Park rangers at Lake Cumberland are now better equipped to assist and educate visitors and enforce regulations with the purchase of a new patrol boat with enhanced capabilities.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District recently took possession of a Brunswick 250 Justice patrol boat equipped with twin 200 HP Mercury engines. The powerful vessel’s deep-V hull and pronounced chine make it easy to cut through heavy chop when responding or engaging the public about boating and water safety.
Jonathan Friedman, resource manager at Lake Cumberland and Laurel River Lake in Kentucky, said the Corps of Engineers utilized the Defense Logistics Agency’s Fire and Emergency Services Equipment Program to purchase the new patrol boat from Brunswick Commercial at a cost of $190,000.
“It is clearly marked as a Corps of Engineers patrol boat,” Friedman said. “We want it to stand out. We want to be noticed and available to support and assist our visitors. We want to be as available as possible to ensure a safe and healthy Lake Cumberland experience.”
The new patrol boat has numerous enhanced capabilities. It has Lighthouse electronics by Raymarine, which integrates all of the vessel’s systems into a user-friendly interface that can update charts and capture information and operating conditions. Its sonar is the latest version so it’s possible to clearly see underwater features and, in unfortunate cases, locate bodies when searching underwater after boating accidents and drownings.
When it’s foggy or low-light conditions exist, forward looking infrared capabilities enhance visibility and significantly enhance a crew’s safety posture on the water.
“Should there be a vessel in the shadows that is not visible, its heat signature is extremely clear,” Friedman said. “It makes it possible for park rangers to more safely navigate in these conditions.”
Lake Cumberland is located on the Cumberland River in Wayne, Russell, Pulaski, Clinton, McCreary, Laurel, and Whitley counties in Southeastern Kentucky. With 63,000 surface acres of water and 1,255 miles of wooded shoreline, the lake is known for big boats that throw big waves and for events where lots of boats congregate in coves. The new vessel absorbs the wave action and maneuvers well in tight spaces.
The new patrol boat replaces a 19-foot Justice model that has been used extensively for nearly 15 years. It was purchased for $70,000 in 2008 from the Boston Whaler Company, also known as Brunswick Commercial.
The tried-but-true patrol boat is experiencing wear and tear with ultraviolet light degradation visible throughout the fiberglass topcoat and multiple cracks that allow weathering of the inner fiberglass. Sensor issues make it difficult to monitor gas consumption, and the vessel has limited capabilities. Maintenance costs are now exceeding the value of maintaining the vessel as a primary emergency response asset.
Park Ranger Tyler Matthews said the Brunswick 250 Justice makes it possible to safely patrol across a very large lake in all sorts of weather conditions, and to quickly navigate across Lake Cumberland when visitors experience problems, have questions, and need help.
“During boat patrols our focus is placed on assisting the visitor, enforcing water safety rules and regulations and educating the public on boating and water safety,” Matthews said. “We feel like the new patrol boat will serve us well in this capacity for years to come.”
The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also follow Lake Cumberland on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lakecumberland.