September 17, 2007
VT Shipbuilding unveils new FSC design
VT Shipbuilding, part of VT Group, has launched a new range of designs tailored to the U.K. Royal Navy's Future Surface Combatant (FSC) requirement for flexible ships.
The FSC program will ultimately comprise a series of variants to replace the RN's Type 22 and Type 23 frigates as well as the existing MCM vessels and survey ships.
The first of these variants, a 100 m vessel, is seen as an ideal solution to the FSC program C3 element that identifies the need for an eight-ship class of general purpose vessels for worldwide deployment to fulfil tasks including minehunting, survey work and patrol duties
VT has utilized the hull of the Ocean Patrol Vessel (OPV) it is building for the Royal Navy of Oman to develop the FSC solution, although the ship has a larger equipment fit that increases displacement to just over 3,000 tonnes.
One of the most innovative features of the offering is that VT is using the unique financing and support model successfully employed for the RN's River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels. VT would own the FSC vessels and charter them to the U.K.Ministry of Defence.
VT Export Sales Director Sym Taylor explained: "In this case, it makes more economic sense for the customer to contract for the lease of these ships over ten years, as opposed to five years for the Rivers. However, the principle would remain the same with the customer saving capital expenditure by paying for use on the basis of VT guaranteeing and delivering the required capability.
"The River Class program has broken down the barrier surrounding ship PFIs and the MoD realises that this concept works. We believe that it is now the way ahead in times of constraints on budgets and could even be applied to ships close to front-line operations."
VT is unveiling its new C3 design at the DSEi exhibition and is proposing to introduce the first of the new Class into service as early as 2012.
Further savings would be made by using existing equipment technology and introducing commonality across the whole of the FSC class in elements such as engines, other key machinery and command systems. This would also enable maximum efficiencies to be derived from training and maintenance.
Further developments in equipment technology would be incorporated as subsequent batches of FSC ships are built.
VT's C3 design would have speeds in the region of 25 knots and would be diesel-powered, with accommodations for up to 76.
The ships would be built in steel but with provision for FRP composite in areas such as the masts.
The ships would essentially be compartmentalized by having the assets of a patrol vessel forward, while aft the ship would be equipped for its MCM and/or survey role.
In its patrol role, armament would include guns of 76 mm or 30 mm caliber and provision for surface-to-air missiles if required.
MCM resources would provide a task force with front-line minehunting capability rather than having to wait for slower dedicated minehunting assets to arrive as present.
The FSC design would include the option for a flight deck to accommodate a helicopter up to Merlin size and a weather protected working deck which would accommodate four 11 m rigid inflatables or unmanned surface vessels. These could be deployed either by ship's crane or via a stern ramp that would include an integral launch and recovery system. Space is also available for two 20 ft ISO containers to carry additional MCM or survey assets. Additional assets may be transported on the flight deck and deployed by the ship's crane at the expense of the capacity to simultaneously carry out helicopter operations.
"The key to this design is flexibility and affordability, while ensuring that the ship has sufficient capability to carry out the wide range of tasks required," added Sym Taylor.