A vessel custom-built for law enforcement
When the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office marine unit is called into service, it’s frequently in times of greatest need, such as searching for a missing person when time is of the essence.
Those times call for the newest and best technology, from radar to the ability to coordinate with law enforcement on shore, said Sgt. Louis Trochesset, of the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.
A 29-foot full cabin 290X Defender SAFE, which stands for Secure All-around Flotation Equipped, is the newest tool in the toolbox, Trochesset said.
“This SAFE boat allows the Galveston Sheriff’s marine division to perform proactive waterborne patrols and suspicious vessel boardings, enhancing maritime awareness,” Trochesset said.
The vessel was custom-built for the sheriff’s office in 2017 by SAFE Boats International, a Washington-based company founded in 1997 that specializes in designing and building durable vessels for the military, law enforcement and fire departments.
The vessel takes at least a two-man crew to run, but can hold as many as 24 people on board — useful for holding a SWAT and dive team, depending on the situation — and features a number of other useful features for law enforcement, Trochesset said.
Those include sonar and radar to help deputies see what’s below the surface of the water, as well as an automatic identification system, more commonly called AIS, which is a digital transponder system that can prevent collisions by serving as a digital radar. The U.S. Coast Guard requires many larger boats to have some type of AIS device installed, according to requirement documents.
The side-scan imaging sonar system can create an image of large and small areas on the sea floor and often is used to detect debris and other items, Trochesset said. Deputies also frequently use it to detect bodies and other evidence on the sea floor.
“The technology is so good these days, that’s why the fishing is so easy,” Trochesset joked.
The 2017 SAFE boat also has a 250-gallon fuel tank, according to the company.
The sheriff’s office largely funded the boat’s purchase through a federal port security grant, Trochesset said.