Navy’s new 40 foot Force Protection Patrol Boat

Navy 40 foot PB(X) to be built by Metal Shark

The Navy has recently awarded Metal Shark a contract for a new “force protection” patrol boat.

The basic information is:

LOA: 43′ 11″app
HULL LENGTH: 40’ 3″
BOA: 11’ 10″
Metal Shark claims the boat is optimized for normal patrol speeds of 10-12 knots while capable of economical operation at higher speeds of 35+ knots.
It appears the expected weapons fit is a .50 caliber in a remote weapons station forward and three crew served .50 calibers aft. Two LRAD (long range audio devices) also appear to planned.

PB-X aft, LRAD and .50 cal.

Undoubtedly there will be comparisons drawn between these and the Coast Guard boats that also do escorting duties. After all, the Coast Guard probably does many more escort missions as part of the Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security mission than the Navy ever will. The Coast Guard escorts passenger vessels, hazardous cargoes, Navy surface ships, and even Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines.
Our closest comparable boat is the Response Boat, Medium. The RB-M may be a bit faster. It appears that this new Navy boat may be better equipped for the escort mission than the RB-M or even most 87 foot WPBs. The LRAD looks like a good idea to warn away the innocent, and if the use of deadly force is necessary, the Navy boat looks like it will have heavier weapons and the remote weapon station means greater accuracy and less chance of collateral damage.
I have quoted the Metal Shark news release below. In addition there is a lot more information about the boat here.

October 2, 2017: Metal Shark Wins U.S. Navy PB(X) Patrol Boat Contract

Jeanerette, LA – October 2, 2017: Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has been awarded the contract to produce the U.S. Navy’s next-generation patrol boat, the PB(X).

This award is the culmination of a multi-year process by the Navy to select the replacement for the fleet of force protection boats currently in use with Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s Coastal Riverine Forces (CRF). Subject to annual appropriations, the Navy intends to replace approximately 100 to 160 of its existing 25-foot and 34-foot CRF patrol boats with the larger and more modern PB(X) platform over the next fifteen years.

The Navy has placed an initial, immediate order for eleven of the new vessels. Under the terms of the award, potentially worth over $90 million, Metal Shark will build up to 50 PB(X) vessels for the Navy, along with trailers, spares and training packages, and technical support.

“PB(X) was one of the most challenging and most sought-after U.S. military boat procurement opportunities in recent history; the result of a years-long process pitting Metal Shark’s engineering and manufacturing capabilities against multiple leading U.S. naval architect firms and nearly all of our competitors,” said Metal Shark’s CEO Chris Allard. “The award of PB(X) to Metal Shark is the result of a tremendous team effort and I couldn’t be more proud of our people.”

The winning PB(X) design is a 40-foot, welded-aluminum pilothouse patrol boat designed by Metal Shark’s in-house engineering team. Leveraging its extensive experience with military patrol craft of similar size, Metal Shark designed a bespoke craft ideally suited to accommodate all mission parameters.

Immediately identifiable thanks to its chiseled, angular profile and a unique faceted hull, the PB(X) is powered by twin diesel inboards and water jets. Metal Shark designed a moderate aft deadrise, wide-waterplane, sharp-entry hull form that not only achieves 35+ knot sprint speeds while displaying superb dynamic stability in a range of conditions, but also offers enhanced handling and greatly reduced operating cost at the 10-15 knot escort and cruise speeds where the vessel will spend the bulk of its operational life. The PB(X) features ballistic protection and can be armed with a range of crew-served and remotely operated weapons systems.

In order to fully optimize the hull and propose a more mature design, Metal Shark built a PBX running prototype hull, designated PB(X)-P1, which was extensively tested in a wide range of operating conditions. This test platform became the basis for Metal Shark’s resistance, powering, and weight testing, and determined the final configuration proposed to the Navy.

“The testing of PB(X)-P1 validated our design choices, mitigated our areas of concern, and resulted in a design proven to perform exactly as expected under real-world loads and conditions,” explained Mr. Allard. “We made this up-front investment to eliminate any and all potential concerns and to deliver a thoroughly tested and proven, next-generation patrol boat platform to the U.S. Navy.”

The PB(X) will be built at Metal Shark’s Jeanerette, Louisiana production facility, which specializes in the rapid, serialized assembly of military patrol boats. Other significant military fleet builds currently underway at the facility include ongoing production of the Navy’s 32’ Force Protection Boat – Medium (FPB-M) and 26’ High Speed Maneuverable Surface Target (HSMST), and the U.S. Coast Guard’s 29’ Response Boat – Small (RBS).

This is the second major U.S. Navy contract awarded to Metal Shark in 2017. In June, Metal Shark was selected to build up to thirteen Near Coastal Patrol Vessels (NCPVs), for the Navy. These 85’ patrol boats are being produced at Metal Shark’s Franklin, Louisiana waterfront shipyard.

“Winning PB(X) is a crowning achievement for us, but there’s a lot of work ahead,” said Mr. Allard. “The Navy is a long-standing customer we’re extremely familiar with and whose needs we understand intimately. We are eager and ready to commence PB(X) production and to begin supplying the world’s greatest Navy with the world’s most advanced patrol boat.”

 

Metal Shark PBX Prototype

9 thoughts on “Navy’s new 40 foot Force Protection Patrol Boat

    • Still we don’t know a lot about the vessels relative to the RB-M. The only apparent advantage is the LRAD and weapons, particularly the Remote Weapon Station (RWS). In addition to its advantages as a weapon, the RWS offers the advantages of its electro-optic systems which can be used for navigation or looking for a man-overboard or heat sources like semi-submersibles.

      Still these rely on simple machine guns to counter threats. My feeling is that on at least one of the escorts we really need small guided missiles to counter small fast, highly maneuverable threats and we need something capable of at least disabling a larger threat such as a medium to large merchant vessel.

      • If the 41′ that the 45′ replaced originally had a 20mm cannon, before they were modified for Vietnam. What could the 45′ be uparmed with in the advent of conflict? If the 45′ are supposed to last like 30 years who knows how they will be updated.
        And Chuck I will have to disagree with you on the 40′ being better armed than the 45′ and 87′. We don’t know how they will be armed during a conflict compared to the 40′. And hopefully we never will.

      • Lyle, I was not saying the RB-Ms and 87 ft WPBs could not be upgunned, only that they are not as well armed now. Four of the 87 ft WPBs assigned to force protection units for the FBM subs already have stabilized RWS.

        Really I was saying was that perhaps our boats should be better equipped now.

        I certainly hope the replacements for the Marine Protector class will be.

    • It now appears to me that there are five mounts aft, two on each side and one atop the towing bit on the centerline aft, with LRADs on two of them and .50 cal. MGs on three of them.

  1. These are replacements for a lot of smaller force protection boats opreated by what used to be the MESRONs. Those were merged into the CRF a move some have questioned. I guess the size kick up is to let them operate outside the harbors? I would say this is a good buy.

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