Oscar Rodriguez, vice president CEO of Rodman, is standing in front of me holding an invisible AK-47. His legs are bent at the knee and braced for recoil, as if the imaginary trigger beneath his
right index finger is capable of pumping out actual rounds. “You see that hatch over there?” he gestures towards the companionway. “I could fire an AK-47 at it from point-blank range and it would not pierce the surface.”
That’s some serious protection, which is what you would expect from material that costs €3,000 per square metre. Mix into the equation a Kevlar-infused hull and bulletproof windows and you begin to appreciate what a serious bit of kit the Rodman 55 Patrol is.
It has become somewhat of a tradition for us to test something a bit special in our Christmas issue, including a Type 23 Royal Navy frigate and Safehaven Marine’s Barracuda.
This year it’s the turn of the 55 Patrol, a boat that Rodman has built over 180 of across a period of 20 years, and in that time they have been dispatched to customs patrols, harbourmasters, pilots and police forces. Article continues below…
Don't miss the January issue, out 2 December, for a full boat test of this £175 million warship
We fly out to Cork, Ireland to test the Safehaven Barracuda in Force 8 winds and 5m seas
The particular one we’re on is destined to head for Mozambique to help local forces protect fishing fleets from the threat of pirates. With twin Hamilton waterjets and a pair of 1,375hp MTUs, its storming performance and shallow draught make it the ideal craft for the job, but more of that later.
Arrive at Rodman’s HQ in Vigo, southern Spain, and you soon understand what a large operation its commercial vessel arm is. There are rows and rows of outboard-powered 33 Patrols lined up on the hard, ready to be shipped off; the 55 we’re testing is rafted to one of five hulking 110 Patrols that are heading off to the Middle East.
It’s not just military craft either; the yard also builds offshore catamarans for wind farm and oil-platform supply and a range of commercial fishing vessels; it’s no wonder that new leisure craft have been few and far between, given Rodman’s commercial commitments and their lucrative contracts.
Despite its fit-for-purpose nature, the 55’s lines are surprisingly handsome. Its long nose leads back to a rakish cabin roof while gently sloping buttresses lead the eye down to its pert transom. From the bow, its knife-like deep-vee hull, rippling with chines and boasting a prominent sprayrail, snarls an evil grin back at you.
I certainly wouldn’t want to see it charging down my wake trail, blue light flashing.