said Berrange. “They need only small security teams to effectively operate.”
The first LRV-17s will be deployed in the waters off the Horn of Africa.
Photo: Zyvex Marine