NEWPORT — The angular 80-foot boat looks a bit like a stealth bomber cruising on the ocean surface while under way, a head-turning craft that has been likened to a Batmobile or a UFO since it was launched in San Diego four years ago.
The government was presenting the $10-million Stiletto, which was designed to carry special-operations forces into coastal operations, as a floating laboratory where companies can test and demonstrate new fighting technologies.
Over the past four years, the craft has seen service in a variety of settings, from testing new radar systems and unmanned aerial-defense vehicles to assisting the Coast Guard in efforts to combat narcotics trafficking.
The Stiletto’s four diesel engines produce a combined 6,500 horsepower, and can push the boat to speeds of nearly 60 miles per hour.
Below deck, the Stiletto is military-spare. A rear cargo area holds the same type of 36-foot rigid-hull inflatable that Navy SEALS ride into operations. The boat carries unmanned aerial-surveillance aircraft that can be launched from the vessel’s topside.
The forward cabin is outfitted with special seats that help absorb the tremendous shock that’s exerted when the boat crashes through heavy seas at high speeds. The hull of the Stiletto is shaped like two Ms put together. Its surfaces redistribute water in a way that stabilizes the craft and greatly minimizes wake. The design also enables the fully loaded boat to operate in very shallow water.
One of the Pentagon officials who saw military applications for the hull technology was the late Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski, a former president of the U.S. Naval War College.
Cebrowski was later the director of the Defense Department’s Office of Force Transformation, which was involved in helping the military adapt to new threats and challenges, and was involved in the development of the Stiletto.
Photo: The Providence Journal / Andrew Dickerman
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