Surface Forces: Fast Movers Off Jordan

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September 25, 2019: As part of its foreign aid to Jordan the U.S. is delivering two RB-M (Response Boat-Medium) for the Jordan Navy. Most people don’t realize Jordan has a navy, as glancing at a map Jordan appears to a landlocked nation surrounded by Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Look closer and you well find a 26 kilometer long coastline on the north end of the Red Sea. The Royal Jordanian Naval Force is actually part of the army and consists of 700 personnel and 27 patrol boats, most of them larger, and all of them slower, than the two new RB-Ms.

The U.S. Coast Guard already has 174 RB-Ms, which entered service between 2008 and 2018. The original plan was to buy 250 but budget constraints, and the ability of the high-speed RB-Ms to perform better than the smaller patrol boats it replaced, made the smaller number work. The American RB-Ms are stationed at most Coast Guard facilities, especially major harbors on the coast, Great Lakes and major rivers. The Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain has ordered six.

The Response Boat-Medium is 13.7 meters (45 feet) long, 4.5 meters (14.5 feet) wide and displaces 18 tons. Top speed is over 75 kilometers an hour, and it has sufficient fuel, water and other supplies to stay at sea for about 24 hours. The boat can move eight hours at a cruising speed of 50 kilometers an hour. The RB-M is for rescue and coastal patrol. It can handle heavy seas (up to two meter/12 foot waves) and winds of up to 90 kilometers an hour. It has a crew of five, and a "survivors compartment" below deck for five passengers. There is also a toilet and storage area down there in addition to the engine room. The crew spends most of their time in a roomy deckhouse that is heated or air-conditioned as needed. The five crew seats are “shock mitigated” for when the boat is running at top speed and it gets bumpy.

Sensors include FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Radar) which can spot other boats or people in the water day or night and in fog. There are two weapons mounts for 7.62 machine-guns, but these are normally not installed. There is also an arms locker with an assault rifle, a shotgun and pistols for the crew when needed. The two Jordanian RB-Ms will have their machine-guns mounted much of the time because their main job, in addition to search and rescue, is going after smugglers, especially those using speedboats. The RB-M uses a water jet propulsion system, allowing the use of a rescue well in the rear and both sides for picking up people or other items in the water. The RB-M can tow boats of up to a hundred tons. Each RB-M costs about 2.5 million dollars.

The Jordanian Naval Force has several hundred marine infantry as well as smaller detachments of counter-terrorism specialists and divers. Patrol boats are often used to get to an emergency situation in a hurry or simply inspect larger ships entering Jordanian territorial waters (up to 22 kilometers from the shore.) Jordan is also part of the international naval task force that provides security for the entire Red Sea.

 


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