Having previously gotten into the long range strike, air force, anti-ship, and anti-submarine businesses, the Marines are now getting into the business of unmanned naval vessels. They have ordered Metal Shark ‘40 Defiant’ Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessels.
Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark announced on Monday that Marine Corps Systems Command had selected the company to develop the so-called Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessel (LRUSV) for the service. (3)
What do we know about this craft? The manufacturer describes these 40 ft long vessels:
The 40 Defiant satisfies the visual-deterrent requirements of today’s naval forces with a futuristic design featuring a chiseled and menacing profile and unique faceted hull. Unlike other available welded-aluminum military patrol boat offerings, which are often hard to distinguish from a commercial work boat or even a private recreational vessel, the 40 Defiant is immediately identifiable as a no-nonsense military machine ready to respond with overwhelming force to any hostile threat. The 40 Defiant flaunts its capability and bristles with armament. As configured for the US Navy, the vessel features six MK 16 weapons foundations plus a large forward foundation for stabilized, remote operated, optically guided MK 49 / MK 50 weapons systems. Like all Metal Shark offerings, the 40 Defiant may be customized to suit operator requirements and may be configured to accommodate the complete range of available weapons systems. (2)
|Metal Shark Manned Version|
|Metal Shark Unmanned Version|
So, the craft is ‘chiseled’ and ‘menacing’. Well that should sink some Chinese ships because, as we all know, appearance is the most important characteristic in determining lethality and successful naval engagements.
‘Visual-deterrent requirements’????? Who made that one up?
The craft has ‘overwhelming force’ … consisting of up to 6 machine guns. I’m not sure that constitutes ‘overwhelming’ unless you’re fighting an unprepared Boy Scout troop.
What will the Marines do with these vessels? I’ve been unable to find any description of how the Marines intend to use these boats but we have this from the Naval News website:
This tiered, scalable weapons system will provide the ability to accurately track and destroy targets at range throughout the battle space. (1)
Presumably, the Marines will use these boats in their anti-Chinese, hidden, small unit, anti-ship/anti-sub concept. That being the case, what will a boat with a maximum of 6 machine guns destroy ‘throughout the battle space’? If all it takes is a 40 ft boat with 6 machine guns to ‘destroy targets at range throughout the battle space’ then we’re wasting a lot of money on Burkes, Fords, and frigates!
There is also this from the Task and Purpose website announcement,
The LRUSV is “an unmanned platform capable of traveling autonomously for long distances and launching loitering munitions to address sea and land targets,” according to a December request for information regarding the vessel’s autonomy systems.
Loitering munitions, also known as kamikaze drones, are best described as bombs that are designed to loiter above a set area, search for targets, and attack once a target is formally identified. (3)
So, the Marines may be looking to conduct naval battles using some kind of minature, kamikaze UAVs? It would take, what … ten thousand of them to sink a ship? This is getting more bizarre by the second.
From the manufacturer,
The 40 Defiant has been designed to carry a power projection capability far beyond that of a traditional force protection boat. The vessel therefore boasts a superlative array of capabilities. Available ballistic protection enables the vessel to sustain extended firefights, allowing crews to respond with overwhelming force to asymmetric threats such as swarm attacks while remaining secure and protected from hostile fire. The armored, climate-controlled pilothouse may be configured with a wide range of shock-mitigating seating options. The vessel delivers enhanced situational awareness and fleet connectivity through an advanced communications and sensor suite. These capabilities allow operators to expand the mission profile of their patrol boats, allowing them to operate in permissive environments during asset protection and port security missions, and also to make forays into hostile environments. (2)
Well, we don’t have much on the performance specs of the vessel but I’ll give the manufacturer full marks for creative writing. The boat description reads like the Star Wars Death Star brochure.
I have no idea what operating concept the Marines have in mind but whatever it is they’re way out of their lane. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time until they start operating submarines (subMARINES … see, it’s right there in the name!) and intercontinental stealth bombers.
The Marine Corps has gone insane.
(1)Naval News website, “Metal Shark Developing Long Range USV for the U.S. Marine Corps”, Xavier Vavasseur, 26-Jan-2021,
(3)Task and Purpose website, “The Marine Corps is eyeing a long-range robot boat that can nail targets with kamikaze drones”, Jared Keller, 27-Jan-2021,