Navy’s newest PBs seem to be moving right along

Sailors assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron Two (CRS-2), conduct a live-fire weapons exercise on a Mark VI Patrol Boat in Santa Rita, Guam, Sept. 30, 2016. CRS-2 is assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 75, the primary expeditionary task force responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving engineering and construction, and underwater construction in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez)

The U.S. Navy Mark VI patrol boat is a very well-armed successor to classic PT boats of WWII (sans torpedoes), Nasty boats of Vietnam, and Cold War-era PB Mk IIIs. The Mk IIIs, a heavily  armed 65-foot light gunboat, was replaced by the Mk V SOC (Special Operations Craft), a somewhat lighter armed 82-foot go fast and the 170-foot Cyclone-class patrol ships.

Now the Navy coughed up the Mk VI back in 2012, and plan on obtaining as many as 48 of these boats and are deployed in two separate strategic areas of operation: Commander, Task Force (CTF) 56 in Bahrain and CTF 75 in Guam.

161104-N-ZC343-293 PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 4, 2016) A U.S. Navy Mark VI patrol boat wards off a simulated attacker during show of force strait transit exercise involving aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and Carrier Strike Group 1. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Joe Kane/Released)

161104-N-ZC343-293 PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 4, 2016) A U.S. Navy Mark VI patrol boat wards off a simulated attacker during show of force strait transit exercise involving aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and Carrier Strike Group 1. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Joe Kane/Released)

At $6-million a pop they are twice as expensive as USCG 87-foot WPBs and with much shorter legs, but they have huge teeth. Notice the 25mm MK38 Mod 2 forward and aft, the M2 RWS mount atop the wheelhouse, and the four crew-served mounts amidships and aft for Dillion mini-guns, M240Gs, MK19 grenade launchers, or other party favors. Of course these would be toast in a defended environment like the China Sea, but are gold for choke points like the Persian Gulf, anti-pirate ops, littoral warfare against asymmetric threats etc.

They also provide a persistent capability to patrol shallow littoral areas for the purpose of force protection for U.S. and coalition forces, as well as safeguarding critical infrastructure.

Sailors assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 3 Mark VI boat crew provided exercise support during USS Carl Vinson’s (CVN 70) Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX), Nov. 4, marking a first for the patrol boat.

Operating off the California coast, the MK VI crew assisted with the COMPTUEX, which aligned with the squadron’s ongoing pre-deployment training.

“The event also coincided with our Final Evaluation Problem as we reach the end of our training cycle and prepare to step off for the squadron’s upcoming deployment,” said Cmdr. Mark Postill, commanding officer, CRS 3.

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