Published on 03 December 2011
Lifeboats of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) operate in the most demanding sea conditions and they design and test their lifeboats accordingly. However, on occasion, the vessels suffer damage as a result of operating in these conditions. The RNLI consulted TWI when a very heavy slamming impact caused damage to the structure of a Tamar class lifeboat.
Pulsed themography was used to confirm the integrity of the solid glass fibre hull skin and phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) was used to map the extent of debonding of the reinforcing structure. This limited the amount of structure that had to be cut away and repaired, saving time and reducing cost. NDT was applied again post repair, confirming the integrity of the repaired structure and allowing the vessel to be returned to service.
The results demonstrated the effectiveness of combining NDT technologies to assess composite structure, reducing the cost of repairs to the charity and giving confidence in the repairs to the crew.