M Ship’s Stiletto Nabs Smugglers

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Pentagon’s high-speed, shallow-draft “Stiletto” ship, designed and built by M Ship Co., LLC, completed a successful 6,000 nautical-mile deployment on a drug interdiction and apprehension mission in the waters off , the and the . The deployment was capped off by a dramatic, high-speed chase of a “go-fast” boat in shallow waters near the coast that resulted in the apprehension of three suspected smugglers.

Even though the Stiletto was officially classified as a demonstrator, the Department of Defense post-deployment report is expected to confirm that the revolutionary vessel reduced “illicit trafficking sanctuaries,” and proved its value as an “affordable, high-speed, shallow-draft craft,” according to the author of the report, Capt. Jim Hruska, Transformation Strategist, DDR&E/RRTO/Emerging Capabilities Division. The mission went from “concept to deployment in just 6 months,” according to the report.

The chase lasted more than two hours at speeds between 40 and 50 knots. When the smugglers realized they could not outrun the Stiletto, they headed for shallow sand bars and reefs, not realizing the draft of the intimidating-looking ship was just 2.5 feet.

The futuristic-looking vessel was deployed in June for a 70-day mission by USSOUTHCOM as part of a joint agency operation with the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Coast Guard. The objectives of the deployment were to evaluate the potential of the 88-foot craft to support Detection and Monitoring (D&M) and Interdiction and Apprehension (I&A) of vessels engaged in drug trafficking.

The Stiletto is capable of speeds exceeding 50 knots and boasts a cavernous interior, yet has a draft of just 2.5 feet. It has a topside flight deck for launching and retrieving UAVs and a rear ramp that can launch and recover an 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) or unmanned water vehicles (surface and subsurface). Military officials praise the Stiletto’s inherent flexibility to meet the needs of a variety of missions. It is equipped with an “electronic keel,” a plug-and-play computing suite that allows various types of specialized electronic gear to be quickly swapped in and out, depending on the specific mission.

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