The Swedish combat boat Combat Boat 90H is being tested on the Amazon River. This model is very successful in coastal marine and river operations.
The market for river vessels designed to solve military and security tasks is very diverse, it has a fairly wide selection of all kinds of models. While most focus on small special forces and high-speed patrol boats, Colombia, which has the most experience in this area, also relies on medium-sized armored vessels to support its small boats.
As for river operations, here some fleets and shipyards have rich experience, because many conflicts often occurred in territories with large rivers of strategic importance. During the Cold War, the Vietnam War was at the center of attention, and the Mekong River became the main decoration for such operations. The experience was gained and even applied by some countries, as a result of which the need for high-speed and / or well-protected ships increased. For assault, patrol and special operations, high-speed maneuvering boats with protection and moderate firepower were needed; for support, larger, well-protected vessels are needed. At the moment, they can be divided mainly into four groups: rigid-hull inflatable boats; light vessels with a rigid hull; Medium river ships and hovercraft.
River operations are common in asymmetric conflicts, mainly in the fight against partisans. Walking near the coast, where the enemy can easily hide, slow-moving vessels are very vulnerable to ambushes, they need better protection, armor, heavy weapons and “escort services” of smaller boats.
Needless to say, the main river fleet is operated by countries with large rivers plus the US Navy (where to go). However, many coastal vessels used for other tasks could be suitable for river operations, having flat hulls, high speed, good maneuverability and other useful properties. Most countries still operate obsolete ships (part donated), including relics of the Vietnam War, as is the case with Thailand and Venezuela. Others operate antique vessels that are 70 years old or older, and some rely on non-military platforms with or without light weapons, often suitable only for logistics. Finally, some of the vessels described below have a dual purpose, operating on the high seas and in closed waters.
Guardian boat of the 25th shipyard Boston Whaler serves in the Colombian Marines. Guardian boats are widely used in the fleets and marines of many countries of the world.
USA. Of many, one
Among American manufacturers, offering many small-tonnage vessels of various purposes, SAFE shipyard boasts a wide range of patrol boats operating in various fleets. Among them are three boats specially designed for river operations. The multi-tasking RPB platform (Riverine Patrol Boat) is designed to provide tactical mobility and fire support for river and coastal operations in contact with the enemy. It has a housing with a flat bottom, dual onboard diesel engines, two water jets, a bow door with a power drive, support for machine guns and optional reservations.
The fully enclosed RCB platform (Riverine Command Boat) is designed for operational control and fire support operations in inland waters and in the coastal zone during combat operations. The platform is based on the Swedish boat Combat Boat 90, of which six are operated in the US Navy.
A larger version of these platforms is the patrol boat Mk VI RV next generation, which is part of fleet U.S. Navy Expeditionary Force Command, its delivery began in 2014. The task of the 26-meter-long vessel is to provide combat commanders with the possibility of patrolling shallow coastal zones. Two diesel engines and water cannons are installed on the boat, at full load, they allow to reach speeds of more than 30 knots.
The Brunswick Group, one of the most successful suppliers of light river patrol vessels in recent years, has sold its boats to many countries. Starting from the Boston Whaler GUARDIAN (4,6-8,2 meters, with a choice of engines, support arms, seats) and larger boats of the JUSTICE series (several options, 6,1-11,3 meters) to high-speed boats IMPACT RIB, D-COLLAR and SENTRY with aluminum cases.
Swiftships builds specialized river vessels, selling a large number of them to Africa and Latin America. Currently, its main river platform is the aluminum boat ANACONDA SOCR (Special Operations Craft Riverine) with diesel engines and two water jets, with a speed of over 50 knots. It can carry 6-14 people in full gear, has a nose ramp, it can accommodate up to five machine guns. The larger 11-meter-long RAC (Riverine Assault Craft) boat is in service with the United States Marine Corps and has similar design characteristics: it can carry 15 fully equipped soldiers and has ballistic protection in accordance with Level 3a.
Metal Shark also designed a number of platforms specifically for river operations: the rugged, low draft draft patrol boats 21 and 24 of the River can withstand harsh operating conditions. Model 24 Riverine is manufactured for customers from the US Department of Defense and is currently operated in Latin America, performing tasks of border protection and the fight against drug trafficking. Model 24 is powered by a Yanmar 415 HP diesel engine and a Hamilton 274 water cannon with integrated cooling system and hydraulic traction reverser.
Shaldag MkII patrol boat Israel Shipyards operated by Argentine coast guard since 2018
Willard Marine also offers a variety of river patrol vessels with a length of 6,7, 8,2 and 9,1 meters. The first two have a fiberglass body and outboard engines, and the third is made of aluminum and equipped with an outboard engine.
Silver Ships (Mobile, AL) also has small high-speed patrol vessels in its portfolio, of which the AMBAR series is best suited for river operations: depending on the model and configuration, the length varies from 6,1 to 20 meters and engine power from 300 to 1400 h.p.
Suncraft has developed a line of high-speed patrol boats and interception boats, including MANTA MKII ASD, PIRANHA ASD, and RAPTOR, to match today's fighting space. The 13-meter-long RAPTOR SWOC (Shallow Water Operating Craft) multi-purpose boat meets the requirements for small-sitting landing ships. The basic configuration includes two MAN diesel engines with a capacity of 550 hp. each, which allows with a half load to develop a maximum speed of up to 35 knots.
SeaArk from Arkansas is also building a wide range of small river vessels for civilian and military purposes, which are operated by the US Navy and other foreign fleets. The main product of a military standard is designated DAUNTLESS 34; more than 120 of these ships were delivered to the Navy.
Shipyard United States Marine, Inc. (USMI) delivered 12 Riverine Assault Boats (RAB) 10 meter long US Navy boats. They are made of aluminum, equipped with two Yanmar 6LY2A-STP diesels with a capacity of 440 hp. and two Hamilton HJ292 water cannons, allowing to reach speeds of up to 40 knots. The boat accommodates six people, while the Special Operations Craft Riverine (SOCR) model, based on the same hull, can accommodate up to 8 passengers. The company also offers an 11-meter Naval Special Warfare RIB boat with two Caterpillar or Cummins QSB 6.7 diesel engines and KaMeWa or Rolls Royce water jets.
Safehaven Marine's BARRACUDA during testing. The boat can be equipped with various weapons on the roof of the cabin and the rear deck
The Swedish shipyard Doksta Varvet is a major manufacturer of river and shore patrol boats, and many countries have bought its successful Combat Boat 90H platform. This high-speed landing boat with an aluminum hull, seriously reinforced for landing on an unprepared shore (with a narrow bow ramp), is capable of carrying 20 soldiers and cargo at a speed of more than 20 knots. In addition to boats built for the Swedish and Malaysian fleets and manufactured under license in the USA, there are also special options for the Greek, Malaysian and Mexican fleets. The Mexican shipyard Astimar built them under license and developed improved options, for example, ACUARIO and POLARIS II.
The vessel is equipped with two Scania DSI diesel engines of 14 kW and two KaMeWa FF water jets. The weapon system includes a 460 mm machine gun or a 12,7 mm turret grenade launcher and a twin 40 mm machine gun in front of the helmsman. In addition, the SV 12,7H boat can take on board 90 tons of mines or the modified RBS 2,8 HELLFIRE missile system. The 17 mm manual loader can be replaced with stabilized remotely controlled weapons. Currently, the possibility of installing a double-barrel 12,7-mm mortar complex AMOS is being studied.
The Spanish shipyard Asis in its portfolio has various models of semi-rigid boats for river operations with aluminum hulls and inflatable seats with a length of 8, 9,5, 12 and 12,5 meters, which can take up to two 12,7 mm machine guns, and on the largest models can accommodate up to 15 seats. Depending on the model, outboard or stationary engines can accelerate the boat to 70 knots. Another Spanish company, Rodman, produces a series of light patrol vessels for coastal and river operations, including models 38, 55 and 111.
Safehaven Marine Irish Shipyard offers a coastal and river version of the BARRACUDA high-speed assault landing ship, capable of carrying up to 16 fighters who are deployed on shock-absorbing seats. Water jets and a small draft of 75 centimeters allow you to perform tasks on rivers and inland waters, as well as in coastal waters. You can install the main armament of two types: either an open turret with a 12,7 mm machine gun / 40 mm grenade launcher, or a turret with drives with a 7,62 mm machine gun. Removable legs are mounted on the aft deck and allow the installation of additional machine guns of 7,62 mm or 12,7 mm caliber. The landing ramp is located in the bow.
The French shipyard Raidco Marine manufactures a variety of patrol boats for river operations, from rigid inflatable boats 2,24-3,35 meters long to rigid hull vessels 3,6-11 meters long.
Damen also has a range of rigid hull inflatable boats 7,5-12 meters long with outboard and stationary engines in its portfolio, these are models with the designation from RHIB 750 to 1200. It also offers boats with rigid hulls 10,9 and 14,5 in length. XNUMX meters for interception, made of aluminoborosilicate alkali-free glass and carbon fiber-reinforced epoxy plastic.
The Fassmer SFB 10.1 rigid hull inflatable boat with a length of 10 meters can accommodate up to 15 people, it has a deep v-shaped hull for optimal driving performance, a flexible seating layout and a central steering console. The casing is made of high-quality composite materials and equipped with a multi-chamber inflatable balloon with sliding mount for easy replacement of individual sections.
The Italian company RB Design manufactures various rigid hull inflatable boats, as well as rigid hull boats for coastal and river operations from 3 to 24 meters in length, many of which are already delivered to a number of fleets.
Designed for onshore operations, Lurssen's FIB 25 can also be used for river applications; It has a draft of 1,2 meters and a length of 27 meters, and thanks to two diesels and two water jets, the boat can reach speeds of up to 40 knots.
BAEM Systems' Halmatic Shipyard manufactures a range of high-speed inflatable boats for river and special operations plus a rigid hull boat for assault groups. The latter has two options with a length of 5,2 and 6,5 meters, both of which are operated in the British Navy; while the Pacific 24 and 950 are also in the lineup, the latter is designed for special forces. BAE Systems is also building a Combat Support Boat for the British Army, designed for shallow water.
In the photo, a PAF-P patrol boat of the Cotecmar shipyard of the Colombian fleet with a Bell 212 helicopter landing on it. Based on this project, the company is developing a new vessel together with Brazilian Emgerpron and Peruvian SIMA
Latin American Way
In Colombia, the Cotecmar shipyard has extensive experience in building river vessels for the Colombian and Brazilian fleets. Three flagship platforms stand out in the line. The first under the designation LPR 40 is a 12-meter high-speed patrol boat made of aluminum. The boat has a closed cabin and is armed with three 12,7 mm (or two grenade launchers) and two 7,62 mm machine guns, equipped with twin engines and two water cannons. The second model, a light support boat PAF-L with a length of 30 meters, accommodates a crew of 14 people and 28 paratroopers. Finally, the 40,3 meter long PAF-P was designed to support larger fleets of small vessels. The crew is 31 people, it can accommodate 39 soldiers, there is a helipad and a small medical cabin for four places. The armament complex includes four M60 machine guns, three coaxial 12,7 mm machine guns and one grenade launcher.
In Brazil (Emgepron) and Peru (SIMA), the Patrullero Amazonico patrol boat, armed with a 25-mm cannon, grenade launcher and four 12,7-mm machine guns, is being developed for the fleets of all three countries based on the PAF-P model. The length of the vessel is 53,1 meters, among other things, it can carry a standard 20-foot container.
The Peruvian SIMA has already built two river vessels 43,5 meters long for the Peruvian fleet, the crew of these vessels is 29 people and the passenger capacity is 20 people.
Another Colombian shipyard, Eduardoho, is also building light river patrol boats (models 195, 260, 320, 380 and 480), all operated by the Colombian fleet and fleets of several Central American countries, including Costa Rica and Panama. Model 195 6 meters long is equipped with two outboard engines and racks for one 12,7 mm and two 7,62 mm machine guns; models 260 and 320 also with two outboard engines 8 and 10 meters long, respectively, can take on board two 12,7 mm and four 7,62 mm machine guns. Model 380 with a length of 11,5 meters is equipped with three engines. The largest model 480 with a length of 13,6 meters has a closed cabin and is equipped with three outboard engines.
The Argentinean shipyard TECNAO produces hard-hull patrol boats TORO and YAGUARETE, respectively, with stationary and outboard engines and water cannons, allowing to accelerate to 32 knots; These boats are delivered to the Argentine Coast Guard.
TORO patrol boat built by Argentinean shipyard TECNAO participates in river operations of the coast guard of this country
Asia big and small
Israel is the main regional producer of light patrol and river vessels. Two companies in this country, Israel Shipyards and Israel Aerospace Industries, are building ships on their own projects. IAI's DVORA class boats have now received the latest replenishment in the form of the SUPER DVORA MkIII, which, like other models (although at the moment the emphasis is on coastal operations), can also participate in river operations. The boat has a draft of 0,9-1,3 meters, a hull length of 20-29 meters and a maximum speed of over 40 knots. Israel Shipyards SHALDAG boats are also mainly designed for operations offshore, but four MkII boats sold to Argentina's coast guard, for example, are used in river tasks. They are armed with a Browning M2A2 machine gun in the MINI TYPHOON turret and two 7,62-m NEGEV machine guns on the bridge.
On the other side of Asia, the Taiwanese company Lungteh specializes in rigid hull inflatable boats and rigid hull interception boats, perfectly tailored for river operations. A large number of boats were sold to the fleets of Asia, which are particularly popular inflatable model with a length of 12,9 meters.
As for the hovercraft used in river operations, the ships of the British company GRIFFONHOVERWORK are especially popular, they were bought by the fleets of India, Colombia and Peru. The last two in the fight against partisans operate the 2000TD model. The ship can be armed with several machine guns and holds up to 18 soldiers. The British Marines have recently adopted the more advanced and powerful 2400TD series ships, which are mainly operated in coastal areas.