26-ft Motor Whale Boat
Portsmouth, Rhode Island
Naval Sea Systems Command
With the yachting business reeling from the luxury tax I was asked to seek new sources of revenue for Ted Hood's boat building operations in Portsmouth. We were successful in securing two contracts with the US Navy - one for motorwhale boats and the other for target drones.
The 26-ft motor whale boat is a shore boat but more importantly it is often the man overboard boat on navy ships. As such it must be capable of launching in less the ideal circumstances.
All of us learned a lesson on this project about the peculiar world of navy procurement. The media loves to talk about the $400 toilet seat and we though we had an example when we came to price the little Westerbeke engine used on these boats. No longer in production the factory must ramp up to build them - in this case 14 - practically by hand and thus costing many times that of current production models. We went to the navy and said "Hey, this is crazy lets switch to a current model and save some money." Jack Mathias, a key guy at SEABAT in Norfolk patiently pointed out that all across the globe at navy bases and onboard naval ships are millions and millions of dollars in spare parts. Not to mention training manuals, specialty tools, and repair procedures all based on a particular little Westerbeke. Can that engine and you've canned all that value. Never mind . . .