ACB awarded $38 million Coast Guard contract
By Bruce Buls, Technical Editor
Aluminum Chambered Boats (ACB), Bellingham, Wash., was recently awarded a $37.7 million, five-year contract to provide up to 80 Transportable Port Security Boats to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The soft-sided patrol boats measure 32'9" × 8'4" and weigh about 9,300 lbs. Each boat will be powered by a pair of 315-hp Yanmar 6LPA-STZP diesel engines turning Mercury Marine Bravo X-1 outdrives. Top speed is 40-plus knots. The draft is only 19" with the outdrives trimmed up.
The boat was designed in-house at ACB with some help from Howard Apollonio, a naval architect in Bellingham.
The 32-footers establish a new class of vessels for the TPSB units. The most recent TPSBs have been outboard-powered, 25' Guardians from Brunswick Commercial and Government Products . The ACB boats will provide more crew comfort and better range.
"In this case, it was fairly easy to tell that they were looking for crew comfort and some legs - more distance, more time on station. It's also a global requirement, so these boats will experience everything from cold weather ops to warm weather ops," said Kelly Webb, ACB's executive vice president of government sales.
To reduce weight, ACB did not include an air conditioner. "We offered fans and vents, primarily because of the weight and power requirements," said Webb. "Anytime you call something transportable, it's a weight-sensitive application. Basically we gave them good shade. And we get good cross ventilation with the fans. But we did put a heater in it. There's an engine-block-fed heater in the boat. I've always found that it's easier to cool off than it is to warm up."
The top and sides are mostly fabric, which can be removed or lowered out of the way. "When the guys are doing patrols, they like to be open to the environment, so the requirement stated that all of the structure - and even the armor - had to be removable," said Webb.
For the TPSB, ACB's signature aluminum chambers, which are airtight compartments that wrap around the outside of the gunwale, have been replaced with Wing hybrid foam-and-air sponsons.
"It's similar to our Cutter Boat-Large, which we've been supplying to the Coast Guard for the last three years. We've morphed into a soft-sided patrol-law enforcement vessel," said Webb.
The mission of the new boat is patrol and protection at military bases and other locations in the U.S. and around the world. The operators are generally Coast Guard reservists, which have been constantly deployed for the past several years. "They'll do everything from escort ships through the Suez Canal or Panama Canal or do harbor security ops in places like Basra [Iraq], Bahrain, Okinawa, Korea, all over the place," said Webb.
The new TPSBs will be transported on Boatmaster trailers. "The trailer was definitely part of the package," said Webb. "Boatmaster has been responsive to government needs, and they build a very robust trailer that the Coast Guard is very comfortable with."
Production of the new boats is expected to begin in mid-July. The first boat in the new series will take 150 days to produce, then one will be delivered every 18 days after that.
Now what are the Army and Coast Guard going to do for their boats built by ACB?
ALUMINUM CHAMBERED BOATS CLOSES
The Bellingham Herald reports that Aluminum Chambered Boats, (ACB), has closed. Read the story here. ACB manufactured high-performance aluminum boats under about 40 feet in length and had developed a significant U.S. Government business. They seem to have come to grief building Transportable Port Security Boats for the Coast Guard. Four years ago, they formed a joint venture with Northrop Grumman but I see no mention of that in the Herald's article. November 19, 2010.
"Kvichak Marine Industries, Inc., of Seattle, Wash., was recently awarded a five year contract by the U.S. Coast Guard for the construction of up to 80 each Transportable Port Security Boats (TPSB). The all-aluminum vessels are operated by a crew of four and include shock mitigating seats to minimize crew fatigue on extended missions. Ballistic Armor Protection and up to four mounted weapons provide increased mission capability and crew safety during tactical operations. The 32.8-ft vessels will be replacing the USCG’s current aging fleet of smaller, outboard powered fiberglass boats.
Powered by twin Yanmar 315 hp diesel engines with Bravo 1-XR outdrives the TPSB will provide security, maritime law enforcement and search and rescue operations in coast areas worldwide. The TPSB can maneuver in as little as two feet of water and can operate safely in eight-ft seas and up to 30 knots of wind.
Current orders have deliveries beginning in August with 30 units required by January 2012."
"The United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have a requirement for up to 80 Transportable Port Security Boats (TPSB) to perform various operational missions. These missions include Defense Operations (DO), Enforcement of Laws and Treaties (ELT) and Marine Safety and Security (MSS). "
Seems like a gunboat for harbors? Coasties expecting shootouts with jihadists? CBP probably needs something like this for the rivers to fight the cartels types?