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Navy places order for new class of patrol boats

May. 24, 2012 - 04:20PM   |   Last Updated: May. 24, 2012 - 04:20PM  |  
The new 85-foot Mark VI Patrol Boat will expand the reach of U.S. Navy inshore craft.
The new 85-foot Mark VI Patrol Boat will expand the reach of U.S. Navy inshore craft. (SAFE Boats International)
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SAFE Boats International has won a competition to build a new class of patrol boats for the Navy's Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, the company announced Thursday.

The 85-foot-long Mark VI patrol boat is intended to expand the operating area of Navy patrol craft farther off shore, supplanting and replacing existing craft such as the 68-foot Mark IV and 34-foot Sea Ark patrol boats.

The $30.5 million SAFE Boat contract award is for five new patrol boats, with an option for a sixth — which, if exercised, would add another $6 million to the contract's value.

Ultimately, the Navy intends to buy 48 Mark VIs.

The government solicitation was made via the General Services Administration's eBuy website. Three bids were submitted, said Chris Johnson, a spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command.

The Mark VI boats will be built at a newly leased Large Craft Production Facility in Tacoma, Wash., SAFE Boats said in announcing the contract.

The company normally builds small craft at its facility in Bremerton, Wash., but the length of the Mark VI exceeds the capacity of the older yard.

The Tacoma facility will be able to build up to six Mark VIs at a time, the company said.

SAFE Boats' Mark VI design, a variant of the company's Archangel self-righting life boat, will have a waterline length of 78 feet. Powered by twin diesels and waterjets, it will have a range in excess of 600 nautical miles and be able to burn both marine grade diesel and JP-5 fuel. A Mark 38 25mm gun can be mounted forward.

In an interview earlier this month, Capt. James Hamblet, commodore of NECC's new Coastal Riverine Force, said the boats would operate at speeds in excess of 35 knots with sprint speeds of 41 knots.

The Mark VI will have berthing and galley facilities to allow for extended missions, and shock mitigating seats will be fitted at crew work stations. The main cabin is reconfigurable to accommodate remotely operated vehicles, a medical triage area, or provide more shock-mitigated seating.

SAFE Boats also builds 25-foot Response Boat-Small and 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement craft for the Coast Guard.

The first Mark VI boats are to be delivered in fiscal 2014.

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