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Nanaimo Port Authority buys bigger patrol boat

Nanaimo Port Authority is getting a bigger, better boat to patrol Nanaimo Harbour.

The NPA Osprey will be 12 metres long and do everything from basic harbour patrol chores to ambulance and firefighting duties.

The $600,000 aluminum, twin-engine patrol vessel is under construction by Daigle Welding and Marine Ltd. of Campbell River and is the second harbour patrol craft the port authority has purchased from the company.

Capt. Edward Dahlgren, harbour master and manager of marine operations, said the vessel will give the port authority more comprehensive capability on the water and will start sea trials in April.

"It has to be in service for our first cruise ship of the season, May fifth," Dahlgren said. "

The NPA Osprey will primarily support harbour safety and environmental security work, but will also serve as a pilot vessel for incoming cruise ships and as a marine ambulance for Protection and Gabriola islands, and vessels anchored in the harbour.

The vessel is equipped with two water monitors and a fire suppression foam system to battle fires in water craft and structures onshore.

It will also support the Nanaimo RCMP, city bylaw enforcement and ferry emergency responders during emergencies in the harbour.

Dahlgren said the NPA Osprey is one metre longer than the NPA Eagle purchased in 2011, but also adds greater hull displacement and horsepower-to-weight ratio.

Each boat's characteristics will complement the other's and provide backup should the other break down.

"What we've done is built redundancy into our fleet," Dahlgren said. "The NPA Eagle, which we purchased last year, is shallower draft, so it can go up the [Nanaimo River] estuary to support environmental patrols, ground search and rescue or whatever is required up the estuary or close inshore.

"The NPA Osprey is twin-screwed, it draws more water, but it has better seakeeping capability, so it can work where the waves are bigger and the winds are stronger."

The two boats will also have identical control system and equipment layouts to help crews become easily familiar and enhance safety.

For security reasons, Dahlgren would not comment on all of the new craft's electronic capabilities, but said they improve the port authority's ability to offer security for cruise ships and other vessels entering Nanaimo Harbour.

"I can't really divulge some of the information because it would explain what security processes we're doing," he said. "It has much better equipment to allow us to ensure that the environment the cruise ship will be passing through is, as far as possible, safe. It's got some really nifty stuff."

The addition of the NPA Osprey brings the number of craft in Nanaimo Port Authority's fleet to three.

The smallest craft in the fleet is the NPA Kestrel, which is primarily used as a workboat on the inner harbour.

The NPA Osprey replaces the NHP II, which was built in the 1970s.

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