“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.

“”Narcosubmarine” a First for Europe -Spanish Officials” –Marine Link

Marine Link reports.

“The discovery of a submarine carrying 3,000 kg (3.3 tons) of cocaine off the coast of Spain marks a “historic” turning point in the battle against drug trafficking, Spanish authorities said on Wednesday.”

That looks like an awful long way for a Self Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS), about 4,000 nautical miles. Have to wonder if the goods were not shipped first to Africa and perhaps the SPSS was built there? Alternately could the SPSS have been transported part of the way by a larger vessel?

NarcoSPSStoSpain

“Vestdavit to equip Norwegian Coast Guard’s Next Gen Polar Vessels” –News Release

Earlier we talked about the Norwegian Coast Guard’s new large (9,800 ton) ice strengthened patrol vessels.

(These will be very large, about twice the size of a Bertholf class National Security Cutter and about three times the size of the ships they will replace. Because the Norwegian Coast Guard is structured as part of their Navy, other than a single logistics ship, these will be the largest ships in the Norwegian Navy.)

Now we have a report on their choice of boat handling equipment, in the form of a news release from Vestdavit. Not surprisingly they are using Vestdavit equipment, as they have consistently used equipment from this manufacturer, but it also appears, they, like many recent designs, will provide a multiple boat hangar or garage amidships, and for this they will employ Vestdavit’s MissionEase multi-boat transfer system

Vestdavit “MissionEase” launch and recovery system

Each vessel will come complete with one telescopic TBD-10000L davit system plus two PLR-5003KV units, built to Vestdavit standards for minimum availability of 330 days a year up to upper Sea State 5, based on actual North Sea conditions 1958-2018. In line with the areas of operation envisaged, the davits will be winterized for full functionality in temperatures as low as -25deg C, as required in the Polar Code.

These systems should also permit launching of unmanned surface and sub-surface systems.

In addition,

The Vestdavit PLR-5003KV units also specified within the contract are A-frame, all-steel davits with a 5 ton SWL, which will feature Vestdavit’s wave-compensation system and shock absorber system. The solution will feature 50m/min lifting and lowering speeds. The units installed are designed to handle FRBs of up to 8.5m in length..

Vestdavit A-Frame All-Steel Davit seen here on HMNZS OTAGO (P-148)

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

“Hellenic Coast Guard Testing Tethered Aerostat for FRONTEX Mission” –Naval News

Aerostat being tested by the Hellenic Coast Guard for FRONTEX.

Naval News reports that the Hellenic Coast Guard is doing something of a 28 day comparison test between land based and Aerostat based surveillance systems on the island of Samos.

Putting a radar at 1000 meters should provide a radar horizon of about 70 nautical miles and allow detection of a 50 foot high target at up to 79 miles.

Britain Seizes Iranian Tanker Suspected of Breaking Syrian Embargo, Iran Threatens Retaliation

MSN reports, British Royal Marines seized an Iranian owned oil tanker near Gibraltar. They landed on the ship by helicopter during the night and customs authorities are detaining the mostly Indian crew as witnesses.

Meanwhile Iranian official are saying they will be obligated to retaliate against a British tanker.

Note this action was taken because the cargo was believed to have been destined for Syria, in violation of a EU imposed embargo.

Norwegian Coast Guard’s New Ice Strengthened Cutters –They Will Be Big

Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel Svalbard. Currently the largest Norwegian Coast Guard ship. The new ships will be about 50% larger. Photo by Marcusroos

Just received information on the new Norwegian Coast Guard cutters that will be replacing the three ships of the Nordkapp class in the form of a 26 page pdf that appears to have been briefing graphics from August 2014.

We discussed these ships briefly in an Oct. 5, 2016 post. June 25, 2018 Marine Log reported that VARD had won a contract to build three ships at a cost exceeding NOK 5 billion (about $618 million).

Deliveries of the three vessels are scheduled from Vard Langsten in Norway in 1Q 2022, 1Q 2023 and 1Q 2024 respectively. The hulls will be built at Vard’s Tulcea, Romania, shipyard;

According to the presentation they are going to be relatively big ships, about three times the size of the ships they will replace at 9,800 tons, and 136.4 meters (447.4 ft) loa, 19 meter (62.3 ft) beam, and 6.2 meter (20.3 ft) draft. Later information puts the beam at 22 meters (72.16 ft). That makes them larger than the icebreaker Glacier, although they are not icebreakers, only ice strengthened. It does not have an icebreaker bow.

They are expected to hangar two NH90 helicopters (10,600 kg/23,370 lb max TO weight) with deck space to land an AW101 (14,600 kg/32,188 lb max TO weight). They are expected to have a speed of 22 knots, endurance of eight weeks, accommodations for 100, collective CBRN protection, and space for containers on deck.

They will have a single medium caliber gun, apparently a 57mm, with an all weather fire control system, plus machine guns, sonar, and torpedo and mine storage for the helicopters. Since these ships will be armed very much like the Nordkapp class that they replace, there will all probably be provision for mounting Naval Strike Missile, although that is not mentioned in the briefing.

They will also be equipped with pollution abatement systems.

These ships were designed by VARD, also the designer of the US Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter and Canada’s Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel. This might be a design we should consider as an Arctic Patrol Cutter. Certainly the Norwegian Coast Guard should be able to provide some good advice once they have had some experience with these.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

Russian CG and Ukrainian Navy Go to Blows.

A couple of reports of a nasty incident that culminated in the seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels. This may be worth watching. It is another assault on Freedom of Navigation.

“Tension escalates after Russia seizes Ukraine naval ships”

“Russia blocks passage in Kerch Strait Near Crimea, Deploys Su-25 Jets And Ka-52 Attack Helicopters.”