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San Diego is a Navy town and nearby Coronado is the home of US Navy SEAL training, so area residents are used to watching all kinds of ships and other watercraft. In 2006, however, a very unusual new hull appeared, generating worldwide attention.

stilletooThe vessel is the M80 Stiletto, an experimental prototype that may signal a revolution in ship design and manufacturing with wide-ranging implications for future warfare at sea. M Ship Company, LLC, a technology firm established by engineers, naval architects and other maritime production specialists, is responsible for the strange new craft, developed under a $12.5-million developmental contract from the Defense Department’s Office of Force Transformation (OFT). The Stiletto’s odd appearance is just one of several innovative features incorporated in its hull. The little ship is manufactured with carbon fiber materials, and it incorporates fully integrated digital network architecture to operate all on-board systems.

Stiletto also has strategic implications. The program operates under the auspices of the OFT’s Wolf PAC Distributed Operations Experiment, a joint effort with US Special Operations Command, to improve command and control over widely dispersed geographical areas by creating adaptive networked, autonomous and semi-autonomous forces, including advanced littoral ships geared for “brown water” operations in the newly created Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC).

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