Biloxi Designers Make Quite A Splash

Connie Braun had her hand on the throttle of a vessel she helped design, and her eyes focused on the horizon. "You want me to go between the green and the red I'm assuming," she said to her co-pilot.

The Vancleave woman's computerized drafting work made quite a splash in the Mississippi Sound. Before "you just saw it on paper," she said of the boat. "And now you can touch it, you can feel it, you can watch it perform. It's special. It means a lot."

Biloxi's Brennan Smith actually dreamed up what the 45 foot vessel should look like. Now he's waiting to hear if it will be chosen as the Coast Guard's next search and rescue boat. "It isn't a brute force approach," he said. "It's a very state of the art technology solution."

Three companies built boats for the Coast Guard, hoping to win a contract with the federal government. Smith's design team was from South Mississippi. The vessel was built in New Orleans. "We were able to put together a proposal that presented a boat that was competing against any boat designers in the world," said Smith.

The catamaran hull -- and something called a hydrofoil support system -- gave the vessel speed, and the impressive ability to stop in a matter of seconds. Smith said, "We get the same performance with half the horsepower and half the fuel consumption."

If the Coast Guard doesn't select this design, Smith already has state agencies interested in his new age rescue boat technology.

According to a Viking Fast Craft Solutions news release, the Coast Guard may order as many as 180 new search and rescue vessels from the winning design team. Designers aren't sure when they'll hear something from Coast Guard representatives.