VICKSBURG — A fleet of seven new vessels has arrived at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, providing an upgraded capability for fresh and salt water studies by the facility’s scientists and engineers.
Led by the efforts of William Butler, a physical scientist in ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, the boats were transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) at no cost to ERDC. The acquisition was made possible due to fleet upgrades by the Coast Guard. Efforts are ongoing to add an eighth boat to the transfer.
In what Butler describes as being in the right place at the right time, he was concluding an unrelated transaction on the Government Services Administration Excess (GSAXCESS) website and decided to access the boats link on the site. To his surprise, a number of vessels were listed as available from the USCG in California. A few telephone calls seemed to lead to a dead end, as the vessels were already claimed. Butler left his contact information in case another opportunity arose, and several weeks later was notified that nearly 100 additional boats were available.
“I’m really excited we were able to make this transfer happen,” Butler said. “The vessels we currently have were all constructed in the 1980’s and 1990’s. What we’ve acquired are all 2005 models, and they are identical, which will make maintenance and upkeep much more efficient.”
Current plans are to evaluate which boat has the most wear on it and use it for parts. Two others are earmarked for shipment to CHL’s Field Research Facility at Duck, N.C., to enhance their research.
“Before the boats were here a week, we received a request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district in Detroit to outfit one of the boats for hydrodynamic data collection and associated water sampling,” Butler said.
Butler is also exploring opportunities to support USACE emergency operations with the new boats.
Developed for the Coast Guard by Safe Boats International, the new acquisitions are Defender 250 models with a 25-foot length and featuring a patented 100 percent Foam SAFE XDR-1 Extreme Duty Reinforced Collar System. The boats are also outfitted with a number of features to enhance their capability in rough water or austere conditions, such as reinforced keels and self-bailing decks. All seven are powered by twin 225-horsepower outboard motors and have a crew capacity of 11, including the pilot. These features increase their value to ERDC by providing expanding capabilities.
The ERDC boats being replaced by the new Defender 250s will be available for transfer through GSAXCESS in the near future.