General Dynamics European Land Systems presents Pontoon Boat in Hamburg

Posted on 2021-12-14

On November 30, 2021, GDELS-Bridge Systems and its partners presented the first Pontoon Boat system at the Elbphilharmonie in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg. This was preceded by testing of the prototype at the THW School in Hoya and on the River Elbe in Hamburg.

The German government’s executive coordinator for the maritime industry, Norbert Brackmann, presented the pontoon boat system.

Norbert Brackmann: "Not only as Maritime Coordinator, but also as an active member of the DLRG for many years, I know how essential reliable and safe equipment is for all relief and emergency forces - civilian and military. It is literally 'vital'. I am therefore even more pleased that we are seeing here today, with the Pontoon Boat, a system whose modular design makes it not only highly innovative but also very flexible. This will enable us to respond faster and better to catastrophic events, such as those we ourselves painfully experienced in the summer of 2021 with the floods on the Erft or Ahr rivers."

Sascha Wahlster (GDELS), Dr. Christian Kauth (GDELS), Tammo Stamer (THW), Norbert Brackmann (BMWi), Daniel Siegl (THW), Martin Rupprecht (THW), Gerd Friedsam (THW)

The Pontoon Boat system is primarily designed for use in disaster situations, such as flooding or dam breaches. The basic system has four Floats, two Bow Modules and two Propulsion Modules. The system can represent two Single Boats as well as two Long Boats. It can be used individually as a Boat or coupled as a Diving Platform, a large or small Working Platform, or coupled laterally offset as a Transport Platform or as a Floating Bridge.

The system was developed by a consortium consisting of General Dynamics European Land Systems-Bridge Systems GmbH, DST (Development Centre for Ship Technology and Transport Systems), SZENARIS GmbH, the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), and the Technical University of Kaiserslautern. In addition, the Kiel and Wesel fire departments, as well as the Central Command for maritime Emergencies Germany and the DLRG, were significantly involved in the scenario-based requirements for development.

In contrast to the legacy systems on the market to date, the Prototype has a very high degree of automation. The Pontoon Boat navigates semi-autonomously thanks to state-of-the-art sensor technology. The BASILISK,- an autonomously operating water drone has stereo cameras, Lidar and Sonar sensor technology and thus maps unusual waterways in flooded areas. In this way, the system can provide rescuers with quick access to the scene while maintaining a high level of operational safety. The Pontoon Boat can be transported on two standard trailers.

Operation: Transfer of personnel and material with large work platform (close coupled)

"The new Pontoon Boat has been developed according to the requirements of various operational organizations. It meets the highest technical requirements in terms of control, engine drive and other components, complements our areas of operation and enables the transport of heavy loads via waterways. All THW specialist groups benefit from this," says THW President Gerd Friedsam.

Dr. Christian Kauth, Managing Director GDELS-Bridge Systems: "The Pontoon Boat system has the potential to become the “Swiss army knife” of disaster relief. In addition to water-based operations, the ramps carried also enable the construction of 10m long heavy-duty bridges on land. Should this system be procured "designed and made in Germany", the national disaster relief organization would be well equipped for the next decades. We are ready."

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