Defense Media Network

USSOCOM Awards New Combatant Craft Contracts

United States Special Operations Command representatives have awarded two Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts for the design, build, delivery and testing of test articles for the Combatant Craft, Medium Mark 1 (CCM MK 1) program. The CCM program is seen as the replacement for the ubiquitous 11 Meter Naval Special Warfare Rigid Inflatable Boats (NSW RIB) that have been a ubiquitous presence in Naval Special Warfare planning for almost two decades.

The original request for proposals for the CCM MK 1 was initially released on July 23, 2009, with proposals submitted no later than October 23 of that year. However, subsequent program changes included the cancellation of that initial program on April 14, 2010, with the release of “new, stand alone, requirements” under the same program name several months later.

While specific performance requirements were controlled for obvious sensitivity issues, the government did release a number of “top level” requirements in a program overview at that time.

As outlined in a July 2010 description, “The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Combatant Craft Medium Program Management Office (CCM PMO) is pursuing solutions for the design/build of Special Operations Combatant Craft, Medium (CCM) MK 1 systems (craft, trailer, prime mover). The CCM MK 1 craft will replace the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) as a utilitarian go-to-war craft without the design constraints of C-130 internal air transport or airdrop. The primary mission of CCM MK 1 is insertion/extraction of special operations forces (SOF) in medium threat environments. The CCM MK 1 will support other core SOF tasks to include direct action; special reconnaissance; combating terrorism; foreign internal defense; unconventional warfare; preparation of the environment; combating narco-terrorism; personnel recovery; and visit, board, search, and seizure.”

The removal of C-130 internal transport and airdrop requirements represented a significant change from the predecessor NSW RIB, with the new requirements overview calling only for the craft, trailer, and prime mover to be capable of internal air transport on C-17 and larger aircraft with no airdrop or tactical transport requirement.

The overview went on to outline a number of additional “threshold” and “objective” system requirements, with the former representing “minimum acceptable operational value” and the latter defined as “the desired operational value beyond which any gain in utility does not warrant additional expenditure.”

Noting that the average cruise speed, range, variable payload, and personnel capacity requirements would be specified in the subsequent RFP, the overview identified the threshold requirement for each as “bounded between the specific NSW RIB and MK V Special Operations Craft (SOC) capabilities.”

It went on to identify the lower NSW RIB boundary as:

  • Personnel capacity of three crew and nine passengers;
  • Range of 200 nautical miles;
  • Cruise speed of 32 knots (Sea State 2); and
  • Variable payload of 3200 pounds (excluding fuel).

The upper MK V SOC boundary is:

  • Personnel capacity of six crew and 15 passengers;
  • Range of 600 nautical miles;
  • Cruise speed of 40 knots (Sea State 3); and
  • Variable payload of 10,000 pounds (excluding fuel).

“The craft shall be designed with a service life growth margin to accommodate weight of future upgrades,” it added. “The service life growth margin will be a percentage of full load displacement and will be specified in the RFP.”

According to the program overview, the CCM MK 1 will also “encompass both low detectability and low vulnerability characteristics. The optimum balance of technical characteristics will satisfy performance requirements as well as specific survivability requirements that will be discussed in a classified attachment to the RFP. The RFP will include government lessons learned and technical data dealing with low observable craft design.”

The recent contract awards – made on Sept. 28, 2011 to United States Marine, Inc. (Gulfport, Miss.) and Oregon Iron Works, Inc. (Clackamas, Ore.) – will be used to obtain test articles that the government will use in a test and evaluation process projected to lead to a final downselect decision in 2013.  The acquisition will ultimately result in a single award IDIQ contract with projected production for approximately 30 craft over a ten-year period ending in 2021.


Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...