Bath Iron Works Offshore Patrol Cutter Concept

The U.S. Coast Guard has awarded General Dynamics Bath Iron Works a $21.4 million contract for the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) program. Bath Iron Works is one of three shipyards chosen from a field of eight competitors to proceed to Phase I design work on this next-generation cutter program. The Bath Iron Works team includes L-3 Communications (New York, N.Y.) and Navantia, S.A. (Spain), a shipbuilder that Bath Iron Works has collaborated with for more than 30 years.

Our Friend at Navy Recognition was good enough to provide a copy of an artist’s concept of the BIW proposal he had found. We talked about the other two contenders for the OPC contract here.

The proposal is a variation of the the Navantia BAM (Buque de Acción Marítima) (more here).

The BAM has provision for carrying up to six containers. Hopefully this feature has been retained. It looks like all of the proposals may have this feature to some degree.

Presumably the ship will include the BAM’s hybrid propulsion system, with electric motors (two motors of approximately 1,000 HP) run off the ship’s service generators for slow to moderate cruising. The BAM’s main propulsion engines (12,240 HP total providing 21 knots) would probably need to be upgraded to meet the Coast Guard’s speed requirement (22 to 25 knots), but that should be fairly easy. Using the same diesels that are used in the Bertholf Class National Security Cutters (19,310 HP total) would supply the necessary power and simplify training and logistics. Alternately a four engine power plant similar to that used in the closely related Navantia built Venezuelan Guaiqueri class (approx 24,000 HP for 24 knots) would provide the necessary additional power and additional flexibility and redundancy.

In some respects the Bath proposal looks more like the Guaiqueri class with its larger central funnel, although the Bath proposal has a smaller funnel and a small additional stack presumably for the main generators to starboard.

The BAM’s length, beam, and draft are 93.9×14.2×4.2 meters (308×46.6×13.8 feet) their displacement is 2,900 tons, the Venezuelan Guaiqueri class are 98.9×13.6×3.75 (324.4×44.6×12.3 feet) and just over 2,400 tons.

It may only be that the conceptual drawing is slightly distorted, but I am a little concerned that it appears the hangar may not be long enough to take an H-60 sized helicopter. Even if we don’t need that now, we may in the future. The ship is as beamy as an FFG, so it could certainly accommodate a large double hangar.

Like the Eastern design, it looks like the Mk38mod2 on the top of the hangar is going to have a limited field of fire on one side. It does look like there is room for a second mount on top of the bridge. The 57mm, on the other hand, is up out of the green water that will inevitably washs over the bow, and has excellent fields of fire, including the ability to engage contacts close aboard, even when the ship rolls away from the target.

Both the BAM and Guaiqueri class have fewer accommodations than are expected to be provided in the OPC. So some changes were necessary there.

It appears the step-down from the flight deck to the fantail is less than a full deck. If so, then the ship is almost flush decked. e.g. the foc’sle is on the main deck. If that is the case, then the bridge would be on the O-3 deck just as it is on the 210s, 270s, 378s, and NSCs and the ship is really not as tall as it appears in the illustration. On the other hand if the step-down is a full deck (and it is on the BAM), the ship is going to feel unusually tall (but it will give a greater visible horizon).

37 thoughts on “Bath Iron Works Offshore Patrol Cutter Concept

  1. The BAM photo on Navantia’s website seems taller AND the flight deck is higher also which is where the containers are loaded. I think both are good ideas. I would like to see a lower poop deck aft for boat ops. There are similar d/e propulsion plants avaiable from US sources.

    • Looking closely at this, the BAM does have the bridge a deck lower than the BIW proposal, but it does also have a compartment a deck higher, and behind the bridge and below the mast. Looks like maybe an equipment room.

      • All the following displacements are full load.
        210s are 1,050 tons
        270s are 1,780 tons
        BAMs are 2,900 tons
        378s are 3,050 tons
        327s were 2,656 tons
        311s were 2,800 tons
        NSCs are 4.500 tons
        So the BAM is actually very close to the size of a 378, it is shorter but has a greater beam. It is also very close in size to the old now decommissioned WHECs.

      • Dimensionally (to compare to the other vessels Chuck listed), the Spanish BAM is 308’L x 42.5’B. At 19′ shorter and, if I remember correctly, 3.5′ wider than the 327s, the BAM is not as svelt as the Secretary-class.

      • Bill Smith said, ” the Spanish BAM is 308′L x 42.5′B. At 19′ shorter and, if I remember correctly, 3.5′ wider than the 327s, the BAM is not as svelt as the Secretary-class.)”

        My info was that the BAM had a beam of 46.6 ft, which is more than any of the ships I listed except the NSC (54′, 378s are 43 ft and 327s were 41 ft). In fact it is beamier than the FFG-7s (45 ft) which have a double wide hangar capable of taking two H-60s.

        WWII destroyer escorts (John c. Butler class) were essentially the same length, but much lighter at 1773 tons full load, and only 37 feet of beam, so they were able to make 24 knots on only 12,000 HP while these make only about 21 with the about the same power. Essentially the same speed diesel powered destroyer escorts made with only 6,000 HP.

    • Thanks, I was not aware the NH90 NFH had a folding tail which probably means it has a smaller footprint than the Naval H-60s. I do think that should be a minimum requirement if the ships are to have a meaningful wartime role. Frankly I think we will be lucky to come close to the current target price which is if I remember correctly $320M for units 4-9. the first three will certainly cost more. The NSCs are close to $700M and the LCS which are now will into there production are costing over $400M.

      It is really hard to compare production costs, because different countries will report different things. It may be only how much the ship yard is being paid and government furnished equipment, and even design and systems integration, may not be included. US costs frequently include costs other countries would not include like supporting infrastructure improvements or precommissioning crew personnel, training, and support costs.

      • A folded NH90 NFH is a good 3ft longer than a SH-60 (13.50m). A few inches taller and wider too.

        (Wikipedia dimensions aren’t reliable because they rarely specify whether lengths are rotors turning or fuselage only. In this case, the H-60’s length includes the rotor, the NH-90’s doesn’t).

  2. CG 60s don’t have folding tails so the question is whether the rqmt is to hangar a LAMPS style SH 60. We ran into a height issue with the WMSLs even though the length was fine. The tail rotor blade tips are higher than the main hub.

  3. I really like it. Bridge looks spacious. May include some CIC aspects, or provide for lookouts to have room to stretch while inside out of inclement weather (makes sence if this is going to be the CG’s arctic patrol cutter). Agree with all Chuck’s points about the gun positioning. First thing I thought when looking at the drawing was the scale of the hanger door vs. the size of the illustrated helo, but then, I too, thought, “it’s an artist’s impression, not a scale drawing, Bill…” 🙂

    With that in mind (this is not a scale drawing), here’s my impression of the deck situation you querried, Chuck: It appears to me, the fantail, forecastle, passageways behind structural members just aft of the forecastle, and the little passageways between the boat davits and the flight deck are all one level (main deck), and the flight deck is raised a couple feet above that level. So, rather than looking at the fantail as lowered from the flight deck, I’d look at it as the flight deck is raised from the main deck level. At least that’s the way my eye interprets the artist’s rendering…

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  5. I thought this was a really well written article about the situation at BIW. Article focuses on cost cutting efforts and labor relations issues between management and the union. There are half a dozen references to the OPC bid, which apparently they don’t expect to let until 2016 or 2017. Bath is calling it a must win but analysts are skeptical that they can be cost competitive with the non union Gulf Coast yards of Bolinger and Eastern.

    • She’s based on the AVANTE 3000/2400 design that Navantia is pushing to sell to the Philippines and Peru.. I think that design is perfect for them as a Multi Role Frigate.

  6. Management/union relations a problem at BIW apparently.

    I’m having a hard time seeing how they are going to compete on price with Bollinger when I read these kinds of articles. And the Coast Guard isn’t going to hand their biggest contract ever to a shipyard that has never built a U.S. Navy or Coast Guard Ship like Eastern. They’d start them with something smaller.

    Bollinger/Damon/Gibbs&Cox is going to win this. I’d bet anyone a hundred bucks on that.

  7. read this morning that a few “experts” say cancelation not likely. also most of the cost over runs and delays are due to the navy’s new experimental systems and that navy is paying general contractor instead of the yard which I guess is the norm.

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