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SRN4 Hovercraft

Old 21st Jun 2020, 11:27
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SRN4 Hovercraft

What were the credentials of the crew who operated the SRN4 Hovercraft.
Were they conventional seaman?
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 11:50
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IIRC the crew were under maritime law/rules. Wiki might lead you to other links.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britis...ft_Corporation
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 12:27
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Originally Posted by hiflymk3 View Post
IIRC the crew were under maritime law/rules. Wiki might lead you to other links.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britis...ft_Corporation
With a gale breeze they went under air-navigation rules
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 12:40
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20 year old PPRuNe thread on this subject...

Hoverspeed Pilots

I had thought there was such a thing as a CPL/ATPL-Hovercraft, but seems not.

Hovertravel are advertising for Pilots now -

We are looking for a full time Hovercraft Pilot to join our team on based on the Isle of Wight. This is a full time vacancy (36 hours per week) however we would consider candidates looking for a flexible or part time work arrangement.

In order to take command of a hovercraft on this route, an individual must hold one of the following STCW95 Certificates of Competence (CoC);

  • Master II/2 or 11/3, (Unlimited, <3000GT, or <500GT)
  • Master II/3, limited to "Hovercraft less than 500GT on near-coastal voyages only"
  • Appropriately qualified seafarers may apply to obtain this CoC issued by the MCA under STCW regulation II/3 as stated in MGN1856 and with reference to Annex D therein. In recognitions of this, applications will be welcomed from holders of: Chief Mate II/2 or II/3 (Unlimited, or 3000GT)

  • (STCW stands for 'Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping')
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 15:47
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Originally Posted by kangaroota View Post
What were the credentials of the crew who operated the SRN4 Hovercraft.
Were they conventional seaman?
I recall reading an article about hovercraft which raised the subject of rules/licenses. The hovercraft Captain being interviewed was asked that very question and his his answer was that they needed both Maritime and Aircraft licenses to captain a hovercraft. This, though, is the extent of my memory - it was a lot of years ago and the old memory isn't what it was.
, so can't remember what categories of which licenses he was talking about.

(Although think I remember Master Mariner being mentioned).
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 17:01
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According to the latest IMO and government “High Speed Craft” Maritime regulations the word craft covers both vessels and hovercraft and the crew qualification thereof.

High-Speed Craft (HSC)
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 19:20
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The SRNs were built in my home town Cowes, Always had an interest in them. The slipway that housed the cocooned Princess flying boat, (also built at Saunders-Roe), became the terminal for the Seaspeed passenger operation between Cowes and Southampton. Took it a few times in an SRN6. The much larger Rolls-Royce Proteus four engined was a sound to behold.

Last edited by hiflymk3; 22nd Jun 2020 at 08:04.
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 19:44
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Originally the pilot qualifications were from aviation. My late father in law - Saunders Roe’s chief test pilot - held the number 1 hovercraft licence. His flying career included over 1500 hours on Seafires and some 700 deck landings.
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 23:31
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I only ever took one hovercraft ride and it was (obviously) a long time ago. Across the channel to France IIRC on an SR.N4

I was looking forward to it, but tbh it was a bot of a let down as I remember basically sitting in a big room with lots of windows, but as soon as we started moving the windows got covered with spray and we couldn't see a thing
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 08:32
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Originally Posted by Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! View Post
I was looking forward to it, but tbh it was a bot of a let down as I remember basically sitting in a big room with lots of windows, but as soon as we started moving the windows got covered with spray and we couldn't see a thing
Yes, but it was so much quicker than the ships and the ride was not the sick-making wallowing of the ship - I used 'em until they were withdrawn, then a couple of goes at "SeaCat" until 1994 when the tunnel opened for trade.
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 08:50
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Originally Posted by Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! View Post
I only ever took one hovercraft ride and it was (obviously) a long time ago. Across the channel to France IIRC on an SR.N4

I was looking forward to it, but tbh it was a bot of a let down as I remember basically sitting in a big room with lots of windows, but as soon as we started moving the windows got covered with spray and we couldn't see a thing
I used them a couple of times in the 80's when travelling to and from RAFG. Yes they were quicker but the noise and vibration was akin to flying in a Herc.
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 10:19
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The SRN4's were great for a quick crossing if the sea was reasonably calm and I used them many times from Pegwell,one crossing was 'interesting' when in the middle 'third' of the crossing in open water we encountered fairly heavy seas,the 'Hovercraft' had to slow right down and became a 'Bobbercraft' - closely followed by mucho vomiting by many pax,of course unlike a ferry - there was nowhere to escape to for fresh air,my travelling companions were quite ill LOL.
Once we got back into sheltered water the Bobbercraft could again lift its skirts and accelerate.
Later in life I used the high speed ferry from Newhaven which was probably a better solution for a 'fast' crossing.
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 10:21
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Originally Posted by Vendee View Post
I used them a couple of times in the 80's when travelling to and from RAFG. Yes they were quicker but the noise and vibration was akin to flying in a Herc.
That French imitation of a hovercraft (Aeroglisseur was the word coined by the French who of course baulk at using anglophone words) the SEDAM N500 was a horrible vessel to travel on, Wiki says it was withdrawn as being unsuitable for the Dover / Calais route. I'd have said it was unsuitable for carrying passengers on any route!
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 10:41
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I used to travel by hovercraft from Kowloon in Hong Kong to Shekou in the PRC from 1994 until 2008. The Pearl River estuary was fairy smooth so the trip wasn't a problem. Crossing the attendant's hand with a HK$10 note enabled one to nip out to the rear deck for a smoke.

The new road bridge across Shenzhen Bay took a lot of traffic away.
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 13:45
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Back to the OP's question.

All aspects of Hovercraft (design, build, flying) used to be controlled by the aviation authorities (latterly CAA) but it was eventually realised that this simply added cost for no good reason and they were then 'reclassified' as ships. This then meant that they could be built as per boats and operated by sailors rather than 'pilots'. Not sure when the change occured but am guessing sometime around 1980.
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 17:20
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I went to school in Dover (mid '70's to early 80's) and the sound of the SRN4's is one of the sounds of my youth (along with punk rock). Watching them shoot the western harbour entrance when it was a bit choppy was great fun also.

I travelled in them a few times aswell, and also the aforementioned French monstrosity, which really did look like something out of sci-fi SEDAM N500


Last edited by Senior Pilot; 23rd Jun 2020 at 05:31. Reason: Add image
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 20:39
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Reference the French monstrosity - I decided to travel by hovercraft to visit the '81 Salon du Bourget and arrived at Dover expecting to board an SRN4. What could possibly go wrong. Then I clapped eyes on that tri-engined contraption. The crossing was rough due to vibration, which would explain why it was a one of a kind vessel.

Should have taken the BA TriStar.
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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 16:19
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"the ride was not the sick-making wallowing of the ship "

originally they were worse - they had an internal cabin with no windows - and EVERYONE was sick in 10 minutes - they were reconfigured so there were windows everywhere - but it was like looking at your washing at the launderette - still it stopped the air/sea sickness fairly effectively
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Old 28th Jun 2020, 00:48
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Originally Posted by Wycombe View Post
the sound of the SRN4's is one of the sounds of my youth
Off topic to be sure, but at Uni, our rugby pitches were out near Heathrow, and when Concorde took off, the opposing team (having never heard such noise) just stood transfixed. This was therefore a good time to try some sort of maneuver that often ended in a try!
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