Boats Made for the Military, by Chris Caswell (continued)
Many Ribcraft boats go to first responders (fire, rescue, and law enforcement) and each is fitted out to the client needs—from high-output firefighting pumps to jockey seating—but its single largest client is the U.S. Navy, which puts the 7M (24-foot) RIB aboard all large Navy ships. Powered with up to 350-horsepower diesel sterndrives, these are used for boarding parties, search and seizure, and anti-terrorism operations, as well as normal shipboard tasks. With a deadrise aft of 23 degrees and forward deadrise of 45 degrees, it’s clear that these Ribcrafts are intended to run fast and soft in all sea conditions. Other models range from 15 to 32 feet, and a 41-footer will soon debut for serious bluewater missions.
Unless you’re a military insider, you probably don’t recognize the name Brunswick Commercial & Government Products. Say the words “Boston Whaler,” however, and you know who this is immediately.
Boston Whaler, which launched the first of its “Unsinkable Legends” nearly 60 years ago by sawing the foam-filled hull of a 16-footer in half and then powering the severed boat away, was immediately embraced by both the military and first responders, who saw a boat that could be sent out in the worst conditions. The Navy and Coast Guard promptly acquired a large quantity of Whalers for use in Vietnam by the newly formed Navy SEAL teams as well as for Coast Guard riverine patrols. Since that time, Boston Whalers have proven their mettle worldwide. The Bolivian Navy counts 32 Whalers in its 47-boat fleet.
Over the years, the Whaler hull shape has changed from the previously wet tri-hull to more modern deep-Vs with sponsons, but the unsinkable character has never changed.
Under its Guardian line, Brunswick C&GP takes a Whaler hull and modifies it to fit specific needs, from fire-rescue with high-capacity pumps to military patrol with machine guns. The Guardian line is made up of standard Whalers ranging from 15 to 31 feet, while the Justice line has a deeper-V hull (to 24 degrees) that makes it suitable for offshore missions. The Vigilant series adds a weatherproof pilothouse instead of a center console, but retains the walkaround cockpit; this is available in 27- and 31-foot models. The Challenger 27- and 35-footers add a full cabin, providing bunks, head and, on the 35, a galley. Power across the models can range up to triple outboards (depending on the hull), which provide the speed to bring no-goodniks to justice.