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Belfast Shipyard To Build Prototypes Of Small High-Speed Boat For Navy

Ed Morin
Maine Public
A model of a recreational version of what's being developed for the Navy showing the intricate hull design.

A Honolulu-based company with offices in Portland and Orono, Maine, has been awarded an $8 million Navy contract to design safer hulls and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for small high-speed boats. At an award announcement Tuesday in Navatek's Portland offices, Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins cited the improvements that will be aimed at helping Naval personnel avoid traumatic injuries.

Credit Ed Morin / Maine Public
Maine Public
Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek, with Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins at a news conference Tuesday.

"Because of the slapping of the fast boats in rough weather," said Collins. "A lot of times they get neck injuries, even spinal injuries, and that's part of what you're all about is trying to prevent that."

The Navy says the advanced designs will also improve performance and reduce noise for "special ops" missions.

Front Street Shipyard in Belfast will build the Navatek prototypes and take part in at-sea trials.  Navatek will also work with the Advanced Structures & Composites Center at the University of Maine, which will make the hull molds in its large 3D printer.

Ed is a Maine native who spent his early childhood in Livermore Falls before moving to Farmington. He graduated from Mount Blue High School in 1970 before going to the University of Maine at Orono where he received his BA in speech in 1974 with a broadcast concentration. It was during that time that he first became involved with public broadcasting. He served as an intern for what was then called MPBN TV and also did volunteer work for MPBN Radio.