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FWC christens renovated offshore vessel

News Release

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Media contact: Jorge Pino, 561-723-1417

It once sailed the Florida seas as the JJ Brown. Today, Aug. 17, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) 85-foot, aluminum vessel was christened the Gulf Sentry.

Appropriately named, the vessel and its captain, Lt. Scott Pearce, will patrol the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf Sentry was originally manufactured in 1968 for the U.S. Air Force and was used as a missile-retriever until 1994.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration used it next and eventually loaned the vessel to the FWC, which performed federal fisheries enforcement and search-and-rescue missions with it for the next 14 years.

After many years of service, the vessel needed extensive repairs to remain operational.  In 2008 the vessel was fully transferred to the FWC, and Joint Enforcement Agreement funding was acquired for a major overhaul. 

The restoration project was awarded to the Derecktor of Florida shipyard in Dania. The Gulf Sentry now has a new bottom, engines, electrical and plumbing work, berthing area, galley and improved pilot house. There are also numerous "green" features incorporated into the new design. These include C32 ACERT engines that meet tier-two emission regulations, meaning they produce no smoke and have better fuel economy, and they feature air-driven hydraulic systems, which prevent potential loss of oils. Recycled materials were used in construction of cabin interiors; a fuel-fill system was designed to eliminate fuel spills during fill-ups; and the shaft angles, rudders and bottom were redesigned to increase efficiency.

"The vessel has undergone a complete renovation," said Col. Jim Brown, director of the FWC's Division of Law Enforcement. "She is now environmentally friendly and perfectly equipped for patrolling Florida's waters and protecting its valuable natural resources and people."

The vessel will operate primarily in the northern Gulf of Mexico between St. Marks and Pensacola, out to 200 miles offshore.

The Gulf Sentry is one of the FWC's Heavy Endurance Class offshore patrol vessels. The vessels are capable of extended patrol in offshore areas during varying weather conditions. They range from 50 to 85 feet in length and have unique berthing, support facilities and equipment to enable them to operate on multi-day missions without returning to port.

"These vessels aid in our core missions - in particular, resource protection and public safety," Brown said. "Additionally, these vessels and their crews provide the state with a valuable service, as they are often the only law enforcement asset on patrol in offshore waters."

FWC Facts:
While bears may defend a food resource, bears generally are not territorial, meaning they do not defend boundaries of a specific area from intrusion by other bears.

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