The test we experienced on board the Med Defence 700 CP was a very stringent one, not so much for the boat which is specifically conceived to withstand strains which are generally prohibitive to other vessels, as for our team that sea trialed the boat while Italy was in the grip of freezing cold weather.
It’s indeed a little strange to leave from Milan in the sun, get to Cervia and find it more similar to the Three Peaks of Lavaredo than a sea resort. At the beginning of our sea trial, air temperature was -3° which, at a speed of 30 knots, amount to a -12° windchill.
This was clearly proved by the battery of our smartphone, which served as monitor for our drone, which abandoned us after only 20 minutes of work…
When we arrived, the Med Defence 700 CP – a military RIB specifically built for the Port Authority by Gruppo Med, a historic Italian company with a long experience in boat building which gathers brands like Solemar, Arimar and Svama Nautica – was waiting for us.
And it’s exactly from the shipyard producing the legendary Solemar cabin-equipped RIBs – well-known for their seaworthiness – that special military boats used by the Italian Navy, fire fighters, park authorities and Civil Defence come. They are completely custom-made boats, built according to precise specifications which are designed to make these boats suitable for a specific use. In the case of the Med Defence 700 CP, this specificity is expressed by maritime rescue and recovery operations.
These boats have to go through several and rigorous tests before they can be put in water for maritime purposes. The Med Defence 700 CP, for example, is subject to a stringent lifting test which is really challenging for both the boat and the slings and rings conventionally used to launch it. The means is therefore loaded with different weights until it reaches twice the Mmoc conditions ( mass minimal operational conditions); later, it is lifted for a minimum of 5 minutes. After the test, all parts are inspected and technicians make sure that no evidence of rupture or weakening is there. In order to efficiently support all these strains, both the hull and the deck of these boats feature laminated, appropriately sized reinforcements. Fittings, too, are unconventional and benefit from special, highly resistant materials.
When provided for by the specifications, all the other Med Defence means comply with the SOLAS standards which entail even more stringent tests, such as 3-meter fall, capsizing and side impact tests.
Hands up who has never dreamed, at least once in his life, of testing a military means! Highly appealing since always, these means are the icon of seaworthiness and sea rescue.
The boat were going to test today is specially conceived to withstand, at full load (far beyond the conventional capacity), missions where yachtsmen and crew’s safety represent the priority. The construction process as well as the tests which the boat is subject to before being delivered to police forces focus on sturdiness, seaworthiness, manoeuvrability and, of course, performance.
With all this in mind, I climb on board the boat which, for the occasion, is launched in Cesenatico, along the Fosso della Venarella, the channel which leads us to the open sea.
After a pair of maneuvers in restricted waters, the boat reacts promptly and easily. Power comes from a Mercury Verado 200, a 4-cylinder 1.7 liter outboard which combines the proverbial Mercury reliability and a really interesting torque.
A few days before our test, the coast was hit by a strong swell but, now, the sea is slightly rough, even if long waves and the colour of the water are not the most inviting ones. And, in fact, an annoying long wave welcomes us just a few minutes before we leave the channel.
Once we get out of the port, we pull throttles down and we are immediately pushed back by acceleration. If it is true that we are only two passengers on board and that this boat is conceived to sail at full load, it is equally true that accelerating from 0 to 25 knots in less than 10 seconds gives some unique emotions. We speed up again and the 700 CP reacts promptly; in a heartbeat, we touch 35 knots and, adjusting the trim in order to compensate the “unloaded” boat trim, we finally reach the top speed: 39.5 knots.
We slow down a little and start maneuvers. Increasingly tighter turns make us experience a centrifugal force never tried before while the boat is glued to its trajectory. Unlike other inflatable boats, tubes here are not ornamental elements and, in tight turns, they remain immersed in water and do an excellent work.
Now, it’s time to change direction and see what the 700 CP is made of. Have you have ridden the Serravalle road? Its bends and counter-bends? Well, this boat is the same thing. Very fast direction changes and unthinkable inclinations are accompanied by excellent responsiveness and millimeter-level driving precision.
Now, I understand why the RIB features two seats, for pilot and co-pilot, clearly inspired by the motorcycle register since this is the only way to steer it in safety. The Med Defence 700 CP is indeed equipped with the famous X-Craft suspensions, used by most of military boats all around the world, designed to minimize risks of injury.
Needless to say, when we intercept our wake, the passage on the wave is soft: this boat is simply made for this.
I try to get this means into trouble, but in vain. Then, regretting not having more load on board, I set course to the harbour while I have almost lost the function in my fingers and – my co-pilot will be certainly happy about this – cold almost prevent me from talking.
I ask permission to test some fast maneuvers at the mouth of the port so that my colleague can take some high-definition photos from the dock. I am allowed to do that and, taking advantage of the undertow entering the channel, I perform my last “jumps”. At the end, we moor and leave, reluctantly, the Med Defence 700 CP.
Med Defence 700 CP – Performance
|Speed and fuel consumption (l/h and l/nm)|
|knots||Partial (seconds)||Progressive (seconds)|
|0 – 10||4.91||4.91|
|10 – 15||0.89||5.80|
|15 – 20||1.33||7.13|
|20 – 25||2.46||9.59|
|25 – 30||2.33||11.92|
|30 – max||9.83||21.75|
|Med Defence 700 CP – Technical Specs
||Mercury Verado 200 hp Specs
east/north-east slightly rough sea – air temperature: from -3° to -1° – two passengers on board. 100% fuel capacity- 20% water capacity