June 01, 2008

Navy Contemplating Withdrawal

Via Yankee Sailor, the US  fleet on station off Myanmar Burma are on the verge of giving up and leaving as the evil murderous Junta will not allow any save a trickle of aid through....Anybody the aid might have saved at this point is likely dead already.

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May 12, 2008


The United States Coast Guard has rescued the Navy sailing team.


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April 02, 2008

Another Shortfall in the red hull fleet....

CDR. Salamander reports that the Ruskies have surged ahead in the most awesomest icebreaker bow competition!


The crews of Healy and the Polar rollers had best make for the paint locker stat! 

The article linked in CDR. Salamander piece is quit interesting and brings up a pressing issue facing the USCG.

What to do about the big icebreakers.

The Coast Guard is down to 3 polar capable icebreakers of which only the two Polar Class are really up to dealing with Antarctic conditions.

Designed during the cold war to be readily upgradeable to combat icebreakers for use clearing paths for allied ships in the arctic,the Polar Star class has given sterling service as research ships and tenders supporting the US presence in Antarctica.  Even with the many advances in icebreaker design since their commissioning the Polar Rollers have impressive stats. However, while still an excellent design  they are very old. More that 30 years of traveling to the antipodes to smash into freshwater ice that has been hardening for eons has taken its toll. Both the vessels are nearing the end of their useful lives.

Designed without any defence considerations and optimized for research, the Healy is a larger vessel with a smaller powerplant and predictably is not as good at crunching centuries old freshwater ice ice as the two older vessels. The ship is, however, capable of "getting by" in Antarctica and is quite adequate for Arctic operations. The ship is an outstanding research vessel.

With the Polar class on their last legs and the Healy really a research ship there has been talk of washing the Coast Guards hands of the whole (expensive) operation and adding Healy to the National Science Foundations Laurence M.Gould and Nathaniel B. Palmer.
This would involve finding a contractor to operate her as the NSF doesn't actually man those icebreakers.

As tempting as this might sound, icebreakers are not just science ships.
Icebreaking is a Coast Guard function by statute. Antarctic support is as well and there are other issues that need addressing....

 For instance, Healy is seeing a LOT of use, not just hauling scientists around and providing sefvices for the North slope, but simultaneously showing the flag as the US, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia compete to explore the rapidly thawing arctic ocean and lay claim to navigation rights and resource deposits in their overlapping claims. This is an important area on national interest and the CG being a military, but also with civil responsibilities and expertise is probably the best positioned to deal with this.

It gets worse. The arctic is, as mentioned above, becoming far more busy. This means more people that need saving from icy waters,  polar bears and killer whales. While Many SAR functions can be done by aircraft, (airships might be a good fit here) nothing compares with the carrying capacity of a big ship. Additionally as commerce increases the Coast Guards statutory icebreaking responsibilities become more important to northern Alaska.

Pollution response in the delicate northern environment may need vessels with large skimming capacity and an incinerator for burning skimmed oil. While contractors handle most spill response today in accordance with federal law, the CG has a responsibility to be ready to respond if the contractor drops the ball, or if, unusual circumstances overwhelm the contractor (as does happen).

This doesn't even get into the Antarctic responsibilities the CG has (the US recently had to contract with the Russians for the use of Krassin) or the fact that sealift, both humanitarian and strategic (and, occasionally, sea control) can on occasion benefit from having an ability to break ice.

The National Academies agree and published this piece in 2006 recommending the construction of 2 full capability icebreakers to replace the Polar class. This is a minimalist approach IMHO. Two and 3/4 icebreakers arent going to cut it. Icebreakers require a lot of yard time (they deliberately run into ice after all).

I have no idea what the cycle times and maintenance requirements for these vessels are but six seems like a good number.

I arrive at this number by the scientific method of looking at the total number of National Security Lemons planned and subtracting the number built or too far along to terminate which is two. The problems with the class seem to be less with the design than with contractor quality control, but they are quite expensive vessels.

Reorder the remaining NSC's as icebreakers.

The NSC's cost  as much as the entire defense budget of Ecuador.

The proposed Offshore Patrol Cutters are roughly the size of the current Hamilton class...(which are very successful as high endurance cutters after all). 6 If a total of 33 cruising cutters is needed then order 33 OPC's and start building them in the very near future. There are plenty of decent designs for OPV's on the market and I suspect that the requirements for the NSC are rather gold plated. In another rant I mentioned that....

Something as expensive as the LCS is silly. A 45 knot warship with a full ECM suite is not needed for this. Indeed the USCG requires rather heavier scantlings and shell plating to survive in the worst sea states. It should also be lightly ice strengthened.

What is needed is an updated version of the 378 foot cutters seen above. Swap the gas turbines for diesels trading speed for fuel economy. 24-27 knots is really enough if the ship has a helicopter and  pursuit boats. This sounds very close to the actual characteristics of the new Offshore Patrol Cutters.

Given the cost of the Bertholf class it seems entirely possible that an upgraded commercial icebreaker design could be bought at little or no net loss.

We need icebreakers and we're wearing ours out.

More on this from a Canadian perspective here.

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March 06, 2008

Cancel the National Security Cutters?

Over at Danger Room David Axe reports on a Defense News story that suggests that at least some of the big National Security Cutters may be replaced by the (as yet undesigned) Offshore Patrol Cutters.

Given that the size and capabilities of the proposed OPC seem very close to the current high endurance cutters of the Hamilton class,  this seems quite logical to me. If costs are held down and If the lessons learned from the Bertholf fiasco are applied, then this is probably the best course. Brickmuppet Blog is on the record as being in favor of procuring a larger number of more austere vessels for the Coast Guard, as opposed to gold plated vessels like the NSC. In the Navy such a policy will likely lead to inferior deathtrap warships…In the Coast Guard it fits our primary peacetime and warm war functions perfectly. The USCG doesn't really need a full electronics suite, let alone AEGIS, after all, these are offshore patrol vessels.

   I find this to be encouraging news.

UPDATE: Grammar fixed....

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January 04, 2008

USCGC Bertholf

This program has had several problems ranging from the lead ship being damaged by Hurricane Katrina to nigh unbelievable cost overruns to serious design issues. However many of the problems  have reportedly been corrected and those lessons are to be well applied to the later ships of the class.  I sincerely hope this is the case.

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November 23, 2007

Steampunk Submarine

Here is an interesting bit of nautical history.

The Explorer, a submarine from the civil war era  has been identified on Pearl Island Panama.

The vessel was ahead of its time with lockout chambers to allow divers to leave the vessel while submerged. Unfortunately as this resulted in the whole submarine becoming pressurized to the depth it was at, and because it allowed the crew to stay down far longer than normal, and because dive tables weren't invented until 1910, the entire crew perished after a long dive.

The use of the submarine for civilian applications (in this case pearl diving) was quite unusual a that time.

There seems to be some debate as to the origin of the submarine, some sites say it was built for the US Navy during the Civil War, some have said it was built afterwards for entirely civillian applications. Whichever, it's designer one Julius Herman Kröhl made significant contributions to the USN during the war, and if the Wikipedia entry is accurate was very much the unions answer to Mathew Fontain Maury...at least in underwater explosives.

There is also some debate about the cause of the death of Kröhl and his crew. The reports cited "fever" which likely meant malaria, however, the whole crew being stricken and the vessels dive profile would seem to make the decompression accident a more likely cause.

Much more including schematics  here.
Note that this article claims this was the first case of decompression sickness amongst US citizens. I'm pretty sure this is hooey as diving bells had been in use since the 1500s and hardhat diving was going on in the UK in the 1790s. There was enough interest in the US that an improved helmet was patented in the US in 1834. I'm pretty sure somebody had had a decompression accident before this. The article is quite informative for all that. I'm very upset I missed his recent talk at Nauticus.

This story is particularly sad because the sub worked! It had been tested several times without incident. If dive tables had been available the vessel would have been a success.

Sometimes progress fails for one missed detail or unknown factor.

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Titanic 2007

The Canadian Cruise ship Explorer has been stove by a small iceberg off Antarctica! In this photo she is on her beam ends as I type this may already have sunk. More here.

The crew and passengers were rescued by the Norwegian cruise ship Nordnorge which transported them to King George Island. They will be transferred to the Chilean research station there and be flown to Punta Arenas as soon as weather permits.

The National Geographic Society cruise ship Endeavor also raced to the scene and an ABC (US) reporter aboard filed this report with video.

The MV Explorer was an interesting  ship with a unique history. Constructed in 1969 the "little red ship" was an ice strengthened cruise ship ahead of her time in that she was intended for what would later be called "eco-tourism".

 The vessel was the first civilian ship to negotiate the northwest passage unescorted. She had sailed farther north and farther south than any other cruise ship and had been the first cruise ship to sail the full length of the Amazon and the first cruise ship to dock in Iquitos Peru. The vessel had rescued the crew of an Argentinian vessel that had struck a rock off Anvers Island and had been used to conduct relief and medical operations in the Amazon.  She was bought by the Canadian ecotourism company G.A.P. Adventures in 2004.

Some question is being raised over "deficiencies" found by both Lloyds inspectors in the UK and Port State Control inspectors in Chile.

  Deficiencies recorded were: two on fire safety measures; one on life saving appliances; one for ship's certificates and documents, and one deficiency recorded for structural safety. She was seen at the time in Greenock's JWD dock for repair

At least one of the deficiencies in Chile was listed as "not required" which may seem odd at first blush. However, it is likely that it was something that was only required by the 1974 SOLAS treaty.

Being built in 1969, the ship was built under the Survival of Life At Sea treaty  SOLAS 1960 convention which is much less stringent than the currently enforced treaty (SOLAS 1974). For one thing the 1960 treaty allows open lifeboats which is why some of the Explorers passengers were exposed to the elements before rescue. Vessels built after May 1, 1980 fall under the newer more stringent requirements. The ship had reportedly passed inspection before leaving port and was reported to be in good shape.

The fact that the ship was crippled by a hole "the size of a fist" is weird. There may have been additional cracking that made the flooding uncontrollable. If so it may have had to do with the age of the vessel and undiscovered preexisting cracks.

Keep in mind that while I do a bit of Port State Control, I'm not a marine casualty investigator. So this is just speculation.

The rescue effort was remarkable for its international nature, with coordination from the US and Argentinian Coast Guards, participation by Chilean  Army and Air Force units with the actual rescue by US and Norwegian merchant ships.

Bravo Zulu to the Captain and crew of MV Nordnorge for pulling off a flawless rescue effort in difficult conditions!

We've come a long way since 1912.

On a lighter note;

Antarctica: MV Explorer Listing

Badly After Hitting UFO

Is actually a completely accurate and  serious article...which makes it all the more priceless.   Saved here in case they realize that the acronym for unidentified floating object just doesn't work in layspeak.

UPDATE:  Stephen Den Beste has found another completely accurate yet distracting headline associated with this calamity.

Bountiful Woman Rescued From

 Cruise ship Sinking After Hitting


 Yay! They saved a bountiful woman!
(Now we can make up for some of those environmentalists! )

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November 22, 2007

More on The German Sea Rescue Service

Here is a PDF on the organization and equipment of the German Sea Rescue Service.

This private organization, which operates on donations is interesting in its own right. It is a very highly regarded Coast Guard, yet is not a branch of the German government. It fulfills the niche of Coast Guard (minus any statutory responsibilities) without taking a cent of taxpayer money (unless said taxpayers donate it).

Equally interesting is their kit, for they have some of the most advanced rescue boats on the planet. I've mentioned some of their ships before, but this gives the detailed overview of them that I'd been looking for for some time. Robust and ice strengthened vessels almost exactly the size the Coast Guard is looking for, they certainly bear looking at.

Of course these vessels have limited area of operations and so range and crew accommodations are  less than a Coast Guard cutter would have, but they may have some potential for further growth.

The large rescuee accommodations are a very useful feature  and the helicopter decks, while small, give these vessels an interesting capability for such a small  patrol boat.

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November 18, 2007

Guarding the Coast

    I spent most of the day drilling with the Coast Guard Reserve this weekend.

    It is a sloow weekend in one of the nations busiest ports. It is actually possible that I may spend the entire weekend guarding the coast from behind a desk.   Feh....

     One thing I did have reinforced this weekend is how important and benneficial a good Chiefs Mess is to a unit.

     Chiefs rock.

     I've volunteered for a short stint of active duty from Christmas until the second week in January. (basically my annual 2 weeks plus a few extra drills)  I suspect there will be very little desk jockeying then.  

    (No I'm not blogging from behind the desk....that would be an abuse of Govt. rescources, I'm at a Cybercafe doing some online studying and such before heading home...computer's still in the shop)

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October 30, 2007

Pirate Pwnage

Eaglespeak has pictures of a recent engagement off the horn of Africa between a pirate skiff....and a US Destroyer.

(Note to Pirates...if the USN or USCG tell you to heave-to or be fired upon, the correct answer is "A")


In a related story, via Wonderduck, the crew of the North Korean freighter that was recently siezed by Somali pirates has with some USN assistance, overpowered and captured or killed their captors according to this BBC report .

Korea was a Japanese posesssion for around 40 years, so this may have relevance to the pressing question of who would win.

Ninjas or Pirates


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October 15, 2007

HMS Sommerset-CO

This is an interesting find!

A blog by the Commanding Officer of a UK Royal Navy frigate, HMS Sommerset.

HMS Sommerset is a British Type 23 Frigate, quite likely the best ASW platform ever designed, they nevertheless have sufficient versatility to be very useful vessels in a variety of situations.

The blog includes pictures of weapons firing and an interesting look (subject to the official secrets act of course) into the life aboard one of Her Majestey's vessels.


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Endurance, Courage, Skill

  Eaglespeak has found an obscure piece of US Naval History that is as impressive as it is inspiring.

   In 1942, Corregidor, the USS Quail, a small minesweeper had fought a hard, short war against overwhelming odds. Laying and sweeping mines and providing fire support with her 3 inch guns in a battlespace owned by the Imperial Japanese Navy, the ship was finally out of fuel ammunition and so damaged from artillery fire that the decision was made to scuttle her.

With the Philippines overrun all hope seemed lost. But Commander Morill of the Quail was not about to give up. He intended to sail to Australia ~1800 miles away in the small boats from Quail. Only 18 of his shipmates agreed to come on what must have seemed a fools errand. But 29 days later those that did landed in Australia!

These men did not have GPS, Loran, or Inertial navigation. On a 36 foot motor launch they'd have had the CO's sextant, their watches and a compass. Yet they made it through nearly 2000 NM of enemy controlled sea!

Go read the whole thing!

The book is long out of print but it is available at the Joint Forces Staff College, Fort Eustis and William and Mary libraries. I'm going to definitely borrow this after exams.

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October 07, 2007

Long Range Interceptor

The  Coast Guard's new Long Range Interceptor on sea trials.
They will be operated as daughter craft from larger Coast Guard Cutters.

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September 30, 2007

A US Fram?

The Norwegian vessel  Fram is one of the most famous research ships of all time and pioneered the modern icebreaker hull form. It was designed by the talented Norwegian naval architect Colin Archer to to the specifications of Frijtof Nansen an oceanographer of worldwide renown. The ship was launched in 1893.

Interestingly I just stumbled across this US design from 1884.
US Chief constructor Melville designed the vessel to take account of all the lessons he learned learned during the ill starred Jeannette expedition.
This vessel also has a round bottom and a very similar layout to the Fram.

This was an official USN design (unbuilt) so it's not really likely that the design was pilfered, Archer and Nansen were very talented men after all and they likely didn't go rummaging through USN secret files, but the design is intriguing in that the US did in fact design a vessel nearly 10 years earlier that was very similar to Fram.
Anyway here are pictures of the design.


And here is one of the most important oceanographic ships in history.

Fram is preserved in Oslo Norway.

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September 22, 2007

Prime Main Fire Pumps....

.....Fire as You Bear.

 The Cruiser USS Normandy and the Dutch "Frigate" HNLMS Evertsen unleash full broadsides in an intense super soaker skirmish off the Horn of Africa.

There actually IS a meaningful story here, but you'll have to go to EagleSpeak to get it.

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July 22, 2007

The Great Black Fleet

While many people are aware of the Coast Guards cutters and some even have a grasp of some of the many jobs the Coast Guard performs, few realize that among the hardest working and most useful cutters are those not actually painted white.

The black hull fleet is made up of the Coast Guards buoy tenders and small domestic icebreakers.
They maintain the thousands upon thousands of buoys daymarkers and lighthouses. All but the smallest riverine blackhull ships are fitted to break ice in winter.

With their fairly large cargo capacity they supply isolated stations, and can carry  impressive amounts of pollution control equipment (skimmers, oily water separators and more) that the more graceful whitehulls can't. They have even been fitted with oceanographic labs. In time of war they serve as seagoing tugs, minesweepers, minelayers, light cargo craft and they break ice for the thin skinned greyhounds.

Of course they also do search and rescue, law enforcement, customs, boarder enforcement and fisheries patrol missions that the other cutters perform.  

Legendary amongst these were the 180 foot buoy tenders. These were just about the most useful vessels the Coast Guard ever had. If you are at all interested in maritime history, read the whole thing.

I think only one of the 180's remains in Coast Guard service, as a training ship for the Caribbean navies, but the class served for over 60 years. They have been replaced by the "Keeper", and Juniper classes, which, (while likely not quite as robust) are faster bigger and  have much smaller crews and larger cargo spaces. These new cutters are now doing the work of half again as many of the older class....and more.

One final note, the first CG buoy tenders were inherited from the lighthouse service when it was amalgamated into the Coast Guard in the 1930's. With the exception of the Keeper class, (who are named for the heroes of the old Lighthouse Service) and the SPAR, they follow the lighthouse service tradition of being named after American flowering plants.

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June 24, 2007

Last Moments of HMAS Sydney

 Well this is an interesting bit of  history.

 Reinhold von Malapert, who was the Signals officer of the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, has died.

The Kormoran is the only auxiliary cruiser to have sunk a full cruiser in history, though she was herself sunk in the battle.
The Australian Cruiser Sydney had a sterling record during WW2.....until she was  lost with all hands in WW2....sunk by Kormoran .

Malapert had never discussed the sinking until last year. He succeeded in getting the survivors in the lifeboat under his charge to safety.

Read the whole thing.

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June 17, 2007

Why we Have Coast Guards

Via Murdoc

The Front Fell Off

Having seen the actual interview this was parodying ...I can say that the main difference is in the timing.

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June 01, 2007

Some Comfort For Latin America

Via EagleSpeak comes news that the Hospital ship Comfort is underway to provide medical assistance throughout Latin America.

Instead of rushing to a crisis, as it did in New Orleans and the Persian Gulf on recent deployments, the ship is beginning a carefully choreographed 120-day tour of Central and South America that will take it to 12 countries with varying medical and humanitarian needs.

First announced by President Bush during a visit to Latin America in March, the mission is as much about diplomacy as medicine and has caused the ship and the Navy to recast the vessel's fundamental function.

Whereas past deployments called for crewing and equipping the Comfort as a floating emergency room for treating war casualties or disaster victims, the ship's commanders have essentially scrapped the old rulebook and outfitted the vessel as a delivery vehicle for routine medical services on land, from vaccinations and eyeglass distribution to dental checkups and minor surgeries.

Not much coverage of course, it's the wrong sort of news. But it is something to take note of. There is much to be annoyed with regards this administration, but there is frequent evidence that hearts are in the right place.

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May 18, 2007

Cutter Conundrum' and Coastie Window Shopping

Note: This is reposted from by old blog. Since this first posted in March of '07 there have been several developments, Despite it's age I will likely update this post at some point.

The Coast Guard's patrol boats are getting long in the tooth and are desperately in need of a replacement.

The immediate problems go back to the '80s.

The Coast Guard had large numbers of 82' and 95' patrol boats. All were slow but useful. The 95 foot boats had been designed in WW2 and produced over several years in different batches, their hulls were quite worn out, the 82'Point class had been built in the '60s they were cramped but useful vessels though a large number had been given to Viet Nam to assist that nation in its attempt to stave off the evil that ultimately consumed it.

As a stop-gap, the Island class patrol boats were ordered in small numbers in fits and starts in the early to mid 80's. Congress was unwilling to fund the CG and they were collateral items in drug war legislation with some actually being bought for the CG by the Navy! The design was (by congressional order) not an American one but an off the shelf Vosper export design. Now the Brits have nothing to learn in the field of shipbuilding, but this was an export design that put paper performance ahead of operational characteristics. The Coast Guard knew this but they needed something fast to catch drug smugglers, the ships could be built very quickly and anyway, they were just considered a stopgap until the Leopold Class was to be commissioned in the early '90s.

The Leopold class was an interesting design. A very strongly built 120 foot patrol boat the craft would have been capable of 30 knots or more despite far stronger construction than the lightly built 110's. They embodied every lesson learned in Patrol Boat ops for the last several decades. They would have had a secondary coastal ASW capability in wartime. These cutters were much needed replacements for a hundred small cutters that were at or past the end of their service lives and the USCG had high hopes for them.

Alas, the Congress canceled them around 1990. A few more 110's were ordered, but the Coast Guard has had a patrol boat deficit since the late '80s. Leopold was laid up incomplete and ordered scrapped.

In the mid 90's a different Congress financed the 87' Barracuda class.
These are quite small cutters. They are NOT replacements for the seagoing 95's and 110's. They are really revenue and law enforcement boats. In those tasks they excel, especially as they are small enough and have a shallow enough draft to get into nearly all small boat stations, and patrol and conduct rescues inshore (an important and little appreciated requirement).

In the late 90's and early 'naughts the first batches of 110's were coming up on the end of their design lives and generating harrowing sea stories for their crews. The Coast Guard began looking at replacements and began designing the ideal cutter of the future.

The ICOF involved a lot of design work as it was to have a composite hull for long life, high speed, high fuel efficiency, a high degree of automation, be operable in any sea state and generally be a mass of conflicting requirements....all under 150 feet in length.

The composite hull took time to develop and the materials science did not progress as planned. The CG wanted to integrate the new Deepwater C4I systems into the new vessels from the start and wanted a homogeneous class for ease and inexpensiveness of maintainability.

The solution to this delay was to completely refurbish the 110's into 123's adding the safer and manpower-saving stern launching arrangements of the 87's. The vessels were stretched 13 feet, their hulls were refurbished and prototypes of the new communications system were installed. This was a logical choice to compensate for the delays in the new design. The planned future vessels would come online as the 123's were wearing out and machinery and equipment in the maintenance pipelines could be switched at once.

Unfortunately the 110' hull did not stretch well.
Unlike a certain-other-debacle this does not seem to be the result of failure to do ones job, but rather a genuine marine engineering learning experience. The stretched hulls were extensively computer tested, but certain choppy seas cause stresses that were not foreseen in the lightly built hulls. The result was yet more harrowing sea stories and the laying up of the refitted ships.

Now there is a problem....the CG needs patrol boats....like yesterday.

But what should they buy, the ultimate cutter design is still decade or 2 off and we have got to get something in the water now.

I'm not an engineer nor a Boatswains mate. I'm certainly not an officer, but this is a BLOG! So keeping in mind my stock disclaimer, here are my thoughts on the matter as I commence tilting at windmills far above my paygrade!

First thing! No more surprises....off the shelf designs only for now.

One obvious choice would be the NAVY/Coast Guard Cyclone class patrol boat. It's very highly regarded in Coast Guard service, uses the same diesels the CG 110's use, is fast and is already in service .

From Australia we have this well proven design from Tenix. Their 56 meter Search and Rescue craft is based on their stock 57m fast attack craft, but it has actually been built! Two were delivered to the Philippines a few years ago. The Philippine Coast Guard is so pleased with the design that they are ordering 6 more of these instead of buying more of the similarly sized Cyclone class ships (they operate 1 of those too). The design is interesting for a number of reasons. It is reasonably fast (26 kts). It has a large (enclosed) rescue deck for survivors (or migrants). It is very seaworthy and despite its small size it has a landing deck for a small helicopter. There is no hangar but the cutter seems to have a similar capability to the larger Reliance class cutters with 1 third the crew in a package 7knots faster and no bigger than the Cyclone class...ie one that can fit in many Coast Guard stations. It's 20-30 feet longer than the CG seems to want but its manning is reasonable (though admittedly 10 more than a 110'). It is likely more seaworthy than a 110' and it is very well adapted to SAR duty. In all likelihood its maintenance and operations costs are fairly low (these being of PARAMOUNT importance to the Philippine Coast Guard).

Versatility is the watchword of the Coast Guard, and few vessels are as versatile as Denmark's Flyvefisken class. These 35 knot vessels are nominally fast attach craft, but are fitted with modules for pollution control, search and rescue, oceanography as well as 4 weapons modules for SSMs, SAMs minesweeping gear, and torpedoes. The heavy weapons are superfluous in CG service but a case might be made for one or more of the neat 12 packs of Evolved Seasparrows or perhaps a SeaRAM on overseas deployments. Sooner or later an asshat is going to take a potshot at a cutter with a missile and a good point defense missile would be useful...especially onewith secondary antiship capability...decadent I know.... the point is the vessel is quite adaptable to a war situation if necessary.

The HUGE workdeck (used for mines and torpedo tubes in RDN service) would lend itself admirably to ATON (aids to navigation) work and pollution control in the rare cases the CG has to do that. Base crew without the big weapons (which the CG would rarely if ever use) is 19....very economical indeed. There are 4 modules for weapons or other kit. Forward the Danish models are fitted with a 76mm gun so the CG's superb 57mm weapon would be no problem, let alone the smaller guns we could actually afford to put on it right now.The hull is constructed of a fibre-reinforced plastic! Despite this, these ships are minimally ice strengthened (but NOT ice breaking) and designed to operate safely in some of the worst seas on the planet...the Atlantic between Denmark and Greenland. This is a VAST improvement upon the CG's 110's (which, with their hull plating about the thickness of a nickel(!) do not deal well with ice).
With a waterline length of 164 feet it is closer to what the Coast Guard says it needs. The speed is remarkable but depends on a gas turbine, (fuel hawg!) note that on cruising diesels alone the speed of these vessels is still 20 kts A Coast Guard version would likely make 26-30 kts on uprated diesels not optimized for cruising, or perhaps 4 diesels (possibly at the expense of one of the mission modules). I like this one a LOT.

Going a bit smaller we come to this Lurrsen design for the German Sea Rescue Service. Only 144 feet long, and drawing 10 feet of water, these ice strengthened vessels are capable of 26 knots, have a stern launched rescue boat, and are designed with north sea winters in mind. The big fire monitor on the bow could easily be replaced with a machine gun or light auto-cannon. Incredibly, they have a small helipad for light helicopters, and though this tiny platform might give airdales harrowing seastories, it is a useful emergency capability to have, extending the range of small choppers or allowing wounded rescuees to be medi-vacd. The German Maritime Rescue Service is a civilian organization that exists only by private donations therefore economy of operation is high on their priority list. These vessels were built in the 70's and are very highly regarded. Lurrsen still advertises being ready to build them and the company seems quite proud of the design.

Their likely replacements are represented by the very similar (but slightly larger ) Herman Marwede. A bit slower with a much higher superstructure, this vessels helicopter arrangements seem less....scary. The high focs'le looks to improve seakeeping but the moderate freeboard and flush deck of the Essberger might be better for some SAR situations (yes I'm way beyond my expertise here). I'm not sure if this ship is ice strengthened, but given the operating area I'd be surprised if it wasn't. The ship is still brand new so I don't know if it is as well regarded as the Essbergers.

There are myriad other designs as well by many very highly regarded naval architects, but these are in service, seem to be working quite well and are reasonably economical to operate.

So let's buy something!

Anyhow this concludes my un-liscenced foray into marine procurement.

UPDATE: Welcome Murdoc Online readers!

UPDATE2: Note that in referring to the 123s STRUCTURAL problems as unforeseen, I was not suggesting that the other issues that have been widely reported were as well. However the contractor related issues regards wiring and shielding, were, as I understand it, not nearly as serious as some reports suggested and were fixed almost immediately.

Also, while the work-deck of the Danish craft would make them useful as supplemental buoy tenders, the lack of both a full sized buoy hold and a true icebreaking capability would mean that the versatile "black hull fleet" would still be needed.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:39 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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