North Sea Boats’ new X-18 Tank Boat feels like it should be a G.I. Joe toy. The 60-foot long catamaran can travel up rivers, carry a small inflatable boat on its back, and deliver either 20 Marines or Navy SEALs to shore. It also has a tank cannon in a turret on top of the main cabin, and if that isn’t enough, it’s possible to put an automated heavy machine gun turret on top of the tank turret.
Designed for a crew of four, the Tank Boat punches well above its weight. The smaller turret can be outfitted with guns ranging from 7.62 machine guns to 30-mm light cannons, and the bigger guns punch through armored targets up to 3 miles away. The 105-mm cannon can also angle up to 42 degrees, letting it lob explosives over 6 miles. Landing on beaches is never easy, but a landing craft with deadly firepower makes it a lot easier.
Right now, the 18 appears to be just a concept, with small mock-ups appearing at defense trade shows. When asked for more information about the boat, Indonesian defense firm PT Lundin, which owns North Sea Boats, sent along a brochure, so it appears they are at least marketing the idea.
The X18 would hardly be the first tank boat. Starting in the 1930s and going into World War II, Soviet Russia experimented with heavier armed river boats, using already-made tank turrets as the turrets for their riverine vessels. Not just experiments, these ships saw battle, participating in fights on the Black Sea and the Baltic sea. During WWII, the U.S. Navy tried putting tank turrets on landing craft, but found the guns were too heavy and the boat engines too weak. With modern construction techniques, and 70 years of development since, it’s unlikely the X18 will have these problems.