Several years ago when Aluminum Chamber
Boats landed first one, then another USCG contract, it changed the way the Coast
Guard patrols the U.S. coastline. Gone were the rigid-hull inflatables made by Zodiac,
and entered a boat that
looked like a RIB, but was all aluminum. Later the U.S.
Marine Corps placed a large order. Because the little Bellingham, WA boat builder
was landing so much military business -- overseen by some of the toughest procuring
agents on the planet -- recreational boaters across the country began asking about
ACB. Now it is targeting the recreational national market and offering some intriguing
alternatives to traditional fiberglass boats.
An ACB-built 21’ USCG patrol boat designed
for high-speed inshore work.
An ACB-built 26’ Law Enforcement Vessel (LEV) Center Console model now seen all over the U.S.
Shown above is one of ACB's Sport Fish Series (26')
Bolstered by government contracts, ACB is planning
on making a strategic play for a sophisticated and demanding niche in the boating community:
boaters who are looking for a boat that can take the abuse for which aluminum is
famous, want low operating and maintenance costs, a vessel that is virtually unsinkable,
and don’t mind a boat that does not look the same as all of the rest in the marina.
Because aluminum is both lightweight and durable ACB boats can be efficiently operated.
Adding to that is the company’s well-know reputation for building safe boats. In
fact, from the beginning ACB has placed safety as its top priority and company literature
states that the company is “…committed to delivering the world’s safest working
boat to our recreational, commercial and government customers.” Its website says,
“Our mission is simple: to bring every customer home safely – hit a log, tear the
hull, but stay afloat and stay alive.” The company says that its boats are “virtually
A 32’ ACB cabin cruiser.
Built for the Pacific Northwest
Many of ACB’s customers over the years have
been small commercial fishermen in the Pacific Northeast all the way up to Alaska
where the seas can get angry, passages are not well charted and the waterways are
strewn with logs. In situations such as those a premium is placed on safety, durability
and low operating costs. All of that was an ideal proving ground for the development
of designs and concepts that would well serve military applications.
A 30’ ACB utility boat that was a patrol boat
and tow boat.
In June, 2007, ACB was awarded a $9.88 million
contract to provide the United States Coast Guard with 47 Cutter Boat-Large boats,
a 24-foot rigid hull inflatable designed as a support craft for Coast Guard Cutters.
ACB has partnered with Northrop Grumman to
build a littoral vessel. This design is 41 feet long with a 9-foot-11-inch beam
and a draft of only 28 inches. Powered by two Cummins QSC 8.3-liter, 540 HP turbocharged
diesel engines, the Joint Multimission Expeditionary Craft has a top speed of 48
miles per hour. With a crew of four, the new boat has room for another two observers,
and depending on the mission, can also ferry a 14-member combat team or various
cargoes up rivers or streams.
ACB calls this their 28’ “Extreme Sportfisherman.”
Note rod holders aft.
With the volume of military and government
work so high, currently just 25 percent of the company’s revenues — about $18 million
in 2007 — comes from commercial and recreational watercraft. ACB plans on changing
For now, ACB is targeting two broad categories
of recreational boats: fishing boats for rivers, offshore and coastal work, and
“expedition” cabin cruising boats. It has be building these boats for years for
the Northwest market and now with its new-found reputation, will be introducing
them to the rest of the nation and to international customers.
A 32’ ACB “Bow Loader” that is used in Juneau,
At this time the company does not have dealers and virtually all of their boats
are sold factory direct. A look through their website pages shows that they are
open to all sorts of design ideas and different applications. For example, they
have built what amount to small head boats for fishing guides along the Pacific
coast, as well as river boats with jet drives and cabin cruisers with a V-berth
forward for coastal cruising, and even one-vehicle ferry boats ideal for transport
to a private island.
For more information
about ACB boats, visit their website…