NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) is getting ready to roll out its newest vessel in the next few months, and the shiny new boat will be able to fill a number of different roles that will make it a key asset in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Mark VI Patrol Boat is scheduled for fleet delivery beginning in June of this year, and the NECC expects to buy 10 of them from builder SAFE Boats International, which is constructing them in Tacoma, Wash., according to Cmdr. Pete Berning, branch head for coastal riverine forces at NECC.
The Mark VI Patrol Boat will be tasked with patrolling littoral areas for the purpose of force protection for both friendly and coalition forces, as well as protecting critical infrastructure.
Berning said the boat will have three main roles: security forces assistance, theater security cooperation and high-value unit shipping escort.
The patrol boat will have the firepower to be a close escort for higher value ships, whether they be merchant vessels or a warship like a destroyer. “The Mark VI can be there and travel along,” Berning said.
In addition, the vessel’s small size will make it ideal for working with smaller navies in the Southeast Asia region, allowing NECC to build partnerships with allies in the area and work directly alongside them.
“We can really start to develop low-level partnering with those navies,” Berning said.
The ship is nearly 85 feet long and can travel more than 600 nautical miles with a full load. It will have a crew of two with five personnel and an eight-person Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure team for a total of 18 people. It will also have Mk 38 Mod 2 weapons and 25 mm machine-gun mounts.