Walton County's Gulfstream Shipbuilding Company has built a ferry for the Department of Homeland Security.

This was Gulfstream's first contract to build a boat for the cabinet department.

Joe Heinz, sales engineer for Gulfstream, said there is a government website where job opportunities are posted.

"They needed a designer and builder for this project, which we could supply, so all we needed was an architect," said Heinz. "The competition to get the contract was pretty competitive from all over the country."

The initial contract was awarded in 2016.

Gulfstream worked with Naval Architect C. Fly Marine Services to design the welded aluminum, mono hull, diesel propelled, passenger/vehicle ferry with a 6-by-6-foot draft and a 100 horsepower hydraulic dual prop thruster.

With four Caterpillar C32 diesel engines, the vessel's top speed is 26 knots (30 mph). The design is similar to a crew boat.

The 118-foot by 27-foot by 10 1/2-foot boat is certified to carry 149 passengers, crew and freight on a main passenger deck. It also has a pilot house and can carry vehicles.

The boat was designed and built for Eastern coastal waters and to able to operate in and around the waters of the Eastern Long Island Sound and Gardiner's Bay. It will be used to transport workers to the government-owned Plum Island.

The vessel is named the Edward V. Kramer for a U.S. Air force veteran who worked at Plum Island for more than 60 years and passed away two years ago.

This vessel was launched July 12 and will be delivered in the fall.

"This is a significant milestone for our shipyard and crew who have been honored to efficiently produce a custom, highly capable vessel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security," said Heinz. "This is the fourth vessel that Gulfstream Shipyard has built and delivered to operate near the Eastern Long Island Sound waters. We are proud of our 35-plus year history of building strong aluminum crew boats for all types of conditions."

The Freeport shipyard was founded 35 years ago by the late Jim Murray. The Murray family built and own the Solaris dining yacht. The company is a custom boat builder specializing in steel and aluminum vessels up to 300 feet.

The business is now owned by the Murray's friend and maritime expert Stuart Reeves.

For more information visit www.gulfstreamshipbuilding.com.