Page 38: of Marine News Magazine (December 2020)

Innovative Boats & Products

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Service Life


By Alan Haig-Brown ince the days of wooden hulls and human power, They replace the original 435-hp Detroit 6V92TA mains. lifeboat crews have put to sea through dangerous The new engines exceed the contracted requirements in surf to save the lives of their fellow seamen. The terms of noise reduction and fuel economy.

? rst engine powered boats allowed decks and cab- The current in-service MLBs were built from 1997 to

S ins that afforded a greater level of safety. When the U.S. 2003 and are now approaching the end of their original

Coast Guard developed its 47-foot surf boat in the late 25-year service life, so in August 2019 the Coast Guard 1990s, a whole new standard for lifeboats was set. awarded Birdon America a $190 million contract to per-

Designated 47-foot MLB, these all-aluminum craft dem- form the SLEP for its 47 MLB ? eet. The ? rm-? xed price, onstrated spectacular performance. Capable of handling inde? nite delivery, inde? nite quantity contract is for the 60-knots winds, 20-foot breaking surf, and impacts up to design, development, testing and upgrade/build of USCG three Gs the boats carry four crew and up to 30 passengers. MLBs over a period of ? ve years with an option for an ad-

The ultimate expression of the 47 MLB’s indominable ditional ? ve years.

nature is its ability to self-right if overturned. Not only will In the summer of 2020, Birdon America delivered the the boat turn right-side-up, it will do so with both main en- ? rst of the upgraded 47 MLBs which was accepted by the gines running and ready to drive the boat ahead. Meeting U.S. Coast Guard. It had passed or exceeded all the U.S. this demand is a tall order for any engine that would hope Coast Guard requirements under the contract. Birdon will to qualify for the repower and upgrade, but Cummins met now proceed with the service life extension of over 100 of that challenge. After extensive testing, a pair of US-built, these vessels built between 1997 and 2003. Work on the 6-cylinder, Cummins QSC8.3-M engines were chosen for ? rst boat was completed at the All-American Marine yard the repower as part of the MLB Service Life Extension Pro- in Bellingham, Wash. Other west coast boats will follow. gram (SLEP). These EPA3-rated engines have four valves The 47 MLBs on the east coast will be upgraded at an east per cylinder and produce 530 BHP each at 2,600 RPM. coast yard beginning in 2022.

December 2020 38 MN

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