Category Archives: Navy

BMD co-ordination

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Sailors aboard the USS Carney (DDG-64), USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) and USS Barry (DDG-52) successfully completed a flight test today involving the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) weapon system.

Distributed Weighted Engagement Scheme helped ships avoid launching multiple missiles to counter threats
Distributed Weighted Engagement Scheme helped ships avoid launching multiple missiles to counter threats

At approximately 2:30 a.m. EST, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched near-simultaneously from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. Two Aegis BMD destroyers acquired and tracked the targets, while another destroyer participated in associated operations. Using this data, the Aegis BMD ships conducted simulated Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB guided missile engagements with the Distributed Weighted Engagement Scheme (DWES) capability enabled.

The DWES provides an automated engagement coordination scheme between multiple Aegis BMD ships that determines which ship is the preferred shooter, reducing duplication of BMD engagements and missile expenditures while ensuring BMD threat coverage. Several fire control, discrimination, and engagement functions were exercised. Since no SM-3 guided missiles were launched, the test did not include an attempted intercept.

This test was designated Flight Test Other 19 (FTX-19). This was the first flight test to assess the ability of the Aegis BMD 4.0 weapon system to simulate engagements of a raid consisting of three short-range, separating ballistic missile targets. This was also the first time Aegis BMD 4.0 ships used the DWES capability with live targets.

According to Geoff Fein, Jane’s Defence Weekly reporter, in this scenario one ship took two shots and one ship took one. The USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) took two shots based on how DWES determined who had best shot. The system can be configured to automatically fire or have operator intervention. Both ships fired simulated Standard Missile-3s. A third ship, USS Barry (DDG-52), equipped with Aegis baseline 9, also took part in the test, but it did not participate in the co-ordinated tracking and engagement of the three ballistic missile targets.

Three short-range ballistic missile targets are launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia, in support of FTX-19
Three short-range ballistic missile targets are launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia, in support of FTX-19

USS Barry (DDG-52) was tracking the three targets and doing simulated engagements similar to what the other ships were doing, except that USS Carney (DDG-64) and USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) were testing out DWES. USS Barry (DDG-52) gave an opportunity to use the latest Baseline 9 build and make sure Navy could do simultaneous engagements in the same raid-type scenario.

The difference between USS Carney (DDG-64) and USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) equipped with Aegis Baseline 4 and USS Barry (DDG-52) equipped with Baseline 9 is that the baseline 4 ships have a combination of the older UYK military-based and commercial off-the-shelf computers and rely on the ballistic signal processor functionality.

USS Barry (DDG-52) just received Baseline 9, which has the latest software configuration that brings an integrated air and missile defence capability to the ship. Baseline 9 also has the multi-mission signal processor, which is capable of conducting both air and BMD missions simultaneously. Aegis Baseline 9 has DWES capability built in. Additionally two cruisers, USS Lake Erie (CG-70) and USS Shiloh (CG-67), have DWES functionality.

The MDA will use test results to improve and enhance the Ballistic Missile Defense System and support the advancement of Phase 2 of the Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe to provide protection of U.S. deployed forces and European allies and partners.

Gabrielle Giffords

The future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), launched from the Austal USA shipyard February 25, marking an important production milestone for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program. The ship is named after former United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords. LCS-10 will be the 16th U.S. naval ship to be named for a woman, and only the 13th ship to be named for a living person since 1850.

Gabrielle Giffords posted a Twitter photo Thursday of the new U.S. Navy ship named after her
Gabrielle Giffords posted a Twitter photo Thursday of the new U.S. Navy ship named after her

«This third Independence variant ship of the block buy is the first ship constructed fully utilizing Austal’s LCS Modular Manufacturing Facility and is launching at the highest level of production completion to-date», said Capt. Tom Anderson, Littoral Combat Ship program manager, «a sign that facility investments are now paying off in schedule and cost performance».

Gabrielle Giffords was rolled out of her assembly bay onto a barge for transfer down the Mobile River to a floating drydock February 24. The new ship entered the water for the first time the following day when the drydock was flooded for the ship launch. The ship will return to the shipyard to continue final outfitting and activation until her christening later this year. She is expected to deliver to the fleet in 2017.

Gabrielle Giffords is the third ship in a block buy contract with Austal to build 10 Independence- variant LCS ships. Sister ship Jackson (LCS-6) is preparing for builder’s trials, and Montgomery (LCS-8) was christened in November 2014. The LCS program is ramping up in 2015 to deliver two ships per year from the Austal shipyard, as well as two Freedom-variant ships from the Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin.

The Navy is leveraging competition, fixed-price contracting and ongoing production efficiencies to reduce construction time and costs on littoral combat ships. Lessons learned from the lead ships have been incorporated into both Freedom-variant (odd-numbered) and Independence-variant (even-numbered) hulls.

PEO (Program Executive Offices) LCS is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet and is working with industry to increase production efficiencies and leverage cost savings to achieve steady serial production. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the Navy’s Maritime Strategy.

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was gravely wounded in an assassination attempt in 2011
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was gravely wounded in an assassination attempt in 2011

 

The Independence Variant of the LCS Class

 Principal dimensions

Construction:                            Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy

Length overall:                          417 feet/127.1 m

Beam overall:                             103 feet/31.4 m

Hull draft (maximum):           14.8 feet/4.5 m

 

Payload and capacities

Complement:

Core Crew – 40

Mission crew – 36

Berthing:                                      76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments

Maximum mission load:      210 tonnes

Mission packages:                  ASW, SUW, MIW

 

Propulsion

Main engines:

2 × GE LM2500

2 × MTU 20V 8000

Waterjets:                                  4 × Wartsila steerable

Bow thruster:                           Retractable azimuthing

 

Performance

Speed:                                               40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h

Range:                                               3,500 NM/6,482 km

Operational limitation:           Survival in Sea State 8

 

Mission/Logistics deck

Deck area:                                    >21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2

Launch and recovery:            Twin boom extending crane

Loading:

Side ramp

Internal elevator to hanger

 

Flight deck and hanger

Flight deck dimensions:         2 × SH-60 or 1 × CH-53

Hanger:                               Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60

 

Weapons and sensors

Standard:

1 × 57-mm gun

4 × .50 caliber guns

1 × SAM launcher

3 × weapons modules

The littoral combat ship Independence (LCS 2) underway during builder's trials
The littoral combat ship Independence (LCS 2) underway during builder’s trials

155 Successful
Test Flights

The U.S. Navy conducted successful test flights February 22 of two Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missiles built by Lockheed Martin. This brings the D5 missile’s record to 155 successful test flights since design completion in 1989, a 25-year-plus reliability record unmatched by any other large ballistic missile.

The Mark 5 MIRV can carry up to 14 W88 (475 kt) warheads
The Mark 5 MIRV can carry up to 14 W88 (475 kt) warheads

«These latest test flights demonstrate the reliability of the D5 missile and the readiness of the entire Trident Strategic Weapon System every minute of every day», said Mat Joyce, vice president of Fleet Ballistic Missile programs and deputy for Strategic & Missile Defense Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems. «The Navy program office, the submarine crews and the industry team never rest to ensure the safety, security and performance of this crucial deterrence system».

The Navy launched the unarmed missiles in the Pacific Ocean from a submerged Ohio-class submarine. The missiles were converted into test configurations using kits produced by Lockheed Martin that contain range safety devices and flight telemetry instrumentation.

The Trident II Strategic Weapons System is an improved Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile with greater accuracy, payload, and range than the Trident C-4
The Trident II Strategic Weapons System is an improved Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile with greater accuracy, payload, and range than the Trident C-4

The Navy conducts a continuing series of operational system evaluation tests of the Trident Strategic Weapon System, which is the sea-based element of the nation’s nuclear deterrent triad, under the testing guidelines of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

First deployed in 1990, the D5 missile is aboard U.S. Navy Ohio-class and U.K. Royal Navy Vanguard-class submarines. The three-stage ballistic missile can travel a nominal range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,408 kilometers) and carries multiple independently targeted reentry bodies.

Trident II missiles are carried by 14 US Ohio and 4 British Vanguard-class submarines, with 24 missiles on each Ohio class and 16 missiles on each Vanguard class
Trident II missiles are carried by 14 US Ohio and 4 British Vanguard-class submarines, with 24 missiles on each Ohio class and 16 missiles on each Vanguard class

 

Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM)

The Trident II D5 is the latest generation of the U.S. Navy’s submarine-launched fleet ballistic missiles, following the highly successful Polaris, Poseidon, and Trident I C4 programs. First deployed in 1990, the Trident II D5 missile is currently aboard Ohio-class and British Vanguard-class submarines. Each missile weighs approximately 130,000 pounds (58,967 kilograms).

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, the Navy’s Trident missile prime contractor, developed and produced the missile and support equipment. The company also supplies technical and logistical support at sites where the missiles are deployed.

Maximum speed: approximately 18,030 mph/29,020 km/h/Mach 24
Maximum speed: approximately 18,030 mph/29,020 km/h/Mach 24

The FBM team continues to build on a remarkable mission success track record. Through June 2014, the Trident II D5 missile has achieved 150 successful test flights since design completion in 1989 – a record unmatched by any other large ballistic missile or space launch vehicle.

The first Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) developed and deployed by the United States was the Polaris A1 missile, named for the North Star. A two-stage ballistic missile with a range of 1,200 nautical miles (2,222 kilometers), the A1 was powered by solid fuel rocket motors and guided by a self-contained inertial guidance system independent of external commands or control. The A1’s first successful underwater launch from a submarine on July 20, 1960, brought to fruition a remarkable Navy and industry research and development effort begun only four years earlier. Subsequent Polaris missiles, the A2 and A3, increased the range and thus the operating area of the stealthy deterrent. U.S. deployment of the Polaris missile series ended with the retirement of the A3 in 1979.

The Trident II is a three-stage rocket, each stage containing a Solid-fuel rocket motor
The Trident II is a three-stage rocket, each stage containing a Solid-fuel rocket motor

The next generation of fleet ballistic missiles to follow Polaris was the Poseidon C3 missile. The Poseidon, despite being 20 inches (508 mm) wider in diameter, 36 inches (914 mm) longer and approximately 30,000 pounds (13,608 kilograms) heavier, fit into the same 16 launch tubes that carried Polaris. Poseidon carried twice the payload of the Polaris A3 with significantly improved accuracy. The first Poseidon test launch occurred on August 16, 1968. The first submarine-based test launch occurred on August 3, 1970, from USS James Madison (SSBN-627). The Poseidon was declared operational on March 31, 1971, and was deployed aboard all 31 Lafayette Class submarines.

The Trident I C4 missiles were the longest continuously operated Fleet Ballistic Missiles ever deployed by the U.S. Navy. Using advanced technology in propellants, micro-electronics and new weight-saving materials, the Trident I C4 missile incorporated the multiple independently-targeted vehicle capability of its predecessor Poseidon and provided an astounding range of more than 4,000 nautical miles (7,408 kilometers) with a full payload.

Indian Navy

It said in The Times of India that in a major step towards building a formidable blue-water Navy for the future, the Modi government has cleared the indigenous construction of seven stealth frigates and six nuclear-powered attack submarines, which together will cost well upwards of Rs 1 lakh crore ($16.1 billion).

The Project 17A is a follow-on of the Project 17 Shivalik-class frigate for the Indian Navy
The Project 17A is a follow-on of the Project 17 Shivalik-class frigate for the Indian Navy

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) took these decisions in tune with the «critical necessity» for India to bolster its «overall deterrence capability» in the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR), especially its primary area of strategic interest stretching from the Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait.

Under the over Rs 50,000 crore «Project-17A» for stealth frigates, four will be constructed at Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) in Mumbai and three in Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata. «The contract will be inked with MDL and GRSE this month itself, with an initial payment of Rs 4,000 crore», said a source.

Both the defence shipyards are already geared up for the project because it’s a «follow-on» to the three 6,100-tonne stealth frigates built by MDL, INS Shivalik, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadari, which were inducted in 2010-2012.

The new multi-mission frigates will be larger, faster and stealthier than the Shivaliks as well as packed with more weapons and sensors to operate in «a multi-threat environment». Nevertheless, it could well take a decade, if not more, to build all the seven frigates.

The complex project for the nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) will take longer. After the CCS approval, technical parameters or Naval Staff Qualitative Requirements (NSQRs) will now be drafted for the over 6,000-tonne submarines.

INS Shivalik is the lead ship of her class of stealth multi-role frigates built for the Indian Navy
INS Shivalik is the lead ship of her class of stealth multi-role frigates built for the Indian Navy

The SSNs are likely to be constructed at the secretive Ship-Building Centre (SBC) in Vizag, where India’s first three SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with nuclear ballistic missiles) are being built to complete the country’s nuclear weapons triad.

The government has basically «reworked» the 30-year diesel-electric submarine-building plan, approved by the CCS in 1999, which envisaged induction of 12 new conventional submarines by 2012, followed by another dozen by 2030. However, with no new submarine inducted until now, the government has decided to go in for six SSNs and 18 conventional vessels, said sources.

Nuclear-powered submarines are much deadlier than diesel-electric submarines since they do not need to surface every few days to get oxygen to recharge their batteries. «SSNs, which usually carry only conventional missiles, can swiftly and quietly undertake long-range patrols. They can run at high speeds like 30 knots (34.5 mph/55.5 km/h) for much longer distances, hunting for targets and gathering intelligence», said an expert.

INS Chakra, the nuclear-powered Akula-II class SSN taken on a 10-year lease from Russia, may not be armed with long-range missiles due to international treaties, but has bolstered India’s depleting underwater combat arm that is currently grappling with just 13 ageing conventional diesel-electric submarines.

Armed with 300-km (162 NM/186 miles) range Klub-S land-attack cruise missiles and advanced torpedoes, INS Chakra can be a potent «hunter-killer» of enemy submarines and warships as well as provide effective protection to a fleet at sea.

INS Chakra, the nuclear-powered submarine taken on a 10-year lease from Russia
INS Chakra, the nuclear-powered submarine taken on a 10-year lease from Russia

Egyptian frigate

On Monday 16 February, DCNS signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence of the Arab Republic of Egypt for the supply of a FREMM multi-mission frigate. This agreement strengthens the strategic relations initiated by DCNS last July with the signing of a contract to supply four Gowind 2500 corvettes.

D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (front view)
D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (front view)

Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DCNS, declared: «I would like to thank the Egyptian authorities for the trust they have once again placed in us, for the participation in the modernization of their defence system. DCNS will be keen to demonstrate that this trust is justified. The Group will do its utmost to ensure that this program is completed successfully».

The frigate, the current D651 «Normandie», will be delivered mid-2015 after some outfitting work, and the first phase of the training programme. The logistics and support services provided to the Egyptian Navy will then continue over several years.

D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (rear view)
D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (rear view)

For Hervé Guillou, «With this historical agreement, DCNS is pursuing a policy of long-term partnership with the Egyptian Navy and its shipyards, with whom we plan to invest in the long-term to develop their skills and industrial facilities. In addition, strengthening our relations opens new perspectives for the sale of vessels».

The FREMM delivered to the Egyptian Navy will be taken from the series currently under construction for the French Navy. To ensure that the operational capacities of the French Navy will not be affected, DCNS will speed up the rate of production of subsequent ships.

D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (right side view)
D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (right side view)

«I would like to stress that this success would not have been possible without a close-knit team in France and the tireless support of the French state services, in particular the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) and the French Navy, who accepted the postponement of delivery of its second frigate».

 

FREMM – multi-mission frigate

Multi-mission frigates are versatile vessels able to respond to all types of air, marine, submarine or land threats. FREMM frigates are at the cutting edge of technology and are perfectly suited to ensuring that client navies are able to respond to current threats and the growing needs of maritime security.

A frigate is a ship capable of carrying out several types of mission: protection of a so-called high-value vessel (e.g.: an aircraft carrier), anti-ship warfare, anti-submarine or anti-aircraft warfare, surveillance of a maritime area. A modern frigate is a warship whose dimensions, weapons and equipment allow it to:

  • Navigate on the high seas regardless of the weather conditions;
  • Attack and defend itself, regardless of the level and origin (land, air, sea) of the threat;
  • Attack land-based targets thanks to long-range missiles;
  • Operate alone or in cooperation.
D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (sea trials)
D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (sea trials)

These ships respond to the needs of client navies, including one international client, the Royal Moroccan Navy (701 «Mohammed VI»). These vessels also comply with the most recent MARPOL (MARine POLlution) standards for environmental protection.

With 12 frigates, DCNS is thus the prime contractor of the largest European naval defence program. The FREMM multi-mission frigates are equipped with the most recent technologies developed by DCNS and the best systems available on the market.

FREMM frigates are equipped with hybrid propulsion. In silent mode, the shafts and propellers are driven by electric motors ensuring the acoustic discretion required for anti-submarine warfare operations. In high-speed propulsion mode, the shaft lines are driven by a gas turbine. A retractable thruster ensures manoeuvring safety at quay and in the port. This thruster also acts as an auxiliary propulsion system in the event of a breakdown of the main propulsion system.

D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (side view)
D651 «Normandie» FREMM multi-mission frigate (side view)

According to Defense-aerospace.com, the sale of the ship to Egypt will have a strong impact on the French navy, and will require a complete reshuffling of the crews of the FREMM frigates D651 «Normandie» and D652 «Provence», which both are nearing the end of their user trials.

Specifically, once the contract is signed, the current crew of D651 «Normandie» will transfer to D652 «Provence», which will be home-ported in Brest. There, it will work up its anti-submarine warfare capabilities on the Atlantic coast, as originally planned. The current crew of D652 «Provence» will be reallocated to another FREMM frigate, D653 «Languedoc», which is currently being completed by DCNS, for fitting out.

Mechanically, this sale will delay by several months the arrival of the FREMM frigates into the fleet, and will induce a one-year extension of the anti-submarine frigates D642 «Montcalm» and D643 «Jean de Vienne», whose decommissioning has now been pushed back to 2017 and 2018 respectively. These service life extensions will enable the Navy to ensure its mission of maintaining an operational presence on all oceans, 24/24 and 365 days a year.

 

Technical characteristics

Overall length:               466 feet/142 m

Width:                                 65.6 feet/20 m

Displacement:                6,000 tonnes

Maximum speed:          27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h

Crew:                                   108 persons (helicopter detachment included)

Accommodation capacity:     145 men and women

Range:                       6,000 NM/11,112 km at 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h

 

The only solution allowing on-time delivery is to hand over to Egypt one of the FREMM originally intended for the French navy, which is currently fitting out at DCNS’s Lorient shipyard: the frigate «Normandie».

 

The keel of Wichita

The Lockheed Martin industry team officially laid the keel for the U.S. Navy’s thirteenth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the future USS Wichita, in a ceremony held at Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wisconsin, on February 9, 2015.

Lay the keel is a shipbuilding term that marks the beginning of the module erection process, which is a significant undertaking that signifies the ship coming to life
Lay the keel is a shipbuilding term that marks the beginning of the module erection process, which is a significant undertaking that signifies the ship coming to life

Ship sponsor Mrs. Kate Staples Lehrer completed the time-honored tradition and authenticated the keel of Wichita (LCS-13). Mrs. Lehrer had her initials welded into a sheet of the ship’s steel, which will ultimately be mounted in the ship throughout its entire service. «This is an honor and a pleasure for me to be a sponsor of the USS Wichita», said Mrs. Lehrer. «My right hand will remain forever in a salute to those men and women who are building and to those who will serve on this special ship».

Wichita is a flexible Freedom-variant LCS that will be designed and outfitted with mission systems to conduct a variety of missions including anti-surface warfare, mine countermeasures and submarine warfare. The industry team building Wichita has delivered two ships with six others in various stages of construction and testing. The nation’s first LCS, USS Freedom, completed a U.S. Navy deployment in 2013, and USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) is currently deployed for 16 months to Southeast Asia. These two deployments demonstrate how the ship class is addressing the U.S. Navy’s need for an affordable, highly-networked and modular ship unlike any other in the world.

The industry team building Wichita has delivered two ships with six others in various stages of construction and testing
The industry team building Wichita has delivered two ships with six others in various stages of construction and testing

«This ship class, and the industry team behind it, has shown it can adapt to meet the Navy’s most challenging missions and provide a powerful, modular platform», said Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ships and Systems at Lockheed Martin. «We have leveraged best practices and incorporated improvements based on sailors’ feedback to ensure the fleet is prepared and empowered to fight, operate and support the ship in the littorals and open seas worldwide».

The Lockheed Martin-led LCS team includes ship builder Marinette Marine Corporation, a Fincantieri company, naval architect Gibbs & Cox, as well as nearly 900 suppliers in 43 states. «The LCS 13, Wichita, is a tangible measure of the collaboration and strength within this industry team», said Jan Allman, president and chief executive officer of Marinette Marine Corporation. «I’m extremely proud of our skilled workforce, the hardworking men and women that transform the LCS from a design into a powerful warship that will serve an invaluable role in the Fleet. Through Fincantieri’s expansion and improvement in our facility, Marinette Marine was tailored to grow with this program, and we look forward to continuing our valuable partnership with the U.S. Navy».

Lay the keel is a shipbuilding term that marks the beginning of the module erection process, which is a significant undertaking that signifies the ship coming to life. Modern warships are now largely built in a series of pre-fabricated, complete hull sections rather than a single keel, so the actual start of the shipbuilding process is now considered to be when the first sheet of steel is cut and is often marked with a ceremonial event.

 

The USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) is operating in the vicinity of the tail section and is supporting Indonesian-led efforts to locate the downed aircraft. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos)

 

Christening

Lewis B. Puller, the first purpose built at-sea platform for Mine CounterMeasure (MCM) helicopters and Special Operations Forces (SOF) was christened at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, California on February 7, 2015, according to the company. U.S. Marine Corps commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford was the guest speaker at the ceremony.

USNS Lewis B. Puller MLP-3/ASFB-1 (NASSCO Photo)
USNS Lewis B. Puller MLP-3/ASFB-1 (NASSCO Photo)

The Afloat Forward Staging Base – USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/ASFB-1) – was formally named in a ceremony at NASSCO ahead of an anticipated delivery to U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC) in September. The ship is capable of supporting additional missions including: counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions and Marine Corps crisis response.

The first two ships (USNS Montford Point and USNS John Glenn) have been designated Mobile Landing Platforms (MLP) and will operate as an interface between MSC (Military Sealift Command) cargo ships and Navy landing craft to expand the projection power of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The two planned ships in the class plan to be forward deployed assets for the Navy – one to the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Middle East and one to the U.S. 7th Fleet in the Pacific.

The Navy currently employs the Austin-class LPD, USS Ponce (AFSB-(I)-15), as a Middle East AFSB. In December 2014, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) awarded NASSCO $498 million to start construction on the second AFSB.

The MLP AFSB – based on the hull of an Alaska-class crude oil tanker – is a flexible platform and a key element in the Navy’s large-scale airborne mine countermeasures mission. With accommodations for 250 personnel and a large helicopter flight deck (capable of fielding MH-53E Sea Dragon MCM helicopters), the MLP AFSB will provide a highly capable, innovative and affordable asset to the Navy and Marine Corps.

USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/AFSB-1) was launched at the San Diego yard on November 6, 2014. Lewis B. Puller is slated to become operational in 2015 and will likely replace the current AFSB stand in – USS Ponce (AFSB-(I)-15). The second ship (MLP-4/AFSB-2) will most likely based in the Pacific.

SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard.
SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard.

 

General Characteristics, Montford Point Class

Builder:                                             NASSCO

Propulsion:                                     Commercial Diesel Electric Propulsion

Length:                                              785 feet/239.3 m

Beam:                                                 164 feet/50 m

Displacement:                              78,000 tons (fully loaded)

Draft:                                                 30 feet/9 m (fully loaded); 40 feet/12 m (load line)

Speed:                                               15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h

Range:                                               9,500 nautical miles/17,594 km

Crew:                                                 34 Military Sealift Command personnel

Accommodations:                      250 personnel

 

Ships:

USNS Montford Point (MLP-1)

USNS John Glenn (MLP-2)

USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/AFSB-1) – Launched – November 6, 2014

USNS (MLP-4/AFSB-2) – Under construction

An artist’s conception of the Afloat Forward Staging Base
An artist’s conception of the Afloat Forward Staging Base

Railgun for Destroyer

According to Sam LaGrone, USNI Online Editor at the U.S. Naval Institute, engineering studies to include an electromagnetic railgun on a Zumwalt-class destroyer (DDG-1000) have started at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

An electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard the joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV-3) in port at Naval Station San Diego, California (U.S. Navy Photo)
An electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard the joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV-3) in port at Naval Station San Diego, California (U.S. Navy Photo)

The work will do the math to determine if the Zumwalt-class will have the space, power and cooling to field a railgun – likely replacing one of the two 155-mm BAE Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) ahead of the ship’s deck house, Vice Adm. William Hilarides told USNI News following remarks at the Office of Naval Research Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo. «We have begun real studies – as opposed to just a bunch of guys sitting around – real engineering studies are being done to make sure it’s possible».

The likely candidate for the weapon would be the third planned Zumwalt, Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) currently under construction at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) with an expected delivery date of 2018. Hilarides said the first two ships – Zumwalt (DDG-1000) and Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) – would be less likely to field the capability initially due to the schedule of testing with the new class. «The team is working diligently now but it would not happen until after delivery of the ships – probably the third ship is where we’d have it», he said. «That would certainly be my recommendation».

Vice Admiral William Hilarides became the 43rd commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)
Vice Admiral William Hilarides became the 43rd commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)

The Navy is in early stages of testing and fielding a railgun – which forgoes the gunpowder in the shells of conventional naval guns and instead uses high-powered electromagnetic pulses along a set of rails to shoot a projectile at supersonic speeds.

The Navy plans to test a BAE Systems prototype railgun onboard the Joint High Speed Vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV-3).

Last year, then Navy director of surface warfare now commander of U.S. Surface Forces Command, Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden told USNI News the Zumwalts would be likely used as test beds for emerging technologies like railguns and directed energy weapons the Navy wants for its next large surface combatant due to the ship’s size an ability to generate power.

The second of two Office of Naval Research (ONR) Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun industry prototype launchers is being evaluated at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division
The second of two Office of Naval Research (ONR) Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun industry prototype launchers is being evaluated at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division

The Integrated Power System (IPS) on the 16,000-ton ships – powered by two massive Rolls Royce MT-30 gas turbines and two smaller Rolls-Royce RR450 – allow the ships to route and generate 80 mega-watt power – much more electrical power than the current crop of U.S. destroyers and cruisers.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said a Zumwalt would likely be the first ship to get the capability. The inclusion of the railgun does mean a capabilities trade for the ship. «We’ll go do the studies and I suspect they’ll say ‘yes,’ but it’s going to come at a cost of some of the capabilities on this ship – of course», Hilarides said. «It’s physics. Without taking something off, you’re not putting on a many ton system, so a gun would be a logical thing to take off and put the railgun in its place».

The three ship Zumwalt-class were – in part – originally designed to address a gap in naval surface fire support with the AGS firing the Long-Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) at a range of up to 75 nautical miles/139 km. Each ship is designed to field two AGS. Zumwalt is expected to deliver to the service next year.

Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) currently under construction at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) with an expected delivery date of 2018
Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) currently under construction at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) with an expected delivery date of 2018

Pacific Horizon 2015

Last week, the Strategic and Theater Sealift Program Manager, Captain Henry Stevens, said that over months of at-sea testing, USNS Montford Point (MLP-1), the first ship of the U.S. Navy’s class of Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) demonstrated exceptional capabilities and inherent flexibility during her participation in a series of Post-Delivery Tests and Trials (PDT&T) events. These events, held in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California, successfully evaluated and demonstrated the performance of the ship and her systems.

USNS Montford Point (MLP-1) delivered on time and on budget in May 2013 and successfully completed Final Contract Trials
USNS Montford Point (MLP-1) delivered on time and on budget in May 2013 and successfully completed Final Contract Trials

PDT&T began on Montford Point in April 2014, following installation of her Core Capabilities Set (CCS) and in advance of achievement of the ship class’ Initial Operating Capability (IOC), which the U.S. Navy looks forward to declaring in April 2015.

Montford Point participated in many of PDT&T events, including the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) end-to-end event, designed to determine the operational effectiveness and suitability of the program. Directly following completion of the end-to-end event, and without pulling into port, USNS Montford Point (MLP-1) displayed her capabilities during the Fleet’s Pacific Horizon 2015, a week-long scenario-driven humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise.

Throughout the course of these tests and exercises, USNS Montford Point demonstrated many of her capabilities by interfacing with prepositioning ships and the Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS) to offload equipment and supplies for transshipment to shore by Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC). These capabilities are the cornerstone of the U.S. Navy’s seabasing strategy, further enabling large-scale logistics movements from sea to shore forces and prepositioned Marine Corps equipment from the Sea Base to the shore, significantly reducing dependency on foreign ports.

The ships' size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space
The ships’ size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space

 

Mobile Landing Platform

The Mobile Landing Platform will become the centerpiece of the Sea Base. It will facilitate the selective offload of prepositioned equipment. In concert with JHSV (Joint High Speed Vessel) and prepositioned LMSRs (Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off Ships), MLP will facilitate movement of forces and prepositioned Marine Corps equipment from the Sea Base to the shore via LCAC. The MLP is planned for use across the range of military operations including Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response (HA/DR), Theater Security Cooperation, and Major Combat Operations.

USNS Montford Point (MLP-1) and vehicle cargo ship USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300) are moored alongside of each other during vehicle transfer operations
USNS Montford Point (MLP-1) and vehicle cargo ship USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300) are moored alongside of each other during vehicle transfer operations

 

Dimensions and Performance

Displacement:             78,000 tons (fully loaded)

Length, Overall:         785 feet/239.3 m

Beam:                               164 feet/50 m

Draft:                        29.5 feet/9 m (fully loaded); 39 feet/12 m (load line)

Sustained Speed:       >15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h

Endurance: over 9,500 NM/17,594 km at 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h

Montford Point completes mooring operations with Joint High Speed Vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV-3), and prepares to deploy Millinocket’s vehicle ramp
Montford Point completes mooring operations with Joint High Speed Vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV-3), and prepares to deploy Millinocket’s vehicle ramp

 

Propulsion system

  • Twin-screw diesel electric
  • 4 MAN/B&W medium speed diesel main engines
  • 24 MW diesel electric plant
  • 2 MW Azimuth Vertically Retractable Bow Thrusters
During retrograde operations, vehicles are transported onboard a LCAC, to be transferred from Montford Point onto Bob Hope. The vehicles include, 2 M88 Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV), 3 Internally Transportable Vehicle-Light Strike Vehicles (ITV-LSV), 3 Internally Transportable Vehicle-Prime Movers with Ammo Trailer (ITV-PM/AT), and 3 Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) Expanded Capacity Vehicles (ECV)
During retrograde operations, vehicles are transported onboard a LCAC, to be transferred from Montford Point onto Bob Hope. The vehicles include, 2 M88 Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV), 3 Internally Transportable Vehicle-Light Strike Vehicles (ITV-LSV), 3 Internally Transportable Vehicle-Prime Movers with Ammo Trailer (ITV-PM/AT), and 3 Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) Expanded Capacity Vehicles (ECV)

 

Vehicle transfer

  • Skin to skin transfer to/from LMSR and JHSV
  • 25,000 square feet of vehicle stowage
  • Fender stowage and handling gear
USMC (U.S. Marine Corps) Vehicles transit from vehicle cargo ship USNS Dahl (T-AKR 313) on to Montford Point and are loaded on two LCACs, which will deliver the equipment ashore during the Pacific Horizon 2015 exercise
USMC (U.S. Marine Corps) Vehicles transit from vehicle cargo ship USNS Dahl (T-AKR 313) on to Montford Point and are loaded on two LCACs, which will deliver the equipment ashore during the Pacific Horizon 2015 exercise

 

Ship services

  • 34 Military Sealift Command (MSC) personnel
  • Including hotel Services to support berthing modules
    • 3 MW 60 Hz power
    • Over 100,000 gal potable water
  • Over 590,000 gal JP-5 (Jet Propellant 5)
An LCAC is launched from USNS Montford Point (MLP-1) during the ship’s participation in Pacific Horizon 2015
An LCAC is launched from USNS Montford Point (MLP-1) during the ship’s participation in Pacific Horizon 2015

 

LCAC support

  • 3 LCAC spots
  • Space for LCAC support containers (O-Level support)
  • 60 Hz
  • AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam)
  • JP-5
  • Potable water/LCAC wash-down

 

 

Soryu
is becoming popular

According to Rahul Bedi, Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent, India has invited Japan to compete in the Indian Navy’s (IN’s) long-delayed INR500 billion ($8.1 billion) Project 75I (India) requirement for 6 diesel-electric submarines with land attack and Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) capabilities. Official sources said India had recently forwarded a proposal to Tokyo asking it to consider participating in the Project 75I tender with its 4,200-tonne Soryu-class submarine.

Hakuryu (SS503) has the largest displacement of any submarine used by post war Japan
Hakuryu (SS503) has the largest displacement of any submarine used by post war Japan

In this connection it is interesting to note that the Soryu class is currently under evaluation by the Royal Australian Navy as a replacement for its six Collins-class boats. India’s offer to Japan to join Project 75I is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort at forging closer strategic and defence ties with Tokyo and formulating a wider maritime quadrilateral grouping that would include Australia and the United States.

India is also in advanced negotiations with Japan to acquire 12 ShinMaywa US-2i (formerly Shin Meiwa) amphibious search-and-rescue aircraft for around $1.65 billion, a deal that is likely to be concluded in early 2016.

The Project 75I tender, delayed by nearly seven years, was approved by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in October 2014 and is likely to be dispatched later this year. It is aimed at boosting the IN’s underwater assets, which at 11 submarines is 13 fewer than their sanctioned strength.

Project 75I envisages licence-building a submarine shortlisted from multiple contenders, including DCNS (France), TKMS subsidiary HDW (Germany), Navantia (Spain) and Rosonboronexport (Russia), under a Joint Venture (JV) with an Indian shipyard.

The Soryu-class submarines are diesel-electric submarines that entered service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in 2009
The Soryu-class submarines are diesel-electric submarines that entered service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in 2009

A committee headed by Vice Admiral A.V. Subedar recently completed an audit of seven domestic shipyards – five of them state-owned and two private – to evaluate their submarine-building capability. Officials said it would submit its report to the MoD in February, after which the selected shipyards, along with IN-approved overseas submarine manufacturers, would be invited for trials around 2016 and a platform shortlisted by 2018.

Price negotiations would follow, and IN officials anticipate the first Project 75I submarine being commissioned around 2025-27. Meanwhile, the MoD has for the third time postponed the deadline for local vendors to respond to its Requests for Information (RfI) to indigenously build more than 140 twin-engine Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH).

Industry sources said the RfI response date, for nine potential local bidders, was deferred to 28 February – from the earlier deadlines of 24 November 2014 and 24 January – as many had been unable to conclude JVs with foreign original equipment manufacturers.

India is keen for Japan to participate in its domestic materiel manufacturing programmes as it is seeking technology to boost its defence industrial base. It is also keen to propagate its bilateral strategic partnership with Japan to counter China’s growing military assertiveness in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Both countries have unresolved territorial disputes with China that erupt periodically. The United States has also been advocating increased defence co-operation between India and Japan and Australia, which shares their collective concerns regarding China.

The ShinMaywa is a Japanese large STOL amphibious aircraft designed for air-sea rescue work
The ShinMaywa is a Japanese large STOL amphibious aircraft designed for air-sea rescue work