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Macomb Co.’s new recovery dive boat makes its splash

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Harrison Township — A new state-of-the-art $409,000 boat will make recovering drowning victims from Lake St. Clair easier for the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Underwater Search and Recovery Team.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and others disembark at the marine division boat house in Harrison Township on Friday morning.

The recovery dive boat was unveiled Friday at the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division.

“Our 12 rescue divers now will be able to use the latest technology to recover individuals who drown in Lake St. Clair,” said Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, who stood at the water’s edge where the boat had just returned from taking a few people a short distance in the water. He said he would take a ride on the boat later on Friday.

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Underwater Search and Recovery Team is tasked with finding drowning victims and recovering submerged evidence. Currently, team members are operating from patrol boats utilized by the Marine Division. Wickersham said the older boats date back to the 1980s and 1990s.

The 2017, 32-foot Munson Packcat-style, high-speed landing craft took more than a year to construct and was specifically built for the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and his deputies operate their new 2017, 32-foot Munson Packcat-style search and recovery dive boat on the Clinton River near Lake St. Clair on Friday.

It is equipped with a platform that Wickersham said can be lowered into the water making it easier for dive team members to get in and out of the water.

Wickersham said the depth of the water varies, but at its deepest, it’s close to 30 feet.

The boat was purchased with a Port Security grant that funded 75 percent of its cost, while the county picked up the other 25 percent, about $106,000.

“It is a bigger vessel, and all 12 members of the dive team can fit on it, whereas in the past, we had to take two or three boats out for recoveries,” he said.

The boat has a side scan sonar and an underwater remotely operated vehicle.

The helm features a GPS, radar and sonar unit that is attached to a forward-looking infrared camera that detects heat signatures.

Wickersham said the new boat also can be used to protect the Canadian border. It is equipped with a radiation and nuclear detection device.

As glad as he is about having the new vessel, Wickersham hopes it remains docked.

“I hope we never have to use it,” he said. “But we will continue to keep our waterways safe, and in these unfortunate times, when mishaps happen, we have the skill sets to get out and perform a recovery.”

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