Canada’s HMCS Harry DeWolf Class AOPS

HMCS Harry DeWolf in ice (6-8 second exposure)

The Harry DeWolf class is an almost unique type of ship. Canada is building eight, six for their Navy and two for their Coast Guard. It is derived from the similar and perhaps slightly more capable Norwegian Coast Guard vessel Svalbard, which has made it to the North Pole and recently undertook a mission the Healy was unable to complete due to a machinery casualty.

They are classified as “Artic and Offshore Patrol Ships” or AOPS, rather than icebreakers, but they are clearly designed to operate in ice and are rated Polar Class 5 (Year-round operation in medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions). In many ways they approximate the similarly sized and powered old Wind Class icebreakers. (2012 post on the class with updates in the comments here.)

Below are another photo and a couple of videos, but first the specs.

  • Displacement: 6,615 t (6,511 long tons)
  • Length: 103.6 m (339 ft 11 in)
  • Beam: 19 m (62 ft 4 in)
  • Draft: 6.5 m (21 ft 4 in) (estimate based on that of Svalbard)
  • Propulsion Generators: Four 3.6 MW (4,800 hp)
  • Propulsion Motors: 2 × 4.5 MW (6,000 hp)
  • Speed: 17 knots
  • Endurance: 6,800 nautical miles
  • Crew: 65 (accomodations for 85)
  • Armament: one 25mm Mk38 remote weapon system modified for Arctic Conditions and two .50 cal. machine guns (I do feel this is inadequate.)

HMCS Harry DeWolf looking forward, bow and 25mm Mk38 remote weapon system.

 

Norway’s Coast Guard Jan Mayen-class vessel

Norway’s Coast Guard Jan Mayen-class vessel (Picture source: Vard)

We have some new information on Norway’s three new very large ice capable Arctic patrol ships. Naval News reports they will be equipped with inertial navigation systems and we have the artist’s concept above I had not seen previously.

“We’re very proud to be supporting the Norwegian Coast Guard in securing Norway’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), internal and territorial waters.”, states Regis Blomme, Sales Director at iXblue. “The arctic zone, in which the new vessels will operate, is a very challenging environment and our Fiber-Optic Gyroscope (FOG) based INS and Netans NDDCS have already proven to offer highly accurate, resilient, and secure navigation in such Northern latitudes. We particularly want to thank Vard for their strong vote of confidence in our technology and look forward to our collaboration with them.”

As we noted earlier,

“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…”

Specifications are:

  • Displacement: 9,800 tons
  • Length: 136.4 meters (447.4 ft) loa
  • Beam: 22 meters (72.16 ft)
  • Draft: 6.2 meter (20.3 ft)
  • Speed: 22 knots.

Note–VARD is also the designer for the Offshore Patrol Cutters.

“Arctic Operations: We Really, Really Need the Right Equipment and an Arctic Port” –EagleSpeak

Conceptual illustration, Finland’s squadron 2020 corvette

Naval blog “EagleSpeak” decries our inability of operate surface warships in the Arctic, but this is his bottom line

“Fault finding will get us nowhere, the need is to look to our allies who operate in these waters and see if, among the hull types we need they have some ice-hardened ships whose designs we can obtain. Now.”

If we do want to do that, there is really only one choice, Finland’s new ice capable corvette we talked about here. The original post is now more than five years old, but updated information is in the comments, much of which I have linked below.

Fortunately they are already designed to us a great deal of familiar equipment much of it from US manufacturers.

They will use the same 57mm gun used by the NSC, OPC, and both classes of LCS.

They will use the Sea Giraffe radar common to the OPC and Independence class LCS.

They will use ESSM surface to air missiles, a standard item on most US surface combatants, apparently to be launched from Mk41 VLS.

The Finns will be using the Israeli Gabriel V as their surface to surface missile, but it should be relatively easy to substitute a standard US surface to surface missile, particularly the Naval Strike Missile, which is considerably smaller.

The sonars currently planned are from Kongsberg Maritime AS. If not replaced by US sourced units, they would be unique in the US fleet but the hull mounted “SS2030 sonars will be delivered to the Finnish Navy complete with hoistable hull units and ice protection to ensure safe and efficient operation in the often harsh conditions of the Baltic Sea.”  The variable depth “SD9500 is a light and compact over-the-side dipping sonar with outstanding horizontal and vertical positioning capabilities for diver detection, ASW duties and volumetric survey assignments in shallow, reverberation-limited waters.”

They would be unique among US warships in being able to both lay and counter mines.

Propulsion is CODLAG, combined diesel electric and gas turbine. Four diesel generators producing 7,700 KW (10326 HP) provide power for cruise (probably about 20 knots). A GE LM2500 gas turbine provides over 26 knot sprint speed. This is the same gas turbine that powers the NSC, Burke class destroyers, the new FFG, and numerous other ships. It is the most common gas turbine in the world.

The propellers were developed with the help of the US Navy.

“The propellers are a minor project on their own, and are set to be of a highly advanced design. This is due to the somewhat conflicting demands of high top-speed, small diameter (due to overall draught requirement), and low noise (and high cavitation margin). All this, while at the same time being strong enough to cope with ice.”

Its primary characteristics are reported to be:

  • Length: 114 m (374 ft)
  • Beam: 16 m (52 ft)
  • Displacement: 3,900 tonnes (3,800 long tons; 4,300 short tons)
  • Crew: 70 to 120 sailors
  • Speed: 26+ knots

This makes about 13% smaller than the OPC or NSC, but 30% larger than the 378s. First of class is expected to be completed 2024.

We could buy the plans and then compete procurement in a US shipyard. These might be built concurrently with the OPCs, possibly replacing some of them. Ten units could give a two squadrons, one for the Atlantic and one for the Pacific. In wartime that would almost guarantee the ability to keep three underway in either ocean.

“Renew the Coast Guard Greenland Patrol” –USNI

Orthographic projection of Greenland. Credit Connormah via Wikipedia

The US Naval Institute blog has a proposal from Ensign Philip Kiley, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve that the Coast Guard reestablish a “Greenland Patrol.” This seems to have been prompted by the recent deployments of WMECs Tahoma and Campbell to participate in Canadian sponsored Exercise Nanook.

I agree Greenland is strategically important. I also believe that if we build three heavy and three medium icebreakers, we will have one or two of the medium icebreakers on the Atlantic side, maybe all three. Its just that a Greenland Patrol, as discussed, is not an adequate rationale. At least, the thesis is not adequately developed to support the proposal.

What would the Coast Guard do that the Danes are not already doing?

Thetis-class ocean patrol vessel belonging to the Royal Danish Navy. Source: konflikty.pl, Author: Łukasz Golowanow

The Danish Navy already does a “Greenland Patrol” and they may be better equipped to do it than the US Coast Guard. They certainly have more reason to be there. The have seven ice-strengthened patrol ships, four ships of the 368 foot Thetis class and three of the 236 foot Knud Rasmussen class.

P570 Knud Rasmussen. The first of the Danish Navy Knud Rasmussen-class ocean patrol crafts. Commisioned in 2008. Photo from Flemming Sørensen

The US Coast Guard currently has no ice-strengthened patrol ships, and has no plans to build any, unless we consider the proposed medium icebreakers, aka “Arctic Security Cutter.”

When US Coast Guard was doing the Greenland Patrol in WWII, it included ice-strengthened ships with significant armaments, including ultimately Wind class icebreakers with four 5″ guns. The Danish ships are armed with 76mm guns and the ability to add StanFlex modules that might include surface to surface and surface to air missiles.

If the “Arctic Security Cutters” could fit through the St. Lawrence Seaway, they could break ice in the Great Lakes in the winter and support DOD construction in the Arctic during the Summer. Presumably, when the High Latitude study determined that the Coast Guard needed three heavy and three medium icebreakers they had enough missions planned to justify their construction without adding a Greenland patrol.

On the other hand, its entirely possible we still have much to learn from the Danes.

New Zealand Adds One of a Kind Ice Class Underway Replenishment Vessel

HMNZS Aotearoa Logistics Support Vessel

Naval News reports that the New Zealand Navy has commissioned what I believe is a one of a kind vessel, a Polar class underway replenishment vessel, HMNZS Aotearoa (not that it is an icebreaker, no icebreaking bow).

There is an excellent description of this ship here.

(Anyone know if the Polar Security cutters can do underway replenishment?)

Unlike US Navy replenishment ships, this will be armed and have a military crew.

I doubt the ice-strengthening and winterization really cost a whole lot. With the Arctic opening up, maybe the Navy should be thinking about something like this.

49 Foot Ice Capable Self-Righting Boat

Estonian builder Baltic Workboats has delivered a newbuild vessel to Szczecin Pilot, a Polish harbour pilots’ association that operates primarily in the Szczecin-Swinoujscie region.

Baird Maritime brings us a report on a boat with characteristics very similar to a Motor Lifeboat, but with an additional capability I had not even thought about for this type vessel until now. It is ice capable.

“The hull is reinforced to withstand light ice conditions relevant to the southern Baltic and Danish waters, a necessity for the vessel’s operational area of Poland’s Świnoujście and Szczecin harbours. She can handle 30 centimetres (about 12 inches–Chuck) of broken ice or five centimetres (about 2 inches–Chuck) solid ice at up to five knots.”

The boat’s surface piercing bow design is claimed to reduce vertical acceleration 40% and improve fuel economy up to 30%.

Dimensions are:

  • Length: 14.95 m (49′)
  • Beam: 4.5 m (14’9″)
  • Draft: 1.33 m (4’4″)

Max Speed: 27 knots

The wheelhouse offers nearly 360-degree visibility. The captain has a center position with uninterrupted views of the deck and boarding areas with additional skylight windows.