New £1.5m police marine fleet begins patrolling the coast

SHORE THING This RIB is one of Hampshire Police's new boats
SHORE THING This RIB is one of Hampshire Police's new boats

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A NEW £1.5m fleet of police boats today began to protect Hampshire’s coastline.

Hampshire police has splashed out on a 39ft (12m) catamaran, Commander, patrol launch Preventer and two Rigid Inflatable Boats (Ribs), Pursuer and Protector.

The fleet was today to be blessed at a naming ceremony attended by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Sir Robin was a fitting choice – he is famed for being the first man to sail singlehandedly around the world

Force chaplain David Wilbraham was today due to bless the four-strong fleet at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club.

Sergeant Tony Birr from the unit said: ‘Our new boats will give us an up-to-date, fit-for-purpose fleet which will serve us well in helping to keep the waters around Hampshire safe for many years to come and we’re proud to be officially launching the fleet.’

The fleet is funded by a £500,000 government grant, with the remaining money coming from the cash-strapped force’s budget.

Assistant Chief Constable David Pryde said: ‘Hampshire Constabulary has a long history of maritime policing going back to 1873.

‘The new fleet will future-proof our marine capability for the next 20 years, allowing the marine unit to protect and support the interests of both the business and leisure maritime communities.

‘The marine unit provides a visible presence on one of the busiest stretches of water in Europe for cruise ship movement and leisure craft.

‘As on land, a highly visible presence equipped with a state of the art marine capability will contribute significantly to the prevention of crime and deter acts of terrorism.’

The Hampshire force’s existing vessels – three Mitchell 31 launches – are being decommissioned and sold. Cash raised from their sale will offset some of the funding used to buy the new vessels.