MARIETTA - Delivery of two custom-built 25-foot boats, ordered for Marietta's police and fire departments in April, has been delayed by the manufacturer.
"Both boats are currently in production, but there was a delay on the manufacturer's part due to other orders that had to be filled for the military. They apparently just got behind," said Marietta police detective Troy Hawkins.
The vessels, built by North River Boats, Inc. of Roseburg, Oregon, are being purchased with port security grant funding awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Huntington Port-Tristate.
The police department boat will cost $193,853 and the fire vessel will cost $397,507.
Hawkins and Marietta fire Chief C.W. Durham first approached city council about obtaining the boats in March.
Council passed legislation authorizing the spending of $591,360 from the capital improvement fund to provide up-front payment for the boats.
"This was approved as advance payment to be reimbursed by the port security grant funds," said Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, who chairs council's finance committee.
City Auditor Sherri Hess said the city has been making payments on invoices submitted from North River Boats.
"But we hold each check until we receive a reimbursement from the port security grant," she said.
The boats were originally supposed to be delivered at the beginning of September.
"I would imagine they'll both be delivered before the end of the year," Hawkins said. "They started working on the fire boat first, probably because it required some specialized equipment."
Durham said North River Boats is flying a couple of representatives from the fire department to the Roseburg, Ore., facility this week.
"They want us to take a look at the boat to be sure everything is being done according to our specifications," Durham said. "They don't want to ship the boat all the way here and then find out there was a problem."
He said the department should have a better idea Monday about when the boats will be delivered.
Durham said when the fire boat comes in it will likely be put in the river for some initial training, then housed in a facility near the water during the winter, in case the boat is needed.
The fire boat will have a heated cab and large-diameter fire hose so that the vessel can be used as a sort of portable fire hydrant during emergency situations, Durham said.
He said some of the grant funding for the fire boat was used to purchase special diving masks for the department's dive team that allow communication between divers and with the command center on shore.
Durham said the masks were first used during the search for a drowning victim in the Muskingum River near Devols Dam in June.
When he and Durham initially approached council about the federal grant for the boats, Hawkins said one condition is that Marietta would become part of the Huntington Port-Tristate security system.
"That means the Port can call on us, if needed, for assistance in the event of a major incident, like a bridge collapse or some natural disaster anywhere within the port system," he said.