Type Designation: ?
The following specifications are highly speculative and are no longer applicable:
Displacement (tonnes): Light: 6,324 main hull, 72 each side hull,
6,468 total; Deep load: approx 8,000 total. (In early 2002 this had
changed to 9700 tonnes for Baseline 7)
The Future Surface Combatant (FSC) is the RN's vision is for a new purpose designed maritime platform(s) with considerable reach, endurance and utility, primary roles include anti-surface warfare (ASuW), antisubmarine warfare (ASW), anti-air warfare (AAW) and land attack (LA, sometimes referred to as Deep Strike - DS).
Currently it is envisaged that FSC will act either alone or as part of a force, to enable a graduated and enduring contribution to national and multi-national operations conducted from the sea in a multi-threat environment. The composition of its systems and ship’s company will allow rapid re-tasking and re-deployment to meet the less predictable demands of the future operating environment. The size, shape and variety of ships required to deliver the FSC capability will be derived from Assessment Phase studies, four options were under study in mid-2003: a 9500 tonnes trimaran, a Type 45 derivative; a mother/daughter concept; and a family of warships. A variant of the Type 45 design is now (mid-2004) becoming the most likely option for FSC, supplemented by less capable Light Coastal warfare Ships (LCS) perhaps derived from the River Class FOPV design, but other alternatives are still being seriously investigated.
FSC will address identified capability gaps and present the opportunity to introduce new capabilities to the maritime domain. Particular attention is being paid to FSC’s potential contribution to joint and combined operations in support of early entry forces in the littoral battlespace, through both rapid and graduated response, and its operational versatility across the full spectrum of defence missions.
Whilst the pull-through of systems from platforms such as T45 and CV(F) will benefit operational compatibility and maximise the investment already made, there is considerable scope for innovation of design and operation. Hence the potential for a trimaran hull form is being researched, and Integrated Full Electric Propulsion is being de-risked.
The trimaran concept may offer potential benefits in range, economy, survivability and stability. The Trimaran Technology Demonstrator, Research Vessel Triton, conducted joint UK/US trials in 2000-2. And the UK/FR Electric Ship Shore Technology Demonstrator was opened in September 2002. Testing has commenced which will de-risk system integration by demonstrating the system under a variety of scenarios and operating conditions and will be managed by the Electric Ship Programme Office, now also operating under the umbrella of the FBG. The results of both Technology Demonstrators will be considered alongside analysis of monohull research and direct drive technologies before a Main Gate business case is submitted for FSC.
Conceptual work began in 1994 for the Future Escort or "FE", a replacement for the Type 22 and Type 23 frigates that would enter service about 2010. The expected role of the FE was primarily a specialist anti-submarine warfare (ASW) ship, but with some general purpose capability. After the 1998 Strategic Defence Review the FE was recast as the Future Surface Combatant ("FSC"), with a broader range of capabilities to reflect the RN's new operational concept of the Maritime Contribution to Joint Operations. Less emphasis was now placed on ASW and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) and more towards contributing to joint operations in the littoral battlespace. The FSC programme was defined as the development and manufacture of a class of up to 20 vessels, to a totally new hull design, intended to replace the remaining Type 22 frigates (then one Batch 2 and four Batch 3) and subsequently the Type 23 frigates.
The FSC was originally expected to receive Initial Gate approval in late 1999, but the need for more operational analysis and exploration of the trimaran concept saw Initial Gate pushed back to May 2002, with a prime contractor to be selected to build the First of Class in 2007, and the first unit was expected to be enter service in December 2013 (a year later than previously planned).
Two 2001 baselines have since been revealed:
Baseline 5 was apparently favoured despite the apparent success of RV Trton, but was clear that both options would result in very large and expensive ships. In October 2001 Initial Gate was pushed back two more years (as part of the Equipment Plan 2002 work - EP02) and the programme was re-scoped. It was claimed that the previously envisaged date for Initial Gate was too early for a capability which was not now due to enter service until well into the next decade. It was felt that deferral of the Initial Gate would also allow further time to fully assess and develop an understanding of the capability required, and forge new processes for the delivery of a Smart Assessment Phase. Initial Gate was now anticipated in Spring 2004 and Main Gate in late 2008, consequently the in-service date of the first unit in to service slipped to December 2015 or later, also the number of units planned was reduced from 20 to 18, and apparently was reduced again to "at least 14" in July 2004. The less demanding timescale allowed the DPA's dedicated FSC Integrated Project Team (FSC IPT) to be stood down temporarily, and the residual concept phase activities reallocated to the Future Business Group.
In mid-2003 it was still officially considered premature to be definite about the FSC In-Service Date (ISD), as it would be some years before this needs to be approved. However the ISD will certainly continue to be linked to the paying off of the Type 22 Batch 3 and Type 23 frigates, which is now expected to begin around the middle of the next decade. Initial Gate has slipped again, and is now not expected before February 2005. [The project was instead cancelled in November 2004]
Because of the decision to delay FSC, it was announced in October 2001 that work was being undertaken by the Ministry of Defence's Defence's Director Equipment Capability (Above Water Battlespace) (DEC(AWB)) to examine options for an Interim Capability Frigate (ICF) to bridge the gap between the current out-of-service date of the Royal Navy's Type 23 frigates - which have only a 18 year (since revised to 23) service life, so the first is due to pay-off by 2013 - and the introduction of the projected Future Surface Combatant in 2013 (since revised to late 2015). A Type 23 Service Life Extension Programme (SLEP) was the favoured option, but was just one of a range of alternatives for the ICF, others include buying or leasing foreign warships, new build frigates (probably based on the Type 45 hull), and [very improbably!] advancing the FSC programme. No decision was ever announced on ICF and it is appears that the program was allowed to wither due to lack of funding, pay-off without replacement of old escorts and ad-hoc measures to further extend the service life of the T23's effectively being the selected solution.
The FSC Integrated Project Team formally reformed in Autumn 2003, and during the summer preparations began to revitalize the project and reconstitute the team with the appointment of Capt. Tom Cunningham as designated team leader. Cunningham has previous experience in procurement, having served as requirements manager in the Future Aircraft Carrier IPT. Work is ongoing to refine the User Requirements Document (URD) for FSC within the DEC(AWB). A draft document of user requirements began circulating in the ministry and industry in early 2003 for comment and discussion. Refinement of the URD is continuing with the goal of making the resulting URD the baseline for the beginning of the formal acquisition (Initial Gate) now planned for early 2005. A four-year Assessment Phase will lead up to a submission for Main Gate approval in 2009. This will be followed by the Demonstration and Manufacture Phase, currently scheduled to meet a tentative in-service date for planning purposes of December 2015.
In July 2004, the Deputy CINCFLEET was reported as saying that RN thinking in relation to FSC was leaning towards 10 high end units of over 5,000 tonnes, probably based on the Type 45 hull, supplemented by 10 low end units of up 2000 tonnes, possibly using the River class OPV's as a starting point.
FSC was originally envisaged as a general-purpose, multi-function platform with versatility across a wide range of activities, considerable endurance and world-wide utility. It would replace frigates rather more specialised for anti-submarine warfare.
FSC will enable the RN to exert influence and project power when operating independently, but will also be capable of joint and combined operations with national and international forces. Particular emphasis is being placed on the FSC’s ability to contribute to joint operations with the Army and RAF. The new ship is therefore being designed for the projection of force to ground and for "in-depth striking " against enemy territory using Land Attack Missiles and a gun firing Extended-Range Munitions. Although initially termed an "escort" the evolved role of the ship will far more closely more the independent self sustained role undertaken by cruisers between the two world wars - capable of everything from showing the flag to landing marines to bombardments to protecting UK trade, and much more.
In order to minimise the development costs of the FSC, the DPA aims to include Smart Procurement concepts. The Smart Procurement initiative focuses on how equipment can be delivered more quickly and cheaply to achieve time and cost targets. The team has drawn upon many lessons from commercial industry and has identified a sharper focus to be taken on lifetime ownership costs of equipment. Many of the FSC’s systems will be bought commercially off the shelf and will utilise commonality of equipment from other platforms such as the Type 45 and the Future Carrier (CVF). It is likely that common features will include the Combat Management System and the main propulsion systems.
In February 2003 it was reported that the Royal Navy had significantly widened the scope of the FSC concept. Simultaneously the in-service date was delayed to "post-2015".
It is expected that the Assessment Phase (which will commence after Initial Gate) will now consider a range of surface ship solutions for the Future Surface Combatant:
For any new design, the developers began investigating modular ships that would not need to carrry all weapons and systems at all times. It's considered that a modular monohull might displace 5,000 tonnes compared with the 9,500 tonnes baseline 5, while a modular trimaran might displace 5,200 tonnes compared with the 9,700 tonnes of baseline 7.
A final decision on the FSC hull configuration was originally expected to be taken in 2002, however this has slipped to 2005, by which time the demonstrator vessel RV Triton should have fully proven whether a trimaran solution does indeed give the advantages that its supporters advocate, at an acceptable risk.
At the moment the FSC programme remains poorly defined. In mid 2004 the IPT awarded to industry four parallel Procurement Options Scoping Studies. The output of these studies, due to complete in November, will help to inform as to the various options available to meet the FSC requirements and will provide information, which will enable it to proceed to Initial Gate now scheduled for early 2005. There is a perception that the FSC project will continue to slip and not become a top RN priority until the new CVF aircraft carriers are firmly on order, and USN's direction towards its next generation of warships is clear.
Based on user needs, the MoD's Directorate Equipment Capability (Above Water Battlespace) - DEC(AWB) - has defined the following Statement of Mission Need for the FSC:-
Deep strike is also seen as a key role for FSC, with a requirement to be able to hit targets up to 100nm (180km) inland.
FSC is expected to have the following high level characteristics (HLC's):
Twelve Key User Requirements (KUR's) characterise the critical capabilities to be delivered by the FSC:
KUR1 - Neutralise the effect of enemy underwater units that pose a threat to own forces sea control.
KUR2 - Neutralise the effect of enemy surface units that pose a threat to own forces sea control.
KUR3 - Render enemy units useless in support of tactical land operations.
KUR4 - Deliver and extract early entry forces.
KUR5 - Defend a maritime force against hostile acts committed by underwater threats.
KUR6 - Defend a maritime force against hostile acts committed by surface threats.
KUR7 - The user shall be able to arrest vessels using maritime interdiction operations.
KUR8 - Exchange data with allied military units.
KUR9 - Operate over 3 mandated DSP zones.
KUR10 - Re-locate inter-theatre.
KUR11 - Achieve available force-element days.
KUR12 - Operate in a threat environment.
All the above are subject to revision if it's decided to split FSC in to a large, high capability "blue water" element and a smaller, less capable "brown water" coastal element.
Although FSC is a UK-only project, the French Navy has a similar concept and was at one stage very keen that the UK merged its requirement for 20 FSC's with their plan to design and construct 17 new multimission frigates (FMM - Frégates Multi-Missions), then expected to enter service from 2010. In March 2000 the French General Delegate for the Armament, Jean-Yves Helmer, discussed with his British counterpart at the MoD the possibility of co-operation between the two Navy's projects - starting with a definition of the requirements, performance and characteristics of a common new generation of general-purpose frigates which could enter French service around 2010. However, the French were unhappy with the RN's preference for a Trimaran hull design, considering this approach to be too risky, too expensive, and unlikely to meet their more urgent timescales, and a fully collaborative joint project for a new Anglo-French escort design was impossible.
Giving up on the UK, in 2002 the French joined up with the Italians
to develop the FMM, now renamed the Frégate [Européenne]
Multi-Missions (or FREMM). 17 units are planned by DCN for France plus
another 10 by the Italian Orizzonte consortium for Italy. After
lengthy debate, France and Italy apparently finally reached agreement on
the ship and propulsion definition parameters in summer 2004, The
frigates will have a displacement of 5,500 metric tons, somewhat smaller
than the 6,700-ton Horizon frigates
currently being buiit by the two nations - and be powered by a gas
turbine. The design initially called for vessels 140 meters (460 ft.)
long weighing 6,000 tons, with a 6,000-naut-mi. range. The current
project calls for a hull length of 128 meters at the waterline and a
maximum width of 18.5 meters. The ships will feature a combined
propulsion system, with a single gas turbine and diesel engines driving
electric motors. Top speed will be 27.5 kt., and economic cruise, 16 kt.
The French DGA has said the intention of the two governments is to sign
off on a full-scale development and production contract at the Euronaval
exhibit in Paris in October 2004, and that (very ambitiously) the first
vessels will still can enter service as scheduled by 2008.
Among the weapons earmarked for the FREMM frigates are the SAAM air defence system, upgraded Exocet 3 (French version) and Teseo 2 (Italian version) antiship missiles, MU 90 torpedoes and 76-mm. guns. The SAAM will initially be equipped with short-range Aster 15 missiles, but may later carry longer range Aster 30 interceptors as well. The French Navy's F-AVT's will be fitted with up to 30 of the new naval version of the Scalp cruise missile, currently under development. Italy is partnered with France in SAAM and MU 90, but not yet in the naval Scalp program. Italy is also considering a Tomahawk buy, for this reason, the Italian ships will be fitted to accept both a 16-cell European Sylver A70 vertical launcher, designed to fire the Aster, or the U.S. Mk.41. Both variants will be able to carry two NH 90 helicopters and/or UAVs, however, deck size and strength is sufficient for the larger EH101 helicopter as well.
Although the UK is proceeding on the FSC project alone (the requirement is now reduced to 18 units and the ISD retreating to beyond 2015), there are still collaboration opportunities in specific areas, for example the French are participating in the RN's development of new electric propulsion systems that are likely to be used by FSC.
Another possible area of co-operation is with the Americans. The RN is watching with interest USN decisions regarding its next generation of warships, for example the proposed new Littoral Combat Ship (part of the DD(X) family) could possibly be a trimaran design and the potential for co-operation and risk sharing would thus be very substantial.
FSC (High Capability)
The FSC IPT is considering mandating very high speeds (40-60 knots) for FSC. Currently no major RN surface warship is able to exceed 30 knots, and historically few have been able to sustain over 35 knots. Such high speeds will present significant design, engineering, and propulsion challenges.
A high capability FSC design will almost certainly use a new full electric propulsion system (IFEP) that is also being developed for the CVF. Integrated Full Electric Propulsion provides a highly reliable layered propulsion solution that provides excellent efficiency across the speed range. In one early study, two WR21 gas turbine alternator (GTA) sets were employed singly (for an economical cruise speed of about 20 kts) or in combination (for a maximum speed of about 25 kts) to drive two 20MW transverse-flux Permanent Magnet Motor (PMM) in turn driving waterjets or controllable pitch propellers, possibly mounted in azimuthing pod. A smaller gas turbine alternator is available for low speed operations, while a 1MW generator provides emergency capacity and harbour requirements. Battery units enable the minimum safety load to be maintained in the event of total generator failure as required by IMO Regulations. Principal auxiliary systems and a citadel are divided into 3 zones. Electrification of auxiliaries has negated the requirement for a hydraulic ringmain and reduced the consumption of compressed air. As well as many technical benefits this approach will allow a significant reduction in the size of the ships engineering department. In total, IFEP is expected to produce savings of about $1m per ship per year over a traditional gas turbine (COGAG) propulsion system. If a trimaran hull is adopted, due to the reduced hull drag paper studies indicate that the FSC could have a top speed of about 35 knots, compared with the 29 knots of a monohull Type 45 destroyer of similar displacement and machinery output. However, it's very possible that a lower speed of 27-28kts will be ultimately accepted in order to realise savings in costs, powerplant size, and fuel economy.
The trimaran hullform lends itself to the adoption of suitably militarised podded propulsors. In this concept small pods are situated under the outriggers with a main pull-type azimuth unit at the after end for full power and manoeuvre. The pod contains the electrical propulsion motor and an azimuth unit provides propulsion and steering, removing the need for rudders. The absence of external shafting and shaft supports allows a very clean flow of water onto the propulsor thereby significantly improving its propulsive efficiency. The absence of internal shafting improves the flexibility of ship design and increases payload volume.
But in such a design with its inherent volume constraint, further advances in power electronics will be needed to realise an electric ship solution with the required power densities. And whilst podded propulsors appear feasible, for naval pods to become a reality, issues relating to noise signature and shock performance must be resolved. They are also unlikely to be able to meet the aspirations of a fast ship, should FSC be required to operate at high speed.
Waterjets appear an attractive solution to generate the necessary thrust for high speed, but these are not yet fully understood for military application and integration into a full electric architecture would need development. Waterjets are not efficient across the operating profile, which may demand a hybrid propulsion system where waterjet provides the high speed capability and another propulsor provides low speed efficiency, and hence endurance. Alternatively, perhaps the configurable ship will allow the installation of temporary fuel pods to enable transit at high speed over greater distances.
In March 2004, BMT DSL was awarded a FSC related study by the Ministry of Defence to assess fast ship enabling technologies. This broad-ranging study will address both current and future technologies in the naval and commercial ship markets, across a range of platform sizes from combatant up to support ship displacements. Aspects to be investigated will include novel hullforms, dynamic lift systems such as foils and lifting bodies, prime movers, propulsors, and other enabling technologies, assessing the constraints and impact of adopting such technologies; including affordability, credible payloads and speed targets. This study will support decisions on the characteristics of future platforms, identify the constraints and enabling technologies and inform future investment decisions and concepts of operation development.
To reduce life-time operating costs the RN wants to reduce the FSC crew size significantly compare with the existing frigates that it will replace. The objective crew complement is about 100, excluding ships flight. Any smaller and the complex and sophisticated automation required would probably negate the marginal potential savings, also there is a certain minimum size of crew required in some circumstances, e.g. for effective damage control. In line with the practice being adopted for all new RN warships, it is expected that there will be considerable excess austere accommodation provided, for example FSC will probably be able to embark a platoon of Royal Marines with all their equipment and supplies.
Mission duration will be 45 days. From historical data, it is estimated that a high capability FSC unit will spend 22% of its time in refit, 41% at sea, 14% in maintenance, and 23% in other activities.
The armament of the FSC is still very uncertain. Favoured base-line elements for a high capability unit include: up to 32 Land Attack Cruise Missiles (LACM's) – probably the 1400nm range Tomahawk Block IV (Tactical Tomahawk - TacTom) and/or the 300nm range Naval SCALP which is being developed by MBDA from the existing airborne launched Scalp EG/Storm Shadow cruise missile for the French Navy; Harpoon Block II; Aster 15 SAM missiles (the FSC will have a reduced air-defence capability compared with the specialist Type 45 destroyers); a new 155mm gun for Naval Gunfire Support; and the EH101 Merlin HM.1 helicopter. It's hoped for commonality and flexibility that the Sylver Vertical Launch System developed for Aster missiles can be modified to also accommodate the LACM's. Otherwise either multiple VLS systems will have to be fitted (as can just be seen several of the artists illustrations, top) or consideration given to purchasing the more versatile Lockheed-Martin VLS-41 launcher. To reduce procurement costs, probably only a limited number of VLS cells will be initially fitted, but space and weight will be allowed to install additional cells later.
The French MOD is buying 250 Naval SCALP land attack missiles, at a cost of euros 785 million ($691 million). The FMM frigates will be equipped with them from 2011, as well as six Barracuda submarines from 2015. Considerable political pressure is building for the RN to adopt Naval SCALP for FSC rather than the cheaper and more capable TacTom, moreover Naval SCALP will be able to use Sylver A70 VLS cells (a slightly lengthened variant of the A50 being bought for the Type 45 destroyers) while TacTom will require Lockheed Martin Mk.41 VLS cells, which are not currently used by the RN.
It's far from clear what medium calibre gun will be adopted, other than that it will be a 155 or 127 mm calibre. An obvious contender is the US 155mm Advanced Gun System (AGS), currently under development, but this is considered by the MoD to be very expensive and complex. One option is a development by BAE Systems RO Defence of its AS90 howitzer. In 2002 BAE offered four navalised variants of this weapon to the Royal Navy, including a twin barrel 155mm mount which they described as the solution with "maximum target effect"! The more plausible single barrel variant was 155mm, 52 calibre, weigh 19 tonnes above deck, 10.5 tonnes below and 25 tonnes for a fully automated magazine with 450 complete rounds (roughly 50 tonnes for the total system). The enormous (10m long) magazine used palletised ammo storage, with 1m x 1.6m pallets and a robot indexed autoloader. The system was capable of burst firing 6 rounds in just 10 seconds, and sustaining 10 rpm, maximum range is 42km with standard base-bleed rounds, although 60-100 km may be possible using the new long-range, low-cost, smart munitions being considered for development by the British Army. Preliminary studies in to the new ammunition family are underway at QinetiQ, BAE, Thales and MBDA, it's currently expected that they will enter service with the Army around 2020, and it's anticipated that these munitions would also be suitable for shipboard use by the Royal Navy if that became a requirement. However the MOD's reluctance to fund a navalised AS90 would seem to have killed this option.
In early 2003 a licence built version of United Defense's lightweight Mk.45 5-inch/62-caliber Mod 4 (ERGM capable) gun - which is widely used by the US Navy - emerged as strong contender for RN's new medium calibre gun requirement. This gun offers significantly improved firepower compared with the Mk.8, combined with low cost and moderate size and weight compared with a new 155mm gun. The immediate availability of the Raytheon Systems Extended Range Guided Munition (ERGM) EX-171 "smart" round for the Mk.45 is also a factor. Team Naval Gun UK (consisting of United Defense, Alvis and DML) has been lobbying the RN and MOD hard in favour of the Mark 45, but no decision has been taken. In Autumn 2004, BAE Systems offered the MOD a new 155mm proposal, this time partnered with French company GIAT Industries.
A navalised variant of the British Army's future guided multiple launch rocket system with area effect munitions (GMLRS AEM) is also being investigated for the FSC. GMRLS is scheduled to enter service with the Britsh Army in 2007, replacing the current M26 MLRS. The rockets will have a range of more than 70 kilometres and GPS guidance for extreme accuracy. The initial AEM is likely to be a dispenser round but subsequently a unitary warhead could be deployed
For ASW operations a towed Type 2087 towed body variable depth sonar is expected to be fitted. All published artists impressions of FSC show an extremely large flight deck with a double hanger able to accommodate at least two helicopters or other air vehicles.
An improved, multi role variant of the EH-101 Merlin helicopter
capable of carrying out ASW, ASuW, transport, search and rescue, and
other missions is a leading contender for the preferred air
vehicle. The Watchkeeper UAV also seems very likely to have a FSC
Trimaran Hull Design
One design option for the FSC is a revolutionary trimaran hull concept with a slender main hull and two outriggers. There are numerous theoretical advantages of a trimaran hull form with a slender central hull with outriggers over conventional mono-hulls:
The Ministry of Defence has been sponsoring research in to triple hulled ships since the late 1980's. Importantly, work by QinetiQ (formerly DERA), UCL and Vosper Thornycroft has now confirmed that a trimaran hull form does indeed reduce drag by about 20 percent at high speeds compared to a single hull. The lower resistance will permit higher speeds to be achieved, or a reduced machinery fit leading to lower through-life costs.
Increases in size and to some degree location of the superstructure can be easily accommodated without affecting the ship's stability. This is because of the de-coupling of the main hull beam from the required stability. The required stability can be obtained by adjusting the size and distance from the main hull to the side hulls with little impact on drag and weight. This will allow heavy equipment such as large radars to be fitted more easily than could be achieved with a monohull.
The outriggers make the ship more stable and give it a larger flight deck, which can be moved away from the stern and nearer amidships, allowing helicopters to operate under a wider range of sea conditions. It is possible that the wide upper deck will lead to the provision of a second hangar which could be used for other service helicopters such as the Apache for land attack, support or relief operations. Optional side-hull propulsion in the outriggers makes the ship more manoeuvrable. And if the ship does take a hit, the outriggers protect the inner hull, where the main power plant is contained. Survivability in general from weapons strikes will potentially be greatly improved.
However, the trimaran approach does also have several possible disadvantages when compared with a mono-hull approach for FSC:
These disadvantages when combined with the risks and doubts inherent with any major revolution in naval design may yet prove too severe, and a mono hull form adopted for FSC.
Originally a hull displacement of about 5-6,000 tonnes was expected for a trimaran FSC, but this seems to have crept upwards. Concept studies have apparently considered displacements as high as 14,000 tonnes and a 9000 tonnes design was the baseline configuration in early 2003.
Alternative Platform (Type 45 derivative)
It is increasingly uncertain that a trimaran hull will be selected for FSC (hi or lo) rather than a more traditional mono-hull design. It's worth noting that BAE Systems, initially at least, was unconvinced about the trimaran concept and instead prefered a monohull design for FSC, although this may be partly influenced by the advocacy of the trimaran concept. by their bitter rivals - Vosper Thornycroft.
It is now being investigated whether the large Type 45 hull design may form a suitable basis for the FSC - or least a high capability part of the project - with its role changed from an emphasis on area air defence to land-attack, ASuW and ASW. This will have obvious benefits in terms of ship commonality, reduced design and support costs, and personnel training. It may well prove relatively easy to produce a FSC design based on a modified Type 45 hull, possible major changes likely being:
FSC (Low Capability or Light Coastal warfare Ship)
Very little information has so far emerged about the MOD's thinking in connection with a possible low capability element for FSC known as the Light Coastal warfare Ship (LCS). Options range in extreme from an improved and slightly enlarged River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel with flightdeck, to a far more sophisticated, capable and costly "corvette" along the lines of the USN's Littoral Combat Ship programme (confusingly also known as LCS).
It is very important to differentiate between the two ideas. Unsophisticated, and relatively low-technology warships of up to 2000's tonnes optimised to undertake duties such as anti-drug and anti-piracy patrols in low threat situations can be built for as little as £25-30 million. But a fast, very sophisticated, well armed, high technology, network enabled, small warship that's able to form the cutting edge of the "Mother/Daughter" concept would cost £100-150 million.
Mother/Daughter Ship Design
A concept under consideration as part of the “package” to meet the FSC requirement is that of the “Mother/Daughter ship”. This involves the use of a large vessel that is capable of carrying one or more smaller craft. This offers the potential to employ small assets, optimised for the littoral environment, at the full extent of reach provided by a world-wide deployment capability.
For the smaller surface assets, likely to operate in numbers, the ability to harness Networked Enabled Capability (NEC - identified as key requirement by the MOD since 2003) offers significant advantages, allowing them to work together and overcome their own limited military capability. The Daughter ships are likely to be re-configurable platforms, able to change role as required: before deploying, en-route or even in theatre. This involves using modularity to provide additional fuel pods, accommodation for embarked special forces, weapon and sensor fits for specific tasks, or whatever the required military capability.
In March 2003 BMT Defence Services Limited was awarded a two month 'quick-look' study contract by the UK Ministry of Defence to explore the fundamental feasibility of 'mother/ daughter' ship concepts as a potential solution for the Royal Navy's projected Future Surface Combatant capability requirement. BMT DSL led a team including University College London and BM Consulting for the Concept Design.
The BMT team was asked to consider the potential for the rapid deployment, from larger vessels optimised for ocean-going passage, of small flexible, stealthy, surface and sub-surface craft, which are optimised for littoral warfare. These Mother-ships may be able to reach the theatre of operations in a shorter time than existing small craft can currently achieve. The BMT team looked at how multiple “Deployable Assets” could be transported from the UK to overseas theatres of operation and compared this to conventional transit times, costs and limitations. The “Deployable Assets” (possibly manned or unmanned platforms) could then be launched and recovered from the Mothership to meet a number of military scenarios set by the customer.
The study developed a mix of outline concept designs for mother-ships and deployable assets. These were "visualised" and their costs and military capabilities quantified. These were then compared to determine which, if any, are worthy of more detailed investigation as potential solutions to meet future capability requirements.
The team assumed that surface vessels and submarines above 1500 tonnes displacement should have a reasonable ocean going capability and would not need to be carried by a Mothership, albeit they may need support in-theatre from conventional auxiliary vessels (stores, fuel, ammunition etc). Craft below about 100 tonnes are likely to be small enough that they don’t need a dedicated Mothership, being carried by existing ships.
A total of eight Mothership and nine Daughtership designs were produced during the two month study period.
The study report concluded that small, fast and stealthy craft are most suited to littoral operations but suffer from limited endurance and are often unable to deploy beyond coastal waters due to their poor sea-keeping qualities. A Mothership of 40,000-50,000 tones and capable of 25 knots could give these vessels a worldwide deployment capability. Possible solutions included; heavy lift ships, dock ships, crane ships and a variety of more novel solutions. Some of these are illustrated below. The study presented the performance, cost and technology readiness scores for the new options against conventional solutions and has gone some way toward defining the direction for more detailed studies by the MoD’s Future Business Group and the DPA.
The costs and risks to structural integrity associated with a novel trimaran hull solution have to be fully assessed before this becomes a real option for FSC. Therefore the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) announced on 28 July 1998 that Vosper Thornycroft had won a £13 million contract to build a 98m long "demonstrator" model of the trimaran design, this is approximately two-thirds the envisaged length of the FSC, allowing for an accurate scaled comparison of in-water performance. It is also the worlds first powered, steel constructed trimaran.
First steel for the demonstrator vessel RV Triton was cut at the Woolston yard of Vosper Thornycroft in January 1999, she was launched on 6 May 2000 and was accepted by DERA on 31 August 2000.
RV Triton is 98.7m long, has a beam of 22.5, a draft of 3.4m and a trials displacement of 1,200-tonnes. She is powered by a diesel-electric propulsion plant, 2 x Paxman 12 VP185 main generators each of 2,085kW 4MW power a HMA 3.5MW AC electric motor driving a fixed-pitch propeller on a single centreline shaft for a maximum speed of 20kt and a range of 3,000n miles. Built in steel, Triton is classified to commercial standards with det Norske Veritas (DNV) approval and meets the requirements of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Construction features include a comprehensive ballast system to allow for different operating conditions; provision for containerised trials outfits on the flight deck; and the capability to embark a Lynx-size helicopter or an unmanned air vehicle. Two laboratories are sited in the main superstructure, one housing the Trials Instrumentation System (TIS) and the other for general trials use. Accommodation is provided on board for 12 crew plus 12 scientific personnel.
Phase I trials with RV Triton started in October 2000 and ran until March 2002, these were intended to confirm general naval architectural performance; general naval handling and operations; and the recording of structural loading data and seakeeping behaviour. By completion, sufficient data should have been gathered to inform the decision on the Future Surface Combatant hull form.
Under a joint memorandum of understanding signed in 1997, the US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) partly funded Triton's Phase 1 trials. NAVSEA also supplied the Trials Instrumentation System (TIS), which was fitted under an inter-governmental agreement. TIS records over 300 channels covering a wide range of data from structural instruments and other sources such as machinery control, ship motion, steering gear, navigation and the environment.
A joint report written by senior USN and RN officers in early 2002 on the Triton trials was positively glowing about the results. Apparently all the hoped for trimaran virtues were confirmed – economy, sea-worthiness and comfort, etc. The only downsides highlighted were the predictable impact on berthing and dry-docking. The results will be included in the Staff Requirement submission for the FSC.
The planned Phase II trials were cancelled in 2002 as the upwardly revised cost being quoted by RV Triton's new owners, QinetiQ, exceeded the DPA's budget and was judged to be prohibitive. Lacking any other work, in early 2003 QinetiQ started offering RV Triton for corporate hospitality day trips!
RV Triton was put for sale by QinetiQ in March 2004 and sold to Gardline Maritime Survey Company in 2005 and subsequently the MOD has not had any data from the ship.
Vosper Thornycroft Trimaran Designs
Vosper Thornycroft (now known as VT Group) has used experience its' gained with the contract to design and build RV TRITON to develop a revolutionary series of trimaran ship designs. Current VT trimaran designs include: patrol craft, frigate, fast ferry, freight ferry. Perhaps the most interesting (although very unlikely to be built for the RN "as is") is the CERBERUS stealth corvette design. The 2000 tonnes, 116m long, Cerberus is designed to deal with the sub-surface, surface and air threats to both itself and vessels in convoy. Cerberus can be installed with the Mk41 Vertical Launch System which allows for the fitting of Evolved Sea Sparrow (ESSM) in lieu of Aster and extends the potential range of weapons that may be carried to include ASROC and the proposed vertical launch Harpoon. A mixture of systems including SeaRAM, a medium calibre gun and two 30mm mountings provides inner layer air defence.
It was being suggested (1998-2000) that before the RN committed itself fully to a trimaran hulled FSC, that a class of off-shore patrol vessel's (OPV's) should be built, perhaps funded as replacements for the two existing Castle class OPV's which will reach the end of their service lives by about 2010. The role of these new warships would include use as guard ships (e.g. around the Falkland Islands), deterring patrols and in controlling the seas. In peacetime they would also be used on anti-smuggling patrols, fisheries protection, search and rescue, disaster relief, research work and marine traffic control. This approach is no longer likely as the MOD is now looking to replace the Castle's by leasing two new OPV's at the lowest possible cost, but in the context of a FSC-Lo capability, a variant of Cerberus would be an appropriate starting point for such a ship.
BMT's Future Fast Flexible Frigate (F5)
In August 2003 BMT Defence Services Ltd (DSL) and BMT-owned design house Nigel Gee and Associates (NGA) unveiled a radical fast pentamaran frigate matched to notional requirements for the Royal Navy's next-generation Future Surface Combatant programme. Believing that future naval operations will bring the need to swing rapidly between roles anywhere in the world, the concept aims to provide future force Commanders with greater flexibility from a range of front line warships together with faster deployment times.
Known as F5, or the Future Fast Flexible Frigate, the concept draws upon the expertise of Nigel Gee and Associates Ltd in designing modern fast and efficient commercial multi-hulled passenger ferries, and container ships, combined with BMT DSL’s whole-warship design capability. The resulting warship boasts a number of innovative features specifically targeted at providing increased speed, flexibility, and a greater potential for a more capable weapons fit.
NGA technical director John Bonafoux said "Our studies suggest the pentamaran is the optimum hullform for high speed and superior seakeeping. The main hull is optimised for drag at a given deadweight and speed, while the sponsons serve to eliminate parametric rolling."
The pentamaran concept combines a slender extended centre hull, stabilised by pairs of port and starboard outer hulls (sponsons), to give a large and stable low drag hull form, as well as side protection and easy berthing. Other advantages claimed for the design include improved sustainability in high sea states, superior seakeeping, a large upper deck area and 'reconfigurable' spaces for alternative mission payloads.
F5 synthesis work by BMT DSL and NGA, drawing on the latter's earlier commercial pentamaran design studies, has conceptualised a 6,300-tonne all-steel frigate with a maximum speed of 45kt.
To achieve very high speed but also reasonable endurance, BMT DSL has designed the F5 around a power-dense Combined Gas Electric and Gas (COGLAG) machinery installation driving large waterjet propulsors which will operate efficiently at slow speeds, as well as have a high performance boost capability. "COGLAG is a hybrid electric drive/mechanical boost configuration," said Quillam. "Two 36MW MT 30 gas turbine alternators and two 3MW auxiliary diesels provide power for ship's services and propulsion. We anticipate that 32MW High Temperature Superconducting motors will be available by 2015, and have specified these to drive two steerable 30MW waterjets. The F5 would have a nominal cruise speed of 35kts, thus achieving a range of 5000nm (with one refuelling), for rapid deployment to the theatre of operations.
Slightly more than 180m in length, the ship is characterised by a large upper deck area (with a cross-deck stretching back from the forward sponsons, a single integrated mast structure, vertical launch silos forward and amidships. The extended centre hull of the pentamaran, and the full breadth superstructure across the wide beam of the ship make the F5 a potentially excellent weapons and sensors platform. It allows clear separation of topside sensors, such as a fixed four-face MPAR, and 64 VLS weapons silos in two modules fore and aft, as well as an electromagnetic rail gun, all, with good arcs of fire. Further spaces in the superstructure and below deck, have been reserved to allow the modular fitting of additional weapons and sensors to provide a rapid swing capability for changing missions; whilst the upper deck layout also allows safe and easy RAS evolutions when underway.
The F5 also boasts a double hangar capable of housing two Merlin type helicopters and a large flight deck aft . This arrangement also offers flexibility to segment the hangar to accommodate embarked military forces, deployable sensors, UAVS, UUVs and Special Forces craft. These can be deployed from the unusually wide flight deck, which has room for the operating footprint of Chinook sized helicopters.
A so-called 'swing space' has been incorporated in the
forward section of the main hull. "This area, and one of the two
hangar spaces aft, could be used to embark containerised mission
modules, such as unmanned vehicles or stores, equipment and
accommodation," says Roy Quillam, BMT DSL's technical director.
FSC Web Links
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BMT Defence Services Ltd - F5 Frigate
© 2004-10 Richard Beedall unless otherwise indicated.