NEWBURYPORT — If Harbormaster Paul Hogg seems to be smiling a bit wider these days, that’s because he has twice the horsepower than he had last summer.
This week, the Harbormaster Department will launch a new, $270,000, Safe Boats International rescue boat, thanks in part to a $190,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security. The remaining $80,000 for the 25-foot boat’s purchase came from the harbormaster enterprise fund.
“That’s funded from the revenues that we take in,” Hogg said. “It has nothing to do with the rest of the city and comes out of our boat expenses.”
The rescue boat, built in Seattle, is equipped with a defibrillator and radiation detector. The boat has a 10½-foot beam and includes FLIR thermal imaging for night vision, as well as side-scan sonar and a pair of 250 Yamaha outboard motors in the back.
“She’s fast and she can be fully enclosed,” Hogg said.
With a top speed of 60 mph, the rescue boat will be used for day-to-day operations, search and rescue, or any other emergency calls in which the harbormaster would be involved.
“We could assist the Coast Guard with this, or anything fire related or harbormaster related,” Hogg said. If a boat is taking on water, we have a pump on it and we can do that, too.
“We have fuel docks that we have to keep track of and the bridges that we have to monitor and secure if anything were to happen to those,” he added. “So we do a lot of security protection here, as well what’s tied in with the Coast Guard and other partners. There’s a lot that we do.”
Mayor Sean Reardon got a good look at the vessel Friday and said it is certainly needed.
“We’re seeing more and more activity on the river every year and we need upgrades, like any other department,” he said. “This is just a great update to add to Paul’s fleet to be able to take care of our waters that are so important.”
Hogg said his department’s latest addition has been turning a lot of heads and he thanked the Harbor Commission and his grant writer, Nancy London, for their help obtaining the boat.
“The Coast Guard is extremely happy to have this asset in the river and the police and fire guys are jealous of it, too. They really like this particular boat,” he said.
The new boat will join another 25-foot Safe Boats rescue boat in the harbormaster’s fleet of four vessels, which include a pumpout boat and a fueling/backup pumpout boat.
Although the new vessel does not have a name, Hogg said his department is open to suggestions.
“We have a couple of names in mind but we haven’t decided on anything yet,” he said.
Hogg said he expects to have the rescue boat in the water for a 10-hour break-in period when the local boating season really kicks into gear next week.
Reardon said he’s excited to see the next boating season right around the corner.
“A lot of people have been getting their boats in over the past couple of weekends, we’re going to have a really busy summer here from here on out,” he said. “We’re excited, but we want to have the right people and resources in place to make sure that everyone can enjoy a safe time out on the water.”
The beginning of boating season can be very busy for Hogg and his department and he said mariners can always reach out to him for updates, knowledge or advice at 978-360-6963.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.
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