New, high-tech county patrol boat hits Muskegon waterways

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jul 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-01 18:18:54-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- The Fourth of July holiday weekend is here and that means boaters around the state are headed to the water for a good time. Those headed to Muskegon Lake might spot a new, high-tech vessel designed to keep them and their family safe.

"It's another tool in our toolbox," Dean Roesler, the Muskegon County sheriff said.

The boat is called the Defender Firehawk, and it made its way from California to Muskegon County just in time for the busy holiday weekend. Roesler said the 34-foot patrol boat is like no other and is equipped with the latest technology.

The $635,000 rig has two fire canons. One hose is on the front, and the other on the back.

"We've had a couple boat fires in the last couple weeks, ironically, here on Muskegon Lake," Roesler said.

But that’s not all this vessel does. In addition to the usual search and rescue operations, it can also detect chemicals in the water and protect passengers from chemicals in the air.

"This cabin or the cockpit area is all self-contained," Roesler said.

He explained that it's an airtight cabin that allows crews to sail to and through hazardous areas at up to 45 miles per hour. The sheriff said it’s longer, wider and therefore more stable than the marine divisions' two other patrol boats.

"What this allows us to do, in my opinion, is provide a better level of service," Roesler said.

He added, "Wherever we might be called for some type of marine event, the county is a little better equipped, as of today, to respond."

Roesler said the $635,000 price tag was covered by a federal grant through the Department of Homeland Security - Port Security Grant Program. The sheriff's department said the county did not have to contribute any cash for the vessel but did make a smaller in-kind contribution by holding training exercises etc.