Portable Boats & Small Craft Assembly Kits

Navy SBIR 24.1 - Topic N241-039
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Pre-release 11/29/23   Opens to accept proposals 1/03/24   Now Closes 2/21/24 12:00pm ET    [ View Q&A ]

N241-039 TITLE: Portable Boats & Small Craft Assembly Kits


OBJECTIVE: Develop a craft that is easily manufacturable in theatre to allow more assets to arrive at the Expeditionary Advanced Base (EAB) within the same shipping/logistic footprint for forward deployments.

DESCRIPTION: More craft available in theater would support reduction in refuel, rearm, and resupply times allowing on demand supply transport from a capital asset or a supply depot to forward bases. This will enable risk worthy asset support to contested logistics and distributed lethality during littoral operations in a contested environment through manned or unmanned operations. The kit shall be stored within a standard shipping container no larger than 40 foot that may contain other supporting equipment. A form factor similar to the portable rigid inflatable boat is desired. Craft must be recoverable by conventional ship boat handling mechanisms. Maximum craft weight cannot exceed 5,600 pounds fully outfitted. The portable boat & small craft assembly kits need to contain, within shipping containers, all components needed for construction. Forward deployed sailors would then construct the craft, assisted by manufacturing aids. The craft that is manufactured would then need to meet stability and speed requirements in a minimum of sea state 3.

Stage of completion and speed to deployment must be weighed against compactness of shipping. Flexibility to disassemble craft for storage or repurposing is desired. Craft operation should not require more than two boat operators. Expected maximum payload is no more than 925 pounds. Payload includes weapons/ammo (forward M60/M240 machine gun mount), other outfit and personnel.

Autonomous operation is not a requirement but inclusion of the capability to attach a tactical autonomous operation kit is desirable. Number of craft kits per container will be determined by scale of finished craft and volume needed for accessories and payload support systems. Payloads may include offensive or defensive systems and humanitarian support.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for portable boats & small craft assembly kits for an Expeditionary Combatant Craft or relevant vessel. Demonstrate the feasibility of the operational concept via physics-based modeling and simulation. Define the components of the system and hull, mechanical and electrical interfaces as well as additional functional design concepts of the system. Provide a preliminary concept design and an associated component validation plan. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype portable boat & small craft assembly kit capable of being constructed by forward deployed sailors. Evaluate the prototype to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II SOW. Demonstrate system performance through prototype evaluation and testing, modeling, and analysis. Evaluate results and accordingly refine the system concept. Ensure that the prototyped hardware clearly shows a path to development of a sea worthy hardened system. The prototype model is to be made available for Government demonstration or testing upon Government request. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Navy use.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the system for Navy use. Support the Navy in transitioning a fully hardened system for sea trials to be demonstrated on a relevant vessel. Ensure that the system passes an underway test to be developed for the defined test platform. Support for participation in fleet demonstration is aimed at transition with the intent to purchase and integrate the system into the US Navy.

Commercial applications include disaster recovery efforts where an abundance of quickly assembled small craft will make significant impact in humanitarian relief efforts in moving people and provisions in ravaged environments brought on by natural disasters or war.


  1. Lacey, Jim, THE "DUMBEST CONCEPT EVER" JUST MIGHT WIN WARS, War on the Rocks 29 July 2019, https://warontherocks.com/2019/07/the-dumbest-concept-ever-just-might-win-wars/
  2. Smith, Eric M, Lieutenant General, US Marine Corps, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, 'Tentative Manual for Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations", February 2021, https://mca-marines.org/wp-content/uploads/TM-EABO-First-Edition-1.pdf

KEYWORDS: Portable Boats; Assembly Kits; Force Protection Operations; Distributed Maritime Operations; Littoral Operations; Contested Environment


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 24.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at www.defensesbirsttr.mil/SBIR-STTR/Opportunities/#announcements for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 24.1 SBIR Topics pre-release on November 28, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on January 3, 2024, and now closes February 21, (12:00pm ET).

Direct Contact with Topic Authors: During the pre-release period (November 28, 2023 through January 2, 2024) proposing firms have an opportunity to directly contact the Technical Point of Contact (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the specific BAA topic. Once DoD begins accepting proposals on January 3, 2024 no further direct contact between proposers and topic authors is allowed unless the Topic Author is responding to a question submitted during the Pre-release period.

SITIS Q&A System: After the pre-release period, until January 24, 2023, at 12:00 PM ET, proposers may submit written questions through SITIS (SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System) at www.dodsbirsttr.mil/topics-app/ by logging in and following instructions. In SITIS, the questioner and respondent remain anonymous but all questions and answers are posted for general viewing.

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Topic Q & A

1/24/24  Q. 1. Do the craft need to be assembled at the "capital asset / supply depot" or the "forward bases"? Should there be capability for assembly at either/both?
2. Do the kits need to contain only the components for assembly, or do they also need to contain all "manufacturing aids" required for assembly?
3. Will the location of assembly have power available? Welding machines? Other hand/power tools?
4. Is there a target number of craft per container?
5. Should increasing number of craft per container be prioritized over ease/speed of assembly?
   A. 1. Both
2. All manufacturing aids as well
3. Power can be assumed, other than that everything should be in the containers needed.
4. Maximum amount that can fit.
5. That is the trade off and is up to contractor.
1/24/24  Q. What is the definition of a “forward deployed sailor” with regards to their capabilities, and to where they are stationed
   A. An enlisted Marine/Navy personnel with normal training/capability.
1/17/24  Q. How many ISO containers of boat kits are projected to be required overall?
   A. This would depend on how many craft will fit into the containers.
12/22/23  Q. Q1 - Does the craft weight limit fully outfitted include the propulsion system, and/or the autonomous operation kit?
Q2 - Can you further define fully outfitted? Would this include the deployment/assembly kit weight if it remains stored on the craft?
Q3 - Is there an intended use-case for single operator use of this craft, or will all deployments either be autonomous or manned by two operators?
Q4 - Are there current offensive/defensive systems from existing programs of record that are planned to be transported using this craft?
Q5 - For the Phase I option, do “initial design specifications” and “capabilities description” translate to the development of an Initial Capability Document (ICD) and Capability Development Document (CDD)?
   A. A1 - Yes
A2 - If it is on the craft during operation it needs to be counted towards its weight.
A3 - Two operators or autonomous
A4 - No
A5 - Potentially
12/18/23  Q. Q-1) What nominal speed is desired?
Q-2) What single trip range is desired, i.e. EAB to shore? [How many trips before refueling is desired?]
Q-3) Will cargo loads be hand carried or pallet loaded in some cases?
Q-4) What shore conditions or obstacles are anticipated within its scope of missions?
Q-5) Would ground effect or air cushion/limited over-the-shore capabilities be desired if otherwise within the scope of this topic?
   A. A-1) speed >8 knots
A-2) 50-100nm
A-3) Threshold: hand carried Objective: pallet loaded
A-4) Beachfront
A-5) That would bring additional capability to the system and would be considered if all other requirements are met

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