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Usn Frigate Program


Ol Paint

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1 hour ago, bfng3569 said:

the idea would be to have them tied into AEGIS and even if its a bolt on set up, still need to plan for space.

 

Integrating them with AEGIS should be more of a software issue i would think.

If you just put lsram and MST in the bolt ons that’s less of an issue. Also BAE has a bolt on that ties into Aegis. You could remove the 16 NSM and put in an 8 pack of strike length bolt ons for MST and lsram.

However it’s fewer cells than additional vls, uncertain if there’s the stability margin for it that high up, and you could always add bolt ons to an extended vls ship for even more capability 

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13 hours ago, sunday said:

What systems are to be used for over the horizon targeting of naval targets?

The U.S. has no shortage of VLO UAVs, satellites, and undersea sensors to provide target info. Carrier aircraft could also provide targets; the blk 4 F-35 is supposed to include a radar mode more optimized for surface ship detection, possibly ISAR as well for ID. The NRO is about to orbit hundreds of reconnaissance satellites likely before the decade is over.

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3 hours ago, Cajer said:

With the declining fleet numbers, all ships will need to be able to conduct fleet and high level wartime actions. Especially as crew costs are becoming a significant part of lifetime vessel costs and all ships require a base level of crewing regardless of how fancy it is. It’s also becoming a big headache to find enough crew meaning allocating them to more numerous capable platforms is going to present additional manning problems
 

Additionally allot of the traditional frigate roles you mentioned are now being fulfilled by the coast guard. I have a friend in there that is routinely deployed abroad on the super expensive legend class, for both anti piracy, international training, and flying the flag operations (the last of which is getting prohibitively expensive and might be reduced). With the price of the new coast guard ships (750 million!), they should be and are taking up traditional frigate roles, leaving warships to do warship things

Sixteen missiles isn’t going to move the needle either way, and surface combatants are not the primary way navies engage opponent surface ships. I’m all for a redesign of the second batch, but making changes now delays the platform further for little good read. Frigates are not offensive platforms.

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48 minutes ago, Cajer said:

If you just put lsram and MST in the bolt ons that’s less of an issue. Also BAE has a bolt on that ties into Aegis. You could remove the 16 NSM and put in an 8 pack of strike length bolt ons for MST and lsram.

LRASM is not and never will be surface launched. Not sure if anyone still makes a tomahawk deck launcher and i doubt even eight could be mounted. RGM-109 weighs as much as four NSM.

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I don't even count the increased survivability as worth the delay. IMHO better to have ordered 4 or 6 with minimal rework for maximum buildability and get them into service this decade. Then while the pipeline is putting hulls 3-4-5-6 into the water, do the redesign, hopefully with feedback from Hull 1, to get the higher blast and shock standards, more VLS cells or whatever else the USN feels it needs. 
 

Yeah sure that first class will be weak sisters. But a better ship tomorrow doesn't beat a good enough ship today, and worse comes to worst they can be sold off in ten years when the yards are up to speed.  

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16 hours ago, Argus said:

I don't even count the increased survivability as worth the delay. IMHO better to have ordered 4 or 6 with minimal rework for maximum buildability and get them into service this decade. Then while the pipeline is putting hulls 3-4-5-6 into the water, do the redesign, hopefully with feedback from Hull 1, to get the higher blast and shock standards, more VLS cells or whatever else the USN feels it needs. 
 

Yeah sure that first class will be weak sisters. But a better ship tomorrow doesn't beat a good enough ship today, and worse comes to worst they can be sold off in ten years when the yards are up to speed.  

Im not sure the increased survivability is worth too much. As any missile hit is going to shred your radar and with the production rather of those systems, a ship with a destroyed radar is going to be out of commission for years. Which is effectively the same thing as sinking the ship.

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14 hours ago, Cajer said:

Im not sure the increased survivability is worth too much. As any missile hit is going to shred your radar and with the production rather of those systems, a ship with a destroyed radar is going to be out of commission for years. Which is effectively the same thing as sinking the ship.

The warm, squishy bits; we want to keep them as safe as we can.  They really appreciate it.

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Perhaps not really a frigate (10,200 tons) , and intended for Australia, but...

6299348

Article here, plus pic of a corvette proposal

flight-iii-service-ship-dc_pfh81v

I think it is possible all the present craze with using 57mm guns as main artillery will pass because of the effective fire of 76mm against drones. 

Edited by sunday
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41 minutes ago, sunday said:

Perhaps not really a frigate (10,200 tons) , and intended for Australia, but...

6299348

Article here, plus pic of a corvette proposal

flight-iii-service-ship-dc_pfh81v

I think it is possible all the present craze with using 57mm guns as main artillery will pass because of the effective fire of 76mm against drones. 

I dunno; can a 76mm match the RoF and aiming quickness of the smaller 57mm?

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7 minutes ago, shep854 said:

I dunno; can a 76mm match the RoF and aiming quickness of the smaller 57mm?

Well, 76mm has more range, larger explosive payload, and larger kill radius.

The Italians had a pretty good and fas double 40mm CIWS but decided to retire it in favour of the latest 76mm. There was no 57mm comparable to what we have now available then, however.

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1 hour ago, shep854 said:

The warm, squishy bits; we want to keep them as safe as we can.  They really appreciate it.

It’s a nice to have for sure. But this is unlike tanks and to a less extent aircraft where they are spare vehicles you can put the crew into and much faster production rates.  If your ship is mission killed and gets back to port, the crew won’t be useful until the ship is repaired or new ones are built. Which is going to be years with radar and other system production rates.

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Start of construction for FFG-62 was 31 August 2022.  Laying the keel means placement of the first hull modules so the rest of the ship can be erected.  The time between start of construction and keel laying is the lead time to start cutting the piece parts, fabricating frames & foundations & pipes. 

Before the official start of construction, all the materials need to be ordered.  Subcontracts need to be let.  If the second ship (FFG-63) hasn't started construction already, it will be soon--using all of the engineering products carried over from the lead ship.  Changing now, means going back and redoing things like CNC programs, subcontract drawings & purchase orders, etc.

There is definitely NOT time to change the follow-on hulls.  Unless you want to drive the costs through the roof.

This lead time is why that 2% cost delta to add VLS cells is no longer realistic or applicable. 

Doug

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On 4/9/2024 at 2:21 PM, sunday said:

Well, 76mm has more range, larger explosive payload, and larger kill radius.

The Italians had a pretty good and fas double 40mm CIWS but decided to retire it in favour of the latest 76mm. There was no 57mm comparable to what we have now available then, however.

57mm is also not water cooled like the 76mm.

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  • 1 month later...

A few items hit the news regarding the Constellation-class frigates in the past few days.

Fifth & sixth frigate options were exercised on 23 May. 

Quote

https://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract/Article/3786556/

Marinette Marine Corp., Marinette, Wisconsin, is awarded a $1,044,529,113 fixed-price incentive (firm-target) modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-20-C-2300) to exercise options for detail design and construction of two Constellation-class guided-missile frigates, FFG 66 and FFG 67. Work will be performed in Marinette, Wisconsin (51%); Camden, New Jersey (17%); Chicago, Illinois (7%); Green Bay, Wisconsin (4%); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (3%); Hauppauge, New York (3%); Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (3%); Cincinnati, Ohio (3%); Kaukauna, Wisconsin (2%); Charlotte, North Carolina (2%); Bethesda, Maryland (2%); Millersville, Maryland (2%); and Atlanta, Georgia (1%), and is expected to be completed by April 2030. Fiscal 2024 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funds in the amount of $1,044,529,113 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

FFG-66 will be named Hamilton, but FFG-67's name hasn't been announced, yet.

https://news.usni.org/2024/05/23/navy-awards-1b-contract-for-5th-6th-constellation-class-frigates

And the GAO published a pretty devastating report on the program. 

Quote

https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-24-106546

Navy Frigate: Unstable Design Has Stalled Construction and Compromised Delivery Schedules

When the Navy planned to acquire guided missile frigates—a class of small warship—it took steps aimed at delivering these ships faster. For example, to reduce the risk of design and technology problems, it chose to use many technologies that had already been proven on other ships.

However, the Navy undercut this approach by starting construction on the first frigate before finishing its design, among other missteps. Due to ongoing major design challenges, construction on the first ship is at a standstill. Now, the Navy forecasts the ship will be delivered 3 years late.

---SNIP:  The following passages are from the full report PDF---

To reduce technical risk, the parent ship design approach was intended to leverage and modify an existing hull design already demonstrated at sea. The frigate design also includes various systems that will enable the ship to perform its missions. The Navy adapted the parent design to accommodate these systems and meet Navy habitability and survivability requirements.

---SNIP---

The Navy and its shipbuilder leveraged an existing ship design to reduce technical risk and deliver frigates sooner. However, the Navy’s decision to approve the shipbuilder to begin construction with an incomplete design is inconsistent with leading ship design practices, jeopardizing this strategy. Persistent shipbuilder delays in completing the design have also created mounting construction delays, rendering the April 2026 contract delivery date for the lead frigate unachievable. While the Navy tracks design progress, its process to calculate design stability hinges largely on the quantity—rather than the quality—of completed design documents. The focus on quantity obscures functional design progress and how much design work remains. Program challenges and delays have increased estimated contract costs; however, the Navy’s fixed-price incentive contract helps limit cost risks.

---SNIP---

The Navy began frigate construction in August 2022 with an incomplete functional design, counter to leading ship design practices. The Navy and shipbuilder continue to finalize key functional design documents over a year after construction began. For example, as of December 2023, the program’s functional design and 3D model remained incomplete. We found that delays in completing the functional design have had a cascading effect on other design activities, including 3D modeling, detail design, and development of work instructions needed to build the ship. These delays have stalled construction progress and jeopardized the Navy’s approach to reduce technical risk and deliver frigates sooner by leveraging an existing ship design. For example, the Navy reported that, as of September 2023, the shipbuilder had completed construction of only 3.6 percent of the lead ship as compared to the 35.5 percent it was scheduled to have completed by that point.

The Navy implemented its unique specifications in 511 functional design documents—referred to as “contract data requirements list (CDRL) items”—to incorporate its weapon systems, more robust damage control systems, and a newly designed topside arrangement, among other things. However, the Navy and shipbuilder continue to grapple with these CDRL items—drawings, diagrams, specifications, and configurations that inform the 3D model and detail design—in tandem with constructing the lead frigate.

---SNIP---

Further, according to leading ship design practices, construction on a block (or grand module) of a ship should not commence until that block’s detail design is complete. Leading commercial shipbuilders rely on this completion to ensure that construction of blocks progresses in a timely and efficient manner. However, the frigate shipbuilder began constructing grand modules that have an incomplete detail design, inconsistent with this leading practice. Consequently, without completing detail design before beginning construction on a block, the frigate shipbuilder now likely confronts two undesirable outcomes: either (1) costly rework and out-of-sequence work or (2) further stalling construction to await design completion.

---SNIP---

A complicating factor in assessing new dates for frigate deliveries is the shipbuilder’s October 2023 reporting of unplanned weight growth in the frigate design—an increase of over 10 percent above the shipbuilder’s June 2020 weight estimate. The Navy’s decision to approve construction with incomplete elements of the ship design—including information gaps related to structural, piping, ventilation, and other systems—and the underestimation of adapting a foreign design to meet Navy requirements have driven this weight growth...

...In December 2023, the Navy initiated a separate review of frigate weight growth to assess risk. The Navy disclosed to us in April 2024 that it is considering a reduction in the frigate’s speed requirement as one potential way, among others, to resolve the weight growth affecting the ship’s design.

---SNIP---

Navy engineering officials noted instances where the Navy received items largely incomplete and, in some cases, without any design content from the frigate shipbuilder—an occurrence the Navy officials attributed to the contractor’s desire to meet a contract deadline for submitting a given CDRL item. In such instances, the Navy has credited these largely incomplete CDRL items as 50 percent complete. These practices and metrics caused the frigate’s functional design to appear more complete than what had been achieved.
 

I'd recommend reading the entire 37-page report.  The above excerpts come from just the first 18 pages. The report seems to give the shipbuilder a bit too much of a free pass in a couple places (blaming Navy progress metrics for the shipbuilder submitting design products with no content, for instance).  Good read, nonetheless.

Doug

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15 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

I thank God we still design our own ships, rather than trying to improve other peoples. That and finish designing them before we bolt them together.

 

Don't get too cocky. The Type 26 construction contract was awarded back in 2017 and the first ship is now expected to deliver in 2026.  That's roughly the same time frame the FFG-62 is currently projected to take.

Quote

https://www.baesystems.com/en-uk/article/manufacturing-contract-for-type-26-global-combat-ship-awarded-to-bae-systems

2 Jul 2017

BAE Systems has been awarded a contract by the UK Ministry of Defence worth c£3.7bn to manufacture the first three ships for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme, with steel being cut on the first ship in Glasgow in the coming weeks.

 

Quote

https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2024/04/first-type-26-frigate-progresses-towards-completion/

BAE Systems forecasts that the productivity and efficiency benefits accruing from the new covered assembly hall will realise significant time and cost reductions in future Type 26 builds. “The business case for building the Wet Basin Hall is based on our ability to accelerate production and use less hours in building the ships,” Lister said. “We aim to reduce the build duration from the first-of-class being 96 months to the eighth being 60 months. And more than that we intend to compress the interval between ships from 18 months to 12 [months].”

---SNIP---

Lister estimates Glasgow to be at least 65% complete, with all structural steelwork is complete, and major equipment installations are underway.

---SNIP---

While acknowledging that the first-of-class build had been challenging, Lister said that lessons learned are already improving performance on subsequent ships:

“We’re shrugging off the challenges of the prototype, and the design is now finished. The amount of change that’s in the programme is being eroded all the time – so the amount of change in ship 3 is one tenth of the amount of change that’s in ship 2.”

That quote doesn't exactly indicate BAE finished the design before starting construction.

I really do hope BAE hits these forecasts, though.  There should be a learning curve if the program is going to be successful. 

Doug

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On 5/30/2024 at 12:42 AM, Stuart Galbraith said:

I thank God we still design our own ships, rather than trying to improve other peoples. That and finish designing them before we bolt them together.

We are happy you are building your version before we cut steel for ours. We are building a stone frigate to figure out the sensor setup for ours. We need ours to be both ASW and AD ships at the same time. The Aussie Hunter Class is suffering from blot and I suspect they are going to have dial back the outfitting of them.

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On 5/31/2024 at 12:58 AM, Ol Paint said:

Don't get too cocky. The Type 26 construction contract was awarded back in 2017 and the first ship is now expected to deliver in 2026.  That's roughly the same time frame the FFG-62 is currently projected to take.

 

That quote doesn't exactly indicate BAE finished the design before starting construction.

I really do hope BAE hits these forecasts, though.  There should be a learning curve if the program is going to be successful. 

Doug

You acknowledge that there is a learning curve, and yet you also seem to expect that the design will be perfect out of the box - which is it to be?

For Stuart, on the other hand - the Type 31 wasn't designed here, or at least its design basis wasn't "ours", being a variant of the Iver Huitfeldt.

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Concerning the Type 26 the development started before 2010 and they should have been in water already. That is why RN is having a hole in their frigate forces even paying millions to update the Type 23 that should  was not have been updatable...

Type 26 HMS Glasgow was laid down in 2017, it will be commissioned in 2026 or 2027 says wiki . So 9 , 10 years.

Basically unacceptable for a frigate that don't even have AAW capability like the Canadian and Australian variants and have a simple rotate radar set.

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ummmmmm.... couldn't originally keep up with a carrier group... now might be even slower?

 

Regardless, "resolving this weight growth adds another dimension to the shipbuilder’s ongoing design activities, further diminishing the predictability of these already schedule-challenged efforts," per GAO's report. "The Navy disclosed to us in April 2024 that it is considering a reduction in the frigate’s speed requirement as one potential way, among others, to resolve the weight growth affecting the ship’s design."

To date, the Navy does not appear to have disclosed its speed requirements for the Constellation class, but the ships are reportedly expected to be able to sustain a cruising speed of at least 26 knots. This is in line with the stated "max continuous speed" of the Italian Bergamini class subvariant of the FREMM design, which is in excess of 27 knots, according to Fincantieri. A speed of at least around 30 knots would be necessary for keeping up with Navy carrier strike groups.

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19 hours ago, DB said:

You acknowledge that there is a learning curve, and yet you also seem to expect that the design will be perfect out of the box - which is it to be?

For Stuart, on the other hand - the Type 31 wasn't designed here, or at least its design basis wasn't "ours", being a variant of the Iver Huitfeldt.

Learning curve doesn't require design perfection, so you present me with a false choice of alternatives.

Learning curve is related to the stability of design and the ability for production to streamline the process and avoid rework. As personnel start working on later ships, it takes less time to get the work done. Most programs see the first two ships take the longest, and reach a steady state for the third ship and follow.  The BAE prediction seems to assume continued improvement in efficiency through ship 8.  Aggressive, but not impossible.

Unstable or incomplete design manifests as rework, schedule delay, and cost overrun.  There's no such thing as a perfect design. But an imperfect design can still be produced effectively if it is stable and properly planned.

If you read what I wrote, I said I hoped BAE would achieve the learning curve they predict.  I don't like to see programs fail. The fact that BAE's lead ship is behind schedule is not unexpected, but Stuart throwing stones in his glass house is not unusual, either. 

Doug

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