Huge US Coast Guard projects like the frigate-sized National Security Cutters get a lot of attention, but they can only be in so many places at once. Most people who encounter the Coast Guard do so inshore, and their encounter is often with a “Response Boat – Small.” RB-S was developed as a direct response to 9/11, and the corresponding need for additional homeland security assets. The current Defender Class boats are assigned to the Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), the Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT), Marine Safety Units (MSU), and to small boat stations throughout the coastal United States. They’re used for port, waterway, and coastal security; search and rescue; drug interdiction; immigration-related operations; fisheries enforcement; defense readiness; and law enforcement missions.
As you might imagine, these boats take a pounding. The first RB-S Defender Class boats arrived in May 2002, and they’re reaching the end of their expected 10-year service life. The US Coast Guard is looking to replace them with a new RB-S, and they’ve picked a winner.