Posting this summary on the OPV program from someone whose thoughts I respect...SEA 1180 – The Contenders
With an expectation of a decision in the third quarter of 2017, aiming for a construction start date in 2018, I thought it might be time for a straw poll on the three contenders.
The only publicly discussed criteria that I can find is that in order to achieve the aims of the project:
The vessel will need to be of the order of about 70 – 80 metres. There appears to be no hard limit on this, but obviously the three shortlisted contenders have offerings within this range and displace 1600 – 1850 tons.
There should be little if any modifications to an existing design other than those necessary for compliance with RAN orthodoxy, and meeting other Australian standards.
The vessel is to be aviation capable, with specific mention of the use of unmanned aerial systems and vehicles to fulfill its mission.
Weapon/sensor fit out is to be in keeping with its primarily “constabulary” function.Fassmer OPV 80 (80.6 metres)
Claimed economy of operation, 2 engines, demonstrated 8000 nm @ 12kts.
(It certainly has a larger fuel capacity)
Claimed endurance 30 days
Basic crew req. 30 (w/o aviation) accom. For 60 including flight crew.
Aviation: Refuelling/small hangar, smallish flight deck, < 10 t mtow, realistically 7 t.Lurssen OPV 80 (metres)
2 engines, claimed 7500 nm @ ? kts.
Brunei lists an endurance of 21 days (with a crew of 55!)
Crew req. 40 (w/o aviation)
Aviation: Refuelling/no hangar, large flight deck, 11 t mtowDamen OPV 1800 (83 metres)
4 engines (patrol on 2), claimed 5000 nm @ 12 kts
Claimed endurance 30 days
Crew req. 46 (w/o aviation)
Aviation: Refuelling/large hangar, large flight deck, 11 t miow
orDamen OPV 1400 (72 metres)
4 engines, claimed 4000 nm @12 kts
Claimed endurance 25 days
Crew req. 35 (w/o aviation)
Aviation: Refuelling/small hangar, smallish flight deck, < 10 t mtow
(no obvious advantage other than perhaps sail away cost)
There are larger versions available from these contenders, as designs, but I doubt we would go there as costs and crew sizes do go up substantially. Damen offer their “Sea Axe” hull as an option, and while it may be more efficient in terms of speed and fuel, they look like they have the potential to be very wet boats in even the slightest sea with any speed on.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pd8Ro7zrpOo
So there they are. All of the first three would meet the project criteria in different ways. Two at least are in service with other navies, one within our region.
Obviously the standout is the aviation area. The Fassmer OPV 80 would be limited to training helos or a new naval type for the RAN. (I do remember Anzacs deploying to the Gulf with a Squirrel in the hangar) It could certainly manage ScanEagle, Schiebel S-100, both versions of Firescout and their successor. If this is okay, it probably has a lot going for it. It is in service, with repeat orders, and has been built in a variety of local yards in the nations that have ordered it. Currently operating in tropical waters (Caribbean), temperate latitudes (Chilean Pacific coast) and in ice-strengthened form, around the south of Chile. So the due diligence is available.
The other two contenders could refuel an SH-60R if necessary, and one, if pressed, could provide it with hangar facilities. As a mission enabler this is potentially pretty big, but must be weighed against how likely. Either way, I would have thought whether helo or UAV, hangar facilities are a big plus. An embarked helo may not be a common occurrence, but as a large out-of-the-elements workshop, training area or with-kit assembly point on an otherwise smallish vessel it should be highly desirable. All three have accommodation for containerized mission equipment and either a stern RHIB ramp or the option thereof.
If it was a beauty contest I think Lurssen would win it. An act of faith in an obviously capable and successful company with a paper project, would win it for Damen. I think it is Fassmer’s to lose, but who knows what alliances and politics will come into play.
Fassmer with Austal (who would have to manage an initial build of 2 vessels in SA for the make-work scheme)
Damen and Lurssen with ASC (SA) and Civmec (WA)
What could possibly go wrong? Any favourites?