US Special Operation Command’s Mark V fast boats are known for their daring crews and SEAL passengers. They’re also known for back-breaking bumpy rides, and for an occasional tendency to have their entire pilot house collapse when hit by a wave. SOCOM has been interested in a replacement since 2003, and the Combatant Craft, Medium Mark 1 (CCM Mk1) was originally described as that Mk.V replacement – until that iteration was canceled in April 2010. The revised and re-issued program is sold instead as a replacement for current Naval Special Warfare Rigid Inflatable Boats (NSW RIBs), to be accompanied by a future CC-Heavy counterpart that would replace the Mk.V. Until CCH arrives, however, there’s always a a possibility that CCM will wind up being the only delivered program.
The CCM competition is currently in Phase III, with a final design selection for the 10-year, $400 million contract due in 2013.
The Combatant Craft, Medium
The CCM MK 1 will be used in a variety of roles, mostly involving getting special operations troops in and out of low-to-medium threat environments. Other tasks will include special reconnaissance; combating terrorism; foreign internal defense; unconventional warfare; preparation of the environment; combating narco-terrorism; personnel recovery; and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS).
Compared with the existing Naval Surface Warfare RIB, the CCM MK1 seems set to have a low detection profile, and will probably look more like the Navy’s Riverine Command Boat, or a scaled-down Mk.V. It will be faster than the RIBs, have longer range, operate in higher sea states, be more survivable thanks to enclosed spaces and Level 4 ballistics protection, and offer “increased shock mitigation” for the crew and passengers (technically: Sed8 no more than 4.7MPa). It will also be equipped with a full suite of modern electronics, including a remote weapon station and sensors, 4 crew computer workstations, Blue Force Tracker, a DAGR jam-resistant GPS receiver, and advanced tactical radios (PSC-5D and PRC-150, eventually PRC-117G).
While SOCOM’s high-end aerial transports are all C-130 variants, the current solicitation’s specifications describe a “utilitarian go-to-war craft without the design constraints of C-130 internal air transport or airdrop.” Instead, the CCM Mk.1 will be carried in larger USAF C-17 heavy transport aircraft, and use an M1088A1 FMTV 6×6 truck as its carrier. Overall size and performance is expected to be between the current C-130 transportable/droppable NSW RIB, and the Mk.V which requires a C-5 Galaxy for the boat and associated equipment, including truck and trailer.
|SOC Craft||NSW RIB||CCM Mk.1||SOC Mk.V|
|3 crew + 9||?||6 crew +15|
|200 nautical miles||?||600 nautical miles|
|32 knots, Sea State 2||40 knots, Sea State 3||40 knots, Sea State 3|
|3,200 pounds*||?||10,000 pounds*|
* = Payload is crew & passengers, plus their equipment, which may include combat rubber raiding craft.
The craft that emerges will need a service life growth margin for future upgrades, and must be able to handle 5 hours of cruising operations (40 knots in 4 foot combined seas).
A mission reliability of no less than 80% is expected. Basically, “up and working” is more important than “easy to fix,” or “spares on hand.” Which is only to be expected, given the nature of SEAL missions. They also want the boat’s systems to be self-monitoring, reporting issues and logging data for fleet-wide analysis. Mission reliability is defined as the probability of success in completing a single 11-hour mission during a 48-hour operational mission cycle, without experiencing a mission critical failure that would force the mission to be aborted unless it’s fixed.
A materiel availability of not less than 65% is expected. Materiel availability is defined as the number of CCM Mk 1 systems ready for tasking divided by the total CCM Mk 1 systems in the inventory. As an example, at the full operational capability inventory of 30 craft, presentations show 6-month cycles of 8 craft deployed, 8 craft in squadron introduction training, 8 craft in unit level training, and 6 (4+2) craft in maintenance. Given that the 6 craft in maintenance are not ready for tasking, 20 of the remaining 24 craft (83.33%) would have to be ready for tasking, in order to meet the 30-boat fleet’s 65% minimum.
CCM’s big risk is that some of its specifications seem to demand high-end, advanced hull designs, such as semi-SWATH boats, composite construction like the “Mark V.1” MAKO, or designs like the Stiletto’s concept craft’s M-Hull. That tends to bring costs up, and margin for error down, in exchange for the possibility of a ride that really could make a difference to the mission. The program’s Industry Day was explicit about that tradeoff, saying that technical factors would trump price. Even so, the tradeoff is not an endless one, and technical risk is always a factor. Testing and deployment will reveal how, and if, Naval Special Warfare has managed to square that circle, and deliver.
Initial Operational Capability is expected by fall 2014, with full-rate production beginning that quarter as well. Full Operational Capability is slated for FY 2020.
Contracts & Key Events
April 30/14: Sub-contractors. SAIC spinoff Leidos announces an $87 million sub-contract from Oregon Iron Works for the CCM Mk1. “The contract will include production of low observable systems, integration and testing of craft tactical computing systems, full life-cycle integrated logistics support, and incremental development and upgrades.” Sources: Leidos, “Leidos Awarded Combatant Craft Medium Mk1 Subcontract”.
Feb 10/14: Winner. Oregon Iron Works, Inc. of Clackamas, OR is announced as the winner of the down-select, and becomes the sole provider under the maximum $400 deal through December 2021. An immediate $17.5 million order is placed for test article refurbishment, as well as support for the purchase of long lead items and low rate initial production units.
The firm won after the government evaluated IOW and US Marine’s test articles during Phase III of this evaluation, and provided a final opportunity to modify each proposal. The majority of the work will be performed in Clackamas, Oregon. This contract was originally solicited through the Web as a 100% set aside for small business in accordance per FAR 19.502-2, with 6 proposals received by US Special Operations Command in Tampa, FL (H9222-11-D-0080). See also Oregon Iron Works, “Oregon Iron Works Awarded Contract to Provide the Combatant Craft Medium Mark One”. See also Oregon Iron Works, “Oregon Iron Works Awarded Contract to Provide the Combatant Craft Medium Mark One”.
Oregon Iron Works wins
Sept 29/11: U.S. Special Operations Command issues 2 Phase III contracts for its CCM Mk.1, as 100% small business set-asides: $7.0 million each to Oregon Iron Works, Inc. in Clackamas, OR (H9222-11-D-0080), and to United States Marine, Inc. in Gulfport, MS (H92222-11-D-0079). Both vendors already build special operations boats. Oregon Iron Works has designed the high-speed, very low profile “Sea Lion II”. USMI’s most interesting design is their VSV “needle-nose” boat, whose design improves performance in waves.
Technically, these are indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contracts, with options up to the maximum order of 30 boats and $400 million over 10 years. In other words, the winner will simply have additional delivery orders awarded within this contract. Phase III work will be performed concurrently in Clackamas, OR and Gulfport, MS until December 2012. The government will test and evaluate the testing boats that each vendor provides, and make a final down select decision in 2013.
* Special Operations Technology (2009, Vol. 7 #4) – Fast Boats, Piracy and the Global War on Terror