It was three years ago when the U.S. Navy acquired a new, experimental double hull craft — the M80 Stiletto. Its stats include the following: length, 84 feet; width, 40 feet; height, 18 feet; and weight, a relatively manageable 60 tons that can be scaled down to 45 when empty.
Its double hull shape renders it capable of being effortlessly engaged in high speed operations through rough seas. Even if loaded to capacity, it draws less than three feet of water. It looks like something straight out of a science fiction movie, but the advantages it brings and the things it can do are all very real.
The craft is equipped with a rear ramp for launching a 34-foot rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) as well as two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as the Manta, Silver Fox or Scan Eagle which can be operated on the craft’s top deck. It also comes with a variety of man-portable Navy special warfare systems.
Since its acquisition, the Stiletto has passed several tests with flying colors. It has been able to deliver SEALs through rough seas and has proven its ability to carry up to a dozen men, their equipment, and their inflatable landing boats.
These capabilities, though, are not in demand right now. Thus, instead of special operations missions, the Stiletto has been used in high-speed chases involving drug smugglers on boats. Recently, a rather naïve group of drug smuggler found themselves being chased by the wonder ship; they decided to give the big weird-looking ship a hard time by heading for shallow water, not knowing that one of the Stiletto’s big pluses is littoral operations. Well, we all can figure out how that turned out.
The Stiletto can definitely be the answer to a number of needs – if only there were more people looking for answers.