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.”


Surface Navy in the Arctic

The Coast Guard has been at this for quite a while, but for the first time in about 27 years, the Surface Navy has ventured north of the Arctic Circle in force. Its been a learning experience for the fleet and for the people of Reykjavik, Iceland

They are participating in Exercise Trident Juncture, taking place in and around Nordic Europe Oct. 25 to Nov. 23, including the Baltic Sea, Iceland, and the airspace of Finland and Sweden. There are expected to be “More than 50,000 participants – including 14,000 U.S. service members – … utilizing approximately 150 aircraft, 65 ships and more than 10,000 vehicles in support of the exercise.”

US Navy units include the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) with the carrier, a cruiser, and four destroyers and the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), USS New York (LPD-21) and USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44).

A landing craft utilities (LCU) enters the well deck of the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) on Oct, 3, 2018, to embark on the ship for Trident Juncture 2018. US Navy photo.

Apparently Gunston Hall experienced some minor injuries and damage.

According to a Navy news release, “the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) experienced heavy seas during the evening of Monday, October 22, 2018. As a result, the ship’s Landing Craft Utilities (LCU) and well deck experienced damage. The Gunston Hall is in port Reykjavik, Iceland for further assessment….Amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD-21) also returned to port as a precautionary measure…”

But now we hear from the poor victims in Iceland. 7000 sailors and marines invaded the town of Reykjavik (population about 125,000) and drank all their beer.

French Fisheries Fight

gCaptain brings us news of clash between British and French scallop fishermen.

“The French Navy is ready to intervene if clashes between French and British fishermen over access to scallop-rich seabeds erupt again on the open seas, Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said on Tuesday.

“Travert said he had spoken to his British counterpart and that talks between the two sides were due on Wednesday after French vessels chased their rivals out of the Baie de Seine last week.

“British fishermen accused the French of ramming their vessels and hurling projectiles. Disgruntled French fishermen, unhappy that their British rivals can dredge for scallops year round while they are barred from doing so during summer months, said they came under a violent counter-attack.”

The full article provides more information.

EU Charters Fisheries Enforcement Vessel

MarineLink reports the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) has chartered a 61 meter (200 foot) multi-role emergency response and rescue vessel to perform fisheries enforcement.

“It is possible that Lundy Sentinel will also be used for other operations besides fisheries control, in the framework of the European coastguard cooperation, including search and rescue, border control, disruption of trafficking routes, detection of criminal activities and enforcement of EU and national legislations.”

OPC Derived Frigate? Designed for the Royal Navy, Proposed for USN

Earlier I suggested that a derivative of the Offshore Patrol Cutter might fill the role of a frigate.

It now appears that a ship with the OPC’s DNA has been proposed as a frigate for the Royal Navy and has been offered to the US Navy. The Babcock Arrowhead 120 is the latest of five candidates for the Royal Navy’s Type 31e (the other four are outlined here).

The common thread is Vard designs. The family tree looks like this.

  • Róisín-class patrol vessel, two ships, 1500 tons, 79 meters (259 ft) in length, 23 knots, built by Babcock, commissioned into the Irish Naval Service in 1999.
  • Protector-class offshore patrol vessel, two ships, 1900 tons, 85 meters (279 ft) in length, 22 knots, built by BAE Systems Williamstown, Australia, for the New Zealand Navy, the first commissioned in 2010.
  • Samuel Beckett-class offshore patrol vessel, three ships completed and a fourth under construction, 2256 tons, 90 meters (300 ft) in length, 23 knots, built by Babcock and commissioned into the Irish Navy Service in 2014.
  • USCG Offshore Patrol Cutter, 4,000 tons, 110 meters (360 ft), to be built by Eastern in the US with the first expected to be commissioned in 2021.

OPC “Placemat”

NavyRecognition has the most complete description of the ship I have seen so far, and also has three protos of a model of the proposed ship.

Arrowhead 120 has a length of 120 meters, a breadth of 19 meters for a displacement of 4000 tonnes. Its speed is 24+ knots and range is 6000 nautical miles at 15 knots. Crew complement is 80 (plus 40). The vessel was design with commercial standard with applied naval engineering standards.

Missions bays: Space for numerous containerized units within the optimally located mission bays. Facilities for launch & recovery of UXVs. Flexible, reconfigurable infrastructure.

Missile options: Deck space for up to 8 surface to surface guided weapons. Up to 16 cells VLS.

Small calibre guns: Design provision for SCGs up to 30mm with associated EO sensors and magazine arrangements. Weapons can be fitted at a number of upperdeck positions.

Medium calibre guns: Design provision for MCG up to 5 Inch (127mm) with associated infrastructure.

Aviation: Flight deck sized for AW-101 Merlin/MH-60 Seahawk. Hangar capable of accommodating a medium organic naval helicopter (e.g. Seahawk or NH90) or a lighter helicopter plus a VTOL UAV (e.g. AW-159 Wildcat & MQ-8C Firescout). Design can accommodate all envisaged customer naval aircraft.

Type 31e, outline of requirements (click on to enlarge)

Babcock is offering the design to meet the US Navy’s frigate requirement.

Among companies vying for the Type 31e design contract is Babcock International, which this week unveiled proposals for a 120-meter, 4,000-ton rapidly reconfigurable warship with multiple mission bays; deck space for eight surface-to-surface missiles, 16 vertical launch cells and a 5-inch gun; a flight deck large enough for a V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and hanger for MH-60 Seahawk helicopter; and launch/recovery facilities for unmanned vehicles.

Babcock claims that its Arrowhead 120 design will reduce through-life costs by embedding real-time equipment health monitoring sensors during the build process, allowing information about key systems to be gathered during deployments to inform subsequent maintenance periods.
With transatlantic exports in mind, the company also points to its collaborative venture with Florida-based Eastern Shipbuilding to design a new offshore patrol cutter for the U.S. Coast Guard. (emphasis applied–Chuck)
Craig Lockhart, the managing director of Babcock’s Naval Marine business, said that an advisor for U.S. naval procurement had expressed interest in the Arrowhead design, and specifically its innovative ‘iFrigate’ platform monitoring system, at the DSEI event.

The length is up ten meters compared to the OPC, as I thought might be the case, but I am a bit surprised at the reported beam, 19 meters. Since the OPC is 4,000 tons full load and the Arrowhead proposal is both ten meters (33 ft) longer and 2.5 meters (8 ft) greater in beam, the full load displacement of the Arrowhead would likely be considerably greater. The 4,000 tons reported may be a light displacement, meaning this ship is actually larger than the FFG-7 class.

Given the relatively small stacks and the 24+ knot speed, this is obviously an all diesel ship. It will be economical to run and have a long range at relatively high cruising speeds. While I think 24+ knots may be enough, most of the ships to be escorted make 20 knots or less, a speed well below the 29 knots of the FFG-7 class will be a hard sell to the US Navy.

NavyRecognition also has news of another of the Type 31e competitors, the BMT Venator-110 also apparently being proposed to meet the US Navy requirement.

Meanwhile BAE is also offering the much larger and more expensive Type 26 to the USN as well, however with its size and cost (U.S. $4.9 billion for the first three British ships) approaching that of a Burke class DDG, I think that is a long shot.

By contrast the Type 31e is being designed to a price of 250M Pounds or about $340M. That much lower price may be the Type 31e’s best selling point.

Late addititon, Sept. 12, 2019


Babcock Arrowhead 140 chosen for the Royal Navy Type 31e project.

Fish and the Brexit

Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels

Looks like fisheries has become a new sticking point in the BEXIT negotiation. A lot of bluster over EU fisheries chief’s interview on BBC. The Brits take it as an insult. He may have just been saying the fishermen are an unruly bunch and will go where the fish are. The reaction seems to indicate the Brits are taking this as a planned EU invasion of their waters.

There was a lot of criticism of the building of more River class Offshore Patrol Vessels (Infographic above) for the Royal Navy as a means of keeping the shipbuilding industry alive until the Mk26 frigates were ready to be built. It was said they were not needed and the Navy did not want them. Now they may now have a use for them. Contrary to what you see on the graphic (now out of date), they are building five of these, which will bring their total OPV fleet to nine vessels.

4.1 Miles–NY Times

New York Times has a video and story about the Greek Coast Guard on the Island of Lesbos and their effort to save refugees attempting the passage from Turkey to Greece.

You might want to watch the video on the New York Times site, because I think the sound is better than the YouTube video version I found and included above.

The film is an Oscar nominated short subject.

A total of 600,000 refugees reportedly made the crossing from 2015 through 2016.

Britain–Maybe They Need a Coast Guard

There is concern that the kind of people smuggling seen in the Mediterranean may soon come to the English Channel, and according to Chief Inspector of Immigration and Borders David Bolt,

“’It isn’t just a question of people-smuggling. This is also a question of firearms, a question of drugs, we have been woefully unprepared.’

According to the post,

“Many European nations have significant coast guards with dozens, or even hundreds of craft working to protect human life at sea and the integrity of borders. Britain instead has a variety of agencies including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which has a small number of craft, the Border agency, which presently has two of their five customs cutters deployed to the Mediterranean rather than in home waters, and charities including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution which has no border defence role.

“Of the United Kingdom’s approximately 1,000 ports and harbours, only 500 are large enough to warrant the security features such as fences and restricted areas as mandated by the International Ship and Port Facility Security code, leaving half totally open to smugglers. At many UK ports, police and border force visits can be rare.”

I have no idea how serious this problem really is, or how serious it may become, but it does remind me of one advantage of having a relatively large, agile, multi-mission force as opposed to several smaller, narrowly focused organizations. When the US is suddenly faced with a crisis, be it a humanitarian crisis like the Mariel Boat Lift, weather related like Hurricane Katrina, a man made pollution incident like the Deepwater Horizon, or a natural disaster like the Earthquake in Haiti, the Coast Guard has the organization, the authority, the resources, and the culture that allows it to refocus and respond.

Thanks to Mike for bringing this to my attention.