U.S. Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment personnel recently received an upgrade to their small boat fleet, when two new 29-foot, Freedom Class, Response Boat – Small, were delivered and put into operation, replacing the 25-foot, defender class, Response Boat – Small.
The new platform, offers crewmembers greater operational visibility, comfort and endurance. The new 29-foot RB-S is four feet longer, about 400 pounds heavier and handles differently. The 25-foot RB-S was known for its maneuverability, while the new 29-foot RB-S is quicker in regaining its speed after a turn. Overall, the 29-foot RB-S is very similar in its maneuvering characteristics to the 25-foot RB-S.
“They (29-foot RB-S) have new advanced features including electronics, more room to move around, and full 360 degrees of windows which include side windows that roll down, allowing for greater flexibility in visibility and communications, as well as crew comfort, especially in the warmer summer months,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick O’Brien, boatswain’s mate and qualified 29-foot RB-S coxswain. “The new features help a lot! With the 25-foot, there were a lot of blind spots, so the improved visibility really helps. The upgraded electronics gives us a greater visibility of radar contacts, including locations, speed and boat name and details. For search and rescue this speeds up in our finding a vessel in distress.”
A minimum crew of three operates the 29-foot RB-S, however, it has internal seating for four crewmembers, plus room for additional response and boarding team members. The 29-foot RB-S is powered by twin 225 horsepower outboard engines, and can do speeds in excess of 50 mph.
“While Cape Disappointment will always primarily be a motor lifeboat unit, the 29-foot RB-S allows for that speedy response that we desire, especially when we go up river,” said O’Brien. “It drafts a little less than the old boat, giving us the ability to work in the shallower waters found along the river.”
“All of these new features are here to help us (the crew), to do our job so we can find the person in distress much faster,” said O’Brien.
The 25-foot RB-S was introduced in 2002, with approximately 300 used by the Coast Guard. As the 25-foot RB-S nears its 10-year life cycle, they are being replaced by the 29-foot RB-S.
The public can view the new 29-foot RB-S and the other boats operated by the crew of Station Cape Disappointment during the station’s open house, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 17, 2014.