Germany to Build Four OPVs for Israel

Photo Credit: jimmyweee, Malaysian OPV Pahang, IMDEX2007

Photo Credit: jimmyweee, Malaysian OPV Pahang, IMDEX2007

DefenseNews is reporting that Germany will be building four Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Israeli Navy. Israel has seen a need for OPVs to protect its growing offshore energy industry.

Israel had previously considered the Lockheed “international” LCS design, but it was deemed too expensive. The design selected is a version of the MEKO A100. Two versions of this design are already in service, The Kedah class (pictured above) with the Malaysian Navy and the K-130 class corvettes of the German Navy.

It will be interesting to see how these ships turn out. They will be similar in size, perhaps a bit smaller than the Offshore Patrol Cutters.

A late addition:


Added Nov. 16, 2020.


China Builds Cutter X for Nigeria

NavyRecognition Photo, Model of P18N OPV on the CSOC stand during AAD 2014
Photo credit: NavyRecognition, Model of the P18N OPV on the CSOC stand during AAD 2014. Click to enlarge.

NavyRecognition reports delivery of another cutter similar in concept to Cutter X. This time it is first of two being built in China for Nigeria.

P18N Offshore Patrol Vessels have a displacement of 1,700 tons, a length of 95 m, width of 12.2 m and beam of 3.5 m. It is powered by two MTU 20V 4000M diesel engines (I believe this is essentially the same engine as in the Webber class WPCs–Chuck). The maximum speed is 21 knots. The endurance of the vessel is 20 days at sea (range 3000 nautical miles at 14 knots) for a crew of 70 sailors.

The range and speed are certainly adequate for their purposes, but “nothing to write home about,” and the hangar is only suitable for UAVs, but it is actually better equipped in some ways than the proposed Cutter X with a 76mm gun and two 30mm. This probably contributes to the size of its 70 member crew.

Nigeria is modernizing their forces. The Nigerian Navy took over the former USCGC Chase in 2011, and they expect to get the Gallatin in 2015. Nigeria is the source of much of our imported oil, and they have an ongoing insurgency and a serious piracy problem.

If the helicopter on the model pictured above looks familiar, it is a Z-9, a Chinese license built version of the French helicopter that was the basis for the H-65. Chinese variants include both ASW and attack helicopter versions.

Three Nations Share German OPV Design


Photos: Chilean Navy photos of OPV Toro, 2012, note 40mm forward

We have a guest post today, Andres Tavolari, a 1st Lt in the Chilean Marine Corp Reserve talks about the recent christening of the third of a series of five ships that the US Coast Guard would consider Offshore Patrol Cutters. Not only have these ships supported SouthCom missions, Colombia and Argentina are also building ships of this class so cutters are likely to encounter and perhaps work with these or similar ships in their counter drug operations. Of the three countries Chile’s program is the most advance. Chuck

On last April 1st, was christened the third Fassmer-80 OPV for the Chilean navy. Named “Marinero Fuentealba” after a sailor who died trying to rescue the crew of a stranded ship on a storm in 1965, the new OPV will be delivered to the Navy in August 2014.   This is the third ship of a class of five for the Chilean navy, which are built in the ASMAR shipyard, Talcahuano, Chile, a German design selected among several bidders (Fincantieri, Vosper Thornycraft, Kvaerner Masa Marine, Damen and Fassmer). The detailed engineering was done by ASMAR which did 50,000 hours of modeling on the ships’ systems and components. The ships are classified as LRS +100 A1 LMC UMS.

The original design was modified in several aspects, most importantly, the addition of a hangar for a medium size helicopter.   With an overall length of 80,60 meters (264′), a waterline length of 74,40 (244′) and a moulded beam of 13,00 meters (42.6′), the Chilean Fassmer 80 OPV have a full load displacement of 1728 tons. With such a displacement, at 12 knots, their range is 8.000 nautical miles with accommodations for 60 persons including 20 passengers and the helicopter crew. The endurance is 30 days, carrying 298 m3 of fuel oil, 48 m3 of fresh water and 20 m3 of helicopter fuel. Two 12V26 Wärtsilä engines, delivering 4.080 KW (5,471 SHP each) @ 1.000 rpm, work on two 4 blades controllable pitch propelers. At 80% MCR the speed is 20 knots.   The first 2 ships are armed with a 40 mm gun taken second hand from German Type 148 missile boats, and with up to six .50 machine gun, although normally four are embarked. The third ship, the “Fuentealba” will be armed with a 76 mm Oto Melara gun also from a Type 148 missile boat. Some sources indicate its secondary armament will be up to 6 x 20 mm guns (probably old Oerlikon 20mm/70). This third ship has an ice strengthened hull and a different communications set, details have not been released yet. With these modifications “Fuentealba” will cost 43% more than the first two ships of the class, whose cost was less than $50M US each.   The flight deck and hangar are optimized for medium helicopters. Normally an AS-365 N2 Dauphin helicopter, similar to the MH-65, will be embarked. Typically it will be used for MIO and rescue operations.

There are two single points davits for two locally built 7,40 meters RIBs which can be launched and recovered while sailing at up to 12 knots. Under the flight deck is a working space with enough space for up to three 20 foot container sized units. There are four hatches in the flight deck permitting an easy access to the work deck. It is served by a Palfinger Marine PK 60000M crane installed on the flight deck. On the work deck and stern are the necessary fittings for towing other ships, towing being one of the main mission of this class of ships in Chilean service. Notably the second ship in the class (OPV 82 “Toro”) has, on the stern, 2 racks for depth charges!! Although an old weapon, several Chilean navy ships have been equipped with depth charges, as useful weapons for warning shots against submarines.

The Chilean Fassmer 80 OPVs have a Sperry Marine integrated Bridge System, an integrated communication system and an unmanned machinery space, remotely controlled. They are also equipped with the Mobile Maritime Command and Control System “SMC MM” and the ARIES fire control system for the 40 mm gun. Both systems are developed locally by SISDEF and DESA CHILE. It is most probable that the “Fuentealba” will be equipped with the SAETA fire control system, developed by DESA CHILE for the Chilean SA’AR missile boats armed with 76 mm guns.

The Chilean OPVs are operated by the Dirección General del Territorio Marítimo (DIRECTEMAR), a special branch within the Chilean Navy. The missions carried out by this ships are: coast guard, fishery protection, search and rescue, contamination control, training and support of isolated communities. Nevertheless, the first two ships have also deployed to international exercises and operations, such as UNITAS, PANAMAX and MARTILLO, the last one in combination with forces of the US Southern Command for fighting drugs smuggling in the Caribbean. The Colombian navy has received 2 slightly modified ships build locally by COTECMAR and has contracted a third ship, planning to build as many as 6, for operating 3 in the Pacific and 3 in the Caribbean (Argentina is also planning at least four-Chuck). Main modifications are a different mast, a different 40 mm gun, a telescopic hangar for a Bell 412 helicopter and a stern ramp. The stern ramp was considered less important for the Chilean Navy, which opted for improved towing capacity of towing ships and additional space for supporting isolated communities rather than the improved ability to deploy a boat quickly when chasing “go-fast” boats, since this is not a threat in Chilean waters. The OPV “Fuentealba” will be deployed to the Third Naval Zone, with homeport in Punta Arenas, on the Magellan Strait.

Thanks to Andres for his contribution. I noted this in the German Navy blog “Marine Forum” Daily News, 8 April, “CHILE – PERU Probably related to their ongoing dispute over Pacific Ocean sea areas, both the Chilean and Peruvian navy have (temporarily?) removed hull numbers and names from nearly all naval vessels, rendering identification difficult.” Hopefully this will be resolved amicably. Chuck


OPV Colombia 1

OPV Colombia 2

Photos provided Andres Tovalari. Colombian Navy OPV “7 de Agosto” sailing along a German Navy missile boat. Ship is currently part of Operation Atalanta countering piracy in the Indian Ocean.

As noted here,

“With 85 sailors on board, 7 de Agosto is armed with a 40 mm Oto Melara 40L70 twin gun, a 20 mm Oerlikon GAM-BO1 gun, and two Thor T-12 Remote Controlled Weapons Stations (RCWS). The T-12 RCWS includes a .50-calibre M2HB machine gun linked to a Controp SHAPO maritime day/night observation system.”

It is less obvious, but she also has a stern boat  ramp as well.


Bath Iron Works Offshore Patrol Cutter Concept

The U.S. Coast Guard has awarded General Dynamics Bath Iron Works a $21.4 million contract for the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) program. Bath Iron Works is one of three shipyards chosen from a field of eight competitors to proceed to Phase I design work on this next-generation cutter program. The Bath Iron Works team includes L-3 Communications (New York, N.Y.) and Navantia, S.A. (Spain), a shipbuilder that Bath Iron Works has collaborated with for more than 30 years.

Our Friend at Navy Recognition was good enough to provide a copy of an artist’s concept of the BIW proposal he had found. We talked about the other two contenders for the OPC contract here.

The proposal is a variation of the the Navantia BAM (Buque de Acción Marítima) (more here).

The BAM has provision for carrying up to six containers. Hopefully this feature has been retained. It looks like all of the proposals may have this feature to some degree.

Presumably the ship will include the BAM’s hybrid propulsion system, with electric motors (two motors of approximately 1,000 HP) run off the ship’s service generators for slow to moderate cruising. The BAM’s main propulsion engines (12,240 HP total providing 21 knots) would probably need to be upgraded to meet the Coast Guard’s speed requirement (22 to 25 knots), but that should be fairly easy. Using the same diesels that are used in the Bertholf Class National Security Cutters (19,310 HP total) would supply the necessary power and simplify training and logistics. Alternately a four engine power plant similar to that used in the closely related Navantia built Venezuelan Guaiqueri class (approx 24,000 HP for 24 knots) would provide the necessary additional power and additional flexibility and redundancy.

In some respects the Bath proposal looks more like the Guaiqueri class with its larger central funnel, although the Bath proposal has a smaller funnel and a small additional stack presumably for the main generators to starboard.

The BAM’s length, beam, and draft are 93.9×14.2×4.2 meters (308×46.6×13.8 feet) their displacement is 2,900 tons, the Venezuelan Guaiqueri class are 98.9×13.6×3.75 (324.4×44.6×12.3 feet) and just over 2,400 tons.

It may only be that the conceptual drawing is slightly distorted, but I am a little concerned that it appears the hangar may not be long enough to take an H-60 sized helicopter. Even if we don’t need that now, we may in the future. The ship is as beamy as an FFG, so it could certainly accommodate a large double hangar.

Like the Eastern design, it looks like the Mk38mod2 on the top of the hangar is going to have a limited field of fire on one side. It does look like there is room for a second mount on top of the bridge. The 57mm, on the other hand, is up out of the green water that will inevitably washs over the bow, and has excellent fields of fire, including the ability to engage contacts close aboard, even when the ship rolls away from the target.

Both the BAM and Guaiqueri class have fewer accommodations than are expected to be provided in the OPC. So some changes were necessary there.

It appears the step-down from the flight deck to the fantail is less than a full deck. If so, then the ship is almost flush decked. e.g. the foc’sle is on the main deck. If that is the case, then the bridge would be on the O-3 deck just as it is on the 210s, 270s, 378s, and NSCs and the ship is really not as tall as it appears in the illustration. On the other hand if the step-down is a full deck (and it is on the BAM), the ship is going to feel unusually tall (but it will give a greater visible horizon).

The Chinese Coast Guard to Build World’s Largest Offshore Patrol Vessel–and More

This is a post I prepared for CIMSEC. It reiterates material we’ve already discussed, but also adds some additional thoughts.

File:JapanCoastGuard Shikishima.jpg
Japanese Coast Guard Cutter Shikishima, this class of two are currently the largest offshore patrol vessels in the world. Photo from Japanese Wikipedia; ja:ファイル:JapanCoastGuard Shikishima.jpg
Since its formation in 2013 by the consolidation of four previously independent agencies into a single entity (notably excluding the SAR agency), the Chinese Coast Guard has been experiencing phenomenal growth and has become China’s instrument of choice in its “small stick diplomacy” push to claim most of both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
They commissioned two 4,000 ton cutters in January alone. It appears the growth will continue. The Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Company has just been awarded a contract for four new 5,000 ton cutters, and China Ship-building Industry Corporation has been contracted to build two additional surveillance ships, one of 10,000 tons and another of 4,000-tons.
The US Coast Guard’s largest patrol cutters are the 418 foot, 4,500 ton full load Bertholf Class National Security Cutters. The illustration that accompanies the story of the four new 5,000 ton cutters shows a ship, in many ways similar to the National Security Cutter. It appears there is a medium caliber gun on the bow. (This would be a significant but not unexpected change for the Chinese Coast Guard.) There is a frame over what appears to be a stern ramp not unlike that on the NSC. The hull shape also appears similar to the NSC.
The “10,000 ton” cutter is likely to look similar to the Japanese Coast Guard’s two 492 foot, 9,350 full load, Shikishima class high endurance helicopter carrying cutters seen in the illustration above, but they may actually be much larger. Comparing their new ship to the Japanese cutters, the displacement of the Japanese ships was quoted as 6,500 tons, their light displacement. If the 10,000 tons quoted for the Chinese cutter is also light displacement, it could approach 15,000 tons full load. As reported here the new Chinese OPV will have a 76mm gun, two 30mm, facilities to support two Z-8 helicopters, and a top speed of 25 knots.
The size of the helicopters is notable. The Z-8 is a large, three engine, 13,000 kg helicopter based on the Aérospatiale SA 321 Super Frelon. The transport version of this helicopter can transport 38 fully equipped troops. The same airframe is also used for SAR, ASW, and vertical replenishment.
Undoubtedly the new vessels tonnage would give it an advantage in any sort of “shoving match” with vessels of other coast guards, but why so large?
The original justification for the Japanese cutters was to escort plutonium shipments between Japan and Europe, but the second cutter was built long after that operation was suspended, so clearly the Japanese saw a different justification for the second ship of the class.
Even so the Chinese ship may prove larger still. Other than prestige, why so large? China’s EEZ is small (877,019 sq km) compared to that of the US (11,351,000 sq km) or even Japan’s (4,479,358 sq km). Even adding the EEZ of Taiwan and other areas claimed by China, but disputed by others (3,000,000 sq km), the total is only 3,877,019 sq km, and patrolling it does not require the long transits involved in patrolling the US or even the Japanese EEZ.
10,000 tons is about the size of a WWII attack transport, and with its potential to embark two large helicopters China’s new large cutter could certainly exceeds the capability of WWII destroyer and destroyer escort based fast transports (APD). Using its helicopters and boats it could quickly land at least an infantry company as could many of the smaller cutters. Chinese Coast Guard ships are already a common sight throughout the contested areas of the South China and East China Seas. Will Asia wake up some morning to learn there have been Chinese garrisons landed throughout the contested areas by the now all too familiar Chinese Coast Guard Cutters.

Chinese to Build World’s Largest Cutter

File:JapanCoastGuard Shikishima.jpg
Japanese Coast Guard Cutter Shikishima, this class of two are currently the largest offshore patrol vessels in the world. Photo from Japanese Wikipedia; ja:ファイル:JapanCoastGuard Shikishima.jpg

German Navy blog “Marine Forum” reports (21 January) that the

China Ship-building Industry Corporation has been contracted with developing and building a 10,000-ton and another 4,000-ton surveillance ship.
(rmks: for paramilitary China Coast Guard or China Marine Surveillance)

Meanwhile, in a move designed to bolster their claims in the South China Sea, they also report,

With Vietnam: China will expand paramilitary infrastructure at Sansha City (Paracel Archipelago) in the South China Sea … permanently base a 5,000-ts patrol ship (rmks: prob. China Marine Surveillance – CMS) and begin regular patrols.

Don’t expect China’s new 10,000 ton cutter to look like a US Coast Guard Cutter. The Chinese seem to measure their Coast Guard primarily in comparison to the Japanese Coast Guard which has until now operated the largest cutters in the world, two 9,350 full load, Shikishima class high endurance helicopter carrying cutters. Like their Japanese counterparts, they are likely to be built to merchant standards, will be only lightly armed, but will have excellent aviation facilities. The additional tonnage is likely to give them an advantage if they get in a “shoving match” with opposing coast guards, and they are likely to have a secondary military transport role. With a relatively large number of boats, they could probably land a fair number of personnel in a relatively short time. By way of comparison the National Security Cutters are 4,500 tons full load.

World’s Largest Offshore Patrol Vessels

File:JapanCoastGuard Shikishima.jpg

Photo from Japanese Wikipedia; ja:ファイル:JapanCoastGuard Shikishima.jpg

More than two decades after the first of class was delivered the Japanese Coast Guard has taken delivery of the second ship of the Shikishima ClassAkitsushima (PLH 32), These are the largest offshore Patrol Vessels in the world.

These ships have some notable features.

As Coast Guard cutters go they are very large. At 9,300 tons full load, they twice the displacement of the National Security Cutters. The vessels have a length of 150m (492 ft), beam of 17m (56 ft), and draft of 10m (33 ft). They can accommodate two relatively large Eurocopter EC225 helicopters (Max Gross weight: 11,000 kg (24,251 lb)). They are the only Japanese Coast Guard vessels with anti-aircraft weapons. Their outfit includes two 35mm mounts on the centerline with one mount well forward and a second on top of the hangar, the older Shikishima uses twin mounts and the newly built Akistsushima uses single mounts. There are also two 20 mm Sea Vulcan Gatling guns mounted port and starboard forward of and below the bridge.

They look more like merchant ships than warships, but they are good for 25 knots, and their range of 20,000 miles allows them to transit between Japan and Europe unrefueled. They also have a relatively large number of davits. It appears they have six, two of which are used for lifeboats.

Vietnam Builds a Damen OPC (OPV)

BairdMaritime provides information on a new Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) built in Vietnam for the Vietnam Marine Police (soon to be Vietnam Coast Guard) to a Damen design, that looks a whole lot like an Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). There is also information in the article about their developing relationship with the USCG.

She is reported to be 2500 tons, 90 meters (295′) in length, 14 meters (46′) of beam, 21 knots, with a crew of 70.

I think the Bollinger candidate for the OPC may be similar. This is apparently based on the Damen OPV2400. The OPC candidate is probably based on the slightly larger OPV2600 since it will probably need additional volume for fuel to provide the range the USCG requires, a couple of hundred tons heavier, 8 meters (26′) longer, and two or three knots faster because of its greater length (same horsepower).

More information about Damen designs for OPVs can be seen via the link below:

Vietnamese Coast Guard Damen 9014 Offshore Patrol Vessel. Photo: Photo added 2022.

OPC Builders Field Narrows–Unofficial

Selection of at most three shipbuilders to develop proposed contract designs for the Offshore Patrol Cutter is expected soon. MaritimeMemos is reporting the field has already been trimmed down to five.

“The unofficial word is that the Coast Guard has set the competitive range for the OPC program and has thereby eliminated at least three of the competitors – Marinette Marine, NASSCO and Vigor Industrial.  If this is the case, that leaves five yards still under consideration for up to three Phase I contracts – two from the “Big Six” – Bath Iron Works and Ingalls Shipbuilding – and three from the “Second Tier” – Bollinger Shipyards, Eastern Shipbuilding and VT Halter Marine.  My money’s on the three second-tier yards.  September 6,2013.

If you want to  review what has been published about the conceptual designs, you can see them in an earlier post here: “Offshore Patrol Cutter Concepts” Be sure to read the comments, there is more info there. I still have not seen any information on concepts from Bath or NASSCO.

Trade-Offs In Patrol Vessels

Think Defence has brought to my attention, a paper that addresses a way to consider the various possible trade-offs that might be applied to the design of patrol ships. Specifically they look at a ship very similar in concept to the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). This straw-man ship is the latest version of BMT Defence Services’ “Venator” concept. It’s dimensions are on the large side but within the range previously used to describe the OPC.

  • Waterline Length: 107 m (351 ft)
  • Beam:                    15 m (49.2 ft)
  • Draft:                     4.3 m (14.1 ft)
  • Displacement: 3,200 tons (approx.)

You can read the paper here (pdf). The ThinkDefence’s post is here. Their discussion is always lively. There is a claim there, quoted from the Royal Navy’s web site, that the current Royal Navy OPVs are underway at least 275 days a year. Perhaps we need to find out how they are doing that.

Using this sort of approach to weigh alternatives, may not always result in superior ships, but it certainly requires an explicit statement of assumptions, and in an environment where decisions are subject to second guessing and must be explained, it documents the decision process.