VESSEL REVIEW | Boat 42 – New nuclear, chemical and biological detection patrol boat for the Port of Los Angeles


The Los Angeles Port Police has unveiled a new US$1.5 million vessel equipped with night vision, wireless communications, advanced navigation and nuclear, chemical and biological detection equipment that will be used for specialised dive team operations and patrol of the Port of Los Angeles.

Boat 42 was designed for rough water with structure design to ISO 12215 and, equally important, stability to ISO 12217 Category B. Category B means it can work safely in 13- to 17-foot (four- to five-metre) waves.

“A very fine bow entry is the critical design feature,” commented builder Metalcraft Marine. “Its high-speed rough water performance allows the operators to go offshore to inspect incoming ships before they enter the port for nuclear and chemical hazardous contaminants.”

The boat has a very tall mast for restricted manoeuvrability lights or tow lights. It has exceptional visibility meeting ABYC sight lines. Its spotter windows are designed to clearly see the ship’s upper superstructures and sheerline. Another unique feature is that in a hard overturn, the side spotter windows give the operator an unobstructed view to either port or starboard while at 45 degrees heel.

The propulsion system is designed around reliability and ease of maintenance and includes Cummins 6.7-litre engines at 480 hp (360 kW) and Konrad heavy duty 680 duo-prop outdrives. This combination provides a spacious engine room and easy access to all service points, minimising down time for servicing. Oversize engine hatches provide access to all sides of the engines.

The boat is fitted with an aft deck helm, which allows an operator to be part of a boarding exercise or water rescue and provide additional support. The boat has a portable 900-pound (400 kilogram) davit for body recovery. The wide body version of the design provides comfortable seating for three officers and extra seating for a boarding party or mass rescue. The boat has over-wide side decks with cabin access from near normal size sliding doors. These large doors provide good ingress/egress and for use with side arms.

Boat 42 has a high-speed stainless deck windlass for when the boat is at anchor and surveilling the harbour and its entrance. It can bring up the anchor at a rapid rate safely with no chance of fouling to let the crew get underway immediately.

The electronics selection was the latest Furuno Timezero navigation system, with 16” displays at the helm and a giant 24” screen at the command/navigation station.

“The Timezero system is virtually instant at responding to new crew commands, with overlays so clear and intuitive that you really don’t need additional training on these units,” commented Metalcraft Marine. “A four-way split screen permits navigation information, CCTV cams and infrared cam info simultaneously.”

The boat has two very powerful CBRN detection units that are the highest-level, state-of-the-art detection systems available, and are military grade.

The RAD system was supplied by Radiation Plus. The RS-700 has a gamma and neutron detection system. The unit has an integrated controller and data acquisition system. The heart of the RS-700 is the proprietary advanced digital spectrometer (ADS) module. Using a unique detector energy calibration curve stored in the ADS module, the spectrum is linearised and compressed into the system’s 1024 channel resolution.

A high-speed processor allows data to be corrected if necessary without distortion and can process 250,000 characters per second. All data is posted to the RAD Assist software with mapping and nuclide identification features.

The RAPIDplus chemical detector by Bruker is the second piece of detection equipment. It can automatically detect, identify and monitor all known chemical warfare agents (CWA) and important toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) at long distances of up to 3.1 miles (5.0 kilometres).

The system also provides real time detection. The instruments utilise Bruker’s flex-pivot interferometer and can be operated whilst static or on the move with no degradation in performance. The software provides the user with enhanced visual surveillance and analytical displays overlaid on video with an extended substance library and increased detection capability.

The chemical detection limits of the remote sensor for CWAs and TICs are in the low ppm range and the new enhanced list of chemicals in the library is comprehensive.

The RAPIDplus software provides enhanced analytical displays that visualise a hazardous cloud as an overlay on video and allows enhanced interrogation of the detection and manipulation of the hazard.

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