Port of Savannah Chatham County Marine Patrol Unit

The Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department (SCMPD), Chatham County Marine Patrol unit is responsible for monitoring over 600 square miles of waterways in Chatham County to ensuring the safe and legal operation of all vessels. The Chatham County Marine Patrol unit enforces the Georgia Safe Boating Act, B.U.I. laws, assists with the recovery of drowned persons, responds to missing/over-due boats or boaters in distress.

Metro Savannah-Georgia Chatham County Marine Patrol Boating Safety Classes

Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department’s Marine Patrol Unit along with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GaDNR) conducts a Boating Safety Course on the third Saturday of every month; April-October. The boating safety course is free to the public ages 12+ and is required of youth boaters to operate certain marine vessels i.e. jet skis etc.*

*As of July 1, 2014 a new Mandatory Education Law went into effect that will require anyone born after January 1, 1998 who operates a powerboat in the State of Georgia, to have successfully completed a Georgia DNR approved Boat Education Course.

Metro Savannah-Georgia Chatham County Marine Patrol Boaters Course

To sign-up for the Chatham County Marine Patrol boating safety course:

  • Contact the SCMPD Training Center at (912) 921-5450.

For additional information on this course: Contact the Georgia DNR at (912) 264-7237 or the SCMPD Marine Patrol at (912) 353-1004.
Class size is limited to 30 participates and no one under the age of 12.
Participants need to bring with them their Social Security card.
Class begins at 9am to 4pm (with a lunch break provided).

Metro Savannah-Georgia Chatham County Marine Patrol History

The Chatham County Marine Patrol unit was approved in 1974 by the Chatham County Commission and fell under the control of the Chatham County Police Department. The Chatham County Marine Patrol unit began as a seasonal unit with one boat and two Officers. By the late 1980’s the unit had enough responsibility that it was made into a full-time Marine Patrol unit and a third Officer was assigned along with a second patrol boat. By the end of the 1990’s the Chatham County Marine Patrol unit had again added two more Officers and the fleet had grown to four Patrol boats and several utility craft (jet ski’s & jon boats).

In 2004 an agreement between the City of Savannah and Chatham County merged their respective Police Departments and although the Marine Patrol is still entirely funded by the Chatham County Commission the unit became part of the merged Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department under the direct control of the SCMPD Chief of Police.

Metro Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol Primary Services

The Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Marine Patrol unit is responsible for patrolling over 600 square miles of waterways in Chatham County. The Chatham County Marine Patrol unit enforces the Georgia Safe Boating Act, B.U.I. laws, assists with the recovery of drowned persons, responds to missing/over-due boats or boaters in distress and recovers lost property. The unit investigates boating related incidents including boating accidents, boat thefts and other crimes that occur on the water and along the shoreline and barrier islands. The unit is task with providing security to the Port of Savannah due to the increasing number of ships entering the port.

The Chatham County Marine Patrol unit works closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), U.S. Customs & Border Protection Agency (USCBP), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) and other State and Federal agencies conducting joint Law Enforcement operations and search & rescue missions. When fully staffed, the ratio of registered (Chatham County) boaters to Marine Patrol officers is 4763 boats to 1 officer (as of 2010), not including transient or documented vessels coming through the Chatham County Marine Patrol jurisdiction.

Metro Savannah-Georgia Chatham County Marine Patrol Jurisdiction

The SCMPD Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol Unit currently works out of an office located at the Thunderbolt Marina in one of the 7 smaller municipalities in the County (Thunderbolt). Officers report there and receive daily instructions prior to beginning their shift. Chatham County Marine Patrol Officers patrol solo throughout the County which is divided into three Patrol Zones (north/central/south):

  • 8x Chatham County Marine Patrol boats are kept in wet slips throughout the Chatham County for quick response.
  • 2x Chatham County Marine Patrol boats and the 35′ SilverShip Command/Support vessel are kept at the Georgia Ports Ocean Terminal in the North zone.
  • 2x Chatham County Marine Patrol boats are kept at Hogan’s Marina on Wilmington Island and two boats are kept at Thunderbolt Marina in the Central zone.
  • 1x Chatham County Marine Patrol boat is kept at Coffee Bluff Marina in the Southern zone.
  • 1x 15′ Carolina Skiff is kept on its trailer centrally located for any response that may require us to launch from a boat ramp.

Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol Northern Zone – Port of Savannah:

This zone has one Officer assigned permanently and he is designated our “Harbor Patrol Officer”. This area runs from the Chatham/Effingham County line at the I-95 Bridge east 34 miles to the mouth of the Savannah River at Tybee Island. Along with over a dozen Industrial plants (Georgia Power, Savannah Sugar Refinery, International Paper just to name a few), the area also consist of the Georgia Ports Authority with over 30 container berths and cargo piers, East Coast Terminals, Southern LNG, the Georgia Trade & Convention Center, three major hotels and the Savannah River Front which on any given day can have upwards of 20,000 visitors. Two Chatham County Marine Patrol boats and the 35′ SilverShip Command/Support vessel are kept at the Georgia Ports Ocean Terminal in the North zone.

Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol Central and Southern Zones – Savannah River to St. Catherines Sound:

The largest by square miles and consist of dozens of Barrier Island. The IntraCoastal Waterway also winds its way for 52 miles through these two zones. There are nine public boat ramps and 12 public marinas in these two zones also. There are several ocean front barrier islands that are attractive to recreational boaters and many fishing spots throughout. The jurisdiction also extends 3 miles off the coastline which stenches approximately 44 miles from the Savannah River entrance at Tybee Island to St Catherine Sound.

Two Chatham County Marine Patrol boats are kept at Hogan’s Marina on Wilmington Island and two boats are kept at Thunderbolt Marina in the Central zone. One Chatham County Marine Patrol boat is kept at Coffee Bluff Marina in the Southern zone.

Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol Personnel

The Chatham County Marine Patrol Unit is currently staffed with six Metro Police Officers, one Sergeant (unit commander) and six Officers. Chatham County Marine Patrol personnel have all successfully completed the Maritime Law Enforcement Course through the U.S. Coast Guard and are Certified Boating Accident Investigators through the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Each Chatham County Marine Patrol Officer is assigned a Ford F-250 4×4 truck, a Patrol boat and a small utility boat (jon boat) that they are responsible for.

Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol Fleet Equipment
  • 6x Ford F-250 4×4 truck
  • 35′ SilverShip Command/Support vessel w/FLIR
  • 2x 26′ Ambars
  • 23′ SafeBoat
  • 27′ WorkSkiff
  • 25′ Contender
  • 20′ Sea Ark
  • 18′ Rhino
  • 25′ Carolina Skiff
  • 5x 14′ G-III Jon boats
  • 15′ Carolina Skiff
  • *Vessels 18′ and up are powered by Mercury Verado (150hp/200hp/250hp/300hp)
  • *Utility boats are powered by Mercury 4-stroke outboards

Equipment varies depending on the patrol boat. All Patrol boats are equipped with Garmin GPS/Plotters/Radar. Several Patrol boats have Humminbird Side-Scan sonar’s installed. All boats have 800mhz police radios along with marine VHF radios. The 35′ Command has Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) installed along with a generator, heating/air conditioning, drop-down bow for ease of loading/unloading equipment, davit, Sea-Scan towable side-scan sonar and a capacity to carry up to 20 persons.

Along with their standard issued equipment Savannah-Chatham Marine Patrol Officers are issued stainless steel Remington 12ga shotguns, personnel flotation devices (PFD), fowl weather gear, night vision goggles (NVG), alcohol detection devices, and digital cameras.

Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol Goal

Provide safe waterways throughout Chatham County.

Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol Objectives

To insure a safe boating environment, increase awareness to the general boating population on safe boating and State laws and to decrease the number of boating accidents and related incidents.

Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol Unit Commander

Sergeant Danny Davis ( ddavis01@savannahga.gov )

Savannah-Chatham County Marine Patrol

( http://scmpd.org/marine-patrol/ ) @912-353-1004