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Harbor District secures funds to update its rescue fleet

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside Harbor District will be able to update its fleet of rescue boats thanks to a $500,000 loan from the city’s Fleet Replacement Fund that was approved by City Council on Nov. 19. Monies will cover the cost of a new rescue vessel, and 20 years of engine replacement and electrical updates.

The Harbor District has three boats that are equipped to perform rescue and to fight fire in open water. The vessels were purchased in 1984, 1985 and 2002.

Harbor rescue boats are well maintained and fully functional, but at this point the cost of replacing one of the older vessels would be more economical than continued maintenance costs to keep two aging boats fit for offshore operations.

“Both those boats were designed for a 20-year lifespan, and are in need of replacement now,” Police Capt. Fred Armijo said.

“The older a boat gets, the more it costs to maintain. We’re throwing a lot of money into the maintenance of the old fleet.”

Once the new vessel is purchased, the two 30-plus-year-old boats will be professionally evaluated. The better of the two vessels will be kept and limited to in-harbor operations.

“It takes a lot more abuse towing offshore, and performing water rescues in rip currents,” Armijo said. “It really causes wear and tear.”

The boat found to be in the poorest condition will be removed from the fleet.

The Harbor District applied for grant funds to cover the replacement cost of a new vessel, but was unsuccessful. Harbor Manager Jeff Hart said grants are applied for at each opportunity.

At this point the Harbor District cannot wait for the next grant opportunity to secure funds for the boat they will lose.

“We’re moving forward, we do need to replace it,” Armijo said.

The city loan will be paid back over 20 years.

The Harbor District does not have a vessel replacement fund, but will establish one during its next annual budget review. City Manager Steve Jepsen said at that time there will also be discussion on replacing the second dated boat.

Previously, the Harbor District allocated funds as needed for new boats.