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10 fast facts about the Riverkeeper patrol boat

patrol boat

The patrol boat goes back in the water. Photo: SBell
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1. The Riverkeeper patrol boat was built in 1983 in Bivalve, N.J., to work commercial shellfish beds in Delaware Bay.

2. It’s built of cedar planking on oak frames.

3. Riverkeeper bought the boat in 1990 and it was refurbished and relaunched as the “R. Ian Fletcher” in 1998.

4. Her engine is a Volvo Penta six-cylinder diesel installed in ’98 by Captain John Lipscomb and his crew when he was the manager of Petersen’s Boatyard in Upper Nyack, N.Y. The engine was donated by Volvo.

5. The patrol boat was named after Dr. R. Ian Fletcher, a noted expert in fluid dynamics, oceanography, physical ecology and biomathematics who used his dedication to science to benefit the Hudson River. Dr. Fletcher helped Riverkeeper win many historic cases, such as the Westway Highway battle on the west shore of Manhattan.

6. Since 2000, Captain Lipscomb and the R. Ian Fletcher have patrolled New York Harbor and the Hudson Estuary to Troy. As of 2014, we expanded our patrol range to include 120 miles on the Mohawk River to Rome, and 35 miles on the Upper Hudson to Fort Edward.

7. The R. Ian Fletcher and Captain Lipscomb log nearly 1,000 hours and 6,000 river miles a year. Her home port is Westerly Marina in Ossining.

8. The R. Ian Fletcher is also the floating lab for Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Testing Program as well as a platform for collaborative scientific research by Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, CUNY Queens, SUNY Cobleskill, EPA and Cornell University.

9. The R. Ian Fletcher is the second Riverkeeper patrol boat. The Hudson River Fishermen’s Association launched the first patrol boat from the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston on May 14, 1983. The 25-foot boat was custom designed by Andy Mele for Riverkeeper. The Fishermen’s Association had hired its first full-time Riverkeeper, John Cronin, that year. The association and its Riverkeeper program merged in 1986.

10. Every winter during layup we have continued to modify and improve the Fletcher with the skilled help of our old friend Chris Brennan of Brennan Boatbuilding.


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