But the Marines were adamant
that the boats were not designed to
handle bullet holes.
“The whole point of the Zodiac
is not to be shot at,” Colbert said.
“If you put that boat in a position
that it will stop rounds, you’re
doing it wrong.”
Deflated, and with the flooring
removed, the boats can be fold-
ed up into a relatively compact
block for storage and transport on
an amphibious ship or a subma-
rine. They can be inflated by use
of high-pressure cylinders or foot
pumps, the two Marines explained.
Marine CRRCs are powered by
a specially ordered 55-horsepower
motor, called the Non-Gas Burning
Outboard Engine, that has a shrouded impeller instead of a normal open
propeller to reduce the risk of injuring a man in the water or damaging
the blades by hitting obstacles. It is
fastened to the transom and fed by
tubing from a fuel tank in the bow.
Although the engine can burn any fuel available,
the preference is to use JP- 5, JP- 8 or kerosene, Colbert
said. If forced to use diesel, the engines will need more
maintenance, he said. The engine also can burn automotive fuel, or MoGas, but the military does not like
to carry it because it is more volatile.
The CRRCs normally carry eight Marines — six
raiders to conduct the mission ashore and the coxswain and assistant coxswain to operate the boat. The
manufacturer says it can hold up to 10 people, but
“that’s not optimal,” Dobson said.
The main limitation is the 1,750-pound maximum
operational payload, Colbert said.
“That doesn’t include the engine and fuel. That’s
1,750 pounds of Marines and their gear,” he said. “The
boat can handle more, but the range and speed are
Because of that weight limit, “there’s definitely
an appetite for” a larger boat among the operators,
Dobson said. But there is no official Marine program to
acquire one, he added.
And, Colbert noted, “if you need heavier lift, then
your method of insertion needs to be adjusted. … The
answer may not be going by boat. If I had a larger craft,
like a RHIB [rigid-hull inflatable boat], my noise signa-
ture is higher, my radar cross section is bigger. That’s not
the mission of the Zodiac. The Zodiac is intended to be
very, very quiet and low-profile, stealthily inserted.”
The standard Navy RHIB is 11 meters, or about 36
feet long, and requires a larger engine.
Despite that, “we are looking at a different boat, one
that replaces the Zodiac but provides a little greater
lift capacity, some better seakeeping capability, but still
maintains a very low profile, visual and audible signature,” Colbert said.
A replacement boat “wouldn’t be significantly larger,” he said, but something that could support a 2,000-
pound operational load and still be able to lock out of
a submarine, be transportable by helicopter and able to
move Marines at 18 knots in sea state 2 or sea state 3,
meaning waves up to about 4 feet.
The Marines said a new boat could be developed 15
to 20 years in the future to replace the CRRCs when
they reach the end of their service life.
Properly loaded, the CRRC has an operational range
of 15 to 25 nautical miles.
“It’s what we call over the horizon, at least today,”
Colbert said, “and usually what we plan for in training
— 15 to 25 nautical miles, which is a long boat ride.”
Because the missions the CRRCs are used for require
the Marines to get ashore without being detected, the
team usually has to shut down the engine some distance from the beach and either swim or paddle the
rest of the way, the two Marines said.
To enable the recon or special operations teams to
be inserted farther from shore without a punishing
long boat ride, the operators train for what they call
U.S. Marines with Company F, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines,
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Soldiers from
the Western Army Regiment conduct launch and recovery drills using Combat
Rubber Raiding Craft from the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship
USS Green Bay July 12 during the Talisman Sabre exercise.