YUMA, Ariz. – Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents like Tomas Diaz patrol the waters along the U.S. Mexico border 7 days a week, 365 days per year, no matter the elements.
“Shallow waters, sandbars, gravel, every once and a while submerged objects, logs,” Diaz said.
Now, they have a new tool to help them maneuver around whatever the Colorado throws their way, a boat — a riverine shallow draft vessel.
“It can run in shallow waters as shallow as 4 inches of shallow water,” Diaz told us.
Diaz told explains how.
“It has a poly-plastic and a slide pad underneath that allows it to slide over gravel and shallow water and things like that, and it doesn’t have a propeller to hit, so it’s pretty incredible what it can do.”
They took it for a spin Wednesday morning, showing us the dangerous waters that are no problem for the boat and its propeller-less diesel engine. Diaz said those features could come in handy during an emergency.
“People come down kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, swimming, and fishing, and quite often we get calls out for rescues,” he said. “We had to improvise in the past; we’re always able to respond but now we can get there faster and safer.”
Vessel commander Jeff Scott said the very first day agents were able use the boat, they helped two stranded fisherman.
“We encountered a vessel at the Imperial Dam that had lost its motor; it wouldn’t start anymore. We hooked it up to a tow and towed it back to the ramp, because they were pinned up against the dam,” Scott explained.
Yuma Sector Border Patrol plans to receive three more of these vessels within the next three years.