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Special Warfare Craft Light - Seafox Type

 
Special Warfare Craft Light -
Seafox Type

Displacement: 9.6 tons light, 11.8 tons full
Length: 36 feet  oa
Beam: 10 feet
Draft: 2.75 feet
Propulsion: 2 diesels; 900 bhp; 2 shafts
Speed: 32 knots
Range: none
Crew: 3
Weapons: Four weapon stations. Small, high-speed craft intended primarily to support SEAL operations.

HISTORY:

The Seafox is a twin-engine, fiberglass-hull craft developed for use by the Navy's Special Warfare Forces.

These are small, high-speed craft intended primarily to support SEAL operations.  They were delivered from 1981 onward by Uniflite Inc, Bellingham, Wash.  

Page 223 of "The Ships and Aircraft of the American Fleet", by Norman Polmar seafox.JPG (34829 bytes)

 


SEAFOX COMMENTS:

The Seafox has turned out to be on of the most discussed boat in the series. It has been a love it or hate it experience. If you can contribute technical information, opinions or photographs of the Seafox, please email it to us! Thanks for your contributions.

READERS INPUT:


09-07-03    It wouldn't be too hard to go look at the boats. I'll see what condition they are in and let you know.  If you want it for display you can almost certainly get one for the cost of shipping.

The boat looked very spooky to foreigners so we had to get special permission to launch it almost everywhere we went.  Even by today's standards it looked stealthy and "special".  It was as you say controversial.  I was stationed in Subic when a guy from SBU 12 was killed after the boat plunged through a wave coming off a ships wake and the canopy collapsed on his head.

Regardless of individual feelings the SEAFOX fit right in with the long list post Vietnam blunders,  RHIBs (every one).  Using big inflatables as the primary support platform in my opinion has been the single biggest fuckup made by our leaders as far as I am concerned.  The PC, a very good boat by design, as configured for the Coast Guard, but after SEAL's got done designing the longer NSW version,  well everyone knows how useful they have been to NSW.  The MKV and the NSW RHIB have their problems.  When our senior leadership stops designing boats based on their own egotistical wishes and involves the guys who actually operate the boats maybe SPECWAR will get a real warfighting boat that is worthwhile.  Of course that's never going to happen.

I'll get back to you.

Bill Hellman


09-07-03   My Platoon from UDT 22 took the first East Coast SEAFOX (which is currently at the SEAL Museum in Ft Pierce Florida) to the MED in 1981.  We did extensive tow tests on this boat prior to deploying to ensure that it would tow a MK8 SDV in the sled. The coxswain was Hal Kuehne from what was then COSRIVRON if I remember right.

The boat was nearly destroyed while crane launching just days out of Morehead City enroute to Rota.  The launch was set up to  train the ships crew and although it was very calm at the time, it got away and began violently crashing into the side of the ship.  I jumped overboard along with one other guy (retired Master Diver Chuck Leger)  Hal and the engineer stayed with it until it was back on deck.  The boat did touch the water for a few seconds and at one point the hook was inside the cabin wreaking havoc.

I read that someone thought the hulls were buried somewhere.  I can't speak for the boats from the West coast  but the East coast boats are all lined up neatly on a range at AP Hill where they are stopping bullets and collecting rain water.   I'll try to get a picture next time I fly over.

Even with the wake the boat wasn't bad for water skiing and it was an awesome liberty launch.  Even with its problems, compared to the current NSW RHIB which is an embarrassment obviously designed by someone who can't spell "operational support craft", the SEAFOX wasn't bad.

Bill Hellman
CWO retired


 I still live outside Bellingham. I helped build the Seafox at Uniflite . The hardtop over the control station  the rear compartment were laminated with Kevlar as was the bow.  The engine compartment was surrounded with foam filled with graphite chaff. I don't have any photos of the Seafox.  One of the prototypes was sold to somebody in Bellingham who used it as a gillnetter. I don't know if it is still around. About ten of the production were boats for Israel.  I never got a ride so don't know if they were  good or bad boat. Supposedly, the drive and hull were set up to maintain 30knots in sea state 4.??  The props were in tunnels and with the Vee of the hull they could be driven on the beach with no damage to the props. Keith  Robinsnest_1@msn.com .


Here is an cut and paste from another email:

06/30/01  Sea Foxes, which never saw combat but were involved in the Persian Gulf Tanker war are all crushed and buried. Calvin Hastings [chastings@netzon.net]  


11-10-02)  Saw your website, I was assigned to SBU-12 from 1982-1988.  I primarily was a POIC of the 65' PB (in fact I have the Teak ID plaque from my old boat the 737), but also operated Seafox.  We were taking delivery of these "new" boats during this time.  The Seafox had some problems.  One serious problem was that it was nose heavy when not carrying a load of SEALs and equipment.  All the electronics were in the nose plus the engine compartment was actually slightly forward of center.  The rear was an empty compartment with jump seats. 

I'll look and see I may have  1 or 2 snapshots of Seafoxes.  I know what you mean about the opinions, even back then some loved them others hated them.  Personally, I thought they were fun to operate if you remembered a few safety items.  One note of distinction  is that they were designed without any sharp right angles to help give a low radar profile so you might say they were the first Combat Craft to use stealth technology.  Also, the twin 6v92's  made the boat scoot right along.  I'll check for those pics and send them along. 

Mike Price, CPO (Ret.)
Bremerton, WA


01/13/03    Hi Dan,

I operated SeaFox's for a couple of years while stationed at SBU-12 at the same time Chief Price was there. I just retired from the Navy and am in the process of moving, however if you're still interested in info on them, I have one of the old BIB's (Boat Information Books) minus the classified section of course, which I can copy to you once I get moved. The actual designator was SWCL (Special Warfare Craft Light).

The boat was designed for a multitude of tasks, but it's primary mission was over the horizon insertion/extraction of SEAL elements. It operated in water 3 ft to 300 fathoms deep and could travel approximately 300 miles round trip in open ocean. It was deployable by trailer, which could be placed inside of aircraft, it could be placed in a deployment cradle inside of a well decks or on the main deck of Naval Amphibious ships.

Armament consisted of two M-60 (Charlie or Delta model) 7.62mm machineguns on the forward structure and two Browning M2HB .50 Cal machineguns aft. The ..50's were interchangeable with M-19 grenade launchers.

The boat was designed with what some may refer to as "stealth" technology: The paint was non metallic, the interior of the engine compartment was shielded against radar, the Radar and Comm masts were covered with RAM (radar absorbent material), the exhaust was muffled and discharged under water. It also had some other IR reduction qualities, etc.

The craft was designed to operate at speeds in excess of 40 knots in sea state 4, and was powered by twin detroit diesel 6V92TA engines. I can personally attest to the fact that with a good engineer, a steady hand, and balls of brass, the boat would indeed perform at that speed. A rumor was that the boat had actually been designed for speeds in excess of 60 knots, however some Admiral took a ride, got the snot scared out of himself and had the design speed reduced. I'm sure it was only a rumor but I wouldn't have wanted to go that fast in one either! It was an awesome boat to look at, and appeared to be doing 60 knots while tied to the pier. Fun to operate is an understatement.

There were several design flaws in the craft as Mike Price stated. The bow design was sloped to allow a clear view while transiting at speed, unfortunately this led to the boat plowing at idle speeds. Even worse was that the boat had a tendency to dive, becoming momentarily submerged when operated in heavy seas. With or without a SEAL squad onboard it was not uncommon for SeaFox sailors to "earn their dolphins" or become submerged while in heavy sea states. This was not an uncommon occurrence for us at SBU-12 while transiting to and from San Nicholas or San Clemente Islands. This was finally part of the boats downfall, and was a contributing factor in the death of PO3 Richard Christmen while on deployment in the Philippines in 1987. There were also several other accident on the east coast.

Additionally, while deployed to the Persian Gulf in '87-'88, the SeaFox spent most of its time in deployment cradles on the jacking barges we were called home (The winbrown and Hercules). Because of the sea states we were not able to safely put them in and out of the water and many of the crews were reassigned to the 65' Sea Spectre class patrol boats instead. Due to the many faults, the boat spent the last remaining part of its short career acting as a training aid. We spent long hours in the open ocean and in the San Diego bay, performing mock ship attacks to ready the rest of the Fleet for the threats they would deal with in the Persian Gulf.

Though the SeaFox had a very short and lackluster career, it will always hold a dear place in my heart.

John Gerving, (e-mail: usnretiredin2000@yahoo.com)


12-22-02 Hi!

I found your website and wanted to add some information. I was assigned to 
SBU-12 from 83-85.

The Seafox had a wide variety of electronics. It had an LN-66 navigational 
radar, a HF/VHF (AN/???-23) radio, an avionic UHF radio, IFF and an 
AN/APR-39 ECCM radar detector. It also had a gyroscope compass.

There were four weapons hardpoints, the aft corners of the front cabin for 
M-60's and a couple of mounts for .50 cal's in the passenger compartment.

The 6V92 Detroit-Diesel Allisons had both twin turbochargers and a blower. 
They were temperamental beasts requiring a lot of maintenance to keep running.

With the exhausts under the passenger compartments, you needed hearing 
protection back there.

The boat was designed to be loaded onto a trailer and straight into a 
C-130. The forward and passenger compartments collapsed flat and both masts 
folded down.

If you have any more questions, I'll do my best to try and answer them.

Mark G. Havener  (impact@cyberservices.com)


07/28/03      SBU-24 Little Creek, Virginia was one of the last in the U.S. Navy to utilize the SEAFOX.  In 1989 the electronics suit contained: ICOM bridge-to-bridge radio, AN/URC-94 VHF/UHF 100W transceiver,

Harris RT-1230/URC-94 1.5 Mhz to 80 Mhz (HF / VHF). 1.5 to 30 Mhz = 100W, 30 - 80 Mhz = 50W

AN/UPX-100 IFF transponder, FURUNO 802 radar, FURUNO SATNAV, and AN/APR-39 Detector. 

ETCS(SW) R.L. Shoecraft


09/07/03    Subject: SEAFOX

My Platoon from UDT 22 took the first East Coast SEAFOX (which is currently at the SEAL Museum in Ft Pierce Florida) to the MED in 1981. We did extensive tow tests on this boat prior to deploying to ensure that it would tow a MK8 SDV in the sled. The coxswain was Hal Kuehne from what was then COSRIVRON if I remember right.

The boat was nearly destroyed while crane launching just days out of Morehead City enroute to Rota. The launch was set up to train the ships crew and although it was very calm at the time, it got away and began violently crashing into the side of the ship. I jumped overboard along with one other guy (retired Master Diver Chuck Leger) Hal and the engineer stayed with it until it was back on deck. The boat did touch the water for a few seconds and at one point the hook was inside the cabin wreaking havoc.

I read that someone thought the hulls were buried somewhere. I can't speak for the boats from the West coast but the East coast boats are all lined up neatly on a range at AP Hill where they are stopping bullets and collecting rain water. I'll try to get a picture next time I fly over.

Even with the wake the boat wasn't bad for water skiing and it was an awesome liberty launch. Even with its problems, compared to the current NSW RHIB which is an embarrassment obviously designed by someone who can't spell "operational support craft", the SEAFOX wasn't bad.

Bill Hellman CWO retired