The Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender is a seaplane tender designed by Silverport Dockyards Limited for tending to seaplanes both close to the shores of undeveloped places, for example islands in the middle of nowhere, or places, where there's not the space for a regular airport or a shore-based seaplane port. Due to the shallow draught, the Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender can operate very close to shore. This extends to both floatplanes and to flying boats.
While a military application of such vessels is not completely out of question these days, there are several hindrances to, for example the lack of military-grade sensors and processing systems or armament.
The term geabhróg means tern, the birds of the family of the Laridae.
The Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender is a classical monohull design with a steel hull and an aluminium superstructure, displacing 3,000 tons when fully loaded. The vessel is 125.5 metres long overall, has a beam of 14.45 metres and a draught of 3.6 metres, allowing the Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender to operate even in shallow waters of undeveloped harbours and atolls.
The vessel has a range of up to 6,000 nautical miles, or 11,112 kilometres, at a speed of 12 knots (for details about the propulsion, please see below) under full load. For optimal function and operational capabilities, 174 crew members, including air crew, are required, while berthing for an additional 150 people is provided. Both crew and passengers are equipped with similar amenities, making the vessel very habitable, including amongst others a satellite uplink for telecommunications such as television and internet, as well as a Wireless LAN System with an integrated Onboard Entertainment Network.
Three dinghies can be used to make shore runs, either to ferry people or good to and from the shore or supply vessels. Please keep in mind, that these three dinghies are part of the delivery, up to six dinghies can be carried comfortably and without impairing aircraft operations.
In order to find underwater obstacles, the Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender is equipped with a small sonar, which is to be used to avoid accidents. It can be used to detect fish swarms as well, but isn't particularly good at it.
Together with the Digital Airport Surveillance Radar, a Nuacht N-102 Mark II, a civilian cousin of the N-101 used on the Beag-class Aircraft Carrier and a far less powerful one as well, it completes the sensor suite of the Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender. Said N-102 Mark II doubles as weather radar, navigation radar for when the vessel moves and can detect aircraft at 30 nautical miles or 55.5 kilometres, operating on the S-Band. Mounted on a mast, this radar consists of two major components, the detection radar itself and the beacon, which allows aircraft to follow it to the seaplane port or the Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender.
For emergencies, the Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender is equipped with a small hospital with thirty beds, including the small intensive care unit, and six water cannons with the option to spray firefighting foam onto their target. Other security systems onboard include a fire suppression system fit to work with flammable liquids and several storerooms locked with fingerprint scanners.
The Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender is powered by a diesel generator providing 5,000 kilowatts of power, the same generators as they are used on board of the Port Hackburry class Fleet Oiler. These drive a singular waterjet for forwards motion with up to 18 knots and power all the electrical systems of the vessel, from the coffee maker to the radars.
The vessel is steered by this waterjet as well, eliminating the need for a rudder, which might get damaged by underwater obstacles. This is done by a technique similar to the one used on modern combat aircraft, namely thrust vectoring. The Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender can also reverse by the usage of a reversing bucket.
The diesel generator and the propulsion arrangement reduce maintenance costs and increase both fuel efficiency and safety considerably as that arrangement eliminates the need for maintenance intensive gearboxes and secondary power generators.
The Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender can carry two small seaplanes onboard, as well as support up to 24 seaplanes of varying sizes and types, both with maintenance work, crew berthing, fuel and airport facilities. While the only limitations of the supported airplanes is the size of the area allocated to the Seaplane Tender, not the tender itself, the carried seaplanes are limited to their size being small.
The purpose of these seaplanes, from recreation, research, patrol, passenger and freight transport or any other conceivable or inconceivable application of seaplanes, matters little for the Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tenders performance, as its storerooms and workshops can work on many different kinds of equipment. For more extensive repairs of even a larger aircraft, a small crane with a maximum lift weight of twenty tons can haul an aircraft onto her large, open aft deck, which can double as a helicopter landing pad.
The fuel tanks can store up to 400,000 litres of aviation fuel, said tanks being double-hulled and highly secured. The eight different tanks can be filled with different fuels for different engines as well.
Seaplanes, ever since the first of them were invented, played an important role in the Free Lands, their tenders being important as well, naturally. With only two international airports and eight airports, bushplanes and seaplanes, as well as their pilots are important for the air traffic until today.
But back in time: The Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender is the last iteration in a long line of seaplane tenders operated by Geabhróg Airlines, one of the first airlines of the Free Lands,
The Geabhróg-class Seaplane Tender, and it's first vessels, the Geabhróg herself and her three sisters, were the result of a request for development of Geabhróg Airlines, an airline of the Free Lands operating the seaplane services between the Mainland, the Archipelago and the Northern Islands, as well as several destinations outside of the Free Lands to replace a quartet of older vessels of the same kind.
In 2016, the Water Polices of Wembury, Dumhach and Conall Curach placed an order for three vessels in total to support their expansions into seaplane aviation in lieu of airports in their homecities and land-based aviation. The three vessels, Wembury's Breitheamh (Judge), Conall Curach's Bogaigh (Wetlands) and Dumhach's Réalta Dhorcha (Dark Star), their aircraft complements being partially financed by other water polices in exchange for shared usage rights, were delivered in 2017 and 2018, the last one being dubbed on the day of the Spring Festival 2018 in Silverport.