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Gibbs & Cox Light Frigate

Triton

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From July 27, 2011 U-T San Diego:

URL:
http://web.utsandiego.com/news/2011/jul/27/top-architect-proposes-new-type-frigate-navy/

"Top architect proposes new type of frigate for the Navy"

by Gary Robbins

The nation’s leading independent naval architectural firm has been quietly gauging whether senior Navy officials are interested in a new class of frigate that would be smaller and lighter replacement for the aging ships now being phased out of service.

The unnamed light frigate also could be viewed as an alternative to the littoral combat ship program, which has been struggling due to cost overruns, technical problems, and questions about its narrow focus and survivability. Twelve of the first 12 LCS ships are to be homeported in San Diego.

The new 3,500-ton light frigates proposed by Gibbs&Cox would be more heavily armed than previous models and be capable of carrying out a variety of missions over a wide area of the world’s oceans.

Gibbs & Cox of Arlington, Va., says it has produced concept drawings for a roughly 400-foot steel-hull, twin-propellor, diesel-powered light frigate that would be capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles as well as Standard III’s, missiles that can be used for ballistic missile defense. The ship also would feature sophisticated phased-radar.

The Navy’s Cold War-era Perry-class frigates, including the six in San Diego, no longer fire missiles.

The new ship concept calls for a vessel with a crew of 75 to 110, which is far smaller than the 180-200 people who operate the Perry-class frigates. The ship would have a range of roughly 7,000 miles, and a draft of about 20 feet, meaning that it could get into shallower water than existing frigates, but not quite as shallow as the Navy’s new and troubled littoral combat ship. The company has yet to release a drawing of the concept ship, or say how much it might cost to build.

Gibbs & Cox has provided the design for more than 6,000 ships over the past 80 years, including the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, which is currently the work horse of the Navy, and the Perry-class frigates. The company also designed the San Diego-based Freedom, the lead ship in the Freedom-class littoral combat ship program. It did not design the Independence-class LCS ships.

The Navy revealed on Tuesday that the first 12 LCS vessels will be homeported in San Diego.

Rick Biben, the company’s president and chief executive, said Wednesday, “We are not competing with any existing design. We’re looking at what the Navy might need in the future, and we’re working to expand our portfolio of ships.”

Biben stressed that light frigate is not meant to be a competitor to the troubled LCS. Earlier this year, Freedom experienced a crack in its hull, alarming members of Congress. More recently, the Independence was reported to have “aggressive” corrosion in and around its propulsion system.

The problems led a bipartisan group of six U.S. senators to ask for a formal review of LCS. And Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, has suggested that it might be smart to rebid some LCS contracts because the ships will cost at least twice as much as originally planned.

Eric Midboe, vice program of program management at Gibbs & Cox, said Wednesday that the light frigate would be a “conventional, shock-hardened ship” whose hull would be similar to those seen on modern Coast Guard frigates.
 

Grey Havoc

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Triton said:
Rick Biben, the company’s president and chief executive, said Wednesday, “We are not competing with any existing design. We’re looking at what the Navy might need in the future, and we’re working to expand our portfolio of ships.”

Biben stressed that light frigate is not meant to be a competitor to the troubled LCS.

[Raises eyebrow]


Eric Midboe, vice program of program management at Gibbs & Cox, said Wednesday that the light frigate would be a “conventional, shock-hardened ship” whose hull would be similar to those seen on modern Coast Guard frigates.

Probably an editorial blooper.
 

RP1

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It won't be a functional competitor for LCS if it can't do the same job as LCS - for which read "no giant mission bay". It might be funding competitor for LCS if it becomes a rival in an internal CONOPS battle in the USN.

RP1
 

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RP1 said:
It won't be a functional competitor for LCS if it can't do the same job as LCS - for which read "no giant mission bay". It might be funding competitor for LCS if it becomes a rival in an internal CONOPS battle in the USN.

It does seem like a long shot--an unsolicited proposal to build ships that the US Navy has not said it requires. Then again, the LCS justification was never all that clear, and it was much more unconventional. So there's no clear path from requirement to weapons system.

And part of the reason for the LCS was its low cost, so that the Navy could buy a bunch of them and keep the numbers up. But LCS is not proving as cheap as it was supposed to be. And the Navy's shipbuilding numbers are looking grim. So who knows, maybe LCS could get axed and the Navy could return to buying a more traditional platform.
 

Bgray

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Be honest, If I was made dictator for a day, in addition to depravity that would make the Borgia's blush, I'd probably tell the navy to go and buy the Absolon support ship for general duties and these frigates for combat duties. The LCS has turned into a huge fiasco.
 

Triton

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RP1 said:
It won't be a functional competitor for LCS if it can't do the same job as LCS - for which read "no giant mission bay". It might be funding competitor for LCS if it becomes a rival in an internal CONOPS battle in the USN.

RP1

The LCS was billed as a replacement for the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, Osprey-class coastal minehunters, Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships, and Cyclone-class patrol ships. With the mission modules, the Freedom-class and Independence-class are expected to be re-configured for anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, homeland defense, maritime intercept, special operations, and logistics.

Are the cost over-runs in the LCS program the result of trying to make the LCS platform do too much? Is the LCS platform over-kill for mine countermeasures?

I presume that the Gibbs & Cox light frigate is a less ambitious replacement for the Oliver Hazard Perry-frigate and that the company intends that the other proposed mission of the Freedom-class and Independence-class would be performed by other ship platforms.
 

Sea Skimmer

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The single largest reasons for the cost overruns seem to have been the Navy didn't realize how hard it would be to install basic mil spec systems on such high speed lightly built hulls, with all the shock and vibration problems that would create. This went so far as the chairs on the bridge needing shock proofing for crew comfort. The other big reason was the cost was underestimated from the get go, as always in US projects. The cost of the mission modules is counted independent of the cost of the hulls and many of them really don't demand that much of the ship except space and plugs for electrical power. Of course, many have also not been designed yet or are not remotely usable for the intended missions anyway.

Mine warfare is maybe the only place LCS truly makes sense, because its one place in which high sprint speed is invaluable to run around deploying and recovering relatively slow moving robot mine hunting equipment ahead of a fast moving task force. A lot of the other missions would be accomplished just fine at 28 knots. ASW for example is kind of impossible at high speed because you can't hear anything on your sonar while every sub in the ocean can hear you. As far as the basic self defense systems go, its hard to see them being overkill for any mission. Defenseless ships have little value anymore; who thinks an Osprey is going to survive even a single enemy helicopter?

I think Gibbs and Cox is looking at the two main problems with LCS. The first is limited endurance, both from limited crew and limited fuel, the second is the lack of any plan to give the ship a serious AAW capability except in the export version for Israel which would give up one of the designs best features, its large helicopter hanger. Lack of area AAW means it cannot escort other ships against an air threat which is one thing Perry could do pretty darn well compared to other nations standard frigates of similar vintage. Teaming up a 3,500 ton AAW frigate with several LCS fitted out for various mine/ASW/special whatever missions would make a lot of sense. All the more so now that the price tag for a Flight III Burke is estimated at over 2 billion dollars. An AAW frigate should be closer to 600 million, call it around 50% greater then the cost of a LCS.
 

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Sea Skimmer said:
who thinks an Osprey is going to survive even a single enemy helicopter?

Off the main topic I know, but you lost me on this one. Has any helicopter recorded an air-to-air kill, ever?
 

blackstar

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Triton said:
The LCS was billed as a replacement for the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, Osprey-class coastal minehunters, Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships, and Cyclone-class patrol ships.

I'm not familiar with the arguments made in favor of the LCS when originally proposed, but I have a hard time seeing how anybody could have claimed that they were a replacement for the Perry class frigates. The lack of an air defense system makes them pretty vulnerable. (Yes, the OHPs had their missiles removed, but that always seemed like a cost cutting decision that was penny-wise and pound-foolish.) And I have trouble understanding how it could fulfill the ASW role.

Then again, the OHP had a much easier role in the past 10 years than during the Cold War.

Found a pretty detailed article here:

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-usas-new-littoral-combat-ships-updated-01343/

One thing it notes is that all the proposed export versions of the LCS have included substantial radar and weapons system upgrades that the USN is not buying. That's somewhat telling that the companies don't think they can sell the basic USN versions.
 

blackstar

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Madurai said:
Sea Skimmer said:
who thinks an Osprey is going to survive even a single enemy helicopter?

Off the main topic I know, but you lost me on this one. Has any helicopter recorded an air-to-air kill, ever?

Different Osprey. Not the flying kind.

As to helicopters recording air-to-air kills, I'm pretty sure that there are a few examples. A quick Google search turned up this, which may not be reliable:

http://www.sinodefenceforum.com/world-armed-forces/helicopter-air-battles-iran-iraq-war-2760.html
 

Sea Skimmer

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blackstar said:
I'm not familiar with the arguments made in favor of the LCS when originally proposed, but I have a hard time seeing how anybody could have claimed that they were a replacement for the Perry class frigates. The lack of an air defense system makes them pretty vulnerable. (Yes, the OHPs had their missiles removed, but that always seemed like a cost cutting decision that was penny-wise and pound-foolish.) And I have trouble understanding how it could fulfill the ASW role.


SM-1 was kind of useless against missiles though. Okay for attacking planes but it simply cannot engage targets close to the waters surface. So in that respect LCS is actually better off for self defense thanks to RAM, but lack of range and ceiling does preclude screening other vessels which is a serious issue and thus, a foothold for a future frigate. Supposedly the main reason SM-1 was removed from Perry was that the SM-1 missile supply was running low, and the US wanted to sell the rest of its dwindling stockpile to allied navies which had no capability to use the vastly better SM-2. SM-1 has been out of production for some time now while many Perry class frigates were exported and numerous Mk13 launchers were mounted on foreign built ships and never upgraded. Saving money, indeed making money, was more a bonus then the main reason.


ASW mission module is to have a towed array sonar, two drone boats which tow sonars, one SH-60 and three Firescouts which will be able to carry sonarbouys and a new torpedo called Compact Rapid Attack Weapon (CRAW) for an air group. It would also have two remote minehunting system drones which have a minor ASW capability, but mainly would be carried just because you can never have enough minehunting capabilities. It also appears it will have the ATT anti torpedo torpedo, which CRAW is a spinnoff from, and this may provide it with an over the side anti sub capability. Weight is around 90kg.


However many of these systems are simply not working properly at the moment, and it may be a long time before the ASW module is in service. For the moment it does not appear to be a priority compared to the other modules. That would leave LCS with the organic ASW capabilities of SH-60 alone.


One thing it notes is that all the proposed export versions of the LCS have included substantial radar and weapons system upgrades that the USN is not buying. That's somewhat telling that the companies don't think they can sell the basic USN versions.


Yeah they don't because other navies have much different requirements and for likely export customers LCS will be the biggest ship in the fleet. The USN wants an air platform more then anything else meanwhile, and that was also one of the best features of Perry, it held two Seahawks at a time when many peoples frigates still had no aircraft at all. The export LCS goes back to a single helo which isn't great. LCS with a Seahawk and three Firescouts, and perhaps ScanEagle on top of that can do a lot of interesting things.




As for helicopters air to air kills an Air America UH-1 shot down an An-2... with an Ak-47. Someone was nice enough to paint it. Anything can happen once.
http://www.air-america.org/News/images/Limaprintlowres.jpg
 

blackstar

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Thanks for the info. I'll stand (sit) corrected on this.

I still have problems with the basic LCS concept, however. Lack of anything other than point air defense is troubling, and I'm bothered by the idea that the Navy has bought a ship designed for the littorals that really cannot safely venture into the open ocean, nor defend itself adequately against air attack. Not that I think we need a Cold War era vessel, but something with a little more rounded capabilities. I'm also troubled by the reports of crew fatigue. I think the Navy cut too hard into the manning requirements to save money.

Re air-to-air, I have vague recollections that during one of our wars in Iraq a US helicopter used a Sidewinder against another aircraft, probably a helicopter. But I cannot remember details and I'm too lazy at the moment to dig around the internets.
 

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Well I’m not a big LCS fan myself, mainly for the speed making it so expensive. A study done by the CRS I read recently suggested that you could put an 8 cell VLS with ESSM and a single illuminator on a National Security Cutter for about 68 million dollars extra, if the cost was spread over a 30 ship class. However each NCS already costs over 600 million dollars and the project is a minor disaster in its own right. The Europeans pay that much for frigates with Standard missile capability... though its hard to compare building standards.
Still, the added cost should be similar for LCS, and I'd love to see it done on at least certain LCS hulls, but its not likely. Manning is an issue on LCS I agree, but the LCS design has extra berthing space, distinct from the mission module space, for 30 more men should they decide the crews must be increased. So its not doomed on that front. However part of the logic of low manning was not just to save money, but to basically force more responsibility onto the men and officers and force them to either excel or just quit. It provides more early command slots for lower ranking officers helping avoid the USN becoming like the WW2 IJN when ranks got so inflated and so few ships existed that rear admirals commanded battleships. On paper that'd mean a better navy as those people migrate onto the bigger more important ships. Having no navy experience, I have no real ability to judge if this idea can work or not. The good people might quit too. More command slots was a major influence out of the navy postgraduate school, who's students worked out many of the concepts behind building a modular high speed ship in the first place.
LCS was brilliant when it was to cost 220 million and you could get eight or nine of them for what a Flight III Burke is going to cost. At the current 440 million, it isn’t so brilliant but its still four or five to one ratio. Of course back when they said it’d be 220 million they also thought they’d get more Burks for 1.2 billion instead of over 2 billion dollars as is now projected. Something cheap has to be bought or the USN isn’t going to be a 220 ship navy as budget doom has it headed for, its going to be a ~150 ship navy. As much as I’d like to buy them, I’m not too sure large capable frigates can be that low cost number inflating unit. Adding major radar and SAM batteries while keeping mission module space and space for more then one aircraft is basically going to be impossible, it'd turn into another destroyer.
I’m really hoping someone can get the USN a frigate with 14,000 mile endurance, 28 knots flank and ESSM for 500 million some day soon but… the way things work these days and the way inflation ever marches forward its dubious. On the plus side its not like foreign attack aircraft or diesel submarines are all that cheap anymore either. People are now managing to pay a half billion dollars for SSKs. India is claiming they expect to pay about 100 million bucks for PAK-FA. So cost inflation is hitting everyone, we just get FAR more details on the US military budget then anyone else around.

Army Apaches blew up some Iraqi helicopters attempting to takeoff in the Gulf War, but I don’t recall any accounts of actual helo air to air kills. Several Iraqi helicopters died to A-10s guns and an F-15E which dropped a laser guided bomb on one, it lifted off just in time to eat the bomb. If a Sidewinder was used helo to helo it would have had to come from a Marine corps Cobra, and that'd be news to me.
 

Grey Havoc

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A good question in the light of ongoing events is, how will the current LCS designs fare against something like Iran's Nahang class minelayer subs?
 

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I think it will be pretty hard for LCS to get to the Caspian Sea where the Nahang is deployed (per the link provided).
 

Grey Havoc

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Not that hard to transport it to a new base near the Straits, though.

Happy St. Patricks day by the way!
 

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I have to revise my earlier comment on using Remote Minehunting System for ASW. I had thought it could just use its normal minehunting sonars for limited ASW work. This is incorrect, for ASW it is in fact intended to have the option of towing a relatively large passive ASW array instead of the minehunting sonar sled. In both cases RMS itself also has an small bow sonar, this is intended to keep it from running into moored mines or other unexpected obstructions. I assume it would not actively ping while conducting ASW patrols. I can find nothing on the status of this specific ASW capability in terms of ‘does it work’
As for the Iranian mini subs, I do believe Iran has other classes that are in the Gulf proper and generally similar. I'd assume they built one on the Caspian Sea to keep its trials better hidden from the US.
Right now only two LCS are actually considered operational, at least one other is completed but not in service yet. They'd be able to use aircraft on subs, and with the number of US ASW aircraft in the gulf no Iranian submarine will live long. However all Iran would ever expect is one mining mission or one torpedo attack anyway. So really, yes they suck right now, but I’m not sure that matters. It’s going to matter a lot in a few years if the mission modules cannot be sorted out as a significant number of LCS are now formally funded and under construction or on order.
Also I checked... and annoyingly the Volga-Don canal is too narrow for Freedom. The locks allow 16.6m width and Freedom is 17.5m. It also draws slightly too much water at normal draft, but offloading fuel might reduce that enough to pass. So waging sea war against Iran on the gulf would have to be done with Cyclone class fitted with depth charges and a helicopter dipping sonar (no joke, many small Soviet ASW craft had this)
 

Pioneer

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Gibbs & Cox Light Frigate

Great!! I personally welcome the return to reality!
The USN in my opinion has long lost sight of reality!
The USN’s was stupid to try and eradicate the ‘Frigate’ design and concept from it’s Order of Battle, with the end of the Cold War.
Did the USN not learn anything from WWI, WWII and the Cold War? It’s about numbers of vessels over the vastness of the worlds oceans!
There is no reason with today’s (well the past 10-15-years) technology that the Frigate has to be seen as the poorly equipped ugly duckling!
The LCS concept is way to expensive, and with the United States financial difficulties (which will not go away with the wastage of naval programs like DDX and LCS………..) and the coming of power and capability of the PLA/PLAAF/PLAN.
I think 3,500 tons light multi-role frigate is the answer to the USN’s needs (not to mention the prospects of it’s export capability and viability, which both the USN and US ship-builders have excluded themselves from with the concentration and focus on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and LCS)
The Oliver Hazard Perry class was a great design for the concept it was designed to fulfill – cheap to build and buy and easy to crew with minimal crew numbers (It’s only misgiving in my opinion being that of its single-shaft and ridiculous minimal growth/weight capability!)
I like the ‘steel-hull, twin-propeller, diesel-powered concept’.
I’m impressed by the ‘crew of 75 to 110
I appreciate ‘range of roughly 7,000 miles’
I’m some what apprehensive with the ‘Standard III’s, missiles that can be used for ballistic missile defense’ This is bound to substantially add cost and complexity to the design (although I support Standard missile as the ships primary air defence weapon – with the likes of the larger Arleigh Burke-class destroyer being used in the ABM role).
The only thing now is if the USN itself will be able to pull itself away from its obsession with big, expensive and complex is an imperative must syndrome!!

I’m looking forward to seeing drawings and artist impressions of this design!!
Regards
Pioneer
 

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