Spencer Mahoney

Spencer Mahony

HM Consul and UKTI Regional Director for the South East United States

Part of Partners in Prosperity

9th February 2012 USA

The Fast and the Amphibious

Some weeks, Tuesday is just Tuesday. But this week I had a “James Bond” Tuesday.

Spencer Mahony with a Gibbs Technologies high-speed amphibious vehicle

It was with great pleasure that I was able to participate at the unveiling of a revolutionary and truly game changing technology on Tuesday, with the Pentagon as the backdrop. On show was the “Phibian,” the newest high-speed amphibious vehicle from Gibbs Technologies. Gibbs has been on the cutting edge of high-speed amphibious vehicles for years now: you might remember Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group, setting a new cross-Channel amphibious vehicle speed record in a Gibbs Aquada back in 2004.

The Phibian may not have quite the sleek lines of the Aquada—its convertible cousin—or all the gadgets of a Bond car (ejection seat and rocket launchers sold separately), but it is every bit as impressive. I don’t know whether it’s more accurate to describe it as a high performance truck that jets through the water or as a high-speed boat that can take on the highway. I saw the vehicle go from land to water with the push of a button and without missing a beat, then literally speed away from the shore. Besides being quick in the water, the real magic is that it can go up to 80 miles an hour on land. The secret behind the vehicle is having powerful jets and special wheels that are lifted back into the side of the boat once in the water—think something from Q’s 007 lab, or perhaps even the Batmobile.

Gibbs chairman Neil Jenkins touted the Phibian as purpose built for multi-mission first responders and the military. “Natural disasters in recent memory,” he said, “such as the earthquake and tsunamis in Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and elsewhere in Asia—as well as the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans—illustrate the need for amphibians as capable, versatile and efficient as the Phibian.”

Gibbs Technologies Aquatic Vehicles

The story behind these awesome machines might be my favourite part. The founder of Gibbs Technologies, Alan Gibbs, studied at a New Zealand university founded by scholars from Oxford; went on to serve as a diplomat in London; and is now manufacturing his newest project in Detroit, along with other vehicles in the UK. It’s a shining example of the benefits we get from investing in education and skills training. Making Phibians and the other vehicles —advanced manufacturing if ever there were any—is the kind of high-paying, long-lasting job that will kick both our economies into top gear and get our heads back above water.

About Spencer Mahony

Spencer Mahony took up his posting as HM Consul and Regional Director, East Coast USA for UK Trade and Investment in December 2010. Prior to his current appointment, he spent…

Spencer Mahony took up his posting as HM Consul and Regional Director, East Coast USA for UK Trade and Investment in December 2010.

Prior to his current appointment, he spent three years as Head of UK Trade and Investment in western India based in Mumbai. He covered four states accounting for over 40% of India’s GDP and managed relations with many of India’s largest investors in the UK, including the Tata Group of companies.

On secondment to the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry he directed a joint UK government and industry investigation into how the UK retains its position as a world class destination for biomedical research.

At the Department of Business, he held policy positions in energy security, regional economic development and the department’s strategy unit. He participated in EU employment law negotiations and transposed EU legislation into UK law. He was Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Minister of State for Industry and the Regions and Deputy Minister for Women and Equality.

He has also worked at the British Embassy in Beijing and was a member of the JET programme.

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