login   |    register

Building the Shearwater 3 RHS 70 Hydrofoil


Length over all 22.2 metres
Beam over foils 7.7 meters
Draft hull borne 2.7 meters
Draft foil borne 1.1 meters
Displacement 32 tons
Maximum speed 36.5 knots
72 passengers and 3 crew
Powered by 1 x MTU 1350 Hp V12 diesel


Living near Southampton I have traveled on the 'foils back and forth to Cowes to go sailboat racing and admired their spectacular stance whilst afloat, heard their engines throb late on quiet nights, sworn and gesticulated at them when they roared past within 20 feet----- shaking the little breeze I had out of my sails while becalmed .... yet I was very sad to see the last one leave the Solent... the catamarans whilst magnificent have not that vital factor that inspires passion to mechanical things....

HYDROFOIL!.... the very term is exciting and exotic. The idea of making a conventional watercraft travel faster by reducing its wetted area is not new... Over the last 70 years there have been many different types of Hydrofoils in the civilian sphere, ranging from Speedboat size to giant Russian Gas turbine monsters capable of over 65 knots . In a military application the USA , Canada, Italy and Russia were the main users...

The heyday of the civilian hydrofoil lasted from the late 1950's through to the early 1990's, when the new generation of high speed water jet propelled catamaran and wave piercer started to displace both Hovercraft and Hydrofoils from hitherto unchallenged short haul high speed ferry routes. The catamarans have a far greater payload, higher sea state operating window for a pro-rata equivalent operating cost.

The Shearwater model that I am presenting here was a part of the fleet of Hydrofoils operated by Red Funnel Ferries of Southampton UK from 1968 onwards, on the busy Southampton to Cowes route, a trip of around 12 nautical miles taking around twenty minutes, which was achieved on a regular half hourly schedule throughout the year.
Red Funnel placed the order for the Rodriguez RHS 70 in 1971 to be named Shearwater 3, she was followed by Shearwater 4,5 and 6. they performed a sterling service running in latter years at a mere 20 minute intervals.... Shearwater 3 was sold in the mid 1990's to Greece where she is still in commission, with Shearwater 5 and 6 continuing the service until being displaced finally by the RED JET ferries in 2000.

About the Author

About JimBaumann


I have been taking one of those when i was quite young -what i can remember is the terrible smell of seasickness in the passenger's cabin one great model from Jim Baumann, but i prefer it when i can't even pronounce the name of the ships he builds!
OCT 08, 2007 - 02:17 AM