Stiletto is an 80 by 40 foot wave piercing hull built entirely of carbon fiber. It's unique “M-Hull” shape is designed to channel is the energy that normally is produced as wake in a conventional V-Hull craft up under the craft into tunnels created by the M-shaped hull form. The energy normally lost to an inverted V-shaped wake is now channeled into the tunnels under the craft producing a hydrodynamic lift as Stiletto makes way through the water. Capable of speeds up to 50 knots, the craft passively lifts itself out of the water about a foot as it speeds along reducing drag. The relatively light weight of the all carbon fiber structure compared to a steel or aluminum craft and the inherent strength of the carbon fiber itself makes for a very favorable payload fraction and of course, lends to its high-speed characteristics.
Stiletto was designed with the needs of special forces in mind. SEALS belonging to the Navy have traditionally rode a V-Hull craft from miles offshore to insert their teams on potentially hostile shores. The wave action and resulting rough ride of the V-Hull has, over the years, taken their toll on these SEALs such that nearly a third of them are medically discharged within just 10 years of service due to the pounding G-forces applied to their bodies. The M-Hull was designed to reduce the wakes of commercial ferries in Venice to help minimize the effects of wake damage to their aging buildings. Applying the concept of a high-speed, wave-piercing assault craft to the M-Hull technology, OFT partnered with the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to build a mother craft to help insert their personnel so an internal boat well that can accommodate their 11-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) was designed into the craft.
Because Stiletto was built as an experimental craft and not a program of record, a civilian yacht design company and a small San Diego racing-yacht builder was selected to design and build Stiletto. The project went from a power point slide to an actual boat in the water in just 15 months illustrating a potentially new business model for conceptualizing and building ships. Moreover, the cost of the craft before outfitting was just over $6M and with outfitting, $10M. The design is easily customized by either scaling up or down.
In addition to the unique hull design and all carbon fiber construction, Stiletto also employs an “electronic keel” that combines the processing power of a bank of supercomputers with the networking capability coupled to a robust onboard communications system that facilitates data-sharing with other nodes on internal and external networks. For the SEALS, this means mission planning can continue as the assault team approaches the target insertion point. Outfitting of equipment is extremely flexible with a “plug and play” data bus that uses internet protocol as its standard. Equipment installation is as simple as securing it into a universal electronic rack located in onboard manned mission planning modules and the network connections are made through simple USB port plug-ins.
Stiletto is an Office of Force Transformation initiative, in association with USSOCOM, to develop a dedicated operational R&D surrogate for special operations and distributed naval force missions.
- Stiletto is an 88 foot long, 40 foot wide vessel that can operate at speeds up to 50 knots, with a range of 500 nautical miles, deliver SOF or SOF-like forces to shore, sustain them while on their mission and provide them with organic ISR assets for OTH sensing, tracking and targeting.
- Cost of the craft – $6M; Cost of technical testing and operational experiments – $6.5M Construction / Operational outfitting – 15 Months from contract signing (Oct 2004-Jan 2006)
- Stiletto explores scalability of non-mechanical dynamic lift, large-scale composite construction technology, high-speed performance and its application to military operations
- Dynamic lift from the channeled-hull provides high-speed, shallow water performance with low wake signature that increases tactical maneuverability
- The carbon fiber materials used in building Stiletto lightens structural weight, increases vessel payload fraction / operational cargo capacity and lowers maintenance costs
- Stiletto will include an Electronic Keel, a maritime data bus that will allow for easy weapon, sensor and mission payload reconfiguration and networking. This reduces integration costs and increases a combatant commander's ability to modify and tailor capabilities to emerging challenges
- Stiletto has the capacity to launch and retrieve an 11 meter rigid inflatable boat (RHIB) and can host several unmanned vehicles
- The main deck in the cargo area has a sloped well deck to accommodate RHIB launch, retrieval and storage. RHIB ramp may also accommodate small UUV/USV craft. The top deck has a ladder access for the launching UAV's
- NSWC Carderock, Combat Craft Division (Little Creek) – Technical Representatives
- M Ship Co. ( San Diego ) – Naval Architect /Designer
- Knight & Carver Yacht Center ( San Diego )– Builder;
- SP Systems – Composite and Laminate
OFT has teamed with SOCOM, the Navy and the US Coast Guard to embark on a series of operational experiments involving Stiletto that provide a venue for developing operational experience for Distributed Operations. Our notional two-year period for operational experimentation should provide qualitative and quantitative data to demonstrate:
- Coherence of heterogeneous sensors, autonomous and semi-autonomous assets
- Experiment with new material and hull forms to broaden seaborne capabilities
- To increase high-speed performance, sea-keeping (reduce crew injury), and payload fraction
- Advance national competitive strategy for US shipbuilding capabilities
- Establish private-public partnerships (PPP) between government, industry, and academia, as well as leverage technology advances abroad.
Stiletto was launched on December, 2005 and was introduced to a general community of interest at the AFCEA West conference in San Diego in January, 2006. Fitting out followed from January to April, 2006 and the government took custody from the builder on April 27, 2006. Stiletto 's first operational experiment was a mine hunting/mine clearance scenario in conjunction with San Diego 's Naval Special Clearance Team One based out of Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado. This complex experiment demonstrated Stiletto's ability to support the mine clearance personnel as well as seven unique unmanned vehicles used to support their mine hunting/mine clearance mission.