Debut of US Navy Patrol Boat
The United States Navy’s most recent patrol boat, the Mark VI, has recently undergone its operational debut this month in the Arabian Gulf. The patrol boat was built and designed by Safe Boats International, an American boat manufacturer, in order to serve the United States Navy as the next generation of patrol boats. According to the United States Navy Lt. David Weinreb, the Mark VI’s program manager, the ship arrived in March at the 5th Fleet base of operations located in Bahrain.
There are currently four Mark VI 85-foot patrol boats in operation within the United States Navy, Weinreb stated, with two additional boats assigned to the 5th Fleet as well as a third boat which is scheduled to be delivered. This fleet of patrol boats is expected to support the Coastal Riverine Force (CRF) and will be used to replace the current aging fleet of patrol boats used by the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC).
"The Mark VI patrol craft can go up to speeds in excess of 35 knots and has a robust communications system, nine weapons platforms, including three remotely operated systems that are two .50-caliber machine guns up top, and a 25mm cannon up front,"
Weinreb reported at the 5th Fleet base in Bahrain during a preview of the boat.
Despite the boat’s high praise, it is still struggling with minor problems.
"There is still a couple of bugs in the system in relation to issues of the size of the Mark 18 UUV, which would be launched from the Mark VI,"Weinreb added.
"They are being worked out, it’s a little different size to what we expected them to be and they should be worked out by the end of the month."
The back deck of the Mark VI is reconfigurable, allowing for the patrol boat to carry various underwater unmanned vehicles (UUV) launch and recovery systems. The boat also has the capabilities of carrying two zodiac crafts for visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) missions.
"There was really nothing that did what this patrol boat can do, this is the first boat in the NECC family that has these capabilities, which include force protection, VBSS, counter-smuggling missions and has communications capabilities”said Weinreb.
“We can operate UUVs or UAVs, and it has a reconfigurable cabin that allows us to take onboard any number of personnel or systems to execute the required mission."