The Muskie M18 Arrives

By Robbin Laird

When I visited NAWDC in 2020, one of my interviews was with the oldest active duty captain in the U.S. Navy who is a leading weapons expert.

This is how he put it with the need to diversity the weapons portfolio:

“We need to get beyond golden bee-bee solution.

“We need to have a weapons barge come with the battle group that has an affordable weapons mix.

“We need $50,000 weapons, not just million-dollar weapons.

“We should have weapons to overwhelm an adversary with Joe’s garage weapons and not having to use the golden bee-bees as the only option.”

One way to do this is to add kamikaze USVs to the fleet which can carry low cost weapons and provide enhanced lethality options to the fleet.

In a recent interview with MARTAC’s CEO, Bruce Hanson, I discovered such a solution.

According to Hanson, they were asked to build such a vessel and the basic vessel was designed and built within five weeks.

It is called the Muskie M18.

The first boat — and as it is built within a range of boats built by MARTAC it is a real boat — goes 300 to 500 miles deponent on tankage and the load.

It is a low priced weapons package which gives the U.S. Navy options it simply does not have currently.

Also, it could solve a major problem for the USMC in their efforts to help the Navy through their EABO initiative.

The problem with moving a small group of Marines to a remote location is precisely to determine what is the useful combat effect and how to sustain them for the time necessary.

With something like the Muskie, one could transport Marines by either Osprey or CH-53K to a remote location and bring with them only fuel. ordinance for the incoming boats as well as their own own limited sustainment supplies.

Then the Muskies could be sent to the austere location.

The Marines refuel them, install the ordinance and give the orders to the boats to attack.

The control of the boats can be passed to another controller — which MARTAC has demonstrated many times on their other boats in exercises –and they can leave by the way they came in.

Such an EABO would clearly have a useful combat effect for the Navy.