RN’s Littoral Gap?

A guest post by Repulse…

I’ve just finished reading the excellent “Night Action” by Captain Peter Dickens which tells the story of his experiences in WWII as a MBT Flotilla commander. In my view it is a good example of the challenges faced in both developing the right equipment and establishing effective tactics in what was a crucial arena of the war.

In the pre-war period the Admiralty had neglected this area and had focused funds on larger ships, in the mistaken thought that a light craft capability could be easily rebuilt in an emergency. The reality was that it took 3 years, half way through the war, to get to the position where the RN could effectively compete in this area with equipment such as the Fairmile D “Dog Boat” MGBs.

A brief look at sea depths around the world show that the key areas of conflict (Persian Gulf, Mediterranean, South China Sea and even the Baltic Sea) partially, if not completely, fall into the shallow water (Littoral zone) category. Additionally, recent “incursions” from our Russian friends off the coast of Scotland / grand standing in the English Channel and by the Spanish in the waters off Gibraltar, demonstrate that this area is not just about global power projection.

With the SDSR coming up, and the focus once more on large units which are optimised for deep sea operations such as the Global Combat Ship, is history repeating itself?

With the expected output from the MHPC programme and modular MCM (instead of specialist small ships), it seems likely that deep water navy frontline requirement for the RN will result in a fleet of approximately 30 vessels, being made up of a mixture of T45s, T26s, OPVs and specialist hydrographic/ice patrol ships. But what are the plans for the shallow water fleet?

There have been many discussions on whether the RMs will get the CB90 to replace the slow LCVP Mk5, but this has gone very quiet recently. Also, with recent engine refits to the P2000s it seems that the RN is content keeping the current small fleet staying as is. But is this enough?

For a bit of New Year fun, whilst we work up to and recover from our hangovers, I would like to pose the following question – “Should the RN be looking at a new class of light craft? If so, what are the key requirements?”

Some food for thought…

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Aerosonde

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Hydroid REMUS 600 MCM Recce UUV Launch and Recovery systems model

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[/tab] [tab title=”Naval Gunfire Support”]

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Observer
Observer
December 31, 2014 10:49 am

Repulse, personally, I don’t think so. Anything a “littoral” ship can hit can also be handled by larger ships. Or by onboard helos. Your target may be in “littoral” waters, but your 127mm round doesn’t care. The only time there may be a tactical/strategic point for smaller ships would be in an environment with lots of islets where people can use them to harass larger ships. The reality is that the budget is what drives the move to smaller ships. Coastal patrol ships are built because people don’t see the need to build bigger ships to cross oceans when all they want is to protect the local area.

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges
December 31, 2014 10:50 am

Having just swotted up the USN Littoral ship programme three things jump off the page

1. They are extremely well armed for a multi-role purpose and carry a Hawk sized helicopter which out compares the current RN OPV programme.
2. Much of their equipment and armament is made by British companies!
3. Costs are reasonable against the estimates from those same British Companies who would presumably want to build them!

Isn’t it time politicians realised that “home made” isn’t necessarily best or cheapest and got the taxpayer some decent “sea boots on the ground” for the RN and it’s ever increasing workload?

Hohum
Hohum
December 31, 2014 11:02 am

There are two types of Littoral operations, defensive home based littoral and offensive expeditionary littoral. The RN got out of the former in 1957 with the abolition of the Coastal Forces and rightly so, all it’s immediate neighbours were friendly. The second type is much harder to do but has been undertaken by the RN using frigates, MCM craft and rotary wing platforms (notably the Lynx). The US took the gold-plated approach and built a self-deploying dedicated littoral combat vessel designed to go into other peoples littorals and clear them ahead of amphibious forces- they now regret doing that as they are left with a single role vessel that costs as much as a frigate and are thus trying to replace it in production with erm… a frigate.

Type 26 with its large mission bay is actually a very good start, if that bay (and the associated CMS systems) can be configured to act as a surrogate for various small (possibly unmanned) craft such as MCM assets and special forces boats it will be a very powerful stand-off go anywhere littoral weapon- not to mention the fire support from it’s 5″ gun.

Skjold’s are great for defending Norway against Russian naval operations, but not very much else.

Hohum
Hohum
December 31, 2014 11:07 am

Observer,

Not really, there are many reasons for building small ships for littoral operations, in fact historically very large navies have lead the way. Look at China now, its FAC craft provided defence in depth behind a growing blue water fleet (not dissimilar to the Norwegians), the Soviet Union built numerous fast attack craft right up to its demise due to the tight nature of some of the seas it operated in and the proximity of some of its naval opponents- Russia and Germany are still doing this today. The RN doesn’t need a home based small ship littoral fleet because it is an island in a large sea surrounded by friendly neighbours.

Chris
Chris
December 31, 2014 11:08 am

I must admit I assumed the idea for these small craft was home waters (unless something like LPD was going to carry them over rough oceans to other shores), in which case there may be utility – if for example you could get a dozen littoral craft for the price of one frigate, I would suggest there might be better coastal protection from pairs of these at ports around the coast than from one ‘proper’ ship that might be 800 miles away when its needed? If the idea was to return to basic fast MTB or MGB rather than the pocket patrol vessel that you would now expect, the cost differential should be much greater. As for crew numbers, I understand many floaty gin-palaces hum between the Hamble and France and back with only one person aboard who can drive – suggests small boats might do fine with crews of 10 or less?

Hohum
Hohum
December 31, 2014 11:45 am

Repulse,

Too large they are not, too few most certainly, but in that case you need to go and find a big pile of cash- good luck with that. Fortunately, filling out the mission bays should not be that expensive and the idea is T26 would not have to get that close to shore, it would act as a mothership for small vessels deployed much closer to shore.

Chris,

Excellent, that will complicate the ongoing planning for operation Sealion by those dastardly Nazis!

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 31, 2014 12:09 pm

I did not put my specs on and saw 4 CB90 raiding/patrol/insertation boats and 2 Haminas to protect them and the LCPs/LCUs later on…

The transport vessel obviously would have to be commandeered at times, but ” the payload” would come for abt £300m?
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2331923/Dockwise-Yacht-Express-Yacht-shipping-rise-mega-rich-boat-owners.html
– how much were the new OPVs a piece again?
– LCSs may be self deploying but their persistance is not great… And you would get less than one

Observer
Observer
December 31, 2014 12:15 pm

Exactly Repulse. Homeland Security. Not expeditionary. Which was my point in that they are used because the requirements were modest and there was no need to get something bigger and more expensive.

Once you get into blue water territory, you got a lot more and better options that come with the need to upsize.

Hohum, like I said, terrain for Russia’s case. China is a bit unique, they got enough of those damn Houbeis to make them a huge problem. That is a case of quantity having a quality of its’ own. But still used in local defence.

mike
mike
December 31, 2014 12:27 pm

well, would you sacrifice a T26 for a couple of LCS’s?

Not sure, but you do touch on the fact we dont really have littoral type vessles, only fast raiders and light riverine boats.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 31, 2014 12:32 pm

Got my cost estimate well inflated, looks like the nxt-gen CB90s come for well under £3m
http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=680

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 31, 2014 1:03 pm

I would argue against the basic premise that likely areas of conflict are littoral. The Med is littoral in the STROG and contains a lot of littoral areas around the islands in the East but apart from those 2 areas it has 2 choke points both controlled by friendly nations. It can get extremely rough in the med and small littoral craft would be limited as to where they could operate.
The Persian Gulf has a choke point and shallow water in the North but other than that is again hardly littoral. The Baltic is an area where naval forces do not want to get overly involved and the South China Sea is definitely not in our remit.
Also your use of the phrase “deep sea” suggest that FFs will stay tens of miles offshore when they will quite happily operate right up to and with a good navs inside the 10M contour. Conflicts in the Gulf have proven the effectiveness of the organic helo/missile combo vs small craft and FASGW(L)/(H) combined with greater organic sensor capability will increase this capability.
So in summary we do not need them to defend the UK and the limited areas we would use such a craft do not justify the development and purchase of something as complex as a US Cyclone class.
The CB90 is unlikely to replace the LCVP MK5 (which can do 25kts) as the LCVP allows an entire company to go in 1 wave with the 4 LCVPs from an LPD or light vehicles to be carried.
I would however like to see something like a CB90 investigated and possibly purchased in smallish number for RM to use in support of ops in areas where they may prove useful. maybe only 8 or so but something like a CB90 with an upgraded LOS Missile would be good.

Observer
Observer
December 31, 2014 1:17 pm

APATS has said in better terms what I meant to say, that the big ship/helo combo can do what an “LCS” is meant to do. Personally, I find that the term “Littoral Combat Ship” is simply marketing. It would have been just as well served with the moniker “Light Frigate” or “High Speed Frigate”, but it seems like new names are a must to get budget approval in the US.

“Littoral Combat Ships”? You mean “gunboats”? :)

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
December 31, 2014 1:27 pm

As you know, I am not tremendously nautical, but I was impressed by the Swedish Visby that came across to DSEI. Not only that, it had a small well deck that looked sizeable enough for a 10 metre long craft. The US Coast Guards have boats called High Endurance Cutters that have provision for two large ocean capable RHIBs.

Some form of combo of mothership deploying RHIBs and a back deck for a visiting helicopter to use might be good, without the cost of a full on frigate?

Alternatively, go large with a hotel ship with a well deck capable of accommodating hundreds of Marines and dozens of covered craft which could be autonomous for 24-48 hours?

Mickp
Mickp
December 31, 2014 1:46 pm

I agree with APATS on this one. CB90 type vessels for the RM for enhanced force protection work ( isn’t there a budget for that anyway?) and the ability to deploy a handful as needed. P2000 sufficient for routine inshore patrol until they are due for replacement although I could see more being taken away from University work and doing more regular patrol stuff. I think the debate is really around the right mix of ocean going vessels for EEZ and expeditionary work, ie in the 90m OPV to T26 arena rather than strictly littoral vessels. That’s all about DPAs and budget

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 31, 2014 1:48 pm

@RT

The well deck on the Visby is for a TAS and VDS. The US National Security Cutters can indeed deploy 2 Long range Interceptors but the NSC themselves are costing close to £500 million each.
I would like to see the Pacific 24s upgraded to these on T26 though.
http://shockmitigationdirectory.com/inner-category/1/1/311/

3 tonnes 200 miles at 40kts fore and aft weapon stations capable of taking 50 cal or grenade launchers.

Kent
Kent
December 31, 2014 1:53 pm

Destroyers closed to within 500 yards of the beaches to provide direct/indirect gunfire support with some of the targets located by Eyeball Mark 1 since many units had their radios lost/damaged/destroyed in the landing.

Gleaves-class US destroyer
General characteristics
Class & type: Destroyer
Displacement: 1,630 tons
Length: 348 ft 3 in (106.15 m)
Beam: 36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
Draft: 13 ft 2 in (4.01 m)
Propulsion: 50,000 shp (37,000 kW) (37 MW);
4 boilers;
2 propellers
Speed: 37.4 knots (69 km/h)
Range: 6,500 nautical miles at 12 kt
(12,000 km at 22 km/h)
Complement: 16 officers, 260 enlisted
Armament: 4 to 5 × 5 in/38 cal guns
10 × 21 in torpedo tubes
2 × depth charge racks

http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/destroyersatnormandy.htm

Kent
Kent
December 31, 2014 2:20 pm

@APATS – “So in summary we do not need them to defend the UK and the limited areas we would use such a craft do not justify the development and purchase of something as complex as a US Cyclone class.”

Cyclones are not that complex. Personally, I’d like to see a bigger gun forward (40-57mm).

“Bollinger Shipyards proposed a development of the Vosper Thornycroft Province-class fast patrol boat built for Oman and Kenya, and this was selected by the US Navy.[4]” – from Wiki

Observer
Observer
December 31, 2014 2:30 pm

APATS won’t mind some cover for the crew too. :)

Not from fire but from the damn rain and sun. Rain in open ocean is no joke and you can very easily get sunburned with no cover. I’m sure you’ve experienced it before.

RT, that seems to be the development path for our next generation of patrol vessels, we’re trading in 12 gunboats for 8x 1,200 ton ships with a very modest loadout. Literally a piracy patrol vessel. From what tidbits they dropped, we’re looking at 2 RHIBs and a helipad with no hanger. And lots of guns. 1x 76mm, 2x 25mm, 2x 0.5. What I’m very curious about are the USVs. There were the Protector USVs in service, then dead silence, which means either it died a quiet death, which I doubt as they still trot them out for displays, or they’re “up to something” and buried it deep.

monkey
monkey
December 31, 2014 2:41 pm

With regards to the USN Cyclone’s 10 of the 13 they have are deployed in the Persian Gulf as their 8′ draft allows them full freedom of movement when embarking and supporting the Navy SEAL’s and they are used otherwise much as coastguard cutters for small vessel inspections . Having 10 on hand gives the local flotilla commander the ability to have multiple boats on patrol 24/7 whilst having a spare or two available for ‘ special ‘ missions with the SEAL’s attached to the 5th Fleet. The hulls are however beyond their design life of 15 years (they are over 20 years old) and are due for replacement , perhaps we could tag an order on for a half dozen or so if the USN do build replacements ? Probably not

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 31, 2014 2:46 pm

@ Kent

Cyclone class may not be complex compared to a Frigate but for what we would need them and use them for they are complex. They are ships and of a size that would see us have to meet a lot of design and safety requirements. Also you would be in the situation where you had to have certain qualifications in place for certain key personnel and that costs training and money. they are complex enough to also have a number of support engineering staff. That is what i meant by complex.

@ Observer

I was not suggesting using them for routine 200 mile trips, merely that their increased size comes with increased range and options. They would fulfil the role as ships rhibs with increased capabilities. Though perhaps some form of detachable shelter could be developed for long range transits.

The Other Chris
December 31, 2014 3:30 pm

The 950’s are very nice, had the pleasure of being bounced around in one with tight turns in a balmy Sea State 2.

There was some discussion onboard about the 24’s being packable internally into a wet belly Chinook, which was countered by the 950’s ability to be picked up externally (and on the move), as per the 24’s.

Rather than a Littoral Combat Vessel though, I do see a gap forming with the Archer-class being used recently to tour the Baltic. Those are tough boats, but accommodation is lacking for such a comparatively long tour. I also don’t think they were “fitted with” the manually aimed 20mm’s that they are “fitted for”.

If we’re looking to leverage our PBR Squadrons in this way, the class could be ripe for replacement. Without researching, something like the new USN 85′ Mk VI’s maybe? USN are ordering 48 ish.

Am considering range, accommodation and stores rather than the likes of a remotely operated / stabilised 25mm (though as we’re soon to be placing orders for them a few extra DS30M’s wouldn’t go amiss for at least Clyde/Gibraltar Force Protection…).

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 31, 2014 3:36 pm

@TOC

The 2012 URNU Baltic deployment was a standard summer deployment that they do with students every year. It was simply more ambitious and better planned due to a couple of keen Commanding Officers. Of course they were not fitted with 20MMs they were on an URNU deployment with students onboard.
They also very very rarely spend a night at sea and the accommodation below is for students primarily whilst the Ships Company other than one on duty stay ashore in hotels. So no gap.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 31, 2014 3:47 pm

I can see certain niche roles for FACs and they’re certainly applicable to certain niche roles and lend themselves to certain types of coastal geography. However, advances in technology mean that they have become very vulnerable in most circumstances (look at how RN Lynx with Sea Skua rapidly destroyed the Iraqi’s in 1991) and their coastal defence surveillance/attack role can be accomplished by other systems such as long range SSMs, flying via waypoints, which can be cued by remote sensors and launched off the back of a very innocuous looking truck.

The Other Chris
December 31, 2014 3:55 pm

Hadn’t realised they are standard URNU training tours with the amount of press they’re getting.

With more accommodation space onboard maybe new vessels would pay for themselves in hotel bills? ;)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
December 31, 2014 4:13 pm

Do we need a dedicated littoral vessel, or should we equip the RM/Navy with CB90 type vessels to carry out the littoral role?

Phil
December 31, 2014 4:58 pm

We don’t need much to defend our littoral and as others have said the expense needed to build a littoral vessel for outside of the North Sea / Western Approaches means you may as well build a frigate and be done with it.

The P2000s pottering around seem plenty enough (and the RN is giving them a proper CO or whatever you call them in addition to the URNU CO) along with the MCM fleet (which can operate with an over-watch I imagine).

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 31, 2014 6:05 pm

They would be 55M ships with everything that entails, as opposed to a CB90 or equivelant. The Navies that use similar vessels have a requirement for them. We do not have a sufficient requirement to justify the extra expense and complications on top of something like CB90 if we even need that.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 31, 2014 6:33 pm

Why would 28 Lynxes be a problem?
– when ASW will be the main function,some will be replaced by Merlins
– when land attack is the primary task, there is an additional number of light gunship ( a version of lynx kept fairly under the wraps)Lynxes

IXION
December 31, 2014 7:07 pm

I really don’t see the need.

As warships useless.

As patrol vessels well they would work in enclosed ‘brownwater’ situations which does cover most of our coast but what do they really bring to the party?

Bouncing around in a choppy north sea or the western approaches doing what?

They are too small to be stable gun or radar platforms particularly in our coastal waters. No sure they add anything to surveillance capability.

CB90 etc seem to be doing all that’s asked…

If we go bigger up towards 150 ft then we start to get something we might be able to use in the gulf or our coast with some persistence.

No convinced.

Observer
Observer
December 31, 2014 8:00 pm

You guys talk about a “littoral” vessel and the CB-90 like they were two different things. If you used the CB-90 for coastal work, it would become your “Littoral Combat Ship”. It’s just a matter of naming.

Apart from that, what can a ship for the littorals do that your frigates and destroyers can’t already do? Kill boghammers? Your main gun can reach all the way into shallows to turn them into kindling, or your Harpoons (if installed) or your helicopter.

Marine landing? The Type-45 can do that, same with SF.

Not to mention the area around the UK is fairly safe, and while the area around Gibraltar is a little more feisty, it is more a police issue than a military one.

Chuck Hill
December 31, 2014 10:45 pm
familr
familr
January 1, 2015 3:48 am

The CB-90 is glorified RHIB. You need something larger to house modern surveillance equipment, UAVs and weapons.

Observer
Observer
January 1, 2015 9:42 am

Repulse, is there a role for a ship in the middle of that range or are we just getting it for the sake of making the collection look good? If the 90m+ ship can handle the MCM role, then there really is no point in getting another ship class for the sake of display now, is there?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 1, 2015 10:46 am

@ familr
Try to put this one on a RHIB?

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&ei=QCOlVIH1GIXqaKWagsgM&url=http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DLqsxrNexjkY&ved=0CCIQtwIwAQ&usg=AFQjCNGvmuD3oNleHAGklxfb8GtL260rTQ&sig2=oLEYeicY6Y2Ko5N1ose6NQ

Actually,they could not as the platform was not stable enough for sustained rate of fire. USMC still gets their mortars over the beach line first and start to fire then.

So-oo, this one would do the job ( fits into the gap so nicely put by Repulse):
Sweden – Combat Boat 2010 M prototype procurement

The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration intended to procure a prototype for a new combat boat, denominated CB 2010 M.

CB 2010 M was complementary to existing combat boats within the amphibious battalion and would have been used as a carrier for seaborne mortar systems.

It was designed for the Swedish national defence as well as participation in FN-missions worldwide. CB 2010 M was to be fitted with armour, protecting the eight soldier crew against small calibre fire arms and fragments. The interior and the crew were also protected from NBC agents. The vessel was to be furnished with a remotely operated stabilized weapon and sensor station (electro-optical sight/.50 calibre MG) and would have also been prepared for a detection, warning and counter measure system.

Preliminary main particulars:

LOA 24.1 m
LWL 20.7 m
Beam 5.24 m
Draught 1.17 (fully loaded)
Displacement 56 tons (fully loaded)
Speed 37 knots (fully loaded)
Propulsion system 2 x high speed diesel engine/water jet
Installed power 2.65 MW (approx)

Rocket Banana
January 1, 2015 11:18 am

Can we not fit a CT40 on a small fast interceptor?

It would be rather nice to utilise something we’re already spending money on developing.

Lastly, do we have anything that can do 60 knots as most of the boats I use to smuggle my marmalade and curly-wurlys can easily out run a 40 knot RHIB? ;-)

Observer
Observer
January 1, 2015 11:44 am

Sure it would Rep, but what is the effect we are out to deliver? Anti-piracy and fisheries protection does not really require Tomahawks and Harpoons, a “handful” of machine guns is really all that is needed. It’s only in troubled and contested areas where you start needing missiles and naval artillery, and most of the UK does not fall into that category.

The only place I can see you needing that kind of firepower is the Straits of Homuz, and even that is a theatre limited thing. Which frigates and destroyers can already do.

I do get the point that you need numbers to balance capability, one ship can only be in one place at one time, but getting smaller ships just for the sake of getting them does not make sense, any more than getting bigger ships for the sake of bigger ships does. It’s just the same problem from a different direction. The most important point is not simply the numbers, but also the number of areas you want to influence/affect simultaneously, which means that it makes more sense to organize your fleet in the old style of “regional fleets” and work from there, with an attempt to try maintaining commonality with the other regional fleets. I know, easier said than done.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 1, 2015 12:28 pm

The current MCM vessels fill a definitive requirement and therefore justify the support aparatus in place and the expense of training, the specialist positions required to man them.

Yes that is exactly what I am telling you it is not about size but about requirements. Also you are being slightly presumptous about the MCM replacement with the tech being nowhere near mature enough yet and the current plastic boats looking at another 15 years or so in service.
As I posted earlier I would like to see something like a CB90 bought but not desperately as even justifying that would be difficult.

H_K
H_K
January 1, 2015 12:29 pm

CB90s or Mk VI patrol boats are all well and good, but they can’t project “influence” in faraway littorals. Small size simply carries too many penalties in terms of persistence and seakeeping.

How do we square this circle? Motherships bring their own set of issues… so why not look into multihulls? Trimarans in particular offer an interesting mix of speed, endurance and stability (eg. for aviation ops).

In the same size range as a MK VI patrol boat (75 tons), you can get a 30kt ocean-going trimaran like the Ocean Eagle 43. This gives you rotary UAV capability, 5,000nm deployable range @12kts, decent special operations capability. Pretty nifty for something that can pull double duty in the littorals as well as operate independently offshore…

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 1, 2015 12:46 pm

It is difficult to firm up what will replace the MCMVs until the tech matures and somebody answers questions about lead throughs etc.
As for gaps, we simply do not have a requirement for some form of littoral warship, certainly nowhere near enough of one to justify funds in the current financial climate.

Mark
Mark
January 1, 2015 12:52 pm

Repulse

Our regional requirements are for operation in the Atlantic all of it and it’s not really littoral. Everywhere else we are simply there to contribute whatever we can to other countries assets in what ever region were in. Surely it’s up to the countries in those regions to equip for their requirements there pretty wealth particularly in the gulf.

Personnally I think the UK presence should now only concentrate on the Atlantic and every year go on a world cruise (like daring did) with a couple of ships and tie in air and land exercises along the way.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 1, 2015 1:26 pm

@Mark

I think it has been decided that we are definitely going to maintain a permanent presence in the Gulf. 4MCMVs 2 FF/DDs 3 or more RFAs in the Gulf more often than not and judging by my FB feed an SSN in Bahrain over Xmas is a pretty substantial presence.

H_K
H_K
January 1, 2015 1:33 pm

More info on the Ocean Eagle 43 trimaran, designed by the UK’s own Nigel Irens (a very well known multihull designer) and coming this year to the seas near you, courtesy of the Mozambique government and French shipyards in Cherbourg:

http://www.nigelirens.com/2014/protecting-oceans-ocean-eagle-43
http://cmn-group.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Ocean-Eagle-43.pdf

http://cmn-group.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/OE43_feat_1140.png

Mark
Mark
January 1, 2015 1:45 pm

Apas

I don’t disagree it’s a huge contribution to the region especially when the air assets operating over Iraq are added in. And I’m sure land forces too.

Just not sure the region is worth anymore Uk lives. I think politically were tarnished on the Arab street and haven’t got that many cards left to play. The japanses, Chinese and South Koreans have far larger economic interests in the region than we do perhaps they should be allowed to try and sort it out.

Think Defence
Admin
January 1, 2015 1:51 pm
Reply to  Mark

The things we have to do to sell a few Typhoons

adam
adam
January 1, 2015 2:11 pm

I would have to agree with observer, I think the RN doesn’t need a dedicated littoral ship, especially with the current squeezing.

Instead I think it makes sense to focus on a small(ish (100m)) flexible ship that can easily launch and recover UAV’s, USV,s and hellys to extend its useful range into littoral waters.

Personally I quite like the black swan concept, make it a bit larger to increase its flexibility and I don’t see any reason why this couldn’t fill the littoral gap.

The Other Chris
January 1, 2015 2:58 pm

Haven’t sold them to Bahrain yet…

Observer
Observer
January 1, 2015 3:12 pm

adam, in an extension of that, why bother with the ship? If you’re on local patrol, what is stopping people from simply using a USV ground control station to control the vehicles? Four concrete walls, a plug into the local power grid and an antenna mast. Can’t possibly be more expensive than a ship, unless you decided to buy prime land in the city for your control station.

The Other Chris
January 1, 2015 3:15 pm

@adam/@Observer

Sea Fighter (Fast Sea Frame)… with a lift.

adam
adam
January 1, 2015 3:56 pm

@observer

I completely agree, but why not swap those 4 concrete walls for and ISO container , then it could be controlled on dry land or from a mother ship.

At the end of the day a think their is a need to launch these platforms, so personally I’d say build the ship too, extra flexibility!

monkey
monkey
January 1, 2015 4:00 pm

An evolved version of the Austel Benchijigua Express which became the basis for the GD/Austel LCS has arrived in the UK at Poole harbour to be specific. The Austel built Condor 102 will operate as a 39knt ferry between Poole and the Channel islands. After some redesign the 102 can achieve the same speed as the Benchijigua Express on 3/4 of the power for only a 50t trade off in capacity in higher sea states .Operating the route across the notorious Channel will be a hard test for this ship design and who knows the RN may operate another trimaran design in the future.

The Other Chris
January 1, 2015 4:22 pm

Handsome ship.

as
as
January 1, 2015 4:35 pm

If we are looking for a mother ship what about the San Giorgio-class amphibious transport dock used by the Italians.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Giorgio-class_amphibious_transport_dock
They are smaller then a Type 45 and would be perfect for operating smaller boats.

adam
adam
January 1, 2015 4:57 pm

@as. I like that idea.
I think that’s a much better future for litoral operations, a mother ship specialised in launching small fast USV’s. Such a ship could easily be reconfigured for other rolles, getting the most out of a budget.

In danger of going into my fantasy fleet, here is my concept for such a ship

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxSAcHfP64ktdTJZVjRtX1lpcVk/edit?usp=docslist_api

Observer
Observer
January 1, 2015 5:14 pm

adam, my objection to a mothership vs a ground control station involves the limitations of the ship you place the USVs on. A mothership can ideally contain 4-8 USVs. A ground station can control as many as you can cram into the harbour and as many control modules as you can shove into the station, be it 4 walls or an ISO container.

Of course it really depends on what you want to use the USVs for. My proposal is for close range harbour/fisheries protection, if you’re going to park those USVs in someone else’s backyard, then the mothership concept makes sense. Question is, who in the world does the UK want to do a territorial incursion on? Besides some place down south that is.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 1, 2015 5:48 pm

Was not HMS Victory 186 feet long? Seems a good compromise between something small yet big enough to be of use. Nowadays you could use the X-bow or Sea Axe for good seakeeping in rough weather. Armament 30mm remote mounts + Sea Venom+ that SAAB anti sub system.
Base them in Gibraltar, Bermuda, Cyprus & to keep a watch on the English Channel.

Jed
Jed
January 1, 2015 5:51 pm

There is no littoral gap, not one that needs addressing with the paltry amount of money we have anyway. IF we had not sold a Bay, IF we had the money to recruit a crew for the second assault ship (whichever one is currently on “extended standby”) IF we had the funds for a RM “force protection” boat, then some CB90 with RWS like Sea Protector with 3 x LMM and a .50 cal on it would be nice, and so would some of these:
http://www.griffonhoverwork.com/products-services/hovercraft-range/8100td.aspx

Hovercraft and CB90 could operate in expeditionary littoral roles from existing well decks, if required.

adam
adam
January 1, 2015 6:15 pm

@observer
My suggestion was dropping them in non territorial waters. The RN have a responsibility to patrol Caribbean waters where such a platform could be useful, not forgetting USV’s for counter piracy, mine clearance or survays.

Chuck Hill
January 1, 2015 7:02 pm

What is the mission? If it is to oppose an overtly hostile force, you do not need smaller vessels, aircraft are a better counter. Where small ships come into their own is in ferreting out covert actions that use small vessels that are indistinguishable from innocent local craft. They might be pirates, they might be smuggling arms, agent, weapons, or drugs, or they might intend to do something like the attack on the USS Cole.

Lots of operations of this type in the Vietnam war. The Coast Guard was deeply involved. Most of the action was done by 26 x 82 foot patrol boats. http://www.uscg.mil/history/articles/h_tulichvietnam.asp

The US Navy used smaller 50 foot long “Swift boats” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrol_Craft_Fast.

Because they were covert, the opposition could not be particularly well armed. So our patrol craft did not need to particularly well armed either.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 1, 2015 11:19 pm

If it is just a little powerboat with a machine gun, it risks being surrounded & the crew captured & paraded before cameras. We have been there & done that. Lets not do it again. I have just looked up the Damen offshore patrol vessel 950, a sea axe design, 66m in length. Armed with a remote 12.7 HMG. I would up that to the RN remote 30mm mount. Then add 2 to 4 Sea Venom + a single SAAB ASW launcher in that well just forward of the gun mount. Built under licence in the UK, it would be ideal for Channel & colonial defence & SAR.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 1, 2015 11:23 pm

@JH

Where would your vessel have been when the incident happened it would not have been there either would it? The issue was the lack of air cover and ISR, a couple of pacific 950s with 50 cal, a scan eagle in the air and a Wildcat with LMM would have solved the issue without introducing any new 50M plus ship.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 1, 2015 11:28 pm

APATS What happens to your little boats, when the helicopter & UAV have to refuel? They become very vulnerable.

Think Defence
Admin
January 1, 2015 11:31 pm
Reply to  John Hartley

John, I think ScanEagle can mince around for 24 hours and the Lynx could be on deck alert, either than or operations of the boats, threats surveyed and decisions made with helicopter endurance front and centre

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 1, 2015 11:34 pm

@JH

if 2 pac 950s with 2 50cals and 2 Grenade launchers each cannot cover the boarding then it should not have happened. Scan eagle has a 23 hour endurance and you can carry more than one, if you are worried let the RM take javelin with them, future intelligent 5 inch shells can engage contacts closing the boarding team.
Numerous options that people like me are paid to work out, none of which require a new class of ship.

@TD
Basically, the guys on the ground make an assessment and deploy assets as required.

The Other Chris
January 1, 2015 11:45 pm

@APATS

Quite a lot of positive feedback coming from Watchkeeper deployment regarding the SAR being a step change.

Any signs of shifting to, or a similar advantage to be gained in moving from ScanEagle to Integrator with a PicoSAR/ISAR class sensor?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 1, 2015 11:52 pm

@TOC

We are still “experimenting” with Scan eagle. Integrator is a bigger bit of kit but offers greater capability, no doubt it will be an option if practicable.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 2, 2015 10:39 am

One of my many rants, is that in a time of austerity, new kit needs to be multi-role to justify itself. A 66m Sea Axe can go out in rough seas to bring up to 75 survivors back to shore. Try doing that in your little speedboat.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 2, 2015 12:09 pm

hartley

One of my rants is that in a time of austerity you suggest spending money on a lifeboat. As for bringing survivors back to shore, we could always use any of the ocean going ships we have that also have useful other roles.

Observer
Observer
January 2, 2015 12:15 pm

JH, two points.

1) What does your new “littoral warship” bring that the HMS Cornwall did not already have? If the answer is “nothing”, then the hostage crisis would have turned out the same regardless of if it was a Type-22 Frigate or a so-called “Littoral Combat Ship”.

2) If your “66M” long ship can go out and rescue “75” people, then how many can you rescue with your current 120?M long Type-23 frigates? Which brings us back to the point on why do you need a new class of ship for?

mickp
mickp
January 2, 2015 12:35 pm

I would see the sea axe design as being a very good vessel for a notional fisheries, SAR, border and customs patrol vessel (AKA UK coast guard type work) but I don’t see a place in the RN, currently. I note their catalogue does include 73m OPVs with hangers and 100m OPVS with sonars. We get 90m OPV with neither.

monkey
monkey
January 2, 2015 12:36 pm

With regards to this Littoral Combat Ship , it wont be a ship just one of the multitude of Missile Patrol Boats that many nations feel meets their needs. Perhaps we could get the Border Force to pay and operate them and be inductees into the Naval Reserves. A dozen or so unarmed versions ( with space for but not fitted so in time of need we can activate them for whatever is deemed useful ) Lets face it a least half of the II’s reaching our shores probably come in by sea and like the Anti-piracy deployments need to have a highly visible and active presence to achieve a significant reduction as has happened off the Horn of Africa.

The Other Chris
January 2, 2015 2:08 pm

If you like the Damen Stan Patrols, check out TD’s archive on what the Royal Bahamas Defence Force are doing on a modest budget:

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2013/06/lock-stock-and-a-sandy-bottom/

Jed
Jed
January 2, 2015 5:55 pm

I never mentioned amphibious ops old chap. CB90 and 8100TD are big enough to carry ROV / divers and tow route proving side scan sonar for shallow water MCM, big enough to carry additional kit for ISR and definitely suitable for SOF, while still fitting in well decks of existing assets. Add some Sxhiebel Camcopter S100’s which could probably fly from the back deck of. A CB90 ????

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 2, 2015 7:20 pm

A 66m Sea Axe needs less than half the depth of water than a T22. Therefore it can operate nearer to shore & not leave its boarding party exposed as a large frigate is forced to do.
I was at the 1998 SDR public day telling the MoD they should order the RAF Merlins with at least a basic manual fold. The MoD great & good looked down on me as if they were all wise & how does any mere mortal dare challenge them. Now £400 million of taxpayers cash is being blown on a risky conversion that will only be in service for 8 years. We are governed by smug, arrogant idiots who are never held to account (ie sacked, jailed, bankrupted) for their woeful decisions.

Topman
Topman
January 2, 2015 7:32 pm

@ JH

‘the RAF Merlins with at least a basic manual fold.’

From my knowledge they were ordered with as little as possible ‘extras’ to keep the lifting capacity as high as possible. In fairness in the first half of their careers in the desert, extra weight wasn’t something needed or wanted and would have been little use in our desert adventures. Now of course there is a penalty, but equally draging extra uneeded add on kit in the desert would have been a penalty.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 2, 2015 10:23 pm

Topman. Even if the Merlins were just sent from one desert to another, being able to fold them to move them easily by ship or C-17, would have been handy.

Topman
Topman
January 2, 2015 10:29 pm

@JH

For a short period for moving them, on ops it would have been unneeded/unwanted extra weight.

as
as
January 2, 2015 11:26 pm

Interesting little catamaran

Observer
Observer
January 3, 2015 12:26 am

Ah yes as, Project Hsun Hai (Ocean Tour?). Basically a modernized missile FAC.

JH, the Cornwall can operate close to shore too, it was NEVER about fording depth but territorial waters, whoever told you that the Cornwall did not close in because of depth was lying through his teeth, especially when the hostages were brought into a harbour. And if depth was such an issue, how did a cargo carrier, whose keel depth is arguably much much deeper than a Type-22 get to where it was for VBSS?

The problem was never about the equipment, it was letting out the inspection parties and not keeping a closer eye on them, an SOP error, not an equipment problem. And a problem of rote repetition of a routine task that, for that specific incident, went wrong.

Anixtu
Anixtu
January 3, 2015 7:57 am

Observer,

“And if depth was such an issue, how did a cargo carrier, whose keel depth is arguably much much deeper than a Type-22 get to where it was for VBSS?”

I’d love to hear your arguments as to why a dhow would draw much, much more water than a frigate.

Observer
Observer
January 3, 2015 8:13 am

Anixtu, the Cornwall incident was a dhow? I was expecting a cargo ship when they said that the inspection was for smuggled vehicles.

Anixtu
Anixtu
January 3, 2015 8:38 am

Vehicles are a common enough cargo on dhows.

comment image?zz=1

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 3, 2015 11:43 am

Topman, Well we will have to agree to differ. How much would it have cost to build the Merlins with a folding tail & rotor in the first place? An extra million per airframe perhaps? So £20-30 million. Not the £400 million of a risky conversion for only 8 years service.
I see bankers who recklessly crash their banks can now be sent to prison for 7 years. Something like that is needed in the public sector. Cabinet ministers/senior civil servants/quangocrats/council chiefs that recklessly waste taxpayers cash should face 7 years in jail.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 3, 2015 11:49 am

Obs Say 3 Sea Axe 66m for the RN to start. One each in Bermuda, Gibraltar & Bahrain . Anti piracy/drug-weapon smuggling/blockade enforcement/Search & Rescue. Given that the RN will be reduced to 8(or 13) frigates & only 6 destroyers, then something cheap to show presence & do the minor, but vital tasks, would help.

The Other Chris
January 3, 2015 3:30 pm

Took a while to locate (apologies for the delay), the below is a US Coast Guard evaluation of the USN’s “Sea Fighter” Fast Sea Frame FSF-1 vessel.

Good detail of a very barebones vessel being used in EEZ operations, complete with design issues specific to the prototype that would need to be addressed.

http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/rdc/Reports/2007/2007-0179A.pdf

There’s a similar evaluation report for the HSV Swift/Joint Venture vessels being used in a similar vein which I’m scouring the archives to dig out again. It amuses me to think of the HSC Manannan (formerly the HSV-X1 Joint Venture) which is currently plying the Irish Sea (well, in the summer months at least) being used in a CG/OPV role!

Chuck Hill
January 4, 2015 6:50 pm

I will not argue that frigates with there helicopters, boats, and UAVs cannot do missions in the littoral, they certainly can, but there will be conditions where there simply are not enough of them or you want to use them for something else. The UK already has some appropriate patrol vessels in the Border force, like the Damen StanPatrol 4207s that are capable of self deployment virtually anywhere in the world outside the Arctic areas if you can be reasonably patient. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjLDIFm_tuE&w=560&h=315%5D

Secundius
Secundius
May 14, 2015 9:09 pm

There’s also the Ambassador III & IV class PGM. 550 to 600-tons, 40+ kts. 8-days sustained duration endurance and 1×3-inch, 76.2x636mmR Oto Melara Super-Rapid Auto-Cannon…

Secundius
Secundius
May 15, 2015 3:15 pm

Considering the Atlantic Ocean, is pretty much ALL Green Water (600-meters, or less) anyway. Go place for the Littorals…