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Metal Shark gets contract for Navy's next-generation patrol boats

Oct 2, 2017 09:46 AM

The Louisiana builder will deliver up to 50 of the 40-foot PB(X) vessels

Courtesy Metal Shark

The following is the text of a news release from Metal Shark:

(JEANERETTE, La.) — Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has been awarded the contract to produce the U.S. Navy’s next-generation patrol boat, the PB(X).

This award is the culmination of a multi-year process by the Navy to select the replacement for the fleet of force protection boats currently in use with Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s Coastal Riverine Forces (CRF). Subject to annual appropriations, the Navy intends to replace approximately 100 to 160 of its existing 25-foot and 34-foot CRF patrol boats with the larger and more modern PB(X) platform over the next 15 years.

The Navy has placed an initial, immediate order for 11 of the new vessels. Under the terms of the award, potentially worth over $90 million, Metal Shark will build up to 50 PB(X) vessels for the Navy, along with trailers, spares and training packages, and technical support.

The winning PB(X) design is a 40-foot, welded-aluminum pilothouse patrol boat designed by Metal Shark’s in-house engineering team. Leveraging its extensive experience with military patrol craft of similar size, Metal Shark designed a bespoke craft ideally suited to accommodate all mission parameters.

Immediately identifiable thanks to its chiseled, angular profile and a unique faceted hull, the PB(X) is powered by twin diesel inboards and waterjets. Metal Shark designed a moderate aft deadrise, wide-waterplane, sharp-entry hull form that not only achieves 35-plus-knot sprint speeds while displaying superb dynamic stability in a range of conditions, but also offers enhanced handling and greatly reduced operating cost at the 10- to 15-knot escort and cruise speeds where the vessel will spend the bulk of its operational life. The PB(X) features ballistic protection and can be armed with a range of crew-served and remotely operated weapons systems.  

In order to fully optimize the hull and propose a more mature design, Metal Shark built a PB(X) running prototype hull, designated PB(X)-P1, which was extensively tested in a wide range of operating conditions. This test platform became the basis for Metal Shark’s resistance, powering, and weight testing, and determined the final configuration proposed to the Navy.

The PB(X) will be built at Metal Shark’s Jeanerette, La., production facility, which specializes in the rapid, serialized assembly of military patrol boats. Other significant military fleet builds currently underway at the facility include ongoing production of the Navy’s 32-foot force protection boat-medium (FPB-M) and 26-foot high speed maneuverable surface target (HSMST), and the U.S. Coast Guard’s 29-foot response boat-small (RBS).

This is the second major U.S. Navy contract awarded to Metal Shark in 2017. In June, Metal Shark was selected to build up to 13 near coastal patrol vessels (NCPVs), for the Navy. These 85-foot patrol boats are being produced at Metal Shark’s Franklin, La., waterfront shipyard.

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