BATH — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, helped to christen – and then drive – a high-tech military boat built in Bath that is capable of being air-dropped from a cargo plane for special forces and rescue missions.

After smashing a bottle of champagne across the bow, Collins donned a life vest and climbed on board the Greenough Advanced Rescue Craft being built by Hodgdon Defense Composites for a demonstration.

Modeled on a conventional jet ski or personal watercraft, the GARC is designed to withstand the toughest surf without overturning. It can also be dropped from a C-130 cargo plane along with a paratrooper and be operational within minutes.

The boat formally launched today is being delivered to U.S. Air Force Special Command, and Hodgdon Defense Composites has several more under construction as well as another 16 that were just ordered by the military.

“This company proves that even in tough times, there is always a market for superior craftsmanship,” Collins said while standing on the boat ramp in Bath. “Whenever I advocate for federal funding for Maine, I do so fully confident that Maine will deliver.”

The GARC is being built in Bath in conjunction with Rapid Response Technology, a North Carolina-based firm whose founder, Peter Maguire, helped design the boat. Maguire demonstrated the boat today and then took Collins for a spin, even handing over controls to the senator.

“In breaking surf, it can do things that no other vessel can do,” Maguire said afterward.

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