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X-Craft leaves Whidbey for Everett

At 262-feet in length, it took many hours Friday night for the X-Craft to inch its way out of the Nichols Brothers boat yard, across the road, onto the launching ramp and into the waters of Holmes Harbor, but a small crowd of onlookers enjoyed watching the boat’s progress.

The Navy’s Experimental Littoral Surface Craft was built at the Freeland boat yard and is now in Everett for evaluation trials. Its launch was delayed several days by an accident which killed one boatyard worker.

The vessel can achieve speeds in excess of 50 knots, range 4,000 nautical miles between refuelings and its mission bay will hold up to 12 containers, permitting rapid reconfiguration of the vessel to support a variety of potential missions including battle force protection, mine counter-measures, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious assault support and humanitarian support.

A multi-purpose stern ramp, with direct access to the mission bay, will allow X-Craft to launch and recover manned and unmanned surface and sub surface vehicles up to the size of an 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat while underway.

From its flight deck, X-Craft will be able to simultaneously operate two H-60 type helicopters and/or unmanned aerial vehicles. A prototype night vision goggle compatible lighting suite will be installed on the flight deck for NVG-assisted night landings.

X-Craft will be delivered at the end of April 2005. Operational control will then be assumed by the Navy’s 3rd Fleet with the ship operating out of its home port of San Diego.

Nichols Bros. had the contract to build the experimental vessel. If it works out, the company may be able to bid on additional models.

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