The Art Inventory

Kvichak Delivers Its 500th Hull To Our Harbor Patrol

by Kirby Lindsay, posted 4 April 2012

In April, Kvichak launched its 500th hull, belonging to 'Patrol 9' to be delivered to the Seattle Harbor Patrol in May 2012. Photo provided by Kvichak Marine Industries

In March, Kvichak Marine Industries announced the launch of the 500th hull built at the company headquarters in Fremont.  The fortuitous timing put that 500th hull on a 45’ Response Boat Medium – C (RBM-C) ordered by the Seattle Police Department for use by the Harbor Patrol.

The boat, to be dedicated May 19th at the Harbor Patrol headquarters on the western edge of Gas Works Park, will bear the dramatically practical name of ‘Patrol 9.’

What’s In A Name

This is the third Kvichak boat to be purchased by Harbor Patrol – the other two being Patrol 2 and Patrol 4.  Patrol 4 also was dedicated as the ‘Jackson V. Lone,’ in honor of the Harbor Patrol Officer who died in 2005, the same year the boat went into commission.  When asked about the names, Lieutenant Marc Olson explained that simple names make it easier when responding to radio calls to specify which boat will be needed.

All the boats can do routine patrol, but “each has a special mission,” Lt. Olson explained.  Patrol 4 has advanced firefighting capabilities.  Patrol 5 is considered the technology boat, equipped with side scan sonar and an underwater remote vehicle for searching underwater.  Patrol 2 is a water jet propelled boat, without exterior propellers, and is ever so slightly smaller.  “It makes it so we can get into very shallow water,” Lt. Olson explained, and navigate swampy or shallow areas of Seattle’s many lakes.

Lt. Olson explained that Patrol 9 is a salt-water induction boat with self-righting capabilities, and a top speed of 40 knots – making it quite fast.  (Patrol 2 & 4 have top speeds of 30 knots.)  Two rescue zones on the boat make it easier to load passengers from the water onto the boat deck, and make Patrol 9 well-suited to respond to mass casualty events.

This boat, Lt. Olson noted, has been designed specifically with terrorism and/or large-scale disasters in mind.  For instance, it can be transformed into a long-term command post, if necessary.  Since the tragedy of 9/11, “we’ve evolved, and our role evolved,” and the equipment the Harbor Patrol uses makes it easier to serve and protect us.

‘A Proven, Established Product’

The Seattle Harbor Patrol base, just west of Gasworks Park, will host an open house - and dedication of Patrol 9 - on May 19th, 2012 - seen here from Lake Union. Photo by K. Lindsay

Patrol 9 is sister ship to the fleet of RBMs designed by Camarc Design and built by Kvichak for the U.S. Coast Guard.  These boats were so well-made, for a good price, that the Federal GSA (General Services Administration) list it.  Art Parker, Sales Manager for Kvichak, explained that putting the RBM-C on the list declares it, “a proven, established product.”  This has led to orders coming in both domestically and internationally, including the New York Police Department Harbor Unit which took delivery of an RBM-C in 2011.

Purchasers of listed GSA products know they are vetted to give good quality for the price.  “The big thing the City has to do is avoid risk,” Parker observed, and purchasing an established product – from a preferred, and local, vendor – does that.  As Lt. Olson observed, “If I can buy off the GSA, it’s a guaranteed low price,” on a product provided with a large, available platform of replacement parts.  As the head of the Harbor Patrol, and an SPD officer, said, “we try to be good stewards with the public’s money.”

It being a Kvichak boat only enhances the benefits.  “We have a fantastic relationship with Kvichak,” Lt. Olson reported, “Scott Weiler is the project manager for the boat, and he’s been absolutely fantastic!”  Additionally, Kvichak strives to support neighboring businesses by purchasing supplies, and hiring local crane and tugboat services, which means the purchase supports more than just Kvichak and the 120 people that work there.  “It promotes business through the neighborhood,” Parker reported.

Government & Commercial Work

Kvichak also checks in, to inquire about the boats, and learn about design changes that might make a more effective and efficient future product.  “Being right down the canal, I can stop down,” at Harbor Patrol HQ, Parker said, “and have a cup of coffee.”  As Lt. Olson reported, about Kvichak, “It’s just a pleasure to do business with them.”

Of course, not all Harbor Patrol vessels have come from Kvichak.  The City does go through standard open procurement when they can’t find the vessel – or other products – they need from the GSA list.  Occasionally, Parker explained, procurement requirements will restrict bids to those companies with local credentials, but not always.  Laws and guidelines, ordinances and regulations, govern procurement, and Parker allowed that, “the City doesn’t have a lot of control over what they are allowed to buy.”  They must go with the lowest bid, or the product that best matches the stated procurement requirements, and that isn’t always Kvichak.

That won’t devestate the company.  While Kvichak does government work, they also, “do a fair bit of straight up commercial work,” Parker explained.  The call for commercial sales went down during the recent economic downtimes, but the company still tries for a 50-50 ratio between the two.  Since Kvichak started with the repair of commercial fishing boats, and then moved into making aluminum Bristol Bay Gill Netting boats, the commercial work remains a cornerstone of their business.  They’ve even had orders lately to build yacht hulls, still out of aluminum, to be outfitted and finished by a conventional yacht manufacturer.  Recently Kvichak delivered a 180’ hull made of 240,000 pounds of fabricated aluminum.

In April, sea trials will wrap up on Patrol 9, and it should be put it into service by opening day of boating season on May 5th.  The official dedication will be May 19th, when Kvichak and SPD Harbor Patrol will co-host an open house from 11a – 3p at the Harbor Patrol base.

The public – including all Fremonsters – can stop by and see the newest addition to the Harbor Patrol fleet, and the other boats including Patrol 2 and the ‘Jackson V. Lone.’  Also, meet the officers, ask questions and learn more about the capabilities of our Harbor Patrol – and its Kvichak boats.

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©2012 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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