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Oct 31, 2017 11:43 AM

Smaller fireboats get the call; patrol orders go global

Patrol boat orders from outside the United States helped fuel a busy year of building for Louisiana’s Metal Shark. Among the foreign customers was the Puerto Rico Police Department, which took delivery of four Defiant-class and Fearless-class boats.

Courtesy Metal Shark

Patrol boat orders from outside the United States helped fuel a busy year of building for Louisiana’s Metal Shark. Among the foreign customers was the Puerto Rico Police Department, which took delivery of four Defiant-class and Fearless-class boats.

Several large fireboats led the way last year in American Ship Review, but this year’s deliveries and new orders tended to be smaller, faster and nimbler. Meanwhile, shipyards specializing in patrol and law enforcement boats benefited from large contracts to American and foreign militaries as well as ongoing projects for police departments here in the U.S. As it often does, Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding received the bulk of U.S. pilot boat orders, with many expected for delivery next year.

Pittsburgh has a proud industrial history, but the city has transformed itself in recent decades into a regional health care and business hub. New development along the city’s rivers required the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire to expand its firefighting capabilities.

The agency took delivery in July of the 34-foot Sophie Masloff built by Lake Assault Boats of Superior, Wis. The vessel will see duty on the Monongahela, Ohio and Allegheny rivers in and around Pittsburgh.

Sophie Masloff is powered by twin Yamaha V-6 outboard engines and is equipped with Task Force Tips (TFT) bow and stern monitors each capable of delivering 1,250 gallons per minute. It is the first fireboat with a 3,000-gpm Hale 80FC fire pump driven by a V-8 Duramax diesel pump engine, according to Lake Assault.

“As the city of Pittsburgh moves forward with residential and commercial structures along the rivers, the fireboat will extend our abilities to deliver fire services to those who live and work here,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said in an email.

Metal Shark aluminum response boat

Metal Shark continued to show its diversification by delivering a custom 28-foot aluminum response boat to the Miami Beach (Fla.) Fire Rescue Department. The Courageous-class vessel has 20,000 pounds of towing capacity and a top speed of more than 45 knots.

Courtesy Metal Shark

Electronics on Sophie Masloff include Garmin sonar with side/structure scan and a FLIR infrared camera. The pilothouse has a forward cuddy cabin for storage of gear, and it is heated and air-conditioned.

Other Lake Assault deliveries this year included a 28-foot landing craft-style fireboat to the San Bernardino County (Calif.) Fire Department, which will use the vessel in the Colorado River. Propulsion comes from twin 300-hp Mercury outboards. Firefighting equipment consists of a TFT monitor and Darley pump coupled to a 6-liter gas engine.

The shipyard also delivered the 21-foot aluminum fireboat Guardian to the Waconia Fire Department in Minnesota. The vessel has a single 250-hp Mercury outboard, single monitor and fire pump capable of 500 gpm.

In August, the Charlestown Fire Company of Cecil County, Md., took delivery of a 32-foot Firestorm-class fireboat from MetalCraft Marine, which has yards in Kingston, Ontario, and Cape Vincent, N.Y. The vessel, named Boat 5, has twin Yamaha 350-hp outboards, Garmin integrated electronics and a 2,200-gpm fire pump with a remote-controlled nozzle installed on the wheelhouse. There are two deck-mounted monitors on the stern.

Aluminum boatbuilder Metal Shark delivered custom fireboats to the Miami Beach Fire Department, West Manatee Fire Department and Greater Naples Fire Rescue, all in Florida, as well as the Harrods Creek Fire Department in Kentucky.

Moose Boats of Vallejo, Calif., is building two 38-foot aluminum catamarans for Newport, R.I., and Memphis, Tenn. The vessel bound for Newport is a dedicated fireboat, while the vessel bound for Memphis will be used by the city’s police and firefighters.

Contra County rescue boat

Fire and rescue deliveries for California in the past year included a 32-foot fire and rescue boat from Munson Boats for the Contra Costa County Fire Department.

Courtesy Munson Boats

Both vessels are powered by twin 425-hp Cummins QSB engines with Twin Disc gears and HamiltonJet waterjets, and they are outfitted with Hale fire pumps. The Newport vessel is equipped with Simrad electronics, while the Memphis vessel will use Furuno. Delivery dates have not been disclosed.

Roseburg, Ore.-based North River Boats is building a 28-foot vessel for the Poulsbo Fire Department in Washington state. Propulsion will come from twin Yamaha 250-hp engines, while Garmin will provide navigation electronics.

Firefighting equipment will consist of a Darley HE250 fire pump coupled to a KEM 2.4-liter, 130-hp inboard engine. It also will have a TFT remote-controlled roof monitor and TFT valve under monitor (VUM) at the bow.

Burlington, Wash.-based Munson Boats delivered a 32-foot fire and rescue boat to the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Fire Department on San Francisco Bay.

The monohull landing craft-style boat is powered by dual Mercury 350-hp outboards. Firefighting capability is provided by a Hale RSDM 1,500-gpm fire pump feeding bow and stern monitors, and there is a TFT Monsoon remote-controlled monitor on the pilothouse roof.

Lake Assault Boats fire boat

A 28-foot vessel from Lake Assault Boats for the San Bernardino County Fire Department was also delivered this year.

Lake Assault Boats

Lake Assault Boats delivered a 31-foot patrol boat to the Rockland County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Office in January. The vessel deployed in the Hudson River has twin Mercury Verado 300-hp outboard engines, a Furuno electronics suite, FLIR infrared camera and a GPS-enabled system to track nearby vessels. The boat can hit speeds exceeding 43 knots.

Lake Assault also built a 28-foot landing craft-style patrol boat for the Hennepin County Water Patrol in Minnesota. The aluminum vessel, which was delivered in May, features twin 300-hp Mercury Verado outboards, Garmin navigation electronics, a FLIR infrared camera and Kongsberg sonar. The boat is used for patrols, dive detail and rescues on the Mississippi River and Lake Minnetonka.

Silver Ships of Theodore, Ala., delivered a 38-foot multipurpose aluminum harbor patrol boat to Montauk, N.Y., for use on far eastern Long Island. Local police, fire departments and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will share the vessel, which has a full walk-around cabin and push knees at the bow.

Propulsion comes from three Yamaha 300-hp outboard engines, while electrical power comes from a 7-kW Northern Lights generator. A Darley fire pump supplies the roof-mounted monitor driven by a Kodiak pump engine. At full speed, the vessel can exceed 37 knots.

The new boat, known as Marine 2, is the second Silver Ships craft used around Montauk. “The construction is unbelievable, and the quality is top-notch,” said Ed Michels, chief harbormaster for the East Hampton Town Police Department.

NYPD pilot boat

The New York City Police Department is awaiting fall delivery of its fifth response boat-medium C (RB-M C) from Seattle’s Vigor. The 45-footer designed by Camarc features Volvo Penta engines and Rolls-Royce Kamewa waterjets. Top speed will exceed 40 knots.

Courtesy Vigor

Another Gulf of Mexico shipyard, Metal Shark, has ramped up its deliveries of patrol boats to U.S. allies around the world. Earlier this year, the company’s Franklin, La., yard delivered the first six 45-foot Defiant-class aluminum patrol boats of an 18-boat order for the Vietnam coast guard. The vessels, similar to the new Defiant-class boats delivered weekly to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, are powered by twin Caterpillar C9 engines paired with HamiltonJet waterjets.

Metal Shark also delivered a 35-foot Defiant-class patrol boat and three 36-foot Fearless-class center console vessels to the Puerto Rico Police Department. The Fearless-class vessels, powered by triple 300-hp Mercury Verado outboards, are capable of reaching 55 knots.

Another Latin American customer, the Colombian National Police, recently took delivery of a 33-foot Relentless-class vessel powered by twin 300-hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 engines. Metal Shark also is producing a dozen 38-foot Defiant-class vessels for the Dutch Caribbean coast guard, and it has orders for additional patrol boats for other military operators around the world.

The company also has begun construction of 85-foot near coastal patrol vessels for U.S. Navy partner nations. Metal Shark’s Franklin yard will produce up to 13 of the vessels, which are based on a Damen Shipyards design. The vessels will be sold through the U.S.-backed Foreign Military Sales program. Metal Shark has built and delivered nearly 200 foreign military patrol boats in the past three years.

On the domestic law enforcement side, construction has begun on 29-foot aluminum Defiant-class patrol boats for the Vermont State Police and Jacksonville (Fla.) Port Authority, and a 27-foot Courageous-class patrol boat for the Connecticut State Police. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s law enforcement office has ordered four 36-foot Fearless-class boats.

Marine 4 pilot boat

Life Proof Boats of Bremerton, Wash., delivered Marine 4, a full-cabin aluminum patrol boat, to the Cornelius (N.C.) Fire Department in early 2017. A pair of Honda BF250 outboards can propel the 27-footer at more than 47 knots.

Courtesy Life Proof Boats

Vigor of Seattle is building a 45-foot response boat-medium (RB-M C) at its Ballard, Wash., facility, formerly Kvichak Marine. The vessel, designed in partnership with Camarc Design, will be the fifth RB-M C delivered to the New York City Police Department.

The vessel is powered by twin Volvo Penta D13-800 engines and is equipped with Twin Disc MG-5114SC gears and Rolls-Royce Kamewa FF375S waterjets. Electrical power comes from a Kohler 9-kW generator. The boat also has a FLIR M400 XR thermal camera system, Furuno electronics and a climate-controlled cabin. Delivery is scheduled for November.

In a partnership with Fincantieri Marinette Marine of Wisconsin, Vigor is also building two similar patrol boats for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan under the U.S. Coast Guard’s Foreign Military Sales program. Delivery is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2017.

Another Washington state builder, Life Proof Boats of Bremerton, delivered the 27-foot Marine 4 to the Cornelius (N.C.) Police Department. The aluminum patrol boat has twin 250-hp Honda BF250 outboards that give it a top speed of more than 47 knots. Electronics include a Garmin wide-screen chartplotter and FLIR infrared camera.

Marblehead, Mass., boatbuilder Ribcraft delivered a 21-foot patrol boat to the Spotsylvania (Va.) Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement and rescues on Lake Anna. The center console rigid-hull inflatable boat has jockey-style pod seats, an aluminum T-top and propulsion from a 150-hp Mercury outboard, allowing for speeds exceeding 39 knots.

For at least the second year in a row, Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding dominated the U.S.-built pilot boat market with notable deliveries and multiple new orders, all based on the C. Raymond Hunt deep-V hull design. Common features include a stern-mounted rescue davit and fuel-saving Humphree interceptor trim optimization system.

Huron Spirit

Huron Spirit is the latest addition to the Lake Pilots Association fleet in Port Huron, Mich. The 53-foot Chesapeake-class launch from Gladding-Hearn has a climate-controlled cabin and a heated transom and handrails for cold-weather comfort and safety.

Courtesy Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding

Last November, the Somerset, Mass., yard delivered Huron Spirit, a 53-foot Chesapeake-class pilot boat, to the Lake Pilots Association in Port Huron, Mich. The aluminum vessel is powered by twin 602-hp Cummins QSM11 diesels turning five-blade nibral props through Twin Disc gears. The climate-controlled cabin is outfitted with Llebroc seats, while a 120,000-BTU diesel unit heats the transom and handrails.

Gladding-Hearn also is building a 54-foot Chesapeake-class pilot boat for the Mobile (Ala.) Bar Pilots. It will be outfitted with twin Caterpillar C18 engines, each generating 671 hp at 2,100 rpm, turning five-blade nibral props through a Twin Disc gearbox. Electrical service comes from a 9-kW Northern Lights generator.

The vessel has six Llebroc seats in the wheelhouse positioned amidships and an enclosed head in the forecastle. Boarding platforms are located on the roof and port and starboard foredeck, and a set of throttle and steering controls are located on the transom. For water rescues, a winch-operated rescue davit also is installed on the stern.

For the Virginia Pilot Boat Corp., Gladding-Hearn is building a 55-foot Chesapeake-class MKII launch — an updated version of its popular aluminum design. When delivered in 2018, it will become the eighth pilot boat for the Virginia Beach, Va., pilots group.

Propulsion comes from twin Volvo Penta Tier 3 engines each generating 700 hp. They are connected to Volvo Penta IPS pods equipped with forward-facing, counter-rotating props and a Volvo Penta electronic steering and control system.

Gladding Hearn pilot boat

Another northern customer for Gladding-Hearn is the Southwest Alaska Pilots Association, which plans to take delivery of a 76-foot Galveston-class boat from the Massachusetts builder in 2018.

Courtesy Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding

Delta Launch Services, operating from Southwest Pass near the mouth of the Mississippi River, has ordered a 53-foot St. John’s-class launch from the Massachusetts builder. The aluminum vessel will have two Caterpillar C18 engines, each generating 671 hp at 2,100 rpm, and five-blade Bruntons bronze props. Electrical service will be courtesy of a 12-kW Northern Lights genset. Delivery is scheduled for next year.

Gladding-Hearn is also building a 76-foot Galveston-class pilot boat for the Southwest Alaska Pilots Association of Homer, Alaska. Twin 1,400-hp Cummins QSK38-M1 diesel mains power HamiltonJet HM651 waterjets through ZF 5000 gearboxes. Electricity comes from twin Cummins Onan 29-kW generators.

The vessel will be equipped with eight closed-circuit TV cameras, six Llebroc seats, sound-muffling technology and retractable solar blinds. It also will have two staterooms with head, shower and dressing area. Delivery is scheduled for 2018.

Gladding-Hearn’s most recent order, announced in August, is for a 70-foot pilot boat for the Lake Charles Pilots of Louisiana, which already operates three of the shipbuilder’s vessels. Twin 1,300-hp Cummins engines will provide propulsion through Twin Disc gears. Two 25-kW Northern Lights generators will supply electricity. The yard did not specify a delivery date.

At least one other shipyard also is building a pilot boat this year. Metal Shark of Louisiana said it is building a 65-foot pilot boat for a Gulf Coast operator but did not share specifics.

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