Britain’s Special Boat Service unveils revolutionary vessel | UK | News


The six vessels, which cost £3m each, will join a special maritime operations squadron with duties in the UK and in support of wider special forces tasks in the Middle East.

Significantly, the move is proof that military chiefs are continuing to invest in our strapped and over-used Special Forces even as they contemplate cuts across the Army, Royal Navy and RAF during the impending integrated review.

Already in use with US Navy Seals, the 60-foot Combatant Craft Medium (CCM) boat made by American firm Vigor is bigger and more powerful than anything previously operated by the SBS, with each boat delivering  as many as 21 SBS frogmen on counter terror and security operations.

The James Bond-type boat can hit an astonishing 52 knots (60mph) , cross a distance of 500 miles and even deploy a midget submarine from its sloping deck.

Painted  a digital camouflage pattern and designed with a low profile deckhouse to help avoid radar and visual detection, each interceptor boasts three machine guns mounts on the bow and stern, as well as pods for missile launchers.

They can be transported by RAF C-17 aircraft and dropped to their locations, or deployed from a Royal Navy ship.

For the past three years the SBS – whose mottos is ‘Not by Strength by Guile ’ – has suffered from a lack of sufficient personnel because of the rate at which its troops are used. 

Under current plans, however, it will be given enough funds to expand. 

The SBS currently has four squadrons and in the past two years has been at the forefront of counter terrorist operations in the UK.

In 2018 12 SBS troops attacked to Squadron X repelled down ropes from helicopters to seize control of 770-foot Italian container ship  Grande Tema near Margate, which had been hijacked by stowaways.

In December 2001 – just weeks after 9/11 – a squadron of SBS soldiers deployed from the frigate HMS Sutherland off the South coast of England to intercept the MV Nisha – which was suspected of carrying anthrax. 

Fast boats were used by the SBS to intercept the vessel while Merlin helicopters delivered more troops on to the vessel’s desk by rope.

A senior source said: “The expectation is that future conflicts may well be around the maritime domain and we need to be ahead of the game.

“These new boats are faster, highly capable and very difficult for an enemy to see on radar. They will deliver a new edge to our operations.”

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