New Dual Fuel Finnish Icebreaker


MarineLog reports the delivery of the world’s first Icebreaker capable of running on LNG. It does appear that its capabilities using LNG alone may be limited. “The diesel-electric propulsion system includes two Wartsila 6,000 kW engines and one 1,280 kW dual fuel engine.” If, as it appears, only the 1,280 kW engine can use LNG.

I found the size of the Finnish icebreaker fleet interesting.

“Following delivery, the Finnish Transport Agency handed the vessel over to Arctia Icebreaking Oy, A Finnish state-owned company that operates a fleet of vessels that provide icebreaking services. Besides the Polaris, Arctia Icebreaking Oy operates three multipurpose icebreakers, one oil spill recovery icebreaker, three 113-ton bollard pull icebreakers, and one harbor icebreaker and towing vessel. The newest oceangoing icebreakers in the fleet, the Fennica and Nordica—two 230-ton bollard pull icebreakers—were both delivered in 1993.”

Note, the range and endurance required of these icebreakers is closer to what we think of as domestic icebreakers rather than polar icebreakers, but still an impressive fleet.

Late addition: gCaptain has a more complete description of the ship:

Man Overboard Alarm

Photo: ALERT2 Man-Overboard Alarm System from Emerald Marine Products 

Loosing a man overboard is one of those nightmares you never want happening on your watch. I was CG liaison officer at Fleet Training Group San Diego when a 210 that had recently lost two men over board came through for REFTRA. Four crewmen, being good sailors, took it upon themselves to go on deck during a storm to secure some loose equipment. All four were washed overboard. The sea then deposited two of them back on board. The other two were never found, so it does happen.

MarineLink has a story about a device that alarms the watch when its wearer goes in the water.

“Upon receiving an MOB activation signal, the AR100 Receiver sets off a loud, 95 dB alarm and bright red alert light on the display. It can be wired to shut down engines—essential for solo mariners and fishermen. Connected to a compatible GPS chartplotter, it automatically sets an overboard waypoint. External speakers and strobes can be utilized with the AR100. It can also be configured to alert via a remote cellular dial-up, radio transmission burst or Internet-connected device. The AR100 Receiver runs on 12V, or on 110V using the optional power supply. It comes with a flexible whip antenna, coaxial cable and full mounting hardware.

“The optional ALERT2 Portable Directional Finder aids crew in locating the MOB when visual contact is lost due to darkness or sea conditions. Unlike AIS, which is typically installed in the wheelhouse, the directional finder can be used on deck. Rescuers sweep the horizon to quickly home-in on the transmitter’s signal for a fast recovery.

“Emerald Marine Products’ ALERT2 AT101 Transmitter lists for $269, the AT200 IS model for $369, the AR100 Receiver for $749 and the Portable Directional Finder for $899. Discounted pricing is available for packages.”

Note, I don’t really know if this a good company or its products are the best of the type, so I’m not endorsing the particular product, but simply pointing out that such things exist. Maybe the Coast Guard is already using them. I know I would feel better, if I knew my BMOW was wearing a device with the capability claimed for these.

Indonesian Bomb Plot?


Photo: Floor-by-floor breakdown of the injuries/deaths in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building from the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Red triangles indicates a fatality, a yellow one indicates a victim was admitted. Author: Sue Mallonee at Oklahoma State Department of Health Injury Prevention Service

gCaptain is reporting that Indonesian authorities on the resort island of Bali have detained a ship from Malaysia carrying around 30 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which police believe may have been intended for making bombs.

Ammonium nitrate was, you may recall, a primary igrediant in the truck bomb used in the attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

“…the bombing destroyed one-third of the building, killed 168 people, and injured more than 680 others. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage.”

Total weight of the explosives in that case was perhaps 7.000 pounds or less.

There is no indication that the ship itself was intended to be used as a bomb delivery system.

Bell V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor–The Eagle Eye Look-a-Like


Photo: V-247 Vigilant, Bell Helicopter artist rendering

Earlier we talked about the possibility of a new tilt-rotor UAS with a configuration similar to the Eagle Eye concept that was part of the original DeepWater program. Now we have a Bell Helicopter news release which provides more information on this program and its capabilities, plus a designation, V-247, and a name, Vigilant.” A Breaking Defense post puts the program in context relative to the V-22, the Marines intended use, and the Air Force’s long endurance MQ-9 Reaper UAS.

As noted earlier, this is a much larger aircraft than the Eagle Eye would have been. Bell states that its wing and rotor folded foot print is equivilent to that of a UH-1Y (latest version of the Huey) which is much larger than an MH-65 and only slightly smaller than an H-60. It uses a single 6,000 HP engine. If deployed on a cutter it would replace a manned helicopter.

Below is the Bell news release quoted in full:

FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 22, 2016) – Speaking before an audience of aviation and military experts assembled at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, today unveiled the Bell V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor.

To download renderings of the Bell V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor, please follow this link.

The Bell V-247 tiltrotor is an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will combine the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft.  The revolutionary UAS is designed to provide unmatched long-endurance persistent expeditionary and surveillance capability and lethal reach, as well as runway independence to operate successfully in maritime environments and locations without secure runway availability.

The Bell V-247 Vigilant satisfies the comprehensive spectrum of capabilities outlined in the 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan, and could be available for production as early as 2023. The Bell V-247 Vigilant is a solution designed to address the evolving demands of the military and transportation sectors for unmanned aircraft for a shipborne UAS platform, including:

  • The ability to operate successfully without a runway, such as in maritime environments
  • Seamless performance in locations without secure runway availability, such as at shrinking land bases in contested areas
  • Significant reduction of the logistical footprint while retaining the superior operational performance by combining the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft
  • The capacity to control the battle space effectively with 24-hour intelligence provided by unmatched long-endurance persistent expeditionary and surveillance capability

A Group 5 UAS, the Bell V-247 Vigilant is designed to combine unparalleled capability with unprecedented flexibility to execute a wide array of mission sets, including electronic warfare, ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), escort, C4 (Command, Control, Communications, and Computers), persistent fire missions and tactical distribution. The UAS is expected to accomplish all of this with the benefits of extended endurance through plug-and-play mission packages.

“The Bell V-247 Vigilant is the next leap in innovation making the future of aviation a reality today – it’s a testament to the power and versatility of tiltrotor flight,” said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO at Bell Helicopter. “At Bell Helicopter, we are constantly challenging the traditional notion of what it means to fly by staying on the leading edge of aviation and technological development. The unmanned tiltrotor is the latest example of how we are changing the way the world flies, taking our customers into the dynamic world of next-generation aircraft.”

The Bell V-247 Vigilant’s design boasts a number of unrivaled capabilities and transformational features, including:

  • A sea-based platform, which can be sized for compatibility with DDG guided missile destroyers shipboard applications
  • Single engine tiltrotor unmanned aerial system
  • 24-hour persistent ISR with a two aircraft system
  • Speed: 250 knots cruise speed; 180 knots endurance speed; >300 knots at maximum continuous power
  • Combat range: 450 nautical miles mission radius
  • Time on station: 11 hours
  • Size: 16,000 pounds empty weight / 29,500 pounds max gross weight; 65-feet wing span; 30-feet rotor diameter
  • As it sits on the deck, the V-247 Vigilant can hold a combination of fuel, armament, and sensors, up to 13,000 pounds
  • Blade Fold Wing Stow makes V-247 Vigilant DDG hangar compatible
  • Expeditionary capability with small logistical footprint
  • Open architecture and interfaces
  • Air-to-air refueling
  • Modular payload system to provide maximum flexibility
  • Power distribution system to provide maximum mission capability
  • Redundant flight control system
  • Electro Optical System and Targeting System

The Bell V-247 Vigilant offers a dynamic profile that is uniquely suited to complete highly versatile operations and support missions. It is designed to provide extended range flying from land or ship, matchless expeditionary capabilities and to remain on-station with heightened loiter times for extended periods. With its signature blade fold wing stow design, it will fit inside a DDG hangar space, and two can be loaded on a C-17 aircraft. The open architecture of the modular payload system enhances flexibility for aircraft customization by mission type. The bays on the Bell V-247 Vigilant are designed to carry high definition sensors, fuel, sonar buoys, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) modules, 360-degree surface radar modules, an MK-50 torpedo or Hellfire or JAGM missiles optimally. Regardless of the need, the Bell V-247 Vigilant easily integrates into priority mission sets to complete multiple airborne requirements.

“Leveraging lessons learned from our extensive history and experience with tiltrotors, we have found the best available solution to fulfill the Marine Corps need for a Group 5 UAS,” said Vince Tobin, vice president, advanced tiltrotor systems at Bell Helicopter. “The Bell V-247 Vigilant will give military customers the capabilities needed to reduce the complexity of deployment, increase speed of employment, reduce mission times and increase response time – all critical elements to completing missions to save lives and protect our freedom.”

Bell Helicopter utilized its decades of applied tiltrotor experience to develop this next generation UAS. The Bell V-247 Vigilant design and capabilities bring to bear experience from the V-22 tiltrotor program and UH-1Y/AH-1Z programs, capturing the V-280 Valor’s unmatched design and performance standards in order to provide unparalleled competency to support ship-board compatibility.

Press Contact:
+1 817-280-3100

What Does It Take to Sink a Ship–the ex-USS Rentz Sink-Ex

Earlier I explored “What Does It take to Sink a Ship?” as a measure of what it takes to be absolutely sure you can stop one. Then the Japanese Tsunami gave us fishing vessel Ryou-Un Maru, a small vessel USCGC Anacapa attempted to sink with their 25mm gun. Anacapa ultimately resorted to coming along side and using a fire hose to fill the vessel with water, but it took over five hours.

Now the Navy provides us with information about another Sink-Ex. The former USS Rentz (FFG-46), a 4,200 ton, 453 foot long frigate, was the target. In spite of being hit by 22 missiles, she took five hours to sink. The last hit or hits were by Hellfire, and may not have been necessary, but not all the missiles were that small. The caption below appears to indicate at least two Harpoons were used.


Photo: US Navy. Guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65), foreground, and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) fire Harpoons missiles as part of a sink exercise (SINKEX) during Valiant Shield 2016.

Reports also indicate that at least one JSOW C-1, an over 1000 pound guided gliding munition with both Infra-Red and Link-16 guidance, was used.

The caption on the photo below seems to indicate multiple AGM-65F were used. These are infra-red homing, Air to Surface Missiles, weighing over 600 pounds with a 300 pound warhead.

U.S. Navy sailors with Patrol Squadron 46 load a P-3 Orion aircraft with AGM-65F MAVERICKS Air to Surface Missiles prior to a sinking exercise (SINKEX) Sept. 13, 2016, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, during Valiant Shield 2016. SINKEX provided service members the opportunity to gain proficiency in tactics, targeting, and live firing against a surface target at sea. Valiant Shield is a biennial, U.S. -only field-training exercise with a focus on integration of joint training among U.S. forces. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Justin Fisher)

U.S. Navy sailors with Patrol Squadron 46 load a P-3 Orion aircraft with AGM-65F MAVERICKs, prior to a sinking exercise (SINKEX) Sept. 13, 2016, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, during Valiant Shield 2016.

When the video at the head of this post begins, it appears that the ship has already taken at least three major hits. I suspect these were two Harpoons and possibly the JSOW C-1. I suspect the four hits seen in the video were Mavericks launched from the P-8 that made the video.

The video below shows a Hellfire hitting what appears to be an already sinking hulk. It appears to me, the effects are clearly less than those seen in the video at the top of the post.

I would love to have a clearer idea of the sequence and effects of the individual hits, but one thing is clear. It took a lot of ordnance to put even this relatively small ship down. The Coast Guard’s 25 mm and 57 mm guns, with their five ounce and six pound projectiles, will not cut it.

OPC–Eastern Wins the Contract


The second photo is a more recent concept rendering

The Coast Guard’s Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) is reporting Eastern Shipbuilding Group has been awarded the contract for detail design and construction of the first of 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) expected to replace the Coast Guard’s overage Medium Endurance Cutter Fleet.

“The Coast Guard today selected Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc. of Panama City, Florida, to continue to the detail design and construction phase (Phase II) of the offshore patrol cutter acquisition program. The award is worth $110.29 million.

“The full Phase II award covers detail design and production of up to nine OPCs and has a potential value of $2.38 billion if all options are exercised.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s notional design is 360 feet long, with a beam of 54 feet and a draft of 17 feet. The OPCs will have a sustained speed of 22.5 knots, a range of 10,200 nautical miles (at 14 knots), and an endurance of 60-days. It is expected to “conduct missions including law enforcement, drug and migrant interdiction search and rescue, and other homeland security and defense operations. Each OPC will feature a flight deck and advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.” It’s hangar will accommodate one MH-60 or an MH-65 and a Unmanned Air System (UAS).

There are nice side and plan views of the design and a summary of its characteristics here (pdf). reports, “At a cost of around $484 million per ship, it’s the largest contract the Coast Guard has ever awarded in its 226-year history.”

I’m not sure how that works out because “production of up to nine OPCs and has a potential value of $2.38 billion if all options are exercised” equals $264.4M/ship. If that is the actual shipyard building costs and the remaining $220M is Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) and other costs the ships may be a real bargain.

Hopefully additional details of the design will surface in the near future.

Thanks to Luke for bring this to my attention.