Navy SEAL Prototype: 1991 Go-Fast Boat

For our boating fans out there, we bring you a total mystery find that supposedly has origins as being a prototype “go-fast” boat for the U.S. Navy SEALs. The seller reports this is a project he’s been working on for some time, and that the 40-footer was built by the U.S. Marine Corps in the fall of 1991. The legacy of the go-fast boat is a colorful one, being used by privateers for high-speed pleasure cruising as well as drug dealers as a way to evade local law enforcement while skimming across the water under the dark of night. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Miami Vice but it’s hard to deny the potential cool factor here. Find the mystery boat here on craigslist in Washington State for $7,500.

I found this boat while looking up prices for a Scarab 38, the exact boat the Sonny used on the hit TV series. The legacy of go-fast boats like these goes back quite a ways, with the introduction of the deep-V hull effectively transforming what it meant to travel at high speeds over open water. While it seems unusual that the U.S. Military would build its own version of what drug runners had already perfected, perhaps there was a goal to build a superior vessel – faster, stronger, and better than what the enemy had. The seller doesn’t offer much in the way of a history lesson, so perhaps one of our readers will recognize this obscure speed boat.

He’s been slowly restoring it since finding it in Virginia in 1997. There’s definitely been some progress but clearly not a lot, as there’s no trailer to go with the boat – just the stands it’s been resting on, likely ever since it made the trek across the country. The hull has been restored but it still needs repainting, and the seller also notes the need for some isolated gelcoat repairs. The SEAL boat will also need engines and props, a steering wheel, one Keikhaufer trim tab, and trim tab cylinders to consider this project done. No word on what the cabin accommodations look like, or if there are any.

It does come with a fair amount of equipment, however, so it’s not a total rebuild. The seller notes it comes with a complete Latham Marine steering system, hydraulic pumps, Mercruiser Speedmaster 3 Drives and lift cylinders, Velvet Drive transmissions, Gimbal housings, engine bellhousings, and five-inch offshore compasses. There’s some heavy lifting done and certainly more to do, and it’d be great to find out what engines the SEAL team originally equipped their secretive go-fast boat with. Now, it’s time for our readers to play detective: do any of you know the origins of this boat, or if the seller’s story holds water? Let us knw in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. Newport Pagnell

    Has similar lines to a 38′ Cigarette Top Gun hull?

    Like 1
    • John S Dressler

      Love to see three of these tucked into the engine bay of that boat! After you planed it out, the only thing in the water would be the drive units and props!

  2. Mutt

    I owned one of these back in 1993, I am 5′ 11″ and I can honestly say that I could not fit in the boat. Of course mine was 1/24th scale.
    Never seen one in 1/1 scale.

    Like 10
  3. Nash Bridges

    I would to have machine guns just like real PT boat

    Like 4
  4. bobk

    I’m not saying that it is impossible, but as a long-time civilian contractor for the USMC, in my experience, the DOD in general, and the USMC in particular, does not build any of their own equipment. They produce a list of specifications, put it out for bid, and go from there.

    For most operations, the SEAL Teams use RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats). They do use a couple of go-fast boats that I am aware of, but they are more in the 80 ft class.

    Like I said, not impossible, but I highly doubt it.

    Like 11
    • TED WALTHER

      Bobk;
      This boat was used by NSWDEVGRP Gray Team( time frame:1991-1996)

      • TED WALTHER

        USMI-United States Marine Incorporated( formerly Halter Inc.)

      • Kerry Duris

        Devgru used these as early as 86-87, I was support for a seal team and devgru use to train in these in the carribean.

  5. bobk

    As a civilian contractor for the DOD/USMC, I have serious doubts – at least about the USMC doing the build.

    First, why would the USMC be building a Navy boat.

    Second, almost without exception, the DOD/USMC/Navy does do any of their own building. They decide (often with input from contractors) on a set of specs and put out bids.

    Third, SEAL teams most often use RHIB’s (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats). They also have Mk 5 Special Operations Craft (82 ft).

    Like I said above, not impossible, but I have doubts.

    Like 8
    • BigDave826

      I have several friends that are/have been enlisted in the USMC and the Navy. When you see their paychecks, the USMC paystubs say USMC a division of the Navy. That’s why the USMC would commission to build a boat for the Navy.

  6. ruxvette

    It was built by United States Marine, Inc., a builder of boats for the military.

    Like 6
    • bobk

      Bingo. On the nose.

      Like 4
    • Will Irby

      Yes; United States Marine initially built racing sailboats, and migrated into the military mission boats in the ’80s:
      https://usmi.com/

      Like 1
  7. bobk

    oops. Double posted with updates. My apologies to the Barn Finds administrator.

    Like 2
  8. Jay A Fields

    They were FOUNTAIN built boats that the Seals used in Gulf One. They were sold as surplus in the early ’90’s. At the time they were painted a very dark blue machinery mostly removed. Some Arnison drives remained. They were in the Portsmouth sales compound.

    Like 2
    • TED WALTHER

      Jay;
      You are somewhat correct. Fountain did build 33’ SAC (SEAL Assualt Boat) and 38’ and 42’ SOC’s (Special Operations Craft), however, Halter/USMI was the company that won the actual long term contract and still have it today, producing the 4th Generation HSAC and CCA.

  9. Retiredstig Member

    As a long ago US. Special Boat Unit sailor, I think it is plausible this is a surveyed out ex military boat. The hull form is very close to what became the Mk. V Spec Ops craft. The switch gear all looks mil-spec, and there is a crew served weapons mount visible in one picture. As to the Marine Corps connection, it’s possible that Recon wanted something like this, but unlikely.

    Like 4
    • TED WALTHER

      What SBU were you with? I was with NR SBU 24/NR SBU 20/SBR 2/ SBU 26/SBU 20.

      Like 1
  10. Joey

    United States Marine, Inc (USMI) Has been building Combatant Craft Assault Vessels since 1987 so this may be more than just a “Fish Story”

    https://www.wlox.com/2020/04/13/united-states-marine-inc-gulfport-awarded-million-contract-combatant-craft-assault/

    https://usmi.com/

    Like 1
  11. Steve

    As a side note, I was on a trip on I-40 on 2002 and was passed by a semi flatbed with a similar style boat painted a dark blackish flat color like a stealth fighter and it had an elaborate vented shielding sticking several feet out the back over the drives and for all purposes appeared to look like Batman’s boat. No glass or anything shiny, all enclosed and I believe it was a military or DEA interception boat.

    Like 1
  12. Ted Walther

    Damn I was trying to keep this boat a secret! While I collect my pennies to buy it!

    Like 2
    • TED WALTHER

      FYI Barnfind guys, $7500 is the opening bid. As stated in the write up, He wants $18,000. So that is the BIN price. Oh and read the whole ad…..no trailer.

      Like 2
  13. Miguelito Loveless

    I think it was made in China, just like everything else these days.

    Like 2
  14. Phil Garn

    As Ted Walther said it is indeed a Naval Special Warfare boat. Note the gun mounts just outside the cockpit in the first two photos. If you want to find out more about the NSW HSB program including development, operations and many photos, check out “WARBOATS, 55 Years of Naval Special Warfare Combatant Craft History” available through the Combatant Craft Crewman Association Ship’s Store see https://www.combatantcraftcrewman.org

    Like 3
  15. Bill McCoskey

    Barn Finds readers are amazing. Even with this rare boat, the readers here were able to identify who made it, and for what purpose. Congrats.

    Like 1
  16. Tadpole

    SWCC boat?

  17. Phil Garn

    Kerry, I am a historian with the Combatant Craft Crewman Association please email me, as we would like to find out more about the early HSBs. Ted Walther got some great info from Bill Hellman that we put in our book. You will get a kick out of the SBU-12 guys rebuilding the DEVGRU cast offs and using them in DS. Thanks Phil Garn
    historian2@combatantcraftcrewman.org

    Sun, Apr 11 at 6:53 AM

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