Reporting Jessica Kartalija
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s out with the old for the U.S. Coast Guard. The Baltimore sector is getting two new boats for patrolling the water and conducting search and rescue missions.
Jessica Kartalija gets a first-hand look at the boat in action on the Chesapeake.
In Curtis Bay, members of the U.S. Coast Guard introduced WJZ to the newest member of their fleet.
“The old boat is basically a Fred Flintstone model, to where this particular boat is a space shuttle,” said Captain Mark O’Malley.
Replacing the old 41-footer, the 45 can easily navigate inshore waterways and speed through open water using a high-tech computer. The boat can stop quickly and make sharp turns.
“There’s no steering wheel anymore; you have controls, throttles,” O’Malley said. “You tell the boat which way to go [and] the computer will tell the engines how to operate.”
Infrared technology can search water in all conditions to find a missing person or body.
“A human body is 98 degrees. In water that may be 40 or 50 degrees so it will greatly reduce the number of search patterns you have to run because you’ll see that image on the computer screen,” O’Malley said.
The old 41-footers have been around for 25 years and will eventually be phased out.
“It’s faster, it’s more comfortable for the crew and it’s more highly maneuverable than the other boat and it can operate in higher sea states. It’s not as limited as the other boat was,” O’Malley said.
There will be two 45s in the Baltimore sector and one in Annapolis.
Station Curtis Bay responds to about 200 search and rescue cases in the Baltimore area every year.