A component of the war in Ukraine is maritime operations as Ukraine has struggled to maintain control of its waters and rivers against the Russian invasion. The recent evacuation of Russian forces from Snake Island off the coast of Ukraine indicated a shift in the initiative to Ukraine in protecting their coastline and rivers. Now that Ukraine has demonstrated the ability to engage targets at close and medium ranges, the US has agreed to backfill some of the capabilities Ukraine needs to maintain this hard-won control over its own waters.
The U.S. pledged $1 billion in new military assistance through both presidential drawdown authority and the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Among the various items included was a package of river patrol boats and maritime combat craft including two 35-foot, small-unit riverine craft; six 40-foot maritime combat craft; and ten 34-foot, Dauntless Sea Ark patrol boats.
The 35-foot, Small Unit Riverine Craft (SURC)
The Small Unit Riverine Craft (SURC), replaced the Rigid Raiding Craft, used by Navy and Marine forces which need a small craft designed to provide tactical waterborne lift in conducting conventional Military Operations in a riverine environment or near the beach. A SURC provides the USMC with a boat capable of transporting 13 infantry in support of operations on various waterways and in various conditions on the open sea. The vessel combines mobility, speed, endurance, firepower, payload, and survivability, along with command and control capabilities to support sustained marine operations.
The SURC is a rocket and can go from zero to 25 knots in 15 seconds. With a top speed of 40 knots means troops can ingress and egress with great speed. Equipped with twin 440 horsepower six-cylinder diesel engines, it’s also fuel efficient with a range of 250 nautical miles.
As for onboard equipment the SURC is fitted with;
Global Positioning System (GPS) capability for position location
Combat Net Radio Systems (CNR) systems
It used the current universal weapons mounts and has pintle adaptors for tactical vehicles system characteristics
It can be beached bow first on shorelines of sand, silt, mud or loose rock at up to 10 knots without damage.
If it gets shot up it will remain afloat for crew survival.
It can also be transported by medium-lift helicopters ashore or at sea.
For Ukraine, this boat will most likely be employed by their own Special Operations Forces or their Marines for raids, evacuations, moving reinforcements, and for security off the beach, in harbors, and for patrolling rivers.
The SURC is produced by Raytheon’s Naval & Maritime Integrated Systems(Does Raytheon make everything?)
Metal Shark, 40-foot Maritime Combat Craft
The Metal Shark 40′ Defiant is a welded-aluminum pilothouse patrol boat designed by Metal Shark in Jeanerette, Louisiana. It’s actually
43 ft but who’s counting?
The sharp angular profiled boat is powered by twin diesel inboards and water jets achieving a 35+ knot sprint speed with superb dynamic stability in a range of sea conditions. It is also very fuel efficient at 10-15 knot cruise speeds which are the speeds these types of craft typically operate at during operations. The Defiant incorporates ballistic protection and can be armed with a range of crew-served and remotely operated weapons.
For Ukraine, this vessel can be used by police, special forces, and their navy for a variety of purposes. Given the Minnesota-type weather in the country, the enclosed cockpit and heating will allow it to operate even in winter. Its all-metal construction also makes it a good platform for various radars, radios, optics, and weapons like heavy machine guns that require more robust mounts.
34-foot Sea Ark Dauntless-class patrol boats
SeaArk Marine of Monticello, Arkansas builds a range of metal boats from 18-85 feet for the government and state law enforcement agencies. They are operated by the US Navy, Army Corps of Engineers, US Coast Guard, and other agencies. They feature Deep-V hull designs for offshore patrol, law enforcement, search and rescue and personnel transport.
With a 40-foot length and a 12-foot beam, they draw a shallow draft of 2-3 feet. Equipped with Twin Cummins 380 bhp diesel engines they can make 35-45 knots depending on how much weight is piled on them in terms of weapons and personnel.
The Dauntless was replaced by the Defiant 40′ mentioned above which probably means the US is continuing the practice of giving cast-off and discontinued weapons to Ukraine, which to be honest has been put to very good use so far. It also should be noted that the costs represented in these military aid figures do not represent the actual value of these weapons and materials currently, but their value when bought new.
The relatively scant number of boats(just 18) will expand its riverine and harbor security capabilities but it really needs more than 100 in total to do the job properly.