SNA: Return of the phantom frigate

SNA: Return of the phantom frigate

Huntington Ingalls Industries is not giving up on its “Patrol Frigate” concept.

After years of promoting the idea of an up-armed, gray hulled version of the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter with no luck, company officials renewed their pitch again on Wednesday, with a twist: Now there are two models.

Mike Duthu, Ingalls’ program manager for the NSC, said in a briefing at the Surface Navy Association trade show that company officials think navies across the world — including Australia’s, Saudi Arabia’s and others — could buy as many as 215 new frigates over the next 20 years, and that’s a perfect opportunity for two export versions of the Patrol Frigate.


One would essentially be the Coast Guard’s ship painted gray, but with all the same standard equipment — a law enforcement or coast guard-type ship. The other would be the high-speed version we talked about before, with everything from an onboard sonar to vertical missile tubes, to Aegis — the whole shootin’ match. Duthu said the high-end ship, which Ingalls has given the lyrical name of “Patrol Frigate 4921″ can accommodate all the new weapons and sensors without major modifications to its hull and with the power and engines it already has.

Duthu said Ingalls hasn’t talked with any international clients yet about either 4921 or the base model — “We’re just rolling this out,” he said. But H-I’s corporate leaders feel there’s a growth market in play and “We believe we have a great opportunity out there with both versions,” Duthu said.

It was hard to know what to make of the company’s presentation on Wednesday. The concept of a naval NSC was something first pitched when Northrop Grumman owned the shipbuilding arm it later spun off into H-I, and nobody went for it. What’s different now? The U.S. Navy decided years ago to turn up its nose at what the Coast Guard calls its Legend-class, and other navies seem to have followed suit.

There is certainly a case to be made for the NSC as a naval vessel: Everybody wants to talk about a Western Pacific focus and coalition-building and all that stuff? What better than a ship built for long transits and high endurance, and sized about right to take the place of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates the Navy has been using for its global partnership missions. Yes, the Patrol Frigate is not built to take damage like a DDG, but neither are the Navy’s littoral combat ships, which the Navy itself admits aren’t intended for serious combat. LCS has a high sprint speed, but depends on an oiler or shore stations to refuel its thirsty main engines, where the “Patrol Frigate” can cruise on its own for 60 days.

The Navy brass does not want to hear it. It just doesn’t like the National Security Cutter. Not a true naval combatant and not invented here — and all this talk about it versus LCS is ancient history, goes the Navy line. End of discussion.

Which puts H-I in a bind. The company wants to fill out its future order book as much as possible, because from here it can see to the end of both the Navy’s San Antonio class of amphibious ships and the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutters. So it needs something to come afterward, and if the U.S. Navy won’t play, it is hoping others will.

You’ve heard the pitch a thousand times: We’re getting really good at cranking these things out on budget and on schedule, Ingalls says — why not let us make you a deal on some new frigates while we’ve got a hot production line for the Coast Guard? Duthu said the company would not need to wait until the end of its run for the Coast Guard, which has a program of eight ships — Ingalls could start building frigates for a foreign customer in parallel.

But first it would need to find one.

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An up armed Aegis version would be a great filler for both the US Navy, and as an export to friendly foreign navies. One great side effect of this would be a stop to the constant pitches to equip LCS with Aegis. The FFG-7 wasn’t a terribly well armored vessel, so survivability is on par with the earlier class. As we shift our gaze towards the Pacific, the need for an ASW/AAW frigate with enhanced range over the LCS is really something leadership should be considering if not demanding.

There’s no need for Aegis on a frigate, and there’s no need for frigate to escort carriers, that has never been
their mission. Frigate typically have been used for picket duty , convoy escort, open ocean ASW, and independent cruising (thus most frigates have basic AAW defense).

The NSC would be a great platform to build a frigate on. It’s got range and endurance that’s needed to typical frigate missions, it can handle rough seas, it’s got a helo, and it has room for growth, and most importantly, it afforable.

It wouldn’t take much, I’d replace the 57mm with at least a 3in, add Harpoon, ESSM, torpedoes, keep the Phalanx, add (2) 25mm guns, upgrade radar and electronics to Navy standards and add a tail for ASW.

Looks awesome and I like how it looks. Good job Coast Guard on a new design.

The National Security Cutter don’t t need Aegis. Hear a simple plan to get 60 or more armed and in War useful national Security Cutter on the price of the idiotic useless LCS Program.

First give the National Security Cutter a gray paint. ^^

Now to the Weapons:
2X Ram Launcher for self-defense (total 42 Missiles).
2X triple Tubes for Mark 46 torpedo.
2X Quad Launch tubes for Harpoon Missiles (8 Harpoon)
1X ASW Helicopter

No you have a ship how can hypothetical heavy damaged a Chinese Carrier or a Russian Kirow Battle Cruiser and kill every other smaller Chinese, Iranian or Russian Surface Ship and also effective combat enemy Submarines in an Escort Mission for Carrier and all this on the price (350–400 Millions) lower them a LCS (480–700 Millions) .

Sorry to disagree with you on this one, but… it takes a bit more than what you offer to make the NSC a “real” warship, not to say that there are not some navies that would be glad to have something that looks like a warship, smells like a warship and even sounds like a warship. But then back in the ‘70s the Syrians said the same thing when the Soviets were looking for a place to send their PT-76 “amphibious” tanks. Then in one of the periodic flareups, that regiment of PT-76s set off to stampede over the top of the lightly manned Golan Heights defenses. Unfortuately for the Syrians, lightly manned meant only a company or so of old, decrepit M-60 tanks. When it was over, the Syrians had the worlds largest, most widely distributed spare parts yard for PT-76s, and the Israeli’s still sat on the Golan Heights.

I dont think that you can just bolt on things, including a big billboard proclaiming the fact, and turn a non-warship into a warship.

I pretty much agree — 2 T-HAwk box launchers mounted on a 45 degree angle prt & stbd behind main gun, 2 Mk 32 tripple torpedo launchers on the stern under the helo deck, a couple of CWIS and Avenger’s on the super structure, then add a couple of MK38’s and some 50 cal mounts along with a MK 23 towed sonar aray and this would be one heck of a lil gun boat and all these mods are externaly mounted (except for the fire control systems which is no biggie) so no major mods are needed. capeable of multi missions and endurance for much less than and LCS. I’m all for it.…

Good Afternoon Folks,

The problem that is not mentioned here is value and price. The frigate hull is a well know vessel that is produced in several countries and price is everything. The going price of a UD frigate is $850 million per ship and up. The law enforcement hull that the USCG wants at about $500 million is not of much value when a full blown combat ready frigate can be fought from countries like Italy, France, Brazil, Germany etc. at two third to half of the cost.

If a country is really budget sensitive there is alway the Corvette smaller crew then a frigate, just as fast and can be bought stripped down for about a $100 million a hull, full dressed at $150 million. We are not talking about buyers who want to pay for or need a blue water vessel. The littoral mission is quite different from either the blue or even the green water mission and is one the it appears the USN doesn’t really understand. Lots of cheap ship vessels with admittedly limited abilities but in large numbers is what is need not robust super ships.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

well my friend, this ship is much more of warship then the aluminum foil LCS will ever hope to be. The LCS bucks like a wild horse in calm sea states. This CG ship is very seaworthy and can handle very rough seas, which the LCS cannot. What good is a minimal crew if everyone is seasick?

Handling heavy seas would certainly be a big part of any frigate or blue water ASW corvette, but.…. If the role really is littoral , perhaps not as much here. That was always my question with the Trihull. I do know that some of the ocean going trimaran sailboats have major hull integrity issues in blows that their conventional hulled competitors easily weather.I think that I even alluded to the fact that the CG mission needed a very seaworthy vessel, so in that we are in violent agreement! ;-)Sent from my iPhone

How exactly would you think a $350–400 Millions is anywhere in the realm of possibility. The fourth NSC cost $480 million without the DoD provided hardware (weaPONS).The first was $641 million with hardware. Now add a huge price tag to the The will be close to $1 bwhen the dust settles.

The Oliver Hazard Perry firgates do their job well and the US Navy has no plans for frigates in the future.
Unfortunately, the LCS doesn’t seem to be the answer either. The final solution will probably be to build a new class of frigate, with stealth and upgraded weapons for the US Navy after the LCS boondoggle runs it’s course.

They backed themselves into the ‘modular’ corner with the LCS. Now they are throwing good money at an idea that is clearly bad and not working. The modules aren’t working. They’ve got no answer ready to go for the surface warfare one and the news from the others isn’t good. I’d be ok with a billion$ per hull for a new multi mission frigate if the damn thing just worked.

One thing with building the USCG’s NSC to Frigate standard is that the hull would have to be upgraded to Naval Standard. If you upgrade the NSC to frigate standard, It’s not going to be able to dish it out with a Kirov or Sovremenny . It’s going to dish it out with the OSA corvette or any light frigate to corvette in the world.

The one way I can see in upgrading the USCG’s NCS to an NSC frigate is to lengthen the hull. Upgrade the hull to US Navy Standards. Put current off the shelf, ready to go frigate weapons and systems such as a box full Stingers missiles,XM501 Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System with the Griffin Missile or IAI’s Jumper missile, a Box full of Hellfire missiles, Harpoons, AMOS 120mm mortar, Lightweight torpedoes, and dipping hull mounted or towed sonar. On top of that you can possibly put VLS for the Griffin, Jumper and ESSM missiles as well.

What this would do is bring the USCG’s NSC to a frigate standard without sacrificing the ships weight and it would be able to put immediate off the shelf infantry based weapons at the disposal. With the Frigate systems, you can possibly put a lighter version of Aegis or upgrade the NSC’s systems. At the same time, you have an exportable ship that you can build for friendly allies such as Taiwan, Israel and many others.

How about a frigate (FFGX) based on the 5 Norwegian “Fridtjof Nansen” frigates. Using the Navantia hull and all US weapons. Not very different from the Norwegian ships which cost about $700 million — $800 million per ship. Replace Perry class and stop LCS procurement at no more than 20 units. Also cancellation of Flight 3 Burkes would allow for purchase of 2+FFGXs for each planned Burke unit. Navantia’s basic design is used in 5 Spanish and 5 Norwegian units (+ 3 for Australia). Much more capability for the same money when compared to LCS. PART 1.

How about a frigate (FFGX) based on the 5 Norwegian “Fridtjof Nansen” frigates. Part 2.

Basic specs:

Displacement: 5,200 tons full load (approx)
Length: 133.2 m (437 ft)
Beam: 16.8 m (55 ft)
Draft: 7.6 m (25 ft)
Propulsion: CODAG. 1 x GE LM-2500 rated at 21.5 MW. 2 x Navantia Bravo 12V diesels rated a 9MW.
Speed: 27 kn
Range: 4,500 nm @ 18 kn

Armament (proposed):
Aegis weapons system
AN/SPY-1F multifunction radar
2 x fire control illuminators
2 x eight-cell Mk 41 VLS
64 RIM-162 ESSM surface-to-air missiles (quad packed)
2 x Mk 141 Harpoon launchers (amidships)
8 Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles
1 x 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid gun (updated Mk 75)
1 x Mk49 RAM launcher (or 1 x SeaRAM CIWS launcher)
21 RIM-116A RAM surface-to-air missiles (11 RAM surface-to-air missiles)
2 x twin fixed 324mm torpedo tubes
1 x MH-60 R/S Seahawk (+ 1–2 MQ-8 Fire Scout VTUAV’s)

Just licence the BAE Global Combat Ship. Not only does it have proper survivability and is designed to live in the North Atlantic, but it’s designed for piracy/specops missions with a Chinook-capable helideck, plenty of spare accommodation and dedicated boat-handling facilities. A worthy successor to the Perrys, for about the same cost as an LCS.

Oh and then join the Anglo-French MHPC project for “resident” minesweepers in the Gulf and hydrography, for about half the price of an LCS.

A couple of Harpoon are just going to bounce off a Chinese CVBG or Kirov. It’s not even worth firing them.

If you don’t have a super-gold-plated hull, then you can afford better weapons. Which is the point of a warship — as the Perrys exemplified. A modern Perry should have SPY-1F and ESSM — RAM is too short-range if you’re escorting a convoy say. Mk41 means you can have your torpedoes in VL ASROC rather than in dedicated tubes.

One thing the USN is missing for this kind of ship is an anti-surface missile that will fit in tactical-length Mk41 tubes. Assuming that the funding won’t happen to give us the much-needed supersonic missile, an off-the-shelf approach would use a cut-down Tomahawk body with a Harpoon/SLAM seeker/warhead. No, it’s not as good as a Sizzler, but it’s doable without much trouble or expense and would be a really useful option for small combatants with Mk41.

They only thing different that I would add VLS boxes so they can fire either the ESSM or SM-3. The SM-3 would have to be done in conjunction with an Aegis equipped ship but this will give the option of having the Aegis equipped ship further away or the Frigate closer into shore. to protect amphibious forces.

Have you ever been part of a aircraft or missile development program?
Saying that you can re-engineer a missile into a shorter version “without much trouble or expense” is totally ludicrous.

By the way, even mentioning RAM and convoy is a joke as RAM is just an own-ship weapon. ESSM is very short range and not capable of protecting a convoy either unless the convoy is both small and sailing in VERY close proximity.

In reality though, the days of convoys are long past and very unlikely to reappear expect in some very small geographic areas.

got that right ! RAM has MAX range of around 6k yard, with typical intercept ranges of less than 4,000 yards to ownship ! It’s a fantastic system, but you’ll have to change your scivies when the debris from the incoming ASCM bounces up right next to your ship ! ESSM is even a more fantastic system; however, it does not provide “area” defense. It is point defense, as in ownship defense only.

I won’t trust the design. There were alot corners cut when they designed these ships, I would trust a Perry Class over this Cutter as actual frigate goes. I would feel better if US Navy purchases rights to built the Australia’s Anzac class, least the design is built for its intend use.

The Anzac Class is definately getting better but are not designed for the kind of opperations that many Navy’s require, for starters they are not a stealth design and are being upgraded to have a quazi-stealth capability, secondly there a dated design with small room for growth and inferior sea handling at higher sea states due to their small size and would not be suitable for something like installing RAM launchers, and their limited speed has caused US battlegroups to have to slow down to have the Anzac class intergrate into the battlegroup which increases risk for the other vessels, there good for stand alone opperations for tasks such as low and medium combat tasks but lack the speed and size, room for growth and capacity that modern frigates require for ASW, fleet support and upgradability which are key areas of modern frigates that said I would be very upset if Australia went down the path of buying these upgraded cutters as our future replacement frigate as the current plan is to create a standard hull across the fleet of destroyers and frigates based off the f-100 hull which will genorate savings and allow the vessels to be upgraded to destroyer specification if necissary

Stretch out a SARR V or VI corvette @ 40 meters and add Mk41 modules. The rest of the ship is otherwise very well equipped.

Let me remind you of what happened to the reasonably servicable Island-class cutters when a mere 13 ft extension of the hull was attempted. Adding that 13 ft to a 110 ft vessel ended up costing the USCG eight cutters (that were basically struck because of the cracks that developed because of the changed loading on the hull). A ship’s hull is a very complex system of girders and plates, sensitive to even small changes in boyancy or displacement. Adding in a Mk41 module is a very non-trivial event for a small hull, far more significant than adding on 13 ft.

How would YOU compare your recommended modfications to the update attempted on the Island class cutter and the potential impact on the hull structural loads, displacement, and distribution of weight? Lets not worry about the impact on HVAC and electrical power loads, magazine requirements, or even the additional manning (and therefore berthing, messing, etc).

Lots of things CAN be done, but at least be honest about the difficulty/cost of those tasks.

Mostly because everything I mentioned is a bolt on modification and would be mounted at the hulls strongest point, no additional magazines would be needed, nor would more personnel other than Fire controlmen (x3) and Sonarmen (x6) and Torpedomen (x3), the weight would be evenly distributed and draft should only increase 4 to 6 inches. Only the CWIS — Avengers — and MK38’s and 50’s would be reloadable and only require ammo lockers placed in passageways with there emergency flood systems tapped into current water piping.

OK, so long as all of that is included in the “analysis” I guess it flies! :-)

Of course that 13 ft add-on to the hull did not apparently increase the draft at all on the Island cutters, or need any additional manning, or change the metacenter all that much, or.… … it just broke the hull and caused the water to run in when the 123′ upgraded ship hit the waves!

I would just offer than an increase in draft of 4–6 inches, however you reached that conclusion, indicates a SIGNIFICANT increase in displacement to me. That displacement shows up as an increase in the tensile and compressive load on the keel and deck of the ship and starts to feel like a future of cracks to me… but what does an airdale know about marine architecture! :-)

Very simple. Buy the F100 class optimized for smaller crew. Maybe 57mm in place of CIWS and 76mm instead of 127mm for the main gun.

I am against any war but for the country’s defense and self defense against future attacks from rogue, communist and socialist country’s like North Korea, Iran, China and Russia, I would say we need it. Begin the production say a minimum of 1000 units for the navy, marine and the coast guards.

There is nothing as constant as change, and there is always room for improvement. The cost of Aegis technology, expecially when viewed through the lense of the AESA radar research for aircraft, and the AMDR competition revelations that have come out (scalable and cost effective from three different vendors) make a Mini-Aegis not only possible, but cost effective. What ever frigate should be in our future, it must be able to survive in a dense engagement environment. A Mini-Aegis, SSDS equiped ship with 32 cell Mk 41 VLS with a well thoughtout mix of weapons, makes a lot of sense. This type of vessel would be welcome in any formation, including an ARG or CVBG. The Pacific is a Big Pond. We will need presence in many places and 60+ DDG-51s is not enough to cover all our requirements. The LCS cannot do the job. I am very much for the Mini-Aegis National Security Frigate.

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