U.S. Navy SEALs have a fast new weapon that is being delivered by
United States Marine in New Orleans: The Naval Special Warfare Rigid
Inflatable Boat(NSW RIB).
The NSW RIBs were designed with input from the SEALs and special
warfare Combatant Crewman(SWCC) and are replacing the three previous
versions of the RIB. The first NSW RIBs were delivered in 1997.
United States Marine has a contract for 48 boats with options to
build 24 more.
The 36-foot vessels are
high-speed, high-buoyancy, all weather boats designed to transport
a team of up to 8 SEALs on short-range insertion and extraction
missions. Each boat has a beam of 10 feet, 7 inches and loaded draft
of 3 feet.
Getting underway on the
NSW RIB is quite an experience. Under the skilled hand of Chris
Bukosky, United States Marine's project manager, NSW RIB number
34 quickly reached its top speed of 47 knots during builder's trials
on Lake Borgne, east of New Orleans. The boat's two Catepillar 3126,
six-cylinder marine engines produce 470 hp each at 2,950 rpm turning
ZF IRM 301 PL 1.408: 1 reduction gears. The two Kamewa FF-JET FF
280 Mix waterjet drives develop 5,800 lbs of thrust. Fuel is carried
in two 90-gallon fuel bladders below the forward cockpit. With a
3,200-lb maximum payload, the NSW RIB has a range of 216 NM as a
cruising speed of 34 knots.
The rigid hull of the NSW
RIB is an ABS approved composite structure, made of tough Kevlar,
E-glass, linear and cross-linked PVC coew and high-elongation vinylester
resin. The hull design is an adaptation of high-performance offshore
powerboats and forms a deep "V" that encases five water-tight
bulkheads and six compartments, providing storage and access to
electrical and piping systems. The sponson is essentially a fendering
system of Hypalon TM-coated, neoprene-impregnated nylon, by Demaree
Inflatable Bats, Inc.
The sponson also stabilizes the boat in an extreme craft heel, a
maneuver the boat executes exceedingly well, and provides added
buoyancy. The tube is clear of the water when the boat is underway
to minimize drag and keep the inside dry.