Last month a new product touted as a plank in the war to keep terrorism from U.S. shores was introduced in Washington, D.C. According to Eric Caplan, director of Boston Whaler Commercial & Government Products, the Sentinel is a unmanned surface vessel
(USV), which is a sensing platform able to carry a wide variety of the latest technology sensing systems available.
It is designed to be a multi-tasking craft, able to carry sonar for mine detection equipment as easily as it would carry systems able to sense bio-terrorism and nuclear devices aboard ships entering a harbor.
"This country obviously has a big job ahead of it, to secure its borders," Caplan said. "This will entail many new layers of security."
The platform is literally designed to fill most any need, and can be remotely operated from shore or ship, running sentry duty with pre-programmed coordinates or operated by sight via joystick control.
Among the technological amenities which should prove attractive to security buyers, both military and non-military: a complex visual system allowing for 360-degree viewing, as well a pan and tilt capabilities; both line of sight and over the horizon capabilities; and thermal and night-vision capabilities.
The introduction model will measure 15-ft. long, and all models will have reduced signature capabilities.
A Long History
Boston Whaler has, since its introduction at the 1958 Boston Boat Show, forged a reputation as a manufacturer of unique, high-quality vessels. It is no neophyte to the security vessel market, having helped to establish the PSU (Port Security Units) program with the U.S. Coast Guard in the 1980s, a program that included 21 air-transportable vessels used for security of the U.S. fleet in foreign ports.
In addition to the new USV, Boston Whaler recently introduced its new 28-ft. Intruder, extending the company's already vast portfolio of custom solutions offered to commercial and government customers.
The 28 ft. Intruder project is interesting as it is the result of a new teaming arrangement with the company and Baja Marine Corporation
. "The combination of Baja's race-proven, high-performance hull with the extensive knowledge and experience of our partners at Boston Whaler Commercial and Government Products has produced a fast and durable boat with
all the right characteristics to conform to the standards of our law enforcement community."
Whaler, which has manufactured more than 70,000 boats in its 42 years, spun its commercial and government boat operations into an independent, standalone company - Boston Whaler Commercial & Government Products Inc. - in March 2001, with its own manufacturing facility to meet the specific demands and attention that these customers require. The result: an operation that offers custom solutions based on the tried and tested Whaler base technology, which aims to provide safety, quality and durability.
Maintaining the Reputation
Many of the "Whaler stories" have a life of their own, from the boat that took 1,000 rounds of automatic weapons fire from the U.S. Marines
and stayed floating, to the Whaler that was chopped in half, but stayed afloat and returned home. The innovation that made and maintains the Whaler name is its Unibond™ foam-filled construction.
First, gelcoat is applied to the inner and outer hull molds. Fiberglass material and resin are hand-laid in specific ratios to ensure maximum strength. While the resin is still wet, the inner mold is lowered into the outer hull mold, and their latched together. The space between them is filled to the gunnels with closed-cell liquid foam that expands to fill every cavity, chemically bonding the two to form a rigid, strong, unsinkable one-piece structure.
But while the process is the same, the approach to military customers, in this case, is not. Boston Whaler views each request as a unique vessel, and eschews traditional low-level questions - such as model?, length?, engine?, and color? - for a more insightful analysis of an individual organization's needs, working with the customer to learn about the vessel's proposed mission, the operating environment, the skill level of personnel who will be in control, water depth and top speed requirements. The Commercial & Government Products engineering group then configures each Whaler based on customer requirements, but it doesn't stop at that. Whaler can provide technical specifications and performance data to be used as a basis for an RFP, but for U.S. federal agencies and armed forces, no RFP is needed as the Whaler has a GSA contract in place. Once a purchase order is in hand, the customer can participate in pre-construction conferences, to ensure that the vessel is built to exact demands.
The 28-ft. Intruder
The 28-ft. Intruder is a high speed craft designed and built for offshore use under the most adverse conditions. Designed as a platform for law enforcement and security operations, this model offers a performance via Baja's deep-V hull design with a 24 degree deadrise; with durable construction and a number of mission defined layouts and options to ensure its operational success in any number of scenarios. The 28-ft. Intruder offers an ergonomic console/leaning post layout to ensure a smooth ride and minimize crew fatigue, and a utilitarian layout and use of commercial duty hardware and components that require minimal maintenance."The Intruder is the perfect complement to our line, and we are pleased to have Baja join our tem," Caplan said.
The Whaler line of products for military applications - which are understandably built to withstand the harshest of conditions - are also built with primary systems, such as electrical, propulsion and fuel, standardized to simplify logistics, repair and training requirements. The boats are available for both brown and blue water applications
, and some are built for maximum speed in deployment, fitting aboard C-130s or slung under choppers.
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