Earlier I suggested we look at buying three 90 Meter (297ft) Offshore Patrol Vessels newly built by BAE built for Trinidad and Tobago, that they no longer want.
It just occurred to me that there might be an option to lease or charter the vessels rather than an outright purchase, perhaps with a rent-to-own or purchase option. These vessels might be specifically tagged as temporary replacements for the Acushnet and as rolling replacements for two of the most problematic ships (378 or WMEC) until all the true replacements are completed
This option might allow us to avoid the AC&I complications.
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Chuck – do you not remember the sh**storm in Congress when the Coast Guard floated the idea of buying a surplus Canadian-built icebreaker to “temporarily” replace the old Mackinaw?
Your proposal makes eminent sense, but the US shipbuilders and unions will not tolerate the Coast Guard buying foreign built ships when US shipyards are operating under capacity and unemployment is pushing 10%.
Chuck I don’t know about DHS, but DOD is forbidden by Congress (on behalf of shipbuilder groups) from purchasing foreign built ships or even long-tern chartering them.
Nice boast though~ NIH rules
If Congress can forbid it, they can make an exception. Still to sweeten the deal BAE would probably have to agree to invest all or part of the money in facilities in the US. That way it would still be a stimulus.
Leesea, how did DoD get around that when they chartered the Westpack Express (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Westpac_Express_(HSV-4676)), the HSV-1 and HSV-2? Were the leases just short enough to skirt around the time limits?
I was going to say, the Navy has gotten around this in the past. Chartering would show that we don’t plan to use these ships in place of planned construction.
Aviation Week’s Ares blog has taken notice of the availability of these three OPVs. It seems as though the new Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago just doesn’t appreciate the usefulness of the three vessels (at 28.5 knots they’re too slow). It’s a good read for learning of a particularly skewed political view of how one goes (or, doesn’t go) about controlling littoral waters.
Three Brand-new Offshore Patrol Vessels Available: Apply BAE Systems
Thanks, I also see that the helo they were supposed to support, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AgustaWestland_AW139, is about 50% larger than the MH-65.
Seems like they might be able to accommodate two or three MQ-8B Fire Scout UAVs, then. Since they were designed for the Caribbean environment, then they might prove really useful there with such an UAV det. I do wonder if that 30 mm cannon could be replaced with a 76 mm gun. That would be more useful, I would think (I’m not too impressed with the 57 mm gun now in favor). Plus, a couple of Mk 38, Mod 2 ‘Typhoon’ remotely controlled 25 mm cannon should replace the two 20 mm cannon. Have the ships so modified and then lease them for five or six years with options to extend the leases as needs might arise.
These ships already have an airsearch and a rudementary fire control system.
Other members of this family of ships do have the Oto Melara (we could conceivably transfer them from decommisioning 378s) but since we may not want to put any more than we have to into these, I think mounting three Mk38 mod2s would be appropriate and meet our needs short of war.
It might not be too hard to add a hanger, if the crane and deckhouse below it were removed, but again, it might not be worth doing for a charter.
Making no changes at all, other than those to standardize comms, it appears these ships are already more capable than more than half of our WMECs.
There is no mention in any of the literature of 20 mm mounts being fitted to these ships, only 30 mm mounts.
Having had a look at the video from BAE
http://www.baesystems.com/AboutUs/TrinidadTobagovesseltakestotheseaforfinaltests/index.htm around 49 seconds gives a clear view.
The 30mm weapon mounts all appear to be the newer fully remote MSI defence DS30M REMSIG, with ATK bushmaster 30mm guns, rather than the KCB oerlikon. So the need for changing the stations may be unnecessary as this weapon is already in US inventories. The Royal Navy selected the weapon for the Type 23 Frigates and Type 45 Destroyers, choosing the 30 mm over the 25 mm for the additional firepower. They are pretty versatile, we wouldn’t have bought them from you chaps across the pond if they weren’t any good. More than adequate for duties in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Of course changing to Typhoon mk38s will be a nice boost for BAE (prime contractor for these items I believe).
In fact most of the movies the RN provides of them sinking smugglers boats in the Caribbean involves these weapons being used.
The weapon fit is perfectly fine for anything short of war, so unless you chaps are planning something new closer to home, I’d suggest keep it simple. These ships are already designed for EEZ stuff and countering drug-smuggling. Save the pennies for getting the OPCs up and running sooner, rather than later. Take the view these are for filling availability, not capability and then they make sense. If you consider them for capability they will always fall short.
Stan, For some reason I had gotten the impression that the guns on either side just behind the bridge wings were 20s, but they do appear to be the same mount as on the bow in the video. That would make more sense. I would agree that the current weapons fit is perfectly adequate for law enforcement and is in fact probably better for that purpose than what we have on our WMECs now. The only reason to make a change to Mk38 mod2s is for supportability within the Navy weapons logistics system, and that is probably not “urgent” since I think the ammunition is already in the Navy system. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the 25 mms we have replaced by the 30mms and apparently it is relatively easy.
Chuck, it may be that Trinidad and Tobago are stuck with the ships…
Appears the current government didn’t do their homework with respect to handling the delay. If this news story is true about the previous governments negotiations and modifications to contract, then we’ll see BAE go to arbitration and they’ll win like the Brunei Corvettes.
Pity, I think these ships would certainly have given your guys somewhat more reliable kit to work with till the OPCs came through.
Doesn’t mean a deal couldn’t be worked out for us to take them off T&T’s hands. Reverse Lend Lease?
These three ships have all been transferred to the Brazilian Navy. Brazil has also been licensed to build additional units.