MetalCraft patroller for Bangladesh a model of simplicity


Slicing through the drizzle and mist on the Cataraqui River at Kingston, Ontario, on a trial run before delivery to the Bangladeshi army, Bob Clark, contracts manager for MetalCraft Marine, was suited up against the chill and had the patrol boat’s throttles full forward. Soon, the vessel would be cutting different air, thick and steamy, in the Ganges Delta.

Based on MetalCraft’s Kingfisher 29 platform and incorporating elements of their Kingston design, the patrol boat is a testament to simplicity — a very different craft than the technology-loaded FireStorm fireboats that the builder is noted for. The stripped-down aluminum vessel carries 15 passengers and cargo easily and efficiently at speeds up to 30 knots.

After slipping around a rocky point in the river, Clark drew back on the throttles, slowing the twin Volvo D3-170 engines to an idle in the pool lapping against the Kingston Mills Lock. Time to put the 29-foot boat through its paces and get a few photographs.

Bob Clark, contracts manager for MetalCraft Marine, mans the helm on the transit to the Kingston Mills Lock, the first of 47 locks on the Rideau Canal to Ottawa. The Cataraqui River forms the lower portion of the canal.

Except for the idling engines, it was quiet in the secluded spot. Clark took the boat back around the corner and out of sight for the first of a few runs. Before the engines could be heard, the patrol boat reappeared, cutting around the rocky point and into the pool, demonstrating speed and stealth.

After a few more runs, Clark turned the patrol boat downriver and headed for MetalCraft’s dock in downtown Kingston.

In 1987, Monty Smith and Tom Wroe bought the company that employed them, Kingston Aluminum Yachts, and founded MetalCraft Marine. Hull No. 1 was a Kingston 24 designed by Wroe. The Kingston series is the company’s largest product line, with the speedsters working in diverse locations including the Arctic, the Middle East, Guam, Venezuela and now Bangladesh.

The new boat’s streamlined electronics package features a Furuno GPS chartplotter and Icom VHF marine radio.

MetalCraft learned early that government contracts were integral to survival in the light aluminum boat market. In 1995, following success building boats for Canadian government agencies, MetalCraft moved into the U.S. market, setting up a facility at Clayton, N.Y. The company’s first U.S. contract was for a St. Lawrence utility landing craft for Biscayne National Park in Florida.

Many other contracts followed for domestic and international government agencies as well as the U.S. Navy and Army. In 2001, Hull No. 358 was the first FireStorm fireboat, a design series ranging in length from 30 feet to the flagship FireStorm 70. Currently the company is developing a catamaran fireboat, the FireCat 25M.

At the Kingston yard on that chilly day in June, a FireStorm 38, Fort Lauderdale, was being finished for delivery to the Florida port. Also in the water was one of 70 landing craft destined for the U.S. Navy. Another was being loaded on a truck for transport. The Bangladesh patrol boat, having passed muster, is the first of 52 ordered for that nation’s army.


A pair of Volvo D3-170 engines deliver a combined 340 horsepower at 4,000 rpm.


The patrol boat displays its speed and maneuverability as it negotiates a bend in the Cataraqui River. MetalCraft has delivered more than 150 boats in the series to customers around the world.


By Professional Mariner Staff