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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

OPV (OPC) for the Philippines

NavSea has issued an RFI for something that looks a lot like an Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), to be procured under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

“This Request for Information (RFI) N00024-11-R-2217 is being issued in anticipation of a potential future procurement program for the Republic of the Philippines. The Naval Sea Systems Command is conducting market research to determine the existence of a general purpose Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) …”

This is a bit old, having been issued on May 6, 2011 (only four days after the issuance of the draft OPC specifications) with a June 3, 1011 response deadline, but I only just stumbled across it here. The Philippines would like to have the ship assembled in country, but that is a question to be addressed by the contractors. If the program follows the pattern I have seen in other countries, the lead ship would be built here and the follow-ons in the Philippines. A multi-ship buy is expected, but the number is not specified and subject to change.

Considering that there is the possibility of extensive similarities to the Offshore Patrol Cutter program, you might assume this was discussed with the Coast Guard, but I have my doubts. After all, the Philippines might want to participate in the OPC program since a large order quantity is likely to drive down cost.

The specifications require “The vessel must be new construction, but derived from a proven hull design previously built by the contractor.” (That sounds like the ship yard would not be allowed to use a design previously built by a different contractor.) (revision: this was changed to: “The vessel must be new construction, but derived from a proven hull design.”)

The specifications are also remarkably specific, not only in performance, but also in dimensions.

  • a. Overall Length: At least 80 meters (NTE 10%)
  • b. Beam: At least 10.5 meters (NTE 10%)
  • c. Displacement (full load): At least 1,000 tons (NTE 10%)

If, as I suspect, the “(NTE 10%)” means “Not To Exceed” then it is also setting maximums, so:

  • length: 80 to 88 meters (262.4 to 288.64′)
  • beam: 10.5 to 11.55 (34.45 to 37.9′)
  • full load displacement: 1,000 to 1,100 tons

I have done an extensive literature search, and I cannot find an OPV 80 meters or longer, with a full load displacement <= 1,100 tons. The closest I got in terms of tonnage was the Israeli SA’AR 5 corvettes, not really an OPV, but the hull might be used:

  • 85.64 meters long
  • 11.88 meter beam (10.3 at the waterline)
  • 1,227 tons full load

By way of comparison the dimensions for the 270 and 210 are:

  • WMEC 270
  • 82.3 m long
  • 11.58 m beam
  • 1,780 tons

and

  • WMEC 210
  • 60.96 m
  • 10.36 m
  • 1,000 tons

Specifications include:

  • helo deck for a seven ton helicopter (but a hanger was not specified).
  • speed => 20 knots
  • Endurance of 3,500 miles at a cruise speed of at least 14 knots and storage for 30 days supplies.
  • Mixed crew accommodations for 75 including a flag officer, 14 other officers and three civilians.
  • “The ship will be equipped with two 11 meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RIBs) capable of being quickly launched from a stern ramp.” This sounds a lot like L’Adroit  (87 m x 11 m, 1,450 tons), and seems to be driven by a desire to use the ships for small scale amphibious operations–landing perhaps a platoon.
  • “Propulsion System shall be two main diesel engines with fixed pitch propellers.” This degree of specificity is hard to understand, considering the many alternatives available, particularly the advantages of variable pitch props.

The Combat Systems requirement are quite extensive for an OPV of this size including:

  • 76 mm gun
  • 25 mm gun.
  • “Surveillance and acquisition radar capable of 3D surveillance and acquisition radar that meet OPV requirements for combat surface and air defense search
  • “IFF ability to differentiate and friendly units from unknowns
  • “Radar fire control system to provide data to 76mm gun and 25mm gun systems trained at the same target
  • “Electro Optical Fire Control System for the 76mm and 25mm gun systems
  • “Electronic Support measures for the passive listening capability for selected radar laser and infrared warning devices and communications signals from land, air and sea with the OPV battle space
  • “Ship should have space available for the future growth for SAM (Surface to Air Missile), SSM (Surface to Surface Missile) and ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) as well as towed array sonar equipment”

The list of  “Interested Vendors”  includes:

Sure looks like they have something very specific in mind, particularly since they gave less than a month to make a response.

Canadian Icebreaker, Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship, Shipyard “Rationalization”

As we noted earlier the Canadians are embarking on a major ship building program. A lot is riding on the choice of two shipyards that will be responsible for virtually all the work.

Most interesting for Coast Guard readers is that they will be building a large icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard and six to eight “Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships” which can operate in the North West Passage in the Summer months in addition to serving as conventional offshore patrol vessels based on the Norwegian Coast Guard ship Svalbard (These ships are going to the Navy).  Background here, here, and here.

The selection has been made and the Irving Shipyard in Halifax, NS, will get the contract for 15 combat vessels and the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, worth a total of about C$25B. Seaspan Shipyard, in Vancouver, BC, will build non-combat vessels, valued at approximately C$8B, including those for the Coast Guard as well as oceanographic and fisheries research vessels.

(A note of thanks to Ken White for keeping me up to date on this and providing the illustrations below.)

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Icebreaker Envy

Ryan Erickson has published the Arctic SAR boundaries on the Naval Institute Blog. Looking at this chart got me thinking about ice capable ships. That of course lead to looking for similar information on Antarctica, so this is going to be a survey of What nations are interested in the Polar regions? and What do their ice capable fleets look like?

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Continue reading

Britain’s New Antarctic Patrol Vessel, HMS Protector

3rd Street Promenade
The British are using unconventional means to provide for their need for a patrol vessel capable of operating in ice including patrols in the vicinity of the Falklands and supporting their Antarctic survey stations. They are taking a three year lease on an existing Norwegian vessel that has been used to support the oil industry. Additional modifications are planned including boats and weapons.
“Completed in 2001 and displacing 4,985 tons, she can act as a polar research ship or subsea support vessel, and has 100 berths.”
HMS Protector is filling an unexpected gap in their capabilities after accidental flooding almost sank the previous ice patrol vessel HMS Endurance in December 2008.

Indian CG Building Ships, Buying Helos, Domain Awareness

There has been a lot of news about the Indian Coast Guard lately. India is rapidly its Coast Guard, spurred on by the experience of the Mumbai attack.
FOR MARITIME PATROL: ‘Vijit', an Offshore Patrol Vessel developed by Goa Shipyard Ltd. for the Coast Guard, will be commissioned on Saturday.

Yesterday they commissioned the Vijit (OPV31), a 310 ft Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), 1,800 tons, with 30 mm cannon, helo deck and hanger, and a maximum speed of 26 knots. This is the second ship of a class of three. The first ship of the class, ICGS Vishwast (OPV 30) was entered service March 17.
Another, larger vessel, the Sumitra (seen below), 2,300 tons, 76 mm and two 30 mm, helo deck and hanger was launched Dec 6. She is the forth ship of her class.
There are indications the Indians will soon contract for another six OPVs. So currently the Indian Coast Guard has 18 Offshore Patrol Vessels, they have two under construction, and the apparent intent to add six more. The oldest entered service in December 1983. In addition they are building three 3,300 ton polloution  control vessels, and the Indian Navy has six ships specifically designed to patrol the EEZ that are half sisters of one of the Coast Guard classes.
The size of India’s patrol force compares favorably with our own. Conservatively assuming 20 ships, dividing India’s EEZ 2,305,143 sq km by 20 OPVs the ratio is 115, 257 sq km/OPV compared to the ratio for the US (12,174,629 sq km EEZ/43 OPVs) of 283,181 sq km/OPV.
They have also issued Requests for Information (RFI) as a step toward procurement of 16 six point five ton, max take off weight (MTOW) helicopters for shipboard use and 14 twelve ton MTOW helicopters for use from both shore and ships. “The RFIs require the (sic) both types of helicopters to have hard points for gun mounts that can take both 7.62mm and 12.7mm guns. It also wants the shore-based helicopters to be able to integrate 20/30mm cannons.”
They have also recently awarded a $16M contract to SAAB to supply a coastal surveillance system for the entire 7400-kilometer long Indian coast. Its not clear what they are getting for this, but it is part of a general improvement of their domain awareness and coordination between agencies.