Many of us happen to have a Rigid Inflatable Boat, otherwise known as a RIB or dinghy, which we pootle around on for pleasure purposes or use as tenders for bigger craft, but there are some extreme rigid inflatable boat manufacturers out there who make RIBs for the most highly specialised of activity, both legitimate and illicit. Here’s a selection:
Tornado was started in 1975 by David Haygreen, who wanted a boat suitable for his marine survey company. He didn’t find anything on the market to satisfy his needs, and thus went about building his own rigid inflatable boat. His 5.5-metre creation, powered by a 50 horsepower outboard engine, which was unusually potent for that era, drew so much attention that he eventually decided to go into production. The result was Tornado Boats – a world pioneer in RIB manufacturing, design and construction.
This specialised Dutch shipyard provides boats and ships of all shapes and sizes, ranging from expedition ships, to fire-fighting and police vessels. The rigid inflatable boats it produces are used by police forces and armies, and are slightly unusual in that they are a fair bit larger than your standard RIB and can be configured in multiple configurations depending on usage – think cabins, rows of seats and different-shaped hulls.
Ocean Craft Marine
Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, USA, Ocean Craft Marine’s rigid inflatable boats have genuine racing pedigree to back them up. These fast RIBs are produced for both commercial and military purposes, notably for US Navy SEAL use and other specialised work. Ocean Craft Marine’s creations are sold in no less than 80 countries around the world.
This company reached notoriety in 2007 when its owners were charged with supplying drug smuggling boats to transport drugs between the north African coast and southern Spain. One of the rigid inflatable boats it produced, which was seized by Spanish authorities, was powered by no less than eight 250 horsepower outboard engines. It has now ceased trading and it is not known what happened to the owners.