In March 2004 the first of the improved 123-foot island class patrol boats, the patrol boat Matagorda (WPB 1303), was commissioned, and entered active service at Key West, FL. As the lead vessel of the $17 billion Deepwater Project, the 123' Matagorda incorporates a number of improvements to the existing fleet of 110' boats. All work was performed At the Bollinger Shipyards under a combined contract with VT Halter Marine out of Gulfport, MS.
Most notably, the hull has been lengthened to 123 feet to allow for the embarkation of a stern-launched 7-meter (21-foot) Short Range Prosecutor boat, while the existing hulls were refurbished and renovated to extend their service life. In addition, VT Halter Marine completely redesigned the superstructure, improving pilothouse visibility to 360 degrees and increasing the amount of usable deck space. The boats electronics were improved and upgraded, including the addition of a new Command, Control, Communications and Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system, as well as three separate LAN networks (unclassified administrative, classified command and control, machinery control and monitoring.)
Crew accommodations were enlarged and improved, allowing for a higher degree of habitability (ice maker, air conditioning as well as on board laundry facilities) as well as dual gender berthing.
Propeller design and efficiency were improved, allowing for an increase in the boat's speed at an overall reduction of engine workload, while the rudders were enlarged to improve maneuverability and responsiveness.
In December of 2005 conversion of the 110' Island-class patrol boats was halted at 8 units following the identification of significant hull buckling in the converted boats. In addition, post-conversion evaluations determined that the converted boats were incapable of adequately meeting their post-9/11 operational requirements. In addition, the Coast Guard indefinitely suspended 123' WPB operations in November 2006 until hull degradation issues could be addressed.
In April of 2007 the Coast Guard announced that it will decommission all eight of its 123' modified Island-class patrol boats.
The 123’ Island-class patrol boats are 123 feet long, have a beam of 21 feet, and draw 7.5 feet of water. The A-series boats displace 175 tons at full load while the B-series boats displace 170 tons. Their compliment (all series) is 2 officers and 14 enlisted, with additional accommodations available for a 4-man small boat crew. They have a top speed of 29.5 knots, and a cruising speed of 10 knots. Their maximum cruising range is 3,600 miles.
The A and B series 123’ Island-class boats retain their original Paxman Valenta 16RP 200M diesel engines producing 6,246 horsepower combined. No C-series boats have been converted. Propulsion is provided by two shafts fitted with 5-bladed fixed pitch screws. All of the 123’ Island-class boats retained their two 94Kw 3304T Caterpillar generators for electricity production.
In addition to UHF/VHF communications, the 123’ patrol boats are equipped with a SPS-73 short-range I-band surface search and navigation radar, a Command, Control, Communications and Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system.
The 123-foot Island-class patrol boats are equipped with a single Mk 38 25mm Bushmaster cannon and either two M60D 7.62mm GP machine guns or two M2 .50 caliber machineguns.