URR, dude – we need to play bridge on the same team.

I hit on the similar topic this AM on my home blog based on a NavyTimes article.

Part of the problem is that we seem to have some cognitive problem, or at least schizophrenia, when it comes to our FFG’s.

In 2009, the following “sky is blue” statement is just strange to hear, especially from the Deputy Director of NAVSEA.

“What has changed is an in­creasing awareness of the utility of the FFG in the littorals and the increased ability of our aviation assets,” McManamon said. “When you put an armed helicopter on an armed ship with a shallow draft that is fuel-efficient, that is valu­able. In the littorals, the ships be­come a lot more viable.”

What changed where, when, how, and with whom? That awareness has existed since well before I was a MIDN – though anyone that tried to say that too loud during the last decade were beaten to death with piles of LCS PPT printouts. It helps though in understanding the confusion I hear from the Ensign to the Congressmen on the direction and concepts from the Navy about our surface ships. I don’t know if I should be angry, confused, or sad when I read that quote – but mostly I am frustrated at lost opportunities and an under-capitalized Fleet.

Back to SEA 1390 though – let’s look at what it is.

Under SEA 1390, the Adelaide Class ships are receiving a modified and re-hosted FFG Naval Combat Data System (NCDS) and Australian Distributed Architecture Combat System (ADACS). It will operate on upgraded computers with new interfaces, and use an upgraded Local Area Network (LAN) to handle the need for higher data transmission rates. The Combat System will be supported by the introduction of the LINK 16 tactical data link to complement LINK 11, and provide better allied and helicopter interoperability.

Defensively, the old AN/SLQ-32v2 “Slick 32” electronic support system that picks up and classifies enemy radar emissions is being replaced with newer technology. For underwater warfare, the AN/SQS-56 and MULLOKA sonar systems will be removed, in favor of an improved variant of the ANZAC Class’ Thompson (Thales) Spherion Medium Frequency Sonar. Electronics that can integrate the Spherion’s data with towed sonars, in order to provide the frigate with a single underwater picture, will be every bit as important.

Offensively, The Gun and Missile Fire Control System will be upgraded from Mk92 Mod 2 to Mod 12 variant, and the AN/SPS-49(V)4 air surveillance radar upgraded to AN/SPS-49A(V)1MPU. A multi-sensor Radar Integrated Automatic Detect and Track System (RIADT) is also added to improve target detection, tracking and engagement, particularly against low altitude targets in cluttered ocean or near-shore environments.

All this must work together well, in order to make the Improved Adelaide Class’ weapons upgrades effective. The ships’ existing Mk13 GMLS pop-up launcher will retain its 40 round magazine, but will be fitted for more advanced SM-2 anti-air missiles and Harpoon strike missiles (usually fitted 32 SM-2 and 8 Harpoon). An 8-cell Mk41 tactical-length (vs. longer strike length) vertical launching system adds room for another 8 SM-2 Standards – or up to 32 shorter-range RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow air defense missiles.

Self-contained drop-in weapon changes round out the mix. The ship’s 20mm Phalanx CIWS last-ditch defense systems will be upgraded to Block 1B for better capabilities against UAVs, helicopters, and small boats, the MU90 Eurotorp lightweight torpedo will be ready in the torpedo tubes, the Harpoon anti-ship missiles will be RGM-84 Block IIs with GPS guidance and land attack capability, and RAFAEL’s Mini-Typhoon 12.7mm remote weapons systems will supplement the Phalanx’s defenses against fast boats and similar threats.

Imagine the economy of scale savings for both Oz and the USN if we had joined in?

Speaking of lost opportunities, over at my home blog, one of my commenters mentioned the following about what is going on with the USS McInerney (FFG-8).

Updated with Fire Scout VTUAV. Great upgrade. We’ll see how it does on first deployment. And then rip all the UAV stuff off and sell the ship. Unbelievable.

She is going to Pakistan in 2010.

It’s Friday – time for a nice port-wood single malt over a pipe on the back porch as the kids run around.




Posted by CDRSalamander in Uncategorized


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  • UltimaRatioReg

    She is going to Pakistan in 2010.

    Sheesh.

    “We have met the enemy, and they are us.”

    Seems Pogo is running NAVSEA.

  • http://turkishnavy.blogspot.com/ Saturn5

    I do not want to add salt to the injury, but RAN is not the only navy investing into its Perry’s.

    Turkish Navy is planning to upgrade its Perry’s in a similar manner. Last year Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors received a contract for 6 Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) installation on Turkish warships. Two of these system will be installed on Meko 200 Track IIA class frigates the rest four on FFG-7 class frigates.

    And this year again Lockheed Martin received a contract to upgrade the MK 92 Fire Control System on Turkish Perry class frigates.

    There is also an indigenous development project for a combat management system continuing.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    ‘Tain’t just the Perrys. See original Why Can’t We?

  • Byron

    I got three words for you: SLEP THE FIGS! Every time someone mentions that damn LCS, I’m gonna scream it. How many Figs could we not only SLEP, but upgrade, with the kind of money we’ve sunk into that bottomless pit called LCS. Oh…by the way, the ASW module ain’t doing so hot. Sid’ll tell you all about it when he shows up.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Beware of vaporware. The promised capabilities stated in the post definitely do not appear to tell the whole story. Some balance can be found here:

    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/australias-hazardous-frigate-upgrade-04586/

    If this information is accurate the original RFP for these upgrades was released in 1994. The project is currently at a cost of $A1.46B or a cost on a per ship basis of $A360M. The 52 week FX range for AUD/USD is 0.60 to 0.98 giving a US cost basis of $216M-$353M per ship. It should be noted that the relative weakness of the AUD (0.60 exchange rate) is a relatively recent phenomenon related to the global slow down, and the average exchange rate over the last 5 years was generally between 0.73 and 0.80) Additionally, the project is reported to be 4 years behind schedule (on a 15 year program).

    The expected service life of these ships extend to 2020 which I believe would be similar to current US FFG-7 class hulls if it were not for the very substantial and pesky corrosion problems effecting the US hulls. While I acknowledge that the US could have enjoyed the benefits of some economy of scale if an upgrade like this were applied to US hulls, the opportunity cost of choosing this path rather than producing a new platform with a longer service life is not an insignificant factor in the decision not to take this path. Nostalgia aside, this path is not and probably never was a viable path for the US Navy.

    V/R,

    B. Walthrop

  • UltimaRatioReg

    BW,

    The article in PROCEEDINGS outlined the various problems of cost and delivery schedule in the SEA 1390 mods, but also alluded to some of those problems being lessons re-learned regarding project management. What would a more intelligently program have cost? T

    This, and my original blog, has nothing to do with nostalgia. What is clearly not viable, particularly in this political climate, is the massive cost explosion and design problems of US naval shipbuilding. We are talking, when the dust settles, between having older, but updated and modified, ships, or none at all, for mission such as forward presence, and SLOC security.

    No matter how sophisticated and capable our surface units, a Navy of 170 high-cost platforms nobody is willing to risk represents a de facto forfeit of our six-plus decade mastery of the world’s oceans. Some would say we have already given up the littorals.

    URR

  • Byron

    Corrosion problems are directly related to the ships company getting where the damn corrosion is at, working on it with needleguns, and applying the proper paint system. Rocket science, it ain’t. All they’d have to do is give up three Powerpoints a month, and one diversitity training day a week.

    Sailors used to do corrosion control. Operative words, “used to”. Keep your bilges dry. Do your best to keep them clean. And remember, it’s not the part the Commodore or the Admiral sees on their way to the wardroom or mess decks that will sink you; it’s the damn machinery spaces.

    Last, but not least, I’ve come to loathe the words, “Defer to later availability”. They’re buzzwords, meaning we would really rather fix something else now, instead of this, and we don’t have the money now”. End result is the shell plate under a discharge bellmouth in a fuel tank that was at 20% degradation today and easily clad-welded will in six months time reach 40% and require divers and closed cofferdam to repair. Which do you think is cheaper?

    And Mr. Waltrhop, no disrespect, but I’ll bet you that in 5 years you’ll have corrosion control problems on LCS already. In ten years, you’ll be replacing a fair amount of minor structural items, maybe some piping. In 15 years, shell inserts and frame replacements. Get me a tour of the engineering spaces and I’ll point out every one of them.

  • D. E. Reddick

    These efforts by the RAN and Turkish Navy are quite admirable. They engender positively evil thoughts upon my part… ;)

    Of course, the addition of an Mk-41 VLS forward of a Mk-13 swing-arm launcher is seemingly the only thing that smaller navies can do (since they are still utilizing that old Mk-13 launcher for both Standard and Harpoon deployment & launches). The result is a load-out of eight Harpoon, 32 Standard SAMs, and 32 shorter-ranged ESSM SAMs. Let’s see – that’s eight SSMs and 64 SAMs.

    Well, the USN has uninstalled those old Mk-13 launchers from its remaining FFG-7 hulls. I’ve been looking at imagery of RANS Sydney ([in USN parlance FFG-35 and within the RAN it’s FFG 03] and comparing it against some USN FFG-7 class imagery [mainly FFG-60 {Rodney M. Davis}], with imagery available through Wikipedia and linked sources).

    OK, the RAN has been exceedingly clever in placing that eight-cell Mk-41 VLS far forward in the forecastle. Of course, if the USN has any desire / wish to re-enable its FFGs to be general-purpose and real FFG combatants – well, they don’t have to exactly follow the example provided by the RAN.

    I know nothing about what is present belowdecks in the FFG-7 class. But, seeing what the RAN has done with retaining the Mk-13 swing-arm launcher and also adding the Mk-41 VLS launcher – well, then… it seems possible to add some force-enhancing systems to USN FFG-7 class hulls (where the Mk-13 is now absent). Of course, this would also require an expenditure of funds for upgrades of the various electronics systems that control such SSMs & SAMs.

    ———-

    Solution I: Keep it cheap and simple. The USN -should- be able to follow the KISS principals.

    1) A simple, short-range SAM solution would be to plunk down a RIM-116 RAM or SeaRAM launcher atop that pedestal that previously supported the removed Mk-13 launcher. That gives you either a 21 or an eleven missile defense against airborne threats. Obviousy -countered- threats would be cruise missiles, strike aircraft, and helicopters.

    2) Since the original Harpoon armament carried in the Mk-13 magazine has been lost, then place two quad-launchers for Harpoon between the forward superstructure and that Mk-13 pedestal (where a RAM or SeaRAM launcher would be placed). Consider this a defensive and/or offensive weapon against littoral threats such as FACs and more significantly threatening blue-water platforms.

    3) For forward defense against small, high-speed surface threats approaching close to the FFG – install a Mk-44 Bushmaster II 30 mm chain gun forward of the RAM / SeaRAM launcher further forward in the forecastle.

    ———-

    Solution II: Toss aside part of the KISS principals. Invest more in armament and make the FFGs force-enhancing platforms.

    1) Rip out the underlying magazine and launcher pedestal of the removed Mk-13 missile system. Replace it with a single Mk-41 eight-cell VLS system much like that installed in the RAN Adelaide class derivatives of the FFG-7 class. Place the VLS in the same orientation as used in the RAN ships, with it occupying little space (lengthwise, hullwise) This gives the FFG a package of 32 ESSM SAMs.

    2) Since the original Harpoon armament carried in the Mk-13 magazine has been lost, then place two quad-launchers for Harpoon between the forward superstructure and wher the Mk-13 pedestal had existed. Consider this a defensive and/or offensive weapon against littoral threats such as FACs and more significant blue-water platforms.

    3) For forward defense against small, high-speed surface threats approaching close to the FFG – install a Mk-44 Bushmaster II 30 mm chain gun forward of the Mk-41 VLS system. Mount the gun high on a pedestal so that it can fire over the slightly aft VLS system and forward across another system mounted further towards the bow. The pedestal mounting would allow the gun system to fire downward against approaching suicide, bomb-laden boats and piratical forces such as those who carry RPGs.

    4) A simple, short-range SAM solution like the RIM-116 RAM or SeaRAM launcher could be placed furthest forward in the forcastle. Just mount it flush with the deck and immediately forward of the pedestal-mounted Mk-44 chain gun. That gives you either a 21 or an eleven missile defense against airborne threats. Obviousy -countered- threats would be cruise missiles, strike aircraft, and helicopters.

    ———-

    Solution III: Go ahead and max out the weapons load. Go beyond simply providing a minimally force-enhancing platform. It won’t be a Burke or a Tico, but the CO of either of those types would welcome the company of such a heavily armed FFG-7 upgrade. The CO of any aviation, amphib, replenishment, or auxiliary platform would simply salivate at having an anti-submarine platform that also carried what follows. LCS COs would likely fantasize about having such a backup a few miles/kilometers further out to sea. Enemy air forces would avoid this -enhanced- platform as if it were pure poison.

    1) Rip out the underlying magazine and launcher pedestal of the removed Mk-13 missile system. Replace it with -TWO- or even -THREE- Mk-41 eight-cell VLS systems similar to those installed in the RAN Adelaide class derivatives of the FFG-7 class (I don’t know if three VLS modules will fit into the available space where the Mk-13 launcher & magazine existed). Anyhow, and -except-, re-orient those VLS cells into an orientation not used in the RAN ships – instead, have it occupying greater lengthwise space (per eight-cell launcher). Not knowing the underdeck spaces, then I have no notion what is possible.

    a) Two Mk 41 VLS cells:

    i) Consider an FFG with 16 Mk-41 VLS cells carrying eight SM-2MR warshots and another 32 ESSM SAMs.

    ii) Deploy a total of 48 ESSM SAMs within 16 Mk-41 VLS cells.

    b) Three Mk 41 VLS cells:

    i) Better, ponder that platform with three Mk 41 VLS cells (three X eight VLS cells) and carrying eight SM-2MR SAMs and another 64 ESSM SAMs.

    ii) Same three Mk 41 VLS cells: but, alternatively, consider that the load-out shifts to twelve SM-2MR SAMs and another 48 ESSM SAMs.

    iii) Alternatively, with the same three Mk 41 VLS then make it a load-out of sixteen SM-2MR SAMs and just 32 ESSM SAMs.

    iv) Finally, maximise the ESSM loading and forget any Standard SM-2MR load-outs. That gives you 96 ESSM SAMs in a 24-cell arrangement of Mk-41 VLS launchers.

    2) Since the original Harpoon armament carried in the Mk-13 magazine has been lost, then place two quad-launchers for Harpoon between the forward superstructure and wher the Mk-13 pedestal had existed. Consider this a defensive and/or offensive weapon against littoral threats such as FACs and more significant blue-water platforms.

    3) For forward defense against small, high-speed surface threats approaching close to the FFG – install a Mk-44 Bushmaster II 30 mm chain gun forward of the Mk-41 VLS system. Mount the gun high on a pedestal so that it can fire over the slightly aft VLS system and forward across another system mounted further towards the bow. The pedestal mounting would allow the gun system to fire downward against

    4) A simple, short-range SAM solution like the RIM-116 RAM or SeaRAM launcher could be placed furthest forward in the forcastle. Just mount it flush with the deck and immediately forward of the pedestal-mounted Mk-44 chain gun. That gives you either a 21 or an eleven missile defense against airborne threats. Obviousy -countered- threats would be cruise missiles, strike aircraft, and helicopters.

    ———-

    Obviously, as with the RAN units – these USN units would require major upgrades to their electronics suites.

    Hey! However, just consider an FFG-7 hull with 96 short-to-medium range SAMs along with those other weapons systems… Oh!, joy!, for USN sailors and allies. Really, truly bad news for those who oppose the good ol’ USA and her allies.

    Well, I fully expect to be regaled with criticisms for my lack of knowledge. Still, this is a set of ideas offered up in full honesty.

    Fire away with all available broadsides, folks.

  • http://springboarder.blogspot.com Defense Springboard

    Long been a proponent of keeping some older ships around for potential in-extremis upgrading. But..that said, let me just throw in a little different wrinkle here….Anybody seen Navy recruiting use the prospect of FFG service as an enticement?

    Or, put another way, is FFG service, for the rank-and-file, seen as more a threat than an honor?

  • http://turkishnavy.blogspot.com/ Saturn5

    @URR:

    I have no answer for this question but an opinion. I do not think that it is a technical problem. If a foreign armed force and a defense procurement agency can plan and execute a modernization of a US designed and build warships with mostly of US designed and made weapons and systems, then this can be done in the USA as well. In my humble opinion the problem lies in the culture of the US naval weapon procurement is done today.

  • Byron

    Saturn5: You damn betcha! Why can’t we do it? Anyone want to take a shot at it? Tell the king he’s nekkid?

  • Byron

    One more: CDR S, I’m not much for bridge, I’m a bit old fashioned for that; now, a good game of whist, you can count me in!

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Saturn5,

    That seems to be the reason. Such a philosophy of procurement (and development) precludes. And it is a changed philosophy (see original Why Can’t We? blog), as modernization/FRAM/SLEP was a staple for decades.

    Methinks also that contractors and shipbuilders stand to make more from a keel-up new design (didn’t they fuss when the Ticos were designed to use the same hull as 963?) than from a series of affordable and useful mods to existing units. And for some reason, which only the Flags can know for sure, Big Navy is “jiggy wiff dat” as you young people say….

  • doc75

    Speaking of SLEP, if CG(X) slides to the right, you’ll be seeing a Tico SLEP (or another Tico SLEP). Anyone want to propose suggestions for that?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    SLEP the Tico: Add an 8″-55 triple turret that came off of Des Moines? Just kidding.

  • SWO JO

    CDR,

    Sir, I’m really glad to see this discussion continuing. If we continue to think, write, speak, and blog, perhaps we can save a valuable national asset. A few comments for others:

    Byron,

    Even considering the FFG 7 corrosion problems we’ve previously discussed (see this earlier post), I think the class can be saved. Having witnessed a Caterpillar re-engine, I would have never believed that the machinery spaces would be in such good shape after the fact. You’re absolutely right that ship’s force should be taking care of it in the first place. Another leadership issue that both shipboard khaki and higher headquarters need to address together.

    Springboard,

    I think you hit a community issue with the FFG class right on the head. My priority during ship selection was platform type – I wanted a FFG more than anything else. When I picked my particular command – the obligatory line of Flags seemed dissapointed because I had left plenty of brand-new precom DDGs for people ranked lower than myself. Aviators used to the F-18 mafia will relate – we have suddenly become a community where one technology, Aegis, has become the be-all/end-all of surface combatants. Aegis ships are great – and they fulfill a wide variety of important roles. But, to continue the analogy, doesn’t an S-3 make more sense as a refueler than a F/A-18E with drop tanks? It’s the scalpel vs. bazooka argument – different tools each have their own purpose. We seem to be unwilling to admit that, for its cost, a FFG is better than a DDG for certain roles (CTF 151, anyone?).

  • UltimaRatioReg

    SWO JO:

    Now THAT sheds some light on the situation. If you ain’t AEGIS, you ain’t cool. Thanks for the comments!

  • Byron

    SWO JO, If you’ve been at Mayport recently (for at least the last 7 years straight) I’ve probably run across you: big, ugly, long haired (well, kind of, compared to you guys) yardbird type. I’ve worked on ALL the FFGS out there, we’re kinda the Fig specialists. I’ve been working on those great little ships since they were brand spanking new, and I’ve never stopped loving them. Easy to work on, easy to move things in and out (except for those damn Cats!). Now, if only ships force would turn to and pay close attention to the hull from S-12 down (that’s near the red line in the bilges), especially the bilges in Aux3, or around the aft end of the MERs.

  • SWO JO

    Byron: unfortunately, I’ve only had the pleasure of being in Mayport for a 3 week CMAV a while back. I am due to transfer and will be in that neck of the woods for my next tour (but, alas, not on a Fig). Most people I’ve ran across who have served on one have loved it – it was an instructor who did a Fig tour that initially inspired me to take orders to one.

    The preservation issue comes back down to why it makes more sense to SLEP FFGs than continue with LCS – manning. With only 10 Enginemen to preserve three machinery spaces (as well as do preventive/corrective equipment maint. and everything else), you in particular see that preservation get neglected. I have seen many a cost-benefit decision swing towards keeping the gear up rather than hit corrosion as early as possible – I’ve made those calls myself. The Sailors do an excellent job, but there’s simply too much work to go around. My question is this: with only 40 people for the **entire ship**, how are we going to prevent LCS from becoming a coral reef inside of 10 years?

  • sid

    My question is this: with only 40 people for the **entire ship**, how are we going to prevent LCS from becoming a coral reef inside of 10 years?

    That pesky little can is getting kicked down the road…

    And those hidden costs are nowhere to be seen in the Affordable spiel.

  • Byron

    SWOJO, one of the West Coast boats? Worked on McClusky and Thach recently too :) Seems they like getting worked on in Mayport ;)

  • SWO JO
  • Larry Schumacher

    It would be nice to give them all to Byron for a SLEP, (I want a 5″ forward and an 8 cell VLS in place of the 76mm please) but the gov is not going to give us any money for it. So lets send them to the Aussies for the upgrade and give them Kittyhawk to pay for it.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    The original post was about more than just the FFG-7. Would LOVE to hear about other platforms that might get the SLEP/FRAM treatment to extend service lives and increase capabilities….

  • VADM J. C. Harvey, Jr

    All, great discussion with many excellent ideas/thoughts being brought out.
    Keep them handy – the nation’s economic crisis will have profound effects on our Navy, and in the crisis and the forced change that comes with such events there will also be great opportunities.
    One of the greatest periods of innovation in our Navy was from 1922 – 1936, as the Navy dealt with the dual impacts of the Washington Naval Treaty and the Great Depression.
    I believe we are now in a similar period of great challenge that will both demand and bring forth our best.
    We need to be doing some serious thinking and exchanging of ideas, just like we are doing in this thread. All the best, JCHjr

  • Byron

    URR, surface navy has three classes: FFG, DDG, CG. It’s a good backbone for a damn good Navy. I see little reason to re-invent the wheel. LCS be damned, it’s the perfect example of what’s broken in the procurement process. Instead of getting all the miles we should have gotten out of the FFGs, we’re going to send them to another nation (who obviously wants to make them the ships that we seem to NOT want) or to a SINKEX, just like we did the SpruCans. CGs have a ton of capability left in them and I see no reason not to SLEP them as well. Burkes? How do you improve on the best tin can we’ve ever had? Well, except only having one 5″. Carriers? If it ain’t broke, dont’ fix it. Subs? Same answer. I’ll admit that I havent followed the MIW boats much, since we haven’t seen any at Mayport since those terrible old wooden hulls left (damn, did I hate to work on those things!).

    And VADM Harvey, please pass this on to your fellow flags: “Yahoo” is really an abbreviation; it really stands for, “You Always Have Other Options”. In my shipfitters humble opinion, in this case it means kill LCS and used the funds saved to SLEP the Figs!

  • pk

    slep or fram perry’s:

    is that noise in the background sledgehammers on rice bowls or sacred bovines being goosed with cow prods?

    C

  • Byron

    Don’t forget the gored oxen :)

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    Regardless of whether the LCS is the replacement for the FFG-7s or not, I believe the better option is to retire and FMS the FFG-7s when their time is up. I do not see the advantage of a SLEP or modernization of that hull.

    The FFG-7 is too expensive to operate for what it brings to the fleet, which right now is a pair of helicopters, and during a period where the US Navy has a considerable technological advantage the Navy should not invest too heavily into the FFG-7s for what amounts to only 10 more years of service.

    The next 10 years the Navy absolutely will maintain its considerable lead against competitors as long as the AEGIS fleet stays in service, which means the Navy can afford risk by allowing the frigates to retire and investing towards a future fleet. The 10 years after that is when the competition will be catching up assuming their actions match their stated intent. Will we have evolved by then, will we be ready? The answer is yes, unless we decide to desperately hold on to the present with our investments instead of investing towards the future.

  • Byron

    Galrahn, I think the question is what do we do if Congress takes an axe to shipbuilding budgets, especially the big tickets like LCS and DD(?)? Then SLEPing the Figs is back on the table, so that we can keep the numbers up and more importantly, trained sailors in the fleet.

  • pred

    All the talk is about armaments, though Galrahn comes close with mentioning operating costs. Renew HM&E, reduce crew where suitable. Get rid of one LM2500 and consider adding additional generators and a 3-4MW electric motor for speeds up to 16kts.

  • WTH

    1) build new ships
    2) give more time to maintenance
    3) accomplish more extensive overhauls
    4) provide more money for maintenance
    5) institute better training for maintenance personnel
    6) create a large-scale modernization and rehabilitation program to fill the gap until new ships can be built.

    ADM Burke’s FRAM, check out wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleet_Rehabilitation_and_Modernization

    Everything old is new again.

    I had the happy chance to spend all weekend while these thigns were being discussed here at USNI near USS LAFFEY (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Laffey_(DD-724)) and I thought, why can’t we now? There is a place for a modern ship of this type.

    There is a gap in the current fleet, no low end WARSHIP. LCS is not it, LCS may well become something fantastic, or it could flop, we don’t know yet. There are still too many balls in the air. But it is not a ship designed to go in harms way, rather LCS is to run from harms way.

    Strategically we need to readdress what it is we actually want to do and how our ships do those things. We have some of the best ships in the world now, but we have nothing viable on the board. LCS may or may not work. We are trying to kill DDG-1000 and CGX/FSC is forever away.

    LCS is lower than the low end, and CGX is the high end. We have nothing in the middle, and what ships we have in that realm are going to start aging out. There is much praise for the F100 and derivatives, but those are REALLY destroyers as we call them now, area AAW ships. We as the USN have that covered, in spades. What we need is a new DD/FF(X)/Corvette, I don’t care what you call it, to do the things we don’t NEED a CG/DDG to do. In fact we hazard those capital ships unnecessarily to do really low end stuff. What we need is a ship that is self deployable, doesn’t have a huge draft, can defend itself, and acts as a primary contact point in the littoral that does not rely on offboard, unmanned systems. A self deployable streetfighter, or what LCS should be if you’re feeling snarky.

    The design as I see it, a modern GEARING type class:
    400 FT x 40 FT X 15 FT
    Twin Screws
    3000ish tons
    150ish crew
    CODLAG Power (cruise at 15-18 without turbine, sprint to 30-35)
    SPY 1F or something similar
    Minimum 10% weight reserved for growth margin

    General weapon layout (much out of the LCS vein as we’re expecting to operate in sight of the enemy/land) fore to aft using a layout similar to the GEARINGs
    57 mm
    Tactical length VLS
    2 x 30mm
    CIWS 1B
    Flight deck for Firescout or other UAV
    57 mm
    Stern launch ramp for 2 CAPABLE RHIBs, much like NSC deployment of LRI

    LCS is an overly fancy and expensive solution to problems we’re not really sure about.

    This is a ship I wouldn’t complain about paying 5-600 million for as it’s more capable organically, it’s also versatile and can help in the Strike Group construct.

    And yes Byron, we need to SLEP the FFGs to bridge the gap between now and then.

  • Byron

    Exactly my point. SLEP the figs is not an end unto itself; it’s a stop-gap till budgets make sense, and we come up with a design that makes sense, and congressional-NAVSEA agreement set in stone before the first damn plate is cut. You’ll need those ten years (and maybe 15) till the whole run is fielded.

  • Drew

    Great discussion here. Agree that the low end of the fleet is what needs a new ship, and LCS probably isn’t it. Steel hull, single screw, an FF(X) for the new century. Can’t see the point in spending dollars on an FFG SLEP, though. The hulls are too old at this point. Save that money to maintain the CG/DDG’s, and lets get some shiny new frigates in the fleet.

  • Byron

    Drew, if we make the decision tomorrow to stop LCS at 2, and build FF(X) the next day, how long before you can start replacing FFGs with FF(X)?

    SLEP the Figs!

  • Byron

    One more thing, Drew. I’ll bet you the next months worth of paychecks that I’ve spent more time crawling around the guts of FFGS that you have. Part of my job entails structural inspections prior to and after preservation of spaces. Yes, there are some areas of concern. No, as a general rule, these hulls are NOT worn out. Since I’ve crawled most of the tanks and all of the engineering spaces on all the FFGs at Mayport, I believe I’d have reason to know this.

  • Drew

    Byron, no way I can match your expertise on those ships. My rationale is more from a policy perspective. If we want to maintain the industrial capability to build new surface combatants, then the new-construction yards need work. Look at the maneuvering taking place by the Maine congressional delegation to keep DDG-1000 alive for BIW. If we’re so tight on money that we can’t build ANYTHING, then by all means do an FFG SLEP so that we still have a floating Navy. But if DDG-1000 is cancelled (here’s hoping!), then a new FF(X) program sounds a lot more appealing to me than either LCS, continued DDG-51 production, or an FFG SLEP. Hopefully we could have multiple yards build the ships and get some real competition. Just one guy’s opinion, of course!

  • Matt Hayball

    57 mm gun. Bah, Humbug. 76 mm gun. Marginal. 5 inch gun: yes. Two guns, minimum. The Navy is not a yacht club, it must be lethal. No need to make the Phantom II mistake all over again. 2 CIWS, Vertical launch missiles, basic battery. Helo deck and hangar, 2 helos, medium speed 25-30 knots good endurance, excellent sea keeping. Spartan habitability. Arm the helos to the teeth. two fast boats/variant of merch fast rescue boat, buy out of the catalog, arm with M60 and a grenade launcher. launch off a stern incline, recover with a spring loaded snap fitting on a big sea painter and a ring at the bitter end of the inhaul hawser Sorta a slow nantucket sleigh ride. Look for commercial equipment and variations from fishing, cable laying, great lakes ore boats to adapt much like we went after fire fighting gear in the 90’s. OK, there’s the bare bones, chew on that for a while.

  • Byron

    Drew, there are three sectors in the mix: Navy Shipbuilding, Naval Repair and Conversion, and the vendors that supply them with everything from soup to nuts. All three are utterly necessary to keep a Navy afloat and ready to go haze grey. I’ll tell you for a fact, that diminishing work is beginning to affect the ability to procure material: Do a search on mills producing Aluminum, 5456, H-116, to code ASTM-B-928. This is the material called out now for all aluminum structure by NAVSEA. Last December we attempted to get several sheets for a job that popped up and found that the last mill in the States had closed and the rest were down for maintainence, and the lead time was 6 weeks. We had to jump through serious hoops to get NAVSEA to buy off on the old standard, and only because it was ductwork (which we got defined as non-structural). I know all this because I’m the one that wrote the condition report requesting a DSR.

    Know that rail system that allows sailors to climb the mast safely? Only one company makes it…in Canada. Took a month to get them to come up with a certificate of compliance (to specification). That’s the kind of stuff that a shrinking Navy causes. There simply isn’t enough demand for a lot of material with the correct milspecs called out by the drawing for many vendors to keep dealing with it. And when you do find it, guess what it does to price?

    Do we need to keep two seperate workforces going? Well, if you can put new construction in the same places you do homeporting, no. If can’t, then that means that ships will have to go thousands of miles away from home during their “down time” and make those sailors be even further from their families.

    SLEP the Figs not only keeps part of the repair workforce working…and your “industrial base” intact, but it also keeps trained sailors afloat and on station while the real replacement comes on-line. There will be at least a 5 year (more like 8-10 year) gap between the two.

  • buffalojack

    It took me a while to make the connection but this post and subsequent ones on the USNS Impeccable are closely related. I am examining this at my new blog.

    Comments?

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