Parkinson’s naval vessel now operational
March 4, 2015
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson has unveiled his 27-foot Defender Class boat that will allow sheriff’s personnel to step up their battle against drug smugglers frequenting local shores.
Parkinson showed off the approximately $350,000 boat on Tuesday near Avila Beach. He acquired the vessel by attaining nearly $500,000 in federal funds in order to deal with the influx of panga boats arriving in San Luis Obispo County.
Last year, Parkinson told the board of supervisors that he needed the defender class in order to tow pangas, and that it was costing the county nearly $10,000 to tow each of the smuggling boats. However, officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and Homeland Security department said they never charged the county for towing the drug boats, nor for taking part in criminal investigations relating to them.
Sheriff’s personnel are now saying that they will also use the boat to intercept the pangas before they reach county beaches. The federal funds Parkinson acquired likewise included money for night vision goggles and a thermal-imaging camera to detect pangas at sea, sheriff’s officials said last year.
The new boat has two motors with 300 horsepower each, and it can reach speeds up to about 60 mph. The sheriff’s office plans to usually station the boat in Morro Bay.
Approximately 15 pangas have beached in San Luis Obispo County in the last three years.