Ireland’s New OPV, Samuel Beckett

Thought I had posted about this ship earlier, but could not find it, if I did. At any rate our friend at Think Defence has done a nice write up. This class (90 meters), may be the evolutionary immediate predecessor of Eastern’s OPC proposal, being a development of the New Zealand Protector class OPV (85 meters), which was in turn a development of the Irish Róisín Class (80 meters). The Samuel Beckett class is notable for their low cost, hybrid propulsion, and small crew size.

78 thoughts on “Ireland’s New OPV, Samuel Beckett

  1. Looks like this class may be a very reasonable compromise given mission and budget. In the absence of a flight deck it wouldn’t be much mission creep to create a better hoisting area free of obstructions (possibly between the bridge & main gun) and add some JP5 tankage to make HIFR possible.

  2. When it comes right down to it, the decision must be made if an OPV (for any country/service) is going to be a warship (or potentially a warship), or a policing/borders/customs/etc. ship. Clearly, Ireland made their decision and built a great ship, for the desired parameters, at a very attractive price.

    My question/suspicion is whether the US can make a definitive usage decision (definitive, meaning: sticking to the decision operationally under varying/difficult future leadership & circumstances) and whether the US can build any vessel without significant cost-creep given current contracting environment.

    Remember, Ireland was neutral during WWII. They have a knack for avoiding major hostilities, so an LE (commercial build standards) only vessel is an easy call for them. The USCG is part of the”National Fleet,” and history shows the USCG will use its vessels in full-scale war in operational environments quite hazardous to commercial-standards construction. I’d rather see 20 military-standards ships than 25-30 built to commercial-standards. I can’t stomach the thought of sending crews out in danger on vessels which were knowingly built to a lessor standard for economy’s sake.

    Of course, the flip side of the coin is the govt’s contracting and the ways contractors have learned to play the system. Congress and CG screwed the pooch with the strung-out purchase of the WMSLs, costing the tax-payers hundreds of millions. And whatever happened to the fixed-price contract? Again, waste, waste, waste…

    I wonder what the price difference would be if the CG ordered 25 OPCs, built to military construction standards, fixed-price contract, and funded the whole lot for series production at the two shipyards with winning bids (out of probably 5-10 who would bid) VS. ordering 10, built to commercial standards, from a single source, with the liklihood of ordering up to 15 more in dribbles of 1, 2, or 3, depending on how Congress appropriates money and with no firm commitment or assurance all (or any) of the additional 15 would be built?

  3. The Beckett certainly looks nicer than the P50’s with the extra 10m. The Joyce is under construction at the moment and there’s some increased comments and support that the option for the third one will be taken up by the end of the year. After that the plans for the Navy is to move on to an EPV (Enhanced Patrol Ship (think that’s what they currently call it)) for operations further out in the Atlantic. That is planned to have helicopter capabilities and maybe used to support UN operations.

  4. The Beckett class look a lot better than the Roisin class with that extra 10m I have to say. And the good news for the INS is that it looks like the option for the third OPV will be taken up before Christmas.

    As to HIFR, at the moment the Irish Coastguard uses the Oil rigs for refueling for extreme long range operation and I can’t see it being a pressing demand for the Navy, it’s only been done a few times as far as I know.

  5. Here’s a link to more float out photo’s with pics of her internal spaces:
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.733447096738189.1073742049.101764433239795&type=1

    Seems that the Beckett has been well received by the navy with improved performance (not surprising), there’s a 3 page article on the Beckett in the current issue of Warships as well for anyone interested if you have a subscription:
    http://www.warshipsifr.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&layout=category&task=category&id=2&Itemid=56

    • Yeah, there’s also a 50 million investment at the naval base for a joint development centre for UAVs getting started, along with the sail system that’s being worked on. The Joyce is currently planned to arrive next Wednesday, her sea trials have managed to well beat the design speed, the ship tracker had her at 26 knots on occasion.

      The plan from the naval command is to help private enterprise/third level studies as well in order to get more support for more investment.

  6. Just an update, seems the yard screwed up, with reports of the shafts being misaligned and causing heavy vibrations during testing. Not ideal for the Navy as we’ve just commited to sending a ship to the Med for rescue operations (which means the proposed anti-piracy op is off, wonder which one the Navy would have preferred).

  7. Know it might be necro’ing a thread, but the Joyce still hasn’t been delivered, the Shaft issue seems to be resloved but the Navy still haven’t accepted her, with suggestions that repairs will be done in the UK and in Ireland to put issues right.

    In other news, the long awaited White Paper on Defence is due in the next couple of weeks, reports currently suggest the Navy is to get 2 more OPV’s valued at 140 million (givien Iinflation since 08 when the contract was signed I wonder are they going to be 2 more P 60 class) to replace the Peacocks and a “frigate” worth 150 million to replace Eithne. General thinking is it won’t be a frigate as everyone else knows the term but the long suggested EPV but the point is being made that it will have helicopter facilities. This is planned for over 10 years, but given the age of the 3 hulls, we should hopefully see movement within the next couple of years to get them when needed.

      • Sadly if the yard hadn’t been such an utter shower of useless idiots we would have had three of them and maybe one for research, which would have made the Air Corps have to support the helicopters (though the purchase for them was a disaster as well). But she’s given good service over the years.

        In terms of the frigate I don’t think so, one of the plans for the “EPV” apart from more long range patrols was to be able to provide sealift for the Army for UN operations. We’ll have to wait and see if that’s been dropped in this paper. The rumours floating around back before the Crash were that we were looking at something like an Absalon with just a 76mm and secondaries fitted.

        Given the time scale it might be a few more years before we know, I’d have prefered the fleet be increased but at least we have commitment for a 1 for 1 replacement so far. And the WP also is reported to have the Air Corps getting their CASA MPA’s replaced, and Primary radar facilities set up along the West Coast for tracking the Russian Bears.

    • I think that was another one of the floated ideas. Are there any specs for the MEKO MRV in terms of tonnage/dimensions? Mainly due to the restrictions that the Cobh Graving dock has (opening of 21m).

      Also the 2 Casa 235’s are reportedly going to be replaced by 3 295’s.

      • The design has a beam of 17m. draft 4.4m, overall length 121m, and a displacement of about 4000 tonnes. Not big at all really.

        You should check out the New Zealand Defence Force’s YouTube channel which has several video featuring HMNZS Canterbury.

      • That could certainly work alright both for the dock and the Basin as well, in both beam and draft. Could also explain why it’s getting the label of “frigate”. I’ve seen the Canterbury (based of an Irish sea ferry design from memory) but general comments on some of the Irish boards are that the Navy aren’t a fan of the design. Besdies which she is too big for both the dock and the Basin.

        I know it’s planned over the 10 years, but if what’s being reported is true, and this and the next 2 Governments actually fund it, I think it will be the largest investment in the Defence Forces ever.

  8. @ Sparky 42 it was more the purpose to which the Kiwis put Canterbury more than the design in and of itself. Have you had a trip on the Steam Packet’s Ben-My-Chree? Now the Ben is a fine ship for what she does but I think the RNZN are pushing a design (in terms of hull and basic structure) just beyond its limits. As we both know the Irish Sea can get a bit lumpy, the design is a bit dumpy and tall and it has a fair few tons of concrete to keep it upright, not the worse but you wouldn’t want the stabilisers to fail; ok for a few hours but not for a proper voyage especially when you may have non-salty types on board. I have a passing interest in commercial designs being used for military purposes and though all she have inherent high levels of utility it only goes so far. I have also a passing interesting in what I would call small amphibs and large landing craft. ** The Kiwis needed something that was ocean going and yet small enough to fit in the South Pacific South Asian maritime geography. And I think they needed something more “military” in overall layout/design than in construction standards; I say that as a lay person I am probably talking utter rhubarb! 🙂 Of course that would have cost them more but as I think they are finding out cheap can be very expensive. They needed something like this………

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makassar-class_landing_platform_dock

    Or a modern interpretation of this…….

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFA_Sir_Galahad_(1987)

    So I am old fashioned, sue me! 🙂

    As I said to Chuck recently there just aren’t modern small-ish ocean going cargo liners about these days which would make a suitable conversion. Look at the age of this lady,

    https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contramaestre_Casado_(A-01)

    Of course then there is a problem of “buying” second hand naval vessels as the RAN found out with their ex-USN Newport-class LST’s.

    The INS would face similar “purchase decisions” buying their own transport vessel.

    ** I have an interest in alternative histories and military matters. One of my beliefs is that the proper place for the British Army to have spent the Cold War was on NATO’s flanks not sitting in Germany. Over the years play “what if” I have looked at all manner of short range amphibious craft of varying sizes. Many with a keen interest in British defence matters are completely unaware of the Army’s past “naval” capabilities.

    • In terms of what the Navy is looking for, I think the suggestion of transportation is geared to get support from the Army as well. Though that might be a lesser concern as for the first time the CoS will be an Admiral (they had to change the rank structure just to allow his promotion).

      • The British Army has always had input into the UK’s amphibious ships. The Kinght / Roundtable class for example when first purchased were Army assets not RFA let alone RN. It wasn’t that long ago that the RLC/RCT operated large landing craft and other small ships.

  9. The James Joyce finally arrived on the same day that Eithne returned from her Med deployment. Here’s some drone footage of her coming alongside Eithne at the Oil Wharf.

    And it’s official that P63 will be LE WB Yeats, doubt the yard will get her done in time for the 2016 Rising though…

  10. The White Paper was released today, confirms 1 “MRV” to replace Eithne, helicopter capable and cargo/troop capability and 2 CPV’s to replace the Peacocks, interestingly the WP states directly that they should be configured for Counter Mine and IED operations. Bit of a departure and bit of debate on the Irish boards as to what might get bought, given our new MOU with the UK I was wondering if it might be their MHC design. Either way it’s a change. The WP also states if more funding becomes available then maybe more hulls will be acquired butwho knows. The MPA is to be replaced with a “larger” design, so fair bet it’s the 295 for a 2020 ish IOC.

    • I am no fan of MHC or the idea that “capabilities” are more important than hulls. To be honest I find those who propound the latter have little understanding of ships. Of course we can’t all know everything about everything but the idea an (expensive) hull can be tied up transporting a supposedly modular system is frankly silly. If the Irish naval service wants MCM they should go out to procure a MCM capability not an OPV with a clamp on capability. I would look towards Denmark’s Diana and (remote control) Holm classes. And buy two proper mini-OPV to replace the Peacocks; though a a deep ocean Atlantic friendly 750 ton design doesn’t spring to mind. It will do once I post………

      It is great news if the MRV does happen, it it is the ship that Irish foreign policy has needed for a long time. As long as they don’t do a New Zealand……..

      • I’m not sure what exactly the new ships will end up being, its more a surprise that such capability whether in just MCM or bolt on to an OPV is being looked at at all. That certainly speaks of at least intentions that the Navy’s time of foreign deployments won’t end with this years med patrols. That certainly speaks of a change in thinking from the higher ups (and bloody welcome) There was other comments on the Irish boards in regards to the new Polish MCMs that would be coming into service around the end of life period for the Peacocks (say 2020ish). But right now it’s still just throwing ideas around, given prevailing views around buying second hand I don’t see the Navy wanting to go down that route. Whatever is selected isn’t intended for Atlantic operations, it’s to replace the Peacocks (while improving on them by a wide margin), so it doesn’t need to be rated for heavy West Coast/Atlantic operations.

        The MRV will happen, it’s the one that’s had the most long term planning having been an idea for over a decade now, with us just missing out on a tender due to the Crash (god couldn’t it have waited until the contract was signed…), be very interesting to see what they end up going for.

        Both purchases alone would mark an improvement ofout of EEZ operational capability for the Navy. With Eithne’s 35 year running out soon hopefully we might see movement sooner rather than later.

        Oh and the Maltese are finally getting read to leave with Aoife, some very interesting comments from them about her, they seem happy and eager to get her to the Med (maybe that’s just the Irish weather)

      • I see Le Eithne as very close to the 270 foot Famous Cutter class and believe its design was influenced by them. Ironic she will probably be replaced long before they are.

      • In terms of Eithne, there’s always been off hand comments that the Coastguard was interested in the design until the Cobh yard went crazy, (talk about missed opportunties of having 3 of her and a research ship of the same type, and don’t get me started on the screw up of the helicopters…), don’t know how true that is though.

        She’s given good service but if we did get something like an Absalon or the Meko design it would be a massive step up for Irish capbilities, that’s why I’m so interested in why they’ve put Counter Mine operations on the list.

        There does seem to be more international attention, with suggestions of increased inter EU training etc, and maybe even getting the Air Corps out of the country at some stage…

    • Thing is, the WP wants two hulls that have the same tonnage as the Peacock’s, while they won’t be far out in the Atlantic, sub 300 tons is still going to find storm conditions rough (20+ m waves for storm conditions).

      Certainly we’d never be doing it in active hostile waters, but I could see working in the Med if that keeps destabilising or off Africa depending on how things develop there.

      As I said, it’s more the fact that we are looking for something with these capabilities thats the surprise.

  11. The Kormoran 2’s would be an interesting look, apart from the RN who else has new MCM’s underdevelopment at the moment? Her crew size seems to match up fairly accurately with what the Navy is currently operating on the Peacock’s, not sure what weapon systems would be fitted though…

    Either way it’s going to be interesting seeing who bids for the tender when it’s put out.

  12. Sparky as I said it is a compromise I don’t think worth making. If the Irish go on a UN mission requiring MCM then probably another European nation will be available to do MCM. What ever happens it will be interesting.

    (It wasn’t so long ago that the RNR had 12 MCM vessels the same size as the new Polish build.)

    • The group that put together the WP did go out t both EU partners (the Nordic Battlegroup for example) and the UN so I’m guessing that there was at least some level of interest in Ireland building up such a capability.

      • Seems an odd thing to go for that is all……

        Now if they had said gone for a low end surface warfare capability (force protection, harbour, inshore/coastal security, (very) limited fire support) which done properly is more than an MG on a pintle I could have understood it. That would have been more in line with the MRV purchase and the Irish Army’s superb track record in peace keeping. 76mm or 57mm gun at A, another sizeable mount at Y/Z, and the capability to carry a pair of 7.5m + RIB.


        (sans AShM of course………)

        To be honest I more interested in the MRV purchase.

  13. In terms of the CPv, as I’ve said a major take away is the fact that it seems that the powers that be are now getting comfortable with the idea of deployments, considering the Med deployment is the first time that they’ve ever had an operational deployment. That deployment has now been extended to November with Beckett replacing Niamh. In other news, JJ was commissioned yesterday with the Taoiseach at the cermony.

    • Without being too political the current government is a Fine Gael government. Fine Gael have always had a stronger law and order, defense and loyalty to the state ideology than Fianna Fail, as well as a greater to commitment to multilateralism, foreign entanglements and joining NATO etc.

      There would be a fair bit of support in FG for joining NATO and getting rid of the triple lock. FG are probably the most supportive of a genuine Irish military. Certainly a lot more coverage of the defense forces in the last few years, Lebanon, Chad, Syria, Mali, Med and nice shows on the telly.

      • A completely fair point (and for the record I’d be for getting rid of the Triple Lock), but for all of FG, the DOD is more than a bit “conservative” in the nature of their policies, just getting something suggested to be spec’d for more than just replacing the Peacocks, suggests that they are at least open to change. There’s reported suggestions that the Air Corps might be getting an out of Ireland deployment soon as well, which again would be a step forward. Same as even putting forward a suggestion to get Primary Radar sets for the West Coast…

      • For me any talk of the airforce doing much doesn’t seem hugely practical at the moment. It would be nice to have some air patrol capability but we can’t afford much. A set of L-159 ALCA would seem the limit.

        I’d rather spend the money on things we will use like new naval ships and maybe some better artillery and more and better land and naval drones. Even the talk again of an EPV seems premature to me. We can get on without it and lets not get into the state where we purchase more than we can fund. I mean we should take advantage of the areas were commercial advancement has fed into the military. Fighter jets aren’t getting any cheaper (actually getting unaffordable) but medium endurance drones and PGM are getting insanely cheap. A RQ-7B or it’s upgrades offer you like 9 hours of endurance, laser designation, communication relays, reconnaissance and can even be armed all for $750,000 a pop, an 155mm Excalibur is only $50,000 for a PGM, a PGM kit for mortars shell is only $10,000.

        The military industrial complex isn’t great at making things cheap while furious competition in the commercial sphere as made some high tech things super cheap. We can get a lot for a little in some areas or nice stuff which we probably won’t fund properly in others.

        Decent drones and the ability to drop arty accurately would probably be nice in the Golan at the moment.

  14. Disagree with the comment regarding the EPV/MRV, Eithne is coming to the end of her life, what exactly would you suggest replacing her? Another Beckett type, even if you were to look at the difference between Niamh and Eithne in the Med op, Eithne had the capability for another 200 plus? An MRV offers signifcantly more capability than a P60 class, and given the automation that’s available now it doesn’t need a larger crew size, and lets be honest in regards to the budget situation, that’s far more what any government is willing to put into it rather than what the nation’s finances themselves are at.

    Also any ability to drop arty accurately is pointless for Golan, we aren’t allowed to deploy ATGM let alone Mortar’s/Artillery on the mandate. That’s not going to change regardless of what we have avialable to use.

    • Up the page a bit I said you would never do MCM in a contested environment. But a small crew in a largish naval ship is never good for DC considerations. Look at what happened to Endurance. Look what happened off the coast off the coast of Lebanon to the Israelis or the Egyptians both attacked by none state actors. Never mind the USS Cole incident.

      As for PGM or ATGM you may be prohibited with what you can use but let’s not forget for a smal formation l these are force multipliers. You never know when you guys will get caught out……

      s://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Jadotville

      • In terms of manpower it comes down to the restrictions that the naval service has to operate under, so looking at the crew size is an issue, I mean bare in mind the Danes Absalon are about 100 for the ship (more for the aircrew), given that Eithne crewed at about 50-60 I’d say something about 100 would be the max.

        For MCM that’s another question but I’d say a crew size of only 40ish would be most likely based of the Peacocks.

        I fully agree about the potential value of ATGM’s or PGM’s to the Irish forces deployed but the reality is that even after the Irish forces had to break the other UN forces out of their bases when they were being over run on the Golan Heights, we asked to deploy Javelin’s to support the reaction force but got told no. That’s the UN mandate and the restrictions that sadly we have to operate under.

        I’d certainly wish we had ATGM’s and 120mm systems available to support the forces (and mounted 120’s at that) but that’s not an option due to “politics”

  15. Pingback: Thanks for a Successful 2015 | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  16. Well some updates, the P 63, William B Yeats, is meant to float out around March 9th, hopefully she won’t have the fit out issues of JJ. In other news, the General Election is on going here, and Simon Coveny (defence) has stated that post Med deployment last year, FG has decided that if returned they will increase the navy to a 9 ship fleet, at a cost of €90 million. Reading articles on it, the 90 million includes personnel costs for the increase, so perhaps a follow on P60? Given they came in at around €55 million including the 76mm, an inflation/currency adjusted price tag would fit in, it’s too low for a second EPV.

      • Yeah sorry for not putting that up, just before the Irish General election the Minister for Defence suggested that Fine Gael (the then senior Government party) would look at funding of about €90 million to increase the fleet to 9 ships (costs for the ship and manpower increases) based of Med operational experience (which if carried out may have meant a fourth ship of the class), but there’s a hung parliament following elections so most likely we won’t see a new hull till the “EPV” design to replace LE Eithne (the flagship)

  17. An update for the thread, WB is still being fitted out, but we have a Government from today, and the Program for Government has a commitment to enlarge to a 9 ship navy, now the questions are; what will be picked and will the Government last long enough to get a contract signed.

    • If they want nine ships, rather than the eight they have now, it looks like they will need to build four more ships over the next eight or ten years.

      William Butler Yeats will replace LÉ Aisling.
      A “Multi-Role Vessel” (MRV) will replace LÉ Eithne
      Similar sized ships (about 700 tons) with Mine Countermeasures (MCM) capability will replace the two Peacock class.

      Do you know what kind of ship this ninth, additional ship will be, another OPV, a second MRV, or a third MCM vessel?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Service_(Ireland)#Current_fleet

      • There hasn’t been much detail, I mean the Program was only leaked yesterday and came out today, so I don’t expect any detail soon. On the otherhand given how it’s now a minority Government if they do want movement I’d expect something relatively soon (12-24 months).

        Some speculation that Eithne might be kept in service alongside the “MRV/EPV” for a period, she just came through some significant maintenance period and is reportedly in good condition. If that happens then at least the crew sizes, support numbers etc of the service would be built up and the inertia would be there to stay at 9 hulls.

        I wouldn’t think it would be a Third Peacock replacement, think the Med experience is driving some of this so a larger ship would be most likely (another P 60 at least perhaps)

        In other news related to the MCM, the Navy has gone out to tender for 2 MCM AUV’s:
        https://www.shephardmedia.com/news/uv-online/udt-2016-irish-navy-poised-mcm-auv-capability/

        Small steps but at least starting to build up some knowledge before the Peacock replacement (JJ also did some joint exercises with one of the NATO mine hunting groups).

    • And did another rescue this morning after yesterday’s operations, it’s a fairly heavy operation period for them, don’t know yet who is going to replace her.

      Wonder what feedback the two years of operations (first for the navy) will go into the Eithne replacement.

  18. WBY commissioned today and Enda Kenny had this to say referencing the EPV/MRV[QUOTE]
    Plans for a new Naval Service ship which is equipped to provide full medical facilities at sea have been endorsed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

    The White Paper on Defence promises a multi-purpose vessel equipped with a fully functioning hospital, Mr Kenny said in Galway docks on Monday.

    This would allow medical personnel to serve in “war and conflict situations”, Mr Kenny said. He was speaking at the commissioning of the Naval Service’s latest new patrol ship, LÉ William Butler Yeats.

    Mr Kenny said it was “his wish” that such a multi-purpose ship – still at pre-design stage – would be built to serve in humanitarian crises. It was in “keeping with our rich tradition of charity and volunteering”, he said.[/QUOTE]
    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/naval-service-plan-for-ship-with-full-hospital-endorsed-by-taoiseach-1.2833363?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

  19. A bit off topic, but the Irish Coast Guard lost a S-92 with crew yesterday providing Top Cover for another 92, 1 Crew memeber was recovered but died in hospital and the otehr 3 haven’t been found yet.

    RIP.

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