The U.S. Coast Guard’s 370th and final 29-foot response boat-small II (RB-S II) entered the water for the first time following delivery to USCG Station Honolulu, Hawaii, in December 2019.
The Coast Guard accepted delivery of the final 29-foot RB-S II boat at the Metal Shark Boats production facility in Jeanerette, Louisiana, Nov. 8.
The RB-S II boats are the most populous fleet in the USCG service. They execute a full range of Coast Guard missions close to shore, including search and rescue (SAR); vessel boarding team deployment and law enforcement missions; port security; drug and migrant interdiction and environmental response operations.
The RB-S II is one of the Coast Guard’s primary boats for mission accomplishment in the near-shore operational environment. With boats operating out of stations covering the east, west, and gulf coasts, as well as the Great Lakes, Hawaii, Guam, and portions of Alaska, it provides a rapid response asset for almost all Coast Guard boat near-shore missions.
On Sept. 26, 2011, the Coast Guard awarded the first delivery order valued at approximately $13 million, to Metal Shark Aluminum Boats of Jeanerette, Louisiana, for the production of 38 RB-S IIs. Various contract options have been exercised including the final delivery order in February 2019. The contract was one of the largest boat buys of its type for the service; the total contract value was approximately $150 million.
The first two boats that were placed into service were delivered to the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in June and July 2012 with the next two delivered to Training Center Yorktown, Virginia, in July and August 2012. From that point, about one Defiant-class boat per week was delivered.
Since 2012, the RB-S IIs have accumulated over 519,000 operating hours. As a fully developed fleet – with over 300 boats in operation – it has consistently provided over 100,000 operating hours each year, distributed primarily across the Coast Guard Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, and Ports and Waterways Security statutory missions
The RB-S II acquisition program is finalizing the transition to sustainment, transferring remaining responsibilities for change management and authority to the service’s small boat product line.
The boats – which continue to meet mission demands – were planned for a 10 year service life. As the oldest RB-S II’s approach their eighth anniversary, discussions are just getting started to look towards the “next generation” of the response boat-small.