South Africa’s Special Forces have acquired a Guardrunner watercraft for evaluation purposes and may purchase at least half a dozen as part of their drive to extend the service’s maritime capability.
The Guardrunner was supplied by Southern Power, part of the Nautic Group. The watercraft has been designed to cater to the special forces market where search and rescue (SAR) and military encounters require specialised platforms.
Nautic said the watercraft responded well to both calm inshore as well as windy choppy waters further offshore during sea trials. Jacques Brummer, CEO of Southern Power Products, told defenceWeb that sea trials took place in December 2015, and that the Guardrunner was handed over to Special Forces in late December.
Special Forces are currently preparing the watercraft for trials, firstly establishing all the required protocols and training material to successfully introduce the Guardrunner into service. Brummer is confident that the Guardrunner will exceed expectations in terms of performance and fit for purpose that will culminate in further orders of the Guardrunners to be placed in over the next 12 months.
The Guardrunner is based on a common platform with the RescueRunner developed in Sweden by the Swedish Sea Rescue Society. Special Forces approached Safe at Sea AB, which manufactures the watercraft, to evaluate the type. Subsequent to this, Southern Power last year acquired the distribution rights for the RescueRunner/Guardrunner across Sub Saharan Africa. Brummer told defenceWeb that the Guardrunner, and RescueRunner, will be offered to other potential clients, throughout the region.
The RescueRunner is already in use in South Africa – the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) acquired approximately 18 directly from the manufacturer and has operated them over the past few years with tremendous success. The 3.6 metre long RescueRunner is powered by a 140 hp engine, weights 350 kg dry, can accommodate a 400 kg payload and has a range of more than 70 nautical miles. Numerous optional extras provide customised solutions for a variety of specialised operators.
With a unique personal watercraft (PWC) hull design that allows the Guardrunner to operate effectively in small confined spaces, the ability to beach the vessel onto rocks and sandy shores provides huge advantages for search and rescue as well as military uses, Nautic said. In addition, the water jet propulsion allows the 3.6 m vessel to reach speeds of 40 knots and easily handle rough sea conditions.
“The versatile vessel platform is ideal for shipping to remote locations and can be launched from the shore, larger vessels and even helicopters and because of its ability to navigate shallow, rocky estuaries at speed, many are calling it the 4 x 4 quadbike of the sea,” Nautic said.