The UK Royal Navy announced its induction of the Commando Raiding Craft (CRC), a re-designed version of the Royal Marines’ Offshore Raiding Craft – commonly known in the Corps as the ‘ORC’.

ORCs are an enduring fast boat used by the Royal Marines for troop insertion and patrols. The craft are 9.1m in length with a displacement of 5 tonnes.

There are two variants: a fire support variant and a troop-carrying variant. While the former carries four personnel, three machine guns and a 40mm grenade launcher the latter is capable of carrying eight troops.

Until December 2023, the Royal Marines had operated 35 ORCs until the UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced that 23 units will be donated to Ukraine – a loss of 65% of its ORC fleet – along with two Sandown-class mine-hunting vessels.

“The current fleet of craft were ageing and had limited range and capacity,” explained Major Joe Brown, from the Commando Force Acquisition team.

“An opportunity was taken to revamp this fleet to deliver a considerable upgrade to the current craft through the development of in-service hulls,” he added.

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“It is an example of developing for the future through maximising the potential within existing capabilities.”

CRC features

The commanding officer of 47 Commando, Colonel William Norcott, noted: “We are really excited to have something that does what it says on the tin,” in contrast to the legacy ORCs.

Re-painted in grey for greater concealment, the CRC also uses new engines providing increased range –more than 200 nautical miles – and speed – up to 40 knots – and a new configuration with driving position moved from the back to front for better manoeuvrability.

It also employs new cooling systems, mast, trim for better protection from sea conditions and a sophisticated electronic suite for communications and navigation.

The CRC has three crew who rotate on long journeys but also space to launch drones, carry payloads and to store a smaller Inshore raiding craft to deploy on some landings if required.

“Crucially, this is a life extension and upgrade to the ORC and, although it is more than just a stop-gap,” the Navy stated. “In the long run Commando Forces are developing a boat that will replace the ORC, CRC and larger landing craft vehicle personnel.”

In the meantime, CRC is already deployed on operations – namely with 47 Commando’s 539 Raiding Squadron and the Littoral Response Group (South) task force in the Mediterranean.

“The CRC in this role, with the new communications architecture fitted to enable rapid information flow, is ably demonstrating a broader utility than simply moving people from ship to shore,” said Major Dan Wake, Officer Commanding of 539 Raiding Squadron.