SAFE Boats International, which manufactures the
Mark VI patrol boat, has made a lot of tactical craft for
NECC over the years, said Hartwell Champagne, senior
vice president of operations at the company.
Champagne said the company was building 12 Mark
VIs under two contracts, with the last one to be delivered by the end of this year. The first contract was
awarded in May 2012 for six boats at $36.5 million total,
and the second was awarded in July 2014 for $34.5 million, covering four boats with an option for two more.
The Navy tentatively plans to procure up to 48 over the
life of the program.
As for what the Mark VI boat brings to the fleet
that NECC has not had before, Champagne said it’s the
largest boat the organization has used yet. He also said
the boat has achieved speeds of greater than 40 knots
consistently, and the Navy requirement is 35 knots.
“Their ability to go a little bit farther offshore
and interact very closely with the blue water fleet
is something that’s new for NECC with this boat,”
Clark said he is not sure how effective the Mark VI
boat would be in blue water areas, arguing that they
are “pretty rough” in any sea state, but they do rep-
resent a bigger push into green water areas and out of
the confines of the rivers for riverine squadrons.
Clark thinks the patrol boat is not big enough to
host missiles, but the Navy could use them as part of a
growing network of assets in the littorals in the Asia-Pacific region — and it could be the start of a push to
an entirely new type of vessel in the future.
“I think what the Navy is going to arrive at is something bigger than a Mark VI, but smaller than an LCS or
frigate to contribute to distributed fires,” he said. n
Landing Craft, Air Cushions (LCACs) assigned to Naval Beach Unit 7 conduct well deck operations with the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay
April 6 off Okinawa, Japan. The Navy plans to replace its venerable but aging fleet of LCACs with dozens of more robust Ship-to-Shore Connectors.