CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The Marines and sailors in Small Craft Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Division are operationally testing a new boat to ferry troops into battle.
The Small Unit Riverine Craft has the potential to move more Marines and equipment and increase insertion capabilities.
The 39-foot-long craft is capable of transporting a 13-man infantry rifle squad for primary support of inland waterway operations, while the currently used Rigid Raiding Craft can only transport up to eight Marines and is being considered for replacement with the SURC.
"With this boat we can pack in more Marines and keep them dry, unlike the Rigid Raiding Craft," said Sgt. Simon J. Phillips, coxswain and platoon sergeant, 1st Platoon, Small Craft Company.
The SURC can also carry up to three different weapon systems on board. Two mounts are located on the port and starboard side at the bow of the craft, and a single mount is centered along the back bulkhead.
"We can mount everything from an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon up to an M-2 .50 caliber machinegun or MK-19 automatic grenade launcher," said Phillips. "The addition of these weapons also helps support the infantry when they debark."
The craft is powered by two 440 horsepower, six-cylinder engines backed by two water jets, which move the craft forward by drawing water in the bottom of the boat and pushing it back out at high speeds.
"The water jets are a lot better than standard propellers," said Phillips. "They are quieter, which helps us draw less attention while patrolling rivers."
The propulsion system is rated up to 35 knots and requires only 8 to 9 inches of water in which to operate. The engines also allow it to travel up to 300 nautical miles on one tank of gas.
"We can idle right along the shoreline and all someone would hear is the water lapping against the hull," said Phillips.
Small Craft Company's goal is to help transport troops into battle in a timely fashion.
"We ultimately want to be able to move an entire infantry battalion at once over inland waterways," said 1st Lt. Paul D. Stubbs, executive officer and SURC test director, Small Craft Company.