Until recently, the only method of rapid access to these areas has been by helicopter, and surface access has been limited to walking, using mud mats and crawling boards.
The hovercraft is kept mounted on its own transporter, which allows it to be rapidly transported from location to location by road to wherever it is needed, and can launch from any flat area such as a car park or beach, provided there is enough room. The sponsons can be deflated, reducing the overall width for travel by road.
Hovercraft can rapidly search large areas of mud, sand and shallow water. Lift is provided by two fans that build up air pressure under the craft, and thrust by two large fans mounted on the back that act in the same way as aeroplane propellers. Steering is provided by aerofoil-shaped rudders located at the rear and the height of the craft’s skirt improves its sea-keeping and increases its ride height.
Once the casualty has been located, the hovercraft can settle alongside and provide a large, stable platform. The two inflatable sponsons provide stability and additional buoyancy and offer a soft edge for casualty recovery.
The hovercraft carries specialised mud rescue equipment to release a trapped casualty as well as basic first aid equipment.