Safehaven Marine makes boats that can go where few others can. From Pilot Tenders to Rescue Boats that can overturn in high surf and keep on going, their products are truly hardcore. Now, the famed boat builder is setting its eyes on the law enforcement and military market with their stealthy Barracuda interceptor boat.
The jet-black go-fast patrol boat has a crew of 4 to 6 and can carry 12 people when it needs to. Its deep-V hull can rip across the waves at over 40 knots for about 230 miles on a single tank of gas. Propulsion comes from two diesel-electric engines each punching out 600hp, which can be tied to a pair of screws or an advanced waterjet system. All together, the Barracuda is stated to be able to operate in up to sea state 8 (that’s up to 46 foot swells!) and can maintain operational speeds at sea state 5 (up to 13 foot swells). This is an amazing capability for a boat this size.
Because of its rescue boat roots, the Barracuda is extremely survivable, with four watertight compartments, self righting, and carbon fiber used everywhere in her construction to make her as light and durable as possible.
The Barracuda’s cabin is spacious with fantastic visibility, and it is adaptable for multiple missions with shock absorbing crew seats designed to accept work stations. The boats massive windows are made of ballistic glass and the whole cabin can easily be upgraded with light-weight ballistic panels without permanent modifications.
Barracuda can be equipped with a variety of sensors and weapon systems, including a remotely operated, stabilized heavy machine gun and decoy/smoke grenade launcher turret mounted in a pop-up configuration on the boat’s bow. Presumably, this could be replaced by a grenade launcher or even possibly a light missile system depending on what the buyer wants.
Additionally, manned light machine guns can be mounted on pintle mount’s at the corners of the boat’s stern. All combined, that is a lot of whoop ass for a relatively small boat capable of thrashing through extremely high seas. The Barracuda has so much volume and is so adaptable that it can accommodate a wide variety of sensors, including radar, sonar, FLIR and other missionized electronics suites. Most of the ship’s antennas and emitters can be mounted inside the enclosed mast that sits atop the cabin.
Where the Barracuda get’s really interesting is when you consider that Safehaven Marine claims it is a stealth boat, with a very small radar cross-section. The concept behind its stealthy design is that it can supposedly work in pursuit and apprehend modes.
Yes, it has a Pursuit Mode. Get excited.
Pursuit Mode is where the boat is “cleaned up” with all its weaponry concealed within its carbon fiber frame. Then, once the choice is made for direct action against a target, the ship’s weapons and some sensors emerge, giving away its low radar profile, but allowing it to bring serious firepower to bear on the target.
The big question is, just how stealthy is Barracuda? The use of composites is a plus, and there has been some clear design work to “facet” key areas of the ship’s structure. But still, things like edge alignment and a very aggressive attempt to clear the boat of small radar reflective elements does not appear to be present. This does not mean that its design ineffective at disappearing on some radars at certain ranges. By design, Safehaven could have balanced cost and usability against signature minimization. In other words, maybe Barracuda is aimed at staying tiny on commercial grade radars up to a certain distance, at which time it will have enough speed to pounce on its prey.
This brings us to the question of what is the intended use for this little stealthy go-anywhere speed boat? Well clearly its amazing sea keeping and ‘balanced’ tactical approach, as well as its ability to be easily adapted to different missions, makes it a valuable multi-purpose tool for coast guards and law enforcement agencies around the globe. Theoretically it can go rescue a stricken boat struggling in the surf one day, the next day it can intercept well-armed drug runners in the open sea and the next it can be used as a force protection and surveillance asset during a large public event on the harbor. It can also be transported via sling load under a helicopter, or by ship or even a trailer. This all equates to a lot of utility and versatility out of one design.
It will be interesting to see where Safehaven Marine pushes this new tactical and practical boat, and if it delivers on all of its design goals while maintaining a decent price. Asia and South America come to mind as relevant markets for something like this, especially seeing that the concept carries such a quality brand pedigree along with it. Even the U.S. Coast Guard, which has historically looked towards somewhat exotic concepts when it comes to interdiction operations, could be a possible tester, if not outright buyer, for the Barracuda.
Hey, if that doesn’t work out, there is always the mega yacht crowd! I can only imagine that the oligarchs would sleep better knowing these sweet looking stealthy boats packed full of mercenary commandos are circling their palaces at sea throughout the night looking and listening for bad guys. How else can one get their proper sleep while dealing with their pet miniature giraffe and “recently retired” model girlfriends tossing and turning?
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.