Aboard the Response Boat-Small
With a thwop, thwop, thwop , the 28-footer cut across the Intracoastal Waterway in Miami on Sunday morning in conditions that felt more like the chilly north than the subtropics. The temperature was near 50, but the wind at Fowey Rocks Light was NNW at 22 — gusting to 26.
No problem for Metal Shark Aluminum Boats’ 28'6"x8'6"x19" prototype for the U.S. Coast Guard’s second generation of Response Boat-Small. It was handling the chop with ease at a cool 40 mph — cool being used advisedly — powered by twin 225-hp Evinrude E-TEC outboards. The cabin was cozy with its windows up and comfy with its shock-mitigating seats.
The Coast Guard versions are equipped with twin Honda 225-hp four stroke outboards that run at a top speed of over 45 knots. With 30 already delivered as part of a contract with the Coast Guard, Metal Shark brought the 28 Defiant — minus the orange collar — to the Miami International Boat Show in partnership with Evinrude to show it off to prospective clients.
They’ve had interest from the other U.S. military groups, law enforcement and commercial customers, said Dean Jones, Metal Shark’s national sales manager. The Coast Guard contract with the Jeanerette, La., yard may total up to 500 RB-Ses worth $192 million over seven years. The remaining 30 will go to other services.
One of the main features of the boat is that the windows are designed with visibility and ventilation in mind. The side and rear windows are powered by humans — hand cranked and locked in place — rather than electricity, and retract into the boat’s sides. Metal Shark worked with Diamond Sea Glaze of British Columbia on the new design.
The shock-mitigating seats for sitting or standing come with a simple pump, so users can adjust the pressure to match their weight — a feature that’s new for this series, Jones said.
The helm is on the port side, and the controls are in the middle, instead of having everything to starboard, which makes them harder to get to in case the helmsman’s incapacitated.
The RB-S has a fuel capacity of 110 gals., a range from 150 to 295 nautical miles, and mounts for .50-caliber machine guns. (Draft with engines down and running is 33”.) The boat is being used for search and rescue, vessel boarding-team deployment, law enforcement, drug interdiction, and environmental response operations all along the East Coast — from the frozen north to normally warmer Florida.