Lake Tahoe rescue boat out of commission again after June 16 incident | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe rescue boat out of commission again after June 16 incident

A look at the WCSO Marine 9 rescue boat, which is seen during the summer of 2015 on Lake Tahoe.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — No, this is not déjà vu — although it is a bit ironic.

Residents and visitors won't find Marine 9 patrolling Lake Tahoe this Fourth of July Weekend, thanks to a recent incident involving the Washoe County Sheriff's Office rescue boat taking on water.

On June 16, a deputy checked on the Titan T280 Pilot aluminum boat while it was moored at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe's buoy and saw it had taken on roughly 18 inches of water due to strong wind conditions, WCSO Lt. Jeff Clark said this week.

"It was enough to get the batteries wet … with wet relays and fuses and stuff like that, for safety purposes, we took it out of the water," Clark said.

On Tuesday of this week, WCSO officials inspected the boat, along with representatives from Titan Boats, the company that designed the 28-foot vessel.

"All systems were working. It's just a matter of fixing those relays and fuses," Clark said. "The inspection did not reveal any major damage."

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Still, in order to ensure Marine 9 has no design flaws and that it will operate at 100 percent in the future, the boat was shipped this week to the Titan Boats complex in Canada for a full inspection.

"We were just as nervous, because we are of course sensitive to the sinking of boats," Clark said. "But everything has been positive — it did not go under water, it did not do anything like that, other than get swamped."

The newest version of Marine 9, which cost about $275,000 to build, is equipped with the latest in sonar, state-of-the-art GPS tracking technology and twin 300-horsepower Mercury outboard motors.

When it re-launched on Lake Tahoe in the summer of 2015, it replaced the 14-year-old vessel of the same name that sank while unmanned on Lake Tahoe on Memorial Day 2014 during extreme weather conditions.

Funding for the new Marine 9 came through multiple channels, including WCSO drug forfeiture funds and a $101,000 insurance payout the department received following the 2014 sinking.

Marine 9 is among three rescue vessels in the WCSO water patrol fleet that includes Marines 10 and 20, which are primarily used at Pyramid Lake.

Like the old Marine 9, Marine 10 also sank in July 2014 on Lake Tahoe; that vessel since returned to service in 2015.

As of this week, it's not clear when the new Marine 9 will return to Lake Tahoe, although Clark said it could take a couple weeks.

Also not clear is a cost estimate to fix the damages, he added, considering final inspections still need to occur.

That said, residents and visitors should not be worried when recreating this holiday weekend on Lake Tahoe, Clark advised, as WCSO will continue to partner with agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, Nevada Department of Wildlife and North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District to ensure everyone's safety.

"Response times will be the same, and we'll have deputies on Jet Skis," he said.