Boat builder US Watercraft is developing a new aquaculture support vessel for an oyster farmer in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia.

The vessel has been commissioned for Matheson Oyster Co, which grows oysters in baskets on an adjustable longline system in waters up to five feet deep.

The requirement was for a low-freeboard vessel that can handle the choppy waters of the Chesapeake Bay, while allowing the four-person crew to lift the 50lb oyster baskets over the gunnels and into the cockpit.

The new 26-foot boat is equipped with a powerful electric davit, flush deck, and 12-inch freeboard that will allow the crew to winch up the baskets and slide them on deck quickly, safely, and efficiently. The deck is also equipped with a series of removable guard rails that store out of the way during harvest and are easily replaced to secure the baskets (and serve as hand holds for the crew) while under way.

With its 26’ LOA and 8’6” beam, US Watercraft said, the boat is easily trailered while fully loaded, ensuring a fast return to the Matheson Oyster Co. processing facility where the oysters are transferred to a refrigerated area.

US Watercraft is the commercial boatbuilding division of Waterline Systems, operating out of a 65-acre waterfront facility in Hubert, North Carolina.

The boat is currently under construction and after launching will run year-round on Chesapeake Bay.

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