Sep 13, 2014
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The Richmond Police Department says it is now better prepared to respond to emergencies on the Bay and collect evidence from the waters with its new federally-funded boat, named Liberty.

The 37-foot aluminum catamaran jet boat is the largest vessel RPD has ever owned, weighing 18,000 pounds and with a top speed of about 46 miles per hour, said Sgt. Felix Tan, who heads the department’s Marine Unit.

Now with three boats and a crew of six, the Marine Unit conducts search and rescue operations, pulls out derelict vessels, maintains order on the water, and protects possible terrorist targets.  A recent high-profile action by the unit was the removal of a shipwrecked boat called “Phat Woody” that happened to be owned by a convicted sex offender.

The unit’s newest vessel was purchased through a U.S. Department of Homeland Security port security grant. RPD won the grant because Chevron’s refinery, like all such facilities, is considered a possible terrorist target, Tan said.

Liberty will be used for a number of other important reasons as well, Tan said.

“First, the department needed a shallow draft boat to improve our response to emergencies,” Tan said.  “Most of the SF bay is pretty shallow, with some depths being 3-5 feet, and on low tide days, the depths can range from 1-3 feet.  Liberty drafts 22-inches due to the propulsion units (jet), meaning she does not have the typical propellers.  Also, based on the design of the catamaran, Liberty handles the rough seas we have in the SF Bay.”

The new boat is a “command post on water,” Tan added.

“Liberty has a large work deck in the stern area that allows my officers to retrieve evidence easier,” the sergeant said.

The boat will also be used to educate boaters and kids from the Richmond Police Activities League about water safety.

Liberty is powered by two diesel engines and was built in Petaluma by Moose Boats.  Local police agencies such as the San Francisco Police Department, Oakland Police Department and  Contra Costa County Sheriff  also own Moose Boats with the same or similar platform.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.