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LCS Alternative-BMT Venator

June 2, 2009

This is a corvette type “mini-warship” with some LCS charateristics without the frills. A basic hull-frame. Very interesting. From the company website:

Our initial BMT Venator® minor warship concept baselined the following key characteristics:

  • Maximum speed of 25kts (enabling Venator to track and stop vessels)
  • Cruise speed of 18kts (enabling Venator to participate in task group operations)
  • Range of 5000n miles at 18kts (supporting task group operations)
  • Range of 7000n miles at 12kts (as a dispersed unit)
  • Sustain a transit in Sea State 6 and remain operational in Sea State 4/5
  • Accommodate a complement of at least 60, stretched to 80.
  • Mission payload of up to 700 tonnes
  • Fixed systems – gun (76mm or 57mm), air/surface search radar, flight deck and shelter (Lynx)
39 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink
    June 9, 2009 5:19 am

    Thanks for the info Alex!

  2. Alex. permalink
    June 8, 2009 11:05 pm

    IIRC BMT Venator was originally aimed at satisfying the Royal Navy C.3 Requirement to FSC (Future Surface Combatant).

    C.3 was originally 2 different projects (Global Corvette (and later FAC[Future Auxilary Combatant]), an OPV(H) with a long range; FMCMC[Future Mine Countermeasures Capability]).

    C.3 is expected to provide an Expeditionary MCM capability that can deploy with the fleet aswell as being lightly armed as to perform flying the flag missions where sending a £500m+ warship was a bit excessive. The reconfigerable bay aft is to launch UUV’s and can be used by the small EMF (Embarked Military Force[not sure if USN use a different term for it]) as seen by the RHIB’s onboard.

    This is the sort of warship that should be sent to the Gulf of Aden/Indian Ocean to combat the threat of Somali pirates. These are cheap to procure, cheap to operate vessels so potentially you could send 3 or 4 and it would still be cheaper than sending 1 T45 (or Burkes in the case of the USN) Destroyer

    As for cost, i would estimate that these warships are in the sub $200m catagory

    PS: for those that don’t know CAMM stands for Common Air Modular Missile and will replace Sea Wolf as the Royal Navys SHORADS (from the late teens-early 2020’s) aswell as replacing Rapier FSC in the Army, it is expected to have a range of greater than 20km(not quite as long legs as ESSM but SHORADS is short range by definition) and is a land launched derrirative of AIM-132 ASRAAM (RAF SRAAM also used by RAAF and IAF Mirage 2000’s will receive soon IIRC)

    PPS: the video seems to feature a 4 cell SYLVER A35 VLS Silo.. to my knowledge apart from 4 cell A35 SYLVER launchers come in 8 cell modules (and despite A35 having enough height to launch CAMM the quadpack launching module would ocupy too much room to launch CAMM from the remaining space in the silo (CAMM will be around 3m long meaning that even a single CAMM armed A35 will only have 0.5m spare as opposed to 1.3m on A43).

  3. leesea permalink
    June 6, 2009 12:29 am

    Come IF they just awarded contracts for #3&4, then they damn well have to know the costs for the ships! I hope the congress slam dunks the Navy on LCS costs.

  4. Scott B. permalink
    June 5, 2009 2:52 am

    The excellent Chris Cavas has a new update on LCS :

    Mabus: LCS cost goal may not be realistic

    So $460 million is not enough for a glorified speedboat ?

    I wonder what new excuse the pro-LCS crowd are going to come up with…

  5. Scott B. permalink
    June 4, 2009 2:44 pm

    Michael Webb said : “4)At this stage of concept design, displacements are negotiable within trade studies.”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that the 90m design (corresponding to a design displacement of 2,680 tons) was the baseline, and that the parametric studies you guys conducted showed that, should a genuine “global deployability” be a requirement, a 110m hull would offer a better balance in terms of seakeeping, stability and power required to achieve 25 knots.

    Which probably means a 250-300 tons increase in design displacement over the 90m baseline hull.

    Taking us further and further away from Mike Burleson’s ideal 1,000-ton corvette…

  6. Scott B. permalink
    June 4, 2009 2:31 pm

    Michael Webb said : “Please visit the web-site if you haven’t and if you have any comments, please come back to me.”

    What material is Venator’s hull made of ? What material is Venator’s superstructure made of ?

    Grade used for the material in each case would also be an interesting information if not proprietary.

  7. leesea permalink
    June 4, 2009 11:47 am

    opps that is my post above Lee

  8. Anonymous permalink
    June 4, 2009 11:45 am

    A few historical observations (I am not a historian but have been around long enough to remember -some- things LOL)

    As has been mentioned here before, the US Navy’s Mighty Midgets of WW2- the LCS(L)s were good, small, shallow draft gunboats which duked it out with shore batteries and Kamikazes. Converted from original purpose.

    When I was on Newport, we were tied up while on deployment, it seems the Navy had run out of steaming money. One CVN day = ten LST day~~?

    The “heavies” of Vietnam river warfare in the MRF where in fact mostly converted landing craft. There is where displacement lifted lots of weapons, much armor and oh yeah a bunch of floatation blocks. Talk about slugging it out!

    MWebb yes I have reviewed the Aegir designs. They are similar to German Berlin AOE, more a modern naval auxilary. The USN won’t even update its Kaisers much less buy a new smaller design – dahh?

    Along the lines of non-traditional small warships (besides the obvious Visby and Skjolds) I would like to suggest looking at the Austal MRC/MRV design. It appeals to me not so much as gunboat, but as a mulit-mission platform. Perhaps more in the armed naval auxiliary aka support ship role? Of course being a deckie at heart, any ship with both a ramp and a crane is always better to me~~

  9. Mike Burleson permalink
    June 4, 2009 8:06 am

    Basically I would like to see warships get away from the “cruiser mindset”, that they must be self-sustaining for extended periods, with stockplies of weaponry loaded (unecesary in the precision age). I think this attitude gets us smaller fleets; individually capable but fewer in number and higher costs. A navy should be able to get hulls in the water as needed, and afforadably replaced. Sure you need balance,, and battleship types are still necessary, but current production is heavily bias toward the high-end, exquisite vessel. Even supposedly “low end” escort ships are approaching a billion dollars each, and in the case of USN escorts, surpassing it.

    So we may need something radical, or in the case of Venator, not so very radical as practical.

  10. June 4, 2009 7:00 am

    “Like Lee said, it needn’t be a traditional platform either. The future warship may look nothing like the monohull combat ships we are so familiar with today, even with the Navy’s LCS, which looks more like a yacht than a battleship.”

    Monitors performed very well inshore during the Gallipolli campaign or indeed, topically speaking, during the D-Day landings.

    For shallow waters you do not necessarily need “small ships” by the way. Fundamentally in shallow waters the issue is draught versus manoeverability. somewhere in the trade-space between giant Mexe-floats and sloops is a range of appropriate hull forms of course!

  11. Mike Burleson permalink
    June 4, 2009 6:01 am

    “Isn’t draught, price and capabilities much more important?”

    Not when you are thinking of littoral warfare, not so much. For shallow seas, you need a small ships. It’s academic. For low-end threats you need a low end platforms. This is where I think the 1000 ton corvette fits in. Sure you can send the helicopters in from your giant aircraft carrier to sink the other guys corvettes, but this is only a temp solution. For sustaining presence you will need forward squadrons, less costly than a battleship, the latter good for major war operations, but a little too pricey for peacekeeping operations. Just look to the Victorian Age British Navy for examples.

    Like Lee said, it needn’t be a traditional platform either. The future warship may look nothing like the monohull combat ships we are so familiar with today, even with the Navy’s LCS, which looks more like a yacht than a battleship.

  12. June 4, 2009 4:56 am

    I like your comments about support for Venator – have you seen our Aegir concept auxiliary designs too?! :)

  13. leesea permalink
    June 3, 2009 10:00 pm

    To me the important feature about displacement is those type hulls can lift a fair amount of payload and mount more (relatively) weapons and sensors. To me it not so much the cost of steel.

    Shallow draft just gets one in closer.

    I do not think we are talking about small warships in brownwater ops but rather in the greenwater where operations have different characteristics.

    That having been said, I still believe a small combatant less than 1200 tons and under 200 ft can be bought for around $120 million first ship costs. Any such ship is needed by the USN to fill the low end gap left by the LCS which won’t be bought and can’t get in close and slug it out when need be.

  14. June 3, 2009 6:50 pm

    What’s so important about the difference between 1,000 and 3,000 tons?

    Isn’t draught, price and capabilities much more important?
    A 1,000 ton ship with shallow draught is already too big for inland use, so where’s the operational difference to a 3,000 ton ship of the same draught?

    The difference in fuel demand is much smaller than factor three.

    The price is the really relevant variable that enables quantity, not the size.

  15. leesea permalink
    June 3, 2009 5:56 pm

    Mike let me highjack this discussion a little bit? There has to be a conscious decision at the start as to whether a GFS or APS or whatever the Navy will call them) as to whether warship or auxiliary construction rules apply. That must be known from the start and was one of the major problems with LCS. Changing design & construction standards is just unacceptable.

    Sooo you know me, I say build a station ship or influence squadron support ship to auxiliary standards. The size and cost will be much less than for a warship. As soon as NAVSEA slaps the warship label on a hull the price goes up.

  16. Mike Burleson permalink
    June 3, 2009 3:43 pm

    “What constitutes a “warship” is certainly an academic debate.”

    What’s in a name? My mentioning corvette is basically referring to a ship type, something smaller than a traditional Blue Water frigate which is geared toward littoral work, where the future of war at sea appears to be heading. Such ships would do the work of “battleships” in these waters, the latter a generic term I often use for traditional large Blue Water platforms which I see as wasted in missions as these.

    “It is an armed auxiliary.”

    I am all for that! Armed auxiliaries seem ideal for littoral work, especially in a mothership role. Recently Malaysia armed a containership ship as an anti-pirate “Q-ship”, and we recall those so-called Chinese “fishing trawlers” harassing the USNS Impeccable.

  17. west_rhino permalink
    June 3, 2009 2:19 pm

    It will never work for the haze gray BB fixated brass… not enough room for (Q)FA-35s and airdales…

  18. B.Smitty permalink
    June 3, 2009 12:34 pm

    Mr Webb,

    I completely understand why you want to keep additional information proprietary. Can’t blame me for trying though! ;)

    What constitutes a “warship” is certainly an academic debate. My intent was not to denigrate your design. I wanted to point to a clear, conceptual distinction between it and more traditional corvettes and frigates. It is clearly not meant to perform the same missions as, say, the AFCON corvette design.

    Frankly, I think this is a good thing.

  19. leesea permalink
    June 3, 2009 12:25 pm

    Distiller I can assure you that 3,000 tons is NOT large for an auxiliary ship. Go read up on the Lewis & Clark class T-AKE. OR take a look at Absalon class specs?

    The other thread here is that a logisitcs ship must be nearby to supply and support such small warship(s) as the Venator. I have already posted my suggestions about changing the logistics ships in a so-called influence squadrons. My preference being for a Berlin class AOE. Remember that do to their larger size such ships can provide the needed support for other “add-on” systems if only to have them stored onboard for swap out to smaller warships.

    That having been said I must take difference with the terminology being used. A naval auxiliary is by definition NOT a warship. Its primary mission is NOT warfare but support. It can be built to specialized rules fornaval ships such as ABS HSNC just for instance or the DNV auxiliary rules. The applicabilty of NVR is a major design decision point & cost point. I would prefer to used the term “armed naval auxiliary” such as applies to the RFA fleet support ships. To me that says a merchant marine crew augmented by naval personnel for specific functions such as weapons, aviation, C4SIR.

    Now its for the historians to find a ship designation for armed auxiliary?

  20. Scott B. permalink
    June 3, 2009 11:49 am

    Distiller said : “I really think that LCS should avoid carrying remote sensors on manned platforms (and at the same time carrying effectors on UxV).”

    There only one UxV-carried *effector* in the MCM mission package (Spiral Alpha), namely the Unmanned Surface Sweep System.

    The others (RAMICS, AMNS and OASIS) come with the MH-60S.

  21. Distiller permalink
    June 3, 2009 10:58 am

    Mr. Webb — what drives your design displacement? Endurance and seakeeping, the wish to include an aviation complex, or the size of the (or multiple) UxV packages?
    And re the warship question: At least with something named “auxiliary” or “T-….” nobody in some UCC might be tempted to (mis)use it as destroyer gap-filler.

    Scott, of course I’m aware that Q-8 is 30 to 50% short of the payload it would need to lift the sensors that the Seahawks fly around (and I’m not starting about onboard/offboard data processing here). But VUAVs will evolve, and sensors might shrink as well.

    I really think that LCS should avoid carrying remote sensors on manned platforms (and at the same time carrying effectors on UxV). It results in poor scalability and makes the whole LCS mission performance dependant on the Seahawk ops cycle.

  22. June 3, 2009 9:16 am

    Dear B.Smitty – we would prefer to keep proprietary everything that is not on the web-site to date…unless you are SecNav of an emerging customer, in which case call in!

    Your suggestion that Venator is not a warship is I feel a misapprehension. Your “value judgement” that it is not at all stealthy and designed to commercial shipping standards is also a bit far of the mark! What constitutes a warship? Is it building to a naval code or is it commander’s intent? That debate becomes academic in contact with classification societies…an area where we “live”.

    I was amused and delighted to see Venator contrasted with the LCS – parochially here in the UK we are happiest when contrasting it with low-end minor surface combattants. Of course comparisons can be odious!

  23. B.Smitty permalink
    June 3, 2009 8:42 am


    The systems Scott listed are core to the MIW module. If the USN wanted a vessel that can act as a low-cost, surrogate MIW vessel in place of LCSs, it would not get one with the Venator.

    I do, personally, think it is very interesting concept. It feels very close to what is needed for the broadly-termed “influence squadron”. Something like this could be a relatively inexpensive way to bolster fleet numbers (compared to the LCS), assuming we could resist the urge to add bell and whistles and tinker with the design throughout construction.

    However, we can’t confuse it with a warship. It is not a corvette or frigate. It does not appear to be at all stealthy, and my guess is it designed, largely, to commercial shipbuilding standards. It is an armed auxiliary.

    The term “sloop” does appear appropriate, however in this day of acronymizing everything, I personally like ASC (Auxiliary Surface Combatant). Makes it sound more high-tech.

    Mr Webb,

    I know this would be difficult to pin down at this stage, but have you done any ballpark cost estimates for the Venator design as documented? Also, do you have any additional documentation you can share on the design? I understand if you want to keep it proprietary.

  24. Scott B. permalink
    June 3, 2009 8:41 am

    Mike Burleson said : “Scott-again with the add-ons! We’ll never get anywhere if we limit ourselves to the perfect.”

    Take a quick look at what’s included in the LCS MCM package, and you’ll find out that what I listed earlier are not mere *add-ons* as you seem to believe.

  25. Mike Burleson permalink
    June 3, 2009 8:14 am

    Sloop eh? I like it!

    Scott-again with the add-ons! We’ll never get anywhere if we limit ourselves to the perfect.

  26. June 3, 2009 6:57 am

    Thank you all for your interesting comments. Just a few asides:
    1)This is not a “multi-mission” ship – it is a reconfigurable warship, which could conceivably reconfigure whilst at sea – note the garage dimensions and cranage! Trying to be all things, all the time seldom works – not even some of the time!

    2)UAVs, UUVs – UVs of every character are being considered as we develop the concept. As for naval aviation, lily-pad would be the minimum.

    3)We don’t like “corvette” as a descriptor for our vessel – it has too many connotations of small escort et cetera. We are campaigning for the worthy title of “sloop” to be restored to the naval taxonomy!

    4)At this stage of concept design, displacements are negotiable within trade studies.

    Please visit the web-site if you haven’t and if you have any comments, please come back to me.

  27. Scott B. permalink
    June 3, 2009 6:18 am

    Distiller said : “The only way imaginable is enabling a VUAV like the Firescout to take over the mission of a manned helicopter like the Seahawk.”

    Firescout CANNOT accommodate :

    1) the AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS)
    2) the AN/AQS-20A Mine Hunting Sonar
    3) the Organic Air and Surface Influence Sweep
    4) the AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS)
    5) the Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS)

    That’s a LOT of stuff going down the drain…

  28. Mike Burleson permalink
    June 3, 2009 5:58 am

    “Again, what’s this with the multi-mission crap?”

    I agree with Mr Stoner on this. When you start thinking your ships should do it all, with every capability imaginable loaded in the hull, you start getting smaller numbers and higher costs. There is strength in numbers and the corvettes should be inter-dependent, upon one another and on motherships for support. You may find that any hull in the water, no matter how underarmed it may appear, can perform surprising tasks during wartime. I speak specifically about the 1500 ton 4 stacker’s early in WW 2, and even the tiny MTBs on all sides, Axis and Allies.

    Remember these influence squadrons would be forward deployed, so they can take advantage of land based aircover in most occasions, as well as nearby ports for resupply. For the USN so dependent on underway replenishment since the Pacific Campaign, this might be a hard concept to grasp, but it will give us a bigger fleet, better equipped to fight the wars of the future.

  29. June 3, 2009 4:50 am

    From the looks of it, this is more of a frigate than a corvette at 3,000+ tons. The design is stealthy (good).

    In my opinion, the ship should carry UAV’s (like Fire Scout). It should have enough deck to land a conventional helo, but not carry to carry that helo embarked(along with an aviation detachment).

    Armament appears deficient, but that can be fixed.

    Again, what’s this with the multi-mission crap? This kind of thinking is the kiss of death for small combatants. Multi-mission thinking will increase the size and cost of the vessel and that will mean less will be purchased.

    Neither NavSea or NavAir knows how to make a compact and capable corvette-sized warship. Many foreign navies do (out of necessity), but as far as the DoD and USN are concerned — if it’s NIH (not invented here) — it can’t be any good. That’s the WRONG answer.

  30. Distiller permalink
    June 3, 2009 4:47 am

    For an auxiliary vessel 3000ts full is mighty large. Venator is LCS without the speed. It’s like taking one of the large Damen crew supplier and putting mission modules and a little self defence on it.

    When operating aerial vehicles (manned helicopters, UAV) the question of protecting them from enemy aerial action comes up. Something the current LCS can do neither, despite its official mission of “sprinting ahead” and thus out of the AEGIS umbrella. If it relies on carrier based fighters to protect them the overall task force efficiency suffers.

    The question is, if there is a sweet spot at all comparing a flotilla of identi-hull small single-task vessels vs a single large(r) multi-task vessel. I think as soon as you want to fly manned helicopters the identi-hull flotilla idea collapses. The only way imaginable is enabling a VUAV like the Firescout to take over the mission of a manned helicopter like the Seahawk.

  31. leesea permalink
    June 3, 2009 12:38 am

    Smitty an aviation capable facility cert is a cost tradeoff. Maybe it should be a “must” rqmt on a 3000 ton ship? But remember that with the physical deck comes crew and equipment rqmts going to higher annual operating costs.

    I guess more to you question, do we need this size ship to be the jack of all trades that the LCS was intended to be? Or is a 75% solution that costs less and maybe does other missions better good enough?

    Still and all I like the Venator’s feature set.

  32. B.Smitty permalink
    June 2, 2009 10:16 pm


    Sure they are expensive but an organic helo is darn useful, especially for a ship meant to operate by itself.

    Helos are an important part of the LCS MIW and ASuW mission modules. If this ship was to supplant the LCS for these missions, it would be expected to carry one.

  33. leesea permalink
    June 2, 2009 9:38 pm

    Mike I think you are on to a winner! Right sized and with all the key features. I like the boat handling systems.
    Smitty remember NAVAIR specs are expensive. Flight deck is big enough for UAV landing pad and lilly pad for bigger helos.
    Speaking of expensive naval systems I don’t see any UNREP stations. It needs at least one RAS/FAS.

  34. B.Smitty permalink
    June 2, 2009 7:45 pm

    Mike, I like it!

    I especially like their designation – Auxiliary Surface Combatant.

    No mistaking this ship for a frigate like the LCS!

    And one would hope it is closer in cost to a large OPV or cutter. I would like to see a real, H-60-sized hangar though.

  35. Scott B. permalink
    June 2, 2009 6:09 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “I didn’t see the 3000 tons displacement. Since it didn’t have a helicopter hangar I assumed otherwise. Where did you see it?”

    Straight from the horse’s mouth :

    page 6 :

    design displacement : 2,680 tonnes

    scantling displacement : 3,039 tonnes

  36. Mike Burleson permalink
    June 2, 2009 5:46 pm

    I didn’t see the 3000 tons displacement. Since it didn’t have a helicopter hangar I assumed otherwise. Where did you see it?

  37. Scott B. permalink
    June 2, 2009 2:05 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “This is a corvette type “mini-warship” with some LCS charateristics without the frills.”

    Well, with a scantling displacement of 3,000+ tons, Venator is already a faily large *corvette* (assuming the terminology remains valid).

    Much larger than the notional 1,000-ton corvette that gets so much attention on the Navy blogosphere.


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