A curious-looking, red, Everglades-style fan boat buzzed around Belfast harbor on Monday, Aug. 15. Onboard were representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, and when the boat pulled into the dock, Front Street Shipyard General Manager JB Turner joined the group for a meeting that yielded at least one agreement.

The owner of the boat, Scott Freeman of Virginia Beach-based Poseidon Tactical Marine said the Responder Series ASV-Air, as it is known, was conceived as a prototype vessel for the U.S. Coast Guard to do ice rescues on the frozen Great Lakes of the Guard’s Ninth District.

Freeman estimated the district would need around a dozen boats and other regions might have uses for the vessels. As of his visit to Belfast, he had yet to make a deal with the Coast Guard, but he was able to come to an agreement with Front Street Shipyard to build the boats there, in the event that the government deal goes through.

“If we win the contract for the Coast Guard we’ll be in Belfast manufacturing them,” said Freeman.

Turner confirmed that Front Street Shipyard would build the boats if the Coast Guard agrees to buy them. “We’re open to all facets of the marine industry, as well as whatever else comes along, like wind turbine blades,” he said.

VillageSoup was unable to speak with the senators’ representatives who met with Freeman in Belfast, but Freeman later said the discussion centered around bringing boat building business to Maine, and also the recent release of federal Assistance to Firefighters Grants that could enable normally cash-strapped local fire departments — another market Freeman said has expressed interest in his boats — to buy equipment like his.

Freeman, a former Navy SEAL, co-founded Poseidon Tactical Marine after years of watching emergency responders using what he saw as inadequate equipment for rescues.

A video on the company’s website begins with a montage of ungainly boats and makeshift flotation devices (people standing on things, holding canoe paddles) being put to use for flood and ice rescues. Over this slideshow of ill-equipped heroism, a narrator expresses disbelief that 42 years after the moon landing, “we’re making flights into space like we fly across the country,” yet emergency responders still go into regular, terrestrial, disaster situations underprepared.

Poseidon’s lone product, a highly customizable fan boat, builds on the basic design of boats used in the shallow waters of places like the Everglades, but incorporates an enclosed cabin and an aluminum hull coated with a polymer that would allow the boat to literally drive down a street.

Freeman described the Coast Guard prototype, with its 760-horsepower engine and tempered glass, as “the Humvee of air boats,” but said many people have expressed interest in leisure models with flat-screen TVs and the like. According to Freeman, the boats can be made to run very quietly, but you wouldn’t know it from the Coast Guard model.

“Apparently they want people to hear them and when they’re out there, they want their presence known, for whatever reason,” Freeman said. “We tried to give them a silent boat and they sent it back and said, ‘Nope. We need a loud exhaust.'”

On the way to Belfast, Freeman stopped at the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors show in Rockland, where his very loud boat caught the attention of, among other law enforcement agencies who converged on him in the harbor ostensibly to keep the peace, the Coast Guard.

Freeman said he was able to explain that the boat was a Coast Guard prototype. The “young Coasties” didn’t have any particular reaction to the vessel that Freeman noted, but they knew of the Ninth District.