10 Years Strong: The 45-foot Response Boat – Medium

U.S. Coast Guard members moor up the 45-foot Response Boat - Medium 45601 at Station Little Creek, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Mar. 27, 2018. 45601 was the first RB-M introduced into the service on Mar. 31, 2008, and celebrates a 10-year-anniversary on Mar. 31, 2010. (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua L. Canup)

U.S. Coast Guard members moor up the 45-foot Response Boat – Medium 45601 at Station Little Creek, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Mar. 27, 2018. 45601 was the first RB-M introduced into the service on Mar. 31, 2008, and celebrates a 10-year-anniversary on Mar. 31, 2010. (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua L. Canup)

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua L. Canup

 

Nathan Reynolds stood on a wooden Coast Guard pier looking to the water’s edge at an orange and silver boat used for saving lives and assisting mariners in distress, and bears the numbers 45601, as a small smile appeared on his face.

“I’d rather have that boat than any other in the fleet,” he said, admiring its functionality and capability.

Reynolds, a Petty Officer 2nd Class and Boatswain’s Mate at Station Little Creek, is speaking about 45601, the first 45-foot Response Boat – Medium (RB-M) that was delivered to Coast Guard crews. Celebrating its 10th anniversary of service, over 170 RB-Ms have been delivered since 2008 to over 100 units throughout the Coast Guard, but Station Little Creek holds the title of being the first to conduct missions on the new boat, which replaced the aged 41-foot Utility Boat (UTB) used throughout the service.

Coast Guard members used the UTB to great effect for over 25 years, conducting many rescues and missions, leading some crews to label it a workhorse. Officially retired in 2014, the UTB was slower, less maneuverable and proved challenging in shallow water due to its propellers. In 2008 the Coast Guard began replacing it with RB-Ms, moving the focus towards a boat that could handle more types of missions.

Designed to be a jack-of-all-trades, the RB-M has features such as a jet water engine rather than traditional propellers, improved maneuverability and an expansive deck area.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new 45-foot response boat medium (RB-M) cruises on the Potomac River during a capabilities demonstration, Sept. 24, 2008. This boat was the first model put into testing and is currently assigned to Station Little Creek, Va. The RB-M will re-capitalize capabilities of the existing multi-mission 41-foot utility boats (UTB) and multiple nonstandard boats to meet the needs of the Coast Guard. USCG photo by PA1 Adam Eggers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new 45-foot response boat medium (RB-M) cruises on the Potomac River during a capabilities demonstration, Sept. 24, 2008. This boat was the first model put into testing and is currently assigned to Station Little Creek, Va. The RB-M will re-capitalize capabilities of the existing multi-mission 41-foot utility boats (UTB) and multiple nonstandard boats to meet the needs of the Coast Guard. USCG photo by PA1 Adam Eggers

“With the extra deck space, we’re able to either take on more passengers during a medevac or transfer, or are able to even bring individuals like EMTs out along with us,” said Reynolds.

Thanks to these features, the RB-M allows for crews to go beyond search and rescue and take their capabilities and response to a level they were unable to reach previously with the UTB. A multi-mission platform, the RB-M could conduct ports, waterways, and coastal security, defense readiness and marine environmental protection missions, among other missions.

“We’re able to get better response times because it’s faster, smoother and easy to steer,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Parker Bohannon of Station Little Creek. “It even has a docking ability that gives a side propulsion.”

While the machinery inside may be over a decade old, it can be said that time hasn’t aged the capability of 45601.

“The 45-foot Response Boat-Medium has been a solid modernized asset for the past 10 years,” said Senior Chief Karel Mullen, officer-in-charge at Station Portsmouth and one of the Boatswain Mates present when the RB-Ms entered the service. “It provides an exceptional return on investment for Coast Guard response operators and will continue to be a boat forces workhorse for the next ten years and beyond.”

Coast Guard members across the country using RB-Ms have approximately saved 2,220 lives,  assisted 10,203 lives,  conducted approximately 477,209 total mission hours and saved approximately $96,094,319.95 in property value since the boat was introduced 10 years ago.