Portugal to Build a New Type of Ship–UxS Carrier

The “plataforma naval multifuncional” (multifunctional naval platform). Portuguese Navy image.

It is not often an entirely new category of ship emerges, but this seems to be the case. Perhaps it was inevitable, but it looks like the Portuguese may be the first to make it happen–a specialized, built for purpose, unmanned systems mothership.

Wish the specs in the lower right above were readable. 

First heard about this ship from Cdr. Salamander. He has some interesting ideas about how such a ship could be used. It is part research ship, part disaster response vessel, and, significantly for the Coast Guard, part Offshore Patrol Vessel. There is more about the ship from Naval News. It is not particularly large, with a crew of about 90 and accommodations for another 100. The cost is reportedly about $100M US, much less than the cost of the Offshore Patrol Cutter. Judging by the size of the helicopter (reportedly an NH-90) on the model, it appears to be 100 to 110 meters (328-360 feet) in length, about the length of the OPC, maybe less. It must be pretty broad if that is an MQ-1C Gray Eagle on the deck. The Span of the Gray Eagle is 56 ft (17 m), but it just does not look like it is in scale. Maybe they have a European sourced UAS in mind. Beam looks to be about 20 to 22 meters based on my presumptions about the length, that is 66 to 72 feet. Those proportions are similar to those of the 6,615 ton Canadian Harry DeWolf class Arctic Offfshore Patrol Ship, 103.6 m (339 ft 11 in) long and a beam of 19 m (62 ft 4 in). By comparison, the beam of both the NSC and OPC is 16m or 54 feet.

The thing that makes this ship totally unique is the runway and ski-jump designed expressly for fixed wing unmanned air systems.

Artist rendering of MQ-9B STOL landing on a big-deck amphibious assault vessel. Photo: Courtesy of General Atomics Aeronautical.

What might make this very useful is the newly developed STOL version of the MQ-9B with shorter span, high lift, folding wings.

Not sure I like this particular design. It is not clear how many UAS and helicopters can be carrier or if there is hangar space. The island is unnecessarily thick and looks too far forward. No indication of speed or endurance. The speed in unlikely to exceed 20 knots, between 16 and 18 knots seems likely, but the concept is novel. Look forward to seeing the ship in final form.

Late Addition: 

After posting this on Facebook, I got some additional information. This is a Google translate from Portuguese. Thanks to Pedro Mateus.

MULTI-PURPOSE PLATFORM SHIP Lisbon, Portugal June 20, 2022 On June 20, 2022, the Portuguese Navy launched a tender limited by simplified prior qualification, via procedure no. of a Multipurpose Vessel/Platform (N-PM), with an execution period of up to 3 years (with delivery until December 2025), for a base price of 94.5 million Euros.

This Multipurpose Ship/Platform (N-PM) will have a total length, between perpendiculars, of 100 meters, a maximum beam (at flight deck level) of 20 meters and a maximum draft of 7.5 meters. It will follow STANAG 4154 (Ed 3) standards and will be able to maintain the operation of lowering and hoisting vessels in sea state 5 on the Douglas Scale. Its garrison will be composed of 1 commander, 7 officers, 8 sergeants and 29 soldiers, in a total of 45 elements. It has accommodation sized up to 28 officers, 30 sergeants and 32 enlisted men, for a total of 90 elements (in addition to the commander). It will be dimensioned for a range of 45 days at a cruising speed of 10 knots.

The N-PM shall comprise a set of aviation facilities including, among others, a flight deck (a ski-jump runway, a spot for helicopter operation, with lighting system, GPI, etc.), hangar for a helicopter (with support for hydraulic maintenance stations, overhead crane, technical lighting, etc.) and a hangar for unmanned aircraft. In terms of organic helicopter, it should support the Lynx MK95A and NH90 aircraft (either in “spot” or in hangar) and EH101 (“spot”). The flight deck must allow the operation of different types of unmanned aircraft, commonly known as “drones” (Ogassa OGS42, Tekever AR3, etc.), as well as all the support required for vertical refueling operations (VERTREP).

Within the scope of semi-rigid vessels, the N-PM will have 3 vessels: a vessel with
SOLAS (“Safety of Life at Sea”) certification for operation as “Fast
Rescue Boat”, with a power of not less than 250 hp; and two non-cooperative approach vessels, with capacity for 8 equipped soldiers, with a maximum speed of 35 knots or higher and a minimum autonomy of 60 nautical miles, for inspection missions , policing, combating drug trafficking, assault and support for a small embarked force.

Following the good practices and installation and operation recommendations of the “Alliance of European Research Fleets” (EUROFLEET), in terms of support systems for scientific research, the N-PM will be designed to be able to operate subsurface Unmanned Vehicles (VENTs) and remotely operated vehicles – “Remotely Operated Vehicle” (ROV). It will have a sensor pavilion (“drop keel”) for the installation of scientific and acoustic sensors; a large volume “Rosette” CTD system (for deep water sampling, with probe capable of operating up to 6,000 m); an MVP system, “Moving Vessel Profiler”, capable of operating up to 700 meters deep with the ship sailing at 8 knots; an “Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler” (ADCP); a “Global Acoustic Positioning System” (GAPS), capable of operating up to 4,000 meters deep. In addition to these organic systems, the N-PM will have the capacity and integration for several other non-organic systems (Piston Corer – Calypso, Vibrocorer, Box Corer, Multi Corer, etc.) as well as all operating and support winches.

Under an integrated architecture of command and control, platform management, and digital information processing and management systems, this N-PM will have a set of navigation systems (IBS, DDU, TACAN, Secure GPS, etc.), with navigation radar surveillance systems, combined warning radar (ARPA capability, “Automatic Radar Plotting Aid” and IMO certification; ECM and Anti-Jamming) and IFF/W-AIS identification systems, as well as underwater surveillance systems (bathythermograph; support for XBT/XSV probe used in the Navy (XBT4, XBT5, XBT7 and MK-8 XBT/XSV) or CTD type probes). In terms of external communications, it will have, among others, satellite communication systems SATCOM and MILSATCOM, GMDSS, submarine telephone, SART, EPIRB and ICCS.

In terms of armament, the N-PM will be equipped, at least, with 4 “softmounts” for a Browning M2 .50 heavy machine gun, with a firing range limiter and respective accessories, and a base, with ballistic protection for the Browning part and respective operator; and with 2 pieces of Hotchkiss salvo. The N-PM will be equipped with magazines and armories capable of storing various portable weapons, ammunition, pyrotechnic material and demolition material and respective detonators.

Technical drawing and 3D model via the Portuguese Navy Ships Directorate
Editing and composition by “Espada & Escudo”

Indonesia Building Two 90 meter OPVs

Indonesia 90 meter OPV

A recent Naval News report of the choice of an Electronic Warfare System for new Indonesian OPVs, with the illustration above, prompted me to find out more about these unusually fast and apparently well armed OPVs being built for the Indonesian Navy.

Steel was cut for the first of class on 26 August, 2021. (This report may be a bit confusing in that steel was cut for two OPVs of two different classes.) This report indicates these ships will be powered by four Diesel engines developing 7,280 kW (29,120KW total). That would equate to about 39,000 HP which sounds about right for 28 knots. It is not clear from any of the illustrations where the air intakes and engine exhausts are.

Defense Indonesia provides some specifications:

  • Length: 90 meters
  • Beam: 13.5 meters
  • Draft: 4 meters
  • Speed: 28 knots
  • Accomodations: 70 + 24 troops

A 2021 Janes report provides information on their weapons, combat management system, and ASW capability. If they emerge fully armed as illustrated, with an ASW capability, some would consider them corvettes or even light frigates.

“Damen Lays Keel Of First OPV 2600 For Pakistan Navy” –Naval News

OPV 2600 multi-mission patrol vessel rendering (Source: Damen)

Naval News reports,

On October 12, 2022, Damen Shipyards ceremonially laid the keel of the first multi-purpose patrol vessel OPV 2600 for the Pakistan Navy. At the same ceremony, the first steel plates were cut for the construction of the second OPV 2600.

This is only the latest in a long line of Damen OPVs. Details of this 98 meter, 2600 ton, 24 knot design can be found here. Get an overview of their OPV programs here.

“Turkish Dearsan Lays Keel Of First Of Two OPVs For Nigeria” –Naval News

Rendering of HE OPV-76 vessels (Screenshot from Dearsan video–via Naval News)

Naval News reports,

Turkish Dearsan Shipyard laid the keel of the first of two high-endurance offshore patrol vessels (HE OPV 76) for the Nigerian Navy during a ceremony held at Dearsan’s facilities in Istanbul on September 16, 2022.

Turkey is becoming an increasingly capable and respected arms supplier and shipbuilder.

With a population of over 218 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the sixth most populous in the world.

The Nigerian Navy and Coast Guard has an eclectic fleet sourced from the US, Europe, China, and Israel, along with some locally built small craft. They currently operates two of the former USCG 378 foot high endurance cutters which are their largest fully operational ships. Reportedly they also have four former USCG 180 foot buoy tenders and 15 USCG type “Defender class” Response Boat, Small.

Gulf of Guinea, from Wikipedia

Nigeria’s territorial sea and EEZ is relatiely small, less than 2% that of the US, but their marine environment is complex with a history of piracy and smuggling, with many countries in and around the Gulf of Guinea complicating jurisdiction.

The New OPVs:

We talked about these ships earlier.

There have been some, mostly minor changes in the specs:

The reported displacement is likely to be light displacement since, these ships are considerably larger than the 1,127 ton full load Reliance class and nearly as large as the 1,800 ton Bear class. Given their range, they don’t carry a lot of fuel, so I would expect about 1,500 tons full load.

The armament is lighter than initially reported (earlier reports indicated 76mm + 40mm +  MBDA Simbad RC systems for Mistral short range surface to air missiles). The electronics also appear to have been simplified. This was probably a cost saving measure, but the ships remain better armed than most OPVs of comparable size, in that they have two medium caliber guns rather than just one, probably a good idea. The provision for at least three, probably four, electro optic devices mounted on the weapon stations mean they are particularly well provided for in this respect.

Back view of the HE OPV-76 rendering while conducting helo ops (Screenshot from Dearsan video–via Naval News)

We see an illustration of what the stern of the ship looks like. No hangar is provided.

There might be an issue with the boat handling arrangement. Boats are visible under the flight deck, but neither davits nor stern ramps are really visible. Looks like stanchions and the centerline support at the transom preclude a single centerline boat launch ramp like the NSCs have.

Twin launch ramps also appear unlikely. There no visible ramp doors, and the RHIBs we can see do not appear to be on an incline.

Arms might extend outward from under the flight deck to act as davits. If that is the case, with the boats so far aft of the center of pitch, there may be difficulties when the ship is pitching. That may require them to seek a heading that will minimize pitch, just as cutters with stern ramps do, when the boat returns to the cutter, but with the boats being suspended during launch and recovery, they would also want to minimize roll.

“U.S. Coast Guard participates in multilateral search and rescue drill off Palau” –News Release

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 19, 2022) – Capt. Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of Pacific Partnership (PP22), renders honors as Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Kirisame (DD 104) passes Navy River Class vessel HMS Tamar (P233) during a multilateral search and rescue exercise (SAREX) coordinated with the U.S. Navy, Republic of Palau, U.S. Coast Guard, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Royal Navy in support of PP22. Now in its 17th year, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brandie Nuzzi)

Below is a press release reporting a multinational SAR exercise involving units from the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Republic of Palau as well as the US Navy and Coast Guard. (46 photos here)

There are some noteworthy aspects to this exercise.

Re the USCG: First that there is a Coast Guard liaison officer to the Compact of Free Association States, Lt. Cmdr. Field Cassiano. Second, USCGC Myrtle Hazard, commissioned just over a year ago has conducted “sovereignty and fisheries patrols with five Pacific island nations.” She has been very busy. 

Re growing Allied interest: The participation of Britain and Japan is relatively new.

The UK has recently shown renewed interest in the Pacific after decades with virtually no forces in the Pacific. The Royal Navy vessel in the exercise, HMS Tamar, is one of two River Class Batch II Offshore Patrol Vessels that have embarked on a five year deployment to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. There are plans to permanently deploy a task force to the area and there is also a growing partnerships between the UK and Japan.

Since WWII, Japan has generally kept a low profile in international affairs but with the emergence of an agressive and overtly hostile China, Japan has started to assume a leadership role in the region. She has transferred offshore patrol vessels to several nations in SE Asia. For the first time, Japan is starting to maket weapons internationally. I found it interesting that the Japanese participant in the SAR exercise was a destroyer rather than a Japan Coast Guard vessel. I have yet to see any evidence, the Japan Coast Guard is taking on an expeditionary role, as the US Coast Guard has done.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

U.S. Coast Guard participates in multilateral search and rescue drill off Palau

Royal Navy River Class vessel HMS Tamar (P233) sailors conduct boat operations with the USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139)  Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of Pacific Partnership (PP22), center left, takes a photo with the crew of Palau Patrol Ship PPS Kedam Capt. Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of Pacific Partnership (PP22), renders a honors as Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Kirisame (DD 104) passes
Japan Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Kirisame (DD 104), front left, Palau Patrol Ship PPS Kedam, center, and Royal Navy River Class vessel HMS Tamar (P233) transit the Pacific Ocean during a multilateral search and rescue exercise (SAREX) Capt. Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of Pacific Partnership (PP22), right, receives a U.S. Coast Guard challenge coin from Lt. Jalle Merritt, commanding officer of USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139)  USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) transits the Pacific Ocean during a multilateral search and rescue exercise (SAREX) coordinated with the U.S. Navy, Republic of Palau, U.S. Coast Guard, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Royal Navy in support of Pacific Partnership 2022

Editors’ Note: To view more or download high-resolution photos click on the images above. Photos courtesy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandie Nuzzi, USN.

SANTA RITA, Guam — In a bid to strengthen relationships and interoperability, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a multilateral search and rescue drill alongside longtime partners from the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Republic of Palau in late July.

“We thrive on these opportunities, and we all came away with a deepened appreciation for the work of our respective agencies,” said Lt. Cmdr. Field Cassiano, Coast Guard liaison officer to the Compact of Free Association States. “Anyone who spends time in the Pacific is no stranger to the region’s vast distances and limited resources. Evolutions like this provide invaluable face-to-face interaction and enable us to work through challenges before an incident or crisis.”

Such events range from something akin to the search for Amelia Earhart to the far more common activity of a small skiff of fishers gone missing. It could also include a large-scale response for a disabled cruise ship or search and rescue of the crew of a commercial vessel like the car carrier Cougar Ace which heeled over at sea before being towed into port in 2008.

In this drill, the USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) crew, with support from the U.S. Coast Guard Fourteenth District and U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam, worked with the crews of the Palau Patrol Ship PPS Kedam, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship JS Kirisame (DD 104), and Royal Navy River Class vessel HMS Tamar (P233).

“Thoughtful planning led to realistic scenarios that were positively challenging, which demanded teamwork, shared vision, and high-level navigational expertise,” said Lt. Jalle Merritt, commanding officer of USCGC Myrtle Hazard. “It is fully in the realm of possibility that our partners and we will be called upon to support those in need, in heavy weather, near reefs, with a limited time to respond. Through drills such as those conducted this week, our multinational maritime response team remains ready to not only meet but exceed the needs of those our team serves.”

With decades of experience and one of the largest maritime rescue regions in the world, the U.S. Coast Guard in the Pacific works together with partners and neighbors to provide life-saving coverage throughout the region. The United States maintains several formal agreements with partners under strict compliance with international laws and regulations. These agreements include Search and Rescue (SAR) agreements with Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Palau, among other regional nations.

Historically, the U.S. Coast Guard and Palau hold regular search and rescue engagements to improve cooperation and processes between the Service and counterparts in Palau. This drill, one facet of Pacific Partnership 22, comes on the heels of a very successful humanitarian assistance and disaster relief workshop with 120 personnel trained.

Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of PP22, was on hand to oversee the exercise, part of PP22’s Palau phase.

The coordination between partner nations during PP22 enhanced understanding and cooperation and prepared those involved to respond in the case of a natural disaster or other humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenario. Pacific Partnership contributes to regional stability and security through exchanges that foster enduring partnerships, trust, and interoperability between nations.

Now in its 17th year, Pacific Partnership is the most extensive annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific.

The Myrtle Hazard is the 39th Sentinel-class fast response cutter. The ship arrived in Guam and commissioned along with its sister ships, Oliver Henry and Frederick Hatch, in July 2021. In the time since, the crew has participated in Operation Blue Pacific, conducting sovereignty and fisheries patrols with five Pacific island nations.

For more U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam news visit us on DVIDS or subscribe! You can also visit us on Facebook at @USCGSectorGuam.

-USCG-

Fincantiari of Italy Builds Two Small but Powerful OPVs

The Qatari Navy OPV is about 63 meters long, 9.2 meters wide, with a maximum speed of 30 knots. Giorgio Arra picture.

Naval News has done a couple of posts on a pair of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) built in Italy for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces by Fincantieri (owner of Marinette Marine in Wisconsin):

These are not your typical OPV. They look more like FAC(M) i.e fast attack craft, missile, but they trace their linage back through the UAE’s Falag 2 class to the Italian Coast Guard’s Diciotti class. Let’s compare to a typical OPV and talk about why they are so different.

First what is a typical OPV?

  • Displacement: at least 1,500 tons full load, typically less than 3,000
  • Length: at least 75 meters (246 ft), typically less than 100 meters (328 ft)
  • Range: at least 3500 nautical miles, typically 5,000 or more
  • Endurance: at least three weeks
  • Speed: 20-25 knots
  • Aviation: At least flight deck for medium helicopter
  • Boats:  at least two RHIB of 7 meters or larger
  • Weapons: one deck gun of 76mm or less plus two to four guns .50 cal to 30mm guns with one or two typically mounted in remote weapon stations. Anti-Ship Cruise missiles are rare and Anti-Aircraft missile systems more capable than MAPADS rarer still.

Examples include ships building or in service with Argentina, Australia, Britain, India, Japan, Malta, the Philippines, Singapore, Türkiye, the Fassmar designs used by Chile, Colombia, and German, and Damen designs used by Malaysia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, and Vietnam.

The 270 foot Bear class WMECs fit the profile pretty well, if you ignore the fact they can’t quite reach 20 knots. In some respects they are still more sophisticated that some of the newer OPVs.

The 210 foot Reliance class WMECs fall outside the current norm, being smaller and slower than typical, but they otherwise fit the profile. Of course even the newest is 53 years old.

Now let us compare the new Qatar OPV.

Range/Endurance:

Their range is only 1500 nautical miles at 15 knots, that is even less than that of the smaller Webber class cutters’ 2500 at 14 knots. Their seven day endurance is more typical of the smaller Inshore Patrol Vessel class. As a patrol vessel, it is closer to the Webber class WPCs than even the Reliance class.

Persian Gulf. US Government work product in the public domain.

Geography is the reason. Qatar’s coast line is only 563 km and its EEZ is 31,819 sq km (that of the US is 11,351,000 sq km, 357 times greater). They just don’t have to go very far. It may also be that these ships will be used more in reaction than as actual patrol vessels.

Size:

Full load displacement is 725 tonnes, with a length of 63.80 (209 feet) (59.60 meters or 195.5 feet between the perpendiculars) and a beam of 9.20 meters/30 feet. This makes them smaller than the Reliance class and only about half the size of the smallest of the typical OPVs. Rough seas are probably less of a concern than in more open areas.

Speed:

Their speed of 30 knots, rather than the typical 20 to 25, also seems to suggest their role is one of rapid reaction rather than persistant patrolling.

Aviation:

Unlike most modern OPVs, there is no apparent provision for supporting aviation assets, not even UAS. That is presumably because land based air is always close.

Starboard quarter of second Musherib-class OPV “Sheraouh” for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces. Visible are the ship’s boat, two twin Exocet launchers and two 30 mm Marlin-WS secondary gun systems. Picture by Luca Peruzzi

Boats:

The OPV has a stern area with crane for launch and recovery of a RHIB. This is not an arrangement that suggests the boat would be used frequently or that boat ops is a high priority.

The second Musherib-class OPV “Sheraouh” for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces. Fincantieri picture.

Amaments:

“…in addition to the NA-30S Mk2 FCS for the Leonardo Super Rapido 76/62 mm Multi-Feeding main calibre gun, the Leonardo-provided  EO/IR suite also includes two SASS IRSTs and a single Medusa Mk4B FCS for the two 30 mm Marlin-WS secondary gun systems. The missile armament package also includes two four-cell VLSs for the MBDA VL MICA surface-to-air system in the bow area and two twin-launchers for the MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles in the stern area.”

The Persian Gulf is a rough neighborhood. Qatar faces Iran across the relatively narrow Gulf. Potentially hostile craft are always close. Shore based anti-ship cruise missiles are always within range. Iranian surface units are at most only hours away, aircraft and missiles only minutes.

The vertical launch MICA missile system and Super Rapid 76mm gun provide credible defense against aircraft and cruise missiles.

While normally I would not feel four Exocets would be enough to provide two salvos of adequate size, against the potential Iranian opposition, four are probably adequate for two engagements.

It is not surprising these ships are better armed than any US Coast Guard cutter, including the more than six times larger National Security Cutters. They may be the most heavily armed “OPVs” in the world.

Two four-cell VLSs for the MBDA VL MICA surface-to-air system mounted between the bridge and a Leonardo 76mm gun forward. Picture by Luca Peruzzi

“Japan Awards Contract to Shipbuilder JMU for 12 New Offshore Patrol Vessels” –The Diplomat

A concept image of a next-generation offshore patrol vessel (OPV) for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) made by JMU. Image courtesy of Japan’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency.

The Diplomat reports,

The Japanese Ministry of Defense announced on June 30 that it has awarded a contract to shipbuilding company Japan Marine United (JMU) Corporation to build a next-generation offshore patrol vessel (OPV) for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

We had an earlier report about this project.

The project is for 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels of 1920 tons standard displacement. Their full load displacement will be higher, probably in the neighborhood of 2,200 to 2,400 tons.

  • Length: 95 meters  (312 feet)
  • Beam: 12 meters (39’4″)
  • Speed: 20 knots (slower than the 25+ knots reported earlier)
  • Crew: 30
  • Average Cost: $66.6M

The design is said to offer modular adaptability.

Combined diesel-electric and diesel (CODLAD) propulsion promises very economical slow cruising.

Presumably these will be used to shaddow the movements of potentially hostile vessels transiting in or near Japanese waters.

They might also be used to provide counter piracy protection off the Horn of Africa. This would free more capable (and much more expensive) warships to be in position to deal with more significant threats.

The design looks to be almost ideal for export as part of Japan’s on going program to strengthen the maritime law enforcement capabilities of friendly Asian nations.

It does appear there might be some overlap between the missions of this class and those of the Japan Coast Guard.

This combination of sea worthy hull, simple systems, and small crew sounds a lot like my Cutter X proposal to put the machinery, equipment, and crew of the Webber class cutters in a larger, more seaworthy, and longer range hull.

 

“HHI To Build Six New OPVs For The Philippine Navy” –Naval News

Philippine Navy OPV to be built by HHI in S. Korea. HHI image.

Naval News reports,

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) signed a contract with the Philippine Department of National Defense on June 27th to construct six units of new build 2,400 ton Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) worth USD 573 million.

They provide this description,

The Philippine Navy OPV has a displacement of 2,400 tons, a length of 94.4 meters, a width of 14.3 meters, a maximum speed of 22 knots, a cruising speed of 15 knots, a range of 5,500 nautical miles and will be built at HHI’s Ulsan shipyard until 2028. The vessel is to be equipped with a 76mm main gun, two 30mm secondary guns, a helideck capable of operating a helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicles.

That is 310 ft in length, 47 ft beam. In terms of displacement they will be a third larger than the Bear class 270 foot WMECs.

Looking at the artist concept, I see only one 30mm, but I also see fire monitors on the corners fo the hangar roof and decoy launchers between the bridge and funnels. There seems to be considerable open space under the flight deck. There may be provision for a stern launch ramp.

Also, the illustration shows the ships equipped with a pair of Simbad-RC for short range Mistral fire-and-forget, IR homing Missiles, mounted on either side of the hangar roof between the funnels and the 30mm. Inclusion on this class appears likely and logical because the system was also included on the BRPJose Rizal class frigates built for the Philippine Navy by HHI. This system is also reported to be effective against small high speed surface craft.

A Simbad-RC with Mistral Missiles on the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) Frigate of the Philippine Navy (PN)

The helicopter depicted in the illustration is a Westland Wildcat AW159. The Philippine Navy recently aquired two of these and will presumably add more to their fleet as more flight decks join the Navy. With a max take off weight of 13,228 lb it is larger than an MH-65 but considerably smaller than an MH-60. This aircraft can have both an Anti-Submarine and an Anti-Surface capability. It appears unlikely the ships themselves will have either a ASW mission or capability as built. The Wildcat can launch light weight torpedoes and reportedly the S. Korean and Philippine aircraft can launch Spike NLOS. This is a 70 kg (150 lb) anti-surface missile with man-in-the-loop guidance and a claimed maximum range of 25 km (16 mi). The range may actually be considerably greater. From Wikipedia,

“In 2020 the US Army announced its intention to procure Spike NLOS missiles to be mounted on Apache helicopters. A test was conducted in March 2021 where an AH-64E fired a Spike NLOS at a target 32 km (20 mi) away and scored a direct hit.

“In June 2022, Rafael unveiled the Spike NLOS 6th generation with range increased to 50 km (31 mi), a salvo feature which can launch up to four missiles at a time, and the ability to hand over control after firing to another platform. It also has a Target Image Acquisition capability that can prioritize important targets for strike…”

These ships could considerally strengthen the Philippines’ hand in dealing with Chinese gray zone operations, if the Philippines could get over their apparenent reticence in using their Navy to police their EEZ. Maybe they could just paint them white and add law enforcement stripes while still labeling them Philippine Navy and let embarked Philippine Coast Guard ride-alongs do actual law enforcement.

Turkish Built OPVs

After a long history of importing warships, about three decades ago, Turkey began to develop their indigenous defense industry, first with European assistance but now increasingly they handle all phases from design to fitting out. They are currently building corvettes and frigates and an LHD with assistance from Spain’s Navantia. They plan to build destroyers in the near future.

Turkey has begun exporting defense products. Their armed drones have become famous in the conflict in Ukraine. They are exporting corvettes to Pakistan.

Naval News reports Turkey has begun a program to build ten offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Turkish Navy (video above). While the illustrations show a heavily armed vessel, the actual armament is not reported and these ships will reportedly be fitted for but not with some of these systems. Key data:

  • Overall length: 99,56 meters (327 feet).
  • Beam: 14,42 meters (47.3 feet).
  • Draft: 3,77 meters (12.4 feet).
  • Maximum speed: 24 knots.
  • Displacement: 2300 tons.

Naval News reports that Turkey is expected to build six 283 foot, 2,000 ton Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Philippines. (video above)

The Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) 76 / From the official website of Dearsan Shipyard

In November 2021, Overt Defense reported, this contract with Nigeria.

According to a statement released by the Nigerian Navy on November 3, a contract was struck with the Turkish Dearsan Shipyard for the purchase of two OPV 76 Class Offshore Patrol Vessels to meet the Nigerian Navy’s needs…The Offshore Patrol Ship 76 has a length of 76.80m (252′–Chuck), a width of 11m and a draft of 2.9m. The OPV is equipped with a 76mm Leonardo Super Rapid Gun, a 40mm Leonardo Light Marine Gun, two 12.7mm Stabilized Automatic Machine Guns, two 12.7mm Manual Operation Machine Guns, and two SAM SIMBAD RC short-range, anti-air self defence systems, and has a top speed of 28 knots and a range of 3,000 nautical miles.

Major Cutter Homeports

“Coast Guard Cutter Forward and Coast Guard Cutter Bear, homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia, finish an at-sea transfer while underway on a two-month patrol. Coast Guard Cutter Forward returned to homeport on April 10, 2021.” (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Recently I had to look up homeports of WMECs. I found that there did not seem to be a single comprehensive up to date list. Seemed it might be useful to share the list. I have added the Bertholf class and what we know about the basing of the Offshore Patrol Cutters as well. These are not district assets, but I found it convenient to group them by homeport district. The numbers in parenthesis are the hull numbers. First some observations.

OBSERVATIONS:

The intent is to split the Bertholf class, almost evenly between the Atlantic and Pacific Areas: five (45%) to LANTAREA and six (55%) to PACAREA.

The vast majority of medium endurance cutters are assigned to LANTAREA. All 100% of the 270s and 24 (86%) of 28 total.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the US EEZ and territorial sea (84%) falls under the Pacific Area Commander, the vast majority of large patrol cutters are based in the Atlantic Area. This is, at least in part, due to the Alien Migrant and Drug interdiction missions. It is counter intuitive, but Charleston, SC is closer to the Eastern Pacific Drug transit zones than San Diego, CA.

Once the first four OPCs reach their bases in San Pedro and Kodiak, the Pacific Area will once again have ten “high endurance cutters,” as they did before recapitalization began.

WHO BUILT THEM?:

The entire Bertholf class has been built by Huntington Ingalls of Pascagoula, MS. The lead ship was laid down in 2005 and commssioned in August 2008. The tenth is expected to be delivered 2023. The eleventh, maybe 2024.

The Bear class WMEC270s were built by two different builders. The first four ships (901-904) were built by Tacoma Boatbuilding, Tacoma, WA, with Bear laid down in August, 1979 and the last of the four commissioned in December, 1984. The remaining nine were built by Derecktor Shipbuilding, Middleton, RI. The first of these laid down June, 1982, and the last of the nine completed in March 1990.

The 16 Reliance class WMEC210s were built by four different builders, with the first laid down in May 1963 and the last commissioned August 1969, less than six years and three months later.

  • The first three, 615-617, were built by Todd Shipyards, Houston, TX.
  • The fourth, 618, by Christy Corp., Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
  • Five, 619, 620, and 628-630, were built at the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, MD.
  • Seven, 621-627, were built by American Shipbuilding, Lorain, OH.

WMEC 622 and 628 have since been transferred to Sri Lanka and Colombia respectively. All underwent a major maintenance availability at the Coast Guard Yard between 1984 and 1998.

THE FORCE LAYDOWN:

FIRST DISTRICT: 2 WMEC270s

  • US Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, Kittery, ME: two WMEC270s: Tahoma (908), Campbell (909)

FIFTH DISTRICT: 9 WMEC270s, 2 WMEC210s

  • Portsmouth, VA: 9 WMEC270s: Bear (901), Escanaba (907), Forward (911), Harriet Lane (903, currently in SLEP at CG Yard), Legare (912), Northland (904), Seneca (906) , Spencer (905), Tampa (902)
  • Virginia Beach, VA: WMEC210s: Dependable (626), Vigorous (627)

SEVENTH DISTRICT: 3 National Security Cutters (2 more under construction), 2 WMEC270s, 5 WMEC210s

  • Charleston, SC: 3 NSCs: Hamilton (753), James (754), Stone (758), (two more NSCs building: Calhoun (759), Friedman (760))
  • Naval Station Mayport: 1 WMEC210: Valiant (621)
  • Cape Canaveral: 2 WMEC210s: Confidence (619), Vigilant (617)
  • Key West: 2 WMEC270s: Mohawk (913), Thetis (910)
  • St. Petersburg: 2 WMEC210s: Resolute (620), Venturous (625)

EIGHTH DISTRICT: 4 WMEC210s

  • Pensacola: WMEC210s: Dauntless (624), Decisive (629), Diligence (616), Reliance (615)

ELEVENTH DISTRICT: 4 National Security Cutters

  • Alameda, CA: 4 NSCs: Bertholf (750), Waesche (751), Stratton (752), Munro (755)

THIRTEENTH DISTRICT: 3 WMEC210s

  • Astoria, OR: 2 WMEC210s: Alert (630), Steadfast (623)
  • Port Angeles, WA: 1 WMEC210: Active (618)

FOURTEENTH DISTRICT: 2 National Security Cutters

  • Honolulu, HI: 2 NSCs: Kimball (756), Midgett (757)

SEVENTEENTH DISTRICT

  • Kodiak, AK: 1 WMEC283: Alex Haley (WMEC-39)

OFFSHORE PATROL CUTTER HOMEPORTS

We have heard where the first six OPCs are expected to be homeported.

  • Argus (915) and Chase (916) will go to San Pedro, CA
  • Ingham (917) and Rush (918) will go to Kodiak, AK
  • Pickering (919) and Icarus (920) will go to Newport, RI