Saudis Buying 39 High Speed (45 knot) 106 foot Patrol Boats–WPB Replacement?

NavyRecognition is reporting award of a contract for 39 high speed 32.2 meter vessels that will probably be going to the Saudi Coast Guard.

In view of the need to replace the 87 foot Marine Protector class in the not too distant future, (The oldest, USCGC Barracuda (WPB-87301) was commissioned 20 years ago today, 24 April 1998.) this class might be worth a look. It is an example of the possible.

This is a CMN (French) design. CMN his a long history of building high speed vessels including the Israeli SA’AR 1, 2, and 3 missile boats and the widely used La Combattante series of fast attack craft.

Characteristics are reported as follows:

Length Overall : 32.20 m (105.6 ft)
Beam Overall : 7.00 m (23 ft)
Maximum draught : 1.40 m (4.6 ft)
Maximum speed : 43 Knots
Range at 12 Knots : 800 NM
Range at 33 Knots : 580 NM
Crew : 12
Fuel : 21 m3
Fresh water : 1 m3
Hull & Superstructure : Aluminium
Classification : Bureau Veritas

4.8 m outboard RHIB mounted on stern ramp

Three diesel engines

Three Waterjets : Two steering & one booster

Two main generators

Yes, it is larger than the Marine Protector class 87 foot WPBs by 19 feet, but the Webber class are 44 feet longer than the 110s they replaced, so the gap between new generation vessels would be greater than the previous generation 48 feet vice 23 feet.

Range, endurance, and crew size are similar to that of the Marine Protector class.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I think the Webber class WPCs are, and are being used as, more small cruising cutter than as a “Fast Response Cutter” sitting in port waiting for a SAR call. These could be the real “fast response cutter,” and in many cases, they could beat a helicopter to the scene.



32 thoughts on “Saudis Buying 39 High Speed (45 knot) 106 foot Patrol Boats–WPB Replacement?

  1. The “Ambassador III” class Missile Patrol Boat, would make a Excellent High-Speed Drug Interdiction Cutter for the USCG or Patrol Vessel for the USN. Unfortunately there “Export Only” Military Vessels…

    • The last Ambassador III costs $240M, about four times as much as an FRC and probably 2/3 the cost of an OPC. They are only 600 tons and have a shorter range than the Webber class. I do suspect half the cost is due to the armament and sensors. They probably account for some of members of its crew of 36 as well. Still even at $120M and with a smaller crew, I don’t see it being a great asset for CG missions because they have no provision for helicopters (probably too small} and don’t have good support for boat operations. For $120M I think we could build a decent cutter X similar to L’ Adroit that would be more useful.

      The CMN vessels that the Saudis have contracted for only cost $12.3M. We could build ten of them for the cost of one disarmed Ambassador III. Operating costs, probably a third that of a disarmed Ambassador III.

      • Both the US Navy and USCG use the Mk.75 Mod.0 “Rapids”, not the Mod.1 “Super-Rapids” and I suspect that a Mk.110 Bofors would be used instead, if not a Mk.38 25mm. Though a NEMO or AMOS would be Nicer…

      • All the US Navy Mk75 76mm guns are gone now with the Perry class frigates. Ambassador IIIs are particularly well armed. In addition to the 76mm, they have eight Harpoon launchers, a Phalanx, and a 21 round RAM missile launcher.

    • The Ambassador III was built as a Fast Missile Craft but is now typed as Coastal Corvette and in no way could be a fast interceptor. There is a reason that only 3 were built, no one else likes them~

      • Actually Four were built! The “S.Ezzat”, the “F.Zenkry”, the “A.Gad” and the “M.Fahmy”. The “M.Fahmy” was commissioned in 2016. Also Egypt has the option to build more “IF” Wanted. Ship’s are capable of Sea State 5 Cruising, which make them capable of Oceanic Transits…

    • This occurred to me as well, but I’m not sure how important that is. It could be mitigated by providing a lookout positon on top of the bridge, and by using an electro optic device on the mast.

      The greater beam of this class probably trumps the draft as far as stability. Watching the video, I was impressed with how little roll I saw, particularly during the turn.

  2. Here’s a thought. What about leaning toward some commonality of equipment with the USN, and consider the Mark VI PB. They seem to match up, or maybe exceed the range/speed capabilities of the CMN HSI32, with armor protection for the engine & fuel tanks. Might want to add a taller mast. . And, at $15 Million a pop they’re a hell of a lot cheaper than an Ambassador Mk III

      • Yeah, but the Ambassador Mk III really isn’t a realistic replacement for the Marine Protector-class, now is it? I man, replacing an 87 foot patrol boat with what is essentially a 200+ foot light missile corvette is really a ridiculous notion, that doesn’t border on the line of absurdity, it fully embraces it.

      • So your replacing a 110-foot Patrol Boat with ~2,870nmi. range with a Mk.VI Patrol Boat with ~750nmi.! Sounds even more Ridiculous. Even the “Ambassador” with its Missile Systems removed can be replaced with additional Fuel Bunkers…

      • Augmenting the class? Or actually replacing it! “Protector” class is less than 20-years old? Why replace it…

      • The MkVI looks pretty close to the Marine Protector class. It has some advantages for some missions, notably speed, but it is probably less seaworthy than the 87 footer and has less endurance. Not a lot less range than the 87 footer, but galley is very limited.

      • As I recall, the 87-foot boat to be replaced has ~125nmi greater range than the Mk.VI’s…

      • Chuck,
        I was assuming the Marine Protectors range of ~900 nmi was base somewhere in the area of operating at ~10 kts patrol speed, as reference from Bollinger’s info, not the 25 kts max speed listed on Wikipedia. I kind of jumped to an assumption that the Mk VI would likely equal that, based on it’s wiki listing of 750 nmi @ 25 kts. I’d have to concur with you on the Mk VIs seaworthiness. With it’s significantly shallower draft, and wider beam it probably rides a bit rough.

      • Regarding range of the 87 footer vs the MkVI or the CMN design. My Combat Fleets of the World lists the 87 footer as 882 miles but that is at only 10 knots. Range is very dependent on the speed of transit. For displacement hulls, you approximately double the horsepower required and the fuel consumption for every additional four knots of speed. Go slow and you get better range. Go fast and you get significantly less. The range for the MkVI is quoted for 25 knots, so in all probability the MkVI actually has greater range. The range for the CMN design is quoted at 12 knots, so it is probably at least equal in terms of range.

        Planning hulls don’t run up against the same limits displacement hulls bump up against at higher speeds, but they may not be as efficient, or as comfortable as similar sized displacement hulls at slower speeds.

        If this were to be a true “Fast Response Cutter” rather than a patrol vessel, then a planning hull and water jets might be appropriate.

      • Only problem being is being where the Action Is! That “Ambassador” has the Range to Cover the Area of the Action and the Speed to act on that Action. The Mk.VI doesn’t, unless the Mk.VI stumbles into it by sheer Happenstance…

  3. @Secundius, replacing the 87 footers with Ambassador IIIs would be a really had sell, because even a disarmed version would cost twice as much as a Webber class. It would be a lot cheaper to replace all the Marine Protector class with Webber class, but I don’t think that is going to happen either.

    • also think maintenance, heavy pounding, hulls that use high speed are not good in long term maintenance, even worse, alumanem

  4. @Secundius, The oldest of the 87 footers is now 20 years old, and no replacement is on the horizon. Since it seems to take at least five and perhaps as many as ten years to field a new class, its really not too early to start preliminary discussion.

  5. chuck, the 82s went well beyond their service life but they were pretty stout and could take a pounding, don’t know enough about 87s to make a comparison hopefully the are built to a similar standard. the 110s had a 15 year design life, many went to 30 years. when have we replaced a class in a timely manner? we certainly aren’t known for it. river boats, 210s, 180s all come to mind

    • I’m hoping we have learned a lesson.
      The first Webber class entered service 26 years after the first 110 entered service.
      The first 87 footers entered service in 1998. If we have a similar 26 year gap, the first WPB replacements should enter service in 2024. If they follow the pattern we have seen there will be a year of research, a year of contracting to select at least three competing designs, a year to develop the competing designs, after which we will award a contract for detail design and construction, a year to develop the detail design, and at least a year to construct the first boat.
      That is at least five years, so the process should start in 2019.

      • Excellent points. The service has to understand that smaller cutters like the FRC have shorter life span. Anything over 20 years is really questionable. the Navy is just realizing their mistake trying to extend the Cyclone PCs.

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