OPS Boats

The selection of an Ops Boat is commonly driven by your Teams’ Mission!

In search of a new boat for your team or simply evaluating the one you have to maximize its utility or for future replacement? You will want to read on; the choices available are as different as your operations!

As you well know, Ops/Work Boats come in many shapes, sizes and styles. The number one deciding factor that will drive your team’s decision is often geographical as well as operational. What body of water will you need to operate in? From rapid flowing rivers, to lakes, to area ports, to open ocean operations or navigating the flooded roadways of a community… the vessels available are as different as the work they do.

There are three basic “starting points” to consider that will help to narrow the dizzying field. These are hull configuration, power and size; at first glance, these parameters may appear over simplistic, but let’s take a closer look.

There are a wide variety of hull materials and styles to consider, from inflatables with “pliable” or “soft floors” to inflatables with rigid hulls, smooth vs. ribbed, mono-hull vs. twin v. Once you arrive at a decision as to the type of hull you will select, what comes next? In an array of options, the most important deciding factor for many is POWER! Depending on the hull design you select, the options will vary and will be as simple as having the vessel rigged to hang outboards off the transom, straight inboard(s), inboard/outboard(s), drives or jet drive(s). Most importantly, you will need to decide whether your team’s application and operations will require single or twin power.

The next equally important decision will be size. We all think we know bigger is better, but this is not necessarily the case in this situation. Once you answer the usual questions as to the number of team members to be deployed, payload for required equipment and “weight allowance” for unexpected “guests” (ranging from extra gear to rescued civilians) you will start to close in on an ideal size. Often, the most common question I ask is “Where will the vessel be housed: At dock, in the water, on a lift, or on a trailer?” Most often, where the vessel will be stored and deployed from will likely drive the required size.

There is a long list of additional considerations:

  • What will be the draft and how much water will you draw when deployed in a variety of configurations?
  • Speed: How important is it in your mission? Are you rescue or recovery? Are you first responder or scene investigations? Are you tactical? Each will require different considerations.
  • Distance needs and fuel load considerations
  • Fire suppression system needed?
  • Patient carrying capabilities?
  • Water-tight storage compartments? If so, what will they house?
  • Lifting capabilities: By crane or helicopter for deployment or quick egress from an unexpected situation
  • Built in closed cell configuration?
  • Safety, stability and versatility
  • Diver friendly and durable

Mission specific options are available from a variety of manufacturers. Whether your team is doing Water Rescue, Law Enforcement, Fire Suppression, SWAT Deployment or Flood Evacuation, there is a vessel already out there to fit your needs. Seek them out, test the vessels in “like” conditions with “like” loads and talk to operators that have experience with them in the field. Remember, when it comes to your team’s safety, quality is paramount. Your work platform is one you should be able to take for granted when doing the job; when well maintained, the vessels operation should be seamless and unnoticeable; in other words, it should be hassle free!

A search for rescue boats will generate a variety of manufacturers, but here are a few diverse considerations that may be a good starting point:

Creative double stacker shown

Zodiac Inflatable’s- a long standing and well recognized name

Recognized for their aluminum work boats

Whaler Guardian 25’- well respected vessel

Regardless of what type of OPS Boat your team may have, there is nothing more important than constant training!
Contact us at ERDI and let us help build a training program for you and your team.

Call 207.729.4201 or 888.778.9073

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