After a head-to-head competition between Metal Shark Aluminum Boats, Jeanerette, La., and SAFE Boats International, Port Orchard, Wash., the U.S. Coast Guard has selected Metal Shark to build the second generation of Response Boats-Small. The first generation of RB-S was built by SAFE Boats, beginning in 2002, and is nearing the end of its ten-year service life.
At 28.5′ l.o.a., the Metal Shark version of the outboard-powered patrol boat will be slightly longer than the 25-footer built by SAFE Boats. It will also have “an increased emphasis on ergonomics and crew comfort,” according to the Coast Guard.
“The real difference is that it’s a bitt bigger boat and it’s got more capability in terms of seat arrangement,” said Chris Allard, president of Metal Shark. “It’s also configurable while underway with drop-down windows. The visibility out of the boat is incredible.”
Allard said Metal Shark worked with Diamond Sea Glaze out of British Columbia on the innovative window package.
The new RB-S will be powered by twin Honda 225-hp outboards, like the original RB-S.
The solid foam collars will be provided by Wing Inflatables, Arcata, Calif.
The initial contract is valued at $13 million and will produce 38 boats. The total procurement may total up to 500 boats worth $190 million over seven years. The Coast Guard will get 470 new boats, and 20 will to Customs and Border Protection and 10 to the U.S. Navy. The Coast Guard uses the RB-S for port and waterway security, search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, environmental and other law enforcement missions.
Allard said the deliveries will begin early next spring.
The new RB-S replacement program is one of the largest boat buys of its type for the Coast Guard.