Fairfield police, buoyed by a federal grant, plan to replace the Marine Division's 25-foot Boston Whaler boat with a new 33-foot Defender, the same type of vessel used by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Port Security Grant, administered through the state's Homeland Security Department, was signed off on by the Board of Selectmen recently. The grant fully funds the $433,000 purchase price, as well as the costs to transport the boat from Washington state to Fairfield, as well as to train local officers.

"We've been working on this grant since 2008," said Deputy Police Chief Christopher Lyddy. The boat will not only be used in Fairfield waters, but will also be deployed throughout the region if needed. For example, Lyddy said, Fairfield often assists Bridgeport in patrolling Bridgeport Harbor.

The grant was specific to this particular boat, Lyddy said, because it is the same craft that the Coast Guard uses. "This way they can work on our boat or we can jump onto one of theirs," Lyddy said.

He said the new boat was a priority for this Homeland Security region.

The Marine Division's 25-foot Boston Whaler will be sold, Lyddy said, and the money returned to the general fund. It was purchased in 1995 for $125,000. "I've gotten a wide variety of numbers" regarding its possible value, Lyddy said.

Selectman James Walsh amended the motion approving the grant to state that once the new 33-foot boat is acquired, the Whaler will be sold for fair market value.