Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cyclones Upgraded

My thanks to DJF for the heads-up on this item.

Two shipyards in Norfolk, VA, are being awarded separate contracts for dry-docking and miscellaneous structural, electrical, and mechanical repairs on two Cyclone class PCs, USS Hurricane (PC-3) and USS Monsoon (PC-4).  The contracts are for $14M and $18M, respectively.  By comparison, the original construction costs were around $11M each although that was 15-20 years ago with the ships being built in the 1990’s.  Still, to spend that kind of money on vessels that were supposed to be recalled from duty in 2010 due to hull fatigue damage is astounding.  The ships were designed for a 15 year life.  Recall that this is one of the classes of ship that were supposed to be replaced by the LCS.  That being the case, why are these ships being upgraded rather than retired?  Is this an admission that the LCS can’t fill the role?  Is it a simple recognition that the Navy has allowed the fleet size to shrink too far and more vessels, regardless of type, are needed?  Is it a statement that smaller patrol vessels fill a vital role and the Navy’s decades long neglect of, and contempt for, small patrol vessels was unwise?  Is the Navy getting back into the small patrol vessel business?  Who knows?!

Cyclone Class PC - A Longer Life Ahead?

Will the entire class be upgraded over time or is there some special reason why only these two are being attended to?  Again, who knows?

What’s clear is that someone in the Navy made an extraordinary decision in this time of severe budget constraints to pour money (a pittance by new construction standards, to be sure) into ships that are at or past their rated life, should have been replaced by the vaunted LCS, and have been all but ignored by the Navy for the class’ entire lifespan.  That’s saying something profound as regards Navy thinking.  I just don’t know what the official thinking is. 

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the Navy should buy into the Coast Guard Sentinel class. Its about the same size as the Cyclone Class. Its a little slower, 28 knots rather then 35 but if its just going to be used for patrolling and boarding operations then it should be fast enough. Paint it gray, put Navy standard weapons and radios on it and that should be all that is needed

    At least then the Navy gets a ship that should last 20 years or so and since its an already existing program there should be little in development costs and few surprises in what they are getting.

    Does anyone know if there is anything the Cyclones are doing that the Sentinels couldn’t do?


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