Kvichak Marine Industries, of Seattle, Wash., recently delivered a 45 ft. Response Boat - Medium (RB-M) prototype to the United States Coast Guard
Kvichak teamed with Marinette Marine Corporation
, a member of the Manitowoc Marine Group, in a competitive bid process for the RB-M. Marinette serves as the prime contractor and program manager of the prototype project and Kvichak as the builder. Two other companies were also chosen to construct prototypes. All three vessels are currently undergoing extensive sea trials and evaluations, at the USCG base in Portsmouth, Va. The review process will last for two to three months.
Upon completion of testing, the USCG intends to award a contract to one company for a fleet of approximately 180 RB-M vessels to replace its aging fleet of 41 ft. utility boats. The six-year contract is expected to be awarded in 2004. If chosen for the contract, Kvichak and Marinette will share the vessel construction over the six-year construction time.
Power is provided by twin Detroit Diesel 60 series engines rated for 825 bhp each and Kamewa FF375S waterjets were chosen as the propulsors. This combination allows for excellent maneuverability and a top speed exceeding 45 knots. It is the only vessel on trials that is self-righting in all conditions. The vessel also uses an innovative cruise generator, the AuraGen Viper manufactured by Aura Systems to provide AC / DC power. Each of the AuraGens driven by the twin Detroit Diesels can provide 8 kW of high quality power from engine idle to full rpm, continuously, with no scheduled maintenance, yet are significantly more compact and lighter than standard generator/inverter/alternator combinations. The USCG's choice to standardize its RB-M fleet creates a safer, more efficient, and more cost effective way for the USCG to operate and maintain its vessels due to standardized systems, improved maintenance, and logistics support capabilities.
The RB-M will be multi-mission capable and primary missions will be homeland security and search-and-rescue. "Kvichak and Marinette have offered a technologically advanced vessel for evaluation, which we feel offers the best value." said Craig Miller of Kvichak. "Once evaluations are complete, we believe the USCG will choose our vessel to serve at the forefront of their intended missions."