PB-X is a patrol boat designed by US-based shipbuilder Metal Shark Boats. Capable of operating both during the day and at night in all weather conditions, the PB-X is intended to conduct patrol, maritime security and force protection missions in green water littoral zones, such as coastal environments, major rivers, bays, ports and harbours.

The vessel was selected as the US Navy’s next-generation patrol boat for the US Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s (NECC) Coastal Riverine Forces (CRF).

The US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) issued a request for information for the informational planning of the PB-X vessel in June 2015.

A contract worth $90.27m was awarded to Metal Shark Boats for the construction of up to 50 PB-X patrol boats in October 2017. The deal also covers trailers, spares and training packages, as well as technical support.

The shipyard will initially manufacture 11 boats, worth $29.8m in total, at its production facility in Jeanerette, Louisiana, US. Deliveries are expected to be completed by March 2020.

The new PB-X patrol boats will replace the ageing fleet between 100 and 160 25ft and 34ft-long patrol boats operated by the US Navy’s CRF, over the next 15 years.

PB-X patrol vessel design and features

The PB-X patrol vessel features a new monohull with a sharp entry forward and moderate aft deadrise. The hull is designed to offer high comfort and safety in rough sea conditions.

The vessel has an overall length of 43ft, hull length of 40ft and draught of approximately 3ft. The wide waterplane area and flat aft sections ensure the boat is properly trimmed in varying sea conditions.

The craft’s wheelhouse, located amidships, is made of welded aluminium alloys. It has a dedicated access door to provide direct access to the cabin.

The boat is manned by two operators and three gunners or system operators. It can also accommodate up to four additional mission operators.

Featuring a lightweight, flexible design, the boat can be configured with a variety of mission-specific equipment. It is capable of carrying and operating MK18 Mod 1 and Mod 2 mine countermeasures underwater vehicle systems.

Armament and protection features

The new CRF PB-X patrol craft can be armed with a number of remotely operated weapons systems or crew-served .50 calibre machine guns.

The bow section can be outfitted with either a remote-stabilised weapon station or a crew-served Browning M2 .50 calibre heavy machine gun to defend lightly armoured boats and low-flying aircraft.

Up to three M2 .50 calibre weapon mounts with 360° rotation are mounted in the aft to destroy enemy targets.

The aft section is also equipped with two Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) to transmit information over long distances.

The shock-mitigating seats offer a comfortable ride for the personnel by minimising the effects of shocks.

The boat incorporates ballistic protection features to protect occupants, propulsion and control system from 7.62mm ball rounds.

Navigation

The PB-X patrol vessel comes with a range of navigation and communications systems, including an automatic identification system (AIS), marine radar, VHF radio, marine GPS chart plotters, Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), siren and law enforcement lights.

PB-X patrol craft propulsion and performance

The new patrol boat will be powered by a compact, fuel-efficient propulsion system comprising two diesel inboards driving water jet propulsors that burn JP-5 and JP-8 fuel.

The vessel offers a maximum speed of 35k and can sail at speeds between 10k and 12k during escort missions. It can stay afloat for up to 12 hours and is capable of travelling a distance of 250nmi.

The craft’s hull is capable of handling Sea State 3 at top speed.

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