About Rhino Marine

Durable, virtually indestructible HDPE boats to commercial markets.

Who We Are?

Rhino Marine Products (Pty) Ltd are a Cape Town (South Africa) based company who fabricate the almost indestructible HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) offshore work boats “Rhino Craft” – which have been successfully used (and abused) for 15 years – primarily in the marine Oil and Gas fields.  The Rhino Craft are designed by the sister company Wale Marine who have for 30 years been active in the design and manufacture of offshore oil and gas installations and repair works in Western and Southern Africa, including ancillary support equipment and installation aids.

The first Rhino Craft were built in 2003 shortly after the advent of offshore HDPE work boats which were then being pioneered primarily by the Norwegians.  Wale Marine were initially commissioned by the Hydrodive Group in Nigeria to design, fabricate and supply three cost effective container transportable HDPE workboats that would be compatible with the offshore “Surfer type” oil and gas bow-catcher boat landing structures.  

Several of the earlier Rhino Craft are still in successful operation in Nigeria and elsewhere, but since their inception the Rhino Craft have been progressively evolved and improved based on extensive prototype and field observation coupled with improved fabrication technology based on experience and development of design expertise.

A brief bullet-point timeline showing the evolution of Rhino Marine and Rhino Craft is presented below:

  • 2003 – First 5.5 metre tiller operated 40 HP outboard Rhino Craft designed and built by Wale Marine for Hydrodive Nigeria;
  • 2005 – Rhino Marine Products was formed in to fabricate and market established Rhino Craft models;
  • 2006 – First high-speed 8.5 metre twin 200 HP Rhino Craft built for offshore diamond mining operations in Sothern African west coast;
  • 2006 – First inboard diesel (Steyr) and jet-drive (Alamarin) Rhino Craft (8.5 metre) built;
  • 2007 – First high speed inboard diesel Z drive Rhino Craft (Volvo Penta) built;
  • 2010 – First motorised composite HDPE structural steel catamaran barge built for use in the reconstruction of the Calshot Harbour in Tristan du Cunha;
  • 2010 – Prior to 2010 Rhino Craft fabrication was executed in Pretoria with specialised HDPE fabrication sub-contractors – in 2010 a Rhino Marine fabrication plant was established in Cape Town;
  • 2010 – when Wale Marine were commissioned by PetroSA to design and manage emergency repairs to their damaged tether system on the EM control buoy the Rhino 590-EHD Craft was optimised for the moving of heavy floating equipment, the handling of heavy equipment, the need to surge loads over the side of the vessel with steel wire ropes, and the need to interact with the EM buoy for personnel transfer – all to be done in the heavy winter seas south of our coast;
  • 2011 – Recognising the need for inboard diesel jet driven (IJ) craft especially for offshore oil and gas fields Wale Marine embarked on developing a spec prototype Rhino Craft 690 IJ – designed with curved bow plates instead of the jointed plane hull plates that had been used on earlier Rhino Craft;
  • 2011 – Wale Marine were commissioned by SMIT Subsea to develop a 22 knot 9.5 m scuba replacement (SRP) boat.  This craft used a Steyr inboard diesel and Ultra Jet propulsion system. The craft was SAMSA certified with them overseeing our fabrication and welding processes.  This craft has operated extensively in Equatorial Guinea and has been an extremely successful financial success for SMIT/Boskalis and is still owned and operated by Boskalis now in Congo.  This IJ – SRP Rhino Craft was the first of several that have been supplied to offshore oil and gas contractors and diving operators around the world;
  • 2012 – Rhino Marine fabricated a spec/demo prototype 9 metre Military Patrol Boat (MPB). This craft was designed without the traditional pipe sponsons (RIB shape) but had a slab sided bulwark (SB craft).  The 900 MPB was powered by twin 440 HP diesels and jets and performed extremely well with a top speed of just below 40 knots. After its field trials when it was demonstrated to the SA Navy in Simonstown it was purchased by African Diving Services (ADS) in Nigeria as a SRP and general offshore work-boat where it is still operating very successfully.  In a recent email communication with ADS we were informed “The 900 is performing well and Mobil love it.  Paid for itself many times already.” ;
  • 2014 – The earlier “conventional” Rhino Craft was a “RIB-style craft” being an evolution from the standard RIB or RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable) but using rigid HDPE pipe sponsons in place of the vulnerable inflatable sponsons of the RIB’s.  The pre-2014 RIB-style Rhino Craft employed 500 mm diameter pipes which acted as seats with the deck being at the level of the pipe invert (bottom of sponson) and the hull protruding below the pipe invert. In 2014 we decided to reconsider the design from afresh to see how it could be optimised.  After investigation we came up with a revolutionised “composite design” with a smaller pipe sponson that acts compositely with an up-stand bulwark/seat-module and side-wards with a hull-module such that the pipe acts as the chine between the hull and the elevated bulwark. For this composite design the deck level is raised to above mid-sponson level.  This change provided a very efficient and strong hull that has greater stability, deck-space and much higher pay-load relative to its RIB style predecessors. Sea trials of the new prototypes proved the new hulls to be extremely effective and manoeuvrable at high speeds;
  • 2015 – Rhino Marine entered into a sole distributorship with Twiga logistics for the distribution of military Rhino Craft.  Twiga commissioned a prototype Rhino 850 HD (MPB) based on the new composite bulwark/pipe-sponson/hull design for them to fit out as an armoured display craft for establishing marketing footage as well as well as for taking around Africa to display to potential clients (see YouTube 850 MPB VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J37udvARlrU  ). This has been a fruitful endeavour as there has been an order for four more of these 40 knot craft with further prospects looming;
  • 2016 – the various old “RIB-style” designs were all phased out and replaced with the new composite design.  These composite sponson boats are fabricated as HD (Heavy Duty) workboats or EHD (Extra Heavy Duty) workboats with a separate fendered forepeak in the bow that can take the heavy impact loading of offshore bow-catcher structures and if damaged by accidental ultra-high impact loads damage to the forepeak does not impair the integrity of the hull;
  • 2017 – Given that there had been various enquiries for a cheaper and more simple Rhino Craft that could be used outside of the offshore oil and gas market this notion was brought to fruition when we were approached by a local aquaculture company to design a few self-propelled (outboard motor driven) mini-barges for them to transport fish feed to their cages.  The brief was to design a mini-barge capable of transporting 2 Tonnes (2000 kg) of fish feed together with a helmsman and a helper. This led us to design the new FF (Flay Fronted) range of Rhino Craft which have no bulwark but have a simple prismoidal hull linking two pipe sponsons. The hull is terminated with a 45 degree front bow plate and a near vertical stern transom plate.  This design works as a typical displacement hull when heavily laden and can also operate as a planing hull when lightly laden. Proto type tests on the FF range of craft proved very successful;
  • 2017 – Flowing from the successful FF concept we designed a new range of SB Rhino Craft that has no pipe sponsons and rather employs a slab-sided bulwark similar to our original 2012 900 MPB but instead of having a sharp cleaving bow it has a broad upward sloping bow similar to the traditional Boston Waler bows.  These new SB Rhino Craft have enormous pay-load capacity coupled with a much larger working deck space than the equivalent length sponson boats. Another major advantage of the SB Rhino Craft is that it is fabricated from mortise and tenon jointed CNC cut plates that make it ideally suited for kit-form fabrication with appropriate jigs involving transporting the cut plates for fabrication in removed locations – given that it is the intention to start fabricating Rhino Craft in other countries – initially Nigeria, Australia and the EU;
  • 2018 – the SB range of designs was refined to have a SB-H (Heavy-duty craft that is also compatible with offshore bow-catchers) as well as an SB-E (Extra heavy-duty craft with an added fendered forepeak as per the EHD version of composite sponson craft where accidental damage to the forepeak will not impair the hull integrity).  A significant portion of the Rhino Marine stock has effectively been purchased by GOSL (Geodetic Offshore Services Limited) in Nigeria and in the NOG (Nigerian Oil and Gas) exhibition to be held in Abuja in July Rhino Marine and GOSL will be exhibiting together to introduce the new Rhino Craft fabrication and support factory to be set up in Lagos where kit form SB Rhino Craft will initially be built using CNC plate cut in our Cape Town factory where we are setting up our second CNC routing machine.
  • 2020 – Further to the developing the slab sided bulwark range, in 2020, Rhino developed the latest Titanium Range as a lighter weight a Deep-V Hull. This new design aims to continue to provide all the benefits of an HDPE construction hull, but with a relatively lighter over-all mass, more cost effective price, relatively faster fabrication time and an aesthetically pleasing finish.  These are some of the attributes we have kept in mind when designing this new craft for these new market demands and the Rhino TT aims to accommodate applications such as a fishing, aquaculture, eco-tourism, security, personal transfer, tender, survey, diving, general work boat, recreational boat and more. 


Our Mission

We aim to supply durable, virtually indestructible HDPE boats to commercial markets that require boats that can handle much abuse in tough operating environments.