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.

“ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY RETIRES PATROL BOAT MAITLAND” –Baird Maritime

HMAS Maitland conducts a passage exercise with USCGC Kimball during Operation Solania. Photo: Seaman Isaiah Appleton

Baird Maritime reports, the Australian Navy is retiring one of their Amidale class patrol boats, HMAS Maitland. The vessel is relatively young by USCG standards, having been commissioned in 2006. It seems the class was stressed by high tempo, long distance, alien migrant interdiction deployments. This is the third of the original 14 vessels of the class to be decommissioned. One was as a result of a fire in 2014. The second was decommissioned March 2021.

These vessels are to be replaced by a class of 12 much larger OPVs, but in the meantime, the Australian Navy is also procuring, in many ways similar, 190 foot Cape Class patrol boats. The decommissioning follows closely on the delivery of the first of these “evolved” Cape class.

Contract Award for the Fourth Offshore Patrol Cutter

Photo: Rendering of the future USCGC RUSH (WMSM 918) provided by Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. Click on the photo for a better view. 

Below is a press release from Eastern Shipbuilding Group. To review the situation, the Coast Guard is expected to make a decision in the near future regarding the award of the next batch of Offshore Patrol Cutters. Eastern is one of the competitors.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

         April 26, 2022

Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. Announces Construction of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Fourth Offshore Patrol Cutter

PANAMA CITY, FL – Today, Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. (ESG) announced the U.S. Coast Guard has awarded a contract to begin construction of the fourth Heritage Class offshore patrol cutter (OPC), the future USCGC RUSH (WMSM 918).

The OPC will form the backbone of the service’s future fleet around the globe. ESG has worked hard to earn this opportunity and is honored to be chosen to perform this important work for the United States. ESG, in collaboration with its partners, produced the winning design of the OPC and was awarded detail design and construction of the first hulls in 2016. The new OPC designs reflect cutting-edge technology and will replace the service’s 270-foot and 210-foot medium endurance cutters, which are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and operate.

“This follow-on award signifies the OPC team and our partners continue to provide quality craftsmanship and unparalleled service. We have a focused vision to support the OPC Program with shipbuilding excellence and provide the country with a long-term industrial capability that can produce exceptional vessels that support national security interests,” said Joey D’Isernia, President of Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc.

As prime contractor, ESG has successfully achieved program goals and mitigated the impacts of COVID-19 and current supply chain challenges. It expects to christen the first vessel this year, is nearly halfway through completion of the second vessel, and will host the keel authentication of the third OPC in a few weeks. The pace of production accelerates with each vessel that comes online.

“We utilized state of the market technology, design, and construction methodologies to offer a more capable vessel than legacy assets currently in service. The innovations built into the OPCs were designed for sustainability and endurance and come from the ingenuity of the best engineers and manufacturers in the world. We thank the hundreds of partners and employees in the thirty-four states supporting us in this effort,” continued D’Isernia.

Construction is taking place at ESG’s Nelson Street Shipyard in Panama City, Florida, a facility that is optimized for multi-hull construction of the Offshore Patrol Cutter and dedicated to supporting the U.S. Coast Guard.

ESG survived the third largest U.S. hurricane in 2018 and has fully rebuilt its operational facilities. The company made many infrastructure investments from $50 million in state appropriations and economic development grants that benefit the OPC project with enhanced manufacturing capabilities and efficiencies that reduce cost and schedule risk. These infrastructure investments include an aluminum fabrication facility specifically designed to support full construction of the OPC aluminum superstructure in a covered and controlled environment. ESG has also completed launch way upgrades, upland bulkhead upgrades, construction platen expansions, and waterway deepening projects to further enhance ESG’s capability to launch and deliver two OPC sized vessels per year.

At its Allanton Shipyard, ESG has constructed a state-of-the-art C5ISR Production Facility to conduct testing and integration of navigation, communication, and command and control, equipment, and simulators on premises prior to final installation on the vessel.

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

 

“All Freedom Littoral Combat Ships in Commission Tapped for Early Disposal” –USNI

Littoral combat ship Little Rock (LCS 9) is underway during a high-speed run in Lake Michigan during acceptance trials. Lockheed Martin Photo

The US Naval Institute’s news service reports, that the Navy intends to decommission all nine currently completed and commissioned Freedom class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) including one commissioned in 2020 and three commissioned in 2019.

Does this make any sense?

We are told the Freedom Class cost as much to maintain as a Burke class DDG. I have to wonder if we are talking total operating costs? Does that include manning? Fuel? Manning is a very large part of the operating cost of a warship, and even with two crews per ship, the manning for the Freedom class (2 x 75) is about half that of a single crewed DDG (303 to 323).

Also sighted in the report is the decision to terminate Raytheon’s AN/SQS-62 VDS program that was to be the primary sensor for the ASW mission module and was expected to equip the new FFG has been cancelled. On the FFG it will be replaced by the CAPTAS 4.

While it showed promise in early testing, the Raytheon-built AN/SQS-62 VDS suffered stability problems and had towing issues with the Freedom-class, several Navy officials have told USNI News. As a result of the poor performance, the Navy announced it had terminated the mission module on Monday.

The report seemed to suggest that because the VDS was not working, the Freedom class could not be used in the ASW role that was intended.

“With no mission module and unexpected costs for the repair to a complex combining gear for the Freedom-class ships, Navy officials said it wasn’t worth keeping the ships in commission.”

Elsewhere I have seen Navy officials quoted as saying the two decisions, while announced almost concurrently, were in fact unrelated. It also would not account for the decommissioning of nine ships because, only a third of the completed or funded Freedom class (after Freedom was decommissioned) that would have remained were expected to have the ASW mission. That meant, at most, five ASW equipped ships.

It also would not make sense because, while the CAPTAS 4 might not fit the LCS, it is only one of a family of related towed array systems. There is a lighter, modular CAPTAS 4, as well a other smaller and lighter members of the CAPTAS family, that could have given these ships a significant ASW capability. A question remains, what is to become of the Independence class LCSs that were to have been equipped with the ASW module?

These ships were built by Marinette Marine. Marinette also has the contract for the new guided missile frigate (FFG). If the Freedom class LCSs were returned to Marinette to be fixed, it might delay completion of the FFGs, which must certainly be a higher priority than fixing the Freedom Class ships. That could be a reason. Still the repairs could be done elsewhere.

One thing is for sure, this decision will save the builders of these defective ships a huge amount of money, in that they will no longer be required to fix the problems they created. Could this be the real reason?

Some good may come of this debacle:

It appears six, as yet uncompleted Freedom class LCS, will be retained. They are to be split between 4th and 5th Fleet. That probably means three in Jacksonville and three forward deployed in Bahrain. The ships in Jacksonville will probably do a lot of drug interdiction patrols for 4th Fleet. Still three ships could not continuously support more than one ship underway, whereas the norm has been two ships for some time now.

Adoption of the CAPTAS 4 may open up the possibility of use of other members of the CAPTAS family including, perhaps, application to cutters.

2023 Budget Overview and a Quick Look at the 2022 Omnibus Bill

The Coast Guard has published its supporting document for the FY2023 budget. The Budget explanation begins on page 24.

There is at least one substantial surprise,

Commercially Available Polar Icebreaker $125.0M: Supports the purchase of a commercially available polar icebreaker, including modifications and integrated logistics support required to reach initial operating capability (IOC) for Coast Guard operations. This vessel will provide a platform capable of projecting U.S. sovereignty and influence while conducting Coast Guard statutory missions in the high latitudes.” (p.29)

Despite a professed intention to go to an all H-60 helicopter fleet, there is this,

MH-65 $17.0M: Supports modernization and sustainment of the Coast Guard’s MH-65 helicopter fleet to extend the service life of the MH-65 fleet into the 2030s, enabling the Coast Guard to participate in the Department of Defense’s Future Vertical Lift program. Modernization includes reliability and sustainability improvements where obsolete components are replaced with modernized sub-systems, including an integrated cockpit and sensor suite.” (p.30)

One WMEC210 is to be decommissioned and one WMEC270 will loose its crew as it is being SLEPed (Service Life Extension Program, p35). Looks like they expect to have OPC #1 and #2 and NSC#10 operating by the end of FY2023.

Comparison of 2021, 2022, and 2023 budgets 

You can take a look at the 2022 Omnibus bill, the ‘‘Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022’’ that was signed into law by the President on March 15 here. It is an extremely long document but still only provides the top line for major categories of the Coast Guard budget. I was only able to find them by using control F “Coast Guard.”

Below I will just list the two major discretionary spending categories. We normally see some increases by Congress over and above the budget request. Most common seem to have been the addition of funding for additional Webber class cutters and C-130J aircraft. I have not been able to identify all the additions for 2022. We do know two additional Webber class ($130M) were added. Looks like the money for a second Great Lakes Icebreaker may be included.

Operations and Support (in thousands)

  • 2021 enacted        8,485,146
  • 2022 requested     9,020,770
  • 2022 enacted        9,162,120
  • 2023 requested     9,620,029

Procurement, Construction, and Improvements (in thousands)

  • 2021 enacted        2,264,041
  • 2022 requested     1,639,100
  • 2022 enacted        2,030,100
  • 2023 requested     1,654,858

 

Naval News at DIMDEX2022

Naval News provides a review of some of the presentations made at the very first DIMDEX show in Qatar. Day One above.

Day Two looks at the Pakistani naval defense plans and industry and at a compact combined active/passive variable depth sonar and towed array system from Finland’s Patria.

There is also this video of ships that attended the show.

Naval News also provided this post about a new class of cutter sized (3,000 ton) corvettes for the Pakistani Navy, based on Turkey’s MILGEM project Ada class corvettes and Istanbul class frigates.  These are significant both because of the growth of Turkey’s defense industry and because most of Pakistan’s recent naval acquisition have been from China. Significantly none of the planned systems are Chinese except the helicopter. Here are some links to information about the weapons to be mounted on the corvette:

ASELSAN GOKDENIZ twin 35mm CIWS

A Chinese Haifan II helicopter from the missile frigate ‘Zhoushan’ leaves the flight deck of HMS Cornwall. Members of the Chinese Public Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) were visiting the Type 22 frigate to discuss anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Organization: Royal Navy Object Name: FB09002219

Why It Would Make Sense to Award Two OPC Contracts.

Artists rendering from Eastern Shipbuilding Group

The Navy League’s online magazine “Seapower” reports,

 Bollinger Shipyards submitted on March 18 its final proposal to the United States Coast Guard to build Stage 2 of the Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutter program. If chosen, Bollinger would construct and deliver a total of 11 vessels to the U.S. Coast Guard over the next decade, helping to sustain the Bollinger workforce through 2031.

It is obviously a Bollinger press release, talking about how much good it would do for the local economy, but it does occur to me…

If we have two truly competitive bids, this could be an opportunity to have two shipyards building Offshore Patrol Cutters.

The program is already too long delayed. The phase II contract proposals are likely to be very competitive. In March 2020, contracts for industry studies were awarded to nine different yards.

  • Austal USA of Mobile, AL
  • General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works (GD/BIW) of Bath, ME
  • Bollinger Shipyards Lockport of Lockport, LA
  • Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) of Panama City, FL
  • Fincantieri Marinette Marine (F/MM) of Marinette, WS
  • General Dynamics/National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (GD/NASSCO) of San Diego, CA
  • Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII/Ingalls) of Pascagoula, MS
  • Philly Shipyard of Philadelphia, PA
  • VT Halter Marine Inc. of Pascagoula, MS

I know at least three yards, Eastern, Huntington Ingalls and Bollinger, and probably more, are submitting proposals for building first a single OPCs with options to build ten more. With Eastern already building the first four, this gives the Coast Guard the opportunity to contract for the remaining 21 ships based on the bids that will be received this year.

We could have the entire program completed by 2032 instead of 2038 and avoid the complication of a probably much less competitive phase III competition to build the last ten ships. Six years earlier completion would also probably allow us to avoid the expense of the life extension program planned for six of the WMEC 270s.

It would cost more in those years but this project really should have been funded ten to twenty years ago. It would be a big plus up for the PC&I budget but only a few percent increase compared to the Coast Guard’s total budget, small compared to the DHS budget and microscopic to the entire federal budget. It would align with the national objective of growing our naval shipbuilding capabilities, and further stimulate the economy. It might not be too hard to get Congressional support.

It would also provide a hedge against a natural disaster further delaying construction.

 

 

 

“CANADIAN COAST GUARD ICEBREAKER MODERNISATION CONTRACT AWARDED TO QUEBEC SHIPYARD” –Baird Maritime

CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent alongside USCGC Healy

Baird Maritime reports Quebec shipbuilder Chantier Davie Canada has been awarded a contract to complete a service life extension program on Canada’s largest, most powerful, and oldest icebreaker, CCGS Louis S St-Laurent.

This ship entered service in 1969, about six and a half years earlier than Polar Star. Reportedly the modifications will be conducted in three phases in 2022,2024, and 2027.

The Canadian Coast Guard rates the ship a heavy icebreaker, but by current USCG standards, she is a medium icebreaker. Her size, power (27,000 HP), diesel electric propulsion, and large lab spaces, make her more similar to Healy than to the Polar Star.

The ship has already been extensively modified. In a major refit 1987-1992 the hull was lengthened about 24 feet. A new bow was fitted and her original steam turbines were replaced with diesels. A bubbler system was added and a new hangar forward of the flight deck replaced the previous below deck hangar and elevator system.

The ship has a crew of only 46 but accommodations for 216.

In 2008, a program was initiated to replace the St-Laurent with a 2017 expected in service date for the new icebreaker. After a series of delays and false starts new Polar Icebreakers are not now expected until 2030 (at least).

I wonder if perhaps the Canadian Coast Guard will attempt to keep the St-Laurent in service until their second polar icebreaker is completed, much as the USCG intends to keep Polar Star in service until the second Polar Security Cutter is delivered.

Polar Security Cutter Command and Control

Photo of a model of Halter Marine’s Polar Security Cutter seen at Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exhibition have surfaced. Photo credit Chris Cavas.

I just received my February/March issue of “The Bulletin,” the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association magazine. It has a good article on the Polar Security Cutter, “The Future is Upon Us,” pages 48-54, by LCdr David Radin, class of 2009.

Unfortunately there are a lot of readers who might be interested in this that don’t have access to the magazine.

Most of it was information I had seen elsewhere, but there was a short paragraph headed “Modern C2” that had some information that was new to me, so I am reproducing it below.

“To meet the modern mission demands, PSC  will be equipped with a highly capable Command and Control (C2) suite for full fleet integration. Additionally, PSC will feature the capability for oceanographic operations, a unique capability for the Coast Guard. This capability far exceeds POLAR STAR’s and comes in the form of a robust sonar suite, over 2000 square feet of reconfigurable science space and room for up to nine 20-foot portable scientific vans, an impressive load-out for science focused missions. This capability is critical for the United States to assert  and enforce legal authority over the increasingly accessible northern edge of the exclusive economic zone.”

These are very large ships with relatively small crews (accommodations for 136 permanent crew and up to 50 additional persons). It looks like we are building in flexibility for the future. That should prove a wise decision.