What is a Rib

What is a RIB or RHIB? And what are the advantages?

Sometimes we are asked what ‘RIB’ or ‘RHIB’ actually stands for, and why they might be better than conventional designs.

RIB is the commonly used acronym for Rigid Inflatable Boat, if it contains an H, it stands for Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat. Both RIBs and RHIBs are the same thing, they are light-weight, high performance powerboats constructed with a solid hull, and inflatable tubes or ‘sponsons’ around the outer edge.

The addition of inflatable tubes to a solid hull increases the shock-absorbing qualities of the vessel giving it a hull that can essentially change shape under the impact of waves,  known as a Variable Geometry Hull, something that is unique to a RIB.

Originally developed in the 1960’s by Atlantic College in South Wales for the RNLI, the incorporation of tubes was initially intended as a protective measure to limit damage to other vessels the Lifeboat needed to come alongside.

RIBs are incredibly versatile boats, their design means they are very stable, seaworthy and very durable making them the perfect tool for any commercial work. Added buoyancy from the tubes means that they have an impressive load carrying capability, and if the integrity of the hull is compromised they will still have adequate flotation to make it back to a safe haven.

Open Ribs

An open Rib is the conventional and most common design of Rib which most people will recognise, the boat has no roof/ cabin meaning it has an exposed deck throughout. This type of Rib has become popular with pleasure boaters over the years as they are fast yet have superior stability and sea going capabilities making them an easy and safe option for day trips out on the water.

Solent Rib Charter run the option to hire open Ribs with or without a skipper, providing you have a minimum of a Powerboat level 2 and suitable experience you can hire a Rib for leisure anywhere in the UK.

Open Rib Bareboat


Commercial operators also use Open Ribs utilising them for anything from Safety Boats and Dive Support craft to survey work in shallow waters.  If required, the aft pod seats can be removed to create a larger open deck to work from and towing bollards can be installed for assisting with moving vessels or equipment.

Guard boat hire

Cabin Ribs

Exactly as the name states, Cabin Ribs have a cabin that can cover all or part of the deck providing shelter for its passengers. Cabin Ribs are becoming more and more available with many different options, some are as large as 15 meters and have seating for 12 passengers plus the vessel crew.

Crew transfer vessel

Commercial Uses

In the commercial world, Ribs have become the ‘go to’ vessel based on the attributes listed above and are now a regular sight for a lot of water based commercial work. The main sectors our Ribs cover are; crew transfers, guard boats, safety boats, survey boats, work boats, daughter craft, film & media and Military/ police work. Click the links above to find out more on what we can provide to each of these sectors or if you have an enquiry to charter with us then please contact our team on 01590 607103.

Crew transfer standing by

Click here for full information on CRC’s fleet of RIBs.