The Return of the Auxiliary Mothership

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When you look back there have been a number of notable examples of the auxiliary mothership, or perhaps more accurately, a useful conversion of a civilian vessel to carry out warlike tasks on a temporary or semi permanent basis.

We can argue about the definitions all day long but if you picture the MV Bunga Mas Lima or Atlantic Causeway you would not be far off.

TLDM BUNGA MAS LIMA Rehearsal

Now the US Department of Defense is getting on the action with something that seems to have passed the blogosphere by, although not Sol, who posted about it at the end of 2011, click here

Either way this bears watching

I would agree but I promptly forgot!

I was reminded of this by a few people recently, H/T Lee and Chuck and we had some great discussions, so interesting that I thought it would be worth writing a short post about it.

In November last year US DoD issued a contract notice, reproduced here in full

Maersk Line Ltd., Norfolk, Va., is being awarded a $73,677,038 firm-fixed-price contract for the time charter of one U.S.-flagged, twin-shaft vessel, which shall function as a maritime support vessel.  This contract includes four 12-month option periods, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $143,149,058.  Work will be performed at sea worldwide, and is expected to be completed November 2014.  If all options are exercised, work will continue through October 2018.  Working capital contract funds in the amount of $73,677,038 are obligated for fiscal 2014, and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was competitively procured with over 200 proposals solicited via a solicitation posted to the Military Sealift Command and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 13 offers received.  The Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00033-14-C-2015).

There are more details here and here but to summarise;

Military Sealift Command (MSC) requests a U.S. flagged vessel which shall function as a Maritime Support Vessel (MSV). The vessel shall serve host to fifty (50) Sponsor personnel with the ability to surge to an additional one hundred and fifty-seven (157) support personnel, for a total of two hundred and seven (207) Sponsor personnel, within twenty-four (24) hour notice.

The vessel shall support launch, recovery, refueling, and resupply of small crafts, provide organic force protection and perform stowing, transport, launch/recovery, re-fueling of manned and unmanned rotary wing aircraft.

The vessel shall provide equipment stowage, messing, berthing, administrative/operational space, maintenance space, emergency towing, and logistics services in support of operations. The Contractor shall independently operate all deck equipment to include the craft handling/launching systems.

Expanding on selected aspects of the requirements document;

C-3.1 Endurance. The vessel shall maintain sufficient stores onboard to support the crew and fifty (50) Sponsor personnel for a minimum of forty-five (45) days without resupply. Additionally, the vessel shall have sufficient storage capacity to support at-sea operations for the crew and two hundred (200) Sponsor personnel for a minimum of forty-five (45) days without resupply. At a minimum, the vessel shall be able to Fuel At Sea (FAS) using INSTREAM single probe procedures in accordance with Navy Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (NTTP) 4.01-4 (provided upon request) with standard Coalition /USNS logistics ships and be able to support VERTREP for stores and ammunition delivery as required, extending operations for up to forty-five (45) additional days if port visits are not operationally feasible.

C-3.1.2 Minimum Range. 8,000 nautical miles (NM)

C-3.2 Seakeeping/Docking and Station Keeping. The support vessel shall be able to maintain course and speed in storm conditions of 50 knot winds and/or seas of up to 20 foot significant wave height. Vessel must support small craft launch and recovery operations up to and including seas described in Attachment C-3. Alongside refueling operations with small craft shall be conducted in maximum sea conditions described in Attachment C-3. The vessel must be capable of anchoring in water depths for a vessel of its class and size. The vessel will be required to loiter for long periods of time as a re-supply station for small crafts. The vessel shall have the capability to maintain directional stability below two knots.

C-3.3 Minimum Transit Speed. 20 knots sustained for five (5) days (120 hours). The vessel must be able to transit at least 3,000 NM in up to sea state 5.

C-3.6.1 Conference Room. The Contractor shall furnish a dedicated and lockable planning conference room (SCIF capable, built to ICD 705 standards), with a lockable communications storage closet. All power shall include surge protection and automatic switching (ATS) to Un-interrupted Power Source (UPS) for backup

C-3.6.2 Communications/Server Room. The Contractor shall furnish a dedicated, humidity controlled and lockable communications room (SCIF capable, built to ICD 705 standards) with a separate, attached, lockable storage space for communications equipment

C-3.6.4 Workout Rooms. The Contractor shall provide a minimum of 2,600 sq. ft. for a workout room

C-3.6.5 Aircraft Maintenance Planning Space. The Contractor shall provide one room in close proximity to the aircraft hangar that can be used for aircraft maintenance planning. Space shall be sized to support ten (10) personnel

C-3.6.6 Aircraft Maintenance Work Space. The Contractor shall provide a room in close proximity and on the same level as the aircraft hangar that can be used for aircraft maintenance in accordance with NAVAIR 4.8.2.5

C-3.6.13Medical Space. The Contractor shall provide a medical space where the primary focus shall be support of a surged Surgical Response Team (SRT). The secondary focus shall be support of shipboard medical clinic operations run by an independent duty corpsman or civilian equivalent

C-3.8.1 Equipment Stowage. The Contractor shall provide space to accommodate twelve (12) – 20’L x 8.7’W x8’H containers and six (6) standard 108″L x 88″W ISU boxes with a minimum of 5′ wide walkways between container doors and around the craft. Access to all containers and ISU boxes shall be from the deck level or equivalent internal storage area. The Contractor shall provide power for each ISU and each container in the following circuit sizes and quantities: 110V, 60Hz, 10A and (3) 110V, 60 Hz, 20A

C-3.8.2 Ordnance and Weapons Storage. The Contractor shall provide ordnance and weapons storage equal to the size of twenty-two (22) GFE climate controlled Ready Service Lockers (RSLs), four (4) weapons armories and two (2) ISU 90 weapons cleaning facilities. The exterior dimensions of the RSL are 11’L x 9’W x9’H and 20’L x9’W x9’H. The RSLs shall be secured to the deck with sufficient restraint to accommodate all vessel motions; they must be watertight and protected against corrosion

C-3.11.2 Craft Launch/Recovery Systems. The Contractor shall provide the capability to simultaneously launch and recover four (4) craft up to 12.5m x 3m with a minimum draft of 2m. The launch and recovery system shall be capable of lifting and supporting 30,000 pounds per craft and shall meet the requirements of the ABS Guide for Certification of Lifting Appliances (latest revision), including the requirements for personnel lifting.

There are many more, covering communications, accommodation, FLIR systems, diver support facilities, maintenance spaces, weapon mounts, security cameras and a jet ski launch and recovery facility (no, honestly!)

All good stuff, but what caught our eye was the aviation requirement, apart from the requirement of the workout rooms to four 50″ TV’s!

The flight deck

C-3.14 Flight Deck. The Contractor shall provide helicopter facilities with the ability to simultaneously launch/recover two (2) MH-60 class or one (1) CH-53E class helicopter with clear, unobstructed vertical airspace. Helicopter facilities shall comply with the requirements of US Coast Guard Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular No. 9-81 for day and night landings with instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) for the following aircraft: MH6, AH6, MH47G, MH60K, MH60L, MH60M, UH60L, CH47 D-F, OH58D, AH64 A-D, MV/CV 22, HH60H, HH60J-T, SH60 B-F, MH60R, MH60S, and the MH53E.

The helicopter facilities shall meet the requirements of Aviation Attachment C-4 to achieve a NAVAIR Level I Class 2 certified facility (day and night IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) landing facilities with service but no maintenance facilities) for following aircraft: MH6, AH6, MH47G, MH60K, MH60L, MH60M, UH60L, CH47 D-F, OH58D, AH64 A-D, MV/CV 22, HH60H, HH60J-T, SH60 B-F, MH60R, MH60S, and the MH53E. A recovery assist, securing, and traversing system (RAST) is not required. The flight deck, aircraft parking areas, and hangar deck shall withstand the landing loads and parking loads associated with moderate and storm sea conditions (sea state 5) for all aircraft identified above.

The flight deck shall meet NAVAIR requirements for Level I, Class 4, Special Type 2 vertical replenishment operations (VERTREP) for the H-60 series, CH-53K, H-46, CH-47, and V-22 aircraft.

The Contractor shall provide adequate tie-down locations for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and all rotary wing aircraft shall be restrained in sea state 5. The flight deck must be reachable by material handling equipment in order to move equipment (5,000 lb pallet) to below deck storage areas. The Contractor shall provide all necessary yellow gear to move equipment and aircraft around the flight deck.

And the hangar

C-3.14.1 Hangar. The Contractor shall provide a hangar facility, capable of being NAVAIR certified, with easy access to the flight deck. Hangar shall be capable of housing two (2) MH-60 class helicopters with main rotor folded, refueling probe installed, and tail rotor unfolded in flyable condition (30’W x 75’L x 26’H), as well as 4 (15′ x 5′) air vehicles, GFE yellow gear, spare parts and space to conduct routine required maintenance. The hangar shall be of sufficient size to accommodate two (2) MH-60 class helicopters. The entire traverse cycle shall be accomplished without disturbing adjacent aircraft stowed and secured in the hangar. The following minimum hangar clearances are required: 12 inches of overhead clearance at the door and 18 inches within the hangar, 24 inches of horizontal side clearance on each side of the aircraft at the door and throughout the traverse cycle, and 27 inches of horizontal clearance all around the aircraft between the deck and a height of 6 ft 8 inches (18 inches above 6 ft 8 inches). The hangar shall be provided with continuous white and NVD overhead lighting. The hangar shall have mooring points for the MH-60 class helicopters, ground handling equipment (to include tow bar) to move aircraft to/from hangar and flight deck or flight deck elevator.

That’s a big flight deck and a pretty big hangar.

When I said the US was getting in on the action that would not be strictly true, I should have said, get back in the action.

This is the first time the US has contracted for a dedicated Maritime Support Vessel (MSV) but has used various vessels in the past in a similar role, especially for special forces support. The 220ft Edison Chouest C-Champion for example. The C-Champion cost the princely sum of $7m to convert and less than $10m per year to run. The feedback was reportedly very good and the C-Champion operated in the role for many years although the lack of aviation facilities was recognised as a shortcoming.

MV C Champion
MV C Champion

The MSV is not a warship, but then it is not meant to be, so the trade-offs in terms of protection and survivability seem entirely reasonable to me. A lot of capability for not a lot of money.

The UK has also dabbled with the concept, even excluding the amazing feats of 1982

The SD Victoria is often seen (or maybe not) with special boats aboard in the Worldwide Support Vessel role

SD VICTORIA on lease to the royal navy

We have also operated the RFA Bay class LSD(A)’s in the mother ship role, supporting the MCM force in the Middle East and elsewhere for example

Largs Bay LSD(A)
Largs Bay LSD(A)

An interesting concept any day of the week, especially given that the US has decided to increase the size, capacity and all round capability of the Maritime Support Vessel (MSV)

What makes it really interesting from a UK perspective is the vessel that Maersk won the contract with.

The MV Cragside, formerly of DFDS

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.dfdsgroup.com/Ournetwork/Fleet/Ro%20ro/CRAGSIDE/”]

Mmm, does that look familiar

Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft
Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft

Yep, its from the same design family as those operated in the UK’s Strategic RORO Service

Point Class Strategic RORO Hartland Point
Point Class Strategic RORO Hartland Point
Point Class Strategic RORO at Mare Harbour Falkland Islands 02
Point Class Strategic RORO at Mare Harbour Falkland Islands 02
[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.fsg-ship.de/18-1-RoRo.html”]

Instead of looking for cost savings by going small as many suggest, perhaps is the answer to the perennial problem of balancing the high end yet scarce capabilities with the numerous low end demands is to ‘go large’

Supersize me!

 

 

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Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

Very interesting. I covered similar ground (water?) in my Auxiliary Cruiser piece.

“These are some of the roles the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary perform in “peace-time”:

Humanitarian Assistance
Disaster Relief
Maritime Security
Aviation Support Ship
Forward Presence

Another role I wish to add to the list is Medical Diplomacy.

I believe these roles may be performed by a containership, suitably modified to become a modern version of the auxiliary cruiser.

The major difference between the old and new Auxiliary Cruiser concept is the where’s the old one was intended to boost fleet numbers in wartime, the new is intended to boost fleet numbers in so called peace time, performing the duties outlined above.”

http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/03/a-ship-for-all-seasons-or-the-return-of-the-auxiliary-cruiser/

Cheap to operate, long ranged, reasonably fast… ideal for the security/support missions.

Jules

Personally at the end of their normal lifespan I’d kinda like to see Albion and Bulwark in this role, rather than buy a new vessel, their big and will last a good while, as I think they were built better than Ocean?
I’d like to see the Bays bolstered to this end as I think they offer the one thing that Frigates and Destroyers can’t, namely versatility, Frigates and Destroyers should be built for one thing and one thing only and when it gets diluted you end up with a very confusing Naval force. Politicians seem unable to understand it anyhow! Anything with a Gun Turret is a Destroyer!)
A good cheap Ro- Ro, with a reasonable amount of Knots under the bonnet and a good flat deck space at the back allows you to pretty much do anything you want with it. Kind of confuses the boundry of what is or is not a Warship again but we need the utility of vessels like these as we can’t afford LHD’s/LHP’s as well as carriers, were back to looking at the multirole support vessel, I’d guess from my point of view (Only my point of view of course) but they are value for money and a way out of the lack of hulls crisis. Whats wrong with a ship that in peacetime can pretty much undertake any “peactime” role on it’s own by itself, and use it’s own storage capacity to extend it’s role as required, instead of having to take a fueller and a support ship too. A winner, we need some. If it can be done by turning points into something more then I’m all for it, it’s just the Greying between RFA and Navy, I find hard to get my head round, at what point do we say, it’s getting hot around here and drop the Red Ensign for the White one? Or even the Skull and Crossbones…

Red Trousers
Red Trousers

It’s a very good idea. RFA Wave Knight wasn’t in the news recently, but she hosted a USCG Anti-Drug team and helicopters that caught a big pile of cocaine in the Windies.

For certain standing patrol/presence tasks like the Windies, which are also prone to natural disasters, a roro ship like one of those green ones in the pictures above might be a much cheaper, better way of achieving national aims than sending a frigate which is never going to be that useful with a limited crew of non specialists. That is, unless the aim is for the frigate’ screw to have some fun in the sun and for yet another photo opportunity for the Navy PR people.

Repulse

As you can probably tell from my previous posts I’m a big fan of the Auxiliary MRV concept.

If I was making the decisions I would go for a class of 8 RFA vessels all on a single multi-role design to be built over the next 20 years to replace the current Forts, Albions and Bays. Have them with large flight decks, hangers, rear ramp, davits and space for a enforced RM company (2 overload). 2 fwd based, 2 with the RFTG, 2 Training / on stand by and 2 in reserve / refit.

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

I quite fancy the 8000 ton helicopter landing ship the Italians are building for the Algerians. As well as carrying helos & landing craft, it has a 76mm gun & Aster 15 missiles. So a multi role vessel handy in chasing pirates, disaster relief & fighty roles. Did dream of an RN version with 114 mm gun, Aster 30/Samson.

Jules

@Repulse
We want eight and we won’t wait!

Repulse

@Jules: Exactly! :)

An RFTG with two of these with and a CVF configured in “mixed air group” mode would be enough to carry a RM CDO with over loading.

Plus, given large \ strong enough landing pads, then could even operate a flight of F35Bs off them in VTOL mode for example.

Also, if the RN had these and a decent C3 \ MHPC platform then we could forget about arsing around with designing mission bays on Frigates.

Challenger
Challenger

@Repulse

Wouldn’t MARS SSS if it were fully developed and brought into service in decent numbers go quite a long way to fulfilling the requirement?

Perhaps then replace the Bays & Albion’s with a single amphibious class later on and end up with a 2 class (or broad class family) fleet?

martin

Given we already have the Point’s, Bays, Waves, Fort’s, Albion’s and soon Tides and MARS SSS do we really need any more large vessell’s to perform minor tasks. We barely have enough FF/DD to cover tasking and we will probably lose at least 5 more Frigates once T23 is replaced.

Well I don’t doubt the benefits of such vessels for Disaster relief and other minor missions can we spend our scarce defence budget on supplementing our vast overseas aid budget.

DFID seems set on spending the money on girls schools, women’s health care and the odd dictators jet so why should the MOD spend any money (even a single penny) on such vessels.

Using Amphib vessels in this role in peace time is a good use of resources but going out of our way and sacrificing war fighting capability for humanitarian assistance or even anti piracy would seem to be out of the MOD’s remit.

Repulse

@Challenger / Martin, should have been clearer, the MARS SSS would be the perfect basis for what I describe.

Problem is most people are still caught up on LHDs and LPDs designed for close to shore “large” scale amphibious operations. I see the future being OTH operations where operations will be primarily at an reinforced company level either for raiding or securing (not assaulting) ports or landing zones for helicopter assault or subsequent landing of heavy kit via Points etc.

Jules

Perfect vessel to have closer to shore to pick up an ailing F35/Merlin on it’s way back rather than 3 billions worth of carrier, I was thinking of MARRS SSS, what size would they need to be to fulfil the role, eight would indeed allow us to dump the BAYS/ALBIONS, more modern, less crewing, cost savings all round, lot more useful than a frigate or destroyer in all but the one vital scenario! It’s a question of getting the balance right with the money we have, that means only the two flat tops and as much fleet commonality as we can manage. I’d like to scuttle the Rivers and Clyde and replace them with six 90M OPV’s, with a Hanger for Wildcat, drip fed into the fleet in lulls in the building cycle, were getting the first three but I’d like to see three more.
Instead of buying more and more Frigates I’d like some SSK’s, something that can actually sink something, or do a long range land attack, I don’t think we need any more than ten T26 but they all have to be fitted with not for, then some, Batch 2 to replace the T45 when the time comes.
Back to the topic on hand, A ship that uses it’s flat deck as it’s major weapon, you can fit almost anything on old buckaroo!

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

@ John Hartley – a nice flag ship for a small navy but I don’t really see the need for Aster/EMPAR for any RN ships of a similar class; sea Castor would probably do,and be a lot cheaper, an important consideration for essentially a security/support vessel.

Now if you were talking about a mini Hyuaga/Darling mash up “Aviation Cruiser”…

Observer
Observer

Repulse, is OTH raiding practical? Think even the yanks are still working out the bugs on that one. Sure, you can conduct an airstrike with helicopters OTH and toss a small raid force in (and maybe even extract it), but for anything even remotely serious, you’ll need to cut down turn around time and increase the rate of ship to shore unloading, so you’ll have to get in close anyway.

My opinion on the issue is that a single trip by an LST beats 20 trips by a LCU, and remember, the old WWII LSTs were not made obsolete because they were deathtraps, they were made obsolete because they won the war. In the field, they were surprisingly tough.

Repulse

Like the MESHD concept, but would be happy not to have the full flight deck and to be honest I think the dock is a nice to have (compared with a ramp for off loading onto LCMs on the davits or lowered by crane and of course mexoflots). If they end up costing as much as a LPD / LHD then we’ll end up with too few.

Repulse

@Observer: No disagreement on LSTs but I see the discussion we are having here is really around replacement for the larger ships. I see OTH in UK terms would be for the initial wave securing “ports” and landing zones, and then the second wave coming in via helo if a big Falklands style op. A few LSTs would help with the initial assault though probably the LSL model would be relevant for follow up supplies until TD’s port gets get built or is cleared :)

Jules

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=endurance+160&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=wyLtUrmbKoSqhAfL1YGwCQ&ved=0CDAQsAQ&biw=1920&bih=984

I’m a big fan of this one, the Endurance 160 but…
It looks like an Aircraft carrier
But the type we want is more like this?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotterdam-class_amphibious_transport_dock

Hold on we’ve got three, so if we build five then tag on three to replace the originals, another winner but I bet we could get the endurance class for a lot less.
We don’t have to build em here as they are not core, fighty ships…

Simon

I thought I’d dwell on TD’s opening statement.

…or perhaps more accurately, a useful conversion of a civilian vessel to carry out warlike tasks on a temporary or semi permanent basis

Does this not simply ask: “what type of civilian vessel is most suitable for these tasks”?

Tankers?
Cargo ships?

I don’t think any are really. You end up needing a half-way house. Something that is neither civilian or military. This must almost be the definition of the RFA.

We have them. Bay.

Just add hangar, hospital and port-enhancement facilities as previously described by TD.

Basically I agree with Repulse except I’d want 12.

Perhaps we can include a toughened bow (or stern with podded propulsion in reverse) to allow them to beach and unload their vehicles directly?

Observer
Observer

Sorry Jules, that’s just an on paper design, to get one built would be a stretch without more demand. I’d keep with the Endurance 140 and convert it into an LST for real. Shouldn’t be hard, it already has the bow doors, ballast tanks and ramps. The biggest problem I would see is the underwater hull redesign. That is a major rework.

An LST that carries twin medium calibre guns, a 76mm main gun and twin missile launchers with a pair of deck launched Apaches is a seriously potent floating strongpoint. Most of the insides is really empty space though so you can convert it whichever way you want. Stores ship? Field hospital? HADR ship? All possible, all been done before.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers

… That is, unless the aim is for the frigate’ screw to have some fun in the sun…”

Note to self. Closely inspect the grammar and edit appropriately, even if the iThingy does offer auto-correct. Otherwise, it might appear that I dare to suggest that the Andrew have the equivalent of the Regimental bike. Not that mixed crews have not been a totally massive benefit and so on.

;)

Repulse

The only other thing I would consider is perhaps a strengthened hull for operating near the Artic / Antarctic.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom

A quick scan of the spec of this US vessel makes me think one thing, secure FOB for special forces operating in the Gulf and Africa.

We already have one of these in the form of the SD Victoria, which is remarkably well hidden, purely by not painting it grey, if it (or a similar version of it) was made an RN or RFA vessel how soon would someone decide that it could be used for other tasks or combined with another vessel type.

TED
TED

The way I see it these are excellent counter pirate/narcotics vessels. 2/4 wildcat and 2 of those nice new lifeboats. You can dispatch the lifeboats (could you launch them from a crane/yardarm/whatever its called?) they then roam around in a pair looking for offending vessels away from the mother ship. And to top it all of you have 2/4 Wildcat available to assist.

Now to make a really decent counter pirate/narcotic task force add in 2 OPVs or something a bit bigger maybe so they can hunt around possibly with their own aviation.

I think if you are looking at a mother ship you really need some children, so to speak, on it or acting alongside it. Lets stop using our destroyers and frigates as police boats and use maneuverable task forces.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom

OK their ‘office space’ requires 8, 50″ TV’s mounted together on the same wall, as well as a chart table and radar screens and in total there will be 100+ workstations etc this defiantly sounds like a SF ops room. The ratio of support personnel to other personnel is a big give away.

The more I read the spec the more it seems to be a SF specific vessel.

Also the entire crew is required to be SECRET cleared.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

Big fan of the Endurance class (as people are probably aware!) and I would love something similar for the RN (I envision a joint forward presence HADR/MCM support and security vessel) but as Simon pointed out we’re moving away from TD’s original question/suggestion of cheaply converting civilian ships for security/support missions.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@TED – I agree – a Mother-ship needs offspring, but the discussion about getting them needs to be in the context of bringing forward and re-thinking the C3/MHPC programme; in my view best achieved by keeping some our newest mine-hunters UK Based, and in a Squadron that is predominantly RNVR manned – but building some combination of presence and patrol vessels to replace the rest…ideally with one group operating from Gibraltar and covering the Atlantic (in co-operation with the vessels the FIDF will certainly need if the oil starts to flow)…and another based to work in the Gulf and off East Africa…

French lead now narrowed…

A slightly less gloomy Gloomy.

Mark
Mark

Bay class ships seems most useful in this role add to that lynx wildcat and add in a few ctruk Thor and jobs done.

WiseApe

Rugby going rather better now we’ve got some ex-League players on :-)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
Mark
Mark

Spoke to soon wiseape

TED
TED

@wise ape DOH! Commentators curse!

was is das “C3/MHPC”? Can someone link please

There is another alternative. How many little islands are there in the area?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

Oh bugger…

Inconsolably Gloomy!

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

Kalaat Beni-Abbes is the new Algerian San Giorgio. As we have only 6 T45, an extra pair of Aster equipped ships would be handy for the RN. After all, we had Sea Dart on the Invincibles (most of the time).

Jules

Endurance 160 may be a paper tiger but they’d have it built and delivered within 18 months within spec and within budget.
I’m liking Rotterdam more and more but euro ships cost more.
baaically a Bay with a hanger.
wonder if we could crowbar the dutch ones away? They were ready to sell not so long ago…

WiseApe

“Spoke to soon wiseape…@wise ape DOH! Commentators curse!” – Some of those Frenchies must have some Kiwi DNA in them. I’ve had to break out the Smirnoff Blue.

I like the look of those MESHD thingies; shame they’re not real.

Edit: Further to the above, fair play to the French it was a good game. I don’t follow Union that much – why were England players offloading the ball when in no immediate danger of being tackled?

Off topic, sorry.

Repulse

@TD: Understand exactly where you are coming from but the RN is probably in that middle ground where it’s too big to require unusual one offs and too small for them to spend the money on such things and not notice. Maximising scale, value and commonality is key for the RN – plus as you say we have the RFA so are in a different position to the USN.

Aussie Johnno
Aussie Johnno

New Zealand has a Request for Information (RFiI) out at the moment for a multi-purpose replacement of their Fleet Tanker. The press release sketch spec is as follows:

‘WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — A request for information (RfI) has been issued for a “Maritime Projection and Sustainment Capability” (MPSC) to replace the Royal New Zealand Navy’s fleet replenishment tanker, HMNZS Endeavour, with delivery required by 2018.
The International Maritime Organisation single-hull tanker compliance requirements meant the 453-foot tanker’s fuel load was reduced (during 2008-2009) from 7,500 tons to 5,500 tons, and there are obsolescence issues.
The RfI calls for carrying a minimum of 8,000 tons of ship fuel and a minimum of 1,700 tons of aviation fuel, the latter a quantum increase from Endeavour’s 150 tons of aircraft fuel, used for hot refueling of helicopters.
Subject to the necessary government approvals, the contract award is anticipated for the first quarter of 2015 with a delivery date of December 2017.
The RfI specifies operating an organic embarked helicopter up to and including the NH90 and SH-2G Seasprite, although it mentions operating a second helicopter and asks for a costed option to operate/refuel CH-47 Chinook-sized helicopters.
Also specified is the capability for lift on/lift off operations (up to and including 25 tons) to transfer embarked cargo and provision for upper deck stowage of embarked vehicles and a minimum of 12 shipping containers.
There is to be a minimum of 260 lane meters for vehicles and the MPSC also is required to operate two 65-ton landing craft.
Performance requirements include a minimum 8,000 nautical mile-range at 16 knots, with a top speed of 18 knots.
The RfI refers to a nominal ship’s company of 70, plus up to 50 passengers.
Expected to have a minimum service life of 25 years, the MPSC platform’s maximum fully laden design draft is not to exceed 26.2 feet and the ship should be able to operate (from December to March) in Antarctic waters as far south as the McMurdo Sounds.
Armament includes “an appropriate number” of manually laid 0.5-inch machine guns and/or space and weight for a close in weapon system such as Phalanx’.

A just about everything support vessel.

leesea
leesea

@Simon, MSC has had its feet nee ships in both camps since about 1950. While the CLF are “true” naval auxiliaries, the MPF were originally private charters, since bought, specialized sealift ships. The MSV does staddle the line. The lawyers say so long as the ship does not conduct offensive operations, its ok (don’t reply to me its them darn legal types~)

But as TD points out the MSV is cost effective and relatively quick, about a 200 day conversion period. That is AFTER the contract protest is decided for winner to proceed. Another key aspect is the funding and duration. MSC does NOT have to wait for Congress to fund/ok so long as SOCOM has the money. SOCOM has wanted a NSW transport ship for a LONG time. And if the ship does not work properly, it can be returned to owner at points during the charter. IOW no sunk or lost capital costs.

While the MEHSD and Endurance 160 are good designs, it would take a long time for them to get into service, AND are they not flat deck mini-carriers?

Note the size of the Cragiside ! No navy is going to be able to get that size ship for a little as charter hire will pay.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

From Jules second link above:

“The vessel’s design is based on a new RoFlex concept that features hoistable and fixed car decks with a powerful main engine.

When the hoistable car decks are not in use, the resultant free height can be utilised for the shipments of cargoes in double stacked containers.

In addition, the space below the car decks can be utilised to ship conventional ro-ro cargo.”

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

Looking around the ship-technology site and found this –

http://www.ship-technology.com/projects/rrs-discovery/rrs-discovery1.html

Suitable MHPC and SOF base candidate?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

It’s a Ro-Ro because the spaces therein (and the weatherdeck) are the most flexible in terms of what you can put in them.

It’s a civvy charter because it doesn’t look like a warship or auxiliary and that is its major plus point……..

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

I think the next time the DoD goes contracting they’ll be a bit more circumspect.

The WiBbler goes a bit OTT with its extrapolation of use as usual. Someone’s been reading a bit much Dale Brown.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

Obviously not an issue for the Cousins, but I’d say it was rather a conspicuous way to deploy “rough men, ready to do violence on (our) behalf”; a few ordinary looking containers on an ordinary looking MV…with a bit of discreet modification…seems to be rather more the thing.

As it goes, my family had a long-standing connexion with an assayer, refiner and bullion dealer; the payroll was delivered in the usual full-scale f**k-off armoured (looking) car complete with uniformed guards; the serious stuff was moved about in a clapped-out transit van…with an-extra large engine and strengthened suspension to cope with the armoured box in the back and the weight of the ballistic glass in the cab…with the two ex-Parachute Regiment NCOs behind it…in jeans and t-shirts.

I followed a link through to the article about a sea war with China which I found interesting…build more subs! build more subs!

GNB

Jules

It’s a good way of providing helicopter and general mothership utility at a very reasonable price, I like the points, are there any more available than the six we use, could we maybe raise it to ten with six always in use by the M.O.D?
They could replace frigates (Chasing Pirates) and to some extent even the need for bases in some scenario’s, and in slack times just haul cargo on a rotational basis, helping pay for themselves a bit. PFI? I suppose so or an extension thereof but with civvies types (Mostly) on-board they could greatly expand the Navy’s scope of operation for not a lot of outlay, both in monetary cost and the even more important manpower cost if we never actually buy em that is.
A ship that has it’s role defined by what it is actually carrying at the time and it’s biggest actual weapon is the vast space within it, frankly you could do anything with ships like these even minor/major warfighting (Arsenal Ship, or United/City if you prefer!) if you really wanted to but I know that is not within the scope here, it’s the space and the points have plenty but in order to make the best use of it we’ll have to get designing loads and loads, quite literally of containerised solutions to all the roles that they seen as fit to perform, they are good ships with massive range and capacity built strong too, brilliant adaptability, it’s just a question of how far we take the fantasy as regards to capability, how much do they actually cost?
I still like the idea of a Bay with a hanger though but again it’s not within the scope here but five of them to replace the exisiting and the Albions would be super too!

Challenger
Challenger

I’m coming at this quite simplistically I know, but if we accept that any kind of dedicated auxiliary mother-ship design just isn’t on the cards then the only real alternatives are to make sure MARS SSS has a decent spectrum of capabilities beyond their primary replenishment role and make sure whatever eventually replaces the Albions and Bays share similar attributes and most importantly get built with hangars!

Dare I suggest that an extra MARS SSS could be the best and only even vaguely realistic way of enhancing auxiliary mother-ship capabilities without spending large amounts of money on a new class of specialist vessels?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers

@GNB, re rough men, ready to do violence. Which when you boil down the defence budget, is what we taxpayers pay money for. That and an unreasonably F-off Big Bang, on demand.

There was a time that you could rely upon the Andrew to supply their own. Now, I’m not so sure. On the other hand, if you want an all-inclusive lesbo outreach coordinator, they might have a surfeit.

Jules

you’re probably right Challenger, How many MARS SSS are we meant to be getting eventually?
I’d like to squeeze two but Fantasy Fleet come in again!
I agree whatever replaces the Bays/Albion/Bulwark should be a common vessel but that could be twenty years away I guess??? Something with internal Hanger space and maybe even a lift, even that new little Algerian job has a lift!
Could we get Permanent/Semi Permanent Hangers on all five of these first?
Something better then the Tent jobbies but you could take it off if the role did not demand it?
As an aside every ones designing support ships, must sniff something even if it’s only bullshit!

http://navaltoday.com/2012/10/26/uk-rolls-royce-creates-dedicated-team-focused-on-naval-ship-design/

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom

Everyone is saying we can’t afford an auxiliary mothership, but we have one just scaled down, the SD Victoria, no idea it’s real capabilities, but it can launch small boats, and it happened to be sent to the FI in April 2012 so it must have some use, there is also very little information about it around except that it was a COTS design and it has a civilan crew.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

As you say @RT – that chap Blair was a thoughtful chap for an OE…

GNB

Challenger
Challenger

@Engineer Tom

I wasn’t familiar with the SD Victoria until you mentioned her, and fair play she looks and sounds like a useful ship….but for training in and around port and for small-scale activity, it’s hardly comparable to a Point or Bay!

@Jules

I believe the plan is still to replace the three remaining RFA Forts with three MARS SSS on a one to one basis, but it’s still a fair way off and not yet properly funded so it could easily become two.

I’d happily see however many MARS SSS we end up with with hangars and flight-decks for two or three medium helicopters, command/control facilities, davits/mission bay for small boats, accommodation for boarding teams and special forces, provisional space for medical facilities and lots of internal space!

I’m curious as to whether the basic design could replace Argus/Diligence as well and whether any progress has been made on that front.

Whatever replaces the Albions and Bays (and I think a singular compromised design could work) in 20 or more years time should keep all of the features that make their predecessors successful but have stuff like command/control facilities across the board and of course the hangars that are sorely lacking on current vessels.

I haven’t heard a great deal about it, but I’m guessing the dog kennel structure built on one of the Bays as a basic hangar can’t have been very successful otherwise we would surely see the sister ships and Albion/Bulwark getting something similar? Real hangars are presumably doable but would be a bit of a faff and more expensive.

Jules

Good pic in here that shows the difference in size between the Johan de
Witt and Rotterdam, paper figures don’t do justice.
These can hanger 4 Chinook?
http://www.infodefensa.com/wp-content/uploads/JCI_en_v2.pdf
More fantasy kit here:
http://www.epicos.com/WARoot/News/AmphibiousAssaultPowerProjection.pdf
OT…

leesea
leesea

TD as I said, David Axe is ripping you off, and in the process has inserted MANY errors and idiocies into the discussion. I cannot find an email for him, but would surely like to rebut that DUMB article.
BTW the protest has NOT been determined, and Maersk is the Owner in chartering terms and managing/ performing all the work whilst being paid by the Charterer i.e. US Navy MSC.

So the MSV will remain a privately owned vessel (nee privateer?~~ LOL)

Observer
Observer

leesea interesting to think of the ramifications of that. A civilian owned and flagged vessel conducting armed operations really does come close to the term piracy, and if sanctioned by a government, really becomes a privateer in truth, but the personnel manning the ship are military. So can what they do be considered piracy? Especially if you consider the really old style piracy where forts and settlements get attacked, what they would be doing would mimic pirate raids very closely. SOF pirates. Har har har.

leesea
leesea

Observer, the MSV will be crewed by CONMARs, contract mariners of Maersk. The “sponsor personnel” who are onboard are military. I will stick to my privateer line, even if the USN lawyers won’t like that~
The ship and crew are not technically conducting offensive ops just supporting.

CheshireCat
CheshireCat

Challenger

If we ignore the fact that the Royal Navy can’t correctly identify their own vessels (remedial ship recognition course for all RN PR bods I would suggest!), here’s a shot from yesterday’s RN website showing Cardigan Bay very much still using the temporary hangar.
I believe Largs Bay was sold to the RAN with one as well, and believe it or not a Mexefloat as well for good measure . . . perhaps we can by them back with their LHD’s are in service

CheshireCat
CheshireCat

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2014/February/04/140204-HMS-Westminster-escort-exercise

Challenger

If you ignore the fact that the RN can’t identify one of their own vessels properly (remedial ship recognition classes for all RN PR bods!), here’s a piece from yesterdays news page that shows Cardigan Bay (our very own model mothership) very much still using the temporary hangar. It’s worth noting that with Scan Eagle now in service, this hangar is even more in demand than when there was just a Lynx.

We also sold a temporary hangar to the RAN as part of the Largs Bay deal . . . and, wait for it, a mexefloat to boot!!

TD, out of interest where did you find the image of Mounts Bay with 4 Lynx onboard? Add a couple of CB90’s in the well dock and some of GNB’s ‘angry men’ and you have a pretty potent vessel for use in the littoral!

TED
TED

@Observer I would say priavteers if anything. But anyway they are more like guidelines!

I don’t think it nessecarily has to be civi or even covert. I think you need some OPVS for it to support along with 2-4 CB-90 or other fast and sea worthy craft and 2-4 Wildcat. Thats the way to fight these guys not with destroyers and frigates.

It would be like the fuzz trying to catch boy racers in a Battenburged HGV instead of a panda car. Plus you free up the HGV or in our case destroyers and frigates for escort operations.

CheshireCat
CheshireCat

Cheers for that TD

It’s clearly a relatively recent image, as Mounts Bay is sporting the very ‘elegant’ new exhaust arrangement through the middle of the deck!!

Interesting to see the ‘Falklands style’ use of ISO containers as a weather shield to the parked Lynxes making a comeback again too.

Challenger
Challenger

@CheshireCat

‘Add a couple of CB90′s in the well dock and some of GNB’s ‘angry men’ and you have a pretty potent vessel for use in the littoral!’

Couldn’t agree more! Such a shame we sold 1/4 of probably the most useful vessels in the naval service, Largs Bays running costs were practically nothing and she was flogged off cheap as well. It would have be far better to have leased her out for a fixed period so we could get her back when the RAN gets the Canberra class. Can’t see any hope of being to able to buy her back now, our politicians seemingly can’t admit mistakes and make reversals, unless it’s concerning an impossible situation and monumental screw up like the CVF/F35 u-turn!

Nice to see the temporary hangar still in use on Cardigan Bay though and you make a good point about it being even more useful now that Scan-Eagle is in service.

I guess if you position containers around the edge of the flight-deck Falklands style it will have some positive effect, bit too Heath Robinson in the long-run though!

CheshireCat
CheshireCat

Challenger

Don’t get me started on the whole Largs Bay give away, £10 million that’s all it was meant to save!!
Christ DFID spend more than that on make up for Justine Greening!

Whilst I’m not predisposed to optimism when it comes to matters defence in this country, the fact that 4 Lynx have been tested on a Bay, does give me some optimism that this sort of role has been envisioned and validated and if necessary could be used . . . of course if we had 4!!!!

leesea
leesea

Ted you got it right except the MSV is meant as a transport/support ship, and the US Naval Special Warfare Command has most of those items and THEN some~ (jet skis too?)

In my view OPVs are be definition larger specifically to lift and support small boats/USVs and maybe helos/UAVs (size of platform becomes an issue)

on the subject of NSW, I just saw the movie “Lone Survivor” Highly recommended, book is even better.

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[…] Falklands War, the Malaysian Navy has converted two container ships into pirate hunters, and the US Navy has leased ships to support special operations, but I think the last time they were used to attack commerce was […]

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[…] Falklands War, the Malaysian Navy has converted two container ships into pirate hunters, and the US Navy has leased ships to support special operations, but I think the last time they were used to attack commerce was […]

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