New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) - Every now and again you have to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. The Coast Guard in New Haven has been using one particular vessel since 1977 and it's been very reliable. But they got something new for 2011, so the Coast Guard gave us some survival suits and took us for a ride.
In a weird way, stepping on board a two million dollar vessel has one similarity to buying a new car.
"It's got a nice smell to it. She still gets a couple of dings that you notice when you buy your new truck, new car," Petty Officer Dareck Poirier said.
Take a ride on the Coast Guard's new Response Boat-Medium , or RB-M, and you'll notice a sea of things to go along with that new boat smell. For starters think video games, because a captain's wheel is so 20th century, as Poirier will tell you.
"I couldn't wait to get my hands on these two joysticks right here," he said. "This boat is awesome.".
The United States Coast Guard has spent more than $600 million to replace the aging fleet of 41-foot utility boats across the country. The modern, sleek 45 foot aluminum boat with the unmistakable orange trim joined the excited crew of Station New Haven in August, and the group has embraced this new tool, a tool that seems to fly as much as it does float.
"It will turn on a dime, stop on a dime," Chief Boatswain's Mate Ralph Kugel said. "The best thing is that it's faster than the boat it's replacing."
Then there's the weather. Anyone who thinks the waters of the Sound are as calm as a country pond are probably from the midwest. This playground can get rough. REALLY rough.
"In (the cabin) Long Island Sound is kind of like a dish washer. I mean you have chop. I've been in eight foot, ten foot seas come through at night-time."
The Coast Guard's answer to such a problem? Build a responsive craft that tackles rough seas that's even self-righting. Throw in some "Star Wars" like technology and the result is "it handles the seas very, very well."
A rescue mission on-board becomes safer and more effecient as the crew was more than happy to prove to us.
The United States Coast Guard has a treasured history dating back to 1790. We've come along way since wooden ships and iron cannons. Sure, the RB-M has that new boat smell, but better yet those sworn to protect our shores and save those in need have yet another tool to propel them to continued success.
"This is one expensive nice boat that everyday I get to go drive," Poirier said.
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