Specialist Rescue Equipment division

From manufacturing to racing and submersibles: Northern Diver’s boating history and latest developments in the field

For most of the last 40+ years, it’s been established for, Northern Diver has had various divisions serving diving, marine and rescue markets.

Northern Diver’s range of inflatable rescue boats and other craft has its roots in the firm’s historical establishment of Osprey Inflatables, which saw the manufacture of rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RIBs) for diving, rescue, and other interesting applications.

Osprey Inflatables

In the 80s, Northern Diver founder Mike Armitage established Osprey Inflatables to fulfill both his and other diver's needs for RIBs to explore areas of water off-limits to other larger craft with deeper draughts.

The following decade saw Osprey - and its founder - expand into racing RIBs and competing in RIB races, in particular, the RIB World Championship, won by Mike in 1995, and the Round Scotland RIB Race - a 500-mile course through some of the UK's most challenging sea conditions.

To house the two-man team of pilot and navigator, the racing boats were built with features such as moulded cockpits, wraparound consoles and rally-style seating, which at the time were pioneering.

Until Mike stepped away from the Osprey brand, over 2500 boats were produced in the UK and sold worldwide, including specialist rescue craft for ice and swift water.

Recent research and development...

Research and development form's a significant part of daily life at Northern Diver, and in partnership with Defence Submersibles International, Northern Diver has recently launched the DDC (Diver Delivery Craft). Designed for strategic military applications, the DDC is a wet submersible, meaning it can travel on or below the water's surface.

In consultation with a rescue client, the company created the inflatable rescue life board, a rescue aid that can be towed behind a personal watercraft (jet ski) in swift or rough water scenarios to quickly reach an in-water casualty and carry them to safety. The device can also be used to swim out to provide assistance in calmer waters.

The company was recently contacted by a customer who trains triathletes and open water swimmers to show a similar item to the life board, the Northern Diver RR3 sled, used with a jet ski as a safety feature for training sessions.

Another recent example of Northern Diver’s R&D output is the Saturn reg inflation kit, designed for rapid, near-instant inflation of boats, sleds and so on.

 Writer: Phil Armitage

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