New Zealand’s own Stabicraft Marine has just delivered nine custom boats to Alaska, where they'll be used to monitor gillnetting by commercial fishermen and the number of fish and birds caught.
The 659 Wheel House boats were especially ordered by Alaska’s National Marine Fisheries Service and Saltwater Inc to conduct research on fish and wildlife for the Alaskan Department of Fish and Game.
Stabicraft, as a non-American manufacturer, came under intense scrutiny to ensure the vessels met strict design and performance requirements.
“This is a significant order for Stabicraft. It has traditionally been very difficult for non-US boat manufacturers to supply vessels to be used in government projects," said managing director Paul Adams. "It's a real coup.”
Adams said the contract would last for the next two summers. The boats will be located in the Petersburg-Wrangell area of southeast Alaska.
Safety is a key feature of the boats, he said, with each boat containing a 'life ring' made up of continuous tubes of individually sealed flotation chambers to provide buoyancy on the boat’s upper-outer extremities. This and an airtight chamber, between the floor and hull, reduce the chance of sinking.
Designers have also increased the gunnel’s (railing) height to keep passengers safe on deck and keep out seawater.
The vessels will be used in a variety of roles, mainly based around rivers and estuaries and offshore work. Occupants will monitor gillnets through 6mm toughened glass surrounding the aft wheelhouse.