VESSEL REVIEW | Durable combat reconnaissance watercraft for US Defense Department

MARITIME SECURITY WEEK
Photo: Ullman Dynamics

The Australia-New Zealand partnership The Whiskey Project Group has unveiled a new watercraft developed specifically for potential use by the US Department of Defense.

Designated as a Multi-Mission Reconnaissance Craft (MMRC), the vessel was the result of a two-year collaboration between The Whiskey Project and US Marine Corps (USMC) veterans. It was built to meet the DOD’s strategic maritime modernisation to address near peer and evolving threats, with specific emphasis on the USMC’s pivot to the Indo-Pacific.

The MMRC was developed to provide manoeuvre from the sea to support reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance, surveillance, collections, target acquisition, interdiction, and battlespace shaping operations, all while possessing low-observable features that make it difficult to be detected by hostile forces’ sensors. USMC veterans had identified an existing Whiskey Project boat design as an ideal platform for integrating command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) sensors and weapons, whilst providing increased safety and protection for crews.

The boat, which is built to DNV and US Coast Guard Category C and B stability regulations, has an aluminium hull, a length of 31 feet (9.5 metres), a maximum draught of 2.36 feet (0.72 metres), a displacement of 14,308 pounds (6,490 kilograms), and Ullman Dynamics shock-mitigation seating for up to 10 passengers and crew. A total load of 4,436 pounds (2,012 kilograms) can be carried, and the modular design of the deck means a range of mission-specific loads can be accommodated.

Photo: The Whiskey Project Group

The vessel’s two OXE 300hp (223kW) diesel outboard engines are supplied by fuel tanks with a total capacity of 185 gallons (700 litres).

The MMRC’s hull features slam-reduction technology that can reduce shock loading on personnel and sensitive equipment by up to 40 per cent. Also built into the hull are a bow door, gaps to allow ease of ingress/egress or recovery, and integrated ballistic protection against several types of small arms fire.

The vessel is also equipped with The Whiskey Project’s proprietary technology solution that combines advanced maritime systems, sensors, and effectors with proven US in-service tactical networks and situational awareness tools. Developed by USMC technology integrator Aries Defense in partnership with The Whiskey Project, the technology is fundamentally integrated into the MMRC design, facilitating enhanced operational awareness, command and control, and coordination of multi-domain effects to provide commanders with information necessary for making time-sensitive decisions.

The vessel’s array of sensors includes a Teledyne FLIR multi-spectral sensor and an Aries Defense Vulcane dual-camera video system. These sensors’ capabilities include day/night vision, and even the operators’ displays are night vision-enabled, which means navigation data is still viewable even under low-light conditions. The vessel’s own communications and ISR sensors are designed to be augmented by tethered or untethered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to expand the operational coverage of the sensors.

Although built primarily for the intelligence-gathering role, the MMRC can be equipped with defensive capability thanks to the inclusion of swivel mounts for use with 7.62-millimetre machine guns and other crew-served automatic weapons. The two side weapon mounts are integrated into the hull while the fore and aft mounts are removable.

Photo: The Whiskey Project Group

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Multi-Mission Reconnaissance Watercraft
SPECIFICATIONS
Type of vessel:Reconnaissance vessel
Classification:DNV; US Coast Guard Category C & B
Flag:USA
Owner:US Department of Defense
Designer:The Whiskey Project Group, Australia/New Zealand
Builder:The Whiskey Project Group, Australia/New Zealand
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:31 feet (9.5 metres)
Draught:2.36 feet (0.72 metres)
Displacement:14,308 pounds (6,490 kilograms)
Capacity:4,436 pounds (2,012 kilograms)
Main engines:2 x OXE outboards, each 300 hp (223 kW)
Cameras:Teledyne FLIR; Aries Defense Vulcane
Armaments:4 x machine guns
Other equipment installed:Bow door; ballistic protection; 4 x weapons mounts
Seating:Ullman Dynamics
Type of fuel:Diesel
Fuel capacity:185 gallons (700 litres)
Crew:2
Passengers:8

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