US-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has secured a new contract to build a next-generation patrol boat known as PB(X) for the US Navy.
The deal has a potential value of more than $90m and will see the company develop up to 50 PB(X) vessels, in addition to providing the navy with trailers, spares and training packages, and various technical support services.
The US Navy has so far placed an initial immediate order for 11 units of the new patrol boats.
Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard said: “PB(X) was one of the most challenging and most sought-after US military boat procurement opportunities in recent history; the result of a years-long process pitting Metal Shark’s engineering and manufacturing capabilities against multiple leading US naval architect firms and nearly all of our competitors.”
The 40ft-long PB(X) vessels will replace the existing fleet of 25ft and 34ft long force protection boats that are currently deployed with the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s Coastal Riverine Forces (CRF).
The US Navy plans to replace about 100 to 160 of its existing CRF patrol boats with the larger PB(X) vessels over the next 15 years.
PB(X) is a welded-aluminium pilothouse patrol boat powered by twin diesel inboards and water jets.
The boat is able to reach speeds of more than 35k and features ballistic protection. It can also be equipped with a wide range of crew-served and remotely operated weapons systems.
The US Navy’s new patrol boats will be manufactured at Metal Shark’s production facility in Jeanerette, Louisiana.
Metal Shark previously received an order from the navy to construct up to 13 near coastal patrol vessels (NCPVs) in June.
The boats are currently being developed at the firm’s waterfront shipyard in Franklin, Louisiana.