US to Sell 8 “Global Response Cutters” (FRC-A?) to Pakistan. Webber Alternative?

Pakistan’s “TheNews” is reporting, “The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for GRC43M Cutters and associated equipment parts training and logistical support for an estimated cost of 350 million.”

They are to be built by Westport Shipyard, Inc. (Westport, WA), a company best known as America’s largest yacht builder. We have seen an example of this 43 meter (143 foot) class before. They were demonstrated for the Coast Guard in 2011.

This composite construction vessel is closer to the original concept of the FRC than the Webber Class, and it appears that the cost is about three quarters that of the Webber class. Claims are also made of lower maintenance and longer hull life. They are also faster. Now that the initial contract for the Webbers has run its course, perhaps it would be a good time to reevaluate these as an alternative.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.

19 thoughts on “US to Sell 8 “Global Response Cutters” (FRC-A?) to Pakistan. Webber Alternative?

  1. Though these mini-dock/stern ramp arrangements have obvious advantages two big RIBs are better than one. Especially in those areas where things are likely to go kinetic.

    Still 32kts is a fair turn of speed, not the fastest, but on the right side of the equation.

  2. Having had a lot of boats on my ship LPS-249, and been involved in installing davits and operating RHIBs from MSC ships, I think that putting boats up in davits offer multiple advantages but most importantly multiple boats per hull.
    The two main impacts on the parent ship are decks area + length along the deck edge and stability.
    If one looks at a lot of cutters and small patrols ships you will see its about an even split in designs?

    • Saying stern ramps have obvious advantages isn’t implying that they are better than davits; no system is perfect.

      You are right stern ramps do impact greatly on the hull.

      That is the Finnish Border Guard OPV Turva she carries one large fast patrol boat which is easily accommodated on davits leaving the aft deck clear. If another customer wanted a similar ship from STX Finland but with two FPB then another one could be easily accommodated on the other beam. Using a stern ramp for such a boat or even two would take away all that useful working space and bring other problems.

      That is the Italian landing ship San Giugasto displacing just under 8000 tons. Accommodating the LCs in the dock would have required them to build a much larger vessel. Having the LCs on davits lead to a more compact design; not sure about the design drivers for the design.

      • My impression is that while stern ramps are quicker and therefore offer some advantages, they are more dangerous when it gets rough, specifically during recovery, and the danger increases as the size difference between the boat and the recovering ship increases.

        Using davits takes a little longer, but are safer when the weather gets nasty. Ideally perhaps you might want both. On a PC the size difference is not so great, so a stern ramp works pretty well, but it does compromise the towing arrangements. On a larger ship, if you have to make a choice, I would go with davits.

  3. Nice looking ship. Having two capable RHIBs would be a huge plus for a patrol boat, as long as the crew size and personnel allowance list supported operating two boat crews. This design shares one major disadvantage with the Sentinel-class FRCs though- very little suitable deck space for holding migrants. The only clear area is forward of the pilothouse, which obscures visibility and gets migrants wet if they’re kept there. Patrol boats are poor holding platforms in general, but in D7 they end up spending a lot of time with mirgrants on deck so it needs to be a design consideration.

  4. The hull material also has an advantage for cutter stationed in the Persian Gulf; lower magnetic signature. If memory serves right, a lot of present minesweepers are similar. I’m not advocating MCM as a wartime role for the CG, but it is a good protective measure for a light vessel in dangerous waters.

  5. @ Chuck

    It is all very interesting. 🙂

    One of my hobby horses (one of a stable) is the return of the proper ship’s boat. RIBs are good but not ideal. I wonder how much the choice of the latter is considered on strengths and needs, and how much it is down to cost?

    (Perhaps other issues these days like stealth……)

    All very interesting.

  6. Were it not for the short range (600nm), the Navy’s new Mark VI patrol boat would work to replace 110’s with a composite hull. Maybe the CG could sell a longer version for combined Navy/CG work. Maybe even keep these Mark VI-plus (for lack of a formal title). in that theater but rotate crews between CG and Navy. Navy owns the hull, but the CG gets to replace our cutters for that theater of conflict.

      • The Iraqi ships were about 20 million apiece, not including GFE, if I remember correctly. All welded alumium, with watertight bulkheads and built to USN small craft spec.

        The pricing on those and the ambassador class missile boats seems pretty competitive. One question I have is are FMS prevailing wage. I assume they are, because even if someone else is paying, they’re still federal contracts, so I assume they are prevailing wage. It might not matter in shipbuilding that much anyway, because most of the yards are union. Although it’s much more of a mixed bag between union and non union yards on the second and third tier shipyards. I know Austal is non union, and I think Swiftships is nonunion as well.

        In commercial construction, prevailing wage labor costs are about 2 or 3 times non prevailing wage (it’s not just the wages, higher insurance requirements for contractors and subcontractors are usually required on public works). I’m curious if the shipbuilding industry has a similar disparity.

        There does seem to be a niche for US shipbuilders where they can be globally competitive.

      • I am always careful not to draw too many conclusions from quoted prices, because there are so many different ways to figure costs. For instance, when the US appropriates $360M for six Webber class, that includes not only government furnished equipment and what we pay to the shipyard, but also pre-commissioning training and personnel costs and supporting infrastructure improvements. The Webber class are two or three times as large as the Swiftships built 35 meter patrol boats so it is not surprising that they cost two or three times as much.

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