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Stonington's new patrol boat is seen in action in Seattle. | (Courtesy of Stonington Police)

Stonington’s military-grade boat expected to arrive in early spring

STONINGTON — Progress on the town’s new police boat is moving slightly ahead of schedule and the vessel is expected to arrive in early spring.

Police Chief J. Darren Stewart, Capt. Jerry Desmond and members of the Board of Police Commissioners updated town staff on the boat at a selectman’s meeting earlier this month. The vessel, which is being constructed in Seattle, was inspected by Desmond during a one-day stay in the Evergreen State.

He distributed photographs of the boat to the selectmen and said he would do the same for the Board of Finance.

“We feel it was something that was done for the good of the community and we wanted to make sure that everyone was a part of it,” he said.

“It’s a great vessel. It’s got all sorts of electronics on it, including infrared so we can see everything clearly at night.”

“Thank you for the support,” said Melvin E. Olsson, chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners. “I’m sure the shoreline will be safer and our patrols will be safer. It is a great asset to our community.”

The town’s current boat was donated 13 years ago and requires constant maintenance. The new boat is a world-class, state-of-the-art port security craft worthy of the federal Department of Homeland Security, which provided the $375,000 in grant money for its purchase.

Desmond said that future grant money can be dedicated for maintenance, supplies and training, and will be used to benefit the entire area.

The craft is made by SAFE Boats International, an aluminum boat manufacturer and leading supplier to military, federal, state and local law enforcement, and fire and rescue agencies throughout North America.

The 27-foot boat is outfitted with twin 300-horsepower engines. Its enclosed cabin has both heat and air conditioning so it can be deployed throughout the year, and its construction makes it seaworthy in very bad weather. It also has sophisticated sonar and radar systems.

“It’s a military law enforcement vessel. It’s an amazing vessel that will allow us to patrol our coastline in a way that heretofore did not exist,” said Harry Holt, secretary of the Board of Police Commissioners.

According to Desmond, the town paid for the boat in advance, then was reimbursed by the grant, a difficult task that was achieved during the federal government shutdown.

Because of the grant, the boat will be available to respond to major incidents in nearby towns. It is very similar to the one used by Groton police.

“We planned it that way,” Desmond said. “We wanted it so that other officers in nearby towns could board it and know exactly how it’s operated.”

Eligibility for the grant program is limited to critical national seaports and terminals. The New London and Groton region is considered critical due to its access to vessels from certain countries due to national security issues. Stonington is part of the region.

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