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Naval Warfare

Patrol Boat Light (PBL)

Light-Class Patrol Boat [ 1990 ]

The PBL is a multi-purpose, high-speed Boston Whaler-type vessel suitable for interdiction duties.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/08/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

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.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States

In Active Service.

Not Applicable.

Not Applicable.

National flag of Brazil National flag of the United States Brazil; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Offshore Operation
Activities conducted near shorelines in support of allied activities.

25.0 ft
7.62 m
8.6 ft
2.62 m
12.6 ft
3.84 m

Installed Power: 2 x outboard motors developing 155 horsepower each.
Surface Speed
40.0 kts
(46.0 mph)

kts = knots | mph = miles-per-hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = kilometers

1 kts = 1.15 mph | 1 nm = 1.15 mi | 1 nm = 1.85 km
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.

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)

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Images Gallery

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Image of the Patrol Boat Light (PBL)
A fully loaded PBL in showcases the availability of portable firepower for the US special forces
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Image of the Patrol Boat Light (PBL)
A PBL at high speed; not forend above water
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Image of the Patrol Boat Light (PBL)
Close-up detail view of the forward gun mount and its general purpose machine gun
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Image of the Patrol Boat Light (PBL)
A PBL takes a slight turn at high speeds
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Image of the Patrol Boat Light (PBL)
A pair of PBLs at speed in calm river waters
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Image of the Patrol Boat Light (PBL)
A pair of PBLs at speed in open water
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Image of the Patrol Boat Light (PBL)
A Boston Whaler patrol vessel in open seas
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Image of the Patrol Boat Light (PBL)
High-angled view of a PBL system in calm waters; note hevay and light caliber armaments
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Image of the Patrol Boat Light (PBL)

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