X-Bow and X-Stern, Looks Like a Buoy Tender to me

Take a look at this new vessel intended to support the offshore wind energy industry. For some reason this X-Bow/X-Stern configuration says “Buoytender” to me. I know the 225 WLB replacements are still a long way off, but it might be worth considering when the time comes. Like buoy tenders this type of vessel must hold position precisely and minimum pitching and vertical movement is desirable

More information on the specific ship from the Ulstein website.

PRINCIPAL DIMENSIONS

Length: 88 m (289 ft)
Beam: 18 m (59 ft)
Dead weight: 3490 tonnes
Draught (max): 6.4 m (21 ft)
Speed (max): 13.9 kn
Accommodation: 60 POB
Deck area: 380 sqm (4090 sq ft)

 

“ENHANCING EXISTING FORCE STRUCTURE BY OPTIMIZING MARITIME SERVICE SPECIALIZATION”–CIMSEC

Fourth HC-144A delivered

Photo: The Government of Mexico purchased four CN235-300M aircraft (similar to the Coast Guard’s HC-144A). Oct. 1, 2010, the Foreign Military Sales program awarded a $157.9 million contract to EADS North America to produce these aircraft. The fourth and final delivery took place May 2, 2012, at EADS’ facility in Seville, Spain. Photo courtesy of Airbus Military.

CIMSEC has an interesting post that postulates a greatly expanded leadership role for the Coast Guard. In many ways it is radical, but I think it may be the way we are headed.

It suggests an enlarged role in international maritime policing and Foreign Military Sales. That probably implies intelligence collection and distribution.

“Under the umbrella of muscular law enforcement, the Coast Guard would manage not only patrols of the American coast, but also patrols off South America and Africa as well.”

That may already be close to reality in the SouthCom AOR.

The author describes a standard “frigate” that could very well be the Offshore Patrol Cutter:

“The principal requirements would be low cost, ease of maintenance, and margins for growth. The basic warship would have a simple power plant, enough systems to operate as a minimalist patrol ship, and substantial space and weight left available for additions.”

“Built cheaply and in large numbers, flotillas of these semi-modular ships would patrol for pirates off Africa, drug smugglers in the Gulf of Mexico, or vessels in distress off North America.”

He also sees a role for these ships in Amphibious Assaults.

“…the amphibious train would be escorted by frigates (based on the common hull introduced above) specialized with the maximum number of naval guns possible. With these frigates, the amphibious force would be able to defeat enemy forces in waters too constricted for the blue-water warships to operate effectively.”

We have seen a growing Coast Guard role in Foreign Military Sales with the delivery of hundreds of boats to dozens of nations, new 87 foot patrol boats going to Yemen, and maritime patrol aircraft going to Mexico. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to see OPCs or Webber class WPCs being sold to our allies and friends, possibly funded in whole or in part by US Foreign Military Assistance.

There may be minor issues with his vision. I might argue that in accordance with the post’s logic, force protection should be under Coast Guard management, but generally his views are sound. It is surprising to see so much of a post by a former E-2C/D Hawkeye Naval Flight Officer devoted to the Coast Guard. The whole post is worth a read.

Three New Ships for Norwegian Coast Guard

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KV Nordkapp, lead ship of a class of three which will be replaced. Photo by Marcusroos

The Barents Observer reports Norway is ordering three new icebreaking cutters for the Norwegian Coast Guard which will replace the Nordkap class.

I note the Nordkapp class looks like they could have been a contender for the OPC contract–3.200 tons, 345 ft (105 meters) long, ice strengthened, helo deck and hangar, 22 knots, 57mm gun, plus hull mounted sonar and provision for adding Penguin ASCMs and ASW torpedoes. The new ships may end up looking a lot like the OPC.

Could This Be the Start of Something Big?

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We got word today of an interesting development in the Senate from frequent contributor Tups.

“Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) introduced the Icebreaker Recapitalization Act. The bill would authorize the U.S. Navy to construct up to 6 heavy icebreakers. The new icebreakers would be designed and operated by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is the sole service responsible for icebreaking missions.”

Here is the announcement of the bill.

The actual bill is here (pdf).

I note few things about how this bill and how it was written.

  • First it is a long way from funding a new icebreaker fleet.
  • Second funding through the Navy, while perhaps easier, will not help pump up the Coast Guard’s ship building budget so that adequate funding is seen as normal and expected.
  • Clearly they expect the ships to be built in Washington State.
  • The bill authorizes multiyear funding, but the program does not seem to meet the requirements of multi-year funding.
  • It only talks about up to six heavy icebreakers while the High Latitude Study also talks about medium icebreakers. In fact the most frequently sighted requirement is for three heavy and three medium icebreakers. This may be a ploy to insure that all the work goes to Washington, rather than being split between Washington and the Gulf Coast.
  • Even so, there is a requirement in the High Latitude study for six heavy and four medium icebreakers, under some circumstances. Series production of six heavy icebreakers might bring down the unit cost.

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.

7th FRC, Charles Davis, Jr., Delivered

gCaptain is reporting the delivery of the seventh Webber Class FRC, Charles Davis, Jr., WPC-1107.

“On the night of February 3, 1943, the U.S. Army transport USS DORCHESTER was torpedoed by a U-Boat off the coast of Greenland in the North Atlantic.    The CGC COMANCHE was on the scene and its crew desperately searched for survivors in the frigid waters.  David fearlessly volunteered to leave the safe haven of the COMANCHE to dive overboard to help rescue the DORCHESTER’s crew.  As other crewmen also volunteered to dive in, 93 survivors were rescued out of the freezing waters.

“After the last of the survivors were safely aboard, David began to climb the cargo net to the ship’s deck.  One of David’s shipmates, Richard Swanson, was having trouble climbing the net due to his freezing limbs.  David descended the net with the help of another crewman and pulled Swanson to the deck out of harm’s way.  Tragically, David died a few days later from pneumonia.”