The world’s littoral areas have become porous entry and exit points for criminals, smugglers, pirates and terrorists. Every nation with a coastline or a river/lake border is struggling to secure these areas.

The use of small craft by terrorist organisations and domestic terrorist cells is a worldwide threat, as was demonstrated by the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Rogue states such as Iran and North Korea continue to build vast fleets of small high-speed craft and export these threats to other hotspots in the world. Piracy is on the rise: in 2011, a record number of piratical boardings were made in the Gulf of Aden.

And in November 2008, the attack on Mumbai, India, brought this danger to the forefront. Nations realised that in order to combat this asymmetrical small-craft threat, a similar small-craft defence is required. The current thinking is that the best countermeasure to an asymmetrical threat is to create symmetry, and so many countries are considering fielding fleets of their own.

Faster and more agile

Tampa Yacht Manufacturing (TYM) is able to rapidly supply a large number of small craft in order to accomplish this equanimity. The company is currently supporting governments bordering the Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Aden, Yellow Sea and inland border lakes. TYM’s small, high-speed craft are uniquely suited to securing, defending and protecting these littoral areas. By employing water-jet and surface-drive propulsion for shallow-draft, high-speed and low-signature applications, the fast interceptor craft now being used are significantly faster and more agile than their predecessors, and are equipped with sophisticated electronics and communications suits, ballistic armour and infrared night vision cameras.

Compounding the growing threat is the tightening of defence budgets across the world; as a result, large, international navies are reallocating resources closer to home. Smaller nations are now having to make serious plans for their own defence, including a significant coastal element. TYM is currently working with several firms to offer low-cost, proven craft as unmanned autonomous or semi-autonomous surface vessel (ASV) platforms for both ISR sensor platforms, as well as direct-acting weapons platforms. The same characteristics that make high-performing manned defence craft so effective – low procurement and lifecycle cost, highly mature, proven hulls, systems and machinery, and highly reliable in-service performance – also help in the unmanned role.

Off-the-shelf solutions

TYM is working with customers to develop off-the-shelf solutions that enable them to rapidly deploy coastal defence forces, including larger interceptor craft, medium-size coastal craft, and reduced port security. The company continues to develop new craft with higher speeds, greater crew comfort, improved mission endurance and capability, expanded sensor suites for greater domain awareness, reduced craft signature, and greater lethality (and non-lethal deterrence aids) when required.

Mission performance, robust construction, durability, sustainability and survivability are TYM’s overriding goals. Man-machine interface (MMI), yacht-quality finish and endurance-enhancing features – coupled with low-cost commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) materials and equipment – are key factors driving the success of TYM’s craft. Design and engineering is requirement and performance-focused, delivering designs that exceed customers’ expectations.

This approach has enabled the company to maintain a highly competitive stance against global competition and, by bringing the most highly skilled labour into the equation, reduce the construction time required to build boats and eliminate rework, while at the same time sourcing materials, equipment and custom outfitting from the largest pool of suppliers in the world.

As varied as the ocean

TYM is working closely with governments across the world to level the playing field of transfer of technology (TOT) by providing the technological tools and know-how to successfully combat terrorist threats with state-of-the-art engineering solutions, while at the same time providing in-country economic benefits. Like many of its counterparts, TYM works with domestic, defence and homeland ministries and agencies to help design and engineer unique solutions to the defence requirements of a broad range of user groups, including law enforcement agencies and forces such as armies, navies, coastguards, special operations command, border security forces, and customs and border protection agencies in Central and Southern Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the US.

TYM has already introduced several small craft dedicated to coastline security, including the 44-FCI for all littoral threats; the 35-SPC (SWAT patrol craft) for clandestine operations; the 35-RHIB outboard-powered craft for inshore and inland waterways, and the larger, diesel-powered, 40ft RHIB version of the latter; as well as the shallow-draft, high-speed 51ft FAC (fast attack craft) for over-the-horizon threats.

With the world’s MoD requirements as varied as the ocean itself, TYM is engaged in numerous new craft development programmes and competitions. The company is also competing to supply patrol craft of various types to the Navy of south-east Asia and the Middle East, as well as numerous other international regions.