Jeanerette, La.-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has introduced the 38 Defiant NXT, a next-generation welded-aluminum monohull pilothouse model based on the company’s 38 Defiant platform. The first new vessel, the 43'x12" Fire Boat 2, has been delivered to Orange Beach Fire Rescue in Orange Beach, Ala.
Since 2011, well over 100 legacy model 38 Defiant vessels have been delivered in a wide range of configurations to fire departments, law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy, and multiple foreign militaries worldwide. The new 38 Defiant NXT utilizes the same proven hull form but with an entirely new topsides arrangement designed by Metal Shark’s in-house engineering team.
In addition to the recent delivery to Orange Beach Fire Rescue, Metal Shark is currently building 38 Defiant NXT fireboats for the Chicago Fire Department, South King County (Washington) Fire & Rescue, and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, which has two units on order. As with the previous generation model, the 38 Defiant NXT is also offered in configurations optimized for law enforcement or military use and may be equipped with autonomous capability through Metal Shark’s Sharktech Autonomous Vessels division.
“Redesigning one of our best-selling models at the peak of its popularity was not a task we approached lightly, but through our efforts we made significant improvements to an already outstanding platform,” Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard said in a statement announcing the new Defiant model. “Orange Beach Fire Rescue’s new 38 Defiant NXT fireboat and the multiple other fireboats now in production are a direct result of our goal to consistently offer the industry’s most advanced designs through ongoing product evolution.”
The 38 Defiant NXT boasts a modern arrangement with a new pilothouse design. The use of Metal Shark’s “Pillarless Glass” significantly reduces blind spots to deliver class-leading pilothouse visibility, while a reverse-raked windshield with prominent brow shade reduces heat load and glare. An overhead skylight array offers unobstructed upwards views, helpful while operating alongside taller vessels or structures or during helicopter hoisting operations. Large, quickly sliding side windows and an extra-wide cabin door facilitate communication to crewmembers in the cockpit and allow quick and easy ingress and egress by firefighters wearing full gear.
Twin engine-driven Hammond HVAC units provide climate control for a roomy cabin equipped with Shoxs 2000 shock-mitigating seating for three, with one seat at each console. A port-side bench seat with backrest provides additional seating with latching storage lockers beneath. A pair of large and sturdy grab rails are installed overhead, within easy reach of standing crew. For Orange Beach Fire Rescue, a full Raymarine electronics package, FLIR thermal imaging system, and positive-pressure Chemical, Radiological, Biological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) crew protection system have been provided. Meanwhile, vibration-dampening, shock-absorbing, non-skid flooring material provides additional comfort and safety.
The bow cuddy cabin is accessed via an extra-wide companionway and provides ample dry storage for gear. Fire departments such as Orange Beach Fire Rescue often choose a fully open forward cabin for maximum storage. Alternately, the cuddy may be outfitted with a V-berth, galley, and enclosed head compartment. The 38 Defiant NXT is also offered in an open-bow version.
A no-nonsense deck layout allows firefighters to perform their work more safely and efficiently. Crews enjoy wide-open workspaces that facilitate safe and surefooted movement from bow to stern, even while wearing heavy firefighting gear. Wide, non-skid-walkways feature low-level LED lighting for night missions, while all rails and grab handles are ruggedly constructed and placed within easy reach. A Wing urethane-sheathed, closed-cell foam collar provides impact resistance during alongside maneuvers, a robust bow-pusher knee provides added utility, and a large dive platform and aft cockpit scuba tank racks have been added for divers.
Orange Beach Fire Rescue’s new 38 Defiant NXT is powered by twin 550-hp Cummins QSB 6.7 inboard diesels mated to HamiltonJet HTX30 waterjets with Blue Arrow control system via Twin Disc MG-5065 SC transmissions. This configuration enables the fully equipped fireboat to cruise at 30 knots and reach top speeds in excess of 40 knots while offering superb maneuverability at all speeds. The 38 Defiant NXT is available with a wide range of propulsion types and can reach top speeds of 50+ knots when powered by triple outboards.
For firefighting, the Orange Beach fireboat delivers a flow rate of 3,000 gpm, with twin 1,500 gpm Darley fire pumps driven via PTO from the main engines. Each pump draws from its own dedicated in-hull sea chest, feeding a central manifold with crossover capability, which in turn supplies the entire system. From the fire control station at the port helm, flow is directed as desired via electronically actuated valves. The vessel is equipped with a remote-operated Elkhart Scorpion EXM electric rooftop monitor, two Elkhart Copperhead manually operated monitors aft, dual handline outlets, and a 5" Storz connection.
“Working closely with our customers and drawing directly from their feedback, we continue to drive change throughout our product portfolio,” said Dean Jones, Metal Shark’s vice president of sales for Fire, Law Enforcement, and Specialty Markets. “Today we offer the industry’s most modern lineup of fire rescue vessels, each based on an extensively proven hull. Designed to perform and built to last, Metal Shark fireboats continue to gain popularity among the nation’s leading fire departments.”