Small fireboats find bigger niche; patrol demand steady
Gladding-Hearn delivered the 75-foot Emerald Island to the Southwest Alaska Pilots Association in December. The launch features the builder’s traditional deep-V hull.

Building activity in the fireboat, pilot boat and patrol boat sectors was slow but steady during the past year. Law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad drove construction of new patrol boats, and fire departments continued to take delivery of smaller, nimble vessels, particularly for use in fresh water. Shipyards on the East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast announced projects for new pilot launches.

Lake Assault Boats of Superior, Wis., had a busy year, with multiple deliveries and high-profile orders. In February, the East Side Fire District on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Harrison, Idaho, took delivery of a 32-foot fireboat powered by twin 300-hp Yamaha outboards.

The vessel features a fire pump that can deliver 1,500 gallons per minute powered by a dedicated V-8 engine, and a rooftop Task Force Tips (TFT) monitor with foam capabilities. The modified deep-V hull form has a 72-inch hydraulically operated bow door, and the wheelhouse is equipped with a thermal imaging camera, sonar, radar and GPS.

The 31-foot Maia Stanton from North River Boats has a pair of Task Force Tips monitors powered by a Darley fire pump and Kodiak Vortec engine.

North River Boats

The Waco Fire Department in Texas took delivery last spring of a 26-foot fireboat powered by twin 225-hp Honda outboard motors. Firefighting capabilities include a Hale Attack fire pump capable of 550 gpm driven by a 35-hp engine paired with two TFT portable Hemisphere monitors. Garmin supplied the navigation electronics.

Also this spring, Rabun County Fire Services in Georgia took delivery of a 26-foot fireboat for duty on Lake Rabun. Components include twin 175-hp Mercury outboards, a 1,250-gpm fire pump paired with a TFT Hurricane monitor, and an advanced navigation electronics suite.

The Gibraltar Fire Department in Wisconsin took delivery in summer 2019 of a 28-foot aluminum fire and rescue vessel. Propulsion comes from twin 300-hp Suzuki outboards, and a portable pump provides firefighting capabilities.

The 33-foot Bob Annand is now pulling duty for the Canada Border Services Agency. Rosborough Boats of Nova Scotia delivered the 500-hp RHIB in May.

Courtesy Canada Border Services Agency

Lake Assault also is building an emergency response craft for the River Rescue Unit in Pittsburgh, Pa. The vessel will have twin 425-hp Yamaha outboards and a 750-gpm Darley fire pump paired with an Elkhart Brass deck monitor. The top speed is projected at 39 knots.

In December, North River Boats of Roseburg, Ore., delivered the 31-foot Maia Stanton to the Narragansett Fire Department in Rhode Island. The fireboat was named in honor of a 14-year-old girl who drowned in Narragansett Bay while snorkeling in 2015.

A deep-V aluminum hull and a pair of Yamaha 250-hp outboards allow the newbuild to reach speeds of 40 knots. The boat was designed with a bow ramp to enable crewmembers to maneuver a Stokes rescue basket aboard, then get it inside the cabin.

Firefighting power is provided by a Darley HE 500 fire pump coupled to a 130-hp Kodiak Vortec engine. A TFT Tornado monitor is mounted on the bow, and a TFT valve under monitor (VUM) system is at the stern. Both are manually operated.

The Waco (Texas) Fire Department boosted its emergency capability with a newbuild from Lake Assault Boats. A Hale fire pump and two TFT monitors can deliver up to 550 gpm.

Courtesy Lake Assault Boats

Moose Boats of Vallejo, Calif., delivered an M2-38 aluminum catamaran fireboat with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defense capability to the San Francisco Fire Department. Twin 425-hp Cummins QSB6.7 engines are paired with HamiltonJet HJ292 waterjets.

The vessel is equipped with a Hale fire pump that can dispense 1,500 gpm, and the wheelhouse has a Simrad electronics suite that includes radar, side-scanning sonar, AIS and a FLIR camera. Motorola and Icom supplied the communications equipment.

Moose Boats is building a similar M2-38 catamaran for the Rochester Fire Department in New York. The propulsion system will consist of twin 425-hp Cummins engines, Twin Disc gears and HamiltonJet waterjets. The fire pump will be capable of providing 1,500 gpm to monitors mounted on the roof and along the cockpit.

Metal Shark Boats received an order from the Miami-Dade (Fla.) Fire Rescue Department for a series of aluminum fireboats based on the Louisiana builder’s 50 Defiant X platform. The 50-foot vessels will have twin diesel engines paired with waterjets. The top speed is expected to exceed 45 knots. Deliveries are expected starting in 2020.

Metal Shark will build a new generation of fireboats for the Miami-Dade (Fla.) Fire Rescue Department based on the shipyard’s 50 Defiant X platform.

Artist rendering courtesy Metal Shark Boats

Meanwhile, naval architects at Robert Allan Ltd. in Vancouver, British Columbia, have developed a crewless fireboat design intended to allow responders to work in closer proximity to dangerous fires.

The 52-foot RALamander 1600 is a cousin to the 65-foot RALamander 2000 developed with Kongsberg. The 1600 model has a helm station that allows operators to manually steer toward a fire, then depart the vessel once on scene. The fireboat can then be operated remotely from shore or another nearby vessel.

Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding has stayed busy building its deep-V pilot launches favored by operators across the U.S. The yard, located in Somerset, Mass., delivered Emerald Island to the Southwest Alaska Pilots Association in Homer, Alaska, in December 2018.

The all-aluminum vessel features the hull form developed decades ago by Ray Hunt to improve performance at high speeds. The 75-by-20-foot launch is powered by two 1,400-hp Cummins QSK38-M1 engines paired with HamiltonJet HM651 waterjets through ZF gearboxes. Electrical power comes from twin Northern Lights gensets each delivering 30 kW. Emerald Island has a top speed of 29 knots.

Naval architect Robert Allan Ltd. has added the RALamander 1600 to its lineup for crewless firefighting capability. The 52-foot vessel is designed to attack fires quickly and powerfully without risking injury to crews.

Artist rendering courtesy Robert Allan Ltd.

The launch features Humphree interceptors installed at the transom to provide active ride control and automatic trim optimization. The vessel has two staterooms in the forecastle as well as a head, shower and dressing area.

The multizone hydronic heating system also provides air conditioning for the wheelhouse and crew spaces in the forecastle. Emerald Island has heated windows, roof, main deck and handrails to improve safety during the long winter months in Alaska. A hand-held remote allows the crew to control hydraulic rescue davits on the port and starboard sides.

In August, Gladding-Hearn announced another order from the Virginia Pilot Association in Virginia Beach, Va. The 55-foot Chesapeake-class launch will feature Volvo Penta’s IPS pod system and Humphree interceptors to improve acceleration and comfort while reducing fuel consumption. The vessel will be the ninth that Gladding-Hearn has built for the Virginia pilots since 1983, and its second in less than three years. The builder delivered the 55-foot Hampton Roads in summer 2018.

Twin Volvo Penta D13-700 Tier 3 engines, each producing 700 hp at 2,250 rpm, will provide propulsion. The engines drive IPS 3 pods with two forward-facing, counter-rotating propellers that pull rather than push the vessel forward. Each pod functions like an azimuthing drive and can rotate up to 27 degrees in each direction to steer the launch.

The San Francisco Fire Department’s new aluminum responder from Moose Boats is powered by a pair of 425-hp Cummins engines driving HamiltonJet waterjets. At the scene of the fire, it can deliver 1,500 gpm.

Courtesy Moose Boats

Volvo Penta also supplied the integrated EVC electronic steering system for the new boat. Twin 12-kW Northern Lights gensets will provide electrical power. The top speed will exceed 32 knots. Delivery is expected next year.

Gladding-Hearn isn’t the only American yard building pilot boats. In January, Metal Shark Boats delivered the 64-foot Brazos Pilot, built at its yard in Franklin, La., to the Brazos Pilots Association in Freeport, Texas. The vessel is based on Metal Shark’s Defiant monohull platform.

Propulsion comes from two Caterpillar C18 Tier 3 engines, each generating 803 hp, turning five-blade nibral propellers through Twin Disc gears. The launch has a top speed of 28 knots and an efficient cruising speed of 18 knots. Electrical power is provided by a 40-kW Kohler genset.

In April, Seattle-based Vigor announced an order from the Port of Los Angeles for two 56-foot, all-aluminum pilot boats. The Camarc twin-chine hull form is designed for excellent seakeeping in all weather conditions.

Seattle-based Vigor has been awarded a contract to build a pair of 56-foot pilot boats for the Port of Los Angeles. The all-aluminum Camarc hull design will allow the launches to hit a top speed of 27 knots.

Artist rendering courtesy Camarc

The vessels will be powered by dual Caterpillar C18 Tier 3 engines generating 803 hp each turning five-blade nibral fixed-pitch props through ZF 665A-1 gears. Electrical power will come from a 16-kW Northern Lights genset. The wheelhouse will be equipped with Furuno navigation electronics, and top speed is projected to be 27 knots. Both launches are scheduled for delivery in summer 2020.

In recent years, Metal Shark has positioned itself as an industry leader for patrol boats used by military and law enforcement customers in the United States, and by the nation’s allies. The company continued that trend with a four-boat delivery in January to the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard in Aruba.

The vessels are based on Metal Shark’s 38 Defiant aluminum monohull design. Each is powered by twin Cummins QSB6.7 diesels paired with dual-prop, counter-rotating stern drives. Top speed for the newbuilds exceeds 45 knots. Raymarine supplied radar and other navigation electronics, and each comes with a FLIR thermal imaging system. Seating for six is available in Corbin shock-mitigating seats, and a V-berth has overnight accommodations.

Lake Assault Boats delivered a 34-foot patrol boat to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The vessel has twin Suzuki outboards with a digital anchor and joystick system, Garmin navigation electronics and a small cabin in the bow. The vessel entered service in June.

Metal Shark continued to extend its reach beyond the U.S. in January with a four-boat delivery to the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard in Aruba. The new patrol boats have seating for six and the power to hit 45 knots.

Courtesy Metal Shark Boats

Vigor and Fincantieri Marinette Marine partnered on two 44-foot response boats for the Royal Jordanian Navy. The vessels are capable of 42 knots and can operate for up to 24 hours at a time. Notable features include a push knee at the bow and a FLIR night vision camera. Propulsion equipment was not disclosed.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine served as the prime contractor for the project, and Vigor built the vessels in Seattle. The partners have delivered 174 similar vessels to the U.S. Coast Guard, and they have six others on order from the Kingdom of Bahrain.

North of the U.S.-Canadian border, Rosborough Boats of Beechville, Nova Scotia, delivered the 33-foot Bob Annand to the Canada Border Services Agency. The rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) is powered by twin 250-hp Mercury outboard engines, with Simrad marine electronics and a FLIR thermal imaging system.

The vessel, delivered in May, is assigned to the agency’s Atlantic region. It will be used for year-round duties that include serving as a platform for remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and facilitating verifications and inspections of small vessels that arrive in the region but can’t be accessed by land.

Categories: American Ship Review, Maritime News