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Zodiac Hurricane

By: Joetey Attariwala

This Vancouver area company has set its Sights on DND’s MRB Program. Zodiac Hurricane Technologies is one of the leading builders of RHIB boats in the world and their products are currently in use with Canada’s Navy and Coast Guard. Now, the company is looking to provide a solution for DND’s Multi-Role Boat project. CDR sent Senior Staff Writer, Joetey Attariwala, to the company’s plant in Delta, B.C to learn more about this Canadian boat builder. Here is our report.

Considered to be the very finest craft of their type in the world, Zodiac Hurricane Technologies (ZHT) Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) are mission-specific platforms which are used by operators who demand high quality workmanship, performance and reliability in their boats. Headquartered in Delta, British Columbia, Zodiac Hurricane builds boats that are unique and are developed specifically for military, Coast Guard and other special customers.

The company is closely following DND’s Multi-Role Boat (MRB) Project, and it intends to compete for the program once an RFP is released. Here’s what we believe DND is looking for. In 2014 the Department of National Defence issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a new ship’s boat capability called the Multi-Role Boat System. According to those documents, the Multi-Role Boat (MRB) System consists of a Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) and a Launch and Recovery System (LARS) which will be fitted to the Navy’s twelve Halifax Class frigates.


In order to fulfill this requirement, DND outlined a potential requirement for twentytwo double inboard diesel engine rigid hulled inflatable multi-role boats of approximately 9 meters in length. These boats would have a complete electronics suite consisting of communications, navigation system, radar, and global positioning system (GPS), along with two years of spares. According to the documents issued, twelve of these boats would be used on the frigates while the remainder would be used for training and Integrated Logistics Support (ILS).

Since that RFI was published, the government has elected to tender a competition to install twelve new cranes on the starboard side of each of the Halifax Class frigates. The new cranes will replace the existing hoist mechanisms on these ships. The new cranes will be larger and have a capacity of 31,000 lbs, which will allow the ships to deploy 9+ meter RHIBs fully loaded with crew and provisions / cargo, as well as other naval equipment. The RFP for these cranes is expected to be released in late 2016 or early 2017. Although an RFP for the MRB Project has yet to be released, it is now understood that the requirement calls for 30 boats, and there is an understanding that the RFP will also include a requirement for the successful bidder to install additional cranes on the port side of the Halifax Class ships. It is therefore logical to assume that the MRB Project will proceed sometime after the contract for new cranes is awarded.

Even though the MRB Project primarily aims to add new boat capability for the Halifax Class frigates, MRBs could eventually be deployed on the Navy’s Joint Support Ships (JSS), and possibly the future Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) ships, depending on when they are built and delivered.

A Zodiac Hurricane H935 Multi-Missions boat used by the Italian Navy


Zodiac Hurricane has been a provider of RHIBs to the Royal Canadian Navy for nearly a quarter of a century as manufacturer of the ubiquitous 7-meter RHIB (PC), which entered service in the early-90s. Such is the reliability of these boats and Zodiac Hurricane’s exceptional service and support history, that the company has been selected by DND for the current repair and overhaul contract to maintain and refurbish these RHIB(PC) boats to “like-new” condition for continued service into the foreseeable future.

Doug Hemphill is Technical Director at Zodiac Hurricane Technologies and he told CDR, “The RHIB(PC)’s capability hasn’t changed much over the years, but the requirements for what the Navy does has changed a great deal.” H explained, “These boats are extensions and connectors from the ship, and everyone has realized that we’re asking them to carry more and do a lot more. We’ve taken that to heart with the design of our new boats, and that’s evident in our portfolio and the large number of military customers that have selected our products. We built the Canadian Navy’s legacy boats, we continue to maintain them, and we’re already building the new generation of larger RHIBs for navies all around the world.”


Not one to rest on its laurels, the company has continued its development of cutting edge rigid hull inflatable boat technology. The company is currently midway through a 26 unit RHIB contract with the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) with its H753 Outboard Search and Rescue SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) approved Fast Response Craft.

The H753 represents one example of a refinement process meant to deliver mission specific capabilities which the company has fine tuned with its CCG customer. “That program is an excellent example of how we work with the customer to deliver a product that they want, and not something that just meets requirements,” Jean-Jacques Arignon, President of Zodiac Hurricane Technologies, told CDR.

Zodiac Hurricane is diligently working to define just the right mix of products and capabilities to best fulfill the anticipated requirements for the MRB Project. The MRBs are expected to be 9+ meter multi-mission boats fitted with twin inboard diesel engines, and a capacity for ten people in addition to its crew of two.

“We have very capable boats which fit all the anticipated performance requirements for Canada’s MRB, and we regularly work with numerous subcontractors and suppliers which can deliver the most robust and capable sensor, electronics and communications suites on the market. We already have extensive experience with MRBlike boats for the French and Italian navies, for example, and we’ve demonstrated that we’re delivering uncompromising platforms on time and on budget. It’s safe to say that we’ve been in the 7-meter RHIB replacement business for the last 6 to 7 years now, so we’re very well versed on the requirement, and we’re looking forward to proposing a robust MRB solution here at home in Canada.” said Arignon.

ECUME is a Zodiac Hurricane built boat employed by the French Navy


Those who are knowledgeable about naval affairs will recognize that 7 meter RHIBs no longer have the capacity or performance characteristics that are required for modern naval operations. “Today’s RHIBs are extensions of their motherships – they are multi-mission in nature, they carry more, they go farther, and they are integrated into the battlespace with enhanced sensors and communications,” said Arignon.

Zodiac Hurricane references both of their 9.3 meter ZH-930 and ZH-935 as multimission Military Air Channeled Hull II (MACH II) RHIBs. These boats are now in service and operational with navies around the world. The ZH-930 is a composite hull, mid-engine RHIB with twin inboard diesel engines, whereas the ZH-935 variant has an aluminum hull.

Fiberglass hulls are hand laid glass reinforced plastic hulls made with Isophthalic or Vinyl Ester resin (resin infusion or carbon reinforcements are also available). If aluminum is selected, parts are all CNC cut and fabricated by certified personnel, as per Zodiac Hurricane 3D models. All Zodiac Hurricane model RHIBs have removable collars for ease of maintenance, transport and storage, as well as the capability to interchange inflatable collars with DuraRIB foam collars.

The Military Air Channeled Hull II was designed by the famed Michael Peters Yacht Design company. When the MACH II is combined with either an inflatable or DuraRIB foam collar, these features provide superior seaworthiness, shock mitigation, stability and maneuverability, and a low signature required to operate reliably and effectively in extreme conditions and hostile maritime environments.


The key to its on-water performance lies with the use of the unique Zodiac Milpro Military Air Channeled Hull two-step design. This design reduces suction with the water and therefore allows the boat to plane faster, yielding 10 – 15% increase in speed over traditional hull designs. The stepped hull also acts as a pivot point which contributes to the ride control of the boat, and it enhances directional stability so that higher speeds can be maintained with greater fuel economy and safety.

The MACH II hull design allows for smaller engines to be fitted to the boat without compromising its performance. The smaller engines deliver the same speed while reducing the boat’s overall weight and that in turn serves to reduce fuel consumption. The company has a number of engine types available depending on requirements, one of which is either the Volvo D4 or D6 series which utilizes both a supercharger and turbocharger.

“Superchargers deliver much faster acceleration which is a critical capability to have in boarding and launch and recovery operations, so it’s factors like that which play into the selection of an appropriate propulsion system for a customer,” said Hemphill.

Forward of the engine compartment is the 2-person aluminum-constructed forward helm console for the pilot/coxswain. An optional communication console positioned aft of the helm console is also available. Built as a multi-mission platform, the ZH-930 or ZH-935 can be quickly modified to deploy with or without seats, thereby providing exceptional versatility and a very large cargo capacity – up to 3,000 kg payload consisting of crew, gear and fuel.


Virtually all models of Zodiac Hurricane boats can be fitted with a fully integrated electronics package which could consist of extendable masts, radars, radomes, radar displays, depth sounders, AIS, GPS units, EO/IR sensors, HF/UHF/VHF radios, Satcom, and intercom systems. All of these systems are customizable as per operator requirements. “We have deliberately not identified a mission suite provider for our MRB solution because the RFP hasn’t been released yet, and we prefer to remain systems agnostic so that we keep all options open to deliver the best solution to our customer at the best value.” said Zodiac’s Arignon.

A number of seating options are available including Zodiac Milpro’s proprietary shock mitigating AIR Jockey seats. These seats are customizable and adaptable, and have been specifically developed to meet the stringent requirements of military and professional users. Their design provides the ability to stay at sea during long range operations and to prevent crew from fatigue and injury. The special structure of these seats makes it efficient in all sea conditions and adaptable on every boat.

The Milpro AIR Jockey seat also integrates a storage locker and a large range of options like deck track quick release, foot rest, seat handle, and more. In addition to the shock mitigating seats, Zodiac Milpro offers other stand-alone systems as optional equipment, including shock mitigating cabins, suspension systems, and sprung floorings.

 With a full load of fuel and 1,200 kg payload, the ZH-930 is capable of a maximum speed of 50 knots. Range with a payload of 1,500 kg and traveling at 35 knots will see the ZH-930 travel 200 nautical miles.

Jean Jacques Arignon (left) and Doug Hemphill of Zodiac Hurricane Technologies at the company


In September the French Navy’s multimission FREMM frigate Languedoc visited Canada and participated in Exercise Cutlass Fury 2016, an international naval exercise organized off the coast of Halifax by the Royal Canadian Navy. On board the Languedoc were two RHIBs: the 7-meter ZH-638, and the 9.3 meter ZH-930 – both of which were manufactured by Zodiac Hurricane at their plant in British Columbia.

“The French Navy had very specific requirements for a new standard of multimission RHIB which would be able to conduct maritime interdiction operations including naval boarding party operations, obstructed boarding operations, force protection, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, personnel transport and more,” explained Arignon.

He added, “After exhaustive evaluation the French Navy commando force selected the Hurricane 930 which they have specially configured and now call the ECUME [L’Embarcation Commando à Usage Multiple Embarquable]. That ZH-930 is the same model of boat that we feel could be prime a candidate for Canada’s MRB program.”

In addition to the roles noted above, the ECUME meets the needs of French Navy commandos in three specific mission areas which include: special operations, air-sea operations, and activities relating to the protection of the maritime approaches. The ECUME is engineered with optional military integration solutions consisting of an air drop package (able to deploy from a C-130 Hercules airlifter), military navigation and communication system, gun mount integration, and multiple hoist options. With a maximum cruising displacement of 7 tonnes, the ECUME RHIBs are able to undertake long distance raids carrying 12 fully equipped navy commandos at speeds in excess of 40 knots.


“We have learned a lot through our international customers. The French and the Italians had very specific requirements, however each have also used their boats in unique ways, some of which were unforeseen,” said John MacKillop, Canadian Sales Manager at Zodiac Hurricane Technologies.

He added, “The Italians for example, have been fitting their ZH-935 RHIBS with large capacity inflatable life rafts and have been using them during the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. That’s been a proof of concept for the capacity of our 9 meter RHIBs to be quickly modified as per operational requirements. If you look at each of our customers, each have their own set of unique requirements, and that’s why we as a company have not stuck with one propulsion system solution, or one electronic or communication system solution. We make the concerted effort to look at the requirements of today and design for the requirements of tomorrow. We’re responsive to our customers, and we deliver enhanced flexibility which is proving itself in real world operations.”

It’s clear that the ZH-930 and ZH-935 have proven themselves as highly capable cutting edge multi-mission boats. Zodiac Hurricane is a Canadian company that continues to perfect their boat designs and it is positioning itself to continue with its proud legacy of providing robust RHIB solutions for the Royal Canadian Navy, this time through the Multi-Role Boat Project.

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