High speed RIB for Marine Rescue Walpole

Ordered simultaneously with a 10.0 metre RIB for Marine Rescue Jurien Bay, this 9.0 metre vessel is based in Walpole on the south coast of Western Australia.

Its operations are somewhat different to most Marine Rescue RIBs in the state. This is due to Marine Rescue Walpole being responsible for search and rescue operations within both the shallow and relatively sheltered waters of the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets, and in exposed, deep water Southern Ocean conditions beyond.

Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) requested quotes to supply the new vessel and associated trailer from its pre-qualified boatbuilders in September 2021. Reflecting prevailing road laws regarding towing, the specification called for a combined vessel and trailer mass of less than 4.5 tonnes with the vessel loaded and ready for operations.

Working with Southerly Designs, Dongara Marine developed a high speed vessel that would be as large as possible within that constraint to maximise its capability, including useable deck area and seakeeping characteristics for the offshore conditions.

The vessel features a 23.0 degree deadrise aluminium hullform that Southerly Designs developed from previous Dongara Marine RIBs to provide the necessary offshore capability. Marine Rescue Walpole preferred a bow with rake similarity to that on its older design RIB. While not necessarily optimised for performance, the customer-centric approach Dongara Marine and Southerly Designs take meant we were happy to oblige.

While most of the RIBs built by Dongara Marine have foam-filled collars, Marine Rescue Walpole specified air filled collars, which were supplied by West RIBs.

The superstructure on Swarbrick consists of a raised forward half / cuddy cabin and semi- enclosed wheelhouse which comprises a helm console protected by a half height wrap-around windscreen; side-structure that extends well aft of the helm console on both sides; and an overhead hardtop.

Dongara Marine manufactured the hardtop from composites to provide a lightweight but stiff and durable alternative to traditional canvas canopies.

Supported by an aluminium pipe structure the roof extends the full width of the deck area to maximise shelter. Clears are installed to enclose the area between the windscreen and hardtop when conditions require.

Four suspension seats are fitted within the wheelhouse area – helm to starboard forward, navigator to port and two crew positions directly aft of these. The helm and navigator’s positions each have a 16-inch Simrad displays. Other electronics include Simrad radar, sounder, satellite compass, FLIR camera, Rhotheta radio direction finder and TracPlus vessel tracking system.

Two further seats on suspension bases are fitted at the aft end of the work deck, with a tow rope reel in between directly aft of the tow post.

Primarily used for storage but also equipped with a toilet, the lockable forward cabin is accessed via a door through the helm console and has a foredeck hatch for ease of access to the bow. Storage arrangements were customised to Marine Rescue Walpole’s requirements and developed and confirmed in conjunction with them.

Swarbrick is a comparatively light vessel, so the two 300hp Yamaha outboards which were requested by Marine Rescue Walpole provide exceptional performance.

The boat bettered 47 knots on trials, making it the fastest RIB built by Dongara Marine to that point. The engine package included Yamaha’s Helm Master EX integrated control system with joystick control and autopilot.

Walpole Inlet is particularly shallow (at most one metre deep) while Nornalup Inlet is larger and up to five metres deep. The estuaries are joined by a natural one kilometre long, two metre deep channel. To ensure the vessel can be operated safely and efficiently in both the deeper water offshore and shallow inlet waters Dongara Marine fitted a jacking plate to enable prop immersion to be varied.

Dongara Marine also supplied a custom built aluminium trailer from Duralite Trailers for the vessel as part of the contract.

The Walpole volunteers are one of 37 Marine Rescue WA groups situated along Western Australia’s coastline from Esperance in the south to Kununurra in the north that are managed and funded through DFES. Another two, in Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands, are funded and managed by the Commonwealth.

For more information on Volunteer Marine Rescue Western Australia (VMRWA) visit www.vmrwa.org.au or its Facebook page.

“The overall sea going capability of the vessel was really good. The group was very happy with the workmanship, overall finish, and presentation of the vessel… and were impressed with the level of expertise and technical support that was on hand to answer questions and discuss options.”

Commander and Skippers - Marine Rescue Walpole


Principal Particulars
Propulsion & Performance
Other Details
Project type
Marine Rescue Walpole / Department of Fire and Emergency Services
Vessel Type
Search and rescue
Hull type
Monohull (RIB)
Southerly Designs
Construction materials
Aluminium hull and superstructure
Survey / Class
Length overall
9.0 metres
3.10 metres
0.60 metres
4 additional personnel
600 litres
Fresh water
0 litres
Main engines
2 x Yamaha F300 outboards
Main engine rating
2 x 224kW
2 x outboards
Maximum speed
47 knots
Service speed
30 knots
Air-filled collar
Duralite Trailers