Construction of an aluminum 26'x8'6" aquaculture support vessel is underway at US Watercraft, Hubert, N.C. Built for Matheson Oyster Co. to meet the needs of the Virginia oyster farm, the vessel’s unique combination of low freeboard, V hull, and shaped bow will allow it to hold position in shallow water while oyster baskets are retrieved from adjustable longlines, then return quickly to the launching ramp through the choppy waters of Chesapeake Bay.

Moving swiftly between the oyster farm and the shore by way of the boat’s single 200-hp Suzuki outboard is essential to retaining freshness. To maximize speed, US Watercraft designed a 5° V hull with a tapered bow that facilitates planing and deflects spray when traveling upwind. An insulated walk-around cabin is located aft, providing protection for up to four crew. The boat is also easily trailered while fully loaded, ensuring a fast return to the processing facility.

Designed by Waterline Systems (dba US Watercraft), the vessel will be equipped with a powerful custom electric davit, flush deck, and 12" freeboard to facilitate retrieval of the 50-lb. oyster baskets. The crew will winch up the baskets and slide them on deck quickly, safely, and efficiently.

A series of removable guard rails port and starboard store out of the way during harvest and are easily replaced to secure the baskets (and serve as handrails for the crew) while underway. The process is designed to represent a significant savings in time and effort for the crew, as baskets are currently lifted by hand over the gunnels and into the cockpit of their existing vessel.

The new boat will carry a crew of four and 80 gals. of fuel.