A delegation from the country of Oman was in Gulfport Friday to witness the final sea trials of a drug patrol boat the Sultanate of Oman is buying from United States Marine Inc.
"The Omanis have been here all week and we've been working with them, taking them out on sea trials for acceptance of the craft," said Nate Yeater, who helped design the vessel.
The boat is 90 feet long and can reach speeds of more than 60 miles an hour on the open water. Oman's Royal Police Coast Guard will use it primarily for drug patrols.
Barry Dreyfus Jr. is the chief executive of United States Marine.
"What they're going to do is interdict drugs coming over from Iran, the Straits of Hormuz and areas that we really need help in right now. They've done a great job of being our friends over there. They support us in more ways than people will ever know," he said.
"This will control the engine. This does everything, tells you all your temperatures," said an employee as he gave a tour of the bridge and its controls.
A pair of 2700 horse engines, driven by water jets, give the patrol boat its impressive speed.
The six million dollar specialty craft is being sold through the foreign military sales program. It's the first of several US Marine wants to build for Oman; a deal that means job security for some 200 Gulfport workers.
"It's been a pretty long, ongoing process. About two and a half years from the design of the boat, engineering the boat, building the boat. We have this great crew of guys that's been working really hard," said Yeater.
The local crew is fostering a friendship with the Omni delegation. Delivery of the patrol boat included an exchange of gifts.
The Omani delegation received gift bags and clothing; while they presented their American hosts with a brass camel statue.
"Nicely, you've done us a very nice boat. It's the ship of the sea, and this is the ship of the desert," said the Omani representative, as he gave the gift.
"Thank you very, very much sir," said a grateful Dreyfus.
Oman has ordered two more patrol boats and could buy up to ten more in the future. The crew from US Marine is happy about the growing business and friendships.