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Police launch new £1.5m patrol boat fleet
FOUR new state-of-the-art police boats costing £1.5m have been officially unveiled in a ceremony in Southampton .
Hampshire Constabulary has replaced its existing two vessels with a new modern fleet to police the coastline, Southampton Port and the waters of The Solent for the next 20 years.
The largest, Commander, is a 12-metre catamaran with sonar, CCTV, thermal imaging cameras and the latest in satellite communications. The flagship command, control and search vessel will take a crew of up to 14 people and has been designed to drive up a beach.
The new fleet also includes a general purpose patrol launch, Preventer, which has a body recovery platform, and two 8m rigid inflatable boats, Pursuer and Protector, which can reach speeds of up to 55 mph on the water.
Sergeant Tony Birr from the force’s marine unit, which has nine officers based in Southampton, said: “Our new boats will give us an up to date, fit for purpose fleet which will serve us well in helping to keep the waters around Hampshire safe for many years to come.”
Hampshire Constabulary’s history of maritime policing dates back to 1873 when it used a rowing boat to combat crime around the docks.
Assistant Chief Constable David Pryde said: "The new fleet will future proof our marine capability for the next twenty years, allowing the marine unit to protect and support the interests of both the business and leisure maritime communities.
“The marine unit provide a visible presence on one of the busiest stretches of water in Europe for cruise ship movement and leisure craft. As on land, a highly visible presence equipped with a state of the art marine capability will contribute significantly to the prevention of crime and deter acts of terrorism".
The new boats were officially named at a ceremony at Ocean Village , attended by police chiefs, police authority members and other local dignitaries.
Legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail non-stop singlehandedly around the world and the founder of the Clipper race, was guest of honour. The boats were blessed by the force chaplin David Wilbraham.
Children from local schools got a private tour of the new boats which were recently showcased at the PSP Southampton Boat Show .