According to the May issue of Marine News:

Horizon Shipbuilding, Inc. is in final negotiations for a two-boat contract for 180-ft multi-role security vessels. This vessel is based on Horizon’s 170-ft and 182-ft fast crew supply boats delivered in 2008 and 2009. The MRSV will be constructed of aluminum and is envisioned to be powered by four Cummins Q-60 diesel engines driving four Hamilton waterjets. Armed with machine guns and a 25mm bow mounted rapid-fire cannon, the MRSV will patrol the waters surrounding offshore oil fields, protecting them from terrorists, pirates and other threats. Armor plating will envelop the house as well as vital machinery spaces to protect the vessel from small arms fire. The MRSV will be capable of speeds in excess of 28 knots and will accommodate eight passengers in addition to the crew.

I don’t know who the negotiations are with, but I think this is an excellent idea (as you might learn from visiting here, Multi-Purpose Offshore Patrol Vessels, Department of Cheaper Pirate Fighting, Department of Crazy Ideas: How about a cheap inshore fleet? and all the links therein).

Top drawing is from Marine News article and shows armed vessel. Lower photos are from Horizon Shipbuilding and show their 175′ and 182′ fast crew supply vessels.

Looks like they would be perfect pirate and inshore patrol craft.

Posted by Mark Tempest in Homeland Security, Maritime Security

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  • Mike M.


    I think one of the rocks on which LCS has foundered was a tendency to think of it as a single ship…instead of part of a squadron of similar ships operating under the protection of heavier combatants further offshore. If the endurance and cost are good, this might be a viable option.

    Although better weapons (Penguin, for example) would not come amiss.

  • Byron

    I’d add 40mm grenade launchers and Dragons. What’s the combat radius, E1? Is this an asset that will require a constant “tail”?

  • J. Scott

    This makes more sense than LCS—which has been a classic study in good intentions and requirements creep; essentially what not to do.

    Agree w/Mike M., LCS was sold for versatility and tried to become all things…

    This platform exists, so the overall design costs will be saved. Perhaps the navy will get one right…

  • Chuck Hill

    This something we can lease and try out without a long procurment program

  • Eagel1

    Leasing is something I have suggested in the past.

  • Bill

    …good idea to add more armament like the 40mm, maybe another 25. Then we’d have what we’ve never had. A decently armed, small, coastal patrol craf- heywaitaminit.

  • Mike M.

    Put it out to bid. Winner and runner-up both get contracts for a 3-year lease. Try them out…then place an order for whoever the Fleet prefers.

    You know…the same sort of procurement process that BuAer used in the 1940s and 1950s to buy all sorts of fine airplanes very efficiently.

  • The discription is the same as the 2 Iraqi Navy Offshore Support Vessels being built. Meant to support PBs…

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Who is this being built for?

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if this was following a US procurement process under a Foreign Military Sales contract. That might throw a bit of cold water on the “USN procurement process is broken” meme crowd. Leasing an FMS vessel back from a client in order to circumvent the whole JROC process thing. Now that is a creative approach. Not saying it’s bad, but it certainly would be unprecidented.

    I don’t know, but it’s something to think about.


  • Chuck Hill

    This doesn’t offer much improvement over the Coast Guard Fast Responce Cutter (Webber class WPC) except that perhaps it is cheaper and it appears to have plenty of space for containers, i.e. mission modules, but then the mission modules aren’t finished. Wouldn’t it have made more sence to build the modules first so that we would know what support was needed?

  • Benjamin Walthrop


    Right now in the USN the two general classes of ship with the greatest level of weapon system modularity are big deck amphibs an aircraft carriers.

    What you are suggesting (building the modules first) presumably for the LCS would be analagous to waiting to build an aircraft carrier until the final aircraft solution was designed and built. Considering that ships have design service lives longer than most weapon systems (including aircraft) this approach does not make a whole lot of sense to me, and in fact misses the point of designing for modularity in the first place.

    There are many arguments against the execution of the LCS program (of varying degrees of validity), but many people are missing the forrest for the trees on this program in my opinion. Lost in the ocean of rhetoric, motivated by various interests (corporate, political, operational, etc.), surrounding the LCS program is the realization that for whatever flaws it has, the modular design of the platform is very likely the way forward for a number of Navy platforms.

    Anyway, this is not an LCS discussion per se, but I do find it interesting that some of the very things that people have used to level criticism at the current LCS designs are evident in the “solution” (for what I don’t really know) put forward in this post. Here are the ones that jump out at me (although I don’t necessarily agree that these are valid criticisms depending on the mission requirements and CONOPS):

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Continued (hit send to soon):

    1. Small crew size
    2. Limited endurance (both sea state and range)
    3. Aluminum construction
    4. VERY light organic armament
    5. Maintenance intensive water-jet drive

    One additional point. Depending on how Eagle1 defined inshore patrol craft, the USN doesn’t need this as there are capable platforms (USCG) already in service. Cost is not discussed, so the assumption that this craft would somehow be magically less expensive is at best speculation.



    Lets see, Cyclone Class PC: 170ft, 4 shafts, 35kts, 25mm guns, mostly used to defend off-shore infrastructure.

    The problem with the maritime security mission is that if you design something just for Maritime Security, it has limited capability in other areas since that is the easiest mission. Not bad when there is a large demand signal for those services but not so good when you want more flexibility. You end up with another PC class with limited application. Great for maritime Security but not able to do much else.

    The idea of LCS was not bad. The execution is poor, but the idea is sound. Replace short range (and in the case of the MCM and MHC slow) single mission ships with limited flexibility (MCM, MHC, PC) and early FFGs (which are largely maritme patrol ships now) with a multi-mission platform that could be configured for different missions.

    What we need is a relatively cheap, reasonably fast, long endurance, relatively shallow draft platform with large multi-mission load carry capacity to handle MCM, inshore ASW, maritime security, capacity building, etc. In other words, all the hard, slow, boring missions that no one else wants. Something along the lines of an updated WWII Destroyer Escort.

    The Navy doesn’t need another PC

  • Paul

    What about putting a CIWS mid deck? Hard to argue with a Vulcan pointed at you and that would leave the stern open for RHIB launches.

    They could work in pairs close inshore. Give junior officers command and sea time like the USCG does. At a half bill per copy the LCS is almost a capital ship costwise. Something like this you can break without causing a major row in congress and the media.

    Totally agree about the DE concept– wasn’t the FFG-7 supposed to fill that role? Can’t we do to ours what the Aussies did to theirs?

    Was I to die this moment, ‘Want of Frigates’ would be found stamped on my heart.

    Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson


    Unfortunately the battle against piracy is not a littoral fight. Virtually every ship has that has been taken by Somali pirates has been in the blue water. The biggest requirements for the anti-pirate mission are a helo, long endurance and sea keeping. Since the MRSV has none of those characteristics it really isn’t suitable for anti-piracy patrols. For all intents and purpose, this is a slower version of a PC. Great for its intended role but largely limited by a lack of flexibility.

  • USNVO is partially right.

    However, while the ships taken by Somali pirates are generally taken at sea, the Somali pirates operate out of coastal havens that are now being challenged by the Dutch navy (and a few others) and which should be, in my opinion, blockaded by numerous small but capable units similar to those I have proposed.

    The Dutch are using landing craft and a mother ship to carry out their blockade. See here.

    I have proposed the leasing of several OSVs and their use in “blockade squadrons” in some of the posts linked above. Heck, lease some sort of LST thingie for use as tender, similar to the support units in Riverine ops during Vietnam.

    It is easier, in my opinion, to stop the pirates in their local waters than to try to chase them all over the Gulf of Aden and the IO.

    Leasing these boats means we can turn them back to the owners upon mission completion. They do not not need to be armed to the teeth nor equipped with every detector known to man. As I have said previously, here’s chance to experiment and be innovative. Give the OIC of this project a fixed budget and let him/her make the pieces fit with input from the skippers of the boats.

    We don’t have to over think this. The intent is not to create a new LCS – but to fill a littoral gap in an area where a $300-600 million ship is most assuredly overkill in fighting small bands of brigands armed with AK-47s and RPGs in open boats.

    Our CG fleet is already busy enough (though they have very capable ships) and I see my proposal as a short term solution to an on-going and vexing issue. We could use Cyclones, but we don’t have enough of them.

    In addition, I see the possibility of providing some of our better young SWOs with command opportunities while they are juniors in the naval service at minimal cost to the system. What’s the value of “field testing” young officers?

  • Byron

    I agree, but… I was watching a show on Nat. Geographic last night about the Gettysburg and their VBSS crews catching three pirate boats, one a “mother ship” in a row. Two were observed throwing AKs and RPGs over the side, the other had the weapons on board. In all three cases the Somalis were released as they were not “caught in the act”.

    If the ROE is not modified, then forget dry-leasing ships like this, as it will be a waste of money. And as far as that goes, pull all of our ships away from that tasking as they really aren’t going to accomplish much in the way of deterrence.

  • Chuck Hill

    From what we have seen, if we put these off Samalia, there is a good chance the pirates will attack them thinking they are fishing boats.

  • Chuck Hill

    Over at Eaglespeak,, they seem to be indicating these are being purchased for the Iraqi Navy, not the US Navy.

  • Retired Now

    LCS-3 is now half way thru construction, according to the Lockheed Martin website:
    Unfortunately, it is being very well built, apparently since the pictures are plentiful on this site. It’s a real shame to have the little Wisconsin shipyard workers do all that work, evidently quite neatly, and then end up with LCS-3. Which is just a really, really poor design. Overkill in Comm’s and Command and Control. Drastic “underkill” (pun intended) in the Weapons area. Wisconsin’s yard will build a quality ship to a terrible design ! Perhaps that Marinette shipyard will take over constructing all the NAVSEA LPD-17 class ! They have a pretty decent design, but Avondale yard still has no quality.

  • Chuck Hill

    Benjamin Walthrop Says: “What you are suggesting (building the modules first) presumably for the LCS would be analagous to waiting to build an aircraft carrier until the final aircraft solution was designed and built. Considering that ships have design service lives longer than most weapon systems (including aircraft) this approach does not make a whole lot of sense to me, and in fact misses the point of designing for modularity in the first place.”

    I am in favor of the modular idea, but I think rushing into the LCS program is analogous to building 55 Langleys to meet our carrier needs before we had done any regular Carrier ops.

    If we build modules, we can try them out on ships like these inexpensive oil platform support ships. How many people will be ultimately to run the equipment? Is ultra high speed a requirement? What is the minimum size vessel we can get away with? Is there an optimum size? There are a lot of things we don’t know yet, but we are spending our treasure building ships that are based only on fuzzy ideas of how we will use them.

    I don’t have a problem with building prototypes. I have a problem with building 55 prototypes before we have tested what we are getting.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “I am in favor of the modular idea, but I think rushing into the LCS program is analogous to building 55 Langleys to meet our carrier needs before we had done any regular Carrier ops.”

    Chuck, that is the greatest analogy for the LCS debacle I have ever heard. Kudos. Mind if I steal it and pretend like I thought of it?

  • Chuck Hill

    URR, have at it.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    As I suggested before, I think you are getting lost in the rhetoric that is motivated by various corporate, political, operational, and many other interests. You say that we’re “building” 55 Langley’s. How many are on contract? I’m pretty sure the number is four, and I’m pretty sure that Secretary Gates suggested that there would be a down select to one version by the end of this fiscal year. I’m not personally convinced that either one of those things is actually going to happen. We’re quickly approaching the last quarter of the fiscal year. The last real reference I can find to the down select came around March, and apart from some relatively oblique remarks about heavily reviewing defense spending for the next President’s Budget (due to the Congress in August), there has not been a whole lot of discussion regarding shipbuilding in the press. Since we don’t have much real insight into the behind the scenes wrangling that is surely going on, we’ll just have to wait until later this summer to see where all this is really going. The USN was essentially given a pass last year by the Congress on the 30 year shipbuilding plan, so I suspect that now that the QDR and NOC are complete they’ll not be allowed to repeat that this year.

    Furthermore, if you look at recent history, I’d argue that believing that entire production run of any major defense item (55 LCS in this case) is either wildly optimistic or unduly pessimistic depending on your point of view of the program. The only ships recently that have met their intended production run (and will now even exceed it) are the DDG-51 class. A list of some programs that didn’t execute their entire planned run are: Virginia Class, Sea Wolf Class, San Antonio Class, and Zumwaldt Class. Fear not, as there is still plenty of time to truncate the LCS run before it leads to the four horsemen of the apocalypse descending upon the Navy.

    Look at what’s being done, and not so much what’s being said. Three or four prototypes (so far) is what’s being done. If you go to the Thomas website and read GAO reports from early days of the Oliver Hazard Perry Class, Ticonderoga Class, and even the Arleigh Burke Class, I think you will find it instructive that the troubles developing “new” technology and implementing them are not particularly new or unique. As it turns out, Aegis destroyers were being constructed while there were still serious technical challenges associated with the SPY radar. It was a “scary” time for the USN, that ultimately ended in the successful DDG-51 class through a lot of hard work and perseverance. Considering the past successes of the US Navy from the days of Six Frigates to present, a critique of the problems in ship procurement might even cause someone to question whether they were problems at all. Perhaps they are a symptom of a dynamic democratic process that, as slow and lurching as it appears to be over the short term, ends up delivering pretty good results over time.

    To address some of the specific questions with my own opinions:

    “If we build modules, we can try them out on ships like these inexpensive oil platform support ships?”

    Yes, but why? More hulls means more maintenance, and that also has potentially negative impacts on the budget in lean fiscal times. It could be credibly argued that the USN is currently failing in surface ship maintenance, and I’m not sure how adding a greater variety and number of vessels will do anything but make this problem worse without any particularly credible upside.

    “How many people will be ultimately to run the equipment?”

    Don’t know, but as the technology catches up with the vision, history indicates the numbers will decrease.

    “Is ultra high speed a requirement?”

    Probably not, and in my opinion this is one of the failings in the LCS execution of the modularity vision. I am willing to admit that I could be wrong on this one.

    “What is the minimum size vessel we can get away with?”

    Don’t know. Again, it depends on the mission, but I would caution here that there is what I believe to be an inaccurate meme that has developed that equates small with inexpensive. I suspect that meme doesn’t scale well below 3K-5K tons if the metric that is used to measure it is Capability Delivered/Life-Cycle Cost $ spent.

    “Is there an optimum size?”

    Maybe. In terms of useful modularity, the current state of technology appears to limit it to either CVN or big deck amphib. The LCS prototypes are challenging this meme.

    “There are a lot of things we don’t know yet, but we are spending our treasure building ships that are based only on fuzzy ideas of how we will use them.”

    This is as it always has been and will always be. Ships have a 20 to 50 year design life. USN ships will always be adapting to a changing environment that is not particularly easy to predict. I would argue that if we waited for all the information to be in, all the analysis to be done, all the technology to be developed, and all the strategy to be agreed upon, we’ll look around and find out that over the years if not decades over which that effort occurred the shipbuilders would have probably found something else to do with their time and their capital. At least at the end of the day, the taxpayer can look at their investment and see some return when it is put into a ship.

    I wonder how many people who are calling for the leasing of ships actually lease a car in their personal life. I’m not sure that the analogy scales well, but there are upsides and downsides to each approach.



    The problem with blockading the coast is that you are in a grey legal area and can’t do much. You are putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. This is not like countering U-Boats in the Bay of Biscay because you have to let them go to try again as opposed to sinking them. Eventually they will get through and they can always raise the ransom a little to cover costs.

    There are a handful of ways to address the problem.

    1. Escorts or military security detachments for US flag ships. It would be simple since there are not very many US Flag ships and has the benefit of actually being within the rule of law. Lethal force to be used immediately if under attack. The pirates fire a AK-47, we fire a Stinger or Javelin in return. We don’t even have to worry about detaining them anymore. May actually drive some ships/cargo to US flags. Let each flag nation deal with the problem as they are required to do by international law (Piracy is a national crime). Follows historical international law, easy, cheap (for the US, if you’re (insert your favorite flag of convenience state here) you have issues). My personal favorite. Downsides are that it doesn’t address the problem of the instability in the region, may seem a little heartless, and still encourages Piracy since we don’t address the problem at its source.

    2. Go into Somalia and root out the problem. Easy to do, but lots of second order effects and no one else seems to want to help. For the US, I see this as a no-go. Perhaps a modified version of alternative 1, lets call it 1a, where you include a retalitory strike anytime a US Ship is attacked is a better answer. Again, legal, simple, and cost effective.

    3. Endless patrolling, both close in and at sea. Not so bad really, as long as we can get cheaper (read other nations) ships to do it. Everyone gets to say they are addressing the problem, no one has to do anything that might be unpopular or even work, we have ships in the region for other reasons anyway, and lets face it, the odds of any specific ship being attacked is very small. Let the insurance pay. Do more of the same! What is that line that insanity is doing the same thing over and over in the same way and expecting the results to be different. Downside is that you will never solve the problem, takes resources to accomplish that could be applied elsewhere, and has the depressing aspect of always seeing the failures on the news. Definitely not good PR although most likely solution.

    You can add other options, but basically, until you address the problem on land, there is no way to address it at sea, you can only mitigate. If you want to patrol, you might as well buy the ships as opposed to leasing them because we will be doing it forever. Of course, they are still the wrong ships because they lack wide area surveillence (helo), range and endurance. An LSD (or even a cargo ship) full of RHIBs would be a better choice. Since we don’t seem willing to do something that actually has the possibility of ever working, Option 1a at least has the advantage of being cheap, pushing cargo to US flag ships, and offers very low manpower requirements.

    Final thought, since the Dutch seem to be doing it, why don’t we let them do it (cheapest option of all!). I don’t see a lot of willingness of shipowning countries like Norway, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Japan, (you can feel free to add others), etc to do anything constructive. I’d say they have the dogs in the fight, lets leave it to them.

  • Chuck Hill

    Ben, my hope would be that we would stop at four LCS until we have a little time to evaluate what we have.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    You really can’t stop a production line without negative cost, schedule, and quality impacts on any subsequent re-start. This unfortunate reality is evident in the DDG-51 re-start metrics. You can slow roll the decision to provide more time while maintaining low rate initial production if you absolutely positively have to collect more data. For the LCS, downsides include continue proliferation of the fat logistics tail for two totally different ships even though they are notionally the same class. Bottom line, building ships is a challenging busisness.

    We shall see come October (or so).


  • Byron

    Guys, hope they figure out the LCS issue quickly; they’re going to be de-com’ing Figs pretty quickly. FFG-8 is going to the Pakistinis as I write.

  • Michael Antoniewicz II

    Byron, totally agree.

    But the USDoD/Navy *might* want to hold up just a bit on selling the FFG-8 and whatever else is on the sales floor since this interesting news item has come up:
    Pakistani lawyer petitions for death of Mark Zuckerberg
    -Police probe Facebook chief over ‘Draw Muhammad’ contest
    “…Last month, according to English-language Pakistani newspaper The News International, a Pakistani High Court judge summoned the police after lawyer Muhammad Azhar Siddique filed an application for a First Information Report (FIR), claiming that the owners of Facebook had committed a heinous and serious crime under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. In essence, an FIR launches a criminal investigation. But no charges have been filed.

    According to the paper, Section 295-C of the penal code reads: “Use of derogatory remark etc, in respect of the Holy Prophet, whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable for fine.”

    So, peace be unto Muhammad. But not unto Mark Zuckerberg.

    According to two reports — one at, a kind of citizen journalism site run by Privacy International, and another at Pro Pakistani, a Pakistani Telecom and IT news site that lifted the news from BBC Urdu — the Deputy Attorney General has indeed lodged an FIR against Zuckerberg, fellow co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, and “Andy”, the German woman who initiated the Draw Muhammad contest under a pseudonym.

    According to Pro Paskistani, petitioner Muhammad Azhar Sidiqque said he’s waiting for the police to contact Interpol about making arrangements for the arrest of Facebook’s owners and “Andy”. The site also says that the Deputy Attorney General told the High Court that Pakistan’s United Nations representative has asked to escalate the issue in the UN General Assembly.”

  • Bill Wells

    Did not the USN learn anything from Swift Ships?

    Crew boats and mud luggers are just that. Utility vessels built for going to point A to point B and back.

    Before anyone suggests building a squadron of them. Go there and drive them for a while.

    The most economical approach would be to build more Coast Guard cutters and let them do the work for the Navy.

  • CDR Tom O’Malley, USN (Ret)

    Has anybody condsidered the assets from NECC’s coastal warfare aka Maritime Security Squadrons? They include armed, agile, shallow draft fast 34ft patrol boats. use them in the coastal interdiction role. It is what they were designed for and how the crews (originally) were trained. we used to call them IBU (Inshore Boat Units). Stop the pirates where they originate! Change the risk v reward equation.