An enclosed lifeboat formerly stationed on an oil and gas platform is set for a new civilian life after it was acquired by a US fishing YouTuber.
The 64-person lifeboat, formerly used aboard the Prosafe accommodation unit Safe Britannia, was bought by Alabama-based fishing vlogger Andrew via Facebook Marketplace last year.
And despite its utilitarian construction, Andrew has set about the process of converting the vessel into a floating camper for fishing expeditions.
Powered by a diesel motor, these lifeboats are built to carry large volumes of crew off a rig or platform in the event of an emergency, and as such are exceptionally stable and safe in the water.
The lifeboat was one of a number of similar craft apparently auctioned off after the floatel was scrapped in mid-2016 – eventually making its way to small boat enthusiast Andrew.
He documented the process of acquiring, transporting and partially restoring the boat in a series of videos for his YouTube channel, AYO Fishing.
The journey began with a visit to see the boat and meet with previous owner James – an 80-year old “cowboy” who said he had planned to paint the boat yellow in a sideways homage to the Beatles’ iconic Yellow Submarine.
James said he acquired the unit after a contractor tasked with breaking up the floatel had auctioned it off. In his sale, he even included some of the original life vests and a portrait of the unit itself stationed next to a larger platform in what appears to be the Gulf of Mexico.
After securing someone willing to tow the load across the state on its own custom-built trailer, Andrew set about renovating and waterproofing the vessel, including sealing a small hole in the base of the hull and adding new ballast.
Barring a small issue with a carbon monoxide leak from the diesel motor – which remains capable despite its age – the result is an impressive and unique vessel which Andrew managed to sail around his local lake.
Andrew and two friends even managed to spend a full night onboard – though the comfort and facilities still leave much to be desired.
Built in 1980, the Singapore-flagged semi-submersible Safe Britannia held enough accommodation on board for up to 812 people.
The DP2-rated vessel had more than 200 square metres of workshop and covered storage areas and an additional 380m2 of laydown and storage on deck, with around 20 workstations across the vessel.
Prosafe stacked the unit in 2015 after the conclusion of a stint in Mexico, later scrapping the floatel in 2016 alongside the 1982-built Jasminia, the 1977-built Hibernia.
Its last known position according to marine data was in Mobile, a bay in the south of Alabama close to its western border with Mississippi and presumably where James managed to pick up the craft at auction.
According to a Prosafe factsheet, it originally had four 75-person lifeboats on board, as well as eight of the 64-person type acquired by Andrew – meaning several more could be out there still.
Despite its age and condition however, it looks as though Andrew will hold onto it for some time – describing the boat during his maiden voyage aboard as “the best purchase we’ve ever made”.