All things naval analyst Craig Hooper has an intriguing story of a British built speedboat sporting a revolutionary hull design along with two 1000 horse power Caterpillar engines, that found its way, via South Africa, into the meddling hands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Now, U.S. investigators worry Iran intends to reverse engineer the design, weaponize it and add it to its small boat swarms that ply the Gulf ‘s strategic waterways.
The race boat in question is a Bladerunner 51, built by Britain’s ICE Marine, and in 2005 it won the “Round Britain” record in 27 hours 10 min, hitting a top speed of 71 knots. The boat is loaded with quite a few after market “bells and whistles” to boost its performance, which explains the IRGC’s interest, Hooper says.
Fear of Iranian small boat swarms was all the rage a few years back but seems to have died down a bit. One reason, I think, is that Navy undersecretary and super smart naval warfare expert Bob Work has downplayed the small boat menace. Small boats wouldn’t survive long when faced with a flight of heavily armed MH-60 Strikehawk or Knighthawk helicopters operating off the decks of Littoral Combat Ships or other combatants, he says. Much faster than any boat, equipped with advanced targeting systems and Hellfire missiles, helicopters are the U.S. Navy’s own small boat swarm.
Hooper says the small boat record since World War II fails to live up to the hype. “Look at the recent record: In 1987, U.S. helicopters made quick work of Boghammar speedboats, and during the 1991 Bubiyan Turkey Shoot, helicopters helped sink or damage 143 small Iraqi naval vessels.”