U. S. Customs and Border Protection has introduced a 43-foot marine interceptor as the centerpiece of the next generation of vessels to combat smuggling.

CBP Air and Marine worked to ensure the vessel incorporates the latest technology, equipment and functionality. With a crew of four, the test vessel has a range of 400 nautical miles, deploying for up to 10 hours at a cruising speed of 40 knots. The vessel can reach a top speed of 65 knots, or 75 miles per hour.

Some of the designs and technologies included are shock mitigating seats, gun placements on the port and starboard gunwales that will support M-48 7.6 machine guns, a flush foredeck, "supercharged" outboard engines, a T-Top design and an integrated sensor and communications suite. The vessel is powered by four 350-horsepower Mercury Verado outboard engines which produce a total of 1,400 horsepower. This is an increase of 500 horsepower over CBP's current interceptor, the 39' Midnight Express.

For surveillance purposes, the vessel is equipped with a fully integrated electro-optical/infrared sensor suite, featuring infrared and day and low-light cameras. The suite is a proven, lightweight, gyro-stabilized 9-inch turret that can contain up to five sensors. The system also incorporates video recording capability that can be used as evidence during prosecutions.

The CBP Office of Air and Marine currently operates a fleet of specialized, high-speed interceptor vessels that are approaching the end of their service life. To ensure that CBP's future interceptor vessels meet current and future operational requirements, Air and Marine personnel will test and evaluate this vessel as part of the procurement strategy.

The vessel is currently in San Diego for testing and evaluation. The test team is comprised of specially trained marine interdiction agents, maintenance support technicians, administrative support members and dedicated manufacturer support. Agents will operate the vessel in a series of tests and will complete detailed evaluations. Once testing is complete, team members will begin developing specifications and operational requirement documents for acquisition of the future CBP interceptor.