Navy Awards FFG Conceptual Design Contracts for FFG(X)–Speculation on a NSC Derivative

The US Naval Institute has the best report I have seen on the recent award of five contracts to five different vendors for development of conceptual designs for the projected FFG (X).

I’ll look at the parent craft and offer some speculation about what Huntington Ingalls might be doing to make their NSC based offering more attractive.

There are five venders but actually only four shipyards involved since Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisc. is both the primary for an offer based on the Fincantieri Italian FREMM, and the build yard for Lockheed’s offer of a Freedom class LCS design.

Parent Designs:

Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship:

USS Independence (LCS-2)

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) derived designs are the light weights in the competition. They both come with large open spaces that might be converted, but as built, they have limited crew accommodations. They will likely take substantial redesign to serve as FFGs. This class has exceptional aviation facilities, and functionally I find it preferable to the monohull Freedom class. Still it seems to have a fatal flaw, in that many do not like the aluminum hull and superstructure, but the Navy has not ruled out the design.

Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship:

USS Freedom (LCS-1)

My primary problem with this class is its short range. Their engineering spaces are crowded and their seakeeping has been criticized. There is a good chance that their FFG(X) variant may have a lengthened hull. What that will mean for the ships’ range is unclear. This class, with its semi-planning hull, may not take kindly to the additional weight envisioned for the FFG.

Fincantieri Italian FREMM:

Italian FREMM Bergamini. photo by Fabius1975

These and the Navantia F-100 are the high end candidates. At about 6,700 tons full load the FREMM is about twice as large as the LCS derived designs. The FREMM comes in several versions, ASW, General Purpose, and AAW. Some of them have capabilities for land attack and Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense (ABMD). The Italian versions have an active electronically scanned array radar, but this would likely be replaced by an American system. They have a double helicopter hangar. While the Italian version has at most 16 VLS, the French version of the same ship, which do not have the 5″64 gun have up to 32 VLS cells. The latest versions have a 20 knot cruise on diesels. In addition they have two 3,000 HP electric motors which can provide very quiet slow cruise (my guess, about 15 knots). It also means they have substantial reserves of electrical power for future weapons like lasers and rail guns. Neither the French or Italian versions have more than eight anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) but the Italian ASCMs are bulkier than likely American counterparts. The speed has been variously reported as 27 and 30 knots, but given that they only have LM2500 gas turbine, 27 knots is probably a realistic expectation. Because these ships’ systems are European, they may require substantial redesign. If these ships have a weakness it is likely that their cost will likely be near the but still under the Navy’s declared upper limit of $950M.

Navantia Álvaro de Bazán-class F100 Frigate:

HMAS Hobart, photo by Nick-D

There are actually three versions of this ship, Spanish, Norwegian, and Australian. The Australian ships are the latest version, so I would assume the offering is based most closely on these. These ships already use primarily American equipment including the Aegis system and a 48 cell Mk41 VLS. At 6,250 tons full load, they approach the size of many countries’ destroyers, and, in fact, that is the way the Australians and Spanish classify them. This already looks like an American design. The propulsion is CODOG with two 7,580 HP diesels and two LM2500 gas turbines for a max speed of 28+ knots. As currently configured all three versions of the design have hangars for only one H-60. All three versions are also equipped with no more than eight ASCMs. The likely stumbling block for this class is cost. When the Hobart class was constructed in Australia the three ships cost total was $9.1 B Australian, so they cost more than Burke class DDGs. The cost of the last of five F100s built by the more experienced Spanish shipyard was probably more representative, but even there the cost was $1B US. The US shipyard offering this is Bath Iron Works, a yard known more for quality than for low cost. There is perhaps the option of building a version of the smaller 5,290 ton Norwegian version of this design which mounts only a 16 cell Mk41 VLS.

The Bertholf class National Security Cutter:

Interestingly the USNI post reports, “Out of the competitors involved in the competition, HII was the only company that did not present a model or a rendering of its FFG(X) at the Surface Navy Association symposium in January.”

HII has already shown several models of NSC based frigates so perhaps they are doing something a bit different.

I suppose it is possible HII could build a stripped down version of the Burke class DDG or perhaps some other frigate design, but I will presume they will base their frigate on the Bertholf class cutter, but why the mystery?

I will speculate that they plan to make some significant changes relative to their previous presentation and they did not want to tip their hand. I’ll get to the likely changes in a moment.

The post has a short summary of the systems expected to be included in the FFG(X), I have noted the systems already included on the Bertholf class by having them in bold face.

“Many of the required weapons systems are pulled from the previous FF requirements: the COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System, which pulls software from the same common source library as the Aegis Combat System on large surface combatants; the SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system (currently a Phalanx, but the SeaRAM is a drop in replacement–Chuck); a canister-launched over-the-horizon missile; the surface-to-surface Longbow Hellfire missile; the Mk53 Nulka decoy launching system; the Surface Electron Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2 program with SLQ-32(V)6; and a slew of undersea warfare tools such as the AN/SLQ-61 light weight tow, AN/SQS-62 variable depth sonar and AN/SQQ-89F undersea warfare/anti-submarine warfare combat system. It also requires use of the MK 110 57mm gun with the Advanced Low Cost Munition Ordnance (ALaMO) projectile being developed for the LCS and frigate,”

An NSC derived frigate may occupy the sweet spot between the too small LCS derived designs and the too expensive FREMM and F100 designs that are about the largest combatants (other than flat tops and amphibs) in their respective navies. .

In order to make it more competitive with the high end frigates, I suspect HII is making some changes. Here is a list of things that might be done.

  • Increase the length to make room for additional features, but keeping it under 5,000 tons full load.
  • Using the additional length provide for more VLS, perhaps 48, or even 64.
  • Provide for 16 canister launched anti-ship cruise missiles.
  • Increase the generator power to allow future use of systems such as rail guns and lasers.
  • Provide electric motors for quiet and economical cruise and loiter (which would also use the additional generator capacity. (HII put two 5,000HP/3,700kW auxiliary propulsion motors on USS America and some other big amphibs.)
  • Use an active electronically scanned radar array.
  • Use the extra length to put another davit amidships and free the fantail and stern for ASW systems.

A Case for Propeller Guards & Cutters–Marine Link

Having had a towing hawser foul a prop shaft once, I found this post from MarineLink very interesting.

We don’t do as much towing as we used to, but it is still an important and frequently used skill. Getting a line in the screws is never a good idea, but it happens. There is also the danger of running afoul of a drift net. This offers a possible cure for the problem.

More on the FY2019 Budget—and—Killing the Crew Rotation Concept?

NSC 5 James on builders trials in the Gulf of Mexico March 30, 2015.

Homeland Security Today gives us the best summary of the proposed Coast Guard budget, and it had an interesting small item.

$32 million in savings associated with the elimination of the Crew Rotation Concept (CRC) pilot program, which standardizes NSC fleet operations and avoids costly and ineffective implementations in two other NSC homeports.

I presume this means they will close down the multiple crewing experiment in Alameda (looks like a nice building) and make no attempt to implement it in Charleston and Honolulu.

I’ve been arguing against this for almost eight years. Its nice to see sanity prevail. Certainly the provision of more Bertholf Class cutter has helped make this more acceptable.

Request for Proposal for Up to Three Icebreakers

USCGC Polar Star will be 47 years old by the time we see a replacement. USCGC photo.

The Navy has issued a Request for Proposal with options for up to three heavy polar icebreakers. Its not a block buy, but it is a bit of a surprise. I have copied and pasted the brief summary below. (Thanks to Tups for bringing this to my attention.)

Solicitation Number:
N00024-18-R-2210
Notice Type:
Presolicitation
Synopsis:
Added: Feb 14, 2018 2:17 pm

The Naval Sea Systems Command plans to issue an unrestricted solicitation for the procurement of the Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) of up to three (3) Heavy Polar Icebreakers (HPIB) under a Fixed Price Incentive Firm (FPIF) Contract. This contract will award Advance Procurement and Detail Design, and include option line items to procure three (3) Heavy Polar Icebreakers. The contract will also include options for Provisioned Items orders to outfit the ships and purchase spares, repair parts, and other special equipment; Engineering and Industrial Services in support of Government systems installation and post-delivery activities; Special Studies for Government-directed engineering tasks; and Crew Familiarization. The HPIB will be procured utilizing full and open competition in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 15, Contracting by Negotiation. Award is anticipated to be made to a single Offeror who offers the Best Value to the Government as determined by the tradeoff process as defined in Sections L and M of the Solicitation. The solicitation is anticipated to be posted within 30 days, this synopsis is provided as an advance notice.

This synopsis and any updates and/or changes for this planned procurement, the posting of the RFP, and any future Amendments to the RFP, will appear at the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website located at http://www.fbo.gov. Inquires/questions concerning this announcement may be e-mailed to the Naval Sea Systems Command, Shipbuilding Contracts Division representatives listed below.

The points of contact for this posting are Ms. Melissa Donnelly, Contract Specialist, e-mail Melissa.Donnelly@navy.mil AND Mr. James Platner, Contracting Officer, e mail, James.Platner@navy.mil. Please send inquiries via e-mail to both points of contact. No telephone inquiries will be accepted and requests for solicitation packages will not be honored, as a solicitation is not prepared at this time. This notice does not constitute an Invitation for Bid or Request for Proposal and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government.

The contracting agency is: Naval Sea Systems Command, 1333 Isaac Hull Ave SE, Washington Navy Yard, DC. 20379-2020

Contracting Office Address:
SEA 02
1333 Isaac Hull Avenue SE
Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia 20376
United States
Primary Point of Contact.:
James E. Platner,
Contracting Officer
Secondary Point of Contact:
Melissa Donnelly,
Contract Specialist

Inland (tender) Cutter RFP

USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315)

The Coast Guard has issued a Request for Proposal for a solution to our inland cutter needs. I have copied and pasted the brief description below.

Solicitation Number:
RFI-USCG-WCC-2018-1
Notice Type:
Special Notice
Synopsis:
Added: Feb 14, 2018 3:52 pm

The Coast Guard has a statutory mission to establish, maintain, and operate maritime aids to navigation to serve the needs of the armed forces and commerce of the United States. This Request for Information (RFI) is the first of several planned industry engagements aimed at developing the data the Coast Guard needs to make informed decisions about potential solutions to carry out this mission. The Coast Guard has historically accomplished this mission via a fleet of Coast Guard inland vessels. However, this RFI does not presume a specific solution and is not a statement by the Coast Guard that a final solution has already been identified; it is only one part of an overall effort to better understand the decision space.

Responses to this RFI shall be submitted to Jennifer Sokolower at Jennifer.G.Sokolower@uscg.mil.
This special notice is for market research and planning purposes only. It does not constitute a solicitation and shall not be construed as a commitment by the Government to award a contract from responses to this announcement. Any information submitted by interested parties is strictly voluntary and no monetary compensation will be provided for response preparation.

 

30 Year Shipbuilding Plan–Where Is Ours?

 

The Navy has provided their 30 year Ship Acquisition Plan. Here is their news release.

WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Department of the Navy submitted the long-range ship acquisition plan to Congress Feb. 12.

The 30-Year Ship Acquisition Plan is a Congressionally-mandated report which describes the Department of the Navy’s long-range shipbuilding plans for 2019-2048. This year’s report focuses on meeting the Navy’s baseline acquisition requirements needed to build the Navy the Nation Needs (NNN) and sustaining the domestic industrial base to meet that aim.

In support of the National Defense Strategy’s stated goal of achieving a more lethal, resilient and agile force, the plan serves as a roadmap to reach a 355-ship fleet by the early FY2050s, potentially quicker with an aggressive investment of resources. The plan pursues acquisition strategies to build ships more quickly and affordably and places top priority on sustaining the industrial base now and for the future. Ultimately, the plan supports the Navy’s overall effort to build the Navy the Nation Needs to protect the homeland, defend the interests of America and its allies abroad, and preserve America’s strategic influence around the world.

This plan addresses the Navy’s most critical shipbuilding needs by:
* Building CVNs four years apart after CVN 82 instead of five to support a 12-ship CVN force.
* Building 12 Columbia-class SSBNs in support of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and STRATCOM deterrence requirements.
* Establishing a stable profile of two per year Attack Submarines (SSN).
* Establishing a stable profile of 2.5 per year Large Surface Combatants (DDG), plus an additional ship in FY2022.
* Establishing a stable profile of two per year Small Surface Combatants (LCS, FFG) starting in FY2022, accommodating the transition to FFG(X).
* Increasing the pace for amphibious ship production to support a 12-ship LHD/LHA force and modernized lethality in FY2033, FY2036 and FY2039.
* Addresses the candidate long-term replacement for the NNN payload-based submarine, filled mid-term by Virginia Payload Module (VPM).

The plan can be viewed in its entirety here: www.secnav.navy.mil/fmc/fmb/Pages/Fiscal-Year-2019.aspx.

I have to ask, where is ours? Perhaps Congress should mandate one for us, but we don’t always respond to Congress anyway. There is a mandate for a 20 year plan, but I haven’t seen that yet either. Really Congress is trying to help us communicate our needs without having them filtered by DHS and GAO. Maybe it is DHS and GAO that are the roadblocks, but the Navy seems to find ways to get their needs to Congress.

An important part of the “Acquisition Plan” is really what they plan to decommission. Which constituencies are going to lose an asset? This is something we also need to pass to Congress, and we need to mean it. It is also where we have an advantage because our assets impact so many constituencies. We should not be operating 50-year-old ships.

The Navy does not always get everything they ask for, but at least they ask.

 

FY2019 Budget

USCGC Polar Sea

Military.com has some information on the Coast Guard budget.

“Overall, the Coast Guard budgeted $7.8 billion for operating expenses, including pay; $1.9 billion to recapitalize equipment; and $1.9 billion in mandatory spending and fees.”

It includes $750M for the first new heavy icebreaker; $400M for the second OPC and long lead time items for the third; and $240M for four Webber class.