Special Missions Craft Demystefied

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  1. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    Special Operations Stealth Semi-Submarines demystified

    *My notes:

    I'm going to be doing a few posts on naval special warfare around the world, starting with a look into the world of special missions craft. I'll be doing Swimmer delivery vehicles (both SDVs and DPVs) and special missions submarines as well.

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    The recent revealing of the Singaporean Navy's stealth Specialized Marine Craft Type-II (SMC Type-II) highlights the gradual maturing and adoption of certain US designed semi-submersible and stealth technologies for Special Forces. The craft may be designed with assistance of Oregon Iron Works on the Colombia River in Oregon, USA, making it closely related to the SEALION family of stealth boats operated by Naval Special Warfare and the Israeli Navy.
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    The main visual difference to the US service craft is the low-signature unmanned machinegun turret (Italian OTO Melara Hitrole with 12.7mm FN M2HB-QCB machine gun at 450 rounds per minute) on the bow and cut-down aft section. Dimensions are almost identical to the SEALION-II at 25m. The main configuration difference to the SEALION is the placement of the exhausts on the sides of the boat. The engines and waterjets are almost identical to the American boat however.

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    The type is produced by Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) with a fleet of eight units planned (two Type-I, see below, and six Type-II). Design and construction started in 2003 with the first unit entering service in 2009. The type is capable of 30kt and has a range of 250nm.

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    Last edited: May 5, 2016
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  2. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    SEALION and Alligator stealth boats

    Various ‘stealth boats’ have been trailed by Naval Special Warfare (NSW, now part of USSOCOM) for use by the Special Boats Units and SEALs. Although always under the radar (groan!), several types have been noticed by bystanders over the years. More recently USSOCOM has sought to operationalize the SEALION family of semi-submersible ‘stealth boats’ as the Combatant Craft Heavy.

    Alligator Class

    The first boat, now known as Alligator class, was not produced until the mid 1990s and to a significantly modified design. After testing with US forces the Alligator was transferred to Israeli military.

    Displacement: 23.4 tons
    Max Speed: 30kts (8 submerged)
    Length: 19.81m, Width 3.96m

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    History

    Oregon Iron Works, a small specialist manufacturer has designed and produced a series of special forces infiltration boats currently employed by Israeli special forces and USN SEALs/SOCCOM. The original patents were filed in 1990 and may have been influenced by knowledge of Italian submersible boats. Illustrations from the 1993 Patent (US Patent 5,215,025, assigned to K10 Corporation):

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    SEALION (I & II) COMBAT CRAFT HEAVY (CCH)

    The Alligator class has been followed by the Sealion (SEAL Insertion, Observation and Neutralization) class which was intended for special forces insertion and extraction in medium/heavy threat environments. Leveraging Oregon Iron Work's patented technology, it was designed in collaboration with the Combatant Craft Division of the US Navy's Naval Surface Warfare Center.

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    The SEALION-I was delivered in January 2003 and together with the enhanced SEALION-II underwent protracted trials with the US Navy special forces (SEALs) until 2013. The program cost about 10m USD. In 2013 the two hulls were refurbished and transitioned to fully operational status. The Sealion is slightly longer than the Alligator and has a larger cabin at the rear which can accommodate two rigid inflatables (RIB). The masts are retractable and jet-skis and Diver Propulsion Vehicles (DPVs) can be carried in storage lockers.

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    Follow-on Alligator Class semi-sub for Israeli Navy

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    A new semi-stealth was built by Oregon Iron Works in 2013 and has since entered service with the Israeli Navy, presumably as a replacement for the original Alligator.

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    ...

    @Technofox can you move this thread to a naval warfare section for me? I was only going to do the bit about the Singaporean craft, hence why it's in the East Asia section, but decided to expand upon the subject instead.

    Thanks!
     
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  3. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    COBRA Semi-SWATH hybrid hull Small Tactical Craft

    Lockheed Martin’s COBRA (Common Off-Board Reconfigurable Asset) Small tactical Craft (STC) is a tactical transport/utility craft designed with extremely compact dimensions in order to be compatible with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The square shape and small size also suit air transportability and it would fit within the relatively small C-130. The lightweight aluminum catamaran hull is actually semi-SWATH (Small-Waterplane-Area Twin Hull) with wave-piercing hulls below the waterline. The hybrid hull form is intended to combine the sea-keeping of a SWATH with the high speed of a catamaran. Two waterjets are mounted in the stern producing impressive performance.

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    The prototype was developed as a private project self-funded by LMS’ research and development budget.

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    Primarily pitched to USSOCOM as a medium Special Forces transport (Combatant Craft Medium), the highly configurable detachable aft section of the COBRA offers the potential to switch to Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) or other missions, possibly while the boat is at sea aboard a mothership (e.g. LCS or LPD). The COBRA was unsuccessful in USSOCOM’s CCM competition however.

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  4. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    Russian Triton-NN SDV

    The Russian Triton-NN Submersible Boat made a few waves during Sweden's submarine saga of a few years ago. Fortunetly for the Swedes, the Triton-NN isn't believed to be in active service.

    Submersible boats are a subcategory of Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs) in the broadest sense. The basic concept is to travel as far as possible as a regular boat and then use its ability to run awash (partially submerged) and fully submerged as you get closer to enemy radars. In general submersible boats are more versatile than regular SDVs (like the US Mk.VIII) because they have the range to operate without a mother-ship in many cases. They are also faster above the surface and can generally carry more passengers. But they are also less stealthy and slower underwater so it is a compromise.

    As you can see it is essentially a boat hull with a box-like upper section with access panels on the roof. Pop-out thrusters act both as underwater propulsion and steering.
    Capture.JPG

    Triton-NN is a Russian firm's attempt to re-enter the SDV market. It is up against stiff completion and is not thought to have sold any units. The main competitor in fact is the Swedish developed SEAL Carrier:
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    Another similar offering is the South Korean VOGO SDV-1000W:
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    Both the SEAL Carrier and SDV-1000W are actually based on SubSkimmer technology and incorporate a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) configuration. Subskimmer are currently the market leaders but their products are more photo-shy!

    Another submersible boat which is the US made Stidd MRCC:
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    Last edited: May 5, 2016
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  5. Falcon

    Falcon Major Staff Member Social Media Team

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    These little boats and submersible highlight an aspect of naval warfare and special operations we don't hear discussed very often. Often times we are distracted by the large big dollar, big bang boom boom platforms and we forget about these little boogers and the bad asses they transport. These are necessary for infiltrating other nations in a covert manner. They can be used to insert special operations forces and spies that can provide nations with valuable intelligence.
     
  6. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    The submersible ones are cool this way. Stealth and speed, all in one boat, but in two configurations! I might slip in a post or two on non-state actor models as well, such as those used by the Tamil Tigers or the infamous Narco Subs.

    It's not all stealth in SpecOps though, sometimes you need speed and more speed!

    ...

    Barracuda stealth Special Forces interceptor


    Specialist boat builder Safe Haven Marine have added the stealthy XSV-17 to their Barracuda series of Special Forces craft. The new design features a high speed surfacing plaining hull with a wave-piercing bow which allows incredibly high speeds (60kt) while maintaining the impressive sea-keeping of the Barracuda series. The design joins the SV-11 and SV-13 models which have already been prototyped and tested by elite units.

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    SV-11 (left) and SV-13 put through their paces

    Safe Haven Marine are known for the formidable sea-keeping of their small working boats, being at home in the notoriously rough Irish Sea and Bay of Biscay.

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    Illustrating the Barracuda’s incredible seakeeping, Save Have Maine testing them in 6m (20ft) waves and 60 mph winds during Storm Desmond, December 2015

    Barracuda SV-11

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    The first Special Forces interceptor from Save Haven Marine was the SV-11 which, as the name implies, was 11m (36ft) long. The boat differs significantly from its competitors in the use of a deep-v semi-displacement / plaining hull which is better suited to rough weather than a regular fully plaining hull. The compromise is on speed which is limited to 40kt. It also retained the think rubber fender of Save Haven’s pilot and rescue boats, making it ideal for vessel boarding operations.

    The watertight cabin and three internal sections allows the vessel to be completely rolled over and remain dry inside. If it does capsize in heavy seas, the hull is self-righting.

    The prototype was fitted with propellers for rough sea performance, which allowed 35kt top speed. For inshore and riverine operations waterjets would be preferred and these would allow 40kt top speed.

    Specifications
    Displacement: 14,500kg (9,500kg lightships)
    Length: 11m
    Beam: 3.95m
    Draft: 1.15m
    Range: 200nm+
    Speed: 40kt max with waterjets, 35kt with props
    Capacity: 6 crew plus 10 men (without weapons mount fitted)
    Propulsion: 2 x 650hp diesel-electrics driving MJP Ultra Jet 340 waterjets, or props
    Armament: 1 x remotely operated, stabilized 12.7mm (.50Cal) heavy machine gun pn retractable mount, 2 x 7.62mm MG on pedestal mounts

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    Self-righting test. The cabin was occupied and remained dry.

    Barracuda SV-13

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    The -13 is slightly larger than the SV-11 with a larger working deck at the stern and other iterative improvements. Like the earlier model the main machine gun mount is concealed under a hatch in the forward deck when not in use.

    Specifications
    Displacement: 14,500kg (12,500kg lightships)
    Length: 13.7m
    Beam: 4m
    Draft: 1.15m
    Range: 200nm+
    Speed: 40kt max with waterjets, 35kt with props
    Capacity: 6 crew plus 10 men (without weapons mount fitted)
    Propulsion: 2 x 650hp diesel-electrics driving MJP Ultra Jet 340 waterjets, or props
    Armament: 1 x remotely operated, stabilized 12.7mm (.50Cal) heavy machine gun pn retractable mount, 4 x 7.62mm MG on pedestal mounts

    Barracuda XSV-17

    Although the family resemblance is clear, the new XSV-17 is a significant departure from the earlier -11 and -13 models. The longer wave-piercing bow offsets a faster full-plaining hull. The retractable machinegun mount is retained, and a second firing position with near 360 degrees coverage is added to the cabin roof, but the external crewed positions on the working deck are sacrificed for stealth.

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    Specifications
    Displacement: 15,700kg (13,000 lightships)
    Length: 17.2m
    Beam: 4m
    Draft: 0.85m
    Range: 250-375nm
    Speed: 60kt max, 40kt+ cruising
    Capacity: 6 crew plus 10 men
    Propulsion: 2 x Volvo D13 900hp diesels driving Arneson / Metamarine MJP Hybrid 350 waterjets
    Armament: 1 x remotely operated, stabilized 12.7mm (.50Cal) heavy machine gun pn retractable mount, 1 x 7.62mm MG on pedestal mount
     
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  7. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    LTTE Sea Tigers sneak attack craft

    *My notes:

    This is a exert from a larger post on the LTTE Sea Tigers. I'll post the other parts in other threads, parts that include manned-torpedoes and makeshift submarines.

    Explosive boats

    The Sea Tigers’ gunboats had a very limited capability when it came to sinking larger vessels. Although the Tamil Tigers did manage to acquire a handful of second-hand torpedoes and one Russian torpedo tube, there was no realistic likelihood of LTTE being able to put full size torpedoes onto their various craft. Instead the answer, as they saw it, lay in making the boat into a torpedo. The one thing that the LTTE possessed was fighters willing to die for their cause, even if it meant suicide. Thus suicide craft with a warhead attached to the front, rammed into an enemy vessel, was a very real tactic. This was technically simpler and more reliable that the various explosive boats where the pilot has to escape moments before impact, as used by the World’s elite Special Forces (Decima-MAS, Shayetet 13, RMBPD….).

    Approaching their target at high speed, the LTTE’s explosive boats had to be taken very seriously and inflicted occasional but impressive casualties on the Government forces. Even if the impact failed to sink the target, a determined attack could inflict a mobility kill which would inevitably lead to further impacts.

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    Initially the Sea Tigers began attaching explosive warheads onto the front of fast boats. Over time these became smaller and more specialized.

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    So-called 'stealth' boats'


    The main type of explosive boat was a very small plaining hull with distinctive low and wide wing-like appearance. Unusually for such a small boat it was constructed out of steel to protect against incoming fire as t approached the target. It is possible that the wing-like structure was intended to help lift the heavy bow-section out of the water during high speed runs. The upper surfaces were angular with a ridge along the bow leading to an open topped cockpit for the two-man crew. A single outboard motor was attached at the stern, although at least one example had twin outboards. The main charge was a single artillery shell (or similar warhead) crafted into the bow below. Four or six grenade launchers were also sometimes fitted forward. At least six craft were built to very similar lines, and possibly many more. Although the design was somewhat standardized, no two craft were identical.

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    although these boats were often erroneously described as stealthy due to the angular lines which resembled an F117A stealth fighter. However there is no reason to presume that they were stealthy, although their inherent low profile made them difficult to spot.

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    Low-plaining explosive boats
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  8. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    WP-18 Tactical Strike Craft

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    With its sleek wave-piercing hull and stealthy lines, the blisteringly quick WP-18 Tactical Strike Craft is possibly the most stylish Special Forces boat on the planet. And it is not all good looks! Underneath the fully-enclosed composite exterior, the type boasts a spacious engine room and highly automated cockpit. The type is built by Abu Dhabi MAR, with design work by Norson Design.

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    Three WP-18 Tactical Strike Craft (see arrows) in a yard in Mozambique. They were delivered in late 2014/early 2015 and do not appear to have moved since. The other boats are Interceptor DV15 RWS'.

    Specifications
    Lengh: 18.6m (15.4m waterline)
    Beam: 3.5m
    Draft: 0.8m (half-load)
    Weight: 13 ton (light ship)
    Fuel capacity: 3,200L
    Range: 400nm @ 47kt
    Speed: 65kt+
    Crew: 3

    Combat Configuration

    The WP-18 can be fitted out with a retractable remote weapons mount with a 30mm cannon. Uniquely for this type of craft, small SAM or SSM launchers in the bow. Two retractable Rheinmetall ROSY (Rapid Obscuring System) soft-kill systems are also carried in the bow. A retactable EO mast is also fitted.

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    Smaller version

    Abu Dhabi MAR also offer a smaller version with outboard motors and non-retractable weapons mount.

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  9. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    *My notes

    Of course for every one craft we know of, there's many more still hidden in the shadows. I don't have a name for this particular vessel, but it belongs to Italy's COMSUBIN naval special forces group.

    COMSUBIN Special Warfare Craft

    Italy is renowned for sleek and stylish speed boats. And acknowledged as a pioneer and world leader in underwater Special Forces technology. So it should come as no surprise that the elite Special Forces, COMSUBIN, operate some of the most powerful and impressive submersible boats in the world. But it will, because it is also one of the Special Forces community’s best kept secrets.

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    The above image has been on the internet for several years (credit: Attilio Giacchè). Although identified as a COMSUBIN craft, it is possible that observers were unaware that this is one of an unspoken family of submersible craft.

    It is an impressive boat whichever way you look at it. But not all is as it seems: if you look carefully at the above picture, taken during a 'breakwater' speed test, you can see the forward hydroplanes folded into the hull. These pop out when the boat submerges and help it to rise or fall in the water.

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    These craft have been a closely guarded secret since they first entered service in the 1970s.

    COMSUBIN is specialized in Counter-Terrorism, commando and sabotage operations against naval targets. They also perform Clearance Diving, deep reconnaissance and intelligence raids, difficult civilian evacuation operations, protection of official personalities and buildings in high-risk situations and high-risk merchant/military ship's inspections.

    This family of submersible boats started development in the 1970s. Since then they have gone through multiple iterations. The only time that they have been revealed publically, and even then without fanfare or acknowledgement, was during President Ciampi's visit to COMSUBIN on June 2000. On that occasion an assault demonstration on the ship CAVEZZALE was performed using the vehicle pictured below, instead of the usual RHIB (Rigid hulled inflatable boat) and helicopter.

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    To the untrained eye this looks like a large and powerful motorboat, but there are hints at the forward hydroplanes and the rear hydroplane, mounted like the spoiler on a sports car, is visible at the stern. These boats are incredibly fast (well in excess of 30 knots) with water jet propulsion. They are at least 43ft (13m) long and weigh over 10 tons. Bigger, faster and earlier than other submersible boat designs. And the B&W newspaper photo is an old model already probably at the end of its career.

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    Judging from its size it is not submarine transportable, but we know from the below imagery of a submarine cradle that Italy operates a separate type of Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV):
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