Tacoma added a new fireboat to its fleet this week. The boat is faster, more agile and more economical to operate than the aging boat it joins, but the $675,000, 30-foot Destiny has one thing in common with its fleet mate: Both were built outside the United States. The Destiny was built in Canada and the Commencement was built 30 years ago in England.
The Port of Tacoma and the City of Tacoma bypassed two lower bidders who would have constructed the new fireboat in Western Washington. At least one of those local boat builders, Northwind Marine of Seattle, is puzzled why taxpayer money was used to create jobs in Canada especially when the boat could have been built less expensively locally.
Port of Tacoma spokeswoman Tara Mattina said neither the country where the boat would be built nor the dollar amount of the bids was a consideration in deciding which bidder got the job. Three port and city employees ranked the four responding bidders and their products based on their responses to a request for proposals the port issued nearly two years ago. Among the criteria were vessel reliability, builder qualifications, warranties, training for boat operators and mechanics, the vessel’s quality and ease of use and the proposed delivery schedule. Each of the three evaluators could award up to 100 points to each bidder. Those combined scores put Canada’s Metalcraft at the top with a score of 268. Port Angeles’ Armstrong Marine was second with 227 points, Canada’s Hike Marine was third with 213 and Northwind a distant fourth with just 63 points.