BHT 150 is the largest hovercraft to be built in the UK since the 1970s and will now patrol South Korea’s Yellow Sea
The UK hovercraft industry has been given a boost by news of a record-breaking model that has been delivered to the South Korean Coastguard.
At more than 100ft long, not only is BHT 150 the largest hovercraft to be built in Britain this century, it’s also the largest to be built since the 1970s.
Based on the country’s west coast, near the city of Incheon, the new arrival will patrol the Yellow Sea, not far from the border with North Korea.
Capable of carrying up to 188 passengers and a crew of 12, BHT 150 has a top speed of 40 knots and can clear obstacles measuring up to 1-metre tall.
Fitted with four engines (two used to generate lift and two for propulsion), the vessel can patrol 300 nautical miles before needing to be refuelled.
The South Korean Coastguard has previously ordered eight hovercraft from Southampton-based firm Griffon Hoverwork, but BHT 150 is the largest by a full 30ft.
Hovercrafts are a rare sight on the coast of Britain. Southsea-based Hovertravel is the UK’s oldest and last remaining passenger hovercraft operator, with a fleet comprised of two 80ft vessels.
Adrian Went, managing director of Griffon Hoverwork, said: “The BHT 150 hovercraft built for the South Korean Coastguard is a fantastic example of British engineering.”
Hovercrafts are particularly useful in the Yellow Sea as the coastal wetlands are prone to freezing over in the winter.
South Korea’s Coastguard has come under fire in the past 12 months. In April 2014 a passenger ferry disaster killed more than 300 people.
President Park Geun-hye said that the Coastguard “failed to fulfil its original duties”, adding that both personnel and budget were “insufficient”.
It would appear that this British-built hovercraft is one of the first steps towards restoring the reputation of the South Korean Coastguard.