While Byron and Pat Faber are enjoying a trip to New Zealand, fourteen Navy League members toured Safe Boats on November 7th. We were welcomed by CEO Dennis Moore at the Bremerton facility. SAFE Boats started in 1997 and now has 375 employees with 123 employees at the Tacoma facility which opened in 2012.
Dennis gave us an overview of some of the ships being built for the Navy and also other countries. SAFE Boats product line includes: Center Console(23-35 feet); Full Cabin(25-38 feet); Walk Around(27-29 feet). There are also Special Purpose Inboards(26-36 feet); Center Console offshore(33 and 41 feet); Full Cabin Inboard(36-65 feet). The newest and most exciting is the Mark 6 or Mk VI. SAFE Boats is an innovative leader in multi-mission boats. These are combat specific and used for Naval patrol. They need to be fast and serve multi-purposes. The Navy has ordered 12 of this new ship design with 7 already delivered. The Mk VI is 84 feet long and has a beam of 19′ 10″.
SAFE Boats has also made over 40 OTH Horizons for the Coast Guard which are 26 ‘ long and mostly used for Search and Rescue on the cutters. In 2016, they started production of the CIV(Coastal Inteceptor Vessel) for Custom and Border Protection. They are designed for offshore patrol and interdiction with a maximum speed of 56 knots. Up to 40% of the SAFE Boats built are sold internationally. In the United States, they have over 160 state and local customers. Darren Hansen, one of our tour guides, allowed us to board a 65′ jet boat being built and dubbed the “Guardian” which is supplied with Hamilton jets and goes in excess of 52 mph.
Our group took a break and lunched at the Airport Diner in Bremerton before heading to Tacoma for the afternoon tour. Hartwell Champagne welcomed us to the Tacoma plant, and JD Schultz gave us an in-depth tour of how SAFE Boats has customized existing buildings and works with the Army who leases dock space. As of now, the Army has not ordered any SAFE boats!
But again all of the excitement is about the new 85′ Navy Patrol Boat called the Mk VI. And we could see why, after getting a personal tour of one of the boats at dockside. This particular boat does not have the collars which are so visible on other SAFE Boats. These are designed to go on a large amphibious ship(up to 6 boats) and sent to areas where needed. They are used for recovery so the sides are adapted to getting on and off the ship there and also have a most unusual split bow so the Navy can board ships bow-in and not go along side for safety and ease of the crew when off-boarding.
There is a working crew of 10 with 5 on duty at one time. The ship can also carry up to 13 additional Navy personnel. Because of potential hostile encounters, there is ballistic protection and armament on the bow and stern. These boats are jet propelled and cruise at 28 knots in 28+ waves. There are 20+ high tech individual seats for safety since the boat can be going 28 knots and stop in 1 1/2 boat lengths or make radical turns.
Everyone needs to be strapped in for safety!!! The Mk VI carries 5,000 gallons of fuel with a range of 600 miles. This behemoth costs $10 million and takes 30,000 hours to build.
There is a lot of research and development being done by the Navy. The plan for the future is having autonomous ships that can carry missiles that are remote controlled. Imagine seeing unmanned ships at sea! SAFE Boats hopes to be part of this future. -Diane Quayle