Coast Guard Station Erie took delivery earlier this month of a new $2.4 million 45-foot response boat that it primarily expects to put to search-and-rescue and law-enforcement duty.
"We're pretty excited,'' Chief Petty Officer Steve Pickard, the station’s officer in charge, told the Erie (Pa.) Times-News. "We knew we were getting it since about September, and we've been anticipating it coming in. It's a brand-new boat with a lot of capabilities. Our crews will get a lot of use on it and do a lot of good things.''
The response boat-medium is the 157th boat in a fleet of 170 being delivered to Coast Guard stations nationwide. The boats are replacing an aging fleet of 47-foot motor lifeboats and assorted nonstandard boats that Coast Guard stations are using.
Motor lifeboats have been a Coast Guard workhorse for more than 20 years, but the new response boat-medium brings increased capabilities. Pickard said the new boat is more maneuverable, has a top speed of 49 mph and will get the boat's crew to a scene faster. Motor lifeboats have a top speed of about 25 to 30 mph, he said.
"It will just improve crew endurance so much more,'' Pickard said. “They can get out in some rougher water and focus better on their tasks, whether it's rescue or law enforcement.''
The boat's new design includes a full cabin to protect the crew from the elements, provides heating and air conditioning and features shock-mitigating seats.
Pickard said the station is scheduled to receive another response boat in late July.