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LCS Alternative Weekly

December 30, 2009
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Swedish Visby class corvette K33 HMS Härnösand.

LCS as Sitting Ducks

I have mentioned a few times offhand that the new USS Freedom and USS Independence littoral combat ships aren’t as well armed as corvettes one-third their size. I wasn’t trying to be facetious or overly critical, this is an obvious fact. I talked with the guys from Warboats.org on this subject, veteran small boat sailors sailors and ship procurers who understand  shallow sea operations and shipbuilding. Lee Wahler, Retired LCDR SWO and former PBR Patrol Officer, has consented for me to quote him here:

IMHO all the  ” gas ”  has to be taken out of the hype about the LCS being a good littoral platform.   When an LCS enters those dangerous waters, it will be targeted and attacked and we can all form our own opinions as to whether an LCS will survive a serious attack, be it by gun, missile or air or boat.  Smaller ships can fight successfully (or die) in green waters!  LCS is just asking for the latter.
 
LCS was not originally intended to be a serious anti-surface ship (strike) platform, but from what I have been hearing the brass really believe LCS can handle blue water escort and TG protection roles, in which case all comments about offensive missiles may well hold true. The bottom line is we have to watch closely what the “next-gen” LCS RFP will require for weapons and sensors.  As a ship procurer, I would hope they specify those and rethink completely the performance parameters from the first four LCS. I am NOT holding my breath but that would be the logical systems acquisition approach.

Some have explained away the littoral ships lack of armament for the need to act as motherships for unmanned vehicles, RHIBs, ect. Here is Lee on the failure of LCS as motherships:

Now as to the LCSs  suitability as motherships, I know a lot of folks  think they are just great in that role and certainly they can be force enablers for helos and boats, BUT they do NOT have significant POL tankage or M&R spaces for those assets so it looks like they are not adaptable enough?  HSV as dynamically supported hulls simply do not have the disposable load need for logistics support. Note again NO cargo gear for alongside ops even skin-to-skin.  Oh, did I not mention they can only handle one boat at a time and only lift about three total boats of the 11 mtr RHIB and RCB size?  Well there goes that support mission!

Gunnery expert Robert Stoner, Lee’s partner at at Warboats has also detailed to me some specific vulnerabilities facing the 3000 ton LCS, including:

  1. LCS-1 and LCS-2 are deficient in their strike capability and defense against missiles and aircraft. As far as this goes, the vessels are targets for most anti-ship missiles or attack aircraft.
  2. Compared to the smaller, less expensive Visby and Skjold classes of corvettes, LCS stealth features are not good enough to passively defend themselves from such targeting. Both present a good radar target and a good thermal image for targeting systems.
  3. The 57mm/L70 Mk 110 gun has neither the range nor the punch to do the missions expected of it well, such as shore bombardment, anti-boat, anti-aircraft, and anti-missile defense. What they should have used was the OTO Melara 76mm/L62 Mk 75 gun (like the Perry-class frigates) in its super-rapid, lightweight version. Most corvettes, one-third smaller and even smaller fast attack craft (FAC) mount OTO Melara along with MM39/40 Exocet batteries.
  4. They are totally deficient in striking power, with no provisions for mounting the RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile system.

Bob sums up here:

I would not want to sail either LCS into a littoral combat zone where real people were shooting real ammunition.  As currently configured, both platforms are sitting ducks for even the smallest Fast Attack Craft.  Of the two designs, I think that LCS-2 is more survivable than LCS-1, but that’s a guess.
 
This is what I don’t get — the USN says it wants to have a green water presence — yet the kinds of ships it intends to put into those areas are so deficient that they have to be sheltered under the defensive umbrella of the task group’s heavy warships and aircraft.  That’s hardly a sterling recommendation for a design.

I will give Lee the final word :

They are expected to work in the dangerous littoral waters, but are not armed for it.  They are the size of a WW2 destroyer, but armed like a cutter.  Their survivability is VERY VERY questionable.  The blue water types are already saying LCS will be used as TF escorts which was NOT in the original concept.  The current CNO has said:  this is the program of record and no officer will complain about it.

*****

Stealth Corvette Revealed!

What the LCS might have been, Sweden introduces its first 2 Visby class corvettes into full service, after extensive trials and much fanfare. Here’s Strategypage:

After a decade of development, testing and extended sea trials, Sweden has finally put two of its Visby class “stealth” corvettes (HMS Helsingborg and HMS Härnösand) into service. This finally happened on December 16th.
With a hull made of carbon fiber material, and topside surfaces shaped to deflect radar, the Visby is hard to spot electronically. Traveling at less than 22 kilometers an hour (13 in rough seas), the Visby is practically invisible to radar.

The vessels weigh 650 tons and can carry a helo. The USN probably should have bought rights to reproduce these unique and affordable vessels early in the decade, instead of the flawed LCS designs, which is simply too big for the shallow waters and vulnerable to swarming tactics because of its small numbers.

*****

Victory over Piracy Remains Elusive

Things are worse since the warships came, according to the AP and Katherine Houreld:

Pirate attacks nearly doubled in 2009 over a year earlier, despite the deployment in December 2008 of the European Union Naval Force – the first international force specifically to counter Somali pirates.
Somali pirates currently hold at least 10 vessels and more than 200 crew members for ransom…

Somali pirates tried to board at least 209 vessels this year through mid-December, seizing 43 of them, the International Maritime Bureau says. That compares to 42 successful attacks out of 111 attempts in 2008, before the EU Naval Force deployed.

Sadly, the Navy’s heart is just not in this fight:

“It’s not going to be solved by racing around the Indian Ocean with warships, capturing pirates,” Rear Adm. Peter Hudson, the commander of the EU Naval Force’s counter-piracy efforts, said in Nairobi recently. “The long-term solution, of course, is ashore in Somalia.”

Way to promote the other Service, Admiral! We’ll remember that in the next budget. But this response is typical and historical. The Navy would much rather fight a peer foe, see the launch and retrieving of carrier aircraft, the firing of long range missiles, or the conducting of grandiose amphibious exercise, than perform sundry patrol duties against an elusive but effective threat. This is where the pre-Surge Army was you may recall, until they learned to adapt to the enemies’ way. Trying to place such a foe in our preconceived strategies is a sure road to failure.

Also from a separate posting by journalist/blogger David Axe:

One of the Gulf of Aden captures took place “just minutes after sunset,” according to Galrahn. That marks one of the first nighttime hijackings by Somali pirates. The shift to night operations, and the increasing range of pirate attacks, are worrying. A year ago, analyst Martin Murphy told me pirates were getting “oceanographically smarter, learning to strike at night and use captured trawlers as “motherships” to extend their range deep into the Indian Ocean.

*****

How Many Littoral Ships?

You have to admire the patience of the pirates. They are quietly awaiting without complaint our belated attempts to deploy littoral ships, ongoing since the late 1990s. I was curious just how long it would take to build an adequate number of our new LCS “pirate busters”. From reading this article via Defense Daily (subs. Only), I’m still not sure when that will be:

Under a new acquisition plan unveiled in September, the Navy is going to hold a competition between teams led by General Dynamics [GD] and Lockheed Martin [LMT] with the winner building a total of 10 ships. The plan is to award two ships with an option for eight more between FY ’11 and FY ’14.

   The service could award an LCS contract by mid 2010. A second competition would be held in 2012 to determine a second builder for LCS. The new acquisition strategy would prohibit the winning prime contractor and shipyard from competing in FY ’12 (Defense Daily, Sept. 18).

   The winner of the second competition will get a contract to build one ship in FY ’12 and options for four additional ships between FY ’13 and FY ’14, for a total of five LCS. This will result in an ongoing competition between the two shipbuilders, beginning in FY ’15.

I predicted earlier we may have 15 LCS in service by 2020, but now I’m and not so sure. According to this, there will be 10 ships ordered by the mid-decade, which would mean only 12 likely in full service by the then. Then, if you notice the sentence I highlighted, it appears only 4-5 by the mid-decade ordered.

Anyway, it is apparent the bulk of the Perry class frigates and the Cyclone patrol craft will be our only littoral ships, real pirate busters for some time to come. Concerning the Perry’s, they will by 2020 be approaching 40 years old. In 2003 I spoke to a Polish sailor in Charleston whose navy was receiving one of our retired frigates. I mentioned to him how much I admired the class, and his response was “She is so old“. That was almost 7 years ago.

*****

LCS Alternative-Swedish Visby Corvette

The most striking feature for these Scandinavian warships are their stealthy construction. The gun can be folded down into the hull if needed. The hull itself has a PVC core with a carbon fiber/vinyl laminate.

Specifications:

  • Length-73 meters
  • Width-10.4 meters
  • Draught-2.4 meters
  • Displacement-600 tons
  • Speed-35 knots
  • Crew-45
  • Armament-1 × 57 Mk3
    8 × RBS15 Mk2 AShM
    likely 8x Umkhonto IR Surface-Air missiles in VLS
    Mines and depth charges

There is a landing pad to support a helicopter but no hanger. As we reported last week, the Visby’s have been receiving warm water gear for which some have speculated is to send them to the Gulf and Pirate Bustin’! Ships built or building include:

 

K31 HMS Visby
K32 HMS Helsingborg
K33 HMS Härnösand
K34 HMS Nyköping
K35 HMS Karlstad

84 Comments leave one →
  1. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 4, 2010 9:20 pm

    Here’s a ‘news’ article about USS Independence (LCS-2)…

    Quotes:

    “Somali pirates beware; the United States Navy’s newest ship is nearly operational.”

    “She is a triple-hulled, weapons-laden monster.”

    That second statement is a really, truely, inexpungable, never-to-be retracted winner (IMHO).

    Hey, me… I am personally just like LCS-2. I’m a Bat’leth-wielding Klingon warrior!!! Yeah, right! ;-)

    ——————–

    Orlando Military Headlines Examiner – Richard Lowry

    USS INDEPENDENCE (LCS-2)

    http://www.examiner.com/x-30068-Orlando-Military-Headlines-Examiner~y2010m1d4-USS-INDEPENDENCE-LCS2

  2. leesea permalink
    January 3, 2010 1:09 am

    When I think of ship “costs” I generally see them in the terms of total programmatic costs i.e. hull procurement + GFE + initial logisitc support + training + trials and testing + change orders & deficiency correction (PSA) + program mgmt & contracting overhead. I believe that is what the SAR counts in its estimates?

  3. Al L. permalink
    January 2, 2010 5:43 pm

    B. Smitty said:
    ‘The radar horizon for aircraft is a lot further than for ships.

    Ship low observables aren’t just to avoid detection. Most cruise missiles use radar as their primary guidance mode. If they can’t lock on to a Visby, they likely won’t hit it.’

    My comment was in response to Mike B. who contends that Visby’s “stealth” is an advantage over LCS.

    Inside visual range it can’t be an advantage, outside the ships radar range Visby has no active defense and has no organic ability to observe or detect anything. LCS has on board aircraft and boats to provide over the horizon observation and depending on mission module at least a 2 layer defense, depending on the threat.

    Visby lacking anything in the way of over the horizon detection ability must operate on, near or within the horizons to perform its mission, LCS can rely more on distance by using off board assets. Visby is stealthy but it doesn’t give it any advantage.

    I suspect the primary barrier the Swedes have faced in making Visby operational is difficulty in maintaining l.o. while trying to add all the widgets necessary to operate an effective weapons suite.

    It’s also worth noting that all that “stealth” is great, but it’s not good for much unless a ship can operate “dark” As long as a ship is using radar it can be targeted.

  4. Scott B. permalink
    January 2, 2010 4:27 pm

    D.E. Reddick said : “They have their own program for modernizing the combat systems of their eight legacy Oliver Hazard Perry class of FFG-7s.”

    Don’t forget the MILGEM program.

  5. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 2, 2010 3:55 pm

    Back to LCS alternatives…

    The Turkish Navy certainly doesn’t seem to need anything like the LCS program. They have their own program for modernizing the combat systems of their eight legacy Oliver Hazard Perry class of FFG-7s. I found this elsewhere. It’s originally from Jane’s.

    Australia has done something similar with four of their six FFG-7s. Now, the Turks are performing complete ships’ system-wide upgrades for their FFG-7s and both Egypt & Pakistan are looking at the Turkish program to improve their own FFG-7s. What may the USN be overlooking?

    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=171613

    Under the G-Class Frigate CMS (combat management system Modernisation Programme (G-GCMP), the Turkish Naval Forces Command is implementing a comprehensive combat management, fire control and tactical datalink modernisation for its eight ex-USN FFG-7 frigates, now known locally as the G-class.

    Central to this effort is the introduction of the GENESIS (Gemi Entegre Savas; Idare Sistemi) open architecture CMS, a system nurtured within the navy’s own Software Development Centre in Golcuk then subsequently migrated to Havelsan for further development and production.

    According to Havelsan, GENESIS modernises and expands the C2 functionality offered by the legacy FFG-7 tactical data handling system, while at the same time leveraging its original foundation to interface with ship’s sensors, weapons and platform data. GENESIS has been developed by Havelsan, under the sponsorship of the navy and the Turkish Undersecretariat of Defence (SSM), as a ‘common core’ architecture to meet a range of ship- and shore-based requirements; other variants are being developed for the MILGEM corvette project and land-based command, control, communication, computer and intelligence (C4I) centres.
    As part of the G-GCMP upgrade, the new GENESIS CMS is intended to significantly reduce anti-ship missile defence reaction time (and so increase the weapon engagement window), improve situational awareness and support tactical decision-making by exploiting modern COTS computers and network technology. Key features include automatic detection and tracking, automated reaction functionality, a multiilink capability and embedded onboard training software.

    Legacy shortcomings

    Havelsan points out that the legacy FFG-7 combat direction system suffers from a series of shortcomings including: an obsolete hardware design that comprises performance and reliability; limited track capacity (64 targets) as a result of the limited memory (386 kb) of the old AN/UYK-7 Weapon System Processor (WSP); manual tracking of air and surface targets, limiting the accuracy and number of tracks; an outdated, low-resolution human machine interface; manual decoy launching capability only; no integration of the Phalanx CIWS (operates in autonomous Mode only); and limitations in processing and communication result in slow detect-to-engage times. The company also points out that the legacy system has limited future growth capacity due to its central processor architecture.

    GENESIS runs on a redundant Gigabit Ethernet LAN and interfaces with all weapon, sensor and platform systems through common subsystem interface units (SIU). A central interface unit replaces both weapon control consoles (WCCs) and is interfaced via an SIU to GENESIS, enabling all WCC functions to be performed by GENESIS consoles.
    The WSP is replaced with an open and distributed architecture CMS that runs on modern COTS processors and workstations. While the Mk 92 Mod 2 fire-control system remains, the UYK-7 computer that was used as the WSP is reconfigured as a cold backup replacement of the Mk 92 WCP.

    The GENESIS implementation on board the Gaziantep class sees the original Command Integration Capability equipment stripped out, with all legacy OJ-197 and OJ-194 consoles removed together with the WCCs associated with the Mk 92 fire-control system. In their place, the GENESIS fit for G-GCMP introduces eight operator consoles with dual flat panel displays; two tactical consoles with side-by-side displays; and a large screen display. Additional features include integrated video distribution with multiple topside cameras, customised commanding officer and bridge displays, and digital data recording.

    According to Havelsan, GENESIS is able to manage up to 1,000 tracks, and is able to perform automatic detection, tracking and correlation with multiple radars. As well as the SPS-49 radar, the system also integrates the Decca navigation radar, IFF (identification, friend-or-foe) and Phalanx CIWS. In the latter case, Phalanx can operate in either standalone or remote modes controlled by GENESIS, offering a capability to be used against air and surface targets at short range. Also, GENESIS enables Phalanx to engage a Mk 92 target.

    Harpoon is integrated into GENESIS using a six-word direct interface. Background information can be supplied to the system automatically, reducing engagement planning time and improving accuracy.
    Chaff/infrared decoy control functionality is embedded in GENESIS. This enables automatic threat identification, decoy launch and speed/course to steer recommendations to maximise effectiveness.

    A new MilSOFT-developed Multi Purpose Tactical Datalink System (MP-TDLS) is also being implemented. MP-TDLS provides a seamless Link 11/16 capability, with potential future growth to Link 22.

    The first GENESIS fit to TCG Gemlik was completed in mid-2007 and a further three ships have since received the system.

    The remaining four FFG-7 frigates are due to receive GENESIS by the end of 2012. This quartet will also be retrofitted with ESSM, fired from a new Mk 41 vertical launcher. In February 2009, Lockheed Martin announced a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) award to upgrade the Mk 92 fire-control system on the G-class to support the introduction of ESSM. This marks the first FMS sale of the company’s solid-state CWI transmitter.

    Havelsan and Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in 2009 signed a teaming agreement to co-operatively market worldwide, with a particular focus on FFG-7 retrofits. Jane’s understands that GENESIS has already been demonstrated to the Egyptian and Pakistani navies.

  6. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 2, 2010 3:42 pm

    Scott,

    H2S… Yeah, I’ve encountered it along with ammonia fumes arising from blocked drains in research animal quarters. Thankfully, even though the drains may have been blocked the AC was still functioning correctly. Otherwise, there might have been some dead $4,000 to $12,000 per head monkeys. That’s not any naval topic per se, but the problem certainly isn’t limited to just maritime concerns. And it could become a severe problem aboard some of the bovine, caprine, equine, swine, or ovine MV animal transports, if systems were to fail.

  7. Scott B. permalink
    January 2, 2010 3:09 pm

    Quote of the day :

    “People may be divided into three classes : the living, the dead and the seasick”

    (Anacharsis, Scythian philosopher, 6th century BC)

  8. Scott B. permalink
    January 2, 2010 2:47 pm

    D. E. Reddick said : “Hydrogen sulfide! That’s nasty.”

    The nice thing with H2S is you can smell it before it kills you !!!

  9. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 2, 2010 2:01 pm

    Scott,

    Hydrogen sulfide! That’s nasty.

    Hydrogen sulfide is a highly toxic and flammable gas. Being heavier than air, it tends to accumulate at the bottom of poorly ventilated spaces. Although very pungent at first, it quickly deadens the sense of smell, so potential victims may be unaware of its presence until it is too late. Hydrogen sulfide is considered a broad-spectrum poison, meaning that it can poison several different systems in the body, although the nervous system is most affected. The toxicity of H2S is comparable with that of hydrogen cyanide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide

    Armidale class patrol boat

    A 20-berth compartment for auxiliary accommodation was available for when the ship has to transport soldiers or detainees; however the release of toxic fumes into this compartment aboard HMAS Maitland, although blamed on improper operation of sewage treatment facilities, has led to a ban on the compartment’s use as accommodation across the class.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armidale_class_patrol_boat

  10. Scott B. permalink
    January 2, 2010 1:28 pm

    May 2008 blog entry on the Armidale can be found here :

    A Real Gunboat

  11. Scott B. permalink
    January 2, 2010 1:21 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Mike Burleson said : “Not fabulous seakeeping, or immaculate accommodations, it must be built to fight.”

    I don’t mean to be rude, but, unless I missed something, I don’t think I’ve seen your answer to the question below :

    2) What do you mean by *immaculate accommodations* ? E.g. how many sq. meters / accommodation ?

    Given the latest news on the Armidale, and the *Small is Beautiful* dogma that sometimes prevails here and there, I would really appreciate it if you could clarify the above.

    Can you ?

  12. Scott B. permalink
    January 2, 2010 1:14 pm

    Those who believe crew comfort is one of those *leisurely peacetime requirements* made superfluous in the *missile age* may want to take a look at the latest news on the Australian Armidales :

    Via The Australian :

    “Dubbed “Armifail” by frustrated sailors, the fleet of frontline patrol boats have been dogged by problems, including fuel contamination, engine trouble, blocked toilets, lack of personal storage, inadequate lighting and overcrowding.”

    Via Springboarder :

    “As I’ve said before, if you don’t let sailors bond to their own boat’s peculiarities, and don’t really work to build loyalty to the entire class, you’re set for problems. These austere boats really should have been built with more creature comforts, so the crew’s appreciation for the class might outweigh their ambivalence to being shuttled between one hard-worked platform to the next.”

  13. B.Smitty permalink
    January 1, 2010 11:09 pm

    Al L.,

    The radar horizon for aircraft is a lot further than for ships.

    Ship low observables aren’t just to avoid detection. Most cruise missiles use radar as their primary guidance mode. If they can’t lock on to a Visby, they likely won’t hit it.

  14. Al L. permalink
    January 1, 2010 9:18 pm

    Mike B. said:

    “The LCS has already overrun its initial cost estimate…”

    One can say the same about Visby, but to figure out how much one would have to add up the costs during the last 10 years of churn in the program. The truth is you along with every one else outside the Swedish naval industry have no idea what the true cost of Visby is. At least here in the U.S. we do have a way for the public to know how much gold plate is laid on a ship program. I’ll forever keep my comments to myself re: this ship if you can show me 1 credible reference to a total program cost for 1 Visby class ship at a fixed time with an identifiable build condition. You can’t do it.

    “The Navy doesn’t mind, which believe “1 ship replaces 4″, except that ship can’t be in more than one place at once, also when it is sunk there goes a quarter of your force.”

    The LCS is in fact one of the few programs specifically planned to replace extant hulls 1 for 1. That’s where the 55 number came from. You have to look other places (like amphibs) to find 1 to 4 replacement ratios.

    “the Visby’s problems can be fixed.”
    15 years of trying by their owners hasn’t fixed them, how do you plan on fixing them?

    “But here is one design advantage that is almost as good as firepower, which the LCS lacks: it is a true stealth vessel, with much less radar signature due to its small size.”

    This is pure B.S. The entire Visby design is predicated on the Swedish defense posture. Visby has an advantage in stealth in only a narrow band: the difference between its radar horizon and its opponents visual horizon. This band is about 3-7 miles wide at about 20 miles separation. This is perfect for a coastal Navy that wishes to launch surprise attacks on an aggressor, supported by land based aircraft and sensors. Beyond 25 miles + Visby can’t see an aircraft carrier or a fishing boat. Inside 20 miles its just as visible as any other lump in the ocean. It’s nearly useless for a global Navy.

  15. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 1, 2010 8:14 pm

    “The same logic can be applied to LCS, and that is exactly my argument regarding LCS.”

    It is not the same. The LCS has already overrun its initial cost estimate, and the one mandated by Congress. The problem with LCS is cost and numbers. The Navy doesn’t mind, which believe “1 ship replaces 4”, except that ship can’t be in more than one place at once, also when it is sunk there goes a quarter of your force.

    If the Visby is the most expensive ship per ton, LCS must be the most under-armed per ton. the Visby’s problems can be fixed. The LCS is already overpriced and underarmed. If you add anything else, you really get into fewer numbers and cost overruns.

    But here is one design advantage that is almost as good as firepower, which the LCS lacks: it is a true stealth vessel, with much less radar signature due to its small size.

  16. Al L. permalink
    January 1, 2010 7:13 pm

    Mike B. said:

    “That is not exactly a bad thing, if the cost is for weapons systems”

    The cost is NOT for weapons systems in the case of Visby. Its for an empty hull, with a 57mm. It was built almost devoid of weapons. As currently represented the ship has about the worst weapons fit that can be had for “new wars” No AA missiles for asm defense, no helicopters for scouting, no small weapons mounts to speak of, no rear hemisphere defense, no allowance for any weapons system capable of dealing with the gap between a patrol boat(57mm) and a frigate(RSB-15), little provision for weapons suited to self defense in port or in transit to port or against small boat attack. It’s (yet to be installed) ASM system is considered top notch against large ships, but poor against small ships and boats. Where is the real world proof this ship design is suitable for the current conflicts? There is none, because the Visby was conceived for the Cold War cusp, and now the Swedish defense industry keeps it alive to try to turn sour apples into applesauce by demonstrating it in hopes of selling it. Thats the only reason it’s being upfit for warm water ops, and why its planned for a show boat trip.

    Hell just tell me how if this ship was ever in a war zone and it lacked proper defense for small boat threats, additional small gun mounts could be welded to the hull?

    “Perhaps the design is as bad as you say. We won’t really know until we see these vessels in action. Is the Visby’s lack of suitable armament more policy that capability?”

    The same logic can be applied to LCS, and that is exactly my arguement regarding LCS. Let’s see which ship ends up doing real world work first. I won’t count Visby’s decade long head start against it.

  17. Al L. permalink
    January 1, 2010 6:31 pm

    Up Up & Away said:
    “I’m sorry, but that’s gibberish. You’re not buying loose-weight candy at the supermarket. Or do you buy mobile-phones the same way?”

    My cell phone doesn’t have to float while carrying a load.

  18. Scott B. permalink
    January 1, 2010 5:35 pm

    Upandway said : “I’m reading in the Defense Materiel Administration’s (FMV) latest magazine (in Swedish only) that plans are for the HMS Carlskrona (not Visby class unfortunately) + 1 Chopper (Hkp 15) to deploy to Aden for 4 months sometime in the spring.”

    So basically, the Swedes are going to replace the mythical *corvette + tender* trio (i.e. HMS Stockholm + HMS Malmö + HMS Trossö) with one *giant manelaying battleship* (HMS Carlskrona) ?

    Mmmmhhhhh…

  19. Scott B. permalink
    January 1, 2010 5:27 pm

    At the risk of repeating myself again (but isn’t that what a blog is all about anyway), here is what Norman Friedman wrote in a 1999 paper entitled New Technology and Medium Navies : (emphasis added) :

    *******************************************************

    First, hull steel is relatively inexpensive. At least half the price of a warship goes into combat systems and weapons. It is possible to design and build a ship fitted ‘for but not with’ some combat system elements, which can be added later. The most prominent case in point is the U.S. SPRUANCE class, which began life essentially as empty boxes with the appropriate machinery and wiring. This choice was made because the U.S. Navy had wanted a pair of new classes, one a missile (AAW) destroyer and one an ASW destroyer. To save money, both were designed for the same hull-hull steel was cheap. Because the AAW mission required far more in the way of electronics and weapons, the hull had to be large; the ASW version, then, seemed empty. In subsequent years that empty space proved extremely useful. In effect, the ships were bought on the installment plan. As a more recent example, the Thai carrier CHAKRI NAREUBET was delivered without most of her electronics, which are still being bought.

    Second, manning (which is a real cost, and which is becoming more expensive) need not be proportional to hull size. The current U.S. goal, in DD 21, is a crew of 95 for a 12,000 ton ship. That is to be achieved partly by ’smart ship’ initiatives (such as revising damage control organization) and partly by moving functions off the ship (thanks to reliable satellite communication). Improved computers and artificial intelligence are to reduce the numbers needed at sensor controls and in CIC. While many are skeptical about the success of this effort, there is little question that manning can be drastically reduced.

    Within electronic systems, the overwhelming fraction of development cost goes to software rather than hardware. That has an interesting potential consequence. Software is very easy to reproduce, albeit difficult to create and test. It would seem to follow that the fraction of development cost borne by any particular ship can fall if enough ships of identical type are built. As a variation on this theme, sufficiently modular software (applicable across a range of programs) offers similar benefits. Celsius has claimed exactly this advantage for the 9LV Mk 3 software used in the ANZAC class.

    Among electronic components, high-capability air defence systems are generally the dominant cost. It seems likely that a relatively small (frigate-size) ship equipped with such a system, or even re-equipped with one, will not cost too much less than a ship of twice the displacement equipped with the same system. In the past, warships have often been priced by the ton. It was not that steel was more expensive than it is now, but rather that, given a larger hull, naval staffs tended to fill it with more equipment. Now there is a solution to this temptation. The larger hull can be filled with vertical launcher cells. Empty, they cost very little. A navy can always opt not to fill them when it first buys the ship. Even if they are filled, that expense is generally easy to distinguish from shipbuilding costs.

    Overall, economics demand that warships be very durable, so that small numbers bought per year provide an adequately large force. Durability means combat survivability but it also means amenability to upgrade as technology changes. The likelihood or need that platforms be long-lasting should focus us on their long-term characteristics. An important question, then, is just what limits the effective lifetime of a ship (assuming it is not obsolescence)? Is it the lifetime of the piping? Fatigue in the hull? In a modern ship, is it insufficient capacity in data busses as computer speeds grow? These factors are as much limiters of useful life as are future growth stability margins and hull strength margins.

    If ship numbers are very limited, strategic mobility may become even more important than it currently is. Note that in many projections likely enemies are local rather than global, without access to open-ocean surveillance systems. A transiting ship can, therefore, afford to produce a considerable signature as the price of very high speed. In a war (hot or cold) against a major power, surveillance will likely be widespread.”

  20. Scott B. permalink
    January 1, 2010 5:20 pm

    Al L. said : “Absalon has to remain as a valid counter to the arguements that a) larger ships always cost more and b)substantial capability cant be bought for a low price.”

    Such fine people as Norman Friedman, D.K. Brown, Stuart Slade or Robert Dalsjö to name a few also seem to believe that :

    a) larger ships don’t necessarily cost more.

    b) substantial capability can be bought for a (relatively) low price.

    So it’s not like I’m not in good company here !!!

  21. Scott B. permalink
    January 1, 2010 5:13 pm

    Not so long ago (September 2009), on this very blog, I proposed Mike B. to make a side-by-side comparison of the Danish Absalon and one of the mythical 1,000-ton corvette, with a focus on big ticket items like weapons / sensors / electronics and propulsion.

    Why is it that I never got any feedback on this suggestion ? The world wonders…

  22. Scott B. permalink
    January 1, 2010 4:59 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Not fabulous seakeeping, or immaculate accommodations, it must be built to fight.”

    May I kindly ask you to be more specific here, i.e. :

    1) What do you mean by *fabulous seakeeping* ? E.g. in what sea state should a warship be capable of continuous efficient operation (other than replenishment) ? E.g. in what sea state should a warship be capable of aircraft launch / recovery ? E.g. in what sea state should a warship be capable of watercraft launch / recovery ?

    2) What do you mean by *immaculate accommodations* ? E.g. how many sq. meters / accommodation ?

  23. Scott B. permalink
    January 1, 2010 4:39 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Because you have a smaller hull, all thats left for you to add is armament,”

    Why is it that the Swedes keep spending money on non-armament-related *stuff* for their Visbys ?

    Stuff like, you know, “additional HF and VHF communications, improvements in safety/emergency systems, a 100 per cent uplift in fresh water production capacity, the provision of an astern replenishment sea rig, and modifications to cooling and ventilation systems to improve performance in warm climates.”

    Which may (or may not) come on top of a SKK 900 million investment (i.e. about $125 million) announced back in December 2006 as part of some sort of *All-Climate Internationalisation* effort ?

  24. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 1, 2010 12:17 pm

    Mike,

    Upandaway said:

    “There are also plans for a “road trip” to Asia sometime 2010-11 for a bit of show-n-tell to various Asians. I read that the Indians are switching to having a carbon-fibre superstructure for the remainder of their stealth-ships, an order which presumably Kockums (builders of Visby) would have a pretty good chance to get.”

    So, if those two Visbys are being prepped for travels through tropical waters en route to India and other points in southern Asia, then I wonder if they might make a side trip once clearing the Gulf of Aden? Maybe a voyage down to the Seychelles and then on to the Maldives prior to arriving in India. Perhaps they might have a recon force of USAF Reapers (presently based in the Seychelles) as an air escort during their Indian Ocean transit. What interesting things might they encounter during such a roundabout transit of such pirate-infested waters? Maybe some Somali-crewed dhows or trawlers towing strings of skiffs might cross their paths (with the help of guidance from UAV operators). It might prove to be a fine opportunity for the Swedish Navy to show off its innovative corvettes performing a valuable task in waters for distant from their Baltic Sea operational area. That would be especially true during a promotional “road trip” to Asia.

  25. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 1, 2010 11:51 am

    Al L says-“As for Visby: even open sources make it the most expensive ship per ton ever built.”

    That is not exactly a bad thing, if the cost is for weapons systems. Perhaps the design is as bad as you say. We won’t really know until we see these vessels in action. Is the Visby’s lack of suitable armament more policy that capability? After all, the Swedes aren’t at war with anyone, having been neutral for centuries. Basically the potential of these vessels in US service is intriguing. Because you have a smaller hull, all thats left for you to add is armament, which is the primary purpose of a warship. Not fabulous seakeeping, or immaculate accommodations, it must be built to fight.

    Plus, if Visby is a failure (and I see no evidence of this except in Swedish service, who as I say are hardly global operatives like the American and British navies) then better it be with a handful of small, low cost corvettes, than half-billion plus design which you bet the farm on to replace 3-4 warship types.

  26. Upandaway permalink
    January 1, 2010 9:46 am

    “As for Visby: even open sources make it the most expensive ship per ton ever built”

    I’m sorry, but that’s gibberish. You’re not buying loose-weight candy at the supermarket. Or do you buy mobile-phones the same way?

  27. Scott B. permalink
    January 1, 2010 7:19 am

    Al L. said : “How can anyone with a sane cell in their head think this ship is an example of anything good in ship design or planning?”

    Ouch !!!

  28. Al L. permalink
    January 1, 2010 12:43 am

    Since Mike B. is fond of quoting Wikipedia as a source of ship info, I will indulge myself:

    From the Wikipedia Visby page:

    “Two Visby-class vessels are expected to be operational in 2009.[3]

    However, as of December 2009, the ships have not been declared operational. There have been reports about unsolved problems with integration of the RBS-15 AShM but it is unclear if this is the main reason that have yet again delayed the ships which still remains, some nine years after the launch of the first ship, not operational. Also please note that a decision has been made to not install any surface-to-air missiles on the class, due to budget reasons. It is unfortunately unavoidable that this decision leaves the ships vulnerable to attack with anti-shipping missiles.”

    Perhaps the ships are being refit for warm water ops so they can actually be useful for something. HMS Visby after all was laid down in 1995, repeat 1-9-9-5 and after 15 years of building, testing, rebuilding, fitting, refitting and general farting around is still not operational.

    How can anyone with a sane cell in their head think this ship is an example of anything good in ship design or planning?

  29. leesea permalink
    December 31, 2009 11:59 pm

    Bsmitty,
    I think the Navy and Marines want something very big to support the large scale ops they dream of, and since the MPF(F) is largely being rewritten they needed a ship as a hedge when their exquisite psuedo-amphibs get chopped. Of course an LHA or LHD painted to look like a sealift ship could do the aviation ops needed, but they are just too damn expensive.

    Besides there is an active program by the Marines to rewrite all their ship desires as “joint” when we all know that they are service-unique! Witness how the MLP became the JLV

  30. Al L. permalink
    December 31, 2009 11:52 pm

    Mike B.,

    I’ve had some debate back and forth with Scott B. re; Absalon’s cost. He has good references he can quote. Everyone else is quoting things in the etherworld. While the problem may be that the Baltic sea states just don’t account for costs the same way as the U.S. and so only apples to oranges comparisons are possible, the credibility of the several bloggers and others on the net who claim Absalon costs more than $250 million will remain just suspect fluff until someone gets past their anonymous sources and either gets a real reference or does the homework to add up what the damn ships cost.

    I suspect that the true cost of Absalon, Visby and other such projects in Denmark and Sweden run much higher than the readily referenced published prices. They are often built with minimal equipment then built out months or years later. In some cases (Visby) they many never be built out and armed as they were planned. But it’s almost impossible to use open sources to apply a total price to a given build condition to these vessels.

    Until someone can get past the uncanny ability of the Danish and Swedish defense complexes to use confusion as a way to hide their costs and capabilities, Absalon has to remain as a valid counter to the arguements that a) larger ships always cost more and b)substantial capability cant be bought for a low price.

    As for Visby: even open sources make it the most expensive ship per ton ever built. And that was as built when it was dropped in the water. Since then they’ve had to try to put missiles, helicopters and numerous other systems on it. As of now, years after it was initiated, it has no AAW missile system, no useful aircraft capability, limited boat handling, and is getting an anti-ship missile system best used to sink cold war capital ships. It has great stealth, but what good is all that stealth when it will have to spend all it’s time within the visual horizon of it’s opponents, because it lacks realistic ability to deploy helicopters and small boats to scout the dangers at a distance? Who would buy this thing? One could pick any number of patrol boats around the world, buy 4 of them for Visby’s price, get 75% of Visby’s capability on the high end, and 2-3 times its capability on the low end. Visby is nothing more than the ultimate solution to a cold war problem: a system to deter naval attack on the coast of a neutral nation in a trans atlantic conflict.

  31. B.Smitty permalink
    December 31, 2009 2:44 pm

    Mike,

    I don’t think it was the Super Dvoras were “too large” to engage the LTTE suicide boats, they just needed a more numerous counterpart to handle LTTE boat swarms.

    If we wish to emulate this model, we should be talking about how to deploy and support CB90s and Super Dvoras, not corvettes.

  32. B.Smitty permalink
    December 31, 2009 2:36 pm

    Lee,

    Yep, I know they have no plans to CVE-ize the AFSB. It was just my attempt to highlight the ability of fixed-wing airpower to cover a lot of territory.

    IMHO, for these low-end IW/counter-piracy missions we may be better served by buying MPAs or armed BAMS UAVs than lots of small patrol vessels. Obviously we’ll still need some “boots on the ground”, but given the areas we’re talking about here (roughly 100,000 sq. nm in the Gulf of Aden alone), we just can’t afford enough patrol boats to be everywhere (especially if they can’t carry helicopters).

    Perhaps we should investigate a low-end counterpart to the P-8 MMA based on one of the long-range business jet families out there. The Army and USAF operate the Gulfstream 550 as the C-38B. Maybe we need a P-38 MMA. It could fly unrefueled patrols in the Gulf of Aden from Diego Garcia.

  33. leesea permalink
    December 31, 2009 1:50 pm

    I was amazed at all the capabilities the Navy wanted to put in the Maersk S-class AFSB but regular jet ops was NOT one of them. Sure an S-class is to big as a pirate ops support ship but its gives endurance and force enable a whole new perspective. The Navy just doesn’t seem able to “size” its needs to reality?

    Most small boats can be nicely supported on a Flo/Flo like the Yacht Express. Going up scale to Dock Express gets even more capabilities. They need to have an aviation facility of some nature to be better setup for area support as I and Mike have mentioned. It will be interesting to see when/if the Navy decides to operate small ships and boats off the redesigned JLV nee MLP?

  34. Mike Burleson permalink*
    December 31, 2009 1:20 pm

    Smitty, you are exactly right concerning the Arrow boats, and I think it interesting the Sri Lankans considered the Dvoras as a high end warship, often too large to engage LTTE suicide boats, even when adequately armed. When the enemy swarm attacks, the Dvoras stood back to allow the Arrows and other small craft take on the enemy. This is why we insist in a future conflict, the best vessel to handle small warships is another small warship. I’m just saying, these are the lessons of a real and recent war at sea, not just something we can learn through peacetime presence and showing the flag. Read here for more:

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2009/03/sri_lanka_learns_to_counter_se.html

    Upandaway-Thanks for the update on the Swedish deployments!

  35. Upandaway permalink
    December 31, 2009 11:52 am

    I’m reading in the Defense Materiel Administration’s (FMV) latest magazine (in Swedish only) that plans are for the HMS Carlskrona (not Visby class unfortunately) + 1 Chopper (Hkp 15) to deploy to Aden for 4 months sometime in the spring. Pending a decision by the Riksdag (Sw. parlament) it is to become the lead ship for the EU force down there…

    Presumably they need some more time to prepare one of the corvettes for deployment.

    There are also plans for a “road trip” to Asia sometime 2010-11 for a bit of show-n-tell to various Asians. I read that the Indians are switching to having a carbon-fibre superstructure for the remainder of their stealth-ships, an order which presumably Kockums (builders of Visby) would have a pretty good chance to get.

    Also, the A26 NGU submarine (the follow-on class for the Gotland) is likely to get the go-ahead sometime after new-year.

  36. B.Smitty permalink
    December 31, 2009 10:02 am

    Lee said, “One point of comparison is: a Maersk S-class AFSB conversion is estimated aroung $400 mil with many features more than what we are talking about. Just a specializes sealift ship not even an auxiliary. No weaps just a damn big flight deck.

    If we added an angle deck and a pair of cats up front, then we might be going somewhere with this! A dozen Super Hornets and 3-4 Hawkeyes would make nice sea control air wing.

    Otherwise, while interesting as an MPF(F) ship, I think it’s actually too big for counter piracy. We don’t need 30 helicopters on one ship. Helos just don’t have that much range. We need 30 helicopters spread out on many ships.

    OTOH, you would just need two, fully-gassed, orbiting Super Hornets to cover the entire Gulf of Aden with a 15 minute response time. If a low-altitude, high-speed pass by a fighter isn’t enough to dissuade a pirate vessel, a hundred rounds of 20mm off the bow might get their attention. If that doesn’t work, a Maverick or two would make short work of them.

  37. B.Smitty permalink
    December 31, 2009 9:23 am

    Steve Perry said, “The Israeli Navy has had used its Super Dvora patrol boats off the Gaza coast by the use of intel gained from sensors mounted on 180m-250m towers in Israeli territory to good advantage against small boats and even land-based targets using 25mm gunfire and Spike-ER missiles from there Typhoon SSM gun and missile mounts.

    The problem with the USN using Super Dvoras is that they’ll not only need a way to support them in theater, but they’ll also need a way to get them there in the first place. We don’t exactly have ample basing rights in that part of the world.

    On other threads I’ve suggested using leesea’s FLO/FLO to carry and support Super Dvoras. A Yacht Express sized ship could carry up to 30 Super Dvoras (probably somewhat less once you factor in adequate spacing).

    Mike,

    The Arrow isn’t based on the Super Dvora. They are a very small, 5.5m indigenous design. The Sri Lankan Navy uses the Super Dvoras in combination with the Arrows to form a hi/lo team.

  38. B.Smitty permalink
    December 31, 2009 9:14 am

    D. E. Riddick,

    LCS-1 wouldn’t have to run at 40+kts. Just 5kts faster than the Visby’s. The LCS-1 could keep tabs on them with its organic helo and Fire Scouts.

    Kind of a silly argument, but the point was to emphasize the even shorter legs of the Visby.

  39. Mike Burleson permalink*
    December 31, 2009 5:01 am

    Steve, the Dvora’s were also a model for the Sri Lankan Arrow boats, which took on the terrorists there as we say the Navy should contend with piracy. At least something along that effective strategy.

    Leesea said “I would NOT see a need for many mobile logistics support ships at least not as many as I think is being tossed about?”

    Agreed. These are force enablers. They are not warships of any kind.

  40. Steve Petty permalink
    December 31, 2009 4:47 am

    The Israeli Navy has had used its Super Dvora patrol boats off the Gaza coast by the use of intel gained from sensors mounted on 180m-250m towers in Israeli territory to good advantage against small boats and even land-based targets using 25mm gunfire and Spike-ER missiles from there Typhoon SSM gun and missile mounts. Using expanded numbers of the USN’s already existing Interceptor V class patrol boats which have similar capablities to the Super Dvora’s add an Aerostat Ship for sensor coverage of large areas of ocean, 6 Interceptors, 1 C-Couragous type riverine support ship, 1 Perry class frigate as Firescout carrier with 4-6 Firescouts in the hanger on the flight deck and perhaps an alternate landing spot on the fore deck where the missile launcher has been removed. These are all ships already in service so no R&D time and expense.

  41. D. E. Reddick permalink
    December 30, 2009 11:33 pm

    B.Smitty,

    If LCS-1 were running away at 40+ knots, then what would be her range with her combined diesel and gas turbines?

    And couldn’t the Visbys receive positional information should their ‘principal’ make a run for it. They could cruise along at an economical rate of fuel consumption while the fuel-hog ran down to vapors. This is just an exercise in the notion of ‘for the shame of it,’ isn’t it. Just saying… ;-)

  42. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 10:57 pm

    D. E. Reddick,

    The advertised range of LCS-1 is 3,500 nm @ 18kts. What is a Visby’s range? 2000@15kts? 2500nm?

    Who would be towing whom?

  43. D. E. Reddick permalink
    December 30, 2009 9:52 pm

    B.Smitty,

    You said: “Or light up the turbines and run away. ;)”

    Not for long, likely. Given the short legs of the LCS-1 design then the two Visby escorts might just soon overtake the fuel-exhausted Freedom and then have to tow her towards replenishment.

    And LCS-2 has -FOUR- times the fuel bunkerage of LCS-1. Why oh why was LCS-1 and now a second member of that short-legged ship type ever approved for construction?

  44. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 9:09 pm

    Scott said, “Not going to happen : LCS-1 would immediately capsize in shame !!! ;-))

    Or light up the turbines and run away. ;)

  45. leesea permalink
    December 30, 2009 9:08 pm

    Maybe I missed it amongst all the arrows being thrown, but I would NOT see a need for many mobile logistics support ships at least not as many as I think is being tossed about? I would think that one per task group of smaller surface combatants would get the USN in the neighbiorhood of 15 to 20?

    I would also note the the Absalon flexible support ship design it NOT the best for ship logistics, it is flexible with foucs on troop support not on fleet support. So given that the design would have to be tweaked and the cost would go up.

    But for small warships which is where this thread began I am not thinking Hultifelt AAW frisgate but smaller ships as mentioned by others.

    One point of comparison is: a Maersk S-class AFSB conversion is estimated aroung $400 mil with many features more than what we are talking about. Just a specializes sealift ship not even an auxiliary. No weaps just a damn big flight deck.

  46. D. E. Reddick permalink
    December 30, 2009 8:20 pm

    Scott B.,

    I don’t believe that such an unfortunate vessel would have time to capsize. Instead, it would bury its bow into the deep blue and disappear in one swift dive of shame.

    Actually, comparing the two types would suggest that the Visbys would be an appropriate form & type of escort for the woefully under-armed LCS. What the -HADES- have we come to?

    ———-

    As to corvettes… …if we end up policing transit straights and choke-points along with ungoverned coastlines, then we need some well-armed shallow water combatants that can get in close inshore and do real damage to those who challenge control of the seaways. Modern frigates are too large and represent blue-water assets – i.e., open ocean escorts or offshore backups to inshore forces. Large frigates cannot get in close to shore in the shallow waters of many littorals. But similarly armed corvettes (smaller, less capable, more shallow draft, less endurance, fewer warshots) can get in close to observe and react where a frigate would have no business venturing. Just saying…

  47. Scott B. permalink
    December 30, 2009 7:59 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Also, my sources at the Navy Dept. tell me the price of Absalon was probably closer to $700 million each.”

    Your anonymous / unspecified / undocumented sources are either wrong or disingenuous.

    At the risk of repeating myself again and again, see page 2 of this Danish MoD document where it says :

    “Den samlede pris for de to skibe med udrustning er ca. 2.5 mia. kr. og skibene planlægges at være fuldt operative med udgangen af 2007.”

    In English :

    “The overall price for the two ships complete with equipment is about DKK 2.5 billion and the ships are planned to become fully operational by the end of 2007.”

    DKK 2,500 million = USD 482 million based on current exchange rates.

    Meaning a cost per ship of $241 million.

    I rest my case.

  48. Mike Burleson permalink*
    December 30, 2009 7:53 pm

    Scott B-Though Raymond Pritchett and I aren’t on a friendship basis, I have never known him to lie, nor see why he should. Though I don’t blame you for not trusting my “anonymous sources”, I am very satisfied with them and stick by my original posts from early this week, feeling we should look beyond the frigate as a low cost alternative to the top-heavy, all-battleship navy.

  49. Scott B. permalink
    December 30, 2009 7:45 pm

    D.E. Reddick said : “Now imagine the USS Freedom cruising along the coast of Somalia. Cruising alongside and in formation with LCS-1 are its two (better-armed and suspected to be more capable) escorts – those two Visby class corvettes.”

    Not going to happen : LCS-1 would immediately capsize in shame !!! ;-))

  50. Scott B. permalink
    December 30, 2009 7:42 pm

    D.E. Reddick said : ” I believe that an enlarged version of the U.A.E. Baynunah class of corvettes provided with greater endurance would fill out that latter form of warship need.”

    There’s no need for a corvette, at least in the US Navy force structure.

    The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that such a corvette would actually be the worst possible investment of scarce shipbuilding money.

    But that’s just me…

  51. Scott B. permalink
    December 30, 2009 7:33 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Scott B-What would you say in answer to the following:”

    1) I would merely observe that Mr Raymond Pritchett is one of the least credible sources out there, especially when it comes to the Absalons which he hates !!!

    2) I posted several open sources confirming the $200-250 million per copy many times on your blog and over at Pritchett’s place. And all I get in return is vague hearsay from anonymous sources at the DoD / DoN. That’s not serious…

  52. Scott B. permalink
    December 30, 2009 7:19 pm

    B. Smitty said : “(BTW, I have had trouble finding sources for the Visby’s range. The best I could find was a forum poster who said 2,000nm @ 12kts. So take that number with a grain of salt.)”

    Figures quoted on Kockums website some years ago were 2,300 NM @ 15 knots, but the data has now disappeared. You’ll still find that number on globalsecurity :
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/visby-specs.htm

    Range given in this PDF for the export variant is 2,500 NM @ 15 knots. (see page 16)

    Then there’s this little voice in my head telling me that no more than 2,000 NM @ 15 knots should be expected…

  53. Mike Burleson permalink*
    December 30, 2009 7:05 pm

    Scott B-What would you say in answer to the following:

    “Several sources have confirmed to me the way the Littoral Combat Ship estimate of $220 million was reached was that during a visit to Odense Steel Shipyard, ADM Vern Clark asked the shipbuilders how much HDMS Absalon (L16) cost. The answer was $440 million. When the Littoral Combat Ship was developed as a ship about half the size of the Absalon class, Clark used the number $220 million as the estimate for the platform. Half the size meant half the cost, and the number was apparently never questioned. Unfortunately, HDMS Absalon (L16) costs a hell of a lot more than $440 million, because $440 million was the estimate at the time of the contract with Odense Steel Shipyard, and basically included only the hull. $440 million was the estimate for a hollow shell, but became the driving number for $220 million which was supposed to include all of the systems and the hull of the LCS.”

    Found here.

    Also, my sources at the Navy Dept. tell me the price of Absalon was probably closer to $700 million each. My point is, these low end frigate size vessels are now approaching the size and cost of larger Aegis missile escorts, and are therefore nearing obsolescence. While they may still be useful perhaps as motherships, in no way can they increase ships numbers, nor do they belong in the escort flotilla the Navy has discarded in favor of Big Ships, except of course as motherships.

    Back to the drawing boards.

  54. D. E. Reddick permalink
    December 30, 2009 6:25 pm

    Scott B.,
    B. Smitty,

    How about a half-&-half order of “USN-ized” Absalom class support & control warships and Iver Huitfeldt AAW frigates? That way the support ship could protect itself while supporting smaller inshore warships and the frigate could provide expanded area coverage against aerial and surface threats.

    And what would the Absalom support & control ships be assisting? What about: close inshore & brown-water PBs; inshore & green-water PCs; and green-water & blue-water capable corvettes. I believe that an enlarged version of the U.A.E. Baynunah class of corvettes provided with greater endurance would fill out that latter form of warship need.

    Why so many types of vessels? Why to cover the contingencies of maritime situations within the variety of naval combat situations found along the long, rugged shores and in the various restricted straights of the world’s commercial waterways.

  55. leesea permalink
    December 30, 2009 6:25 pm

    Herectic the answer to your equation is simple. The USN must forward station short legged ships and support them with mobile logistics ships (not tenders). I has been done and it can be done again.

    BTW the also brings down the total number of hulls needed to perform certain missions.

    IF help spots are so damn important go get yourself a T-AKV or Maersk concept for an AFSB. And with those one gets hangar, M&R spaces, crew spaces, and POL.

  56. D. E. Reddick permalink
    December 30, 2009 6:03 pm

    I experienced a horrible vision, earlier today. But then, I am somewhat ill. Being sick sometimes causes me to think of things and so visualize that which I wish I hadn’t thought of. I had put off sharing it, but I just couldn’t stop myself. Here it is:

    1) LCS-1 USS Freedom appears to be preparing for a deployment in the CentCOM / Fifth Fleet AOR. Purportedly this is to be an anti-piracy cruise for the Littoral Combat Ship around the Horn of Africa;

    2) The Swedish Navy is currently improving the tropical climate capabilities for two of its Visby class corvettes. This is suspected to represent an intent to send two well-armed and high-speed stealth corvettes to combat piracy in the region of the Horn of Africa;

    3) Now imagine the USS Freedom cruising along the coast of Somalia. Cruising alongside and in formation with LCS-1 are its two (better-armed and suspected to be more capable) escorts – those two Visby class corvettes.

    Enough said. That’s just my sickness-prompted, horrid imagery inspired by this thread.

  57. Scott B. permalink
    December 30, 2009 5:38 pm

    B. Smitty said : “Even if they were $400 million a pop, I’d still rather have 75 USN-ized Absalons, with their 150 helo spots and 9,000nm range, than 120 Visbys and 12 T-AKEs, with 12 hangar spots (on the T-AKEs) and 2,000nm range (Visby).”

    Hallelujah !!!

  58. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 5:28 pm

    Scott B said, “120 Absalons @ $250 million each = $30 billion

    That’s 240 helo spots for ya’, Smitty…

    Even if they were $400 million a pop, I’d still rather have 75 USN-ized Absalons, with their 150 helo spots and 9,000nm range, than 120 Visbys and 12 T-AKEs, with 12 hangar spots (on the T-AKEs) and 2,000nm range (Visby).

    But that’s just me.

    (BTW, I have had trouble finding sources for the Visby’s range. The best I could find was a forum poster who said 2,000nm @ 12kts. So take that number with a grain of salt.)

  59. Scott B. permalink
    December 30, 2009 5:07 pm

    B. Smitty said : “Where are the 110 helo spots in the Visby solution?”

    120 Absalons @ $250 million each = $30 billion

    That’s 240 helo spots for ya’, Smitty…

  60. December 30, 2009 5:05 pm

    “How long before they perform a hijacking and simply “off” the crew and sink the ship? ”

    I hadn’t given that option a thought. Terrorism is a about attracting attention, not just instilling fear. I am going to give your idea some thought…….

  61. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 4:57 pm

    Heretic,

    Where are the 110 helo spots in the Visby solution? (A flight deck with no hangar rated for an A109 does not equal one rated for an H-60 or better plus a hangar).

  62. Heretic permalink
    December 30, 2009 4:54 pm

    55 * LCS-2 production Price ($550 million) = $30.25 billion

    55 * Visby production Price ($200 million) = $11 billion

    150 * Visby production Price ($200 million) = $30 billion

    120 * Visby production Price ($200 million) = $24 billion
    12 * T-AKE production Price ($500 million) = $6 billion

    Can somebody explain to me how having a “flotilla” of 10 Visbys forward deployed and supported by a converted T-AKE tender/mothership on a rotation of home port/R&R, train/ready/transit, patrol cycles would make a worse investment in Bang For Buck terms than buying 55 LCS-2s? Please note that the above prices don’t even include any economies of scale that might be achieved by ordering in bulk (which tends to bring costs down, sometimes significantly). Note that with an off/ready/on rotation in place, we could have 3-4 flotillas independently deployed to forward positions around the world at all times … just like we do with Carrier Battle Groups.

    Oh wait … I think I just found the answer to my own question.

    No admiral in the service is ever going to want to hear the first words out of a president’s mouth when informed of a crisis be, “Where are the Visbys?”

    Oh well.

  63. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 4:53 pm

    Solomon,

    What do we cut to buy them? Where do we base them? How much do the logistics ships cost that we’ll need to support them? How much will they actually cost once all of the USN-specific changes are made?

  64. December 30, 2009 4:11 pm

    That’s less than a F-22. If we can afford 183 of those then surely 100 Visby’s shouldn’t be difficult. Besides that still would be less money than AIG received;))

  65. dp226 permalink
    December 30, 2009 3:47 pm

    The cost of the LCS has exploded. In reality, we can not afford the numbers we need of these expensive inexpensive ships. Can someone point out where the costs are in the ship? For example, if we take LCS-2, how much of the total cost is in the hull/vs electronics/vs engineering/vs armament/etc. ? Do we really cut the cost in half if we reduce max speed from 45 to 30 knots or does that reduce the cost by 2%?

  66. Mike Burleson permalink*
    December 30, 2009 3:43 pm

    Forgive my laziness. Should have posted this earlier, but this BBC article claims Visby cost $184 million or one-third the price of an LCS Freedom.

  67. December 30, 2009 2:50 pm

    I don’t have much of an imagination but consider this. AQ has to be observing this. They have to see the lack of action on the part of western navies. How long before they perform a hijacking and simply “off” the crew and sink the ship? The blame game will go from zero to sixty in 1.2 seconds. The Navy will be embarrassed and SOCOM will be placed in charge of the problem.

  68. leesea permalink
    December 30, 2009 2:47 pm

    I guess you guys know where I am going with my comments quoted by Mike? There are several underlying threads to all of the above:
    First, the USN needs a specturm of ships to include MORE small surface combatants. Patrol ships under 1500 tons and larger corvettes (artibtrary cut point) must be bought sooner rather than later.
    Second the USN is incapable of getting new ship designs successfully into service quickly so we MUST but an existing design and build it here. Many foreign designs have been mentioned. Its ALWAYS about proper and prompt rqtms definition. But it can be done
    Third, the USN simply is ignoring the need for more mobile logistics ships. I do NOT mean stay in port tenders! I mean smaller and more numerous ships large enough to support multiple assets in forward areas for extended periods. The Absalon class are probably at the high end of my wish list, followed by German Type 702 Berlin class and the RFA LSD(A) Bay Class and Singaporean Endurance LST (LPD) class.
    Whichever the class of ship be it LCS or PC or Visby they ALL need support from naval auxilaries. The USN does NOT have enough of the later.
    Fouth, the MIO ops in the IO are sreaming out for more platforms with endurance. Using a few PCs or one LCS or one Swift is NOT going to hack it. At some point in time naval raiding parties will have to take out pirate havens, in the meantime send more of them to Davy Jones’ Locker!

    While the piracy cannot be solved on the high seas, it can be solved from the sea.

  69. December 30, 2009 2:42 pm

    “I’m kinda surprised that no one mentioned the fact that a Dutch(?) ship captured pirates recently but were ordered to release them because they could not find a country to try them.”

    I heard of this. The poor cloggies missed Christmas at home.

    This organisation popped up on UK screens over the last few days. It may be of interest to some here; http://www.mmwc.org/

  70. December 30, 2009 2:37 pm

    “Just wait until they hijack a LNG ship! I think that will get someone’s attention. ”

    Or a cruise ship.

  71. December 30, 2009 2:33 pm

    Just wait until they hijack a LNG ship! I think that will get someone’s attention.

    B. Smitty.

    The policy makers are aware of the issue. That should be enough reason for the Navy to at least advocate for a stronger policy. I’m kinda surprised that no one mentioned the fact that a Dutch(?) ship captured pirates recently but were ordered to release them because they could not find a country to try them.

    This is obviously a problem that will require the full weight of the Government (well at least judicial, defense and State Dept) but the least that the Navy can do is to push for solutions instead of punting to the ground or air forces.

  72. December 30, 2009 1:25 pm

    As I have said before nothing will happen over piracy until something “spectacularly shocking” occurs.

    Perhaps the question that needs to be asked is how likely is this problem to occur elsewhere in the world? Do we think the world’s navies (well their governments) would then be more motivated to tackle the problem?

    I think the world’s navies have all the equipment they need to face this threat. Once again as I have said it is question of ROE and the West’s willingness to take and inflict casualties that is the problem.

    Visbies are fantastic, but helicopter is a necessity.

  73. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 1:14 pm

    navark said, “The US has no need to just buy one design or another from any foreign nation, nor be constrained by whatever limitations said design might possess. There are people skilled (supposedly) in the process of ship design and it is their responsibility to employ current technology in a way that will deliver a ship that works.

    I agree completely.

    As a #3, I think we need to be better about assessing and retiring risk before moving to the next phase of projects.

  74. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 1:09 pm

    Solomon said, “When I say the Navy is being smoked what I mean is that the public is aware of the piracy problem. They’re aware that US shipping has been affected and yet they see a powerful arm of our defense establishment that seems incapable of solving the problem.

    The public is aware of the problem and, by-and-large, doesn’t care. The effect on US shipping is not noticeable here.

  75. navark permalink
    December 30, 2009 11:46 am

    I’m not sure why these conversations always seem to end up as some kind of design review between Ship A and Ship B (or C, D or E, for that matter). The US has no need to just buy one design or another from any foreign nation, nor be constrained by whatever limitations said design might possess. There are people skilled (supposedly) in the process of ship design and it is their responsibility to employ current technology in a way that will deliver a ship that works.

    There are two prerequisites for this model to work:

    1. The Navy (or whatever client) must be clear about what they want. The sorry LCS saga has been riddled with shifting goalposts and requirement changes from the top level. Too many naval personnel have wanted their say, without understanding the essence of the design, such that we have ended up with this mish-mash of ideas that is too big and expensive on the one hand, yet is too small and underarmed on the other.

    2. There must be sufficient ownership and control of the technology by whomever understands it. The Navy has clearly passed all design authority to the contractors, along with a blank check. This ensures that there is no incentive for anyone to get it right. To illustrate this point, look at the LCS-2 design. Austal might have claimed to have experience in the design of multihulls, but someone on the US side needed to have realized that a commercial fast ferry is in no way a USN ‘warship’ – therefore, who has the ultimate authority? The answer: no-one. Or everyone. Or whomever happens to be sitting at a certain desk on a given day. The trimaran concept has great potential, but not as currently configured or managed.

    To talk of DEs of 50 years ago as a solution, solely due to program mismanagement, grotesque cost overruns, and misunderstanding of the fundamentals of warship design is a retrogressive step. After all, why would the procurement of any ‘proven’ design produce any different result by the time the ship hit the water?

  76. Heretic permalink
    December 30, 2009 11:46 am

    Trick question … what’s the price of a Visby (so far) per hull?
    Follow up trick question … what would the price per Visby hull be if ordering 60 of them to be delivered in 15 years?

  77. December 30, 2009 11:36 am

    Maybe hate is too strong a word. How about “ineffective” instead? CS-21 advocates Navy to Navy cooperation, the use of Naval forces to influence situations at sea and on the land and the pirate situation is the ideal instance to test the theory.

    When I say the Navy is being smoked what I mean is that the public is aware of the piracy problem. They’re aware that US shipping has been affected and yet they see a powerful arm of our defense establishment that seems incapable of solving the problem. Senior Navy leadership is on the record as having said that the solution to piracy is on the land, not the sea! If that type thinking from Navy leadership doesn’t lead down the road of irrelevancy then I don’t know what does. The US Air Force has as early as the 1980’s been creeping into the maritime mission set. A retired Air Force General even stated that the AF could solve the piracy problem with F-22’s. It was a ridiculous statement but the seed is there. Others will step in if the Navy doesn’t. Also the fact that the statement was made on a national news network points to the visibility of the problem.

    I guess my last point is this. The budget crunch is here. Cuts are coming and they will be vicious. The Army and Marine Corps will remain relatively unscathed because of the conflicts. Parts of the Navy and Air Force that work with those services will do better than the rest (speaking of airlift and amphibs) but relevancy is necessary to give a reason for the bill that the Navy will be asking the public to pay. That means the Navy has to fight the pirates.

  78. James Daly permalink
    December 30, 2009 11:29 am

    I think if you look at similar problems historically it is much easier to nip something like this in the bud while it is a relatively small problem than to let it get out of hand. It might not affect the US or Europe directly NOW but unchecked it surely will eventually, and then it would be much more difficult to tackle. To remain relevant Navies must make efforts to tackle current issues rather than simply picking and chosing which wars they want to care about.

    Sure, the problems on land in Somalia need tackling – like Port Royal and the Barbrary Coast before it – but that doesnt mean that Pirates should get a free ride on the seas either. That would be one sure fire way to encourage even more of them to take to the seas.

  79. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 11:08 am

    Solomon,

    The Navy isn’t getting smoked. They (and the U.S. population in general) just don’t care about Somali piracy. It just doesn’t impact our lives. It’s a regional problem at the moment. If terrorists start using piracy in the region to fund their activities, then maybe we’ll care.

    It has zero impact on the USN’s “relevance”. Just recall the major combat operations of OIF and OEF to see how relevant today’s Navy is.

    Why do you hate CS-21? The logical conclusion from that strategy is to build more numerous vessels to enhance forward presence. I fail to see how this is any different from what you, Mike and others are advocating.

  80. December 30, 2009 10:47 am

    I hate to sound like the converted but the argument that ID makes and I agree totally (its Mikes point too) is that this is the war that the Navy can fight now. The statement that piracy must be fought on shore is WEAK! But beyond the point of ship size, fleet composition etc is that concept I luv to hate CS-21. You have the US and European Navy getting its ass handed to them by a bunch of pirates.

    If the Navy is to remain relevant then it must get a handle on this issue. ID also brought forth the issue that this is a way that the Navy can influence the entire Middle East situation with the proper application of Naval Power. He’s right. Arms smuggling to the Gaza strip can be curtailed. The fighting in Somalia can be made more difficult if arms were interdicted at sea. Even Iran might have trouble getting missile tech from the North Koreans if a credible, muscular naval force decided to act.

    The answer I believe is a Visby type ship. Regardless though. If the Navy wants to be a player in the national defense game then they better suit up. You can’t sit on the sidelines—you have to get in the game. Right now with CS-21, the lack of a real littoral ship and the lack of will by Navy leadership the Navy is getting smoked (why the Chief of Naval Operations isn’t banging on Gate’s door demanding to let his people get after the problem is beyond me).

    The future could well see the Army and Marine Corps pushing their Riverine forces further out to sea…then what would be the Navy’s mission?

  81. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 10:36 am

    Yeah, I read Galrahn’s post. I fail to see how pirates operating 1200 nm from Somolia has any bearing on the size or composition of the future USN fleet. I especially don’t see how it matters in the LCS discussion.

    Yes, we can and do operate PCs and other small combatants in forward areas. They are regionally based. They didn’t sail from Pearl or Sand Diego or even Guam or Diego Garcia.

    The handful- of Cyclones we have in theater are based in Bahrain, IIRC. Would the Bahrainis let us base a large number of Visbys there too? Would they let us use them however we’d like, or would they have veto power? My guess is they wouldn’t want a much larger USN presence there, and would retain the right to veto its use.

    The LCS is designed to carry a ~200 tonne mission module that includes MH-60R/S helicopters, UAVs, USVs, UUVs and various other components. If we want to replace the LCS with something else, then we need to figure out how to replace those capabilities. We can’t just pick our favorite corvette, patrol boat, frigate or other vessel and say, “let’s buy these instead.”

  82. December 30, 2009 9:26 am

    I was hoping that someone would bring that up. Information Dissemination has a post on the “size” issue. It seems that he’s firmly in Mike’s camp now.

  83. B.Smitty permalink
    December 30, 2009 9:11 am

    It will be interesting to see how well the Visbys do if they are deployed to the GoA. I still contend that they are too small to replace the LCS. A real LCS replacement needs to be 3000 tonnes with a helo hangar.

    OTOH, I could see buying a modest number to be regionally based around that area.

    .

  84. December 30, 2009 8:42 am

    You hit on the one thing that’s been concerning me about the LCS class. It seems so under-armed! How the Visby being almost 1/5th the size can carry more arms is almost criminal. The ability to carry armored vehicles (if necessary) or mission modules seems like scarce comfort.

    As it stands now, in a mythical sea battle between the two ships (one vs. one) it would seem that the Visby would mop the deck with the LCS. I don’t quite understand the true mission of the ship but its obviously not littoral warfare.

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