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05/29/2023 07:21 AM

Westbrook’s New Patrol Boat Ready to Go

Town Officals pose with the new patorl boat. From left, Board of Finance Chairman Paul Winch, First Selectman John Hall (seated), Selectman Chet Bialicki, and Selectman Joe Campbell . Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News

On May 23, several town officials gathered at Westbrook Marine Center for a special occasion: the christening of Westbrook’s new patrol boat. As of Memorial Day weekend, the boat is active.

The new boat, dubbed Marine 2, was officially put in the water at Westbrook Marine Center, where it will serve as a joint boat for the town’s marine patrol as well as the Harbor Commission. John Rie, chairman of the Westbrook Harbor Commission, said the boat will allow the town to go under the bridge over the Patchogue River by Bill’s Seafood.

“The other boat is too big to get under the bridge, and we need the ability to do that,” Rie said.

Assistant Harbor Master Dave Russell agreed and said that more people had been putting boats in the marinas up the river over the last several years.

“We simply couldn’t get under the bridge. Now we have the ability to patrol everything,” Russell said.

Beyond patrolling, Rie and Russell said that the boat will give the town other uses on the water. Rie said that there will be docents on the barrier islands in the summer, which will be ferried out using the boat. Additionally, Rie said that the boat will be used to check things like navigational markers to ensure the waterways are navigable.

“Boating is a big economic driver for Westbrook. We need to make sure it’s as safe as possible,” Russell added.

The other boat, which is larger, will still be used.

“This new boat will be used for the river and some things closer to shore. The other boat is the primary boat and is bigger, so it can take on rougher seas, so it’s good to have that too,” Rie said

Rie said that the harbor commission first began talking about getting a new boat for the town about four or five years ago. “The winds and tides lined up for us to be able to do this now,” Russell aptly observed.

Last year the town went out to bid for the boat and received three or four responses from across the country. However, Russell said that Westbrook-based Atlantic Outboard came in with exactly what the town was looking for and significantly cheaper than the other bidders.

The town approved purchasing the boat for $47,275 last fall. The town’s capital budget had $41,000 budgeted for the purchase, and an additional $9,000 was approved at a town meeting to complete the purchase and add graphics on the boat.

“Having that local service and support is important and great,” Russell said.