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Patrol Boat Light (PBL)

Light-Class Patrol Boat

The PBL is a multi-purpose, high-speed Boston Whaler-type vessel suitable for interdiction duties.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 8/8/2018
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Year: 1990
Status: Commissioned, in Active Service
Ships-in-Class: 16
Named Ships: Not Applicable.
Roles: Hunter;
Complement: 11
Length: 25 ft (7.62 m)
Width: 8.6 ft (2.62 m)
Height: 12.6 ft (3.84 m)
Displacement (Surface): 6 tons
Propulsion: 2 x outboard motors developing 155 horsepower each.
Speed (Surface): 40 kts (46 mph)
Operators: Brazil; United States
The PBL (or "Patrol Boat, Light") is another of the United States Navy's type of small-class surface vessels built on speed and quick-strike/interdiction capabilities. Such qualities are often prized in particular by special forces groups and the capabilities inherent in a system like the PBL are a major reason why. The vessel has seen constant operation since its inception and remains in service as of this writing, being used as recently as during Operation Enduring Freedom with United States Navy Special Boat Units (SBU).

The design of the PBL is of particular note, considering the fiberglass hull provides a shallow draught making the PBL ideal for activities on rivers and coastal locales alike. This effectively means that the PBL can operate in just about any water depth apart from choppy open rough seas. The shallow draft also plays on the vessels ability to hit a top sea-going speed of up to 40 knots, making the aforementioned quick-strike capability of this craft an obvious strongpoint. The PBL design is centered around a Boston Whaler-type boat and, despite its use in a military theater, remains largely unarmored which, while doing little to preserve its crew, contributes largely to the type's impressive speeds on water. The craft has three weapon stations for a variety of weapon mountings though these are traditionally fitted with a 12.7mm (.50 caliber) Browning heavy caliber machine gun and a 7.62mm general purpose machine gun to counter both light-armored and unarmored targets with each mounting providing for unfettered 180-degree arcs of fire, these covering forward, amidships and aft quadrants. Power for the PBL is derived from twin outboard motors generating 155 horsepower each. These systems sit low to the water line and can hold 25 knot speeds for a sustained amount of time.

The core mission assignment of this class US Navy surface vessel is generally in the interception of like-size water-going vessels. However, mission types do run the gamut of various security operations in established traffic zones and can also revolve around riverine operations when needed. The PBL can also be used to implant elite special forces units or serve as a reconnaissance gathering platform in a similar special operations role. The overall negligible size of the craft makes transportation ideal through either cargo aircraft, floating headquarters or via towed trailer systems when on land.


3 x weapon stations, typically fitted with:

1 x 12.7mm M2HB Browning heavy machine gun
2 x 7.62mm M240 general purpose machine guns

Also any personal weapons carried by the crew.

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