November 15, 2002

Navy moves ahead on focused-mission ship studies

Six companies are each being awarded a firm-fixed-price U.S. Navy contract worth $500,000 for the performance of focused-mission ship concept studies intended to explore a range of approaches in an overall effort to define future ship requirements. These studies will further refine the Navy's requirements and knowledge of technology options for the proposed Littoral Combat Ship and other future ship classes.

This is a part of the Naval services tranformation into the 21st Century and lays the foundation for future warships. The focused-mission ship to be studied is envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals. Its primary missions would be prosecution of small boats, mine-countermeasures, and littoral anti-submarine warfare.

The companies are

  • Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine;

  • Gibbs & Cox, Inc., Arlington, Va.;

  • John J. McMullen Associates, Inc., Alexandria, Va.;

  • Lockheed Martin, Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems - Marine System, Baltimore;

  • Northrop Grumman - Ship Systems, Pascagoula, Miss.; and

  • Textron Systems, Marine & Land Operations, New Orleans.;

They will each perform a 90-day ship concept study to research innovative concepts for a focused-mission, high-speed ship. These contracts are awarded following a full and open competition, during which eighteen offers were received. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-03-C-2300, 2301, 2302, 2303, 2304 and 2305 respectively).

Bath Iron Works and Gibbs & Cox have released statements giving more details of their approcahes.

Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, says the Focused Mission High-Speed Ship (FMHSS) is an integrated surface combatant capability envisioned to operate in littoral (coastal) areas against terrorist threats, high-speed swarm boats, mines and diesel submarines. It may also be called upon to carry logistics supplies or personnel and equipment for Special Operations Forces and the U.S. Marine Corps. It will incorporate state-of-the-art materials, modular mission packages, and a reconfigurable platform design to provide the Navy with a highly flexible concept for future littoral operations. The mission capability of the FMHSS will play a pivotal role in assuring the access for joint and coalition forces into contested coastal regions around the world. The results of this study will assist the Navy in defining requirements for the rapidly emerging Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program. As many as 30 - 60 LCS ships are planned, with construction to begin in 2005. Earlier construction may be required by the Navy in order to accelerate defense against growing worldwide threats and terrorist operations.

Bath Iron Works, will lead a team that includes leading U.S. and international defense contractors. Team members are The Boeing Company; Austal, USA, of Mobile, Alabama; British Aerospace Corporation (BAE); Maritime Applied Physics Corporation; CAE Marine Systems and five other General Dynamics business units.

The team will develop an integrated system that delivers significantly enhanced capabilities to naval, joint and coalition forces operating within the littorals. In defining system design characteristics, the team will address FMHSS integration with FORCEnet, the information network into which the Navy will integrate sensors, decision aids and weapons, as well as other joint and coalition information networks. The spectrum of technologies to be evaluated by the team will include all forms of remotely deployed and operated vehicles, distributed sensors, modular payloads, weapons, communications, command and control and automation systems as well as advanced propulsion technologies and hull construction materials.

The team has chosen to base its FMHSS hull design on advanced Trimaran hull form technology. Results of recent Office of Naval Research-sponsored high-speed Trimaran studies completed by Bath Iron Works will be coupled with an existing Trimaran design available through Austal, USA, to create a highly automated ship capable of speeds in excess of 50 knots. This ship will have significantly lighter displacement than the Navy's FFG 7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class of frigates designed and built at Bath Iron Works and will be capable of extended independent operations with a crew of just 25 - 30. The advanced Trimaran design offers outstanding efficiency and performance in all sea conditions, endurance and reliability for sustained independent operations and a high degree of flexibility/adaptability to meet evolving military requirements through open architecture and modular configuration. The system will enable advanced operational concepts such as those employing high speed, enhanced maneuver, distributed forces and reduced signatures as well as the ability to efficiently embark from a broad array of aircraft, amphibious, land and marine vehicles.

Gibbs & Cox, Inc. says it has established a team of world class organizations to assist it in the study, including: Donald L. Blount and Associates, Inc.; Marinette Marine Corporation; Fincantieri; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Charters Technical Services, Technomics, and Angle, Inc.

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