Detroit – A $650,000 Detroit Police Harbormaster patrol boat, named for a slain police officer, is in drydock amid a lawsuit alleging three companies harassed city taxpayers with a defective product.
In July 2018, Detroit police officers christened a new 36-foot patrol boat “Shark” to honor longtime master diver Sgt. Kenneth “Shark” Steil. It was the first new ship of the Captaincy since 1986.
Steil passed away on September 17, 2016, five days after he was injured by a gunshot while investigating a man who had shot his father and another man.
Steil died the day he planned to return home from the hospital. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the 9th District Special Operations Team, although on Wednesdays he was still diving for the department.
According to the lawsuit the city filed May 3 in Wayne County Circuit Court, the boat had one problem after another, from the day it was delivered.
The named defendants in the 77-page lawsuit are Florida-based Brunswick Commercial & Government Products, Konrad Marine of Wisconsin and Metal Craft Marine of Ontario.
According to the lawsuit, the boat was made by Brunswick while the outdrives were made by Konrad. Metal Craft Marine installed Konrad’s parts and other city-ordered equipment and accessories.
After sending out multiple offers, the city in November 2017 purchased the Boston Whaler aluminum boat for $650,000, according to the lawsuit. The boat was delivered on June 25, 2018, according to the lawsuit.
City officials did not respond to a request for comment Friday. Phone calls to Brunswick Commercial & Government Products and Konrad Marine were not returned.
Bob Clark, a partner at Metal Craft Marine, said he spoke with Detroit police officials last week to raise concerns. When reached by phone on Friday, Clark said he was unaware his company had been named in the lawsuit.
“I think our name is right on the suit because we were involved in the process, but as far as I know everything was fine between us and the Detroit police,” he said. “I just spoke to them, and I understand they’re after Konrad.”
According to the lawsuit, the problems with the boat began immediately after the city purchased it.
“On the day of delivery, the city experienced a hard engine start,” the suit said. Other alleged issues included “significant corrosion on the outlets.”
A Konrad employee in March 2019 replaced the outlets, although the lawsuit said the corrosion on the outlets returned the following year.
Clark said he told Konrad representatives that his company would no longer install their products until they fixed the issues. Clark said the issues with Konrad go back months.
“We thought we brokered a deal with Konrad to fix those records last August,” Clark said. “Then we told them that if they wanted future business, they had to take care of the customers.”
There were other issues with the boat involving parts from manufacturers not named in the lawsuit.
“On December 3, 2018, the city discovered that the port engine was leaking oil,” the suit read. “After the city notified (engine manufacturer) Performance Diesel, the boat was taken out of service to have the engine replaced.”
After multiple problems and repairs, the boat finally came out of the water in July 2021.
“Due to excessive corrosion on the outlets, the city is currently unable to use the boat,” the suit said.