The group of companies LLC “Hovercraft” INN 4711006590 and LLC “Shipbuilding company Neptune” INN 7725539402, operating under the brand name “Neptune Hovercraft” is an innovative shipbuilding company working in the design and production of hovercraft vehicles.
Our company has a long and successful history and can be proud of being the oldest privately owned the HOVERCRAFT manufacturing company in Russia. Сompany NEPTUNE Hovercraft is one of the few that has a full production cycle: aluminum riveting, fiberglass molding, sewing flexible fencing, turning and milling works. That is, we manufacture all parts of the future hovercraft: aluminum housing, fiberglass superstructure, flexible skirt-type craft, plastic propeller blades and blower blades, electrical-installation and assembly works
The company is constantly improving the quality of its products, the quality of components and materials. We are continuously working on the creation of new models of hovercraft and the modernization of previously developed ones
In 1972 in the state Central Design Bureau “Neptune” under the leadership of chief engineer G. Andreev. had been created a youth design bureau. The group included four young designers. All research works of hovercraft was carried out in the evenings at the time off from work.
After an extremely wide research of various types and study of the available theory of HOVERCRAFT it was decided to build a scale model for testing and experimental development based on the English hovercraft company Cushion Craft SS-7.
In 1973 the accumulated experience and knowledge allowed the members of the ICD to turn to the head of the Central Design Bureau “Neptune” I.A. Martynov with a request for the allocation of material funds for the construction of the first independent project. This task at that time was practically unsolvable, because the allocation of all the necessary resources had to be literally “to knock out” from the USSR Ministry of Shipbuilding.
But the confidence of the young designers and the active position of the head of the Central Design Bureau made it possible to start building an experienced HOVERCRAFT. During the construction, many interdepartmental problems had to be faced. The necessary engine and aluminum were not used in shipbuilding, and therefore they had to be obtained from the Ministry of Aviation Industry. In 1974, the first hovercraft of the project of the Central Design Bureau “Neptune” – AKVPR-001 was launched. The boat was lowered, didn’t go out off by itself, as it is doing now. The fact is that there was not a single person in the Central Design Bureau who could manage the HOVERCRAFT. Experienced captains HOVERCRAFT were in the Navy, but it was impossible to attract them due to the high degree of secrecy of this topic. The descent took place in late autumn, and since no one knew how to control the boat, the tests took place at low speeds. At the same time, a lot of spray rose into the air, interfering with control. On the first trials, the navigator controlled the vessel with long levers, leaning out of a hatch in the roof.
Later, the testers grew bolder, began to walk at overhead speeds and the splashing passed. Multilateral tests allowed to gain our own experience in both design and management and maintenance of hovercraft. This experience and the positive reaction of the Ministry of Shipbuilding made it possible to start designing the serial hovership “Bars”. In 1976, the project 14660 “Bars” came off the slipway of the experimental base of the Central Design Bureau “Neptune” at the Klyazmensky reservoir. The boat, not having time to go through all the modifications and tests, was forced to enter into a struggle for mass production with the then powerful Tupolev Design Bureau. The Tupolevites promoted their offspring – the AS snowmobile. It was decided to arrange a race on a difficult rough terrain of these two machines. In the course of a very difficult competition, hovership “Bars” won, which made it possible to place its serial production at the Rybinsk shipyard. The ministry and the Neptune Central Design Bureau decided to create a new direction of design work. The designers, who up to this point were engaged in the theme of amphibians on their own initiative, were appointed chief designers of the direction and each began to work on its own topic.
For their work on the creation of the hovership “Bars” they were awarded very prestigious prize of the Lenin Komsomol at that time. “Bars” accommodated seven people. In 1980, the Central Design Bureau “Neptune” released a new five-seat project 18800 – hovership “Gepard”. The Gepard boat marked a new era in the serial production of hovership. The fact is that the main obstacle to the serial production of HOVERCRAFTs was the lack of light automobile engines of the required power, so all developments were based on inaccessible and expensive aircraft engines. “Cheetah” broke this circle.
For the first time in the Soviet Union, it became possible to produce affordable and easily repairable GAZ-53 automobile engines. Although the engine was heavy and had a low resource, it was very simple, and spare parts could be easily found in any collective farm. The boat was produced for a long time at the Svir shipyard, which built more than 200 units. In addition, the “Gepard” was produced by the Central Design Bureau on its own at the base in Dolgoprudny. In 1984, the first boat of Project 18801, the Puma, was born. The first “Puma” was performed in a medical version. Two GAZ-53 engines were installed at the hovership. In the future, two more options were developed: project 18802 – passenger capacity 16 people and project 18803 – 10 marines with weapons. Serial production of “Puma” was established at the Svirskaya shipyard. In 1985, the Bizon air cushion complex was tested. The complex consists of one self-propelled platform on the VP and two non-self-propelled ones. HOVERCRAFT was developed by order of the Ministry of the Navy to equip supply vessels. The task of the air cushion complex was to unload supply vessels on the roadstead onto an unequipped coast. A self-propelled platform in conjunction with a non-self-propelled one went to the shore for unloading. Unhooking a non-self-propelled platform and wasting no time on unloading it, the HOVERCRAFT returned for the second loaded platform. In such a shuttle way, the necessary cargo was transferred to the shore.
In 1987, the design work on the 32-seat project 15060 – HOVERCRAFT “Irbis”. The vessel was equipped with two diesel engines manufactured in Germany, had an advanced superstructure design, double-layer glazing, a spacious interior, and a chassis raised above the interior. For the first time, the layout of engines and blowers was adopted, which we use on modern projects.
In 1988, the Central Design Bureau “Neptun” began to create a geophysical vessel on the VP with a carrying capacity of 40 tons called “Tapir”. To our great regret, the construction of the head copy was never completed due to the stop of funding.
In 1990, a project was developed for a two-seater small sports boat of the VP193 project – “Sobol”. For the sake of compactness, the designer was forced to abandon the highly efficient developments in the theory of flexible fencing, propeller and blower. The vessel was able to be transported on a car trailer, but the price paid for this was high fuel consumption and noise. The first boats were equipped with modified IZH motorcycle engines. Subsequently, due to low reliability, they had to be abandoned in favor of the Austrian ROTAX. For the production of these boats, the Neptun Central Design Bureau creates a subsidiary, Neptun-Alpha LLP.
In the 90s, demand fell not only for amphibians, but also for other vessels of all types. Nevertheless, the Neptunites are creating an air-cushion ship “Lynx” for an independent pilotage service, supplying ships to Mexico and Canada. The subsidiary company exists due to contractor’s work and production of hovership “Sobol”. At present, the Neptune Central Design Bureau has ceased to exist, and Neptune-Alpha has changed its name to the Neptune Shipbuilding Company.
In 2002 SC “Neptune” independently develops a new 9-seater project 100 – “Alligator”. It should be noted that for the first time a project is created using computer-aided design systems, which makes it possible to abandon a huge number of engineers and thereby reduce the cost of a TDS. For example, in Soviet times, the number of Central Design Bureau reached 400 people. Structurally, the boat was a small copy of the «Irbis». During this period, the company, not having sufficient production capacity, turned to the Svirsk shipyard.
Great assistance in the construction was provided by both ordinary employees of the shipyard and its then director – G.A. Kruk. In 2004, by order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a 7-seater project 110 – “Argo” was developed and built. The boat is structurally made on the basis of project 100. The length and width of the hull and the cabin were changed. In the future, the hovercraft’s passenger capacity was increased to 10 people.
Hovership “Argo” fell in love with reliability and is regularly purchased by the Ministry of Emergencies to equip rescue bases. Thanks to the twin-engine scheme and a two-tiered skirt, the boat has the highest survivability and seaworthiness. So, for example, some copies came for repairs on their own with a completely worn out lower tier.
At present, the «Argo» hovercraft is produced not only by our enterprise, but also under our license by the Svir shipyard.
In 2006, serial production of 15-seater diesel hovership “Leopard” begins. The boat was lengthened in the cabin and in the engine compartment of the «Argo» hovership. The Hovercraft was equipped with two 110 hp IVECO diesel engines each. The peculiarity was that these engines were installed on cars of the Fiat Ducato brand, which until 2011 had been produced by «Sollers» at the plant in Elabuga.
This solution allowed avoiding the main problem of imported engines – lack of technical support and stable supply of spare parts. Fiat Ducato fell in love with domestic motorists, so spare parts and consumables at affordable prices quickly appeared in stores. A large cargo hatch and folding seats appeared in the cabin of the boat. The height of the air cushion is 60 cm. In 2010, our company is organizing the names of the boats produced. All hovercraft start to be produced under the Neptune brand with a number corresponding to the maximum possible passenger capacity. So the «Sobol» hovership becomes Neptune 3, the Argo hovership- Neptune 10, Leopard hovership- Neptune 15, and the Leopard hovership – Neptune 15 “Irbis” – “Neptune 34”. The boats “Cheetah” and “Puma” are discontinued. They will be replaced by new models “Neptune 5” and “Neptune 23”, respectively. In 2011, we are coordinating with the Russian River Register to increase the passenger capacity of the «Argo» hovership to 11 people. The boat receives a new hull of 6 compartments, an air cushion of 50 cm, side folding sofas, electric amplifiers of the variable-pitch propeller.
The new project is marked “Neptune 11”. At the very beginning of 2013, we completed the construction and testing of the lead boat “Neptune 23”. The heart of the boat was two 150 hp Cummins diesel engines. each. The first boat is equipped with a toilet room and a kitchen with a gas stove and a washbasin, soft bus seats, luggage racks, curtains, Hella Xenon LED and xenon headlights, DT Separ separators, Hydronic preheaters, Multitrinics on-board diagnostic computers, double glazing of the passenger compartment with argon filling, VP height (ground clearance) – 750 mm, three interior heaters and undercarriage, 12-220V current inverters, radio, Furuno radar, 8 additional fuel tanks with a capacity of 125 liters each, etc.
During the tests, the boat demonstrated excellent maneuverability, throttle response and extremely low fuel consumption of about 30 liters / hour. The wheelhouse of the boat is separated from the passenger compartment by a bulkhead and is raised above it. This allows the skipper to control the situation around the vessel at 360 degrees, which is important for such dimensions. At the same time, we have retained the signature feature of our ships, this is the ability to painlessly transport them in containers. To transport Neptune 23, one 40-foot container and one 20-foot container or truck from 13 meters are required.