South Florida has a new fast response cutter for keeping the waters safe. NBC 6's Claudia DoCampo reports.
A new fast response cutter has arrived in Miami Beach to help officials keep South Florida waters safe.
The Paul Clark, named after a World War II hero, will begin its mission in about a month and a half out of the Miami Beach Coast Guard base.
"The crew has been working for almost five months as they came together to do training to get the ship prepared," Coast Guard Commanding Officer Lt. Lloyd Belcher said.
The boat will be used primarily for law enforcement, search and rescue, marine safety and homeland security, Belcher said.
In the last few months the Coast Guard intercepted a number of boats carrying illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Now with these new cutters they hope to do more of the same.
This is the sixth new cutter in South Florida, replacing the smaller, 30 year old, F110 cutters. The new ones use electronic levers to steer the ships.
New too, is how the crew operates the rest of the ship. Everything is controlled by computers instead of by people, including the ship's firepower.
"We can operate the ship with fewer people and much more efficiently," Belcher said.
The new cutters is 154 feet long, has a beam of 25 feet and a maximum speed of more than 28 knots. It is armed with a 25mm machine gun mount and four .50-caliber machine guns.
While it is bigger than the older cutters, it only requires a crew of 24 people, less than the old ones do.
The Paul Clark will be officially commissioned into service on August 24th. Another 12 cutters like it will be deployed in the state of Florida over the next two years.
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