Zodiac Hurricane multirole boats (MRBs) are manufactured by Zodiac Milpro. Credit: Grouping of Construction Industries and Naval Activities (GICAN), France.
More than 60 Zodiac Hurricane multirole boats are in service with the French Navy. Credit: Zodiac MILPRO.
Zodiac Hurricane multirole boats are suitable for search and rescue operations. Credit: Grouping of Construction Industries and Naval Activities (GICAN), France.

The Zodiac Hurricane rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) are small and high-speed manoeuvrable vessels manufactured by Zodiac Milpro, a boat building company based in France.

The boat can be configured to perform a range of missions, such as search and rescue (SAR), humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and marine interdiction operations in any sea condition.

More than 60 Zodiac Hurricane RHIBs are currently in service with the French Navy. Named Embarcation de Drome Operationnel (EDO), the boats are deployed by the French Navy for maritime security operations, personnel and cargo transport, water surveillance, SAR, and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) missions.

In May 2020, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, ordered 11 Zodiac Hurricane ZH-638 IO variants for deployment on board the French Navy’s amphibious helicopter carriers (PHAs), Mistral and Tonnerre, as well as multipurpose stealth frigate La Fayette, and test and measurement vessel (BEM) Monge. The first five boats were delivered by July 2021, while the remaining six were scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2022.

International orders and deliveries of Zodiac Hurricane RHIBs

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) will also receive 30 Zodiac Hurricane multirole boats (MRBs) by 2024 under a $35m contract signed by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) and Zodiac Milpro’s Canadian subsidiary Zodiac Hurricane Technologies (ZHT) in March 2020.

The contract was signed as part of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy to renew the federal fleet of combat and non-combat vessels of the RCN and Canadian Coast Guard. The new MRBs will be operated from RCN’s Halifax-class warships.

Furthermore, the Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) contracted Zodiac Milpro International to supply 13 new Zodiac Hurricane RHIBs to the Spanish Navy’s Marine Corps in August 2021.

Scheduled to be delivered between March 2022 and January 2023, the new boats will be equipped with warfighting capabilities and support amphibious operations to facilitate special maritime, counter-piracy and anti-drug missions.

Design and features of Zodiac Hurricane multirole boat

Zodiac Hurricane boat features military air channelled hull II (MACH II) made from fibreglass or aluminium and removable collars of conventional round shape, D-shape, hybrid tube or Durarib™ foam.

The MRBs come with inboard/outboard propulsion systems, featuring propeller-driven stern drives or jet drives. The maximum speed of the boat is 60k.

The boat can be optionally fitted with stand-up consoles, T-tops, and shock mitigation cabins and seats to meet specific mission requirements.

The Zodiac Hurricane RHIBs are available in commando, SAR, law enforcement and cabin boat configurations. The shape, size, design and equipment of the boat can be customised, depending on specific mission needs.

The lengths of different variants vary between 6.7m and 13.1m, while the widths range from 2.6m to 3.7m. The maximum seating capacity of the boats varies between eight and 20.

Zodiac Hurricane ZH-638 IO technical specifications

The ZH-638 IO RHIBs deployed by the French Navy measure approximately 7m long and 2.6m wide. The semi-rigid boats are designed to carry two crew members along with a team of up to 12 VBSS intervention members.

The RHIBs feature a fiberglass hull and deck, reinforced with isopthalic polyester resin. The deck comes with black or grey non-skid adhesive and self-draining capability. The deck sections are removable for accessing and removing the fuel tank. The boat also has an underdeck access hatch to the transom of the hull.

The ZH-638 IO boat has a removable five-chamber inflatable Neoprene/Hypalon 1670 Dtx collar, equipped with pressure relief valves. There are three rows of full-length rubbing strakes with intercommunicating deflation and inflation valves.

The overall tube volume of the boat is 101ft³ while the diameter of the buoyancy tube is 21in.

Navigation and communications

The Zodiac Hurricane RHIB is fitted with navigation lights in accordance with the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS) for vessels less than 20m in length.

The boat has a position light that complies with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS) norms.

The RHIB features an electric horn, magnetic compass, EchoMAP 52dv global positioning system (GPS), M506 very high frequency (VHF) fixed marine transceiver, GM1600E VHF mobile radio communication device, and marine automatic identification system (AIS).

Electrical system

The electrical system of the ZH-638 IO boat includes a 13-circuit, 12 volts of direct current (VDC) system with waterproof circuit breakers and switches. It utilises two power banks, comprising Optima D34M batteries with selector/isolator switches.

The boat also features a 16 Amp 220V or 30 Amp 110V alternating current (AC) shore power system, battery charger, engine coolant heater, and dimmer switches for instrument and compass lights. Two accessory plugs for emergency use and a lifeboat position indicator light are also available.

Propulsion and performance

The French Navy’s ZH-638 IO variant is powered by a Volvo D4-225 diesel engine with a maximum power generating capacity of 315hp (235kW).

The boat’s propulsion system also includes a raw water flush system, dual propellers, rudder and angle indicator, and steering system provided by Volvo.

ZH-638 IO comes with a roto-moulded polyethylene fuel tank of 181l capacity. The boat’s full load displacement is 3.4t.

The RHIB can sail at a maximum speed of 30k when operating in rescue mode with five persons on board and attain an average speed of 20k when carrying a maximum of 14 people on board. It has a maximum range of 200nmi.

The Zodiac Hurricane MRBs ordered by the RCN will be powered by twin diesel engines and travel at speeds of more than 40k. The MRBs will be equipped with propeller drives, shock-absorbing seats, and a built-in platform to intercept and board other vessels.