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U.S. Marine Corps Gets New Boats from Australia

The United States Marine Corps has received two new boats from a partner down under.

The Australian specialty boatbuilder The Whiskey Project Group delivered the first two Multi-Mission Reconnaissance Craft (MMRC) to the U.S. Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton in Southern California.

Both boats, dubbed the Whiskey Bravo model, and are being entered into the Marine Corps War Fighting Lab (MCWL) to be used by reconnaissance Marines in a variety of maritime mission capabilities.

The announcement comes as the Marine Corps is in the midst of a significant overhaul of their maritime fleet. Not only is the Marine Corps currently developing new landing ships, they've also turned to creative options like converting offshore rigs into modified landing craft to test new mission sets and landing protocols.

The Whiskey Bravo landing craft are 11 metres in length (36 feet), and will work in partnership with an 8 m (26 foot) Whiskey Alpha model that's also part of the agreement.

The delivery of the boats to the USMC marks an important milestone in an ongoing evaluation and bidding process. The Whiskey Project Group was awarded a $20.5 million USD contract to supply the Corps with a number of both the Alpha and Bravo models.

The company was only founded in 2019 by Darren Schuback and Ryan Carmichael, both former Australian Navy clearance divers and special operations officers.

Co-founder and CEO Darren Schuback said in a press release, “From the very outset, The Whiskey Project Group’s mission was to redefine tactical watercraft and create a new generation of safer, completely networked, combat-ready fit for purpose platforms, based on our own naval special operations experience.”

“We’re extremely appreciative of the U.S. Department of Defense and USMC’s focus on innovation-sharing opportunities with life-long allies like Australia. The contracting process enabled by DIU makes it easier for private sector companies to rapidly fill real time capability gaps faced by war fighters and combatant commanders,” added Schuback.

The Alpha and Bravo models were designed for versatility and modularity depending on a crew's mission.

"Both vessels are made from advanced carbon fibre composites," Schuback told the Australian Trade & Invstment Commission. "They are tough and durable. They are also completely adaptable to host sophisticated payloads, including anything up to modern missile systems. This creates a cost effective, high-end warfighting capable vessel on a very small hull."

Each boat integrates over 50 U.S. and Australian original equipment manufacturers (OEMS), which include the boat's various operating systems, sensors, weaponry, and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance (ISR) systems.

The boats are powered by twin diesel engines with a top speed over 40 knots (46 mph). The hull design and layout allows for rapid deployment of troops or equipment in various conditions and allows for stable operations at both high-speeds and during low-speed maneuvering.

The Bravo is also equipped with modular mission bays that can be customized with a range of payloads, from advanced sensor suites to weapon systems. The modular bays allow crews to make quick reconfigurations depending on the mission or environment and can be customized for reconnaissance, direction action, or logistical support.

The project is the beginnings of a wider partnership between allies like the United States and Australia, as well as other western nations. The U.S. Marine Corps is already in the midst of their Force Design 2030 modernization process. The multi-year plan is a strategic overhaul of the Marine Corps equipment and tactics to become more agile and technologically advanced for potential future conflicts.

You can get a glimpse of the MMRC Whiskey Alpha and Bravo designs in the video below:

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