Russia takes delivery of SA-designed patrol boats


The Russian Customs Service has taken delivery of three 14.7 metre patrol boats, designed by South African company Icarus Marine. The steel vessels are designed for the harsh conditions of northern Russia.

Gunther Migeotte from Icarus Marine told defenceWeb that the three boats were officially handed over on November 9 and will be used in the icy conditions of the White Sea around Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.

The boats were designed by Icarus Marine and built by Sosnovka Shipyard and manufactured out of steel. It is quite unusual for such high speed patrol boats to be built out of steel – for weight considerations the material of choice is usually fibreglass or aluminium. In this case steel was chosen for ease of manufacture as well as for durability when operating in Russian winter ice. Migeotte said that shipyards in Russia’s far north work mainly with steel, hence it will be easy to repair the boats up there.

The patrol boats have a top speed of 37 knots under full load, carry four crew and five passengers. Power is provided by two Cummins QSM11 engines delivering 705 hp and driving two Castoldi TD400HC waterjets.

Icarus Marine designs high-speed vessels, which are then built by various shipyards, but the company also provides production support. Much of Icarus Marine’s work comes from the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries. Projects have been undertaken in Malaysia, India, Hong Kong, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia amongst others. Around 90% of the company’s work is for overseas clients and around 50% is civil, with the rest being for military and paramilitary customers.

One significant contract for Icarus Marine was with Malaysia, for 16.8 metre fast (60 knot) interceptors. Eight vessels are being built by Destination Marine Services for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and will be used for anti-piracy patrols in the Strait of Malacca. So far, five have been delivered.

Other current projects include a 25 metre rescue hydrofoil-supported catamaran (HYSUCAT) for Macau airport, a 25 metre 150 passenger carbon fibre ferry for Russia and a 17 metre harbour patrol/pilot boat for India.

Migeotte said that the high speed small craft market is a niche that is doing reasonably well. “The maritime security situation around the world is not getting better,” he said, noting that piracy and conflict brewing in the South China Sea are some of the drivers of this market.

He told defenceWeb that there is demand from West Africa mainly, especially Nigeria, but progress is generally slow in Africa with countries only buying sporadically. Icarus Marine has done some work in Nigeria in conjunction with TP Marine (refitting old patrol boats) and may get an order for multiple patrol boats in conjunction with a South African shipbuilder.

Icarus Marine was created in 2006 and has offices in Cape Town and St Petersburg, Russia. Since the company was established, it has designed around 40 vessels that have been constructed. Only a few years after commencing operations, Icarus Marine became involved in a scandal over a 15 metre fast motor yach that was exported to Iran in 2009. There were reports that the craft was going to be turned into a torpedo boat (something that has not taken place) and Icarus Marine was investigated by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), but subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing. The company has recently registered as a defence equipment supplier with the NCACC.