The team began with a single skin construction. Structural Composites eliminated the sandwich foam core that would traditionally form the next layer, replacing it with a series of flotation-grade polyurethane foam ribs from Compsys Prisma. The ribs hold the fiberglass laminate in place and carry the load. “By replacing the traditional foam core and fiberglass hull with preformed polyurethane foam ribs, we reduced the overall boat weight without sacrificing strength and durability,” says Scott Lewit, president of Structural Composites. The laminate surface comprises a fiberglass and vinyl ester layer made using hand layup.
In another innovative twist, the deck of the 7MFR is detached from the hull, affixed only at the edges, much like a trampoline. Decoupling the hull and deck structures is intended to help mitigate vibration and shock felt by Navy personnel on deck, especially in rough seas. The 7MFR is undergoing testing at Structural Composites and will be delivered to the U.S. Navy for further testing to evaluate the craft in operational conditions.
Hydrasports Custom, a manufacturer of high-end fishing boats, also was intrigued by the lightweighting benefits of a single skin transom and hull technology. Its Custom 53 Sueños, the world’s largest outboard powered, center console fishing boat, was developed with a similar single-skin frame construction from Structural Composites. The resulting 53-foot boat, which weighs about the same as Hydrasports Custom’s 42-foot model, was unveiled to accolades at the 2015 Miami International Boat Show.
Across the marine industry, from military to recreational markets, new boat designs and technologies are turning heads. While the marine market was an early adopter of composites, it continues to make waves and seek new solutions on the horizon.