Photo: Lphot Robert Oates.

The Watercat M18 Armored Modular Craft (AMC) is a most modern and advanced combat boat and landing craft for the Finnish Marines and Special Operation Forces to fulfil versatile requirements of the future combat support and landing craft. Twelve Watercat M18 AMC vessels are commissioned in the Finnish Defense Forces during 2014–2016.

The Watercat M18 AMC is designed for high-speed operations against sea- or land borne assaults and aggressions. The Watercat M18 Combat Support Service Vessel (CSSV) is suitable for variety of maritime operations and tasks such as combat support, landing, maritime interdiction, ISR, patrol, escort, evacuation as well as high end war fighting military operations. The vessel can perform multi-day mission duration, permitting the opportunity for station keeping and provide a presence in a region. It has been especially designed for operations in the littoral, confined, and shallow water environment worldwide with an effective heating and air-conditioning system allowing operations in heat and extreme cold, arid, or humid climates.

In the design, special attention has been paid to vessel’s easy and cost-effective maintenance during its life cycle. Thus, the vessel’s operational sustainability is very high. Vessel can carry up to 30 soldiers with their equipment’s on shock absorbed seats in ballistic protected and fully enclosed troop compartment and wheelhouse. Vessel’s manually operated hatches and bow ramp ensure fast deployment, loading and unloading of troops with their equipment’s.

The M18 can be configured to a modular weaponized platform equipped with state-of-the-art navigation and compact CMS/C4I systems as well as versatile Remote Weapon Systems and CBRN system. Close support 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns, 40mm grenade launchers, lightweight SSM/SAM, sea mines, lightweight torpedoes, depth charges, Variable Depth Sonars (VDS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) depending on the type of operation.

In the design, special attention has been paid to vessel’s modularity and combat survivability. The M18 has benefitted technologies of unmanned surface vessels (USV), interference-protected information and electrical systems and solutions (EMI/EMC) as well as solutions for system to ship and system to system integration.

Like its sister vessels M12 and M14 the low draft in high speed (approximately 1.3m) enables the vessel to operate also in disaster and crisis areas such as river and estuary environments either landing on beaches or on an unimproved area.

The hull is made of marine-grade aluminium and the construction is all welded. The propulsion is two waterjets powered by two diesel engines giving a top speed over 40k with full load. Sprint speed for the lightweight vessel can be reached over 45k. The waterjet system gives the boat excellent maneuverability and when necessary, the boat can be stopped rapidly from full ahead. An essential advantage in coastal use is that, due to the waterjet propulsion, the bottom of the boat is perfectly smooth which enables the boat to operate safely in very shallow waters. Sustainability and combat Survivability in all scenarios of its operating environment is paramount.