Reportedly the Navy has found “significant structural damage” in several of their Cyclone Class patrol boats. This includes the five boats operating with CG 110ft WPBs that protect Iraqi oil terminals. Sounds as if the WPBs may have to take up the slack. In addition the Coast Guard operates three boats of this class which will also require inspection and likely repairs.
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Another version of the report from Navy Times here:
Note, all these units entered service between 1992 and 1995, except the last of the class, which was built to a modified design and entered service in 1999, while our 110s entered service about five years earlier, between 1986 and 1991. Both classes were based on a Vosper-Thornycroft designs and built by Bollinger,
Well that is bad news but not unexpected about the Cyclones.
The good news is there are several options about how to replace them. I know that the FRC will be mentioned but I think the ROC will be beyond that ship’s design?
The better news is this gives the US Navy the opportunity to buy a new class of small combatant ship. The ONLY way to do that promptly is for NAVSEA to use an existing desing such as the Halter FMC being built for the Eqytian or perhaps one of several other P/OPVs already being worked in US yards.
OR the Navy could buy any one of a number of foreign designed OPV/FAC/PBs. Then compete that package amongst US shipyards (second tier preffered).
The BUT here is that SCN bucks are scarce and the bluewater navy may not want to spend on a new program instead touting the LCS as an answer which it is NOT!
So, how long are light patrol boats supposed to last anyway. One of the greatest problem of the early revenue cutters was the belief they would last longer than they should especially those cutters built in the North and sent South.
The WPBs sent to Vietnam were worn out in just five years. Some lament that these were left behind but in reality they were not worth bringing back. The 75-85% time on patrol produced a shorter life span.
Nominally the Navy considered their life 15 years.
After a period when the Navy repeatedly tried to get rid of them as unnecessary, they have been among the most active units in the Navy.
These boats were built more along the lines of fast attack craft (FAC) rather than patrol boats, so they were built with powerful engines and a light structure for speed, not a combination that promotes longevity.
Lee, I don’t think the Navy will be looking for an immediate replacement. They will fix them and they will limp along for a while and be replaced by LCS. How else are they going to justify the $600M speed boats? The Navy PCs do have a larger “skill set” than the FRCs, but for some of their missions, I think the RFCs would do as well.
Chuck may be right BUT the USN needs a good small combatant sooner rather than later IMHO. LCS does not fit the small category. I am looking hard at an existing design under contract to NAVSEA like the Ambassador III FMC being built at Halter Marine. It is even a FAC!
It is interesting to see how the USN dealt with the Cyclone PC problems as opposed to how Adm Allen dealt with similar issues for the 110ft cutters? Actually its striking!
Here is the quote from Boats Williams (MOH most decorated US Navy sailor of modern era):
“There is NO right way to do the wrong thing”
Lee, as I see it, the Navy needs patrol vessels to detect and counter covert attacks. They have more than adequate capability to counter overt attacks. For that reason I think there more immediate need is patrol boats rather than FACs. They can look similar but the difference is like Clydesdales and thoroughbreds. They need a few more Clydesdales.
Chuck I tend to agree with you. Clydesdales vs. thoroughbreds. Gee that sound similar to Jerry Hendrix’s Fords vs Ferrraris? I prefer the truck metaphor. Pickup trucks versus Escalade SUVs.
My point remains there are several patrol vessel type designs and vessels under construction in US shipyards which could be acquired VERY easily. Ahh but blue water officers will wring their hands about what to buy and how those new boats will detract from the need for more LCS – dahh!
There is another comment here, talking about a possible replacement for the Cyclone class: http://www.informationdissemination.net/2010/09/navy-down-ten-commands.html#disqus_thread
As I have said, I think it is unlikely the Navy will build anything as a replacement other than the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), but if they do, this move would have potential impact for the CG on two fronts. The Fast Response Cutter (FRC) is an obvious contender for some of their patrol duties. Either as a replacement within the Navy or as additional tasking for the CG in support of the Navy.
While unlikely, the Navy might also consider the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) or if the Navy does move quickly in identifying a replacement other than the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the choice might be a contender for the OPC contract.
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