Another Very Different Candidate for “Cutter X”

Click on photo to enlarge

The Australian Navy has had problems with their Armidale class patrol boats. These little ships, similar to the Coast Guard’s Webber Class WPCs (Fast Response Cutters), have been sent great distances to enforce Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations. They are really are not up to the task, so Australia has been planning a larger class. In addition to the fourteen Armidale patrol vessels, they hope to use the same class to also replace six Huon-class minehunter, two Leeuwin-class survey vessel, and four Paluma-class survey motor launch.

This projected class of 20 larger ships is referred to as the Offshore Combatant Vessel.

No design has been chosen yet as far as I can tell, but Austal is a local firm (with a shipyard in the US as well) that probably has an inside track. Their design referred to as a “Multi-Purpose Vessel,” is a bit unusual, but it might be appropriate to use as a USCG cutter to fill the space between the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) and the Webber class WPCs, that I have been referring to as “Cutter X.”

It looks a bit like a scaled down Independence class LCS, not surprising since the Independence class are also made by Austal. It, like the Independence design, is a trimaran hull with lots of clear helicopter operating area and a hangar, as well as a large open area under the flight deck for modular systems, or perhaps in our case transporting migrants. Looks like they could also be very useful for Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Response (HADR) Mission.

Austal 80 meter Multi-Role Vessel

Austal 80 meter Multi-Role Vessel

Click on photo to enlarge

Length overall 80 meters (262.5 feet)
Length (waterline) 78.8 meters
Beam (moulded) 21.1 meters (69.2 feet)
Depth (moulded) 6.7 meters
Hull draft 3.2 meters (10.5 feet)
Mission deck 500m2 (5382 sq.ft.)
Flight Deck area 290m2 (3122 sq.ft.)
Hangar 1 x NH-90 (a 23,370 lb gross weight helicopter) or similar
Complement 35
Crew accommodation 87 berth
Endurance 28 days
Range 4,500nm @ 12 knots
Speed (max) 26 knots
Main engines 3 x MTU 20V 4000 @ 4,300kW at 2,170 rpm Diesel engines
(Same engines used in the Webber class)
Propulsion 3 x fixed pitch propellers
Weapons and Sensors •Standard 25mm stabilized naval gun
(the artist concept actually shows a 57mm)
•4 x .50 cal general purpose machine gun mounts

Austal 80 meter Multi-Purpose Vessel

Austal 80 meter Multi-Purpose Vessel

Click on photo to enlarge

Thanks to JamesWF for reminding me of this design.

7 thoughts on “Another Very Different Candidate for “Cutter X”

  1. One big difference between the MRV concept and the Independence seems to be that the MRV does not optimize speed for the sake of range.

    It will be interesting to see how Austal plays out in the US. The USN will probably stop procuring LCS in about a decade, which seems like a long time, but really isn’t if you’re trying to establish a shipyard like Austal is. What are they going to build when LCS is done? JHSV seems to be a success, but how many small transports does the Navy need? Can’t imagine that alone will keep Austal viable.

    Smallish patrol boats and transports seems to be there specialty. So it seems like they are likely to bid on USCG projects at some point. They already build “coast guard” ships for Australia.

  2. Comparing the two LCS designs Austal’s Independence class has better aviation facilities, better endurance, and lower fuel consumption.

    Even if they started procuring Cutter X today, we probably would not see the first for another decade.

  3. The current 30 year shipbuilding plan shows the LCS buy wrapping up in 2025, and they show a 4 or 5 year gap before the next small surface combatant is procured. By then the FRC will be done too in all likelihood, while the OPC should be in full production at a couple a year.

    The two LSC shipbuilders are HII and BIW.

    The first tier SSC shipbuilders are Menomomie, Bollinger and Austal, and maybe Halter (they seem to have a hard time getting contracts from the USN and USCG though).. And Eastern has got get there foot in the door, which they haven’t done yet. The others like Swiftships seem to be FMS only.

    HII and BIW build and bid on SSC’s too.

    So if the Navy really takes a 5 year break from buying small warships, and the Coast Guard is only buying two ships a year from one yard during that time period, then there isn’t going to be enough work for all those yards to stay open.

  4. This Austal MRV design has been around for years. It looks like they have finally found a potential buyer? The hull design is a MUCH smaller version of the Austal ferry “Benchijigua Express” on which the Independence design was based. So I would see it more like an earlier effort for a multi-role vessel or as originally typed corvette. And note it’s size is much smaller than LCS-2

    Note also the program description in Wiki and the same thoughts about merging mulitple roles into on vessel type

    First made public in Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030, the 2009 Department of Defence white paper, the planned vessels stem from Government instructions for the RAN to rationalise patrol, mine warfare, and hydrographic survey assets into a single class of warship. Twenty vessels are proposed. The project has received the procurement designation SEA 1180.

  5. aluminium ships are not suitable for combat. remember hms sheffield, all that death and damage from one unexploded exocet.

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