Northwest builder adds workers with new contract

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A Washington state boatbuilder announced its second large contract in two months to build boats for the U.S. military.

Safe Boats International, a 15-year-old company based in Bremerton, will increase its work force by 13 percent to meet the new demand, according to the Kitsap Sun.

Under the newest contract with the Coast Guard, Safe Boats will build as many as 100 small vessels to piggyback on much bigger Coast Guard cutters. The contract could be worth $59 million, and the work will take place during the next seven years if all 100 new Coast Guard “Over the Horizon” boats are funded.

"Not surprisingly, news of the newest contract was met with excitement and anticipation to continue work with the Coast Guard," spokesman Bryan McConaughy said to the newspaper.

In May, Safe Boats said it would build at least five large patrol boats for the Navy, worth at least $35 million, in Tacoma.

Safe Boats employs 285 workers, but it expects to be up to 300 by the end of the year.

Despite the new government work, the company continues to also focus on its other bread-and-butter markets.

The Over the Horizon boats, 26 feet and with a 480-horsepower diesel engine, will be nimble and fast. They will hop off their perches on the Coast Guard's fleet of National Security Cutters and dart into cramped and shallow waterways to get to scenes of trouble. They will be used for security, search-and-rescue missions, and for interdicting drug runners, according to a Safe Boats press release.

The Over the Horizon boats will differ from other small Safe Boats models. To improve visibility, they'll have no cabins. They will feature inboard, not outboard, engines.

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