A small team of UK boatbuilders has designed a vessel that could well be the answer to one of the shipping industry’s most damaging scourges – oil spills.

Father and son team, Paul and Simon Jauncey, and their American partner, Jose Saurez, are currently building a prototype of the vessel – appropriately named the Gobbler – which is made of fibre-glass and can remove light and heavy oil discharges from water surfaces after oil rig disaster, vessel groundings, sea spillages and other incidents. 

Vessel design for the 'The Gobbler'.

The Gobbler, which is 8.85-metre-long and weighs 3.25 tonnes, is powered by an Italian 250hp, EIAPP engine and can travel at speeds of up to 23 knots. After an incident, the two-man Gobbler or Gobblers recover any oil discharges via a centrally-mounted bollard which pumps the oil into a series of bladders that are towed behind the vessel or vessels. The bladders are then collected and towed ashore or else loaded onto a nearby mother-ship.

The prototype is being built at the partners’ factory in Portsmouth, UK, with approval and classification by Lloyd’s Register.

Once the sea trials have finished, the partners’ company Gobbler Boats is planning to build up to 50 vessels by the end of 2015 and, eventually, 500 Gobblers a year "as and when supply catches up with demand," said Paul Jauncey.

You can read the full story in the January 2015 issue of Horizons, LR’s marine magazine, which is published on 7 January.