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Navy will be tripling SAFE Boats order

Armed this week with another $6 million to spend on high-tech command boats, the U.S. Navy turned once again to a company that is transforming itself into the place to go if you need a small, fast vessel that is easy to maneuver in and out of tense situations — Port Orchard’s SAFE Boats International.

“We’ve become the leading supplier of such vessels to military and law-enforcement agencies,” said Scott Peterson, president of the company that was launched in 1996 and can now claim to have boats patrolling waters for the Israeli, Chilean, Mexican and Nigerian navies — to name only a few.

As for the U.S. Navy, Peterson said the $6 million was a boost in funding recently approved by the U.S. Senate that will increase its July order from one boat to three.

According to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) office, the funding was ap-proved as part of $50 million worth of “job-creating defense contracts for Washington state.”

For Safe Boats alone, the increased orders will create at least 20 jobs.

Peterson said the vessels the Navy will get in this order cost $3 million apiece and are known as CB 90 Riverine Command Boats (RCB), which it is buying to boost its newly formed Riverine Force.

“The Navy ran all Riverine operations until Vietnam, when the Marine Corps took over,” Peterson said, explaining that in the past couple of years it was determined that the Navy should take command of such operations again. Since that time, he said, the increase in orders from the Navy has created nearly 50 more jobs at SAFE Boats.

“We’re busy,” he said, “that’s for sure.”

Peterson said there are three different boats the Navy uses for its Riverine group and “the RCB is the command center, or mother ship” that is 49-foot long, armor protected and loaded with high-tech detection and chemical warfare-filtration devices. While the boats were originally designed in Sweden, he said SAFE Boats is licensed to build them in the United States.

His company also makes one of the smaller boats the Navy uses for its Riverine, or “brown water” operations, which Peterson said applies to bodies of water like rivers or even Puget Sound, where his companies products can be seen driven by the U.S. Coast Guard and law-enforcement agencies like the Port Orchard Police Department.

Asked how his company seems to be slowly taking over the market for small patrol and combat boats, Peterson gave two answers.

“My partner (Bill Hansen) would say ‘divine intervention,’ but I would say 70-hour work weeks,” Peterson said with a laugh, adding that his company has “phenomenal workers that I would put toe-to-toe with anyone.”

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