“Spain seen joining Greece, France, Italy on European Patrol Corvette program” –DefenseNews

Defense News reports that it appears likely that four European countries and perhaps more will join forces to build a class of 3000 ton patrol vessels.

The two firms (Italy’s Fincantieri and France’s Naval Group–Chuck) are hoping to match Italian and French navy requirements with a jointly built, modular vessel that can handle patrol and surveillance missions as well as taking second-tier roles in anti-submarine and anti-surface missions.

The vessels these ships are to replace, perform their respective countries offshore coast guard missions.

The project is one of many being supported by an EU initiative called “Permanent Structured Cooperation” (PESCO) that is to be supported by the entire EU community. It sounds like this may be heading toward a shipbuilding version of Airbus.

According to this report, Bulgaria and Portugal are also joining the program.

French Navy Floreal class surveillance Frigate, FS Ventose

The French Navy intends to replace the six ships of the Floreal class. These “surveillance frigates” are scattered among France’s overseas territories. They have no ASW capability, but are equipped with a pair of Exocet anti-ship missiles (ASCM).

Italy expects to retire the ten ships of the Cassiopea, Sirio, and Commandanti classes 2022-2025. These ships are all about 1500 tons. They have neither ASW equipment or ASCMs.

The Greeks don’t seem to have any ships in this class, but may now see a need.

Spanish Navy Meteoro class OPV Tornado. Photo from Sergio Acosta, via Wikipedia

I was a bit surprised that Spain would join in this effort. They have their own OPV designs supplied by Navantia, and they have been doing pretty well. They have been produced a class of six referred to as BAM, and were expected to procure six more of the same class. In addition they have produced corvettes for Venezuela and have been contracted to produce five corvettes for Saudi Arabia. Navantia had teamed with Bath Iron Works to provide BIW’s proposal for the USCG OPC program, and they are on BIW’s FFG(X)  team. It may be that they feel they have to join now or risk being excluded in the future.

If these ships come equipped as indicated in the diagram at the head of the article, they will be significantly better armed than the ships they replace. They will be a bit larger than the French ships being replaced and more than twice as large as the Italian ships being replaced.

It appears they will be very close in size to the Coast Guard’s Argus Class OPCs, being the same length (110 meters or 360 feet) and only slightly narrower.

“Vietnamese fishing boat sinks during encounter with Indonesian warship” –Baird Maritime

Baird Maritime reports on an incident between Vietnamese and Indonesian fisheries protection vessels that resulted in the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in a disputed area of the South China Sea.

The Indonesian Corvette, KRI Tjiptadi (381), is a former East German Parchim class corvette like this one. It is about the size of a 210.

The South East Asian countries having disputes about their respective EEZs should really take it to the UN tribunal. The resulting decisions would ensure international recognition of their rights and leave China’s nine dash line claims in the trash bin.

Project 22160 patrol ships, Russia’s Cutter X

The Zelenodolsk Shipyard in the Volga area will lay down the third Project 22160 patrol ship Pavel Derzhavin on February 18, shipyard spokesman Andrei Spiridonov told TASS on Monday. "The shipyard will hold a solemn ceremony of laying down the Project 22160 patrol ship Pavel Derzhavin developed by the Severnoye Design Bureau in St. Petersburg [in northwest Russia]," the spokesman said.

Recently, NavyRecognition reported Russia was laying down a third Project 22160 patrol ship. The first of this class should enter service next year. In size they fall between the Offshore Patrol Cutter and the Webber class WPCs, in the range I have called “Cutter X.” The size (1200-1800 tons full load) seems to be favored by many navies and coast guards.These ships are a bit unusual among small Russian ships in having a substantial range.

Reportedly the Russians are building six of these. Specs are as follows:

  • Length: 94 meters (308 ft)
  • Beam: 14 meters (46 ft)
  • Draught: 3.4 meters (11.2 ft)
  • Speed: 30 knots
  • Range: 6,000 nmi
  • Endurance:  60 days
  • Crew: 80

At one point there was a public statement that these had been designed to counter piracy off the Horne of Africa. But it has been more recently reported that they will be quipped with Kalibr (Tomahawkski) land attack missiles, the type recently used by ships in the Caspian Sea to attack targets in Syria. The ship is “modular” and has a reconfigurable space under the rear of the flight deck. The missile will be mounted in containers under the flight deck. Adding anti-submarine or additional anti-ship capabilities would require trading off the Kalibr missiles.

The ship has a new naval gun mount incorporating a 57mm gun. The gun is reportedly capable of 300 rounds per minute and a range of 12 km. Effective range is about 4 km. This is a development of gun with a long history in Soviet and Russian Service in both anti-air and anti-armor roles, and as is frequently the case with Russian weapons, the ammunition is shared in common with the Russian Army.

In addition they will carry short range Anti-Air missiles. It appears they will be vertical launched from canisters between the gun and superstructure.

While these ships do not have a strong self defense capability, the mounting of cruise missiles similar to the Tomahawk on small vessels, particularly on one like this, that has a relatively long range, gives them a sort of miniature maritime strike capability, far less capable, but also far cheaper than a Carrier Strike Group. While the ships are small and the weapons unobtrusive, the potential to accurately strike up to eight separate targets would have required an attack by dozens of aircraft not too many years ago.

Apparently all six ships are to be assigned to the Black Sea Fleet and will be home ported in Novorossiysk.

Interestingly, it appears the Russians may also be building a similar size anti-submarine warfare ship. Again NavyRecognition has the report.