Group shows off boat for international buyer

A big, black and nearly bullet-proof boat docked at the Clover Island Marina made big waves, literally, this week on the Columbia River in Kennewick.

The watercraft, looking more like Batman's boat on steroids, was in town for a specially arranged demonstration for potential buyers representing a South American country, said Tim Sheridan of Maritime Defense Systems International, the agency marketing the craft for Radix-Marine, which developed it.

Sheridan said the boat, which is 68 feet long, was designed 20 years ago for military special operations but few were produced, and this boat, built in 1993 for about $500,000, is the only remaining prototype.

"It will do 50-plus knots on the water and can stop within two boat lengths," he said while giving a dockside walk-through Thursday.

He pointed to two captain chairs in the front section, below the control deck, with extra safety belts, hand grips and padding to ensure comfort and safety during extreme acceleration, deceleration and hard water riding.

Specially designed to be exceptionally quick, maneuverable and intimidating, the GB-12 model also has remote controls and an extended bow section for various specialized equipment modules, depending on the need. Modules include firefighting, passenger transport, search and rescue, dive salvage, freight, mine countermeasures and anti-air warfare, Sheridan noted.

A 16-inch thick band of foam surrounds the boat's waistline, providing flotation stability, a bumping cushion and plenty of ballistic protection.

The South Americans are interested in acquiring a new version of the showroom model as a waterborne countermeasure to piracy and to enhance their nation's naval fleet, Sheridan said. He said the potential buyers requested anonymity during the negotiations.

Radix intends on having a Lousiana-based ship builder produce the special order boats. A price has not been set.

"People don't buy this boat for the price but for the performance," Sheridan said.

He said a pair of engines rated at 660 horsepower each drive two water-jet pumps that launch the 23,000-pound boat from zero to 40 knots in 10 seconds.

Sheridan said the boat has been in storage at the Yakima Airport for four years, and before that was in a warehouse in Pasco during a reorganization of Radix-Marine.

Sheridan said the boat is going back to Yakima today.