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Stiletto & Seakeeping

January 26, 2010

Here is a response from Industry concerning a recent query by yours truly:

Thank you, Mike, and the others who have shown an interest in the M80 Stiletto and those who have taken time to comment on this unique craft. Your feedback is valuable to us at M Ship Co. as we move forward with the design of the next-generation Stiletto platforms for the Department of Defense.

We are pleased with the performance of the M80 Stiletto to date, particularly during its 70-day, 6,000-mile drug interdiction and apprehension mission in the waters off Colombia, the Bahamas and the Florida Straits.
An internal study prepared by U.S. Southern Command for Pentagon leaders lauded the performance of the Stiletto, which successfully met all program objectives for its operational evaluation.

In your New Wars blog of January 19, you asked if we wanted to respond to the claim that the Stiletto was unable to handle rough seas. This claim resulted from a failure to understand that the Stiletto was being operated in conditions above Sea State 3.

Our original Stiletto design was for operations only up to Sea State 3 although we are confident that future design modifications would assure successful operation in rougher seas.

Again, thank you for your interest and comments. For additional information, please visit the M Ship website:

Best regards,
Mayuko Bonica for Chuck Robinson, President of M Ship Co.

This pertains to the recent article in Defense News by Mr Robisnson.

45 Comments leave one →
  1. Chuck Hill permalink
    January 27, 2010 9:06 pm

    Master Gunner–great story. Reminds me of “surfing” across the wardroom on ocean station. Not as bad, but still very interesting; we were laughing too.

    Later we got to watch the vessel sent to relieve, as a third of the length of her hull repeatedly came out of the water. Knew our ship was doing the same thing.

  2. January 27, 2010 7:06 pm

    It is axiomatic that as sea state rises, speed has got to go down. The idea that a ship must operate at 40 knots in a heavy sea state without any debilitating effects on the crew is smoking some very powerful wacky weed.

    I would be very interested in how many of those people that conducted the OpEval had been in heavy weather at sea. Being in a very bad storm at sea is one of the most terrifying experiences you can have. The only thing between you and a watery grave is the ship you are riding. That’s it folks. You pray to God that those people who built your ship really knew what they were doing and that you will make it through in one piece.

    The following write-up was done by my former OIC on our PTF at Great Lakes, IL. In October 1970, USS AGERHOLM (DD-826) spent two days plowing through Typhoon Joan. But let’s let LT Jim Mottern tell the story.

    The USS Agerholm (DD-826) officers and crew had been looking forward to our one week Hong Kong R&R after over a month at sea on the gun line and in the Gulf of Tonkin. We finished our plane guard assignment on Yankee Station, refueled from an oiler in calm seas early morning October 14 and proceeded to Hong Kong. Over the next day or so there was a steady increase in sea state and wind velocity. Looking at the weather messages and the navigation charts we felt that the weather was a local disturbance that would soon blow over. The closest major storm, Typhoon Joan, was reported to be several hundred miles southeast of us. When the ship came around Hainan Island and settled on the new course weather grew worse and the ship began to pound in the high seas heading directly into us. Although the navigator and bridge watches hoped the bad weather would subside, conditions worsened.

    Seas grew until the Agerholm began taking “green water” over the first stack. A few waves sent considerable water down the second stack. (Several times water down the first stack threatened to put out boiler fires which would have been a disaster as without power the ship would have capsized.) The 40 to 50 foot waves towered over the bridge house when we were at the bottom of a trough. Several times we were afraid that the bridge pilot house windows would be smashed out by the waves. Heading into the seas we would start a vicious cycle every 30 seconds at the top of a wave pitching down 80 to 100 feet (4+ stories) into the bottom of the trough (sometimes our screws came out of the water) where the next huge wave would bury the bow and 5″ 38 twin gun mounts and then crash with a loud roar over the deck house. The entire ship would then shudder like a wild beast as it threw off the tons of sea water and corkscrewed up to the top of the next huge wave heaving 35 – 40 degrees to port and then 40 degrees to starboard as it rose. The wild ride would then begin again and continued for hours with no end in sight.

    When we finally were able to turn and run with the storm the Agerholm’s violent motion eased but the ship began to surf down the huge mountains of water that now followed us and lifted our stern high above the bridge. This was dangerous as the 340 foot 3,300 ton ship would pick up speed causing the rudder to lose leverage in the water. The bridge watch was very concerned that we would speed down in a trough, lose steering control long enough to be pushed sideways by the 80 to 90 knot wind and then be rolled over by the next giant wave. The tremendous wind and crashing waves created a constant howling roar that made it hard to hear any words in the pilot house other than those shouted nearby. The heavy low clouds and driven water spray made day almost as dark as night. Looking out from the bridge all one could see were wild mountainous seas going in all directions and high wind ripping the tops of the waves off into the air. All hands were secured from topside as anyone swept overboard would be lost as the ship had no ability to maneuver to save anyone.

    Fortunately, during the two days of violent seas no one received injuries other than general bruises. The crew had been at sea for almost 5 months so we were experienced with heavy weather. When standing most of us just held on to bolted / welded down equipment to keep from getting thrown around the inside of the ship like beans rattling around in a can. Except for the two South Vietnamese officers on board the ship was moving to violently for people to get seasick. Walking around the ship was accomplished by holding on to something sturdy, looking for another hand hold 5 to 6 feet away and then quickly moving in the middle of a roll when the deck was momentarily level. Passageways that had 20 to 30 feet without hand holds were difficult as people were just bounced back and forth as they moved forward or aft. Passing someone going in the opposite direction was tricky because a surprise lurch of the ship would smash the two guys together like pool balls. After the storm I think we all were beat-up and bruised on our shoulders and hips just like we had played tackle football without pads or had been in a boxing match where all the blows landed on the upper torso or hips. A few guys in engineering also had minor burns from being thrown against the boilers.

    During the storm we all operated in a deepening fog of sleep deprivation as the first day extended into the second. Severe lack of sleep feels like a mild case of the flue, you get cranky and it is hard to concentrate on anything not immediately ahead of you. People in their rack trying to sleep tied themselves in to avoid being catapulted across the compartment by a sudden violent heave of the ship. Crew members who did not secure themselves sometimes were sometimes thrown up against the bottom of the rack above them or out onto the deck beside their bed. During the up heave cycle sleepers in the forward part of the ship took on several “g’s” and then became almost weightless at the top just before the ship careened down the monstrous wave into the trough.

    Although the storm lasted two full days and we had heavy seas for 3 days, the 345 men on board were fairly calm for two reasons (although when we tied up in Subic two enlisted men rushed off the ship, knelt down and kissed the ground.

    Only the bridge and CIC watches saw the huge breakers that towered over the ship so most of the crew did not know how bad it was. The weather decks were secured because anyone washed overboard would have been lost as the ship could not maneuver to save him. It was very very dark even during the day and the monster dark gray almost black waves that crashed over the bridge house and sometimes over both stacks were frightening. When we turned to run with the storm the “surfing” sensation was a better ride but the huge mountains of water that picked up our stern just dwarfed the ship and made us feel so small. The ship was just like a small chip of wood being pounded in heavy surf. It is no surprise to me that no one to my knowledge took pictures of the storm.

    We were young and did not know how serious the situation was. There were only a handful of men over 30 years old (CO, XO and the 15+ chiefs) and most of the crew was under 20 years old. As an ensign I was 22 (total 5 1/2 months sea time) and probably 20% of the crew were my age and had the same underway experience.

    Once the ship had a 58 degree roll and was saved from capsizing when a wave “slapped” us back (the ship was designed to withstand rolls up to 48 degrees). When this happened I was sitting on my lower bunk in my small forward 2 man stateroom getting ready for watch when suddenly I was hurled through the doorway and found myself standing on the opposite bulkhead. I looked back into my stateroom which now was over my head and saw my rack where the overhead should have been. Just then the big metal Big Ben alarm clock I used to wake myself for watch came whizzing by my head missing me by inches and smashed itself to pieces on the bulkhead that was momentarily the deck I was standing on.

    The two South Vietnam naval officers training on the Agerholm thought they were going to die in the storm. One was named “Bang” and the other was “Chow”. One was going to be a CIC officer and the other an Engineering officer on a RVN frigate. During the evening of the storm’s second day one of them lost the draw and “bounced” down the passageway to the wardroom to get food for himself and his friend waiting in after officer’s country. I was just going on watch and with 5 or 6 others was making myself a baloney sandwich in the wardroom. Power was out to this compartment because of the storm so all we had to see was dim light from battery powered battle lanterns. The waves were too violent to serve hot meals so the stewards had opened a 5 gallon can of mayonnaise for the officers to use on our semi frozen bread (bread was kept “fresh” by freezing) and baloney.

    As we were making our semi-frozen sandwiches, the ship suddenly lurched and dumped the 5 gallons of mayonnaise on the wardroom’s tile floor but for some reason left the stiff cold bread and lunch meat on the pass-through counter. The deck became so slippery that no one could stay in one place and we all slid together from port to starboard in formation as the Agerholm did its wild 45 degree rolls. All the Junior Officers were hungry and had to get to watch stations soon so when we passed the counter we would grab the fixings for our sandwich and then wait for the roll in the opposite direction to send us past the food station again to complete preparing our meal. We all laughed about the absurdity of the situation.

    Right about this time, Bang or Chow (I could not tell which one he was in the dim yellow light), came into the poorly lit wardroom and saw all of us sliding from side to side eating baloney sandwiches whooping it up acting crazy as hell. He obviously thought we were nuts (remember sleep deprivation) from the expression on his face but hunger exceeded his fear so he joined our sliding formation trying to make two baloney sandwiches.

    About 3 minutes after he joined us the huge mahogany cabinet housing the wardroom TV/stereo broke away from the bulkhead. Although some one immediately called the bridge for a damage control party to wrestle the cabinet in the wardroom, water began coming through the bulkhead rivet holes. The addition of salt water on the tile deck made footing even more slippery. At first we were alarmed about getting squashed between the 400-lb moving cabinet and a bulkhead but soon discovered that the huge piece of furniture slide back and forth at the same speed we did. So whenever the cabinet slid to port and threatened to smash us against the bulkhead we would jump up on the wardroom couch with a steel foundation welded to the deck (during general quarters it was an operating table). The cabinet would hit the couch with a loud crash and stop. When the ship rolled to starboard we all whooped and jumped to the deck slid past the counter grabbing more to eat and followed the cabinet as it crashed into the opposite bulkhead. Bang or Chow was frozen in terror watching all this happen and refused to come down off the couch. As I left the wardroom to go up to the bridge on watch a tired damage control party came in to wrestle and secure the cabinet. I heard later that 6 men were finally needed to tie it down.

    Typhoon Joan was a bitch of a time. When we limped into Subic the tender hull survey discovered that our WWII destroyer had come close to breaking in two pieces. One of the stacks had been significantly weakened. We were in port for 7 weeks undergoing major repairs that included replacing much of the hull plating starboard side amidships.

    When he left the ship Bang or Chow told his naval liaison officer that he had learned a great deal while on board the Agerholm but thought he was going to die during the storm. Although afraid of the storm he said he feared even more the crazy men who seemed to be having fun in the wardroom during the typhoon.


    Years later I served in a San Diego reserve unit with a guy who had been attached to Fleet Weather Station Guam in 1970. One day when we were talking about Typhoon Joan he looked at me, smiled weakly and said “we made about a 500 mile plotting mistake in our weather report”. That immediately explained to me why the Agerholm was caught in the storm.

  3. Scott B. permalink
    January 27, 2010 4:54 pm

    Bill said : “Interesting on many levels, Scott..and I was unaware of that project or vessel’s existence. Can you provide more information?..links?”

    The final technical report is UNCLAS as far as I know. But I don’t have any idea where you can find it in the net.

    Given your expertise, the best thing for you to do would be to contact Douglas Leonard, because he’s the guy who’s got the details you’d be most interested in.

  4. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 27, 2010 4:22 pm

    DE said “Of course I don’t mind. But, this is -the- Stiletto thread… ”

    Rats, what a day!

  5. Chuck Hill permalink
    January 27, 2010 3:31 pm

    A Sea Control Ship was built. You can see it as the Spanish Principe de Asturias. In fact they built a whole sea control task force including FFGs:

    Originally the FFGs were not expected to operate in Carrier Task forces, they were for convoys, hunter killer groups, and general Sea Control.

  6. Bill permalink
    January 27, 2010 2:56 pm

    Interesting on many levels, Scott..and I was unaware of that project or vessel’s existence. Can you provide more information?..links?

    Of course I have been involved in very many SES projects that were the size of the Stilleto or even smaller. The 60′ Norwegian ‘Harpoon’ (glass-sandwich composite) and the 75′ 60-ton Dutch SES ‘Wight Queen?” were the smallest that were not simply ‘manned models’ . Both proved ‘unworthy’ for their intended use as fast ferries due to their payload limitations. In fact..bothmet their intended levels of performance only when practically empty.

  7. Scott B. permalink
    January 27, 2010 2:46 pm

    Of course, blunt as I am, even (especially with old friends), I explained my friend Douglas that a) I did not see any compelling need for a Stiletto-sized fast boat and b) further scaling up the design would bring it into the SES territory, where perfectly adequate solutions (e.g. Skjold) already exist.

    So why even bother ?

    I am afraid I lost yet another friend that day… ;-)

  8. Scott B. permalink
    January 27, 2010 2:33 pm

    Bill said : “As I alluded to in an earlier post, at least in terms of mission payload and perhaps (probably) also in terms of range, the Stilleto would outperform an 80′ SES.”

    To play devil’s advocate to Bill’s comment :

    1) Ocean State Shipbuilding Inc. designed a small air-cushioned catamaran (42 feet LWL, 22 long tons FLD) christened WarpDrive 1.0 as part of an ONR-sponsored project.

    2) During limited trials conducted between April and November of 2007, WarpDrive was found to offer a very smooth ride in all tested conditions (30-35 knots in SS3 and 25-30 knots in SS4), displaying a remarkable lack of vertical accelerations.

    3) My excellent friend Douglas C. Leonard (disclaimer : CEO, Ocean State Shipbuilding Inc.) is convinced that a scaled-up WarpDrive 2.0 (58 feet LWL, 60 long tons FLD) would compare favorably with Stiletto in terms of mission payload (about 17 LT) and range (about 500 NM @ 50 knots @ FLD), and offer a better ride quality.

    4) And he would certainly have loved to enjoy the support of some powerful Congressman and get enough funding to prove his point. Didn’t work that way though…

  9. Scott B. permalink
    January 27, 2010 1:46 pm

    Bill said : “Scot B. posted that. I do not claim to posses such memory skillz myself. ;-)”

    Say what ? I don’t remember posting anything… ;-)

  10. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 27, 2010 1:44 pm


    Of course I don’t mind. But, this is -the- Stiletto thread…

    I think you meant to copy and paste my comment into the Skjold thread. See my comment in that thread about what has been posted in the “LCS Alternative Weekly” and this “Stiletto & Seakeeping” threads relating to Skjold class.

  11. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 27, 2010 1:28 pm


    Yeah, that game does sound familiar – now, doesn’t it. :-(

    Yet, if the mission is that which would normally be assigned to a coastal mission oriented corvette design – then maybe this recent re-classification represents some aspect of that class’ mission. You’re probably correct, but maybe I’m right – or perhaps we’re both correct, given how stealthily capable and heavily armed the Skjold class happens to be.

    I wish I had noticed Mike’s new Skjold thread before I placed my above comment here.

  12. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 27, 2010 1:25 pm

    Endre–Here is what reader D.E. Reddick detailed in the Stiletto post (hope he doesn’t mind me reposting this):

    Interestingly, the Skjold class patrol boats or MTBs (‘missile’ torpedo boats) have recently been reclassified by the Royal Norwegian Navy as coastal corvettes (kystkorvett) due to their superior sea-keeping abilities (making them more akin to corvettes than to boats). With eight SSMs, their 76 mm cannon, Mistral SAMs, and the possibility of carrying heavy torpedoes, then they do seem rather more heavily armed than what anyone would call a boat.

  13. Bill permalink
    January 27, 2010 1:15 pm

    I would be hesitant to attribute the change of the Skjold designation to anything other than Norwegian political realities. The Parliament, and, indeed, even some of the military top brass at various times (the head of which rotates betweent the differnet services, much like our own) have had a long-standing ‘need them..don’t need them’ thing going on from the very beginning of the program and still to this day.

    Given the fairly recent ‘toggle’ back to ‘don’t need them’, I would probably not be far off if I guessed that re-classifying them in terms more associated with what is typically considered a larger and more capable asset might have been purely a political expediency to asure their survival and future deployment.

    Hey..that ‘call ’em something else’ game..that sounds familiar? ;-)

  14. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 27, 2010 12:25 pm

    Interestingly, the Skjold class patrol boats or MTBs (‘missile’ torpedo boats) have recently been reclassified by the Royal Norwegian Navy as coastal corvettes (kystkorvett) due to their superior sea-keeping abilities (making them more akin to corvettes than to boats). With eight SSMs, their 76 mm cannon, Mistral SAMs, and the possibility of carrying heavy torpedoes, then they do seem rather more heavily armed than what anyone would call a boat.

  15. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 27, 2010 12:08 pm

    MG I am with you, as I pointed out, Hope is not a shipbuilding strategy. Except I have Faith in one thing, the budget numbers. The pricetag of these major warships is going to force the change like nothing else can, even war. Though if we fought a terrorist war complete with suicide boat attacks in shallow waters at sea this might put things in perspective, but I don’t wish that on nobody.

    It may take another decade. but it will happen. Revolutions at sea are the hardest thing. The Royal Navy still had warships in commission with a full spread of sail at the turn of the last century, until Jackie Fisher came on the scene.

  16. January 27, 2010 11:57 am

    As I remember, the Perry FFG-7 class was the “austere” way to bulk-up the USN of the 1970s that was facing wholesale block obsolescense of its WW2 designs.

    The Spruance DD-963 class was primarily an ASW platform with no anti-air capability. The Ticonderoga CG-47 class was essentially a DD-963 with the Aegis combat system and anti-aircraft capability. Also part of Zumwalt’s plan was the creation of a Sea Control Ship — an austere, smaller carrier. The SCS was killed because it was seen as a direct competition to the huge (in size and money) Nimitz-class CVNs. (Also, the SCS wasn’t nuclear powered and that REALLY was a put-off to the CVN advocates.)

    When the Shah of Iran was overthrown by the Allatolah Kommeni, the USN seized control of the four Spruance-class DDGs being built for Iran and brought them into service as the Kidd DDG-993 class. The DDG-993 was a Spruance with AAW capability.

    Fast forward to today. The four DDG-993 ships have been sold to Taiwan. The huge batch of Perry FFG-7s have been depleted and either given away or are slated to decommission soon. All of our serving FFG-7s have had their forward missile system (SM-1) removed and not replaced. The DD-963s are dwindling down and many have been sunk as targets rather than be placed in reserve or they are slated for scrapping. (Why this is, I have now clue).

    So, what’s the Navy’s plan? Build more DDG-51 Burkes and CG-47s? You simply cannot do it because of the numbers involved. Neither of the replacements will be built on a 1 or 1 basis. Ergo, the total numbers of your fleet will SHRINK. No one at the USN, to the best of my knowledge, has articulated HOW we are going to make up for the loss of numbers of combatants by building fewer, but more expensive platforms. This is at the same time that the roles and the missions for our ships to do is expanding.

    This should be a no-brainer. In the propular phrase of today, “It’s simply not sustainable.”

  17. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 27, 2010 11:36 am

    MG, I don’t think they even take the LCS seriously, and not for the reasons most of us don’t. They think it a distraction from things like power projection or missile defense which is their main interest/obsession. Perhaps they take their decades long dominance of the sea for granted, leaving many holes for potential threats to grow. I believe expeditionary is very important, but the primary purpose of a navy is sea control and for this you need submarines, frigates, corvettes, patrol boats, or whatever future types we get out of these new experimental hulls and HSVs, if any.

    They only see the LCS as building numbers in the fleet. Incidentally, everything I read from the 1970s, this was the only purpose of the Perry’s FFGs, and I think the Navy leadership were quite surprised how versatile they became and still are.

    I believe in the LCS mission, only the platforms we have chosen for this crucial role is woefully deficient, showing a stark misunderstanding of the purpose of small warships and shallow water warfare in general.

  18. Bill permalink
    January 27, 2010 11:36 am


    Yes, the original ‘Skjold’ deployed to the US for an extended period back in ’01. NSWCCD -CCD conducted limited testing and trials, yes, but the full T& program that was planned was, at the last minute and after Skjold arrived, not funded as had been promised.

    Skjold participated in exercises with the SBU folks in Little Creek, some USN fleet exercises on the west coast as well, and made a run up to DC to show her off to top USN brass and take them for a high speed ride.

    I’ve sent Mike a PR release we made at the time of the Potomac River run to DC..a couple interesting pics therein. During that trip, Skjold inadvertently ‘blew through’ the Dahlgren Potomac River gun test range while it was hot, making 54 knots at the time . The picket boats never saw her coming on their radars….;-)

  19. January 27, 2010 11:26 am

    Everything that I have seen on the Norwegian Skjold impresses me. It’s one of the most impressive craft brought into service in recent years. I am also an unabashed fan of the Swedish Visby class. Both of these are very capable and advanced designs.

    My memory is a bit foggy on this, but I remember the USN was going to or actually did test a Skjold. (Your readers can update me on this.) However, the institutionalized thinking in NavSea and USN won’t take the Skjold (or Visby for that matter) seriously. I believe they are short sighted and they are committing major errors in judgment. That’s not an uncommon occurance with the current batch of “strategic thinkers” in today’s current Navy leadership.

  20. Bill permalink
    January 27, 2010 11:24 am

    “Bill said “We’ve touched on the subject back in July 2009′

    I’ve refreshed my memory. Thanks!

    Scot B. posted that. I do not claim to posses such memory skillz myself. ;-)

  21. Bill permalink
    January 27, 2010 11:22 am

    To play devil’s advocate to Lee’s comments:

    Again, comparing Stilleto with Skjold is not fair nor valid simply becaue of the large difference in size between the two vessels.

    As I alluded to in an earlier post, at least in terms of mission payload and perhaps (probably) also in terms of range, the Stilleto would outperform an 80′ SES.

    Stilleto does offer significant ‘mission bay’ or (usefull deck area in a different configuration) when compared to similarly sized and capable monohulls.

  22. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 27, 2010 11:18 am

    Scott said “We’ve touched on the subject back in July 2009′

    I’ve refreshed my memory. Thanks!

  23. leesea permalink
    January 27, 2010 11:13 am

    I would like to add that the Skjold has troop spaces and a big gun! which of course the M80 doesn’t and can’t mount! I was told that the SWCCs really liked the Skjold tested by USN out of LCRK. Might have been NSWC-CCD?

    Back to start of thread, the M80 is not all its cracked up to be IMHO. So Mike you need to get past it and start talking about some real boats. Please distinquish between a troop carrier like the CB90 aka USN RCB or a Fast Attack Craft which is what the Skjold and Storm and PTF are.

    As always it helps to define the operational rqmts upfront. Are we talking about a SOF support boat or a realy small littoral warfare ship?

    SOCOM already has RFIs out for the former and the latter will have to get past all the rah-rah USN support for LCS which of course is NEITHER type.

  24. Scott B. permalink
    January 27, 2010 9:30 am

    Bill said : “OMG, Mike,,an order of magnitude better. I thought you were aware of that.”

    We’ve touched on the subject back in July 2009 : read the comments of this blog entry.

  25. Bill permalink
    January 27, 2010 9:20 am

    “So you’re saying an old fashioned PHM design is a better seakeeper than these newer catamaran and SES?”

    OMG, Mike,,an order of magnitude better. I thought you were aware of that.

    But again..superior peformance costs ‘superior’ dollars.. ;-)

  26. Bill permalink
    January 27, 2010 9:18 am

    Comparing the ‘Skjold’ to the current Stilletto is very much apples and oranges..a pretty big difference in size.

    Comparing a ‘skjold-sized’ Stilleto variant with ‘Skjold’ would be very interesting. I already know which one would come out on top easily when comparing performance..but the SES would be more expensive..perhaps quite a bit more expensive. The higher performance ain’t free.

    Comparing a ‘Stilleto-sized’ Skjold would be largely pointless…SES technology scales ‘up’ very nicely but scales ‘down’ very poorly. An 80′ or thereabouts SES would have so little usefull payload fraction as to be virtually useless.

  27. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 27, 2010 9:16 am

    So you’re saying an old fashioned PHM design is a better seakeeper than these newer catamaran and SES? Interesting. So we missed one revolution already.

  28. Bill permalink
    January 27, 2010 9:13 am

    Mike said: “Maybe this is what happened to the old Pegasus patrol hydrofoils which these remind of somewhat”

    That ‘somewhat’ certainly does not include ability to manage high sea states at high speeds. Literally nothing else ever built (a few other prototype naval hydrofoils excepted) smatched even closely the ability of the PHMs in that respect..not even the superlatievly capable Norwegian SES’. And in that kind of comparison..the Stilleto is not even an ‘also ran’.

  29. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 27, 2010 9:12 am

    Any thoughts on the Skjold, Bill, MG?

  30. Bill permalink
    January 27, 2010 9:02 am

    A nice segue doth present itself. ;-) The Norwegian FACs/MTBs are well known for thier ability to operate fast in rough seas.. well-known almost to the point the point of legendary.

    So naturally it was quiet an interesting set of ‘side-by-side’ sea trials conducted in or about 1988 or ’89, where RNoN leased one of the Norwegian SES ferries to compare it directly with one of their ‘Storm’ class MTBs, off the coast of Norway around Chritiansund.

    The 120′ LOA 160-ton FLD ferry, GRP-sandwich construction, had a top speed of 45 knots in calm water, pushed by two smallish MWM diesels through water jets.

    Skipping over everything else that impressed the RNoN in the side-by-side trials program, it was the performance and seakeeping of the SES in high SS 5 North (Norwegain) Sea stormy conditions that sold them ‘forever more’ and determined the future direction of their naval builds from thence forward….the SES was still making 30 knots and ‘gittin up’ when the Storm class boat had to bear off and retire to shelter. I have the grainy video taken of the Strom boat from the bridge of the SES ferry…the gratutious hoops and hollers from the crew clearly evident in the background after the Storm skipper radios in and throws in the towel. ;-)

  31. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 27, 2010 6:40 am

    Thanks for your thoughts everyone! No doubt these vessels need continued testing, but the potential for the price is intriguing. I think more can be done, if you don’t consider these craft as stand-alone vessels like Frigates. Maybe this is what happened to the old Pegasus patrol hydrofoils which these remind of somewhat. Working in squadrons, working with motherships, even amphibious ships, perhaps get some use of their special abilities.

    I question the need for high speed, though for smuggling this might be useful.

  32. January 27, 2010 5:15 am

    The PTF was able to take one heck of a beating. The boat was very strong. The crew, on the other hand, did get beaten-up by the pounding. On typical PTF ops where there was heavy seas, the crew not on watch would usually gagther in back of the bridge to hold on. Most of us would use our leg muscles as built-in shock absorbers. On long transits, where the boat was pounding heavily, those leg muscles would get very fatigued.

    Seats were mostly bench-types that were located in the crew’s quarter’s forward of the bridge. The pounding was pretty severe there. Likewise, the officer’s wardroom seats weren’t all that comfortable, either. The best seat in the house was that of the boat engineer, located at the bottom of the ladder leading to the fuel tank room in back of the bridge. The engineer faced aft and monitored the operation of the two Napier Deltic T19-37K diesel engines.

    The newer Mk V SOC has special shock-mounted seats for the crew and SEAL passengers. This is a fine idea for fast craft like this. I have heard that these special seats, while they have helped considerably, still have not prevented back injuries in very heavy seas. Heavy seas and high speed can still cause injuries inspite of new technology advances.

  33. Distiller permalink
    January 27, 2010 4:56 am

    The Tjelds, and also the German S-100 class Schnellboots, were legendary for the amount of beating they could take. And actually I can’t see any progress in the M80 over a S-100 class!

  34. January 27, 2010 1:19 am

    With all due respect to the M Ships folks, the 1950’s Norwegian design for the PTF (Nasty-class) MTB’s could operate in some very heavy seas. We had a chance to find out in 1972 when we took two of our boats (PTF-17 and PTF-19) out of the harbor at Great Lakes, IL for a gunnery shoot on Lake Michigan. (All USN boats were designed as gunboats and did not carry torpedoes or mines.)

    There was a very nasty storm brewing on the Lake as we departed. (Lake Michigan has some of the fastest changing weather I’ve ever experienced — you can go from sunshine and partly cloudy to monsoon rains and 50 knots winds in about 30 minutes — and this is not an exaggeration.)

    I was on the lead boat (PTF-17) and we hit huge swells as we departed the harbor entrance. As PTF-19 cleared the breakwater, she hit a huge wave that put her whole 80-foot hull out of the water (I could see the two screws turning before she crashed down).

    We ran against the storm all the way out to the middle of the lake (that’s were the impact area was), but nothing improved. We turned around and pounded our way back to base. The boat stood up well to the pounding and all of us were thoroughly soaked to the skin.

    Our only casualty was in the Officer’s Head. The holding tank failed and allowed the stench to peremate radar plot. The poor QM on watch turned the sickliest shade of pale gray-green I’ve ever seen. We’d take turns at his position for 15-minute intervals until we got back in because that was the longest anyone could tolerate. Fresh air was the only antidote.

    The storm had abated the next day and we went out again and completed the exercise.

  35. leesea permalink
    January 27, 2010 12:50 am

    From a Warboats perspective, not being able to make a transit presumably at 40 kts “cruise” speed in SS4 is pretty poor! The comparison should be made to our PTF experience which I will leave for Master Gunner to comment on.

    Suffice to say from a boat driver not navarch standpoint, this is a fast planning hull with a LOT of slam! Now we know why the SWCC did NOT like the M80!

    BTW what does SOUTHCOM know about fast boats anyway?

    Note to USN buy something else!

  36. Chuck Hill permalink
    January 26, 2010 7:52 pm

    Heretic,””Requirement for the Sentinel Class cutters is continued operation in SS4 and Survival in SS6.””

    “Sentinel Class cutters have twice the length, three times the keel draft and almost 6 times the tonnage. Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison there Chuck.”

    It was just a point of reference. I’m pretty impressed with the fact that they made the 70 day 6,000 mile trip. Still, I think the two vessels would be used for similar operations. I hope they do have some useful improvements coming.

  37. Scott B. permalink
    January 26, 2010 6:18 pm

    Chuck Robinson said : “Our original Stiletto design was for operations only up to Sea State 3.”

    I just had a quick look at a fairly recent (2006) brief on Stiletto by CAPT Neil Parrott, USN, Office of Force Transformation.

    Technical objectives (page 9) indeed specify 11m RHIB launch & retrieval up to SS3 (Bullet Point #9), but there are a couple more points that might be interesting :

    Bullet Point #5 : Cruise Speed = 40 knots @ SS4

    Bullet Point #7 : Reduced Crew Shock (30-50%)

  38. Scott B. permalink
    January 26, 2010 5:52 pm

    Heretic said : “then it is somewhat “unfair” to malign it for having poor ride qualities in Sea States 4+.”

    Where did you get that SS4+ number from ?

    As Bill pointed out, Stiletto’s ride quality @ 40 knots seriously deteriorates with significant wave heights beyond 3.5 feet, which is a shy SS3.

  39. Heretic permalink
    January 26, 2010 5:15 pm

    Requirement for the Sentinel Class cutters is continued operation in SS4 and Survival in SS6.

    Sentinel Class cutters have twice the length, three times the keel draft and almost 6 times the tonnage. Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison there Chuck.

  40. Bill permalink
    January 26, 2010 5:13 pm

    Actually..I have it on good authority that the ride at 40 kts in anything over SS2 is considered ‘very harsh’..and hence quickly fatiguing to the crew. But it is only an 80 foot boat…

    The apparent reference to ‘operatiing above SS3’ and the reported high incidence of seasickness now makes a bit more sense. MSI and fatigue are generally caused by different motions and in different frequency ranges.

    It’s all a guessing game lacking the usual (or what was once considered usual) evaluation procedures whereby ses state is measure, vertical accelerations, pitc and roll motions are measure..and all are compared to established and accepted citeria (NAVSEA, MIL, ISO, STANAG, DnV..plenty to chose from) . This whole ‘evaluation and assessment by hyperbole’ thing is nuts.

    Of course a bigger version could handle bigger seas. But expecting ‘hullform modifications’ to make any significant improvements at the same size? Not happening.

  41. Heretic permalink
    January 26, 2010 5:01 pm

    Reposting Scott B.’s comment in the earlier thread for clarity of context in discussing this topic here:

    Below are some quotes from the OPEVAL report :


    * During the beginning of the deployment, the sea state was too rough for the quick transit that Stiletto had expected. Another person explained why the rough sea state impacted the crew: “in that environment [Stiletto] can’t go fast without wearing on combat effectiveness.”

    * Crew sustainability, due to the rough sea state, was limited. One person explained that, “when Stiletto is at high speed (40+ kts), it is not cutting through the water, it is hitting the water very hard. This is tough on the crew and fatigue was a real killer.” Another person explained the impact constant vibration had on the crew: “vibration and movement of the ship was very rough on the crew. After constant battery, the body gets tired. And once a person gets tired or exhausted, you begin to break into and cut down on endurance – and then it is a down-ward spiral.”

    * The crew had an “abnormally high rate” of sea sickness. While some sea sickness is to be expected, the crew members were all maritime veterans and most of them experienced sea sickness during this deployment. One person suggested that employing a simulated horizon device in the galleys may be effective at combating sea sickness in those passengers riding below the bridge.


    Point one:
    The OPEVAL states outright sea state was too rough for the transit plan. M Ship Co. says the Stiletto was being operated in a Sea State above 3, which (incidentally) is also beyond the intended design spec. On it’s face, I’m not seeing any contradiction here between the OPEVAL report and what M Ship Co. is claiming.

    Point two:
    OPEVAL states that due to the rough sea state crew fatigue was pronounced. M Ship Co. says the Stiletto was being operated in a Sea State above 3, which (incidentally) is also beyond the intended design spec. On it’s face, I’m not seeing any contradiction here between the OPEVAL report and what M Ship Co. is claiming.

    This then brings up an important point, which I believe is the thrust of the argument that M Ship Co. is making here. If the Stiletto was only specced to operate at “full speed” (take your pick as to what that might mean) in up to Sea State 3, then it is somewhat “unfair” to malign it for having poor ride qualities in Sea States 4+. Furthermore, the original M80 Stiletto is a research and development article intended to prove the concept for further development … and is the size it is (and has the qualities it has) as a function of the limited BUDGET available to answer these sorts of questions. Consider that for $10 million, it’s actually gone a long way towards validating a lot of the underlying concepts of the hullform, while at the same time yielding a great deal of real world data on the “things to improve” so as to evolve the hullform for larger vessels meeting other needs (such as, improved seakeeping in rougher seas).

    Which is to say, I’m still not seeing a contradiction between what the OPEVAL report says … and what M Ship Co. says about the M80. It is possible for BOTH sets of commentary to be true at the same time.

  42. Chuck Hill permalink
    January 26, 2010 4:47 pm

    Requirement for the Sentinel Class cutters is continued operation in SS4 and Survival in SS6.

  43. Bill permalink
    January 26, 2010 4:41 pm

    I can’t take too much issue with Robinson’s repsonse regarding the SS3 operability issues. Fair enough, as far as it goes.

    However, SS3 is not a very ‘challenging’ wave condition and certainly quite common in even sheltered coastal waters. We get SS3 conditions (the SS definition issue aside) at times in the Potomac River area we use for our own testing of manned and unmanned ship models.

    But OK..that reply was certainly more explicit and un-hyped than some of the claims.

  44. Scott B. permalink
    January 26, 2010 4:23 pm

    Chuck Robinson said : “An internal study prepared by U.S. Southern Command for Pentagon leaders lauded the performance of the Stiletto”

    The aforementioned study is labeled UNCLAS / FOUO, so no accreditation is needed to flip through the 72-page report, you simply need to ask for a copy.

    Some significant verbatim of the report was posted over at ID back in October of 2008, so without even getting a copy of the study, everyone can make his own opinion on how much laudation Stiletto really gets in this report.

  45. Scott B. permalink
    January 26, 2010 4:12 pm

    Some quick comments :

    1) It might be interesting to connect the response from the folks of M Ship Co. with the blog entry that they specifically mention in their answer (“In your New Wars blog of January 19”), i.e. this one here :

    Fixing the LCS Program

    2) It’s is interesting to note that, in their response, the folks of M Ship Co, don’t deny what was posted in the comment section of the aforementioned blog entry, i.e. the comments made by our resident HSV expert Bill and the quotes from the Stiletto OPEVAL report.

    3) It would be interesting to know what the folks of M Ship Co mean by “future design modifications would assure successful operation in rougher seas”, what *rougher seas* specifically refer to, how much such *modifications* would cost, etc…

    Let’s see how far this ball is gonna roll…

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