Fast Patrol Boats in Coastal Defense


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Above: Concept view of the new MRTP 33, a stretched version of the MRTP 29 boat, in service in the Turkish Navy. Below – The Russian Mirage FPB boat. Bottom: Interceptor DV-15 Fast Boats.

The growing popularity of the use of boats for hobby, leisure and sport, is accelerating the growth of the fast-boat market and the introduction of faster and more advanced vessels. Such boats, when used by outlaws, pose a serious challenge to law enforcement authorities, and, when deployed by terrorists, can pose a serious threat to national security.

Speed is not always the first priority

Speed was always a major requirement for naval and coast-guard patrol boats. In recent years, modern Fast Patrol Boats were introduced with cruising capability beyond 50 knots, utilizing various propulsion methods including gas-turbines powered water-jets, hydrofoils, and combined catamaran-air-cushion designs. Hydrofoils offered impressive speeds but lacked in low speed maneuverability and proved to be highly complex platforms, difficult to maintain and operate at the forward operating locations. Other solutions, utilizing a combination of diesels and gas-turbine (CODAG) also offer impressive speed advantages, at the cost of limited endurance. Interception boats, operated by coast guards and customs authorities, usually require higher speeds, while navies engaged in coast guard and counter-insurgency activities (Israel, Sri-Lanka, India, Philippines, Indonesia etc.) have different missions and requirements. Resulting from initial experience with +50 Knots vessels, some navies have reversed their requirements for higher speed, in a more balanced approach favoring improved maneuverability provided by a combination of diesels powered waterjets or Articulating Surface Drives (ASD), advanced sensors and weapons, extended mission endurance. Another military application is the fast attack boat, designed for defensive and offensive operations in littoral (brown) water. The mission of such boats require speed, maneuverability and load carrying capability which are different from the common patrol missions associated with FPBs.