Category Archives: Navy

Operate Forward

The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics NASSCO a $498 million contract for the detail design and construction of the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB). Under this option, NASSCO will provide the detail design and construction efforts to build the second AFSB of the Mobile Landing Platform-class ships. The work will be performed at NASSCO’s San Diego shipyard and is scheduled to be completed by March 2018.

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.

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 helos), the MLP AFSB will provide a highly capable, innovative and affordable asset to the Navy and Marine Corps.

According to Sam LaGrone, USNI Online Editor at the U.S. Naval Institute, the contract modification that funds the construction follows the first AFSB – USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP-3/AFSB-1) – that 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 new AFSB will most likely based in the Pacific.

Jonathan William "Jon" Greenert is a United States Navy Admiral currently serving as the 30th Chief of Naval Operations.
Jonathan William “Jon” Greenert is a United States Navy Admiral currently serving as the 30th Chief of Naval Operations

Jonathan W. Greenert, Admiral, U.S. Navy said, «The need to clear mines and support special operations forces will not end anytime soon. Moreover, because she is over 40 years old, USS Ponce (AFSB-(I)-15) will be an interim solution that will need to be replaced in the near term. To provide an AFSB for the long term, we converted one Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) and build another from the keel up that adds a flight deck, berthing, fuel storage, equipment storage, and repair spaces. Like Ponce, the new AFSBs will have a rotating crew of civilian mariners and military personnel so they can operate forward almost continuously».

«Thus, AFSBs can support patrol craft, auxiliary boats, helicopters, and special operations forces, providing a base of operations for everything from counter-piracy/smuggling, maritime security, and mine clearing to humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Although a port provides the potential for greater logistical capacity, they may not be readily available when or where they are needed most. AFSBs can operate globally in international waters, providing what may be the only way to support an important mission», added Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert.

The Chief of Naval Operations concluded by saying, «MLP/AFSBs are not a new idea, but with rotating crews and increased capacity, the MLP will dramatically improve our capability where it matters most – forward. They are a key element of my tenet to «Operate Forward», and are essential to effectively support our partners and allies in the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere».

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


General Characteristics, Montford Point Class


Builder:                                    NASSCO

Propulsion:                            Commercial Diesel Electric Propulsion

Length:                                     239.3 meters (785 feet)

Beam:                                        50 Meters (164 feet)

Displacement:                      78,000 tons (fully loaded)

Draft:                                         9 meters (fully loaded); 12 meters (load line)

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

Range:                                       9500 nautical miles/17594 km

Crew:                                         34 Military Sealift Command personnel

Accommodations:              250 personnel



USNS Montford Point (MLP 1)

USNS John Glenn (MLP 2)

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

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


Upgrading the Spearfish

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has awarded BAE Systems a £270 million ($424 million) contract to upgrade the Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo for the Royal Navy’s submarines. Following the completion of the design phase, existing torpedoes will be upgraded by BAE Systems at its Broad Oak facility in Portsmouth to the new design with initial deliveries in 2020 continuing until 2024, said BAE Systems’ representatives. Key subcontractors for the Spearfish Upgrade programme include MBDA TDW (responsible for an Insensitive Munitions warhead), Atlas Elektronik UK (fibre-optic guidance link and signal processing in the digital homing head), GE Intelligent Platforms (processing boards), and Altran (safety electronic unit).

Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Mod 1
Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Mod 1

The upgrade, known as Spearfish Mod 1 extends the life of the torpedo, improves safety through the introduction of an Insensitive Munitions warhead and by utilizing a single fuel propulsion system that will offer cost and safety benefits over the current dual-fuel (using Otto fuel II and HAP, Hydroxyl Ammonium Perchlorate) system and provides more capable data links between the weapon system and the launching vessel (replacement of the current copper/cadmium wire guidance link with a fibre-optic system). This results in capability improvements for the Royal Navy as well as significant reduction in through-life operating costs.

The anti-submarine and anti-surface Spearfish Mod 0 torpedoes are currently deployed the BAE Systems designed and built Trafalgar and Vanguard submarines, as well as the Astute Class submarines. Spearfish can be used in defensive and offensive situations and its advanced design delivers maximum warhead effectiveness at high speed with outstanding maneuverability, low radiated noise, advanced homing and sophisticated tactical intelligence.

The torpedo can operate autonomously from the time of launch and is capable of variable speeds across the entire performance envelope. Its high power density bespoke engine allows it to attain exceptional sprint speed in the terminal stage of an attack. The result is an underwater weapon that provides decisive advantage against the full range of submarine and surface threats in all operational environments. Extensive in-water testing will demonstrate consistently high performance and outstanding reliability.

Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Tail
Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Tail

John Hudson, Managing Director for BAE Systems’ UK Maritime Sector, said: «Upgrading the Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedo Mod 0 will provide sophisticated advances for the Royal Navy with increased operational advantage in the underwater domain». He continued: «As well as sustaining and creating jobs in the Solent region, the contract allows the opportunity to work on one of the most exciting development programmes in the country, underpinning BAE Systems’ position at the forefront of underwater systems development over the last 40 years».

The contract also ensures the sustainment of the UK’s torpedo manufacturing capability at BAE Systems’ Broad Oak facility in Portsmouth through to the mid-2020s, and underpins plans to maintain Spearfish in Royal Navy service beyond 2050.


Length:                                              5 m

Weight:                                             <2.000 tonnes

Speed:                                                70 mph/61 Knots/113 km/h

Materials:                                        Aluminium and Titanium

Little pigeons
can carry great messages

Insitu, Inc. (Bingen, Washington) is being awarded a $41,076,746 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of three low rate initial production RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft systems. This award provides for the procurement of the air vehicles, ground control stations, launch and recovery equipment, initial spares, and system engineering and program management (Source: US Department of Defense).

RQ-21A Blackjack
RQ-21A Blackjack

Work will be performed in Bingen, Washington, and is expected to be completed in January 2016. Fiscal 2014 procurement funds (Marine Corps) in the amount of $38,309,942 and fiscal 2015 research and development funds (Marine Corps) in the amount of $2,766,804 will be obligated at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.



The RQ-21A Blackjack, a larger twin-tailed follow-on to the ScanEagle, was selected in 2010 for procurement by the Navy and Marine Corps to fill the requirement for a Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS). The system provides persistent maritime and land-based tactical Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) data collection and dissemination capabilities to the warfighter. The air vehicle’s open-architecture configuration can integrate new payloads quickly and can carry sensor payloads as heavy as 25 pounds.

The RQ-21A completed its first shipboard flight in February 2013 from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19)
The RQ-21A completed its first shipboard flight in February 2013 from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19)



RQ-21A will consist of five air vehicles, two ground control stations and multi-mission payloads that will provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications relay for up to 12 hours per day continuously with a short surge capability for 24 hours a day. Payloads include day/night full-motion video cameras, infrared marker, laser range finder, communications relay package and Automatic Identification System receivers. Ancillary equipment includes launch/recovery mechanisms, tactical communications equipment and spares.

RQ-21A will have a minimal operating radius of 50 nautical miles (92,6 km) and the air vehicle will be capable of airspeeds up to 80 knots (92 mph/148 km/h) with a service ceiling of 15,000 feet (4572 m) density altitude. The fully autonomous launch and recovery system will require minimal space for takeoff and recovery from an unimproved expeditionary/urban environment, as well as from the deck of U.S. Navy ships.

The Marine Corps requirement is 32 RQ-21A systems, and the Navy requirement is 25 RQ-21A systems for shipboard, special warfare and expeditionary missions. In July 2010, the Department of the Navy awarded a contract for the design, development, integration and test of RQ-21A. The Marine Corps exercised an early operational capability option and took delivery in late 2011 of two systems.

The RQ-21A completed its first shipboard flight in February 2013 from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19). Low-rate initial production was approved in May 2013 and accepted by the Marine Corps in January 2014. Initial operational test and evaluation began January 2014 with Initial Operational Capability slated for spring 2014. The RQ-21A will be deployed by Marine UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) squadrons.

Standard Payloads: day/night, full-motion video; electro-optical/infrared cameras; mid-wave infrared imager; infrared marker; laser rangefinder; communications relay; Automatic Identification System receivers for shipping traffic data
Standard Payloads: day/night, full-motion video; electro-optical/infrared cameras; mid-wave infrared imager; infrared marker; laser rangefinder; communications relay; Automatic Identification System receivers for shipping traffic data



Length:                                                 8.2 ft/2.5 m

Wingspan:                                          16 ft/4.8 m



Empty structure weight:           81 lb/36 kg

Max takeoff weight:                     135 lb/61 kg

Max payload weight:                   39 lb/17 kg



Endurance:                                        up to 16 hours

Ceiling:                                                 >19,500 ft/5,944 m

Max horizontal speed:                90+ knots/104 mph/167 km/h

Cruise speed:                                    60 knots/69 mph/111 km/h

Engine:                                 8 HP reciprocating engine with EFI; JP-5, JP-8


Payload Integration

Onboard power:                             350 W for payload

Onboard connectivity:               Ethernet (TCP/IP), data encryption


Standard Payload Configuration

Electro-optic imager

Mid-wave infrared imager

Laser rangefinder

IR marker

Communications relay and AIS (Automatic Identification System)


Technicians prepare an RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System for it's first flight from the Webster Field Annex at Naval Air Station Patuxent River
Technicians prepare an RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System for it’s first flight from the Webster Field Annex at Naval Air Station Patuxent River

The Apocalypse Machine

As is known, the Vanguard-class is a British class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) in service with the Royal Navy. Commissioned into service between 1993 and 1999, HMS Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant, and Vengeance were originally designed for a 25-year lifespan. However, this has been extended by up to 13 years, postponing the requirement for a new class of SSBN and bringing the procurement timeframe into line with the Ohio-class replacement program (U.S. Navy).

The first computer generated image of the replacement to the Vanguard class
The first computer generated image of the replacement to the Vanguard class

According to Jon Rosamond, USNI News, the concept work on Britain’s so-called Successor SSBN began in 2007, with the Ministry of Defense appointing an industry team consisting of shipbuilder and design lead BAE Systems plus Babcock (providing the torpedo handling/launch system, signal ejector system, and through-life support expertise) and Rolls-Royce (responsible for the nuclear steam-raising plant). The MOD approved the so-called «Initial Gate» business case for the new submarines in 2011, releasing funds for a five-year assessment phase intended to bring the design to 70 percent maturity.

In 2013, BAE Systems has been awarded contracts totaling £79 million by the UK Ministry of Defence to begin procuring its first long lead items for the Vanguard Successor programme, which will carry the nation’s nuclear deterrent capability from 2028. The MOD released a concept image depicting an aggressively raked sail, X-shaped stern, and bowplanes located below the waterline when the boat is surfaced. Displacing about 17,000 tons, Successor will be slightly larger than the UK’s current SSBNs (15,900 tons).

Propulsion system components, high-grade steel for the pressure hull and other critical long-lead items for the first ship have now been ordered and some manufacturing activities have started. Tony Johns, Managing Director of BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines, said: «Following the Government’s announcement in May 2011 that the programme had passed its «Initial Gate», it is now well into its third year of a five-year design and development phase, during which the submarine’s concept design and operational requirements are being matured into a detailed design. The «Main Gate» procurement decision – giving permission to proceed for full production – is due in 2016».

By aligning the procurement of the Vanguard and Ohio replacements, the U.K. opened up opportunities for collaborative work with the United States in several areas, notably the design of the Common Missile Compartment (CMC) and the nuclear powerplant, and the integration of sonar arrays and associated combat systems.

HMS Victorious is pictured near Faslane in Scotland
HMS Victorious is pictured near Faslane in Scotland

Although Successor will be fitted with three quad-pack CMC modules, providing 12 launch tubes for Trident D5 ballistic missiles (down from Vanguard‘s 16 tubes), the British government has decided that just 8 operational missiles will be routinely carried on patrol. Meanwhile, General Dynamics Electric Boat will supply outfitted tubes – 87 inches (2.21 m) in diameter and 45 feet (13.72 m) high – for CMC assembly in the U.K.

In October 2014, the U.S. Navy awarded Electric Boat $84 million to start CMC missile tube manufacturing: 12 for the Successor lead ship, 4 for the Ohio replacement program and 1 for the Strategic Weapons System-Ashore test facility at Cape Canaveral. Meanwhile Rolls-Royce is developing the RN’s third-generation pressurized water reactor (PWR3) with technological support from the United States, under the terms of a 1958 intergovernmental agreement to share atomic energy technology for defense purposes. The PWR3 design has benefitted in particular from lessons learned with the S9G reactor that powers the Virginia-class submarines.

Compared with the Vanguards’ PWR2 system (27,500 shp, 20.5 MW), the PWR3 has a simpler circulation design and should be easier to operate. According to Rolls-Royce representatives, it promises a «huge improvement in terms of safety, integrity and availability, while at the same time reducing the through-life costs».

Vanguards’ PWR2 system (27,500 shp, 20.5 MW)
Vanguards’ PWR2 system (27,500 shp, 20.5 MW)

Meanwhile, the U.K. is also participating in the U.S.-led Trident missile life-extension program, which will keep the D5 ballistic vehicle – capable of delivering up to 12 independently targetable nuclear warheads – in service into the 2040s.

One major decision remains outstanding: Whether to replace the Vanguards on a one-for-one basis, at an estimated cost of $17.28-$22 billion (at 2006/07 prices), or attempt to benefit from improved reliability and maintainability by ordering just three SSBN submarines. However, the cost savings inherent in a three-boat solution would be too small compared with total program expenditure, and the RN believes that 4 SSBNs is the minimum required to maintain a credible and continuous at-sea deterrent.

«We have a proud history of collaboration with the United States on submarine programs and I’m pleased to say that continues today», Will Blamey, the Successor program director at BAE Systems Submarines said. «We’re more than halfway through the five-year assessment phase and are making good progress with the submarine design. We’re fully focused on achieving our program objectives and remain confident the first submarine will be in service by 2028».


Antipiracy frigate

It is said in the IHS Jane’s Navy International that state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL has held a keel-laying ceremony for the Indonesian Navy’s second SIGMA 10514 Perusak Kawal Rudal (PKR) guided-missile frigate. Defence minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, who presided over the ceremony at PT PAL’s premises in Surabaya, described the keel laying as a vote of confidence in the local shipbuilding industry’s capability to produce a complex warship like a PKR frigate.


PT PAL is building two PKR frigates in collaboration with Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS, a Dutch shipyard) under a skills and technology transfer arrangement. For the second vessel, the Indonesian shipbuilder PT PAL is producing all of the modules except for the mast/bridge/operations block, which is to be completed by DSNS at its yard in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. For the first ship, PT PAL is responsible for the forward and stern hull modules and the mid and aft superstructure blocks. Both vessels will undergo final assembly and trials in Surabaya, the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 11 December 2014.

The Indonesian MoD signed a contract with DSNS for the first vessel in December 2012, while an option for the second ship was exercised in mid-2013. The frigates are scheduled for delivery in January 2017 and October 2017, respectively. Indonesia has planned to acquire at least two more ships in the class, although a contract for these has yet to be finalised.

Perusak Kawal Rudal guided-missile frigate
Perusak Kawal Rudal guided-missile frigate

The Indonesian MoD has said it will deploy the SIGMA PKR frigates for maritime surveillance, including to counter piracy and illegal fishing. The Tentera Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL) plans to equip the warships with AS565 Panther helicopters that will be fitted with the Helicopter Long-Range Active Sonar (HELRAS) dipping sonar and torpedo launching system, bolstering the frigates’ Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities.

According to Ridzwan Rahmat, Singapore IHS, the Indonesian frigates will be equipped with a variant of the Thales TACTICOS 300 combat management suite, a Rheinmetall Defence Millennium 35 mm Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), a Thales SMART-S Mark-2 surveillance radar, and a 12-cell vertical-launch air-defence system. The ships will also be equipped with six 324 mm torpedo tubes.

PKR frigate
PKR frigate



(Perusak Kawal Rudal guided-missile frigate)


Customer:                                            Indonesian Navy

Basic functions:                                 Naval Patrol EEZ, deterrence, Search and Rescue, ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare), AAW (Anti-Aircraft Warfare), ASUW (Anti-Surface Warfare), EW (Electronic Warfare)

Hull material:                                      Steel grade A/AH36

Standards:                                            Naval/Commercial, naval intact/damaged stability, noise reduced, moderate shock

Classification:                                    Lloyd’s Register of Shipping



Length o.a.:                                          105.11 m

Beam mld:                                            14.02 m

Depth no.1 deck:                              8.75 m

Draught (dwl):                                    3.7 m

Displacement (dwl):                        2365 tonnes

SIGMA 10514 PKR guided-missile frigate
SIGMA 10514 PKR guided-missile frigate



Speed (Maximum power):           28 knots (52 km/h)

Range at 14 knots (26 km/h):    5000 NM (9260 km)

Endurance:                                           20 days at sea



Propulsion type:                              CODOE (Combined Diesel or Electric)

Diesel engines:                                 2 × 10,000 kW MCR (Maximum Continuous Rating) Propulsion type

Electric motors:                               2 × 1300 kW

Gearbox:                                              2 × double input input/single output

Propellers:                                          2 × CPP diameter 3.55 m

Perusak Kawal Rudal frigate
Perusak Kawal Rudal frigate



Generator sets:                                6 × 715 kWE (kilowatts electrical)

Emergency gen. set:                      1 × 180 kWE (kilowatts electrical)

Chilled water system:                   2 × units, redundant distrubution

Fire fighting:                                       4 × main pumps + 1 × service pump

Degaussing System



Helicopter deck:                   max. 10 tons helicopter, with lashing points

Heli operations:                    day/night with refueling system

Helicopter hangar

RAS (Replenishment at Sea):     on helicopter deck PS&SB, astern fuelling

Boats:                                           2 × RHIB (Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat)

PKR frigate
PKR frigate



Fully air-conditioned accommodation for 120 persons

Commanding Officer:                    1

Officers:                                              26

Chief Petty Officers:                   10

Petty Officers:                                 36

Junior Ratings:                                 29

Trainee Officers:                            18

Provisions for NBC citadel/decontamination



3D-Surveillance & target indication radar & IFF (Identification Friend or Foe)

Radar/electro optical fire control

Hull Mounted Sonar

Combat management system

Medium calibre gun 76 mm

1 × Close In Weapon System

2 × SSM (Surface-to-Surface Missile) launcher

12 cell VL (Vertical Launch) SHORADS

2 × triple 324 mm Torpedo launcher

ESM & ECM (Electronic Support Measures and Electronic Countermeasures systems)

2 × Decoys/chaff

Integrated internal & external communication system



Integrated bridge console, 2 × Radar, ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display & Information System), GMDSS-A3 (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System), reference gyro


Big problems
of small ships

«Something is rotten in the state of Denmark» (Hamlet 1.4). The U.S. Navy again restructures Littoral Combat Ship’s programme. The LCS is known as «the WARship that can’t go to WAR» because of its high vulnerability. «The Navy needs a Small Surface Combatant», Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert, told reporters at the Pentagon.

SUW Configured Independence
SUW Configured Independence

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has directed the Navy «to move forward with a multi-mission Small Surface Combatant (SSC) based on modified Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) hull designs. The new SSC will offer improvements in ship lethality and survivability, delivering enhanced naval combat performance at an affordable price».

Consistent with the Fleet’s views on the most valued capabilities delivered by a Small Surface Combatant, the modified LCS ship will provide multi-mission anti-surface warfare (SUW) and anti-submarine warfare capabilities (ASW), as well as continuous and effective air, surface and underwater self-defense. Adding to current LCS Flight 0+ baseline configurations, which include the 57 mm gun and SeaRAM Anti-Ship Missile Defense System, this ship will be equipped with:

  • over-the-horizon Surface-to-Surface Missiles;
  • air defense upgrades (sensors and weapons);
  • an advanced electronic warfare system;
  • advanced decoys;
  • a towed array system for submarine detection and torpedo defense;
  • two 25 mm guns;
  • an armed helicopter (MH-60R Seahawk) capable of engaging with either Hellfire missiles or Mark-54 torpedoes;
  • and an unmanned Fire Scout helicopter for surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting.
SUW Configured Freedom
SUW Configured Freedom

Modularity design features will also be retained to augment SUW and ASW capabilities as directed by the Fleet Commanders. Available mission modules include Longbow Surface-to-Surface Missiles (Hellfire), two Mark-46 30 mm guns, and two 11M RHIBs for Surface Warfare, or a variable depth sonar for submarine warfare which, when added to the ship’s organic multi-function towed array and embarked helicopter, make this an extremely effective anti-submarine warfare platform.

In addition to the improved weapon systems capabilities for this ship, which reduce its susceptibility to being hit by a threat weapon, the Small Surface Combatant will also include improved passive measures – measures that will reduce the ship’s signature against mine threats, and measures that will harden certain vital spaces and systems against potential damage caused by weapon impact – to further enhance its overall survivability.

From an operational perspective, the sum of these improvements will increase the ship’s capability and availability to participate in SUW Surface Action Groups, ASW Search and Attack Units; escort of High Value Units, and support of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) SUW and ASW operations.

With increased lethality and survivability, the modified LCS will provide the flexibility to operate both independently and as a part of an aggregated force. This decision allows the Navy to add organic multi-mission capabilities to the Small Surface Combatant force while leveraging the benefits and affordability of the LCS program.

SSC improvements to the LCS fleet
SSC improvements to the LCS fleet

The modified LCS ships will complement the planned 32 LCS ships, resulting in a 52 ship Small Surface Combatant Fleet in keeping with the Navy’s Force Structure Analysis. The 32 LCS ships, with their full modular capability, will allow the Navy to deploy assets to meet the Navy’s mine warfare, SUW, and ASW demands.

According to Chuck Hagel, «production of the new SSC will begin no later than fiscal year 2019, and there will be no gap between production of the last LCS and the first SSC. A significant advantage to this approach is the ability to enhance naval combat performance by back-fitting select SSC improvements to the LCS fleet. By avoiding a new class of ships and new system design costs, it also represents the most responsible use of our industrial base investment while expanding the commonality of the Navy’s fleet».

«The new SSC ships will cost about $60 to 75 million more than the current versions of LCS. Over the life of each class, both have come in at less than $500 million a hull, not including the mission packages», Sean Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (RDA) told reporters.

USS Independence
USS Independence

However, and this new concept was heavily criticized by some experts. For example, the editor of the says, «the idea that the LCS’ numerous flaws – unworkable modular design, cost overruns, inability to take battle damage, faulty design and construction, unworkable operational concept with interchangeable mission packages and crews (3-2-1) – can be fixed by resigning an improved version called SSC seems unlikely to result in an operationally effective ship, but will certainly add additional cost to the LCS’ already unconscionably high price tag. The LCS was designed, as its name implies, for coastal work in shallow and constrained waters where it could be supported by other larger and better-armed ships. However, it cannot be expected to operate effectively in theaters like the Pacific, and especially not anywhere within hundreds of miles of the Chinese coast, where it would be operationally useless, yet still a sitting duck».

Another example, Clark, the naval analyst, in his report, spells out exactly why the ship’s ASCM (Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles) vulnerability is a fatal one, especially in circumstances where an LCS is tasked with defending a larger ship.

«Given the LCS’s short-range missiles, a defended ship would have to operate too close to the LCS to permit effective maneuvering and the LCS would have to be positioned between the incoming missile and the escorted ship or directly in front of or behind the escorted ship. To ensure the incoming ASCM is intercepted, two RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) would likely be shot at each incoming ASCM. This would result in the LCS’s magazine of RAMs being exhausted after ten ASCM attacks. In the LCS’s envisioned littoral operating environment, more ASCM attacks would likely occur before the ship could reload its RAM magazine».

The avoidance of detection, the LCS’s only real survival capability, will become more difficult thanks to improvements in ship locating technologies. Frank Hoffman, a former deputy director of the Navy’s Office of Program Appraisal, told Defense One that enhancements to Chinese ship detection capabilities would render the LCS a very, very targetable ship.


USS Independence (LCS-2)
USS Independence (LCS-2)

The Independence Variant of the LCS Class


Principal dimensions

Construction:                        Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy

Length overall:                      127.1 m

Beam overall:                         31.4 m

Hull draft (maximum):       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



Main engines:                          2 × GE LM2500

2 × MTU 20V 8000

Waterjets:                                  4 × Wartsila steerable

Bow thruster:                           Retractable azimuthing



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:                                    >2000 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

Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)
Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)


Independence Class LCS (Littoral Combat Ship)  (

LaserSaber for the Navy

As David Smalley, Office of Naval Research Public Affairs reported, new laser weapon system (LaWS) was for the first time successfully deployed and operated aboard a naval vessel in the Arabian Gulf. The operational demonstrations, which took place from September to November 2014 aboard USS Ponce (AFSB[I] 15), showed a laser weapon working aboard a deployed U.S. Navy ship, besides LaWS operated seamlessly with existing ship defense systems.

An operational demonstration of the Laser Weapon System
An operational demonstration of the Laser Weapon System

«Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations», said Rear Admiral Matthew L. Klunder, chief of naval research. «We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality».

Specifically, during the tests, the 30-kilowatt LaWS hit targets mounted aboard a speeding oncoming small boat, shot a Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) out of the sky, and destroyed other moving targets at sea.

The Office of Naval Research sponsored Laser Weapon System
The Office of Naval Research sponsored Laser Weapon System

Sailors worked daily with LaWS over several months since it was installed, and reported the weapon performed flawlessly, including in adverse weather conditions of high winds, heat and humidity. They noted the system exceeded expectations for both reliability and maintainability.

The system is operated by a video game like controller, and can address multiple threats using a range of escalating options, from non-lethal measures such as optical «dazzling» and disabling, to lethal destruction if necessary. It could prove to be a pivotal asset against what are termed «asymmetric threats», which include small attack boats and UAVs.

Chief Fire Controlman Brett Richmond, right, and Lt. j.g. Katie Woodard, operate the Laser Weapon System
Chief Fire Controlman Brett Richmond, right, and Lt. j.g. Katie Woodard, operate the Laser Weapon System

Data regarding accuracy, lethality and other factors from the USS Ponce deployment will guide the development of weapons under ONR’s Solid-State Laser-Technology Maturation program. Under this program, industry teams have been selected to develop cost-effective, combat-ready laser prototypes that could be installed on vessels such as guided-missile destroyers (Arleigh Burke-class) and the Littoral Combat Ship in the early 2020s. Researchers say the revolutionary technology breakthroughs demonstrated by LaWS will ultimately benefit not only U.S. Navy surface ships, but also airborne and ground-based weapon systems.

While laser weapons offer new levels of precision and speed for naval warfighters, they also bring increased safety for ships and crews, as lasers are not dependent on the traditional propellant and gunpowder-based ordnance found on ships. Lasers run on electricity and can be fired as long as there is power.

The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15)
The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15)

They also cost less to build, install and fire than traditional kinetic weapons – for example a multimillion-dollar missile. «At less than a dollar per shot, there’s no question about the value LaWS provides», said Klunder. «With affordability a serious concern for our defense budgets, this will more effectively manage resources to ensure our Sailors are never in a fair fight».

The Navy already has demonstrated the effectiveness of lasers in a variety of maritime settings. In a 2011 demonstration, a laser was used to defeat multiple small boat threats from a destroyer (USS Dewey DDG 105). In 2012, LaWS downed several unmanned aircraft in tests during naval exercises. Specific details on next steps and timeframes are being determined as the data from the current demonstrations are analyzed.

According to Sam LaGrone, the USNI Online Editor at the U.S. Naval Institute, the next step for laser weapons will be a 100 to 150 kilowatt version it plans to test in 2016 or 2017.


Ocean Eagle

As we know, the Independence-class of Littoral Combat Ships, built for the United States Navy, is the high-speed trimaran vessel. Austal’s team determined that the trimaran hull form offered significant passenger comfort and stability advantages over both a catamaran and a monohull. Although the trimaran hull increases the total surface area, it is still able to reach sustainable speeds of about 50 knots (93 km/h, 58 mph), with a range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km; 12,000 mi). ( independence-class-lcs.html)

The Ocean Eagle 43 is designed for surveillance missions and maritime response
The Ocean Eagle 43 is designed for surveillance missions and maritime response

A French shipyard Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie (CMN, located in Cherbourg) decided to repeat the success of its American competitors. CMN has been working on a very innovative design, adopting a trimaran hull, designed with a world expert on this architecture. More precisely, there are two projects: Ocean Eagle 43 and Ocean Eagle 43 MH.


Ocean Eagle 43

This conceptual ship is an ocean patrol trimaran combining a very slender hull with two small floats enabling the required stability. This combination, according to the French shipbuilders, reduces the fuel expenditure, increases speed and autonomy, while insuring a good level of comfort even in moderate to rough sea conditions.

Ocean Eagle 43
Ocean Eagle 43


Main Characteristics

Length Overall:                                        43.60 m

Beam Overall:                                           15.70 m

Maximum draught:                                1.60 m

Maximum speed:                                     30 Kts (56 km/h)

Range at 18 Kts (33 km/h):                3000 Nautical Miles (5556 km)

Range at 12 Kts (22 km/h):                5000 Nautical Miles (9260 km)

Crew:                                                              13 persons

Fuel:                                                                 21 m3

Fresh water:                                                2.0 m3

Hull & Superstructure:                          Composite Materials

Classification:                                             Bureau Veritas



  • Sea policing and State action at sea;
  • Fight against piracy, trafficking, smuggling and illegal immigration;
  • Surveillance of exclusive economic and fishing zones;
  • Monitoring of marine environment;
  • Protection of vulnerable vessels and offshore installations and escort of convoys;
  • Defence against asymmetric threats, speedboats and the boarding of terrorists;
  • Safety at sea;
  • Search And Rescue (SAR).

Ocean Eagle 43 can also be adapted for side scan sonar operation, special operations support, surveying and coastal oceanography.

Ocean Eagle 43, concept
Ocean Eagle 43, concept


Performance and Competitive Features:

  • Very high fuel economy: 238 nautical miles travelled at 15 knots with only 1 ton of fuel (nearly 50 miles for a mono-hull Offshore Patrol Vessel  at the same speed);
  • Large modularity adapted to the full range of maritime surveillance tasks;
  • High reliability and straightforward maintenance;
  • An excellent ratio of (surface area covered + performance)/operational costs;
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capabilities increasing largely the line of sight.


Typical Mission Systems:

  • 20 mm remote-controlled gun-turret;
  • Electro-optical observation system;
  • Two 12.7 mm side gun;
  • Radio direction finder;
  • C2 system;
  • Rotary UAV.
Ocean Eagle with rotary UAV
Ocean Eagle with rotary UAV


Main Equipment & Auxiliaries:

  • 7 m outboard RHIB (Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat) mounted on the stern ramp for policing intervention, transshipments or naval special ops
  • 2 main generators
  • 4 diesel engines
  • 2 CPP (Controllable Pitch Propellers)



Ocean Eagle 43 MH

This vessel is the mine hunting version of the Ocean Eagle 43. The mine warfare-operating mode is based on the use of autonomous or remote operated vehicles embarked on the Ocean Eagle 43 MH playing the Mother Ship role. Operations are done at safe distance from the trimaran vessel. Detection of the Mines at long range improves the safety for the Mother Ship, assures the integrity of the crew and ensures the success of the mission.

Ocean Eagle 43 MH
Ocean Eagle 43 MH


Main Characteristics

Length Overall:                                    43.60 m

Beam Overall:                                       15.70 m

Maximum draught:                             2.00 m

Maximum speed:                                 19 Knots (35 km/h)

Mine hunting speed:                           between 0 to 8 Knots (15 km/h)

Range at 14 Kts (26 km/h):             2500 Nautical Miles (4630 km)

Crew:                                                           15

Fuel:                                                             18 m3

Fresh water:                                            2 m3

Hull & Superstructure:                      Composite Materials

Classification Bureau:                        Veritas



  • Detection and treatment of naval mines;
  • Deployment of the Mine Warfare equipment Autonomous Underwater Vehicles and Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (AUV and UUV);
  • Support to Mine Warfare diver operations;
  • Sea policing and State action at sea;
  • Fight against piracy, trafficking, smuggling and illegal immigration;
  • Defense against asymmetric threats, speedboats and the boarding of terrorists.
Ocean Eagle 43 MH, concept
Ocean Eagle 43 MH, concept


Performance and Competitive Features:

  • Low Magnetic and Acoustic Signature;
  • Very high fuel economy compare to existing mine-hunting vessels;
  • High reliability and straightforward maintenance;
  • An excellent ratio of (surface area covered + performance)/operational costs.


Typical Mission Systems:

  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) equipped with side scan sonar for detection and classification of mines;
  • 6 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) for Mine Identification, Inspection or Disposal;
  • Mine hunting data and mission management system;
  • Diving equipment;
  • 20 mm remote-controlled gun-turret;
  • Electro-optical observation system;
  • Two 12.7 mm side guns;
  • Radio direction finder;
  • Command & Control (C2) System.


Main Equipment & Auxiliaries:

  • Degaussing system;
  • Electric propulsion with 2 collapsible azimuth thrusters for mine-hunting mission;
  • 2 diesel engines with 2 CPP for cruising and naval mission;
  • 3 generating sets;
  • 5 m outboard RHIB.


Global Combat Ship

As Richard Scott from London (IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly) reported, UK Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon has confirmed the selection of the strike-length Mark-41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) to meet the Flexible Strike Silo requirement for the Royal Navy’s next-generation Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS).

Type 26 Global Combat Ship
Type 26 Global Combat Ship

As it is planned, each combat ship will be fitted with three eight-cell modules in a silo sited forward of the bridge. Mister Fallon confirmed the decision to install a 24-cell Flexible Strike Silo fitted with Mark-41 launchers in a written response to Rory Stewart MP, chairman of the House of Commons Defence Committee. His statement said the VLS infrastructure «will be able to accommodate a range of missiles from long-range strike weapons (such as the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile) to Anti-Ship Missiles and Anti-Submarine Rockets with the weapon payload being reconfigured to meet changing threats and missions». ( documents/commons-committees/defence/141009_SoS_re_Type_ 26_Global_Combat_Ship.pdf)

As previously reported by representatives of the company BAE Systems, the GCS will be a highly capable and versatile multi-mission warship designed to support anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general-purpose operations anywhere on the world’s oceans.

With the design and development underpinned by battle proven pedigree of Royal Navy warships, the GCS will be capable of undertaking a wide range of roles from high intensity conflict to humanitarian assistance. It will be capable of operating independently or as a key asset within a task group.

All variants of will share a common acoustically quiet hull and will take full advantage of modular design and open systems architecture to facilitate through-life support and upgrades as new technology develops. This will ensure the GCS remains relevant to future maritime demands and delivers an adaptable design with the ability to accommodate sub-systems to meet individual country needs.

Type 26 Global Combat Ship, design concept only
Type 26 Global Combat Ship, design concept only

The Assessment Phase for the Type 26 programme began in March 2010 and a joint team of more than 650 people from across BAE Systems and wider industry are working with the Ministry of Defence on the engineering of the ship and to prepare proposals to be submitted later this year. The team aims to secure a manufacturing contract that will sustain this long-term national capability by the end of 2014.

As it is expected, the Type 26 will replace the UK’s Type 23 frigates. Under current plans, 13 Type 26 ships will be delivered to the Royal Navy, with manufacturing in Glasgow scheduled to start in 2016. The first vessel is due to enter service as soon as possible after 2020 and the Type 26 class will remain in service until 2060.


Mission capability

Versatility of roles is enabled by the Integrated Mission Bay and Hanger, capable of supporting multiple helicopters, Unmanned Undersea Vehicles, boats, mission loads and disaster relief stores. A launcher can be provided for fixed wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operation and the Flight Deck is capable of landing a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for transport of embarked forces.

The first vessel is due to enter service as soon as possible after 2020
The first vessel is due to enter service as soon as possible after 2020


Principal Weapons and Sensors

Artisan 3D radar

Sonar 2087

Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles

Medium calibre gun

Mark-41 Vertical Launch System



2 electric motors

4 high-speed diesel generators

Gas turbine direct drive



Accommodation, health and recreation services for 118 crew and 72 embarked forces


Main dimensions

Displacement:                         6000 tonnes

Length:                                         148.5 metres

Maximum beam:                     20 metres



Top speed:                                  26+ knots (48 km/h)

Range:                                           7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km)



Under the scheme «3-2-1»

The U.S. Navy deployed its third Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), USS Fort Worth, on a 16-month journey to Southeast Asia for an expedition that will build upon the success of USS Freedom’s 2013 voyage. The new ship will operate from Singapore, the Navy announced.

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)

The U.S. Navy has said that while deployed, the ship will visit more ports, collaborate with more navies and expand LCS capabilities including the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. USS Fort Worth departed from his homeport Naval Station San Diego (California) on November 17 and is due back in March 2016.

The ship’s Commander, Kendall Bridgewater, was enthusiastic about the upcoming mission and expressed his confidence in recent interviews with media who were invited to tour the ship prior to deployment. «The LCS is a fast ship with a shallow draft, which allows it to go into ports other Navy ships can’t access», Bridgewater said. «We can go in and engage with a lot more partners and allies», he said.

Along with an expansion of operations from the 2013 deployment, Fort Worth will be the first LCS to test the Navy’s so-called «3-2-1» deployment scheme. In fact, such a scheme of service is a classic shift work. Specifically, three crews will each take a four-month rotation on two LCS ships, one deployed and one in port. The idea of this scheme is to minimize crew fatigue and maximize the utility of a forward deployed ship. The service plans to have USS Fort Worth deployed for a total of 16 months.

USS Forth Worth embarked with a detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 that will operate both a MH-60R Seahawk manned helicopter and a MQ-8B Fire Scout rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The ship, which has traveled more than 40,000 nautical miles, is the second LCS built by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team, which includes Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) and Gibbs & Cox. Forth Worth was delivered to the Navy in 2012, two months ahead of schedule.

While USS Fort Worth conducts its mission in Southeast Asia, the industry team continues to build Freedom-variant LCSs at MMC in Marinette, Wisconsin, with six under construction:

USS Freedom (LCS-1) – commissioned 2008 – San Diego

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) – commissioned 2012 – San Diego

USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) – commissioned 2015

USS Detroit (LCS-7)

USS Little Rock (LCS-9)

USS Sioux City (LCS-11)

USS Witchta (LCS-13)

USS Billings (LCS-15)

USS Indianapolis (LCS-17)

Ship Design Features
Ship Design Features

Ship Design Specifications

Hull:                                                   Advanced semiplaning steel monohull

Length Overall:                           118.6 meters (389 feet)

Beam Overall:                              17.5 meters (57 feet)

Draft:                                                 4.1 meters (13.5 feet)

Full Load Displacement:        Approximately 3,200 metric tons

Top Speed:                                     Greater than 40 knots

Watercraft Launch and Recovery:    Up to Sea State 4

Aircraft Launch and Recovery:            Up to Sea State 5

Propulsion:                                     Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion

Hangar Space:                              Two H-60 helos or one H-60 helo and three VTUAVs

Core Crew:                                     Less than 50; Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet

Integrated Bridge System:    Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation

Core Self-Defense Suite:       Includes 3D air search radar, Rolling Airframe Missile, medium caliber gun, EO/IR gunfire control system and decoy launching system


MH-60R Seahawk
MH-60R Seahawk

MH-60R Seahawk Specifications


Operating length                      64.83 ft/19.76 m

Operating width                       53.66 ft/16.35 m

Operating height                      16.70 ft/5.10 m

Folded length                              41.05 ft/12.51 m

Folded width                               11.00 ft/3.35 m

Folded height                              12.92 ft/3.94 m

Main rotor diameter               53.66 ft/16.35 m

Tail rotor diameter                  11.00 ft/3.35 m

Airframe Characteristics

Mission gross weight (Surface Warfare, SUW)        21,290 lb/9,657 kg

Maximum takeoff gross weight                              23,500 lb/10,681.82 kg

Engines                                           (2) T700-GE-401C

Mission endurance (SUW)  3.30 hours

Dash speed                                  140 kts/259 km/h

Weapons                                      Anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, 50 cal. guns

Auxiliary fuel                              Up to two external tanks


LCS 3 Builder’s Trials

Freedom Class LCS (Littoral Combat Ship)(