The US Marine Forces Reserve (MFR) is working to acquire commercially available small expeditionary watercraft to support the service’s Force Design 2030 initiative.

The MFR is procuring the new watercraft in partnership with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, using a Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) solicitation process.

Through this competitive phased approach, the DIU and MFR will shortlist four potential watercraft by analysing vendors’ presentations and reviewing the materials.

DIU project manager Heather Ichord said: “The DIU team was introduced to MFR small-craft initiative through Marine Innovation Unit and from there we started with 34 vendors in August.

“Our evaluation team down-selected to 12, we heard 11 presentations, and then we were able to see, and get on water with four vendors.”

The entire acquisition process, including conceptual idea, research, pitches, decisions and upcoming small craft selection has taken place in about five months.

In the next phase, the US Marine Corps (USMC) will award contract to the chosen vendors and then perform concept and limited engineering experimentation over the next 18 to 24 months.

The selected small craft will also provide live-force experimentation and analysis opportunity in the field of littoral water operations, expeditionary advanced base operations, reconnaissance and counter reconnaissance missions and other management operations.

The latest rapid acquisition effort will coincide with the approval for MFR to retain and restructure 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion’s (AA Bn) two companies into Littoral Craft Companies to assume small watercraft mission.

Recently, 4th AA Bn leadership also hosted demonstration for four separate tactical watercraft vendors at the unit’s Reserve Training Center, Tampa, Florida.

The USMC is also developing new expeditionary fuel dispensing system to increase fuel sustainment capability.