Marines will soon have a new weapon for riverine operations

20 Aug 2003 | Capt. Chad Walton

The Small Unit Riverine Craft was approved for full production in early August and that means Marines will soon be seeing the replacement for the old Rigid Raiding Craft that have been in use since the mid-1980s.

The primary mission of the craft is to provide tactical mobility and a limited weapons platform for the Ground Combat Element of a Marine Air Ground Task Force in littoral and riverine environments.

"The GCE commander will now have another means to move and execute the mission," said William Barnebee, program manager, Raids and Reconnaissance, System Command.  "He will no longer be restricted to air or ground travel as a means of insertion."

Later in the program a more heavily armed escort version of the SURC will appear as a replacement to the present Riverine Assault Craft.  Together the normal and escort versions will form a team that will increase the flexibility of the ground forces.

"When fully fielded to the 2nd Marine Division Small Craft Company, they will be able to lift the assault echelon of an infantry battalion and then provide a sustaining presence in a riverine/littoral area of operation," said Paul Gregory of BAE Systems, that provides program management and engineering support.

The secondary missions of the riverine craft could include command and control, reconnaissance, logistic/resupply, medevac, counterdrug operations, humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping and noncombatant evacuation operations. 
The craft has twin inboard diesel engines with a marine transmission and waterjet propulsion systems. Its navigation system will incorporate Global Positioning System capability and current and future Combat Net Radio Systems, plus a depth sounder and surface radar.

The craft will also have three weapons mounts that will be interoperable with current and future universal weapon mounts and pintle adapters for tactical vehicles.

The SURC will normally be deployed to theatre using strategic air- or sealift and is capable of being flown internally in cargo aircraft as well as externally by a CH-53E.

Other systems characteristics include:

* Maintain a cruise speed of 30 knots and a sprint speed of 35 knots.
* Capable of beaching bow first on unobstructed shorelines with mud, sand, silt, and gravel surfaces.
* Remain afloat as a survival platform when filled with water.
* Have a draft of 24 inches when operationally loaded in a stationary position.

* Transport 16 combat loaded Marines plus two crew.
Hull: 38 feet long, made of aluminum will full-length beaching plates. 
* Have an organic heavy machine gun mount to integrate both organic medium and heavy machineguns.

Marine Corps Systems Command