ANNAPOLIS – A new patrol boat, commissioned the Chesapeake, joined the Department of Natural Resources’ fleet Tuesday.
Natural Resources Police officials said the 45-foot vessel has a fully armored pilot house and will be used for homeland security duties, such as protecting the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, in addition to the law enforcement agency’s traditional mission of promoting conservation and enforcing boating laws.
At a brief commissioning ceremony at the City Dock in Annapolis, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said the Natural Resources Police have become an essential part of the state’s strategy to protect its infrastructure since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Homeland security has become an important part of the agency’s mission, but it is difficult to say just how much of DNR’s budget and manpower that work now consumes, said Kathy Lantz, director of administrative services for DNR. “In all of our activities, there’s a measure of homeland security,” Lantz said.
Lantz said the newly commissioned boat cost the agency about $540,000, all of which was paid for by the state.
The 16-ton Chesapeake, built by SeaArk, is powered by twin 490 horsepower diesel engines and can reach speeds over 30 knots.
The Chesapeake will be stationed at Solomons and joins a Maryland Natural Resources Police fleet of about 100 small and large patrol vessels.