Video, Bernard C. Webber, FRC on trials

(Update: Revised video posted)

(If link does not work, copy and paste into your browser.)
Note the Mk 38 mod 2 25 mm gun is mounted on the main deck, lower and further forward than shown in previous illustrations. This is a seriously big “boat.”

Bollinger also launched the third FRC, William Flores, 29 November. The Coast Guard Compass has the story and photos.

(Thanks to for the update)

22 thoughts on “Video, Bernard C. Webber, FRC on trials

    • Hey BMC (since you used to post there occasionally), did you see that on CGReport after “Thomas Jackson” got outed on his own blog as a GS who works at E-City, he deleted all the comments and shut down all comments on his site?

      I guess it is easier for some of the CG-bashers to dish it out than to take some of their own medicine.

      Thanks for at least trying to put some semblence of rational discussion over there though.

    • this is just curiosity. what is the hull thickness on the frc? i was on the commisioning crew of cgc matinicus back in 87, we always thought, rightfully i believe, that the hulls thickness was inadequate. of course we were also told the boats were only supposed to be around for 15 years or so.

      • Eric,

        To answer your question concerning plate thickness I feel it is best to give you a little history on the 110s. Some of this will be new to most of you.

        Initially there were only going to be 8 110’s and they were going to be purchased in response to the need to establish a Southeastern drug task force. Four cutters were going to be sent to Miami and four to Puerto Rico. The plan was to have 6 crews to maximize the number of hours underway each year. Each crew was to have a CO but all six crews would work for a squadron commander. This plan was strongly objected to by the operational commanders (Groups) and was abandoned. The class grew to 16 cutters before award due to the aging of the 95 foot fleet. In an effort to procure the cutters quickly the “parent craft” concept was developed as an alternative means to come up with a suitable design. Prior to this all CG patrol boats had been internally designed by the Yard and ENE-9.
        The contract required that the contractor select a design that met the CG performance criteria and had been performing CG type missions for at least two years prior to the award. None of the designs that were submitted were domestic designs since the primary PB operator in the US was the CG and the CG designed its on patrol boats. (do you see a catch 22 here?) The contract also stated that the hull structure, hull lines, underwater appendages, and the power train had to be identical to the parent craft.

        Bollinger selected a Vosper Thornycoft design using a cutter that had been built for Abu Dabi over twenty years before. Marine Power and Equipment from Seattle submitted a Korean design. The initial award actually went to Marine Power and Equipment but on appeal the award was overturned and Bollinger won. (The issue had to do with MP&E not maintaining the same power trian but that is a story for another post.)

        So the 110s hull plate thickness had to be the same as the Vosper parent craft 20 year old design. Yes there were some issues but for the most part the program worked very well. Some of these cutters have lasted over a quarter of a century but they are way past their economic life. Most (but not all) of the problems that have occurred on the 110s have been based on lack of proper maintenance especially in areas that were difficult to get to. Also the OPS Tempo in the 7th District certainly contributed to some of the hull issues. However given the urgent demand for the cutters and the design lead time to develop an in-house design the plan showed “trained initiate and leadership.”

        Few people realize that the last 33 (all the B and C Class)cutters were not purchased with CG money but
        with Navy money. The funding for these cutters was put in the Navy budget and the Navy “technically oversaw the contract. As the KO on the project, my fitness reports were written by a Navy Captain. However USCG RIO Lockport that oversaw the construction and administered the contract were all CG active duty members.

        The parent craft concept was also used on the 87s as well as the new FRC. However there have been improvements in both cases. On the 87s, in recognition of the issue you raised, there was a minimum hull plate thickness of 3/16 of an inch that was required, regardless of what the parent craft had. On the FRC there are requirements for a 20 year hull fatigue life assuming 2500 hours per year of operation and a requirement that the cutter be designed to the ABS High Speed Naval Craft rules, among other requirements. In fact during construction of the FRC the Aquistion Directorate made the difficult decision to increase the hull strength requirements to 150% of the ABS High Speed Naval Craft rules. It is my understanding that at least part of the decision was based on the superior sea keeping ability of the Damen parent craft design that would normally keep the crew from reducing speed in heavy seas. If you have seen the video of BERNARD C WEBBER underway you will understand their concern. It rides GREAT. This requirement did not result in changes to the plate thickens significantly but it did result in some larger and/or more panel stiffeners for the hull scantlings. Both of these improve the panel stiffness and will provide a longer hull life for the cutter.

        Will the FRC hull meet all of the demands placed on it by the CG operators? No one will know that answer until we have had 20+ years of CG ops. ( I will check in to CG Blog in Dec of 2031 to find out)

        Please keep in mind that this is being written by an accountant, CPA, and a retired CG officer with limited time at sea, not a naval engineer. Hope this answers your question.

        T. R. Hamblin CDR USCG (ret)

      • thank you commander for the info, it did answer most of my questions. i had been on the point hannon prior to the matinicus and remember having to get u/w because the seas were too rough for the limitations that had been placed on the 95’s. the 82’s were tough cookies and were a culture shock for me having about a year before having been stationed on a 659′ replenishment oiler. i enjoyed my time on the matinicus and pb’s in general. the early precom while living in a hotel in nola wasn’t too shabby either. later on, when i was at act.ny.det sandy hook i would again work on the 110’s.
        any thoughts on the decision to switch from the paxman mde’s to the cats? was it just about cost? i know that spares for the paxmans were more costly. i’m biased and prefer the paxmans. as an engineer i liked the fact that we could run full bore all day and the engines themselves were only at around 75% and not being overly strained. it was my understanding that when the cats ran full bore they were at 105% and could not be run like that for an extended period.

      • The switch on the C Class to the Cats was done through a contract clause known as the Value Engineering Change Proposal clause. It provides an incentive to the contractor to come up with ideas that will reduce the acquistion and/or through life cost to the Government without significantly changing the performance of the end product. In effect the Government and the contractor each get 50% of the savings. (It is a little more complicated than that but this is the general idea.)

        Again a history reminder. The B and C class were paid for by the Navy and they had the ultimate acqisition responsiblity. When the Navy put out the RFP for the follow on procurments they did not want to be comparing different designs so they required that all proposals had to be of the exact same cutter depicted on the drawings in the package. They actually selected a specific cutter as the configuration baseline and that was USCGC EDISTO, WPB 1313 which of course had Paxman engines.

        You are correct that the Paxman engines could produce approx. 4000 HP but the CG only utilized 3000 HP. This was not based on a desire to have engines that were derated for a prolonged life but was based on the shaft strength and its 4″ diameter. (All that had to be identical to the parent craft.) Several yards submitted questions during the proposal period asking to offer alternative engines (all would be cheaper than the Paxmans) but the Navy steadfastly said, “NO, Any substitution will make the proposal non responsive and it will be discarded.”

        The CAT 3516 did finally qualify as a possible alternative engine mid way thr0ugh the contract and Bollinger offered them under the VECP clause. Bollinger had also considered MTU as an alternative since they were much lighter but MTUs cost the about the same as the Paxmans. (The weight savings on MTU was significant but it was “low” weight and would have had some detrimental effect on stability which was also a concern.) MTUs were not offered.

        The Navy was very interested in the VECP offer of the CATS as they get graded on incorporated VECPs which look very good to Congress. In this case it also switched the most expensive single item on the cutter from a foreign supplier to a Domestic supplier. (Cat in Peoria has more Senators and Congressman than Paxman in Colechester, UK). While it took a long time for the Cat VECP to be approved, it turned out to be the largest single savings for any VECP in all of DOD for that year.

        You are correct (again) that the 3000 HP for the Cat 3516 was at or very near its max output and over time that puts a demand on the engines. However on the other side the parts were more readily available (Improving cutter Availability) and at a lower cost. I will leave it to others to determine in retrospect if this is a win or a loss. It was the improvements in the Paxman Valenta engine over the 20+ years since the delivery of the Abu Dabi parent craft that resulted in this power margin. Their original Paxman Valenta engine would only produce 3000HP and they used all of it as well. That is why the shafts were sized to about 4 inches which, due to the parent craft requirements of the CG contract, became a limiting factor on the horse power that the ISLAND CLASS could use. So this powering margin was not planned or a contract requirement but a gift to the CG due to the advances in the same model engine over time.

        While the Paxman’s could run all day at full speed that is not the normal operating scenario for CG patrol boats. Fuel capacity is based on the following CG orovided operating profile which has been the same for the 11os, 87s, and FRC.
        80% Loiter speed
        15% Transit speed
        5% Flank.

        Part of the decision to allow the swich was based on this profile and assumed that for the 12 C class cutters it was not a major problem.

        A couple of other side notes
        1. Every Patrol Boat in the CG fleet has ZF gears. 110s 87s and the FRC. They have performed great!!!
        2. The Navy modified the PCs to take full use more of the available HP from the Paxmans but again had spare part supply problems and limited the higher speed to no more than 8 hours per day.
        3. After the completion of the ISLAND CLASS and Navy PC contract, Bollinger had purchased more Paxman engines than anyone in the world with the exception of the British Ministry of Defence and the British Rail System.

        hope this helps
        T. R.

      • thanks once again cdr. like the comment about congressional representation. totally agree about the zf gears, those germans know how to build intricate machinery. finally this wasn’t a slam on cats, worked on many ashore and afloat and in general like them, though i admit deep down i’ll always be a detroit diesel lover. also rather fond of the alco’s on 270’s. thanks again!

      • oh, and also, on every ship i was on, nav and cg, we spent most of our time at 12 knots or less. unless of course we were headed to home port. liberty turns.

      • Good question, Eric. I also thought about that alot. I used to have a piece of hull plating that was cut out when work was done to the exhaust ports…if I could find it (not likely) I’ll measure it, but as I remember, it didn’t seem very thick!
        TR – thanks for the refresher on the 110s. They were (are) great boats, and the CG got what they asked for (and more, in some cases).
        Kevin Smith, Plankowner CO, Matinicus (1315)

  1. Here’s my Question, how come US Military ships are not going to a Combined diesel and gas or a Combined diesel-electric and gas power plant.

    • When it is appropriate they do, as was done in the National Security Cutter (CODAG), but in the case of the Webber, it is relatively fast with just diesels. Having two kinds of engines complicates training and requires two different sets of spares.

      I do think the OPC might benefit from Hybid or Diesel Electric system, but there are lots of considerations that go into the final decision.

      • So how come we don’t have Combined diesel-electric and gas power plant for the Sentinel class cutter and Combined diesel and gas for the National Security Cutter and the Future OPC. At least with the Combined diesel and gas turbine for the National Security Cutter and OPC, we can use the sprint speed of the Gas Turbine and the cruise speed of the diesel.

        Also what will happen to the 110 Fleet. Will we be looking at selling them off to Allies such as the Philippines, Nigeria, Iraq or Kenya.

  2. A video of the Webber’s arrival with commentary. You can also compare it with a 110 underway with it and see that the Webber is taking the seas better (as would be expected, it is more than twice the size of the 110)

  3. having been on 110’s and 82’s, this thing looks like a pleasure boat. where was that when i was getting the crap pounded out of me by ma nature? fine looking raft as an old mkc once told me.

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