When most of us think of marine vessels, we may picture sailboats, canoes or kayaks — maybe giant cruise ships or powerful speed boats. What we likely don’t think about are all the workhorses of the water: barges, ferries, transport and bulk ships, dredgers and patrol boats.
For Kingston-based MetalCraft Marine, these types of vessels are all in a day’s work. The company was recently honoured with a prestigious award at the International WorkBoat Show for its Monjed 2, a fire, rescue and patrol boat that it built for the Kuwait Fire Force. It was named Boat of the Year for 2022 by WorkBoat.
The $5.6-million fireboat is equipped with 45-foot towers capable of shooting water at a rate of 5,000 gallons per minute into the hold of the huge tanker ships that ply Kuwaiti water, for example. The aluminum-hull catamaran-style vessel has a very low wake and can motor at up to 32 m.p.h.
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“With these fireboats, the water comes out of the body of water it’s sitting in, so it’s an unlimited supply,” says Bob Clark, contracts manager with MetalCraft.
The design work was done by Walker Marine Design Ltd. and took eight months to complete. Then it took MetalCraft two years to build. The project began in 2015, with a concept introduced to MetalCraft by longtime contact General Moussa Akbar of the Kuwait Fire Force.
A lot of logistics had to be solved for the concept to work, Clark says. The boat needed hulls large enough to accommodate powerful diesel engines and firefighting equipment, and it needed a low centre of gravity to offset the force of the water shooting out of the towers. Simple things like the bends in the pipes that deliver the water had to be soft so they wouldn’t restrict water flow.
“The boat works like a top, but it was an awful lot of engineering to verify all that,” says Clark.
MetalCraft employs 92 people and has commercial clients around the world, particularly in the U.S.
“At the (International Workboat Show) we got a very special thank you from the captain of the U.S. buying group who came over and said we have received 30 boats on this one contract from your company with zero deficiencies … So he told us, ‘We have a new rule. We’re not going to accept one boat with one deficiency any longer because if you guys can do it and you’ve proven it, then so can your competitors,’” recalls Clark.