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Boats Made for the Military

37' Justice

You might be a Boston Whaler fan, but you’re probably not familiar with the 37-foot Justice (above), which is probably a good thing.

Battle Tested

Boston Whaler, Intrepid, Contender—you think you know everything about these famous boatbuilders? Think again. There’s a secret list of military options that turn these models into true weekend warriors.

When you sit down at your local dealership to order that center console you’ve been dreaming about, you’ll get a sheet with check boxes for the usual options: T-top, extra rod holders, teak trim. What you don’t know is that there is a secret options list for your boat that is far more interesting, especially if you’re into Jason Bourne movies or Tom Clancy novels.

This secret list might include such niceties as mounts for twin .50-caliber machine guns, armor plating around the cockpit, grenade launchers, and bulletproof windshields. To see this secret list, you need the right credentials, which means you’re the government in some form: Navy, Marines, SEAL Teams, police departments, SWAT teams. There’s a lot more on these options lists, but if I tell you, they’ll kill me. And you. So let your imagination run rampant.

The point is that the boat you use for towing your kids on wakeboards, fishing with your friends, or as your yacht tender may be the very same boat that SEAL Team Six is using to sneak ashore in Somalia.

There is a long history of American builders of pleasure boats turning out models for far more deadly purposes. Chris-Craft, which had been known for beautiful varnished runabouts, quickly converted full production during World War II to produce rescue boats, landing craft, and, sadly, mahogany radio-controlled target boats that Navy gunners blew to pieces. Andrew Higgins had built skiffs for the Louisiana bayous, but turned out more than 20,000 Higgins landing craft that carried troops ashore (Normandy, Sicily, Guadalcanal) and was called by General Eisenhower “the man who won the war for us.”

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This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.