Russian FRC–Compare and Contrast

We already looked at a comparison of the Russian Security Service’s counterpart of the National Security Cutter with the Coast Guard version. Thought some of you might be interested to see what their version of a Fast Response Cutter looks like.

The first of the class Svetlyak class were delivered in 1988 and they are still in production. The little ships comes in three versions. The most numerous is a patrol version for the Security Service (Project 10410–photo), there is a cruise missile equipped version for the Navy (Project 10411), and an export version (Project 10412) apparently with MTU engines in lieu of the Russian diesels. The Russians have 26 of these, the Slovenians one lightly armed version (more here), and the Vietnamese have two with at least two, possibly four, more on order, armed like the Russian Security Service vessels.


Comparing the two classes, the Webber Class, with it’s high bow, certainly looks more sea worthy, and it’s boat appears much more ready to launch quickly in heavy weather.

The Russian design is slightly larger (375 tons vice 353), slightly faster (30 vs 28), and slightly longer (163 ft vs 154). They have three engines and three shafts instead of two and about 88% more power. They also have a bit larger crew with accommodations for 28 (vs 22-24). Again the USCG vessel has the advantage in range (2,500 nmi vs 2,200–some sources say as little as 1,300).

The Russian shows how much armament can be carried on this size vessel. The Missile boat version carries eight SS-N-25, the Russian equivalent of the Harpoon anti-ship missile, but I’ll talk about the patrol version assigned to the security service instead.

Apparently they take the “homeland security” part of their job very seriously. Armament includes a 76 mm gun forward, a six barrel 30 mm Gatling gun aft, two 14.5 mm (0.57 caliber) heavy machine guns, up to 16 rounds of the Russian equivalent of the “Stinger” short range anti-aircraft missile launched from two pedestal launcher, Chaff launchers, two 400 mm launch tubes for light weight torpedoes which are generally reported to be usable against both submarines and surface ships, depth charges, and two seven barrel anti-swimmer grenade launchers with a range of up to about 500 meters.

Electronics include radar firecontrol, ESM, IFF, and both hull mounted and dipping sonars including a dedicated sonar for the swimmer defense system.

Aside from the typical anti-surface and anti-submarine naval missions, the class is very well equipped for two homeland security missions I think the Coast Guard should relate to.

  • With torpedoes, 76 mm and 30 mm guns, it is better equipped to stop a “maritime suicide truck bomb” terrorist attack than even the NSC. (Background here and here)
  • The array of equipment the Russians have for the anti-swimmer/force protection mission, including but not limited to those mounted on this vessel, is impressive.

Clearly their priorities are different. I doubt they need to worry nearly as much about rescuing the weekend boater.



16 thoughts on “Russian FRC–Compare and Contrast

    • She carries up to 12 depth charges. I mentioned them.

      Based on their WWII experience the Russians expect their bases to be attacked directly and by more than just aircraft. Depth charges could work against mini-subs, swimmers, and bottomed submarines.

      Notice the Webber is a WPC.

      • Why hasn’t the US Coast Guard consider this as a basis to Arm our cutters like the Russians do. Heck, that boat looks like it wants to pick a fight with someone.

      • Lots of reasons, but basically it is because our experience and consequently expectations are so different from the Russians.

        Arming a vessel as the Russians have done with the Svetlyaks cost more in the beginning; it cost more to maintain; and the weight may even make the ship less seaworthy.

        But for the Russians, that gun would have been useful to support the Army when Sevastopol was under attack or during the Siege of Leningrad. The ASW systems would have been useful against the U-boats in the Baltic and against the Italian mini-subs that operated successfully against the Soviets in the Black Sea. Air attacks on their harbors were a regular occurrence. For them the expectation is that the additional costs will be worth it.

        For the US, air attacks on Pearl Harbor and Dutch Harbor, and the seizure of even more distant Guam are the only times a US harbor has been attacked since the Civil War. The possibility is inconceivable to most Americans.

        I also feel the possibility of a regular military attack on a US port is an extremely remote, but a terrorist attack is if not likely, at least possible and if it happens the public will expect the Coast Guard to be ready for it.

        Other than general interest, part of my intent was to show that, if our perceived reality changes, heavier armament for the FRCs is a possibility.

      • Chuck,
        That’s why I think the US Coast Guard Should have been heavily armed like the Russians. Maybe instead of the NSC, we should have gone with a Light frigate with Harpoon and lightweight torpedo capability. I think the GP FREMM would have been a good choice for the US Coast guard. As for the FRC, go with the same concept as with the Russians and Up Armour the FRC as well.

        Instead of becoming reactive society, we should be more of a proactive society and proactively arming up the US Coast Guard. If history has serve as a lesson, things have a way of repeating themselves in the future.

      • The FREMM is a very large ship, far too expensive for out budget. The OPC will be in effect a light frigate. I would like to see them designed for some ASW, ASuW, and self defense AAW capabilities even if the systems are not actually fitted, what the British call “fitted for, but not with.” It would guarantee some flexibility in the future. Most probably the provision for Littoral Combat Ship mission modules would be the best way to go.

      • As you know, I would fit a couple of light weight torpedoes to everything FRC and larger if I had the choice, but of course first we have to get the Navy to make modifications to the torpedoes.

      • Chuck,
        U know they have the Version of the FREMM called the Gowind class corvette that the French Navy is building and maybe something the US Coast Guard could be looking at buying into as well. I would like to see the US Coast Guard get an OPC that can keep up with the Amphibious Expeditionary group. That has some ASW, ASuW and AAW capability built into the OPC. Also the OPC should have open architecture to incorporate the latest and greatest in Technology.

        As for adding torpedo, I think the US Coast Guard should go with the latest NATO Lightweight torpedo.

      • The Gowind is made by the same people who make the FREMM, but it is not really part of FREMM program. Right now, it is just a series of design options. 12 different shipbuilders have expressed an interest in bidding on the OPC. I would not be surprised if one of them bids one or more variation of the Gowind.

      • Would u think the Gowind class corvettes would be in competition for the OPC. I think the Gowind class corvettes would be perfect for the US Coast Guard. Even the FREMM 400 would have been an option for the US Coast Guard as well. The Gowind class corvettes come in 4 design options as;
        Multi-Mission Combatant
        High Seas Master
        Deterrent Warrior
        Sovereignty Enforcer
        I think the US Coast Guard should consider DCNS’s Gowind class corvette Designs.
        Here’s the specs for the Gowind class corvette

      • Apparently the French ship builder, DCNS, is going ahead with building the first of the 1,000 ton vessels they are calling Hermes, with the idea that they will loan it to the French Navy, who will use it for 18 to 36 months, even though the French Navy does not have a requirement for vessels of this class right now.

      • The torpedo modifications would be far easier than modifying the Coast Guard’s culture of if its not needed now, why have it on board?

      • Yikes, I’ll have to ask myself Why Don’t Coasties Read? Missed the depth charge comment. I’m not sure I’d use a depth charge on a swimmer. A bit over kill. Of course, to use it on a submarine you’d have to know where the submarine was.

      • “…depth charge on a swimmer. A bit over kill.” Any thing worth doing, is worth doing to excess.

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