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Making Kitsap County’s waters safe

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s new 32-foot Almar boat was recently acquired for the department’s Marine Services Unit.  - KCSO courtesy photo
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s new 32-foot Almar boat was recently acquired for the department’s Marine Services Unit.
— image credit: KCSO courtesy photo

Careening through the waters of Kitsap County, this 32-foot boat is out for more than just a pleasure cruise.

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) recently acquired a new boat for its Marine Services Unit.

The 32-foot boat was built by Almar Boats in Tacoma. It replaces the agency’s aging 27-foot Olympic Boat which has been in service since the 1980s.

“The Olympic has probably been around since the mid-’80s and is getting old and tired,” said Sgt. Jim McDonough, officer-in-charge of the KCSO Marine Services Unit.

KCSO drew up plans for the Almar Boat in April 2006. Almar Boats created the vessel to KCSO’s specifications.

“We gave the specifications as to how we wanted it to look and they built it to our specs,” McDonough said.

The agency received the boat in February and began using it in Kitsap County waters this past spring. The boat is fully equipped with an integrated navigation plotter including radar, GPS and heading. It also has Police, Marine band VHF and Citizen’s Band radios as well as a refrigerator, heater, stove and toilet.

“It comes in its basic package so we have to get all that installed,” said Deputy Scott Wilson, KCSO spokesman.

The new Almar Boat cost $170,000, fully equipped, and was funded by Washington state annual boat registration fees, which are disbursed annually by Washington State Parks to all state law enforcement boating programs.

The boat, which can travel in excess of 40 mph, is designed to carry more people and operate in adverse weather conditions for long periods of time. It has the capability to retrieve injured people from the water and deploy deputies onto a beach.

“This boat really has a lot of resources,” Wilson said.

KCSO personnel underwent extensive training to operate the Almar Boat. Currently, 10 of the 15 Marine Services Unit personnel are qualified to operate the boat.

“We have a core group of people that got training from Almar and taught others,” McDonough said. “It is a bigger boat than what we’re used to.”

The KCSO Almar Boat could be seen in Dyes Inlet during Whaling Days. McDonough said nothing major occurred during the weekend’s festivities, but they patrolled throughout the event to ensure boaters were safely enjoying the festival.

“Our main goal is to ensure safe boating is done by the general public,” Wilson explained.

During the summer, KCSO patrols Kitsap County’s waters on a weekly basis looking for reckless boaters, expired registrations and other unlawful boating acts.

“Once we’re in the water it’s just about education and enforcement,” McDonough said.

When not in use, the Almar Boat resides at the Port of Bremerton. McDonough and other members of the Marine Services Unit are pleased with the boat’s performance so far.

“It’s a great boat, it’s something we can do a lot of things with,” McDonough said. “It’s a lot more versatile than (boats) in the past.”

The Marine Services Unit is comprised of about 15 KCSO personnel including patrol deputies, detectives and others. Although the unit could use improvements, Wilson said the new Almar Boat is a step forward.

“We would like to do more within the marine unit, but we have to live within our means,” he said. “I can’t say that we’re totally sufficient right now, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

The KCSO Almar Boat will be patrolling the waters of Dyes Inlet during the upcoming hydroplane races, the Graham Trucking Cup at Silverdale Thunder, on Aug. 18 and 19. When not patrolling the waters, the boat will be available at the Silverdale Waterfront for people to visit and ask questions about the vessel.

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