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SOF Week 2023: US special forces kick off search for new multi-role watercraft

11th May 2023 - 16:28 GMT | by Andrew White in Tampa


USSOCOM operates 31 CCMs, but these are nearing end of life. (Photo: USN)

US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has kickstarted initial planning for a second-generation Combatant Craft Medium (CCM), according to service officials.

Speaking at the SOF Week conference on 10 May, the USSOCOM Program Executive Office-Maritime confirmed the command has started ‘market research and requirements’ for CCM Mk2 to replace the legacy CCM which is currently in sustainment.

USSOCOM operates a total of 31 CCMs, produced by Vigor Works and designed as a multi-role surface vessel with a primary mission to insert and extract special operations forces.

‘We are currently conducting market research and requirements analysis for an optimised CCM Mk2 replacement craft. An industry day [will] be announced soon,’ PEO Maritime officials confirmed. The CCM Mk2 effort currently has funding from FY2025-2028.

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‘As we hit service life with this [CCM Mk1] workhorse, we are already leaning into what the next generation of this will look like. So [with] CCM Mk2, we truly believe it will be a evolution, not a revolution because they need it now and quickly.

‘So we're going to build upon lessons learned over the last ten years and how we can modernise and make better from a lot of different sources. We're beginning the stages of laying the acquisition framework and how we move forward, with some more to follow,' officials added.

PEO Maritime also identified three key focus areas for the CCM Mk2 effort which will require ‘outside industry help’. These areas of interest include: data import and export in contested areas of operation; alternative precision navigation and timing (PNT) and situational awareness methods; and materiel readiness.

‘Relevant real-time data should be able to move in and out and get in the hands of operators, so they can make operational decisions on the move, which is going to be critical. Remember though, we're limited in space [on the CCM], internal and external, so antenna equipment inside is very limited. So we have to think high-capacity, but low-space requirement.’

Officials also demanded PNT in GPS-denied areas, suggesting: ‘If we get into a GPS-denied area, we know our original point, but how are we going to get to [waypoints] B to C to D and back? How are we going to execute the mission with an ability to navigate in those environments is going to be critical and and technology and will be a benefit to us.’

Finally, officials discussed materiel readiness and asked: ‘How do we manage and execute materiel readiness? We’re looking for programme software, ability to gather data, maintenance materiel readiness data, and [how] to use those metrics to our advantage. 

'I think the latter part of that equation will be to overlap with AI and look for predictive analysis and how we can better manage that and head off the problems before they become bigger problems.

‘Combatant craft have had hard lives so anything that we can do to improve that sustainability is going to be a key area for us going forward,’ officials added.

PEO Maritime also noted how USSOCOM’s wider family of combatant craft, which includes the CCA (Attack) and CCH (Heavy), were being used in very different ways than originally planned. However, sources were unable to provide any further details.

USSOCOM currently operates 42 CCAs and three CCHs. The CCH is designed to transport a platoon-sized formation. 

PEO Maritime announced it was preparing to release a request for proposals in the next two weeks to purchase an additional two CCH platforms to cover capability gaps once the first two originals (initially designed as technology demonstrators) reach their end of life.

Andrew White


Andrew White

Andrew is a former editor of Digital Battlespace and Unmanned Vehicles magazines. Andrew joined Shephard …

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