Seen off West Seattle: Two helicopters, boat marked ‘Tunisia Navy’

2:47 PM: An unusual sighting, shared by Gary Jones, who photographs from Alki Point: Seen in the noon hour, a boat marked “Tunisia Navy,” with two helicopters nearby.

Their markings match what we saw on two helicopters passing overhead, westbound, one behind the other, as we arrived at HQ in Upper Fauntleroy after a noontime trip.

Backstory? We don’t know yet. At first, we wondered about a movie shoot (Seattle wouldn’t seem to be much of a stand-in for Tunisia, which is on the Mediterranean Sea in North Africa, but you’ll recall Alki doubling for Florida) – then a bit of Googling revealed that the U.S. donated two similar types of patrol boats to Tunisia seven months ago and was planning to donate more. Still checking around. Know anything? as always.

8:44 PM: After a couple of e-mail tipsters suggested we check with local boatmakers that build military-style patrol boats, we sent out queries around 5 pm and just received this reply from sales manager Kevin Rowlee at Bremerton-based SAFE Boats International:

Yes, that was a boat built by SAFE Boats International. It is a “65 Full Cabin – Inboard” destined for the Tunisia Navy. The boat you saw was the second of two boats purchased under the same contract.

Commenter Brian confirms the photo-shoot angle.

20 Replies to "Seen off West Seattle: Two helicopters, boat marked 'Tunisia Navy'"

  • Leslie March 26, 2015 (3:55 pm)

    I saw this too and thought it was bizarre! I thought someone had high jacked the boat and news/police copter was following them. There was also a boat hob king it’s horn for a long time right at the same time. I have no idea if they have anything to do with each other. Just another “Huh??”;-)

  • miws March 26, 2015 (4:15 pm)

    I was thinking movie shoot too, especially considering the film crew in Admiral a day or two ago, then recalled that was a TV commercial shoot.



  • Rick March 26, 2015 (4:34 pm)

    You mean you haven’t heard yet?

  • WsEd March 26, 2015 (4:35 pm)

    ISIS has been taking over Tunisia lately. They have camped out by the old Star Wars film location of Tatooine. Do the math.

    • WSB March 26, 2015 (4:43 pm)

      Rick, we’re not afraid of admitting we HAVEN’T always heard. In fact, the next story we’re publishing, within 10 minutes or so, is another “here’s what we know but we don’t have the full picture yet.” By the time the full picture emerges in some if not most stories, it’s too late to do anything (or at least to try) … WsEd, thanks, while I checked Google News for Tunisia references I somehow missed the Tatooine tie-in.

  • Cmb March 26, 2015 (4:47 pm)

    thT might be the new Safe Boats boat, you might want to check there.

  • MattPilot March 26, 2015 (5:00 pm)

    I’m a local helicopter pilot and I know the red helicopter belongs to World Wind in Renton. They get the filming contracts. Not sure about the other bird.

  • HelperMonkey March 26, 2015 (6:09 pm)

    I can’t believe you’re all being calm about the fact we’re clearly being invaded by hostile Tunisia. Since West Seattle is the center of the universe, no wonder they started here.

  • jissy March 26, 2015 (7:39 pm)

    I was at Jefferson park for most of the afternoon and there was one (or maybe more) military fighter jets taking off and landing around this same time…. I could not tell from what country they were from though.

  • Brian March 26, 2015 (7:40 pm)

    My friend Ernie Sapiro was in that helicopter shooting publicity photos for the manufacture of that boat, which was indeed for the Tunisian Navy.

  • Mike March 26, 2015 (8:25 pm)

    Promo video shoot for the Tunisian government? Would not surprise me that they’d be making a propaganda film of it’s equipment they’re getting.

  • ernie March 26, 2015 (8:31 pm)

    Thanks for making my day….I love these comments. Helper monkey…..u rock!!! Thanks for the tag Brian..


  • sean March 26, 2015 (9:40 pm)

    Its a new boat built for Tunisia. Safe Boats int. In bremerton is were it was built. It was being photographed for plublicaty so it can be marked to other countries. It is a very cool boat. I was a lead on the project

    • WSB March 26, 2015 (9:47 pm)

      Thanks! I did get a reply from SAFE’s sales manager earlier tonight after several people who read this earlier e-mailed us suggesting checking with that company and another that build military-type boats, and I added his reply to the story about an hour ago. We learn something new every day!

  • Rajaa Gharbi March 27, 2015 (8:24 am)

    Dear WSB

    This is your Tunisian Artist neighbor. I hope all is well. I want to make a small but very important correction to some of the things said above: ISIS is not sitting on any film sets or other Tunisian territories. Not in our beloved south, North or any part of part of the country.

    All the best, always.

    Rajaa Gharbi

  • Rajaa Gharbi March 27, 2015 (8:59 am)

    Thanks WSB for trying to get the information about the boat and helicopters!

  • Adam K Ayed March 29, 2015 (1:39 am)

    The boats were bought and paid for by the Tunisian government.

  • BCE March 30, 2015 (1:15 pm)

    Tunisia was the first country on earth to recognize the American Independence you better show off some respect to our allies and stop acting like a complete moron, no wonder foreigners consider us ignorants.

    ISIS nor any other terrorist group has taken residence in any part of Tunisia and the CNN article about the star wars set was just a hoax and the site is being visited daily.

    I’ve been to Tunisia and it’s more beautiful and secure than any other country in the mediterranean.

    god bless the USA, god bless Tunisia.

  • Adam March 30, 2015 (2:23 pm)

    Very nice boats, they are part of a deal with the Tunisian Navy.

  • Adam March 30, 2015 (2:35 pm)

    Helper Monkey, “hostile Tunisia”, did you hit your head? Tunisia is a friendly country and an excellent ally.

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