Maryland's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) honored the former director of boating services by commissioning its newest vessel in his honor at a ceremony at City Dock in Annapolis on Monday.
"It's really quite an honor," Robert Gaudette said. "There isn't enough room on the hull of this vessel to name all of the people who helped me achieve my personal and professional goals."
Some of those professional goals included the renovation of more than 300 public ramps and facilities throughout Maryland during his 32-year tenure with DNR.
Gaudette's final professional accomplishment was to secure the $245,000 necessary to buy the 38-foot multipurpose boat that now bears his name.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security paid for 75 percent of the costs because the booms, which can be used to contain oil spills, could also be used to prevent a boat loaded with explosives from crashing into a building.
Accidents aside, the boat's primary function will be to set and recover buoys, assist dive teams and pull debris from the waterways around the Chesapeake Bay, said Mark O'Malley, DNR's director of boating services.
"Our hope is that the vessel will take on the characteristics of the person it's named after," said John Gallagher, the head of the DNR’s hydrographic operations. "Bob is one of the best people I've ever worked for."
The crowd cheered as Abby Flynn, Gaudette's daughter, christened the boat by breaking a champagne bottle over the hull and proclaiming the R.P. Gaudette ready for service.
It's common for DNR to name its vessels after the living. Former Baltimore Colt Alex Sandusky, who was also Maryland's first Waterway Improvement Fund director, and former Gov. John Tawes both had boats named after them.
Gaudette joked that while boaters recognize the names of former politicians and football players, people will likely wonder about the man behind his boat's name.
The vessel will serve the Chesapeake Bay for about 40 years, and Gaudette said that means it could be serving after he's gone.
"I think it's my legacy," Gaudette said. "It's pretty cool to have a legacy."