BairdMaritime reports the French Ministry of Finance has awarded the OCEA shipyard a contract for construction of a new Customs patrol boat for the West Indies. There is also an option for a second vessel.
We might have an opportunity to work with this class in the Caribbean. At 31.2 meters (102 feet), it falls between Coast Guard 87 foot Marine Protector and 110 foot Island class cutters. The speed, at 27 knots, also falls between that of the 87 footers (25 knots) and 110s (29 knots). It will have accommodations for 16 and a crew of ten.
This might be about the size of the design chosen to replace the 87 foot WPBs. The design appears mostly unremarkable, an aluminum construction mono-hull.
What I find interesting is their boat handling arrangement. Rather than a stern ramp, it appears to carry a relatively large RHIB launched by davit over the starboard side. This is the same arrangement we see on smaller patrol boats built by OCEA for the Philippines. (see photo below.)
While stern ramps certainly allow rapid launch, recovery can be problematic in rough seas, and they require sacrifice of hull volume. Modern davit systems can be operated with no more personnel than a ramp system, are relatively quick, and impose minimal design penalties on the hull.
The smaller 24 meter (78.7 foot) OCEA FPB 72 provided to the Philippine Coast Guard, also with davit launched RHIB on the stern. This class is also used by Nigeria and Suriname