“Growing Missions, Shrinking Fleet” –USNI

The US Naval Institute has an argument in favor of funding National Security Cutter #12

The author talks about the shortage of ships both because of the failure of the crew rotation concept and because of the shortfall revealed in the Fleet Mix Study. This has been discussed in the Congressional Research Service report on Cutter Acquisition.

What I found new, was information about SOUTHCOM interceptions,

In congressional testimony last year, Admiral Craig Faller, Commander, U.S. Southern Command, noted: “The Coast Guard’s presence any given day is six to eight cutters. . . . But, keep in mind, we’re talking about covering areas the size of the United States—with from six to 10 ships. And so, the interdiction percentage with the current assets we have is about 6 percent of the detections. So, we need more ships.”

that is a lower interception rate than previously reported, and impact on jobs,

The NSC is an indispensable national asset. The economic impact of the NSC production line touches nearly 500 suppliers across 39 states. An additional ship order would help jumpstart the U.S. economy and have an immediate and profound effect on a host of U.S. suppliers, who stand ready to deliver. Moving forward with a 12th NSC is low risk.

If we had been further along with the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), I would say, just build another OPC instead of a twelth NSC, but we were way behind in starting the OPC program and the difficulties at Eastern put us even further behind.

The OPC program is so far behind, that the Bertholf is likely to be 30 years old before the 25th OPC is ready for its first operational mission. Plus we really do need more than 36 large patrol cutters, but the fact we have not done a new Fleet Mix Study in almost ten years does not help our case.

 

“Launch of 600-ton catamaran-hull patrol vessel Anping CG601 for Taiwanese Coast Guard” –Navy Recognition

New patrol vessel Anping CG601 for the Taiwanese Coast Guard launched. (Picture source Jong Shyn Shipbuilding Group)

NavyRecognition reports that,

“…on April 28, 2020, the first 600-ton catamaran-hull patrol vessel, Anping (CG601) for the Taiwanese Coast Guard was launched in the southern port city of Kaohsiung.”

This is the first of twelve ordered for the Taiwanese Coast Guard. The design is based on the Tuo Chiang-class stealth missile corvette in service with the Republic of China Navy.

An earlier post, from 2014, talked about these cutters and included a video of the Navy version of the design underway.

I am a bit surprised this program is not moving more rapidly. According to Wikipedia, work did not begin on these cutters until 2019. It appears the Taiwanese Navy still only has one of the 12 Corvettes planned. They may have had some problems.

Model of Tuo Chiang-class corvette armed with 76mm gun, Palanx CIWS, 8 × Hsiung Feng II and 8 × Hsiung Feng III, and 2 × Mark 32 triple torpedo launchers . Photo credit: Solomon203

“Guangzhou Wenchong Ship Factory to build new 10,000-ton cutter for China Maritime Safety Administration” –NavyRecognition

Drawing of future 10,000-ton cutter for China Maritime Safety Administration. (Picture source China Blog)

NavyRecognition is reporting that China is building an over 10,000 ton cutter for their Maritime Safety Administration (MSA). MSA is the only one of the five Chinese Maritime coast guard like organizations that was not incorporated into the China Coast Guard.

“According to information published by the Guangdong Maritime Safety Administration, the new cutter will have a total length of 165 meters, a width of 20.6 meters, a depth of 9.5 meters, and a displacement of 10,700 tons.”

That is 541 feet in length, 67.6 feet of beam, and 31.2 feet of draft. The displacement is probably light displacement rather than full load.

The China MSA appears less militant than the China Coast Guard. No weapons are evident, but that does not mean they don’t have a plan of how to use the ship in wartime. Like some of the large China Coast Guard cutters, this looks like it could be used as an attack transport.

FFG(X) Contract Goes to Marinette, NSC#12 Less Likely?

200430-N-NO101-150
WASHINGTON (April 30, 2020) An artist rendering of the guided-missile frigate FFG(X). The new small surface combatant will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare, and information operations. (U.S. Navy graphic/Released)

The Navy has announced that the contract for the first of the new FFG(X) class frigates has been awarded to Marinette Marine.

“Navy awarded a contract to design and produce the next generation small surface combatant, the Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) today.  The contract for detail design and construction (DD&C) of up to 10 Guided Missile Frigates (consisting of one base ship and nine option ships) was awarded to Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) of Marinette, Wisconsin, officials announced. “

One of the arguments for continuing the construction of the National Security Cutters (NSC) has been that it kept a production line open that might roll into production of the FFG(X). That is now no longer the case. The argument that we are replacing 12 ships, so we should build 12 is still valid to a degree.

Currently eleven NSCs are seen as replacing 12 WHECs, but we have yet to hear that 25 OPCs are not enough to replace 32 WMECs: 13 WMEC 270s, 16 WMEC210s, Alex Haley,  Acushnet, and Storis. Maybe what we need is 33 OPCs, to make up for the shortfall in replacing both 12 WHECs and 32 WMECs, 44 ships to replace 44.

Thanks to Secundius for bringing this to my attention. 

“Considerations for a Future Patrol Boat” –USNI

Photo: a Navy MkVI

The April edition of U.S. Naval Institute Proceeding has a short article written by Coast Guard Lieutenants James Martin and Jasper Campbell discussing the recapitalization of the 87 foot WPB fleet and suggesting adaptation of the Navy’s MkVI patrol boat as a replacement.

Any choice of a new class of ships for the Coast Guard must depend on how it will integrate into the legacy fleet. Choices are strongly influenced by the strengths and weaknesses of the other assets available.

Marine Protector class cutter, USCGC Barracuda (WPB-87301), USCG photo

In FY2021 the Coast Guard expects to decommission eight of the 87 foot Marine Protector class without replacement. This change is justified as follows,

 This initiative decommissions eight 87-foot Marine Protector Class CPBs. This initiative is based on the acquisition of the Fast Response Cutter (FRC) and Response Boat – Medium (RB-M), both of which are more capable than the legacy assets that they replace. Decommissioning these assets focuses patrol boat funding on operating and supporting new assets, such as the FRCs, as well as other strategic priorities. Forecasted material condition as assessed by the Coast Guard’s Patrol Boat Product Line will be a factor in identifying the specific cutter hulls to be decommissioned, ensuring that the cutters with the best material condition remain operational.

Overall fleet performance degradation will be minimized since FRCs outperform previous patrol boats and RB-Ms are more capable than previous boats. Finally, the decommissionings will focus on areas where the combination of FRCs and RB-Ms provides sufficient capability to remove the operational need for an 87-foot CPB

What they really seem to be saying is that RB-M, unlike the boats they replaced, are able to do some of the missions the WPBs were intended to do. On the other hand the 110 foot Island class WPBs were already more capable than the 87 footers so its not like the 87 footers were doing missions the 110s could not. The real difference here may be that, because we now have more larger patrol craft, both Webber and Island class than we did previously, we don’t need as many Marine Protector Class.

Nevertheless it does appear that the Coast Guard sees a need for some WPBs. The USNI article refers to a 2018 statement by the Commandant that, “Recurring Depot Availability Program (RDAP) is anticipated to extend the service life of the 87s well into 2030.”

The capability gaps between the Marine Protector class and the smaller boats below them in size, now RB-ms, has shrunk, while the gap between them and the larger Patrol craft, soon to be all FRCs, has grown. This suggests that any replacement should be, if anything, more capable than the Marine Protector class, not less. While faster and more heavily armed, than the 87 foot WPBs, it appears that the MkVI is less capable in terms of characteristics the Coast Guard values. They have less endurance, appear less seaworthy, and as currently configured, the only boats they can launch are flat bottomed rubber raiding craft.

It appears, any WPB replacement’s capabilities should move closer to those of the FRC rather than the RB-M. Still I see their role as much different from that of the Webber class. The Webbers would be used primarily on regularly scheduled patrols while the WPB replace would be the true “Fast Response Cutters,” on standby for developing emergencies. 

I offered a description of my concept of a WPB replacement earlier, including concepts of operation and manning, explaining why it should be larger, faster, and better armed. There was additional discussion about the concept here. My suggestion was that it should be one and a half to twice as large as the 87 foot WPBs and about half the size of the 353 ton Webber class…136 to 182 tons full load, or roughly 100′ (30.5 meter) to 130′ (39.6 meter) in length, not too much different from the Island class cutter, 110 feet (33.5 meter) loa and 168 tons. 

I also saw it being uniquely equipped to fill a current gap in our Port, Waterways, and Coastal Security mission, that of being able to defend our critical ports, by being able to forcibly stop any vessel, regardless of its size, speed, or maneuverability.

Such a ship would also be both of interest for Foreign Military Sales and as a reserve element for potential combat roles.

“Coast Guard Modifies Contract to Construct Second Offshore Patrol Cutter, Acquire Long Lead-Time Material for Third Offshore Patrol Cutter” –CG-9

Above: Artists rendering from Eastern Shipbuilding Group

Contract for the Second Offshore Patrol Cutter, the future USCGC Chase, and long lead time items for the third. Presumably this is a contract modification, rather than the  exercise of a contract option, because the price is higher than the original option. Still this does not look a great deal higher than the previous contract ($317.5M), for the first OPC and long lead time items for the second. Following from the Acquisitions Directorate, CG-9:

The U.S. Coast Guard modified its contract with Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) April 2 to begin construction of the second Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) and to acquire long lead-time material (LLTM) for the third OPC. Contract delivery of the second OPC, to be named Chase, is scheduled to occur in 2023.

The total value of the construction and LLTM orders is $343 million. In addition to ordering construction of the second OPC, this contracting action also covers the initial order of components and materials necessary to support the future construction of the third OPC by acquiring propeller and steering components, marine diesel engines, the ship integrated control system, switchboards, and generators.

The lead OPC is currently in production at ESG’s shipyard in Panama City, Florida.  Production of the lead cutter, Argus, commenced January 7, 2019. Delivery of Argus is scheduled for 2022.

The OPC meets the Service’s long-term need for cutters capable of deploying independently or as part of task groups and is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, interdicting undocumented migrants, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting our ports. The acquisition of 25 OPCs will complement the capabilities of the Service’s National Security Cutters, Fast Response Cutters and Polar Security Cutters as an essential element of the Department of Homeland Security’s layered security strategy.

For more information: OPC program page

“Wärtsilä to bring gate rudder technology to global market” –MarineLog

Evaluations of the innovative gate rudder assembly have shown improvements in both efficiency and maneuverability. (Image: copyright: Yamanaka Shipbuilding)

Marine Log reports that,

“Wärtsilä has signed an agreement that will enable it to integrate patented gate rudders into its propulsion product designs. Unlike the traditional arrangement of the rudder in the propeller slipstream, the gate rudder is a twin arrangement around the propeller, allowing improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. The concept is applicable to all current vessels equipped with conventional propellers.”

“…the rudder will realize synergies in capital and operational savings for ship owners by increasing fuel efficiency, improving maneuverability and course stability in both calm and rough sea conditions, while also reducing noise and vibration.”

You can see from the photo, when no rudder is required, that the rudder would not be in the accelerated flow behind the prop, thereby reducing drag, but when more extreme turns are required it would be, making it more effective.

The large bosses where the rudder shaft leave the hull might cause more drag than those of a normal rudder. There are of course two required, and it appears they would have to be more strongly built to deal with the torque resulting from the off-center drag on the rudder.