A look at how civilian ship designs can be exploited for delivering a range of maritime security tasks at a low cost.
This is not a unique idea, many have proposed similar for many years.
The first I read was from Mark Tempest in 2009 at the US Naval Institute called ‘The Department of Cheaper Pirate Fighting’. Mark also blogs regularly about maritime security at his own blog, Eagle Speak.
One of the first multi-part series on Think Defence was called a Ship that is not a Frigate, so-called because it was a few thoughts on how the Royal Navy could create a class of vessels that could operate in the area between the RFA logistics support vessel and the frigate or destroyer, specifically on a range of non-war-like tasks.
Taking inspiration from Mark Tempest I expanded the concept from re-purposing surplus offshore supply vessels and creating a larger, more flexible ship, utilising an offshore construction vessel as a base.
Since then, and before, I have written about the general concept a few times so this is a continuation and consolidation of those various blog posts and longer series.
The reason I called it ‘not a frigate’ because it was not intended to be a frigate on the cheap, or a surrogate frigate, and to emphasise the point so that people would not get carried away by adding medium calibre guns and cruise missiles.
The reason this article is notionally called ‘still not a frigate’ is because that still stands.
If one wants a Frigate (light or global) ask those nice chaps at BAE or BMT to design and build one for you.
So why bother, the simple point, the whole raison d’être for this, is one of cost, trying to squeeze the maximum utility from the smallest pot of cash. A class of ships that fulfils a plethora of roles that are less than high-intensity combat, and might use some notional future budget for an Argus and Diligence replacement, and perhaps with a nod to future mine countermeasures and survey budgets.
And that is all this is, a ‘thinking out aloud’ piece on whether such a ship is possible, desirable, that’s for you to decide!