The Navy’s New Patrol Boat


The Navy has placed orders for five Patrol Boats of a new type, with up to 48 planned. Announcements here and here. At 85 ft long, it is a size the Coast Guard is familiar with, and it is made by Safe Boats International LLC, a company the Coast Guard contracted to build its own Response Boat-Small, Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement (SPC-LE), and Special Purpose Craft-Near Shore Life Boat (SPC-NLB). In fact the new patrol boat is a development of the same family as the Special Purpose Craft-Near Shore Life Boat (SPC-NLB) which suggest it may even be self-righting.

Step-down cut-outs on the hull, similar to those on 47 foot motor lifeboats, are visible in the illustration, making it easier to board smaller vessels or pull people from the water. Sprint speed is up to 41 knots with 35 sustained. Accommodations appear crowded and relatively austere compared to Coast Guard patrol boats.

Interestingly the boats are being bought through GSA. At approximately $6M the price is not bad.

The Center for International Maritime Security has some interesting discussion about how they might be used. Below is an illustration from that post, originally provided by Navy Undersecretary Bob Work at a CATO Institute event,  showing how the boats might be transported in the well decks of various classes of amphibious warfare ships.

By Kurt Albaugh | Published May 22, 2012

Mk VI Well Deck

Lee Wahler, who writes for and is a frequent contributor here, believes the boat grew out of this Request For Information, from 12 Nov 09. (Thanks Lee) This may provide some additional insight into the rationale behind the design:


This synopsis is issued in anticipation of a potential future procurement program. The Naval Sea Systems Command is conducting market research to determine the existence of a Force Protection – Coastal Craft type boat possessing the characteristics below. GENERAL MISSION: The Force Protection – Coastal (FP-C) Craft requires a tactically sized, highly reliable, combatant craft capable of operating from land or maritime platforms. The mission of FP-C will be to provide a capability to persistently patrol shallow littoral areas beyond sheltered harbors and bays, and into less sheltered open water out to the Departure Sea Area (DSA) for the purpose of force protection of friendly and coalition forces and critical infrastructure. Mission profiles include patrol of Maritime Pre-Positioning Forces (MPF) and Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS) anchorage and marshaling areas, High-Value Asset (HVA) shipping escort, and tactical surface mobility for Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) operations, Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP), Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) overwatch, Theater Security Cooperation (TSC), and Security Force Assistance (SFA). CRAFT REQUIREMENTS: General Note: All requirements (unless designated “desired”) are the minimum acceptable operational value. Desired requirements are capabilities that would optimize craft performance and are beyond which any gain in utility does not warrant additional expenditure. Craft employment will be Day / Night, in all weather with a minimum of 24 hour endurance with a given notional mission profile. Craft will conduct sustained continuous operations in 10 feet (Very Shallow Water (VSW) curve) depths and greater at all craft speeds. Craft to be fully capable conducting mission in NATO Sea State 3. Craft will operate versus a level II threat, including: small tactical, waterborne units, and unconventional warfare units armed with small arms, rocket propelled grenades, and machineguns, improvised explosive devices and mines. Craft will operate from a sea or expeditionary shore base, or dock ship. Mission Capabilities: Vessel Operations: with self-fendering the craft is to be capable of conducting boarding operations on vessels up to 50 tons and shoulder 25 ton vessels without incurring significant damage to the fender or the craft. Consideration should be given to boarding craft of various freeboard heights. Crew and Compliment: Two crews (on watch and off watch) of 4-5 each plus one (1) eight (8) person VBSS boarding Team – total of 16-18 people. Crews consists of: 1 Patrol Leader, 2 Coxswains, 2 Engineers, 2 weapon console operators, and 2 gunners. Weight allowances are 285 lbs/person plus 650 lbs total for additional allowance/cargo items. Messing: storage and weight allocation appropriate for two meals ready to eat (MREs) per person. Craft equipped with marine sanitation capability and potable drinking water appropriate for 24 hour mission profile. Human Factors Embark/Disembark: Embarking and disembarking of the boarding team to vessels of interest; protection of boarding team with secure seating at cruising speeds. Human Factors Habitability: Enclosed cabin with seating for 12-13 persons; Environmentally controlled (HVAC) cabin and accommodation space; Crew rest accommodations (safe for cruising speeds) for the off watch crew (4-5 persons); Sanitary head facilities with privacy; shock mitigating seating for 2 crews; Desired shock mitigating seating for VBSS Team. Secondary Capabilities: Unmanned Vehicle Interoperability: Desired – craft shall provide the capability to launch, recover, maintain, and operate various small un-manned vehicles including air, surface, and undersea. Person in the Water Recovery (PIW): Features allow the crew to retrieve a person or object with no more than two crewmembers required for the retrieval operation. One crewmember should be able to safely secure the PIW alongside the boat. The vessel shall provide for unassisted self-recovery of able-bodied crewmembers from the water. Jason’s Cradle type arrangements are to be considered. Helicopter Medical Response: Fully capable of conducting hoisting and personnel transfer operations by basket or Stokes Litter from an open space that has few obstructions and is clear of masts and antenna. Antenna used to communicate with the helicopter must not be impacted. Multi-Mission Reconfigurable Areas: Payload Space: Accommodation and/or cabin area provided for the transport of passengers, MEDVAC, unmanned vehicle command and control, detainees and berthing. Payload area provided for re-supply and logistics missions. Payload Weight: Desired payload weight capability (inclusive of the embarked VBSS team) of 7,000 lbs. (See weight definitions in the technical matrix attached) Operating Environment: Operational Water Depth: Sustained continuous operations in 10 feet (VSW curve) and greater water depths at all craft and engine speeds. Navigable Draft: 6 foot draft at full load; desired 4 foot draft at full load. Sea State Operating Environment: Fully capable of transiting and conducting mission operations in seas up to 8 feet (significant wave height 1/3) combined with 20 knot winds, ), Desire to Survive in 12 foot seas (limited to best course and speed). Operate NATO Sea State 2/Survive NATO Sea State 3, Desire to Operate NATO Sea State 3/Survive NATO Sea State 4. Water Temperatures: Desired full operations of craft and equipment in water temperatures of 28 to 95 deg. F. Air Temperatures: Desired full operations of craft and equipment in air temperatures of -20 to 125 deg. F (lower temps. for storage). Performance: Speed: Have a 25 knots cruise and top speed of 35 knots at full load (see definition in the technical matrix attached) in significant wave heights of 3 feet; Desired 40 knot top speed in the same conditions. Towing: Effectively tow another similar sized craft and be able to be towed, in the operational conditions described above. (Line tow from stern is the only acceptable tow method in a seaway, vice a calm water slow speed side tow). Turning: At cruise speed craft must be able to turn 180 Deg. Craft must be stable in high speed turns, as well as other maneuvers including all stops; Desired to turn 180 Deg. in less than 6 boat lengths at the cruise speed. Range: 24 hour, un-refueled operating endurance, a minimum range of 510 nautical miles (NM) at a profile of 35% max fuel efficiency hull speed, 50% patrol/cruise speeds (25 kts) and 15% Maximum speed (35+ kts.) in 3 ft significant wave height. Range to be calculated starting mission at full load with 10% reserve; Desired range of 600 NM. A transit fuel tank may be used to achieve the objective 600+ NM objective range at the same operational profile. Operational Usage: Desired operational objective of 2000 hours without any critical failures. Transportability: Maritime: Capable of being transported and logistical launch and recovery via a well deck, crane or deck cargo transport aboard USN and/or MSC/common US/coalition commercial ships. (Consideration of tie downs and amphibious operations kick stand). Hoisting: Lifting eyes for single point lift to allow launch/recovery or loading/unloading with at sea and/or shore side cranes as required in transport above. (Individual leg soft slings, and man portable hardware is preferred). Terrestrial: Desired improved road / highway transport objective for Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) tractor variant prime mover with an organic trailer with special permit and wide load transport restrictions. Not to be considered a constraining requirement. Air: Desired internal air in C-17 and/or C-5 transport on a trailer. The prime mover does not need to travel in the same aircraft. Not to be considered a constraining requirement. Survivability: Stability: Basic USN small craft stability criteria and single compartment damage stability. Ballistic Protection: Personnel protection is to be provided against NIJ level III type threats (Full 360 degree, modular protection for interior manned stations (i.e. the main cabin) secondarily berthing sleep areas and then passenger payload areas if separate). Desire for additional modular, up armor packages/kits coverage to protect the exterior gunners up to their midriff when standing at their weapons. These may be separate “tub” or combined protective systems. Desired mobility protection (propulsion system, propulsion support systems and control components). Desired passive RPG/IED threat protection or active protection. Weapons: Crew Served: 360 degrees of coverage with two or more Heavy Machine Gun capable foundations, to mount MK 16 Mod 8 or Mod 9 weapons stands. Remote Stabilized: Craft must accommodate a stabilized weapon forward and/or aft. Weapon System Power: Craft must provide power provisions for GAU-17 weapon at each manned and un-manned location, and power for the remote weapon system for each un-manned location. Non-Lethal: Power and foundation for Long Range Acoustic Hailing Device. Precision Engagement: Desired capability of integrating future small missile systems. Features of Construction: Boarding/disembarking persons and cargo: Provide feature(s) for pier/ platform/ seabase boarding/disembarking of persons or cargo. Feature(s) to be deployed/stowed manually by one (1) (preferably) to two (2) sailors. Feature may be easily removable or hard mounted. Arch/Mast/Cabin-Top: Craft and appendages sized for proper placement of all required components (i.e. radar, antennas, sensors, optics). If any appendage is to be stowed for normal transport or underway low obstruction avoidance, amphibious docking, it must be safely handled and easy to raise and secure and lower and secure by 1-2 men in the specified operational environment. Propulsion: Propulsion Plant : Multiple inboard diesel engines. Full instrumentation package (analog style gauges) run from engines or engine computer controller. Fuel: Desired capability of using JP-5 and JP-8 fuels (JP fuels in this case require ignition protected components throughout machinery space.) Maintenance: Desired that mechanical layout must maximize maintenance access while keeping with placement for survivability. Operation: Machinery and equipment must operate, and manned spaces comfort level maintained at all speeds and all engine RPMs at the craft’s minimum operable draft at minimum and maximum water and air temperature ranges defined herein. Electrical: System: 24V ungrounded & 12V system via a converter; dual battery bank maintenance free; battery switch(s); circuit panel breaker style, double pole protection for each circuit; reserve battery capacity for extended loiter operations. Shore and Auxiliary Power: Equipped with standard commercial shore power connection(s). If required by projected load, 220v AC 3 phase / 110v AC single phase electrical generation capability appropriate to electronics and combat systems suite. Lighting: All mission essential light sources (interior and exterior), including lighted controls and displays to be Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS) compatible. Non-mission essential light sources to be securable at one place. Also Interior/exterior Deck lighting for nighttime illumination; Desired NVIS compatible deck lighting. Communications: Hardware: In general to include antennas, mounts, speakers and handsets; a VHF Marine Band radio; Loud Hailer; Tactical VHF; Tactical HF; Tactical UHF; Tactical SATCOM; Blue Force Tracker and/or Automated Identification System (AIS); Intercom (6 stations min); File transfer over tactical radios. Desired Boat to Boat Line-of-Sight (LOS) and Boat to Tactical Operations Center (TOC) Secure Data Link; Desired Unmanned Vehicle Command and Control. Navigation: Nav. Hardware: Integrated marine radar; depth sounder; electronic chart plotter; and back-up position data provided by a commercial GPS receiver. Magnetic compass; military GPS; adjustable IR strobe/follow me light. Nav. Software; Desired open architecture, nonproprietary software, classified chart capable with engine and critical systems alarms and monitoring, radio/comm’s control. (May include other aux systems control and monitoring i.e. power systems, batteries, HVAC, lighting.) Nav. Lights: Standard COLREGS Nav. lights and dual station Remote control spotlight for nighttime illumination; Desired IR Spot Light fixture or lens. Surveillance: Sensors: Desired EO/IR Device. It is anticipated that one boat will be procured in fiscal year 2010. Additional boats may be procured based on availability of funding. The quantity of boats is subject to change. Prospective firms are encouraged to submit a capability summary that does not exceed fifty (50) pages in length describing their boat and firm’s recent relevant business experience and their approach in meeting the requirements stated above. Responses should include: (a) The name and address of the contractor and where such boats would be built; (b) Point of contact including name, title, phone, and email addresses. (c) A description of proposed craft and information on how the craft meets the specified capabilities. Describe craft currently offered by the Contractor that meet, or with minor modifications might meet, the above listed requirements. All offered craft characteristics should be identified for chart comparison to the requirements listed above. If above requirements cannot be met, identify what is achievable with minor modifications; when addressing the ability to meet specific craft performance requirements please substantiate claims with data or demonstrated satisfactory performance of equivalent craft. Include available concept or detailed level profile and/or arrangement drawings. (d) To better assess and compare the offered craft data, please fill out the attached FP-C RFI Response Matrix in Microsoft Excel. (e) Identify similar craft on GSA Schedule and/or plan and schedule to get qualifying craft on GSA Schedule. (f) If any specific requirements indicate a degree of risk, please address the constraints and what mitigating design/engineering action would be pursued. (g) Estimated unit price. (h) A notional schedule for construction. (i) Whether the business is currently classified as a Large, Small, Small Disadvantaged, 8(a) and/or Woman Owned company, Hub Zone small business, Veteran Owned Small Business, or Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business. Offerors can offer optional craft demonstrations to demonstrate craft performance. If responders desire to provide a craft demonstration, so indicate in the RFI response including name, phone, and email address of your coordinating/scheduling point of contact. Demonstrations would last no more than one day and would be conducted at no cost to the Government. RESPONSES: Responses shall include a completed Requirements Matrix, in Microsoft Excel format, along with a separate document addressing the information requested outside of the Requirements Matrix. Email responses or inquiries should be sent to Ms. Christina Trasferini at and LT Scott Duncan To help ensure proper receipt, name the email “Force Protection – Coastal Boat Response” in the subject field. Information may also be sent hard copy with a CD attachment of the Requirements Matrix in Microsoft Excel format to the following address: Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, Attention: Christina Trasferini, SEA 02222, 1333 Isaac Hull Avenue SE Stop 2020, Washington Navy Yard, DC 20376. No telephone inquiries will be accepted and requests for solicitation packages will not be honored, as a solicitation has not been prepared at this time. WHEN TO SUBMIT: All responses are requested by 12 November 2009. NOTICES REGARDING SOLICITATION: Please note that this synopsis is for information purposes and to identify potential sources. This notice does not constitute a Request for Proposal and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government. NOTICE REGARDING PROPRIETARY INFORMATION: All submitted materials will be designated for Government Use Only. No reimbursement will be made for any costs associated with providing information in response to this announcement and any follow up information requests. Future information, if any, will be posted at the websites for FBO and NECO, the same sites where this announcement has been posted.

65 thoughts on “The Navy’s New Patrol Boat

  1. The USN seems to have forgotten that boats were launched by davit and crane LONG before wet well docks came into existence. Depending on the boat, davits are quicker to launch multiple boats. In addition, I don’t think there will be enough amphib warships available to go to many possible patrol locations? OR said differently, so long as the USN ties NECC units to amphibs then the increased capability is limited by hulls available. Solution: Use other ship types to conduct soft power missions. Thus allowing amphibs to got where they might be really needed, and decreasing the “footprint” near foreign shores.

    I mean if you were a small country would you want a ARG sitting offshore just to say take care of some pirates? OR would it be better to support the Mk VIs inport?

    And since MPF are mentioned, I would note that USN boats HAVE been lifted on MPS before.

    • I did notice in the RFI you provided they talked about other ways to transport the boat, including lifting by crane, and air and road transportation:

      “Transportability: Maritime: Capable of being transported and logistical launch and recovery via a well deck, crane or deck cargo transport aboard USN and/or MSC/common US/coalition commercial ships. (Consideration of tie downs and amphibious operations kick stand). Hoisting: Lifting eyes for single point lift to allow launch/recovery or loading/unloading with at sea and/or shore side cranes as required in transport above. (Individual leg soft slings, and man portable hardware is preferred). Terrestrial: Desired improved road / highway transport objective for Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) tractor variant prime mover with an organic trailer with special permit and wide load transport restrictions. Not to be considered a constraining requirement. Air: Desired internal air in C-17 and/or C-5 transport on a trailer. The prime mover does not need to travel in the same aircraft. Not to be considered a constraining requirement.”

  2. These are not patrol boats, by CG terms this is just a big small boat. Sounds like they really want a hybrid boat that can escort subs far offshore like the MFPU 87’s do now but also a screening vessel like the CG 64’s bristling with guns, and a boat shallow enough for riverine ops. Looks like a good hybrid work horse for the Navy’s littoral dreams that can also do escorts. RE other options than the well deck, Navy ships already use cranes to lower CG CB-OTH’s (when they can get their hands on some), what surprises me is that they didn’t envision this as an option with the LCS’s. Given the massive internal bay of the LCS-1 style ships, along with the overhead gantry, it wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch. It seems a shame, can’t really retrofit that very easily.

    Anyways, this tool makes a lot more sense to launch from a well for VBSS and port security than the LCU’s and LCAC’s. Not surprised they are building these. They ask for this type of capability often from the CG, but there aren’t enough to go around.

    • drc, at 85 ft they do exceed the USCG cut for patrol “boats” but not the Navy’s~ the navy wanted an offshore security boat (hence earlier designation). I thought of the navy bought 64 ft port security boat like used in Kings Bay. I also thought of the USMI Mk V PB-Composite and also looked at Swiftships 83 ft PB.

      NO the Navy was not looking hybrid just merged two boat rqmts into one (like they did with Cyclones, and look what it got them?~). The Navy i.e. PMS325G likes to buy off the GSA sked with better or worse results.

      Go look atythe cranes on modern warships or lack of same. Damn few can handle anything larger than an 11 meter RIB. LCS handle those boats internally. And apparently the Navy saw NO need to have any larger boat inside? JHSV has a crane and space to handle up to 40k 12 meter boat. You do realize the TIME in takes to ballast down and launch ANY boat out of a wet well don’t you?

      My conclusion is cranes and davits are faster and better depending on boat size.

    • Desk Riding Cutterman, I get the same feel. The Coast Guard only uses the “Special Purpose Craft-Near Shore Life Boat” (SPC-NLB), from the same family of boats, in the unique circumstances of a harbor with a shallow bar. Choice of shallow draft and high speed probably means these boats will be hard riding. If the RFI concepts still apply, there is no intention to keep the boat underway for more than 24 hours at a time. Reference to MREs rather than on board cooking facilities, shock mitigating seats, and only two watch sections all suggest these boats will not “patrol;” they will go out for specific missions and return as soon as it is over.

      Still, it seems likely some of the VSBB teams riding these will end up being Coast Guard.

  3. Memory fades at times, but did not the Coast Guard try out an 85-footish Safe Boat some years ago?

    In the carry plans, where are the LCACs going to fit. How are the Marines going to get their stuff moved around.

    • The article accurately describes the CG response to the earmark. The boat was tested and we confirmed it didn’t meet the requirements for CG missions.

  4. Maybe the US Navy is trying the proven concept that the Dutch Navy is using to Fight Piracy such as using a frigate or a destroyer as a command center and having a LPD act as a mother ship for a small fleet of CB-90’s or MK VI. With that concept that can support special ops teams as well.

  5. IMHO the Navy is doing NOTHING MORE than expanding the force protection envelop offshore to include a) protection of its Gators, b) VBSS further offshore than now, and c) finally only IF it happens within a tightly defined area – anti-piracy ops. The emphasis is on Defense of the fleet (not necessarily our merchant fleet~).

    The Mk VI may have a nice weapons suite (IF built like the drawings) but pretty obviously can not operate ScanEagle UAV. There is NO singular advance in systems. IOW the Mk VI is a big patrol boat NOT a FAC. Not a gunboat, not a weapons platform, nothing new or special.

    Nicky this is an NECC boat period. The NSW sailors are wanting something different might I say better?

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  7. NavyRecognition has a video including interviews from the Navy League’s 2014 Sea-Air-Space Exposition that touches on a number of systems we have talked about here. I am going to post this same comment on each of the threads I think are related. The video can be found here:


    At minute 9:00 there is a discussion of the Brimstone missile.
    At minute 13:00 we see a model of Eastern’s proposal for the Offshore Patrol Cutter. Unfortunately, there is no accompanying comments.
    At 13:15 we get an about one minute of update on the Navy’s new 85 foot MKVI patrol boat
    About minute 15:03 they talk about a new hyper-velocity round being developed to be fired from the 5″ (and other) gun.
    About 18:35 they talk about HII’s proposal for a frigate developed from the National Security Cutter, but it doesn’t look like any new info.

  8. I’ve seen one of these operating on Puget Sound in the Seattle area. Don’t know if it is builder’s trials but it would be a short run from Safe Boat’s Port Orchard facility.

  9. ‘The Force Protection – Coastal (FP-C) Craft” A confused cross between the Vietnam era PCF and PT. Just because a boat can run fast and be bristling with guns does not make it a patrol boat. Patrol boats are, by nature, best at slow speeds and vigilance – not fire power. This boat would be nothing more than a large target on riverine operations. I do not recall reading about this boats habitability. Perhaps the Navy should go back and take a look at the parameters it used in 1964 for a suitable patrol boat. Of course, they did not get one then either.

    • As best I can tell they don’t expect this boat to go out for more than 24 hours. Galley appears minimal. As you say, it is apparently built more for speed than for “seakindliness” so hard riding in most conditions.

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  18. This from Eagle Speak, “The Mark VI program of record is for a total of 12 boats — six boats have been delivered to the fleet and six more are to be delivered by the end of the 2nd quarter of fiscal year 2018.”

    Also provided some specs.

    General Characteristics, MK VI Patrol Boat
    Propulsion: Installed Power: 5,200 HP – 2 x MTU 16V2000 M94 and 2 x Hamilton HM651 Water Jets
    Length: LOA: 84.8′
    Beam: 20.5′
    Displacement: 170,000 lbs (full load displacement)
    Draft: less than 5 ft
    Speed: Cruise: 25+ Knots; Sprint: 35+ Knots
    Range: 600+ Nautical Miles
    Crew: 2 Crews, 5 Personnel each, plus 8 Person Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) Team (18 Total)
    Armament: MK 50 (.50 cal) Gun Weapon System (Qty 4); MK 38 Mod 2 (25 mm) Gun Weapon System (Qty 2); MK 44 Machine Gun System; Multiple Crew Served Weapon & Long Range Acoustic Hailing Device (Qty 6)

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