New Renderings of Proposed OPC

OPC Conceptual Rendering (Unfortunately the rendering that originally appeared here is no longer available. This is a later version which appears similar.)

Conceptual Rendering of the OPC

The Acquisition Directorate has given us some more information on the proposed Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), including some new renderings of its appearance and information on how it will use “green” technologies and concepts to reduce environmental impact.

I like the fact that the 57mm is up one deck from the foc’sle, because that will provide some protection from green water coming over the bow and, it will allow the weapon to train on targets at relatively close range over the bow. In fact the design looks very much like the successful Floréal class of light “surveillance frigates” designed for the French Navy in 1989.

Looks like they are planning on mounting a 25 mm Mk 38 mod 2 on top of the hanger instead of a CIWS. For our purposes, that is probably a better choice, provided we have the option of substituting a state of the art CIWS like SeaRAM should we go to war. I’d really like to know what they are anticipating for a fire control system. Radar and electro-optical or electro-optical only?

What surprises me is that there is no stern ramp, in spite of the fact that it looks like there is adequate room. I never liked the arrangement we have for launching the boat at the fantail of the 270s, because of what happens when the ship is pitching, and this does not look like an improvement. However, the fact that she has boats on both sides amidships is an improvement.

I would still like to see some space planned for interchangeable containerized mission modules. Maybe there could be an option to put these on the fantail in lieu of the third boat. Aside from the Littoral Combat Ship modules, these might include class rooms for cadet cruises, holding cells for migrant interdiction, operating rooms for disaster relief, or laboratories for scientific research.

Hopefully the larger flight deck means the ships will be capable of operating all the H-60 variants including the Navy’s MH-60 R and S versions and there will be space available to store their equipment and weapons.

Provided the price is reasonable, these ships should have definite Foreign Military Sales potential. I can see variations of this design with Harpoon launchers either on the fantail or foc’sle.

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The Coast Guard Meets With Potential OPC Builders, But No Rush

Federal Times reports the Coast Guard is meeting with ship builders interested in participating in the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) program, August 10-20. The plan is to build 25 ships to replace the entire existing fleet of WMECs (29 ships if I count right).

Federal Times quotes Carl McGill, surface systems chief for the Coast Guard and the OPC contracting officer, “After this round of talks is concluded, the next event for the OPC program will be an industry day, probably in November. A draft request for proposals is expected to be released “early next year,” McGill said, with a pre-solicitation conference to be held about a month later.

“Sometime next year three shipyards should receive Coast Guard contracts to prepare detailed OPC designs — an effort expected to take up to two years. A down-select to one shipyard is expected to be made in late 2014 or early 2015. The first OPCs are expected to be delivered in 2018 or 2019.”

And the oldest 210s will be how old then? 54 years old. Not to mention Acushnet and Alex Haley.

And when do we expect to see Arctic Patrol Cutters? And new Ice Breakers? Icebreaking tugs? Inland buoy tenders?

Are we behind the power curve? I know this is not the fault of the current administration, but we don’t seem to be making our case before Congress. Want to stimulate the economy. Ship building is a good way. We fought WWII in half the time it will take before we see the first OPC, and we did design and build a few ships during that time.

Think our MECs are having problems now, wait five years, no wait eight or nine.

And shouldn’t we really be building 33 to replace all the MECs and the short fall in 378 replacements.

We have to do better.