Monday 10 February 2020

VIKING Norsafe boats for the Hellenic Armed Forces (Part A: Hellenic Army Special Forces - MUNIN S1200 OPEN)

The first VIKING Norsafe Munin S1200 in high speed in 2018
Naval Analyses, visited the manufacturing plant of VIKING Norsafe Hellas in Thiva, Greece, in order to learn at first hand its world-famous products and especially those that are/will be in service with the Hellenic Armed Forces and the Hellenic Coast Guard. Founded in 1974, VIKING Norsafe Hellas is the Greek subsidiary of the leading global maritime safety solutions provider VIKING Life-Saving Equipment A/S. VIKING Norsafe Hellas produces high quality marine life-saving appliances – lifeboats, rescue boats and davits, using the latest technologies and materials in order to protect seafarers and offshore workers worldwide. 

The VIKING Norsafe's production unit in Thiva, Greece
Certificates and approvals
Conference room in Thiva
Since its foundation, VIKING Norsafe Hellas has supplied over 1,000 lifeboats for all types of ships and offshore installations to the global shipping industry, as well as a wide range of military and professional boats. Its advanced products are manufactured in accordance with the latest SOLAS requirements and are approved by leading National and Certifying Authorities for both ships and offshore use. The Managing Director for VIKING Norsafe Hellas is Mr. John Georgiadis and currently the factory employs around 90 persons, most of them from the neighboring town of Thiva. 

The VIKING Norsafe Hellas facilities in Thiva are large. In these facilities,
all the stages of manufacturing process take place

GES50 MKIII free fall lifeboat
VIKING Norsafe Hellas, among else, manufactures maybe one of the most advanced free fall lifeboats in the world, certified for a free fall height up to 50 meters. VIKING Norsafe set a new world record on June 25, 2015, when the 70 passenger GES50 MKIII was dropped from 40 meters (131 feet) with 10 people on board. There has never before been a staffed lifeboat dropped from this height. Watch the video here. VIKING Norsafe also holds the world record for highest drop without passengers on board. This record is 66.8 meters (219 feet), and the drop was carried out with a Norsafe GES52, the largest free-fall lifeboat currently built by Norsafe. 

Lifeboats under construction

Examples of excellent organizational behavior at VIKING Norsafe Hellas factory
Testing facilities

VIKING Norsafe Hellas supplies and sells davits and cranes to fit all of its boats, but it also sells davits separately.

The state-of-the-art training facility at Port of Lavrio, Greece
VIKING Safete Academy at Port of Lavrion, Greece
Since the acquisition of the Norwegian boats and davits manufacturer Norsafe AS by VIKING Life-Saving Equipment in 2018, the joining of forces between the two companies ensure a unique and unmatched product and service offering in the maritime safety industry worldwide, providing lifeboat/maintenance from over 300 ports. VIKING as a group has more than 3,000 employees worldwide. VIKING was founded in 1960 and has been supplying life-saving equipment and safety solutions to defence and professional operators for more than 50 years. Today, VIKING’s customer base includes major navies, air-forces, special forces, coast guard and SAR operators, law enforcement, customs-border and harbor patrol units and many more. Among its customers are the Hellenic Navy, Hellenic Army and the Hellenic Coast Guard.

The production facilities in Thiva, Beotia, is one of the seven (7) production plants worldwide, capable to produce a wide range of company’s high-quality products. Other factories are in Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, China and Thailand. Among the boats manufactured there, are lifeboats of various types including freefall, daughter craft, professional boats, military and patrol boats of various configurations. Note that in Greece also, at Port of Lavrion, there is a state-of-the-art training facility with a comprehensive list of training programs available for seafarers and offshore workers. This is the only one in Mediterranean and of the two that VIKING operates worldwide (the second one is at Rosendal in Norway).

RIB trials
Free fall lifeboat trials (1)
Free fall lifeboat trials (2)

Free fall lifeboat trials (3)

Free fall lifeboat trials (4)

Free fall lifeboat trials (5)

Hellenic Army

VIKING Norsafe Munin S1200 Open in high speed trials
One of the boats that we could visit was a VIKING Norsafe Munin S1200 Open which is offered to the Hellenic Army Special Forces. Τhe Munin S1200 series is the largest military Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) offered by VIKING as of today. Using the experience gained from the closed cabin 1200 and S1200 in the Munin range, this open version has already been tested by various user groups representing the coast guard, maritime police, customs and special forces. VIKING Norsafe demonstrated its latest fast rescue and patrol boat, the prototype, at Seawork International on 3-5 July in Southampton, United Kingdom.

The Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Søviknes,
had the chance to travel with the first Munin S1200 Open in August 2018
Photo by

The overall feedback has been very positive. The design and construction of the open Munin S1200 meets the need for reliable, low maintenance standby and operation. 

The boat is designed to operate away from land-based installations or mother ship for extended periods of time, with sufficient range for long term operation. 

The VIKING Norsafe Munin S1200 Open which is offered to the Hellenic Army Special Forces

The first open S1200 comes with a triple Mercury Verado 400 outboard installation and the same platform can be delivered with sterndrives, surface drives or even waterjet installation. 

Triple Mercury Verado 400 outboard installation
Triple Mercury Verado 400 outboard installation

View of the seat arrangement in the main cockpit area

A large walk-around cabin provides a protected and comfortable environment for crew and passengers. Seats are purpose built with shock absorbing capabilities to provide comfort, and are equipped with 4-point safety belts. They are specially designed for open RHIB boats and for the most demanding sea conditions. At the helm are three, ergonomically designed chairs placing the pilot in the center, with navigator and co-pilot seats each side; these also have a tilt arrangement which allows the helmsmen to stand upright. There are six (6) Shockwave Corbyn S3 helm suspension seats under the cockpit area, which provide 8 inches of shock travel. The three of them have storage space underneath. In the aft deck, there are also eight (8) jockey-type seats in four pairs, with storage area underneath.

S3 helm seat offers superior design while delivering comfort and safety
Details of the Shockwave Corbyn S3 helm suspension seats
Three of Shockwave Corbyn S3 suspension seats have storage space
Shockwave Corbyn S3 helm suspension seats
The 6-seat arrangement at the cockpit area
The VIKING Norsafe Munin S1200 is fabricated with multi-axial hybrid kevlar reinforced vinylester (GRP) and divinycell sandwich. Longitudinal box stiffeners and transverse bulkheads provide structural strength. The hull is a two stepped deep-V type with transom, providing optimal sea keeping ability at all speeds and in all conditions. A heavy duty polyethylene fender protects the hull and absorbing impacts. The foam fender is protected by a double skin of reinforced PVC and secured with sail tracks at gunwale and chine level. The deck is covered with heavy duty anti-slip surface. 

The GRP bimini top is supported by a marine grade aluminum frame
with integral ladders on both sides.

While still having an open deck area, main cockpit area is protected with a large, hard bimini top, also made from GRP on a heavy duty, marine grade aluminum frame with integral ladders on both sides. 

The main cockpit area is protected with a large, hard bimini top made from GRP
All deck lights, strobe lights and search lights are LEDs

The boat is fitted with a hybrid air/foam-filled collar, mounted to a solid fiberglass gunnel. Instead of a fully circular tube, the Impact D-collar allows for more space on deck and added maneuverability and versatility for the crew. The D-collar gives customers the best characteristics of a standard fiberglass hull with the benefits of a RHIB. Law enforcement finds this design especially suited to tactical maneuvers, where boarding on another craft or disembarking in a rocky coast may be necessary.
The Impact D-collar is visible

Unusually for an open boat, there’s a small ‘hideaway’ berth, entered from the front of the console, measuring 75cm by 200cm: very snug. 

Hideaway berth at the front of the console/cockpit
Inside the (quite big) berth where there is access to the wiring
The small ‘hideaway’ berth, entered from the front of the console

At the rear, behind the crew, is a multifunction workbench and storage lockers. Below the deck are the fuel tanks with 1,050l capacity. There’s also a 60l water tank with a pressurized system ready for a mister, and two automatic bilge pumps (along with a manual version for emergency backup). The maximum load capacity is enough for most duties, coming in at around 2,500kg: there are cargo rails on the deck for fixing storage boxes and other equipment so the vessel can be used for a variety of operations. The boat features also special hooks for helicopter lift. The quality of the construction material is quite impressive indeed! 

One of the three storage lockers immediately behind the last row
of seats at the cockpit area and between the ladders. This particular
locker  had communication equipment.
The jockey-type seats for the troops
The storage space at the aft section
The storage space in the foredeck

The center console features engine’s controls and monitoring system, navigation instruments, loudhailer, VHF and intercom system and is broad enough for other equipment to be integrated. The console has a windscreen surround fitted with twin windshield. The electronic equipment of the boat includes also a Raymarine radar, FLIR night vision thermal camera and Raymarine GPS/chart plotter and others. The electrical system of the boat has a 220V shore power connection and all deck lights, strobe lights and search lights are LEDs with no disturbance for VHF, DAB or other communication systems.

The pilot seats at the center, with navigator and co-pilot at each side
Cockpit area
The console of the boat.
FLIR and Raymarine radar
All deck lights, strobe lights and search lights are LEDs
The three Mercury Verado 400hp can give a speed of up to 67kts
Its speed is quite impressive as it exceeds the 67 knots! Lt Cdr Mark Raeburn, Fleet Surface, Royal Navy, commented, “In my 29 years in the Navy that is the fastest that I have ever been in a boat, we reached 67kts!”. VIKING Norsafe Munin S1200 Open’s dimensions are 12.00 x 3.50 x 3.70 m while its weight, fully loaded is 7.360 kg. The boat can receive a 12,7mm heavy machine gun in the foredeck and two 7,62 light machine guns fitted in the aft deck, on special mounts/pedestals. 

The seats on Magna 960
Magna 960's cockpit
A similar concept is one of the main candidates for the Hellenic Army competition for 41 RIBs of 12-12.5m at a budget of EUR 16.02 million. Their role is to replace the 20yrs old Motomarine Magna 960 Invader of the Hellenic Army Amphibious Special Forces. The program assumes the provision of initial training, life-cycle technical support, reassured operational availability for a period of 15 years and initial support for 7 years. 

Hellenic Army Magna 960 Invader transporting troops

About thirty-two (32) Invaders in total are under the operation of the Hellenic Army Special Forces and Recon while an additional seven (7) are operated by the Engineers Corps. The 9,57-meter Magna 960 is capable to transport 15 troops plus 3 crew (one driver and one forward and aft gunner) at speeds in excess of 48 Knots (full load) whilst maintaining integrity at Sea State four (4).

Hellenic Army Magna 960 Invader

With its size, high speed, armament, sensors and advanced technology (suspension seats, construction material, cockpit, etc.), VIKING Norsafe Munin S1200 is superior to Invader in all aspects and can increase dramatically the capabilities of the Hellenic Army in special operations. It is an excellent RIB that can been customized to satisfy any demand. The same design serves also with the Hellenic Coast Guard and it is one of the candidates for the new Hellenic Coast Guard procurement program for the acquisition of 10 RIBs of 11-12m length competition. In Part B we will see the Munin S1200 and other boats of VIKING Norsafe that serve or will serve with the Hellenic Coast Guard and Hellenic Navy!

The VIKING Norsafe Munin S1200 won the competition of the 41 fast craft for the Hellenic Army
Amphibious Special Forces! The new boat is based heavily on the craft in the article with the addition of semi-closed cabin, anti-ballistic protection, more advanced FLIR, suspension seats for entire crew and others.

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