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Sea Fighter Aids in Oil Disaster

May 1, 2010

Sea Fighter FSF-1, photo by Phil Gilston

One of the Navy’s most unique new and versatile platforms, the FSF-1 Sea fighter (fast sea frame and catamaran) is in Pensacola, Florida, utilizing its peculiar shallow water talents to help out. Story is from WEAR TV:

An unusual Navy ship is anchored right now in Pensacola Bay between Allegheny Pier at NAS Pensacola and Fort Pickens…On board is a team of scientists who are taking samples of area bays to be used as a baseline to see what, if any, impact the oil slick has on local waterways.

The huge oil slick that emanated somewhere off the Louisiana coastline is pretty bad. Here’s more on that from the NY Daily News:

The massive underwater oil spill remained unstoppable Saturday and the Coast Guard estimates at least 1.6 million gallons of oil have spilled into the water since the BP offshore drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.
The slick is more than 130 miles long and 70 miles wide and has reached the coast of Louisiana, threatening hundreds of species of wildlife in the Gulf Coast, which is an abundant source of seafood.

This can’t be good for those seeking increased oil drilling here at home to make us less dependent on foreign oil. Can’t live with the terrorists and can’t live without them apparently.

 Also, check out the video within the Sea Fighter story from WEAR-TV.

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29 Comments leave one →
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  4. Bill permalink
    May 4, 2010 4:47 pm

    “The LCS is often maligned for only mounting a ’57mm popgun’, but from where I’m standing, that’s one 57mm popgun more than the SF mounts. ”

    FSF-1 is (or at least, was) armed with 6 .50s and has the required ammunition and weapon lockers installed as well. The installation of a CIWS on the 02 pilothouse deck was discussed at length during the design phase, but I cannot recall if the necessary support structure was actually built in there at the end of the day.

    She can carry two helos and support refueling of same and has fully NAVAIR certified flight deck for day and night ops, including all watch and firefighting requirements..but offers no cover for the helos at all, of course.

  5. Bill permalink
    May 4, 2010 3:38 pm

    B. Smitty asked: “I read somewhere that Sea Fighter was designed to have a 5 year service life. Anyone have any more info on this? Bill? What is the limiting factor? Hull fatigue?”

    Ugh. There is no short answer to that one except ‘No, the hull has a much expected longer service life in fact than 5 years. 20 years would not be a stretch”.

    But..without going in to the weeds with why that number of 5 years ever came up, suffice to say it was accepted and used in order to satisfy some of the scantling requirements without going huge. Yes, the desired service life is a key factor in the selection of one of the many HSNC ‘handbook’ structural design safety factors and is one that is directly related to fatigue limits.

    Suffice to say, in real terms, the limited amount of time FSF-1 has been at sea and the even more limited amount of time she has been operated on turbines…that 5 years is gonna take a very looooong time to reach.

  6. leesea permalink
    May 4, 2010 12:42 pm

    Mike now might be a good time to post the paper we Warboaters sent you about how to weaponize the Sea Figher?

    Unfortunately its beyond the scope of our Forum.

  7. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 4, 2010 5:59 am

    SWL-You bring up a good point, though she seems to still be considered an X-craft, unlike LCS which is intended for full production. Like the LCS, her selling point is these mission modules, in other words, think mothership. Why is this OK for FSF-1 and not LCS? The latter is the size of a frigate, and they now say she is a frigate, yet as we often point out nowhere near as well armed for encountering other frigates or smaller corvettes for that matter. This reminds us of the old battle cruiser, which looked so much like a battleship thats how they were used, though still possessing cruiser armor. The disastrous results should be a warning to the LCS advocates.

  8. ShockwaveLover permalink
    May 3, 2010 11:48 pm

    Mike, I’m a fan of the SeaFighter concept, but something which seems to slip under the radar is weaponry, or lack of it. The LCS is often maligned for only mounting a ’57mm popgun’, but from where I’m standing, that’s one 57mm popgun more than the SF mounts. Just what are we going to arm it with? I don’t think a gun of the same calibre could be mounted on SF without some serious compromises to both performance and carrying capacity, and I’m no fan of an all missile loadout, due to the high cost per round. You can justify the cost of a Hellfire or Harpoon when you’re facing an MBT or a destroyer, but facing pirates and swarms, it’s overkill. Besides, with the demise of NLOS, there really isn’t anything available that fits the bill. Having 7 SFs instead of one LCS is great, but if they haven’t got any teeth…

  9. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 3, 2010 6:21 pm

    Lee-you’re right! Layers, all the way from the beach to the deep water. It’s a winning formula, proven by the Warboats guys in Vietnam!

  10. B.Smitty permalink
    May 3, 2010 1:41 pm

    I read somewhere that Sea Fighter was designed to have a 5 year service life. Anyone have any more info on this? Bill? What is the limiting factor? Hull fatigue?

  11. leesea permalink
    May 3, 2010 12:17 pm

    Mike at least YOU are saying it. There are so many blue water types who are in denial !

    The spectrum starts with many good warboats, goes to more PC replacements, then to classes of good corvettes/FAC, then to several motherships/station ships, then to current blue water fleet. ALL supported by naval auxiliaries and specialized sealift ships.

  12. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 3, 2010 4:45 am

    “Hi-Med-Low mix”

    True. I suppose my argument is we need more of the low because that is where we are in warfare. We are so focused on getting and maintaining capability, we have lost sight of the need for many hulls for proper sea control.

    So if I harp too much on the low end, forgive me!

  13. leesea permalink
    May 2, 2010 7:47 pm

    Mike.

    A balanced fleet should be composed of a spectrum of ships. Its not a large versus small dicotomy. Its a range of sizes and capabilities. A Hi-Med-Low mix.

    Mutli-function does not equal mothership. Of course in my view a mothership is all about logistics and being a force enabler not about being a warship of such and such size. But in the logistics world size matters.

    One defines the ROC & POE and those lead to ship type and size.

    The NNFM is my idea of a balanced fleet.

  14. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 2, 2010 2:19 pm

    “I do NOT agree the having a multi-functional ship is wrong.”

    Neither do I, just think such vessels should be now considered motherships, preceded by a great many lighter vessels. Historically, this is the only way to run a large global fleet.

    In a good year we build about 10 large ships. I would build 2, and the rest would be scores of light craft, which you then can afford in adequate numbers, for the type of wars we are fighting today, while saving the shipyards from premature closings and layoffs.

    A balanced fleet, and only a great many small warships can balance a handful of multimission battleships.

  15. leesea permalink
    May 2, 2010 1:22 pm

    Mike,
    I would agree that putting too many DIVERGENT capabilities into the LCS will be its undoing. I do NOT agree the having a multi-functonal ship is wrong.

    The flaws are in not in the concept of having ships which perform more than one mission, its in the specifc implementation of those capabilities. The USN started off not with a bad concept but with a set of inconsistent capabilities which they then planted in the wrong hull forms. Once again HSVs are not in and of themseleves bad ships (as some might argue), but the use of that type in the current LCS form is questionable. I think the LCS may, just may end up as decent ocean escorts more of the picket type than carrier screen? The LCS which will be built will surely end up assuming mothership duties regardless of the failings – why because those are all the hulls the USN will have after about 2014 to do such missions. Much the pity.

    I continue to question your comparisons of small single function, limited capability & surviviabiliy warboats to large ocean going ships – its just plain apples and grapefruits! Similarly, comparing transports and sealift ships to warships is fraught with problems. To start with construction standards and then payload capacities.

    Can and should there be alternatives to the LCS, yes of course! The designs & production of which ALREADY exist. Is the SeaFighter a potential alternative yes it is WHEN modified. What bugs me is the USN indifference to that ship which has already been built and tested.

    The USN has a long history of test long and buy none. For (blank) sakes use it for more than R&D!

  16. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 2, 2010 3:40 am

    Note that I never see the LCS alternative as doing everything she can do, only cheaper. My main beef against LCS is trying to fit too many capabilities into a single hull, and that is also why she costs so much BTW.

    So I get alot of raised eyebrows when I say a speedboat is an LCS alternative, or a support ship, or an OPV type like Sea Fighter is LCS replacement, or JHSV because here are all these capabilities we try to fit in this swiss army knife ship. I think it a flawed concept, to replace ship numbers with capability. Which us why we have a shrinking fleet and the one we have filled with mediocre, but high priced lemons.

  17. leesea permalink
    May 1, 2010 10:01 pm

    Mike the prices you got may only cover the FSF-1 as was? Remember it was a technology demondstrator and did NOT have any of the LCS sensors or weapons systems. I did not have a hanger but did have a RHIB handling system.

    Sooo while the SeaFighter can go very fast, and propbably can and should be weaponized, it really isn’t an LCS alternarive until someone modifies it. At which point in time the real cost would be known. Right now it only has the flight deck, mission deck and speed as similarities to the LCS.

    Given the “new” mssions being envisioned for the LCS, one has to ask how would the SeaFighter perform as an ocean escort?

  18. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 1, 2010 7:36 pm

    Thanks D.E.! Writing too fast.

  19. Hudson permalink
    May 1, 2010 4:06 pm

    Mike: Aye, Captain!

  20. D. E. Reddick permalink
    May 1, 2010 3:49 pm

    Mike,

    Unless I’m mistaken, I think you should -EDIT- the following and replace the word ‘decreasing’ with increasing…

    “With more ships there are more hulls you can swarm against an adversary, greatly –decreasing– (increasing) the likelihood of survival for individual ships. No ship is invulnerable of course, but more hulls can give you a fighting chance.”

  21. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 1, 2010 3:41 pm

    You can buy from 7-10 of these (according to the price source) for the cost of a single LCS. Thats a considerable decrease in the presence deficit. These are more relevant to shallow water warfare than Blue Water types, which it can work in conjunction with.

    With more ships there are more hulls you can swarm against an adversary, greatly increasing the likelihood of survival for individual ships. No ship is invulnerable of course, but more hulls can give you a fighting chance.

    Small warships are so much more relevant to the type of fighting we are doing, against pirates, against smugglers, against speedboat navies. I love what the West are doing in the Gulf with their huge Cold war style battleships and amphibious, but you watch. They’ll be another headline tomorrow after today’s spectacular catch that the “Pirates extend their reach”, with some admiral shooting his service in the foot by declaring “you have to fight piracy on land”.

    With all their superb warships and capability, they are winning the battles but losing the war.

  22. May 1, 2010 2:42 pm

    well with the cost of the LCS going up and with its major weapon system in doubt I would think that a look at the switch hitting FSF (which surprisingly to me Information Dissemination advocated) would be more and more attractive.

  23. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 1, 2010 1:20 pm

    Well done Hudson!

  24. Hudson permalink
    May 1, 2010 1:15 pm

    See, my call to the Navy worked! (Carrier Alternative Weekly) Powerful site, this New Wars!

  25. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 1, 2010 12:48 pm

    None that I know of Solomon. The USN got our hopes up with the major makeover, but now she seems to be still in the experimental stage. I honestly don’t think they know what to do with her. I wish we had 50 of them, scattered around the world and coasts, doing stuff like this, soft power, disaster relief,anti-smuggling, fighting pirates. Much cheaper than missiles destroyers, amphibs, or frigates.

  26. May 1, 2010 12:43 pm

    hey Mike…did they try to fit weapons onboard this ship or it pure demonstrator.

Trackbacks

  1. Maritime Monday 213
  2. Links of Interest 3 May 2010 « ELP Defens(c)e Blog
  3. Sea Fighter Aids in Oil Disaster « New Wars

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