1 Assault Group Royal Marines (1AGRM) has taken possession of two Combat Boat 90s being loaned by the Swedish Armed Forces; the UK is to receive four craft in total.
As part of the loan and exchange programme, the Swedes are taking on two of the UK’s Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC).
The scheme is a 12 month agreement between the two states which has been organised and worked out on behalf of the UK by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and Försvarets Materielverk for Sweden. FMV is the Swedish Defence Material Administration.
Captain Graeme Little, the Team Leader of DE&S Capital Ships In Service Support Team said: “This exchange is very relevant to the Landing Craft Programme and we will get a significant amount of data and experience from the planned trials, particularly in better understanding owning and operating fast craft.”
The loan by Sweden of the CB90s is part of an ongoing assessment of fast craft and is effectively cost neutral which is beneficial to both countries in a time when economic savings are paramount.
This assessment is an element of the wider Surface Manoeuvre Capability which is providing an excellent opportunity for the test and evaluation of fast craft.
1AGRM are the UK lead for trials and evaluations of future small craft entering service with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. The testing will be carried out by a small number of highly specialised and experienced individuals based in North Devon who will assess CB90 performance in broad terms against the requirements set by the MOD for the Force Protection Craft (FPC) to inform development of the evolving FPC design and performance specification and to assist in developing competence in fast navigation techniques.
Areas being looked at under the assessment programme include integration with Amphibious Shipping, force protection, fast navigation and the wider implications of carrying dismounted troops on fast craft.
FPC is a high speed craft capable of defending a boat lane, in which the Fast Landing Craft will operate, against hostile Fast Incoming Attack Craft and land based threats. It also has a secondary role to transport eight Royal Marines and their personal equipment as part of the Pre-Landing Force. To satisfy this requirement the FPC will be capable of 40 knots in calm water whilst its hull form will be optimised for offshore operations in Sea State 4. Significantly, the design of the FPC will have to meet constraints imposed by current davits. A total of twelve craft are planned with the first anticipated to enter service in 2016.
1 AGRM Commanding Officer, Colonel Rory Copinger-Symes said: “A good relationship has developed over the last ten years between Sweden and the UK as Sweden has become a much bigger player in Amphibious Warfare and the wider international co-operation. We have a lot to learn from each other.”
CB90 is a class of fast military assault craft originally developed for the Swedish Navy by Dockstavarvet. Its light weight, shallow draft and twin water jets combine to allow it to operate at speeds in excess of 40 knots in shallow coastal waters. The water jets are partially ducted, which along with underwater control surfaces allow the CB90 to execute extremely sharp turns at high speed, decelerate from top speed to a full stop in 2.5 boat lengths and adjust its pitch and roll angle whilst under way. In addition to the many variants in service with the Swedish Navy, the CB90 has also been adapted, principally for riverine operations, by other navies including Germany, Norway, Greece, Mexico, Malaysia and the USA. In 2000 a pair of CB90 were trialled by the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (RNLMC). The pair was modified to be davit compatible, with trial serials including a limited davit interoperability assessment with the UK LPD HMS Albion.
Sweden’s Colonel Ola Truedsson, the head of the Swedish 1st Marine Regiment added: “This is a win-win situation for both countries and I wish you good luck with your trials.”
Along with the benefits in assisting with the development of current and future military kit, the exchange programme has encompassed and enhanced the long existing diplomatic and historical ties between both the UK and Sweden.