The phantom frigate

The phantom frigate

Huntington Ingalls Industries may now be a separate company from its former parent Northrop Grumman, but some things never change: This week, as it has for years, exhibitors used their booth at the Sea Air Space trade show to promote a concept that the new company officials still hope could be a big new moneymaker for the Ingalls yard in Pascagoula, Miss.: A badass naval version of the comparatively tame National Security Cutter now in use with the Coast Guard.

The concept used to be called the “National Patrol Frigate,” but now HII is just calling it “the Patrol Frigate” — hear that, international customers? — and unlike the Coast Guard’s production version, this thing would be armed to the teeth. In addition to the main gun forward (possibly the same 57mm gun on the Coast Guard’s ships and Navy’s littoral combat ships, but not necessarily) it could have vertical launch cell for missiles, Harpoon missiles on the faintail, and even a SeaRAM launcher on the deckhouse above the helo hangars. The ship would even carry an Aegis SPY-1F radar on its main mast. All this hardware would make one of these things practically a pocket battleship, in today’s terms, given the 4,500-ton National Security Cutter hull.

There’s only one problem: No one seems to want to buy them. The Coasties love their ships as-is, and they don’t need or want all those expensive weapons. Both the Navy’s models of LCS are far from perfect, but the brass loves them and doesn’t want to hear about the National Security Cutter design. So what navy could possibly want a ship that required all those costly missile reloads — especially SeaRAM? Good question.

(For the record, HII’s model builders put a tiny paper American flag on the model they displayed this week at Sea Air Space — maybe they hope tomorrow’s American admirals will come around after all.)

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What’s the estimated price ? For a few dollars more.…

You can just purchase tried-and-true DDG-103, Baseline 7 version !

Why take huge risks on an unknown like the above proposed new AEGIS platform ? Spain will be glad to construct you some AEGIS frigates that actually work.

Other countries like the Saudis have bought American-built patrol craft and corvettes in the past, I don’t know if they’re looking for any more however.

This modern frigates and cutters are very economical. Typically, every 7,000 nm these 4,200 ton frigates-sized warships operate, they consume 200,000 gallons of fuel. That’s an average of 28.5 gallons per mile. Your mileage may vary, but these stat’s are very realistic. That’s a small price to keep our sea lanes free and safe.

“So what navy could possibly want a ship that required all those costly missile reloads — especially SeaRAM”

Someone who needs good Area Air Defense (And possibly even BMD) but has no use for something F100-sized (let alone Burke-sized). For instance: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both have expressed interest in an Aegis-toting LCS variant, this “Patrol Frigate” would be in much the same vein.

Nice photo of the USCG Cutter/Frigate! Freedom, law, and power in the USCG. God bless the USA.

So in other words, something like the Norwegians new frigates. Not a bad FFG replacement if the Navy wanted FFG replacements.

Engines are too small, could not keep up with a carrier battle group to make them functional. But if they add Mk32 triple torpedo tubes — a TB29 towed array and step the gun up to a 75mm and patrol them in pairs foward deployed of battle groups they would be useful with the current engines.

Good Afternoon Folks,

This ship is a good candidate for foreign purchase. It could be built in two versions. A more conventionally armed Frigate without AA or ASW and standard engines for the USCG. This ship should be in the $50-$75 million a unit range. A more robust version as a true Frigate, for the USN that would include all the bells and whistles that Boomer wants and a larger power plant that would be in the $150-$250 million range.

If made in US ship yards, they would be priced like the LCS at $750 million to $1 billion ships.

Byron Skinner

Back in the day, I was stationed on the USS Iowa and was told it cost a million per day to operate. That was one sweet ship tho. :)

A more practical radar, given the size of the ship and presumably the targetted cost, would be Thales Nederland’s SMART-S Mk II. Canada just purchased them for their Halifax Class Modernization programme.

Considering the increase in incidents with drug smugglers using semi/submersibles around the US’ southern coastal areas (California Pacific area and Caribbean),
I would actually encourage the USCG have at least some measure of ASW capability.

Since any areas where tourists would have access to those small recreational mini subs, they have to have special permits and such, and nearby surface support should anything go wrong (for insurance purposes and liability lawsuits if something goes wrong, etc).
Drug runners want to avoid detection, so if the semi/submersible doesn’t answer hails (sound travels underwater…), sink it: drugs, money, crew, the lot of it.

I think it was Australia that was developing some very promising small-form (suitable for corvettes and light frigates) radar systems

…They did some very nice conversions of their Perry/FFG7 frigates to use ESSMs, albeit an expensive process.
So they technically should have at least some knowhow in doing these frigate-sized vessels (hey, we’re letting Austal build the trimaran LCS platforms…so much for the not-invented-in-the-US mentality).

We could also look at US developments in lighter weight and smaller sized AESA radars for aircraft, and marinize them (Northrop Grumman SABR, Raytheon RACR).

The Navy is going have to do something. The LCS is now only capable of ASW or anti-mine warfare operations, must be fitted for the specific operation, and is grossly undermanned and taxing on the crew. All this to squeeze out 40kts. A larger ship capable of multiple roles simultaneously (ASW, ASuW, and NGFS) is needed; I was thinking more in terms of the German F125 frigate, with a 5″/62 gun and vulcano extended range ammunition, but a properly armed 4500 ton frigate might fill the bill.

I don’t think speed is necessary, we will already 24 of the high speed LCS, and many of these frigates are likely to accompany amphibious groups that are not capable of more than 22kts (28kts is the speed of the Perry class, which were included in carrier battlegroups). So speed should no-longer be the primary issue, given that the Navy is sacrificing so much in terms of combat capability for it. The LCS has significant survivability problems, so there is no trade-off there. And Heritage has examined the issue, and has recommend a similar concept: a mix of 20–24 LCS, with the balance of the remaining 55 ships the Navy wishes to build being conventional frigates. Unless all we are going to be doing is chasing pirates and detonating mines, we are going to need another class of ship.

“Unless all we are going to be doing is chasing pirates and detonating mines, we are going to need another class of ship. ” But in our rush to be sure to fight the next war with the system that would have been useful in the last war.… …

The LCS is without a doubt the “glass half full”, but its a glass in hand. Those other options can probably be argued to be better options given the 20/20 of hindsight, but by the time those options could have matured to the point of the current LCS platforms, our eyesight would again have improved on todays decision. Frankly, my friend, we run the serious risk of always looking to the future, saving all of that production funding, and NEVER putting anything into service, in spite of turning that production funding around into R&D on a new solution!

LCS may be that “fish or cut bait” decision for the Navy for a very long time.

Let me point you at the “FFG upgrade” section of http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​A​d​e​l​a​i​d​e​_​c​l​a​s​s​_​f​r​iga

So… how easy and effective is that trivially simple upgrade to an 8-cell Mk-41 VLS (like everyone wants to just scab on to whatever hull looks pretty in the pictures!)

If it was EASY, we would already have done it! :-)


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