BREMERTON — SAFE Boats International has gotten a $34.5 million contract to build four more Mk VI patrol boats for the Navy.
The Bremerton company already is working on a May 2012 deal to construct an initial batch of six boats, the first to be delivered this summer. This group would bring the total to 10, with an option for two more. The Navy ultimately wants to buy 48 of them, according to Defense News.
SAFE Boats, which has been based for 17 years at the Port of Bremerton’s Olympic View Industrial Park, had to open a second facility on the Port of Tacoma tideflats when it began building the 85-foot boats. The site needed to be on the water because the Navy’s next-generation patrol boats couldn’t be transported over the road.
The boats will become part of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. Their mission will be to patrol shallow areas and maneuver close to shore, packing guns up to 25 mm. Powered by water jets and twin diesel engines, they’ll skim across the water at more than 30 knots.
“SAFE Boats is proud to have been awarded this new contract for additional Mk VI patrol boats for the U.S. Navy,” President and CEO Dennis Morris said. “The Mk VI patrol boat program represents a new level of size and sophistication for the SAFE Boats product portfolio. Through the execution of this program, we have increased our boat design and manufacturing capabilities and capacity.”
SAFE Boats produces about 100 small military and law enforcement boats annually at its Bremerton campus. About one-tenth of its 300 workers were originally expected to work in Tacoma. More have moved there since. Between 15 and 20 Bremerton employees were laid off in May because of changing demand, Morris said.