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).https://i1.wp.com/www.workboatshow.com/11/Custom/ProductLarge10179.jpg

We have seen these before, but more information about Damen designs for OPVs can be seen via the links below:

http://offshore-patrol-security.com/cms-assets/documents/59716-108335.damen-opv-presentation-portsmouth-2012.pdf

http://www.damen.com/en/markets/offshore-patrol-vessel

Product data sheet for the OPV 2600 http://www.damen.nl/en/markets/~/media/nl/Documents/Products/Datasheets/OT/OPV/2600/555800OPV%202600DS.ashx

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.

CG Help for Bangladesh Navy

DefenseMediaNetwork has taken the occasion of the transfer of the former USCGC Jarvis (WHEC-725) to review the progress of the Bangladesh navy (BN). In addition to Jarvis the USCG is expected to transfer another 378 and

“…the USCG has been steadily delivering significant quantities of small craft – primarily 16 Safeboat Defenders and 20 Metal Shark Defiants, with more than 30 such craft delivered to date. Deliveries of Defiants are ongoing under the USCG Security Assistance Program.  Most of these craft are used by the naval Special Warfare and Diving and Salvage (SWADS) although a few have gone to the Bangladesh Coast Guard.”

Given what Bangladesh has done with their former British Castle Class OPVs (discussed at the end of the article), we may expect that the former cutters will soon be equipped with Chinese made sensors and weapons including anti-ship cruise missiles.

OPV to OPC

The specs for the Offshore Patrol Cutter have not been made available to the general public, but the Commandant recently remarked that he hoped to repeat the success of the Webber Class Fast Response Cutter (FRC) procurement by doing something similar with the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) in terms of using a parent craft approach (sorry can’t find the link).

Last time the acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) published a list of shipbuilders interested in the OPC project there were twelve, Austal, BAE, Bath Iron Works, Bollinger, Derecktor, Eastern Ship Building Group, Marinette Marine, General Dynamics NASSCO, Northrop Grumman, Todd Pacific, Signal International, and VT Halter Marine. Some of these ship builders are very experienced and are more than capable of starting a design from scratch, but others either already have international partners or, having no experience in building this type of ship, are likely to seek a partner.

What similar designs have been built recently that might be adapted to create an OPC?

The OPCs are much more complex than the FRCs and even in that case, there were substantial changes to the parent craft required to create the Webber class. Speed was increased substantially, compartmentation was improved, and it was more heavily armed, so we should not expect a carbon copy of any existing design.

Many of these designs have all their propulsion machinery in a single compartment. At least one appears to have all its ship’s service generators in one compartment. (I believe the OPC spec rules out both of these vulnerabilities, but these are things that can be changed.) Other changes are also likely to be required to comply with American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Rules for Building and Classing Naval Vessels (NVR).

Very few meet the range requirement. Even fewer are equipped with an icebelt.

Still it might be interesting to see what is currently on the market.

For reference I am going to provide the length and beam (in meters) of the some familiar ships.

  • Perry Class FFG (long hull)     139×13.7
  • National Security Cutter         127×16
  • Hamilton Class WHEC           115×13
  • 327 foot WHEC                     100×12.5
  • Alex Haley                                86×15
  • 270 foot WMEC                       82×12
  • 210 foot WMEC                       64×10.4

Of these the 327 at 100×12.5 might serve as a sort of benchmark in that we know from experience with these ships, it is possible to create a very comfortable and seaworthy ship of this size, while smaller ships have not been totally satisfactory for the service envisioned.

The FFG also serves as a benchmark in that it shows that a ship with a 13.7meter beam can have a hanger that can house two H-60s, not a requirement for the OPC, but perhaps a good option, particularly with the Navy increasing the size of the Firescout to that of a full size helicopter.

It appears that international partners could include:

  • Damen (Netherlands)
  • Navantia (Spain)
  • DCNS (France)
  • BAE (UK)
  • Fassmer (Germany)
  • Blohm + Voss MEKO (Germany)
  • Hyundai (S. Korea)
  • STX (S. Korea, France Finland, Romania, Canada and US)

Some of these builders have more than one design that might be considered.

Damen

Damen appears particularly well placed, having provided the parent craft for the Fast Response Cutter. They have two potential parent craft, the Holland Class (108×16) and the Sigma series (Ship Integrated Geometrical Modularity Approach) of corvettes and light frigates.

As suggested by the illustration above, Thales already has an interest in offering the Holland class as the OPC. It was shown off recently in Key West. It shares many of the characteristics of the OPC including an emphasis on seakeeping and ballistic protection for key areas of the ship. At 3,750 tons, it is also the largest ship we will discuss in this post and probably the most expensive. Reportedly the mast and its associated sensors account for a sizable fraction of the ship’s cost, but also provide almost Aegis like capability. Its combined electric or diesel (CODELOD) propulsion system make loitering and slow cruise operations particularly economical. Still they would need greater range, possibly greater speed and an ice belt to satisfy the requirements for the the OPC, so might end up even larger.

File:Kri-diponegoro-1600-1200.jpg

Mr Wim Kosten,maritimephoto.com Source: Maritimephoto.com

Of the Sigma series, the Indonesian variant (105×13) looks closest to the OPC. Eight ships have been built or are building for Morocco and Indonesia, and apparently four more are planned for Vietnam. They appear to emphasize warship characteristics but are not built to naval standards and when the Netherlands decided to build their own offshore patrol vessels they rejected the Sigmas in favor of the Holland class. It is shorter ranged and its inclusion of only two very powerful diesels does not appear likely to be economical. Still the size looks right; it is “modular,” perhaps modifications are possible.

Navantia

Navantia, a very large and active builder of warships, including Aegis equipped frigates and LHDs for the Spanish and Australian Navies, has been very active in producing offshore patrol vessels recently.

File:Rayo P42.jpg

They are producing a series of series of nine multipurpose ships for the Spanish Navy identified as Buque de Acción Marítima or “BAM” (93.9×14.2). “Modular design enables the ships to be modified for purposes outside main missions such as hydrographic research, intelligence gathering, diving support and salvage operations.” As built they have the range required for the OPC. They have a hybrid propulsion system, but speed is only a little over 20 knots.

They have also produce two classes of four each for the Venezuelan Navy. The largest of these are the 2400 ton Guaiquerí class patrol vessels (99×13.6)

File:PC-21 Guaiqueri 14 de Mayo 2011 Foto Capitán Ted.jpg

Photo: Venezuelan OPV built by Navantia. via Wikipedia

They don’t have the range required, only 3500 nmi, or of course an icebelt, but otherwise they appear very close to the OPC including a 25 knot top speed.

If Navatia could combine the speed of the Guaiquerí with the range and economy of the BAM, they might have a winner.

DCNS

Obviously DCNS also has an interest in the OPC project. They have been pushing their Gowind family of vessels as both OPCs, corvettes and light frigates. The L’ Adroit (87×11) is probably too small to meet the OPC requirements, but the larger version (107×16) beginning offered to Malaysia appears much closer.

Navy Recognition team who was attending the DSA 2012 Defense exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was able to gather fresh information regarding the future Gowind corvettes of the Royal Malaysian Navy. While the negotiations are still ongoing, signature of the contract should happen soon according to an official from Boustead. The same person gave us an updated list of systems that will likely be found on those new corvettes.

Gowind model at Boustead stand during DSA 2012
(picture: Navy Recognition)

BAE

A BAE design (90.5×13.5) built for Trinidad and Tobago, has been sold to Brazil and they expect to build five more of the ships, while a very similar BAE design, HTMS Krabi, is being built in Thailand. These ships don’t meet the range requirement, don’t have a hanger, and are limited to a 7 ton helicopter. Could the design be modified?

BAE also have in their portfolio the  Lekiu_class_frigate (106×12.75)  which does have a hangar. Two were completed for Malaysia in 1999. Two more of an updated design are proposed. These ships have a powerful CODAD (Combined Diesel and Diesel) powerplant that is good for 28 knots. Reduced power could still satisfy the OPC requirement.

Fassmer

Fassmer (Germany) appears to be primarily a builder of work boats and small craft, but they have had success with their 80 meter OPV design being adopted by Argentina, Chile, and Colombia for construction in country.

They have proposed some larger designs (pdf), but I’m not sure they bring much additional experience to the table.

Blohm + Voss “MEKO”

Blohm + Voss is a warship maker with experience going back a hundred years. They have a series they refer to as MEKO that includes a range of designs that have been built for several countries. These include six “MEKO 100” 98×14.3 design built for Malaysia and MEKO 200 series that includes 25 ships built for five different countries including CODAD as well as CODAG  versions. (More pictures here)
Blohm & Voss may be the most successful exporter of warships in the last 50 years.

 Hyundai (S. Korea)

Hyundai is primarily a commercial ship builder, but they might choose to offer a variant of their recently completed Inchon Class frigate (114×14).

STX (S. Korea)

File:HMNZS Wellington.JPG

STX (S. Korea, France Finland, Romania, Canada and US) is an extremely successful commercial ship builder with divisions all over the world. They have built cutters for the S. Korean Coast Guard and warships for France and Finland. The New Zealand Protector class (85×14) was designed by their Canadian division. It is unique in having an icebelt, but reportedly the ship turned out heavier than intended and the icebelt is lower than it should be.

Others

An outside chance is a design based on the Turkish Milgem (100×14.4).

File:TCG Heybeliada (F-511) -1.jpg

MILGEM Photo: Turkish Naval Forces

I’m still a fan of the Danish Thetis (112×14.4) although I don’t think it will be in the running. It is a  simple but roomy ship but the yard that built it is now out of business, so it has no advocate.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/da/HDMS_Vaedderen_%28F359%29.jpg

Photo: Thetis

Another way to approach the problem might be to consider the 327 or 378 as parent craft.

New Finnish and Norwegian OPVs powered by LNG

Finnish Border Guards are procuring an new class of Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV). It is fairly large at 96 meters long and 17 meters beam (315’x56′) and ice strengthened, but the most unique aspect of the design is that it is designed to use both conventional diesel and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) as fuel. Picture and more here.

The Norwegians are also planning duel fueled OPVs, three ships of the slightly smaller Barentshav Class.

Descriptions seem to indicate that while the Norwegian ships have separate engines for diesel and LNG, the engines on the Finnish ship apparently will be able to burn either diesel or LNG.

Not only is LNG more environmentally friendly, the US is well endowed with natural gas.

25 New Russian 650 ton Patrol Vessels

Photo: Alex (Florstein) Fedorov

The Russian Federal Security (FSB) Coast Guard (successor organization to the Maritime Boarder Troops of the KGB), has begun a program of 25 ships that they rate as “second rank patrol ships” (WMEC?). They are reportedly designed “for protection of Russian sea border in the Black Sea and would maintain security of Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi.”  They will replace ships built in the Soviet era.

Ships of the class are pictured here (broken link–Chuck) in the second, third, and forth photo. Below that are photos of an ice strengthened patrol vessel that appears to be based on an oil industry supply vessel.

Lead ship of the project, Rubin (501), laid down Sept 3, 2007, launched June 26, 2009, which was handed over to Black Sea/Azov Frontier Service Dept in Sept 2010 “has completely satisfied all expectations.”

“…in Oct 2011 unmanned helicopter system Horizon Air S-100 (this may be the Schiebel (Austria) S-100) that is also deployed on the French OPV L’Adroit–Chuck) designed for search, detection, and identification of small-size fast-speed sea targets at the distance of 150 km from the platform was effectively tested on board Rubin. Besides, ships of this project are equipped with automated control system, advanced navigation and comm equipment. Crew living conditions are unusually comfortable; there are sauna and swimming pool on board.

Full displacement of the Project 22460 patrol ship is about 650 tons, length is 62.5 meters (205′), beam is 11 meters (36′), draft is 3.8 meters (12.5′), full speed in quiet water is up to 30 knots, operating range is 3,500 miles, endurance is up to 30 days. Armament includes one 30-mm six-barreled gun mount AK-630 and two 12.7-mm machine guns. The crew is 20 men. The ship is equipped with stern inclined slip for rigid inflatable boat, a heliport for light helicopter like Ka-226(a helo a bit smaller than the H-65–Chuck) or UAV, and a quick-mounted folding hangar.

The second ship, Brilliant, and was laid down May 12, 2010, and the third, Zhemchug, is currently under construction. Construction on the remaining ships is expected to continue through 2020.

While these ships are reported to be only 650 tons full load, the dimensions are close to or exceed those of a 210 (210.5’x34’x10.5′) so I find it hard top believe they are not close to 1,000 tons full load.

The AK-630 gun is a real beast, a six barrel 30 mm similar to the GAU-8 Avenger, the gun on the A-10 tank killer aircraft, which is also used as part of the Dutch developed “Goalkeeper” CIWS. Close in, it could be very effective in an anti-surface role as well.