BOB PERETTE might have been content to run his auto
repair shop in a Boston suburb, never invading the
offices of federal bureaucrats breathing fire and demanding
attention for more than 4 frustrating years. If only it
hadn't been for that newspaper story he read.
"US Customs was chasing a boat with $15 million of heroin
in it and the Customs boat broke down. I turned to my
wife and said, ‘I can help these guys.'" Perette could not
have known that in that moment he had begun a passionate
pursuit that would get him branded by some as
obsessed and would ultimately revolutionize law enforcement's
He networked his way to the officers who put their lives
on the line to chase the fast drug boats on the high seas
and in coastal waters and he listened. Perette learned that
even when the good guys' boats don't break down, the
slam-slam-slam of the boat bouncing through the water
physically exhausts the boat crew, making them much
less capable in the event of a confrontation. Even if they
won the chase, they were more vulnerable in a fight.
So Perette studied boat designs looking for stability and
speed. He decided on a split hull catamaran, bought a
used one, and began tearing it apart and rebuilding it,
over and over again. After spending most of his life savings
to create the NightCat, after paying MIT to test its
design, and still failing to get through to decision makers
in federal law enforcement agencies, Perette went for help
to his member of the House of Representatives, William
Delahunt, a lawmaker who had taken the time to visit
drug producing countries and listen to the cops who are
on the front lines there and in the U.S. Delahunt forwarded
Perette's development to CTAC.
Under its Congressionally mandated test and evaluation
function, CTAC sponsored sea trials of the NightCat 27
and the results were the Navy's version of a standing ovation.
The U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center's experts
pushed the 75 m.p.h. boat hard, turning it smoothly at
speeds that would capsize others. And that awful whomping,
the terrible, exhausting vibration, was all but eliminated.
The Navy called Perette's drug smuggler chaser, "a
superior riding and handling craft when compared to any
craft in the present inventory."
During the summer of 2000 the first production line
model of the NightCat 27 was handed over to the U.S.
Border Patrol's South Florida Task Force. Bob Perette's
dream had come true. Today, the NightCat is on patrol off
Florida, making life a lot tougher for drug smugglers and a
lot safer for law enforcement.
|Mission Accomplished: CTAC Director Brandenstein,
Assistant Chief Keith A. Roberts, Miami Sector Border Patrol, Designer Perette and Congressman Delahunt at the boatyard in Hingham, MA.|