Well, it appears that the stealth speedboat mentioned last Friday isn’t some sort of stealth snorkel for a massive ballistic missile sub like I didn’t think earlier.
It is, in fact, the SEALION (SEAL Insertion, Observation, Neutralization). Special Forces always get all the cool stuff.
As SEALION is a technology demonstrator, it is not necessarily headed for a particular acquisition program or even a particular sponsor, although we work very closely with special operations command and some applicability in the deployable vehicle area for surface warfare. And both of those are sponsors of SFAC.
The technologies under review would have applications to a number of programs within Naval Surface Warfare and USSOCOM. Bosworth explained, “There are several things we want to examine in this project. One is seakeeping. In other words, the ability of a fast planning craft to be in rough seas and not harm the occupants. Second, there is a degree of wave piercing that occurs due to the low, sharp bow; this also helps with seakeeping. Third, we were also examining enclosing the personnel aboard. Some of the current craft have open operating stations and there are potential benefits to the warfighters in being on the boat for a long time and being enclosed–they should be better prepared to perform their mission. We are also examining overall size–in particular we kept the craft sized so that it could be loaded onto a C-17. We are going to look at what capabilities we would gain by relieving the C-17 size restriction and making the craft a bit larger. And finally, we are looking at modularity.”
If you check out the article, you will see that the boat pictured is almost certainly this boat. That article is from May 2004, and another article from last October adds this:
The SEALION I, delivered in January 2003, is based in the Norfolk, Va., area, where it has been tested by Naval Special Warfare Group Four in the Hampton Roads waterways and the coastal Atlantic area. The 71-foot-long, aluminum-hull, high-speed watercraft is designed to demonstrate new technology in advanced hull forms, human systems engineering and interface, and modular mission packages.
“The design incorporates innovative construction techniques for vessels that will operate in the littoral,” Warring said. The boat is capable of operations in harbors and rivers as well.
SEALION II is scheduled for delivery to the Navy by December 2005. The second SEALION, as was the first, is being fabricated by Oregon Iron Works Inc. (OIW), under a $6 million contract from the Carderock Division in Bethesda, Md. No additional SEALION boats are planned.
So, while this one could be the second boat either before final delivery or delivered early, it’s more than likely the first boat.
The article goes on to mention that while the SEALION isn’t intended to replace the current Mk V Special Operations Craft, lessons learned from the SEALION program could be incorporated into the Mk V’s successor.
I also noted this at Defense Tech.