Why Jet Boats are AWESOME (U.S. Coast Guard's Workhorse) - Smarter Every Day 272
Hey. What's up? I'm Destin. Welcome back to Smarter Every Day. We are right in the middle of a Deep Dive series into the US Coast Guard and all the crazy stuff they do because it's impressive. Like we've already looked at how they respond to distress signals. We've looked at the science of search patterns, and there's a ton of other cool stuff that I've already filmed.
That's incredible, and I'm excited to share it with you. But today we're going to look at one of the workhorses of the US Coast Guard. It's called the Response Boat Medium. This thing is incredible. It's a 45 foot long, computer controlled jet boat that has like hyper maneuverability. It can do all kinds of different things.
So instead of me like try to explain what it does, why don't I just go look at some of the public domain footage released by the Coast Guard and let's look at a few clips and see what this thing can do. Check this out. Here's some flare imagery from an aircraft of some sort observing some survivors floating on top of their capsized boat. The response boat medium.
The RBM arrives on scene and the survivors are rescued. This is the bread and butter of what this thing does. It gets out to the scene fast and gets survivors out of the water. Here's another example of it being used in an interesting way. Here you can see the RBM evacuating a person off of a cruise ship for a medical emergency. This one's pretty interesting.
Here you can see an RBM responding to a distress call. 24 miles off the coast of Texas. In this one, you can see those powerful jets working behind the RBM and the rough seas to keep it in position around the sailboat as it's trying to save the folks on board. The ended up saving four souls on this distress call. Although most times people are excited to see the RBM, there are other times when people are not so excited to see the RBM.
Here we can see a guy out for a nice stroll on his boat. It seems to be very loaded down very heavy. Unfortunately, he's loaded down with drugs. This is a drug runner and here you can see an RBM on the flare imagery here coming up alongside.
He's probably saying something like, Excuse me, sir, can we please have a chat? And you can see. That the drug runner. Says, No, thank you, and I'm going to go as fast as my boat can go. At that point, the highly trained Coast Guard personnel pull out firearms and start neutralizing the outboard motors on the drug runner boat. And you can tell that they are at that point, more interested in the chat with the Coast That is legit. So today I am super excited to continue the Coast Guard deep dive with you, and we're going to try to learn everything we can about the response boat medium. The RBM lets go get smarter every day.
So I went down to Destin, Florida station Destin and we got to do all kinds of stuff. I learned how to finger whistle. That's always fun.
Holy cow. Are you serious? It's an amazing thing to see how a normal Coast Guard station operates and you'll see that in an upcoming video. Okay, let's get things started. Cory Palmer, who's the senior chief over station Destin, is going to give me my first introduction to the RBM.
We're going to walk out there and he's just going to give me an overview of what it is and where everything is located. Have the jet drive, correct? Yes. I've never interacted with the jet drive, but I hear it's quite a thing. So we have an on. Yes, sir, we can hop on Cool.
Oh, wow. Got some insulation here for the sun. Yeah, for the sun. Keep things a little cooler. This is actually one of our one of the boats that has air conditioning on it.
Which is a plus when you're out here, down here, we call this the survivors compartment. Kind of use it for just that. If we bring a lot of people on board and we have a long run to do.
You've got rudimentary kitchen type facilities. And you had a microwave that helps us out. We also have a head in here. Oh, wow. Yeah. So this is like kind of the center of the engine room. I like to open up these hatches for you.
Yeah. Tool there. Yeah. Oh, wow. So he's obviously another one, just like. Beast. Yeah. This is a Detroit diesel.
Yeah. Also empty you six cylinder diesel engine. 825 horsepower for both engines. It moves a lot of water.
So how fast can these go? This or do anywhere from about like 41 to 43 knots? Golly. Yeah. This is a lot of boat to go that fast. Yeah, very maneuverable. It can also stop very quickly. Because you can throw down that what do you call it on the back we call.
Buckets. Buckets? Yeah. So you've got the jet and the bucket comes up. Yeah. When you're going forward, the buckets are up. And then when you want to go reverse the bucket or come down and redirect that thrust forward.
I get a closer look at this bucket design. When I saw an RBM up on blocks and Coast Guard sector Mobile in Mobile, Alabama, when Lieutenant Trevor Vallet showed me around. Here we are at the back of one of these boats. These are two what you call them, jet drives.
Jet drives. Okay. So I can tell that it's clearly moving water here comes back out here. But look at this. So it's got this I don't know what you call this a scoop.
The fluid can come here and then it gets parted and it changes that fluid momentum. So that would pull the boat backwards when it's in this configuration. What's the intake? So the water. Oh, wow. So the water goes in there and then it shoots it out here or it'll divert it and it can go backwards.
So down here, this is the the lazeret. This is the what. The lazeret. It is it okay if I go. In there? Yes. And what is the purpose of the lazeret? It this is it's got our steering equipment. So the controls for those buckets you were just looking.
At, this is all hydraulics, right? Yes. So these are. We call them DCVs directional control valves and that's what the little solenoids are actuators that tell the hydraulic fluid where to go. Oh, that's awesome. The little valves. Yeah. Oh, so that whole thing is a is a basically a block.
It's like a manifold. Yeah. And then those go in and out and I can see all the hydraulic ins and outs. Yeah.
That's awesome. That kind of tape taper portion right there. This one right here. Yes. Uh huh. That is where the the impeller kind of shaft comes through from the engine that way. Yeah.
And there's a big impeller in there or a little propeller, wherever you want to call it. That spinning and that's that's what's forcing that water out. So you've got two controls here.
One of them in my. Correct and saying one of them is for the bucket. Yeah. And then the other one, can you actually direct the. Yeah. You're steering.
Oh that's not tell you what direction to send the thrust. That's amazing. That's really cool. Thanks for showing me that. Absolutely. This folds out, right? That folds up. Up. And then you can it's a little stairwell down. You can walk down.
If you look on this side, it's this one is up at the moment. Oh, hey, fish. Yeah, okay. And why would you want to walk down? Because you want to get down here so you can interact with the other the other boat.
Yeah, if we need to bring someone on board, like if someone was in the water, it's a difficult task to pull someone 250 lbs out. You want to be as close to the water. So when you're getting them up, you can, you can get about.
Doing that from up here would be really challenging. So this this boat is extremely maneuverable. Yes. You have a. Human right there. Yeah. So that means steering this thing is very important. Yes. Instead of a steering wheel, it's got to joysticks.
There's this boat can actually drive sideways if you need to. And those buckets will do their thing. And make the boat kind of go wherever needed to. The next morning, I got to go out to the RBMs as two of the crew members were getting the boats ready to go out to sea.
Now, the interesting thing for me is this felt more like preflight check outs on a Blackhawk helicopter, then getting a boat ready to go out on the water. Okay, this is Ortiz and Machachi. Well, what are your ranks? And K three and K three. And I'm a seaman. What are we doing? It's a pre-mission check. Pre mission check. Yeah.
Okay, cool. We're going to. Secure the shore. Power of shore power is what gives the boat power.
Well, while it's at the pier, take it right off shore power. Turn the alarm off. Come back here, and we're going to check everything.
She's going to go down in the middle. Check the engine oil. Make sure that we have enough to make sure that the quality's good. How are you doing that, Ortiz? I'm just untightening this, and then go ahead and pull the normal dipstick. Yes, just check it. It's good. Little low.
That's good. It's halfway. Done over. Here, checking it back. So I'm check in regular oil. So it's all. It's all 15 w 40 and all three of the oil. So we're going to check up. So check the radiator oil and make sure we have oil in there.
We're going to check the jet drive. Well, she's right here. It's good if you check in the other engine now Ortiz Yes, just got done. Good to go.
There's basically just a big jet ski. Big jet ski. Yeah, I love it. It's great. So Justin just took short power away. All right. Which engine was the starboard? Starboard. Okay, it's like three fourths.
It's not. Okay, I'm going to put oil in it. Yeah. So once we're done with that, we come down here to the vector control system breaker panel. So it's right against this bulkhead here. And that gives a steering of propulsion or steering. It's right here. This little guy.
There you are. And I check with discharge through so we look in these holes here, see water sloshing around. That means you got raw water. Discharge that hole right there. Yep. That's what I hear as well.
You check it for water spitting out of that. Exactly. Yeah. I'll come in here and turn the generators on. And once these green lights start blinking, that means the generators are synchronized and ready to put the most generator power. It's a 120 vac coming out of those generators. We've got 12 volts direct current 24, direct current 24, 24.
And then over here is our AC bus and then since we're synchronized we can put it the generator power there, you start firing everything on. Do you love this. I love this. Yeah.
This is good stuff. Yes. This is our yes, this is our chart water right here suggest. Is he getting the boat ready for you? For the crew. Yeah. We're going know who's driving the deck, how we got it driving. What's the official term for that coxswain? You're the coxswain today. Yeah. Do you love it? As much as he loves making the engine work.
I think I do it is in the steering nozzles right here. So when I go left, go all the way left. Yeah, and so on, you know, and then we got our buckets, our reversing buckets so if I bring those back, I'll go all the way back, all the way forward. And one, I. Can also change the interceptors, which gets.
Us on plane whoa. Second all, is that trim? Yeah. How are you doing? How are you doing this? So when you want to check the interceptors, you bring it. You bring the buckets all the way forward, and then you pull this down, and that brings the interceptors all the way up.
You can actually plane out the boat. Yeah, exactly. You plane out the boat with those things, just like you're trimming an airplane. Exactly. Yeah. We're going to check all of our floodlights. Yeah, we're on the boat, so there is 4 of them. And then we got a spotlight up top that's awesome.
Yeah. Can can we can you see the bucket move back there? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can you open the inspection? So yeah, some crack all the way forward. Buckets are up to the jam. Just go straight back now.
He's in full reverse. Gotcha. That's amazing. So that's something you can watch. If you look down on the lazeret, you can see all this happening so this is the steering, and this will move our nozzles. Yeah, this is the reversing bucket. So when you say this steer nozzle, is it actually moving off left and right? Yeah. So the nozzles move like this.
Can we see the bucket move? Yeah. Wow. Oh, dude I see it! Yeah.
So this is a so this is a hydraulic actuator. Yeah. And you have this. Linkage because that is your feedback that tells.
You that the bucket actually went back. Yeah. This this is why this is showing you on the back of the display panel what where the bucket is. This is our direction. Of control. Now, this is what all the hydraulic fluid comes here. Yeah.
And in this is what actually controls the right perspective. Why do you have two valves on this side when you get three on this side, this manifold seems to be larger. So that manifold actually. So there's only one piston for the steering ramp. It's on that side right behind you.
This one is the only controlling bucket for the starboard side and interceptor for the starboard side down there. Gotcha. That one's got a steering bucket. And after that steering grab is that big one right there? Yeah. I want to show this right here. Yeah, that's the whole thing with the steering wheel. My goodness. Sidearm. So you got one. You got one hydraulic actuator, and these two are mechanically coupled together.
Exactly. Yep. It's going to just sit here however you need it to be. So it makes them both operate in parallel. So when you.
Say adjust it so that you adjust trim so that. They're running parallel with each other. So what you can do is you can come out for just but for some reason or you needed to adjust it.
You can, you can change, you can change it here. So where the nozzles are like this will either be like this, like that, you know, like that. So right now they're perfectly aligned. You're sitting on. The filter for seawater.
Yeah, this is the raw water strainer. Duplex strainer right here. Yeah. And there's one over here. So that's the that's the other filter. Dude, I have to get your picture because I can tell how much you love this. Yeah. So you're ready so it's a great.
Picture, dude. So. And he's doing right now. We're going to get oil samples from the engine lot above 140 degrees we will test the limits, like. All right, well, falling ball the fuel. Is this the same thing? Like, you take you take it's a metal ring and it goes down into the oil, and then a ball is falling on it, and then it rubs the ball, and then you measure how much it rubs off. Is it how it works or.
So hours it's three balls. One goes into a clean oil sample. Okay. And to go into the dirty oil or, you know, used oil. Sample time thing, it's a. It is a time thing.
So the clean oil, the ball will go much slower because it's not the related oil. The two others compared to the clean oil will tell you how much fuel oil dilution you have. Oh, wow. So it's it's just a little falling ball. It's it's
it's very analog. So they finish getting everything together, release the moorings. And we got underway. Ortiz, you tell me where to be, okay? To show how maneuverable everything can be just and put the boat into a special mode. We have it's called docking mode. We can drive sideways.
So I'm going to go I'm going to do a circle around this boy. I'm going to keep my ball on and the whole time I'm going to drive sideways. So he has the ability to go sideways. Yeah.
So the boat can go whatever direction he wants. Basically, his steering nozzle will give him control where the bow is. The other the other joystick will control the front, the side back and back over there.
Yeah. Basically what's happening is the buckets are splitting. So one bucket is facing board and one bucket is facing aft. So that just gives you the ability to do so well. Donuts in the water. So he's just keeping his. Nose right at that boy.
And then just going straight around it. Yep. Yep. So this one here is my propulsion. So for this, for propulsion, is back propulsion. And then if I want to go side to side, I just.
Yeah, whatever it is, I just turn it all the way to one side. It's move it straight to one side, you know, it's my back is going to fall off this direction because it's pushing the boat the serve that way. Yeah.
I'll go the other direction. I bring it all the way this way and the boat is going to move straight over. So what is the one on the left? Forgive me.
Steering, steering. But you have to have forward momentum in order for it to be doing anything. Is that correct? Not true. So with a jet drive, it's kind of always moving a little bit of water. So I have no propulsion engage.
I can still turn my tiller all the way to the left, and we're going to go left. Got to pivot. Got it. There are only three variables that make this thing do what it do. And it's incredible. You've got engine speed, you've got steering and you've got bucket position.
By using these three variables, you were able to do incredible things with this boat. Let's dove into it. Okay, let's start with the obvious. We have two jets coming out the back of the boat, and each of those can provide thrust without any other variable. We can move the boat forward by simply turning the jets on.
But because we can control engine speed on each of those jets, we also have the ability to control the flow going out of each jet, which means we can rev up one of the engines higher than the other and more water flows out of that jet. And we can create an imbalance which will result in a torque or rotation around the boat's center of mass. So are we rotating about the center of mass or are we rotating about the center of pressure or the center of drag? It's complicated. All that being said, just know that the control system that we're working with here takes all of that into account. What are the other ways we can use our inputs to steer this thing? You remember down in the lazeret, both jets always steer in the same direction.
They move in tandem. So that creates a way that we can create rotation and steer the boat, angle the thrusters, and it creates rotation along with forward thrust. So angling those thrusters is one of our possible control inputs. Now we get to the really fun thing we can do, and that's unique to jet boats and that is drop the bucket. If we drop a bucket down into the flow of the rear, we're jet.
It will split and redirect that flow and angle it back forward. And this can pull the boat backwards. This is why the RBM can stop so fast. The fact that you can be moving along at cruising engine speed and then suddenly drop the buckets down into the propulsive jets without even changing your engine speed. And you can go to full power forward to full reverse without having to wait on engine changes. A reversing of the transmission.
You're just instantly redirecting the thrust by putting that bucket down in the flow to be able to stop a boat this large in such a short distance, like a length and a half of the RBM. That is incredible. What's the LCD display here? You can see the position of the buckets show that the buckets are up and you can also see the support and starboard engine speeds are displayed here. When they want to stop, they simply drop the buckets down into the flow and it instantly slams the RBM into reverse and it stops it in just a few seconds.
It's like power breaking. The buckets can also be used separately. If you put one bucket down with equal flow going out, both jet nozzles, you could put the boat into a spin by the creation of a rotational force. The non bucketed jet would push the nose forward from the thrust and the bucket of jet would pull the nose backwards, creating a torque. In this instance, both engines would be exerting a force in a clockwise direction, resulting in a rotational force spinning the boat switch. The bucket positions in the rotation would reverse and the boat would rotate counterclockwise.
Okay, so the fact that we can drop in raised buckets independently that's huge, right? You can do so much just with that, but the fact that you can actually steer within those buckets while they're raising or dropping, that opens up a whole new level. This was the aha moment for me when I started to understand this. Let's say we wanted to move sideways to our port side. If we put the port side bucket down and angle the jets to the starboard side, we would have forced from the buckets pushing us to the port side, but there would be this angular rotation pulling the nose towards that jet. Thankfully, we have the starboard side and bucketed jet, which would both move the boat forward and create angular rotation, pushing the nose away from it.
So now by also adjusting the variable thrust in each engine we can create a balanced maneuver where we control how fast we go sideways with the ability to control the rotation of the boat. If we wanted to go sideways the other direction, we could reverse the buckets we could angle the steering in the other direction and we could adjust the engine speed to get the desired motion that we want. All this maneuverability from just a few little inputs in the back. It's incredible. And now you can see why they need an onboard control computer, because what it's doing is it's taking those joystick inputs from the human and the computer is translating that into boat valve speak to give the desired outputs to get the boat where it needs to go or try to do what the human wants it to do.
Bonus, by the way, there's even another variable there's this thing called interceptors. There's like these little wings that control the trim of the boat, but before they go into a turn, they can dip one of these into the water. And there's so much.
This is an awesome boat. And now you can see why I wanted to make a video on the RBM. It's fantastic. Anyway, let's get back on the boat. So I'm going to come out.
Okay. Well, coming up, I I. Coming up. Machachi So you're looking for people in the water. Yeah. Any boats.
Any jet ski that I can really see, there's small, anything like that. Well, make sure we're not going to hit anybody hes moving fast. You're looking out as well. Yeah, I'm checking radar, making sure he sees everything. He's going to keep his eyes open. I'm going to look for it. He's not looking just to make it.
There's no boats that come out of nowhere. What's your hand on over there? Is that the traffic control? What is that? This is the exact same that he has got it just so you can switch controls to either side. Okay, this comes down.
I can drive from here. Got it. So this right here is. Is running normal. And this is what happens when I bring the interceptor all the way down.
You can tell the. The displacement of the water is coming up and move forward. So if you bring it back up. Justin. Yeah, by the way, water will move back up, which means our bow came up. What? You have a camera in the engine compartment yeah. Yeah, you can see the CCTV camera.
Are you serious? Yeah. So that's for when umm. That's like some spaceship stuff, man. That's legit. So whenever anything goes wrong with the boat, we have something called a becky Making Fun of me. Just not because I love how excited you.
I'm just really excited about your camera and your engine. So every time something goes wrong, it's all right. We have a checklist.
Yeah. Anything that can go wrong? Pretty much. Yeah. These are all problems.
You go into the index, your table contents find, which everyone is going to be. So main engine, high water temperature. Actually, we'll do this one, cause it's more fun. We'll do the foul water jet. Okay, so a foul water jet number 23. This is. You want to run this becky and let's just run for good.
So first thing's first and we'll come down oh, hot water before the starboard engine coming down. Pretty much. We come back here, we'll go out of the water, make sure there's no line that may have been sucked up in so we don't see any we're in clear water. Everything looks good out here, so we're good to back flush. Plus hes going to bring it up to 1200 R.P.M.
those intake grates I was telling you about it's only about going to shoot more water and through the nozzles shoot water out that way. So in that case, you know, it didn't clear that I would go down in the lazeret and enter in lazeret at the back and strainers would say, you know, this one's got a bunch of debris in it. Yeah. All it to do is pull this lever up and switch around all over there. It's going to use the strainer instead.
And then when we get back later, I'm going to clean that strainer out well. It's literally a valve. That's it. Now we're on the other strainer switching over. We're going to go, okay, by engaging.
Engaging I. We get in the way. We usually do at least a few. Beckys is making its basic engineering casualty control exercise so it's how we train for if we do have an actual casualty. And so when it does happen, you know, it's muscle memory. We already do exactly what we need to do. we pull up the becke book
in case we miss anything, make sure we don't miss anything. But, you know, it's just it's training for us. The RBM can do way more than we discussed here. It's got an onboard flair to help find survivors at night, and it's able to operate in crazy icy environments and big swells. I found both the RBM in the young men and women operating it to be equally impressive.
Like the RBM these folks are versatile, they've got drive and they get stuff done. As we return to base, I had a casual conversation with Justin, who also likes photography and listening to him. Maybe excited about our future as a nation, knowing that motivated leaders like this are coming up through the ranks of the US Coast Guard.
You're only 20 years old. I just turned 21 actually. Oh, wow. That's amazing.
Yeah. So it's like. It's like fast forwarding your life. Yeah, it's. It's a very definitely a fast track. Ortiz. Yes. Do you mind me. Asking how old you are?
I just turned 20. Really? Yeah. You feel like this is a lot for a 20 year old.
I mean, I love it. It's preparing me. If this is a lot, then like I'm going to be prepared, like for whatever comes to me. What do you want to be like? Is this what you want to do? You want to make a career out of this you said you wanted me out of my whole life. HOLD ON We got to go we have to go back to station we have to spot something off shore Station Destin had received a call about a possible incident offshore, and since we were so close to the station, they decided to swing back in and pick up one of their local law enforcement officers.
My buddy George was at the station when the call came in, so he turned on his iPhone and recorded the return to station. From his. Perspective. On deck actually just.
What was the call was taking on water. Now they can't get a hold of him. Natalie. sleep Guy called in about a capsized vessel at this position. They can't. They tried calling the number back and cant reach him. They cant reach him Six miles offshore, south of Sarah's Island, next to the rudder.
Nice to meet you. All right, well, I didn't get to say goodbye. Because they're going to try to get somebody that capsized, but thank you very much. Coast Guard station Destin. This is quite the experience.
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Why did you choose Coast Guard over Air Force tell me straight up Ortiz. Well they're only offering chairforce jobs and huge long contracts and I didn't even know if I wanted to be like if yeah in the chair force for that long so I mean I'm I'd rather be on the water I grew up on the water so I'm so glad I picked the Coast Guard. Honestly. Why? Because you're actually.
I'm doing stuff. I'm not I'm not like I'm not completely useless. You know, you're there. You did you just call the Air Force useless? No, they're not useless. I'm just saying, I feel like I actually I feel like I actually, like, help here.
I don't I don't know if I would help in the Air Force Machachi. She's making fun of the Air Force every year. How are we going to publish this, man? Oh. I don't know.
But I think I think the Coast Guard does, kind of in my experience, you know, some people do kind of make fun of the Coast Guard. Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, we always get made fun of all the time. No one really knows what we do. But usually when we get made fun of, I'm like, listen, we're probably making more than you still. And we have our own apartment and we have cooks that cook for us.
We don't eat at the back, so make fun of me all you want. We're living our best life. Oh, golly.
Ortiz is slinging the fire. Okay. All right.