The boat-building craft in Anguilla has taken on a new and proud dimension with the production of its first locally-built official search and rescue vessel. Designed by famed boat-builder, Mr. David Carty, the state-of-the-art boat was built by Rebel Marine and Anguilla Techni Sales.
It is the first time that the UK Government has commissioned a company outside of Europe to provide a search and rescue boat for Anguilla. This speaks highly about the skills and ingenuity of the Anguillian boat-building company. The attractive and well-equipped vessel was financed under the UK Government’s Conflict and Stability Fund. It fills a great need and widespread calls on the island for such a vessel.
The 36-foot and custom-designed Search and Rescue boat had its initial sea trial at Road Bay on December 23, 2020. The event was observed by former Governor, Mr. Tim Foy, OBE; Premier Dr. Ellis Webster, Deputy Governor (now Acting Governor) Mr. Perin Bradley; Ministers of Government; Chief Fire Officer, Mr. Shondell Hodge; Mr. David Carty and others.
The Chief Fire Officer, under whose remit the vessel will function, commented: “This is a significant day, not just for us at the Fire and Rescue Service, who lead on rescue missions, but for all Anguilla. Having a state-of-the-art vessel at the ready, in the event of an emergency at sea, is an essential tool which will keep the crew safe as they save lives.”
Mr. David Carty was grateful to the Governor and the UK Government for the opportunity to build a boat of such national importance and function – especially as all such previous boats were imported.
Mr. Carty spoke to The Anguillian newspaper afterwards. “This is the first official Search & Rescue boat that is commissioned for Anguilla,” he stated. “It was commissioned by the Governor’s Office – and the Governor was very insistent that it should be built in Anguilla so that all of its maintenance can be done here in Anguilla. Previous boats have been problematic in that all the technicalities on these boats were never able to be fixed on Anguilla; and therefore we lost boats and money.
“We rose to the challenge to build it. It is a customs-built boat for Search & Rescue. It is not a patrol boat; not an interdiction boat. It doesn’t carry weapons or anything like that. It is specifically to look for those people who are in destress and save lives. She has various features. She has a lot of electronics, a great radar system, GIS, beacons, sirens, horns. She is designed for the crew to be able to access every point of the boat – 360 degrees. She is low-sided in case persons are swimming or drowning. There is a sea door where the crew can drag them inside very quickly.
“She is loaded with life jackets and other life-saving equipment. She is built with certain features like a cage around her engines to safeguard them in case there is a risky rescue and the boat is in a position in which the engines can be damaged. The case will take all the licks in a bad sea or a sinking situation. Things can be very tricky and the cage will help with that. The boat has a lot of fuel capacity so that she can be out for a long time searching if that is what she is mobile to do. Last, but not least, she is built with a cabin to secure the crew in case they have to go out on a dark, windy, night – so that they are not exposed to the weather while looking for a person or persons who may be in distress. This is a work boat and not a pleasure boat. Lives are saved; people are dragged on board and safely taken back home to shore.”
Mr. Carty continued: “The boat is bigger than what we were originally commissioned to do. I used my own knowledge of Anguilla’s history of fishermen being lost – by doing something a little bit bigger. The budget was not unlimited but we – Rebel Marine and Anguilla Techni Sales – are very pleased that, as Anguillians, and all other Anguillians who worked on this project, that we had the opportunity to do something like this for Anguilla. Typically, as I said before, these products come either from the UK or Europe – and this has now been built and rigged entirely in Anguilla by Anguillians.”
Mr. Carty said the boat was 36 feet long with two extension platforms for difficult rescue operations, 11 feet wide and very stable. “She is designed to take some punishment in case she has to go further afield to look for our people in distress,” he went on. “She is not a patrol boat and is not designed to travel at high speeds. Forty-five miles per hour is more than adequate. She is designed to get to a rescue site efficiently, safely and return the people to shore. Obviously, if you have a 60-mile-an-hour boat and the sea is bad, nobody can run a boat at 60 miles an hour to save a life. That is not the purpose of the boat.
“It is to get there fairly quickly. Forty/forty-five miles an hour is quick enough. People seem to misunderstand it. It is not a patrol boat. If it was for the police, it would have been a completely different design. It would have more power as the police would be running down a smuggler for example. That is not the purpose of this boat.” He said the cabin space was for a captain and two crew members and rescued persons.
Asked by The Anguillian newspaper whether the boat had brought a sense of national pride to Rebel Marine and Anguilla Techni Sales, Mr. Carty replied: “We have had an incredible history of maritime excellence, but that sort of excellence started to disappear ten years before the Revolution – and of course Anguilla’s economy changed completely to a touristic economy.
“Our passion for boat-racing shows that we are still very much attached to the sea – and I have committed my entire life to regaining Anguilla’s status as a centre of excellence in the marine trades. This is because I know we have the talent, the capacity and the will to really build first class boats for the 21st century – not the old schooners and sloops that our grandfathers and great grandfathers used. Rebel Marine is a dedicated company towards this. It is as much as about training and developing skills as it is to making money like any other business.
“We are very happy that we were given the opportunity by the Governor’s Office to do this. It is not just because our work may save an Anguillian life, which is very important, but, hopefully, that the boat will hardly be used – as you do not want people to be lost every minute. However, in the event that she will save an Anguillian life, would make us feel very good. It also gives us a lot of gratification that we were able to do something like this locally for Anguilla – rather than to buy it from Europe or the United States. Everything on this boat was put together by Anguillians and we feel good about that.”
Mr. Carty expressed the hope that, besides Anguilla, other Overseas Territories would request Rebel Marine and Anguilla Techni Sales to build similar boats for them.
He added: “We were recently able to send a really nice boat to St. Barths. This is now opening up the French Republic – Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Barths – to us. That shows a lot of promise and it can be very good for us going forward. That boat was a pure pleasure boat for a very successful businessman and his family to cruise around, and to have a great time. It was completely different from our Search and Rescue boat for Anguilla.”