Mark V Special Operations Craft

Mark V Special Operations Craft
June 13 21:13 2010 Print This Article

The Mark V SOC (Special Operations Craft) is a small marine security/patrol/transport boat manufactured by Halter Marine Inc (Gulfport, Mississippi). The Mark V is one of the newest additions to the United States Naval Special Warfare Command.

The development of the Mark V SOC was very fast, taking only 18 months from the initiation of the program to actual possession of the first boat on September 4, 1995. The USSOCOM Contracting Directorate and a dedicated Program Management team executed this effort in record time, specifically because USSOCOM was given Agency level contracting authority. The contract was fulfilled when full operational capability was met in 1999. In all, 20 Mk V SOC units were delivered to USSOCOM at a unit cost of $3.7 million. The Mark V SOC deployment was not without its problems, including instances of the windshield and entire pilothouse assembly collapsing on wave impact. However, these issues have been resolved and the Mark V SOC has markedly improved maritime special operations capabilities.

The original Mk V SOC was designed to mitigate the lack of any specifically conceived SEAL insertion craft. Prior to the Mk V SOC, SEALs were transported on any form of surface transport available, often resorting to taping lawn furniture to the deck of the available craft. The original Mk V competition included three different designs, one Kevlar composite monohull, one aluminum monohull and one aluminum catamaran hull. The winning design was the aluminum monohull. The Mk V SOC specifically incorporated a modular shock mitigated seating design to minimize injury. However, after much training and operational usage, the aluminum monohul was observed to tend to transmit the impact with the water’s surface to the occupants of the boat more readily than a composite hull might. Therefore a new replacement design was sought.

Mark V Special Operations Craft

The Mark V has the capacity to carry sixteen fully equipped SEALs to missions 500 miles (800 km) away from where they are based. They ride on seats that are designed for maximum comfort and shock mitigation in high seas or heavy maneuvering, and allows occupants to either stand or sit. With a beam of 17 1/2 feet, the craft has enough room to carry four CRRCs with six outboard motors (2 spares) and fuel, to deploy forces from a clandestine distance. The ramp on the stern allows SEAL teams to ride their CRRC’s right up the stern of the boat, for fast extraction and insertion.
To support the SOF missions in the medium to low threat environment, the Mk Vs are outfitted with five gun mounts for small caliber weapons supporting any combination of: M-2 .50cal heavy machine guns, M240 or the M60 7.62 mm machine guns or Mk19 40 mm automatic grenade launchers. Together these provide 360 degrees of firing coverage. To defend against aircraft the craft have a station for firing the Stinger Man-portable Air Defense System (MANPADS). Later improvements include mounting stations for GAU-17 Miniguns, MK 95 Twin 50 cal machine gun, MK 38 chain gun and Mk48 25 mm guns. Personal small arms of the crew and passengers can also be used to defend the craft.

The Mark V has many special features, besides its weapons, that make it more survivable while delivering sailors to their missions. Its angular design and low silhouette reduces its radar signature making it harder to spot and detect. Its V-hull design gives it good handling qualities in rough water as well as speed and shallow draft (four feet when cruising on-step). Its twin MTU 12-cylinder TE94 Diesel engines give it power and reliability and, coupled with the two K50S water jets, provides fast acceleration for operations near shore or in shallow waters as well as cutting down on the rooster tail effect that can make fast boats easier to see and track.

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