Friday, June 28, 2019

Norwegian Frigate Helge Ingstad Update

The Norwegian frigate, Helge Ingstad, that collided with a tanker in November 2018 and subsequently sank due to uncontrolled flooding, has been salvaged and the government has decided not to repair the ship as it would cost more to repair the ship than to build a new one.  Inspector General of the Navy, Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen cited repair costs of $1.6B (USD) versus the cost of a new, replacement ship at $1.2B-$1.5B. (1)

The Submarine Frigate Helge Ingstad

I find it nearly impossible to believe that a completely built ship, though badly damaged from submersion, would cost more to repair than to build a new ship!  I’m not disputing the costs, just expressing shock at the cost.

Helge Ingstad Being Salvaged

It appears, now, that the ship will be used for spare parts for the other class members, with between $11M-$45M worth of parts identified as salvageable.  Again, I’m utterly shocked that that’s all that could be salvaged out of a $1.5B ship!  Is this telling us something about the resiliency of modern naval equipment and, hence, its susceptibility to battle damage?  Admittedly, prolonged submergence in the sea is not conducive to equipment maintenance – he said in a massive understatement ! – but, still, that’s all that could be salvaged?

No particular point to this post, just a lot of shock.

  • Shock at the repair cost.

  • Shock at the almost zero salvageable parts.  Heck, we raised and repaired all the WWII Pearl Harbor battleships except the Arizona.  Recall the Aegis cruiser, Port Royal, that nosed gently aground and the Navy wanted to scrap it, citing misaligned radar arrays and VLS cells, before being stopped by Congress.  There's a good argument to be made for slightly less technologically advanced equipment that is far more robust in the face of battle damage.

  • Shock at the ease with which the ship sank from relatively minor initial physical damage (you recall that the flooding was blamed on a design flaw that allowed flooding to spread to neighboring compartments).  WWII saw ships absorb unimaginable amounts of damage and not only stay afloat but continue to fight!

  • Shock at the lack of combat toughness designed into the ship: weak structure, lack of armor, poor design, lack of damage control, etc.

  • Shock that the US Navy would still be considering this basic design and manufacturer for its frigate program.  If this didn't rule out this manufacturer and their designs, what does it take to demonstrate a poor choice?  Of course, the Navy has the LCS in the running for the frigate program so demonstrated poor design is not, apparently, a disqualifying event.



  1. Think you've got a minor typo. Repair costs are $1.6 billion, not $.16 billion.

    1. Yep. Despite my stringent quality control efforts, a typo got through. Corrected now. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. I'm guessing all the electronics, radar, weapons are gone after being submerged in sea water for that long. Maybe engines can be overhauled but rest is probably garbage.

    1. I'd have to think about it but I would guess that, with some overhaul, you could reuse anchors, anchor chains, anchor gear, most of the engines and associated machinery, gun, VLS cells (aren't they water-tight sealed to begin with?), lots of spare parts, tools, ship's boat/RHIP (whatever they have), towed array (do they have one?), winches, UNREP gear (do they have any?), lots of cabling, galley equipment, various fuel and water storage tanks, lots of valves of various types, pumps, watertight doors/hatches/scuttles (dismount 'em and reuse 'em), prop(s)/rudder, prop shafts (you're cutting the ship up anyway so you should be able to get at anything), heads, racks, lockers, and so on.

      Admittedly, some of the list is probably technically salvageable with overhaul but the cost of overhaul may make it uneconomical. Still, $11M-$45M is almost nothing. The Captain's MilSpec coffee pot is probaby $1M alone!

      I look at all the past ships that have been raised after complete or partial submergence and the cost to repair and I compare it to this situation and this seems shockingly out of whack.

    2. The only thing that skews the comparison is the electronics. I dont think there was much of anything on a Pearl Harbor BB that couldnt be dried out, cleaned, sanded to remove corrosion, etc and reused...
      Todays ships dont have hardly anything that doesnt have a circuit card running it...
      Having said that...harvesting $45M worth of gear off a $1B+ ship speaks volumes about their fragility!! And that modern design hasnt necessarilly moved us forward much, but in fact backwards....

    3. Helge Ingestad spent a lot more time submerged than any of the salvaged Pearl Harbor battleships, except for Oklahoma, and she was deeper too. Nevada was actually run up on the beach, and West Virginia and California were basically sitting with the main decks almost awash after sinking, so a lot of equipment was still above water. Still, it does speak to the relative fragility and expense of modern technology

  3. Kind of reminds of the situation where military buys new gear for billions, realizes they dont need it and when they dispose of it, they dont even get a penny on the 100 dollars....was shocked when Brits scraped the Nimrod MR4A after spending billions, it was sold for something like scrap price of aluminum, disgusting.

    1. MRA4 wasn't a lack of need.

      We got to the end if the rebuild, sort of, and no one could / would sign it off as safe to fly

  4. As you said, modern frigates are lightly built. It's possible that the frame damage is more serious than an older ship would have taken.

    The other problem is that the repairs have to be done by a private company. The Pearl Harbor battleships were salvaged by navy sailors working navy hours. The ship's own crews did much of the initial work, too. The more seriour refits were also done at Naval shipyards. I doubt the US Navy has this capability today.

    1. Minimal Manning leads to Minimal Capability, this what
      happens when you have Minimal Institutional Memory.

      The Norwegians should use the ship as a testing target, so they can sink it again, or purpose.

    2. This incident should be an incredible treasure trove of lessons for the Norwegian navy. It graphically demonstrated issues with strength, damage control, design, etc. as well as basic seamanship and ship handling. I hope they are more receptive to lessons than the US Navy is.

    3. To me, just reinforces my belief that weapon systems are seriously overpriced and way too fragile.

    4. I read somewhere that the sinking was due to be undermanned and slow to react control damage teams.

      I don't know if true.

    5. "I read somewhere that the sinking was due to be undermanned and slow to react control damage teams."

      You can read about the cause of the sinking in this post, "Norwegian Frigate Sinking Lessons"

  5. What I can´t understand is why no damage simulations have been performed?
    With a ship this expensive and with the low number of ships the navies in the west now have I would think that massive damage assessments and simulations would be performed to find weaknesses and so on.
    This appears not to be performed since the design take this massive damage from ramming. How would it handle a anti-ship missile?
    In development of Ground and Air vehicles this is to my knowledge always done, in both cases for the evaluation of the combat efficiency and crew survival rate. Also some verification of the simulations are performed.
    I think the navies in the west need to redesign all the combat ships in the inventory.

    1. Spot on!

      This ties into my recurring theme that Western navies no longer design WARships. Instead, they design, cruise (meaning peacetime deployment) ships.

  6. Perhaps we should consider getting away from just shock trials on the first ship of a class. Shock trial it and then sinkex it see where the problems are.

  7. I go back to Royal Navy experience in Falklands. They took a mix of older ships built to military damage control standards and newer ships built to lesser standards to save money. Results were:

    Older ships, military standard-
    2 County class, one hit by bomb, other by Exocet, both stayed afloat
    4 Leander class, one hit by cannon/rocket and bombs, stayed afloat
    2 Rothesay class, one hit by bombs, stayed afloat

    Newer ships, lesser standard-
    5 Type 42, 2 hit by bombs, 1 by Exocet, 2 sank, one withdrawn
    2 Type 22, both hit and stayed afloat
    7 Type 21, 3 hit by bombs, 2 sank

    So of ones that were hit, 0/4 older ones sank, 4/8 newer ones sank, a 1 newer one had to be withdrawn. Even if not all the hits were of the same degree, it seems a pretty telling statistic.

    I like several of the European designs, but before going with any of them, I'd want a significant damage control upgrade. Whatever that costs is worth it.

    1. Wow, what a great contribution to the discussion! That's a really great, if limited, data set and a relationship I hadn't thought of. I've got to ponder this a bit but I'm inclined to think you're on to something even if the data set is small.

      Excellent. Thanks!

    2. Aren't there other factors to consider, like where the ships were hit? Type and number of weapons used? How effective was their damage control equipment? How did the crews respond?

      For example, HMS Ardent, a Type 21 frigate was hit by 9 bombs but only three exploded resulting in severe damage. She sailed to Grantham Sound Bay where she sank the next day.

      HMS Antelope, another Type 21 frigate was hit on the starboard side by a 1,000 lbs bomb but didn't explode. She was attacked again and hit by another 1,000 lbs bomb and it too didn't explode. During that attack, a Skyhawk was hit and crashed into the her mast. Antelope then sailed to safer waters and while defusing the bombs, one of them exploded. The crew then abandoned ship minutes before the missile magazine exploded.

      HMS Argonaut, a Leander class, was attacked twice. The first time with cannon fire and rockets, but a second attack by 5 A-4s hit her with 2 bombs, neither of which exploded. Fortunately, both bombs were later defused. If one or both had exploded on contact or while being defused, who knows what would have happened.

      There's more to consider than saying classifying ships based on their construction standards and damage control equipment. Could the older ships, with the military construction standards, survive the detonation of a 1,000 lb bomb?

      And, by the way, who names a ship Antelope?

    3. HMS Plymouth, a Rothesay-class frigate, was hit by 4 1,000 lbs bombs. One bomb hit the flight deck, detonating a depth charge and starting a fire, one went straight through her funnel and two more destroyed her Limbo anti-submarine mortar. But, it's important to note that ALL of the bombs failed to explode.

      What would have happened had one or two of these bombs had exploded? Especially the second bomb that struck the funnel. At full load, Plymouth displaced about 2,500 tons.

      With all of this unexploded ordinance, Argentina apparently had a quality control issue on their hands. This sounds akin to our torpedoes failing to explode in early-World War II.

    4. "With all of this unexploded ordinance, Argentina apparently had a quality control issue on their hands. "

      Supposedly, it had to do with release height. The bombs were fuzed for high altitude release and the pilots opted to do very low level releases and the bombs weren't fuzed for it. Don't know if that's true or not but it's been reported.

    5. Interesting. In other words, the bombs didn't have time to arm themselves before hitting the ships. If fuzed for release from a higher altitude, that sounds plausible. But, given their defenses and the lower probability of hitting a ship at a higher altitude with a dumb bomb, a low-altitude attack makes much more sense.

    6. Going back to the 2 Type 22's that were hit.

      According to Wiki, "Broadsword was hit by one bomb, which bounced up through the helicopter deck and put out of action a Lynx helicopter, before exiting and exploding harmlessly."

      According to Wiki, "HMS Brilliant came under Argentine air attack outside San Carlos Water and was slightly damaged by cannon fire."

      As for the County-class HMS Antrim, according to Wiki, "While supporting the main landing at San Carlos Water, 12 bombs narrowly missed, but a 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb penetrated Antrim. It did not explode or kill anyone, and it took 10 hours to remove."

      You have to dig into the details of each attack before making any useful conclusions about old versus new designs.

    7. "But, given their defenses and the lower probability of hitting a ship at a higher altitude with a dumb bomb, a low-altitude attack makes much more sense."

      High level bombing is what they trained for. Combat quickly showed them that was inappropriate so they changed tactics. This is exactly the situation the US military is engaged in. We're practicing tactics that we're going to abandon as soon as combat occurs and yet we continue to waste our training time.

    8. Then do so! Analyze and let us know what you conclude.

    9. When bombs don't detonate, as was often the case, it's impossible to say what would have happened compared to ships hit by bombs that detonated.

      The case of HMS Glamorgan, a County-class destroyer, is interesting because the crew's actions prevented greater damage to the ship. Before impact, the ship turned the ship away from the missile, which prevented it from hitting the ship perpendicularly. The missile created a large hole on the hanger deck and it's fuelled and armed helicopter detonated. Fourteen were killed or wounded and all the fires were extinguished a few hours later. A different situation compared to HMS Sheffield.

      Concerning the second Type 42 sunk, HMS Coventry. According to Wiki, "Coventry was struck by three bombs just above the water line on the port side. One of the bombs exploded beneath the computer room, destroying it and the nearby operations room, incapacitating almost all senior officers. The other entered the forward engine room, exploding beneath the junior ratings dining room where the first aid party was stationed, and the ship immediately began listing to port. The latter hit caused critical damage as it breached the bulkhead between the forward and aft engine rooms, exposing the largest open space in the ship to uncontrollable flooding. Given the design of the ship, with multiple watertight compartments, two hits virtually anywhere else might have been just survivable. The third bomb did not explode."

      If the other two bombs had not detonated, Coventry would have likely survived the attack. Could any of the older ships, built to military standards, survive a similar attack?

    10. "Could any of the older ships, built to military standards, survive a similar attack?"

      That's all interesting background but give us your analysis, if you have one. The original comment offered a correlation that was intriguing. You seemed to dispute it and you've described the various attacks but you haven't offered any analysis and conclusion and you haven't disputed the original hypothesis. Give us some analysis!

    11. With all due respect to CDR Chip, I believe his original correlation is flawed. CDR Chip wrote, "Even if not all the hits were of the same degree, it seems a pretty telling statistic." And, that is exactly the problem with his correlation. At the same time, CDR Chip never pointed out how the differences in construction standards (military versus lesser) relate to each ship's ability to absorb damage.

      For example, CDR Chip wrote, "2 Rothesay class, one hit by bombs, stayed afloat." But, as pointed out earlier, HMS Plymouth was hit by 4 1,000 lbs bombs, none of which detonated. At about 2,500 tons, she likely would have sunk had all 4 bombs detonated. And, taking cannon and rocket fire pales in comparison to being hit by a 1,000 lbs.

      HMS Sheffield and HMS Glamorgan were both hit by an Exocet missile. Sheffield was hit amidship. Due to Glamorgan turning away from its missile, she was hit aft, which resulted in lesser damage compared to Sheffield. But, let's assume Glamorgan was hit amidship like Sheffield. Best case, Glamorgan survived the attack with greater damage. Worst case, she was sunk. But, since events didn't happen that way, it's just speculation.

      Had crews been able to defuse the 2 1,000 bombs on HMS Antelope, she would not have sank.

      HMS Coventry was struck by three bombs just above the waterline with 2 exploding causing massive flooding leading to the loss of the ship. Could any of the older ships, built to military standards, survive such an attack?

      Again, with all due respect to CDR Chip and everyone else, his correlation was simplistic. Given the stark differences between the attacks and the number of instances where ships were hit by the bombs that didn't explode, we don't know what the results would have been. Based on what is known, it's likely a few more ships would have been severely damaged or lost. And, we don't know if the construction standards were a factor.

    12. CDR Chip provided a clear and compelling correlation. Now, there's a difference between correlation and causation so whether there's a cause and effect relationship is yet unproven. The data set is simply too small to be sure. The hypothesis may be correct or it may not.

      With due respect to you, you've described the attacks and engaged in a bit of speculation about bombs exploding that did not or vice versa but you have not offered any analysis that disproves the hypothesis. Again, given the limited data set, it may not be possible to do so. However, no better hypothesis has been put forward. Perhaps the sinkings are related to ship size, crew size (for damage control), or any of a hundred other factors.

      The short of it is that the original hypothesis is intriguing and would be worth further study, if such were possible. Simply saying you don't believe it is not proof to the contrary. By all means, have and hold your opinion but to effectively argue it you need data and analysis.

    13. With all due respect, when CDR Chip wrote, "So, of ones that were hit, 0/4 older ones sank, 4/8 newer ones sank, a 1 newer one had to be withdrawn," that sounded like a conclusion based on the data presented. The hypothesis being that older ships built to military standards were more survivable compared to newer ships built to lesser standards. But, given what happened, more specifically what didn't happen to the older ships, I don't think one could make that hypothesis much less draw that conclusion without additional analysis.

      Let's review what happened to the older ships built to military standards.

      County Class
      HMS Glamorgan - Hit aft by an Exocet missile. The ship turned away from the missile which prevented greater damage to the ship.
      HMS Antrim - Hit by a 1,000 lb which did not explode or kill anyone and was later removed.

      Leander Class
      HMS Argonaut - First hit with cannon fire and rockets and later hit by 2 bombs, neither of which exploded and were successfully defused.

      Rothesay Class
      HMS Plymouth - Hit by 4 1,000 lbs, none of which exploded.

      We don't know what would have happened had their bombs exploded, the damage could have been minor or significant enough to result in the loss of the ship. Therefore, it is unfair to compare them to the newer ships with bombs that did explode. One would have to review their designs and assess what damage a bomb would have done, which is outside of this discussion and beyond my expertise.

      Glamorgan, hit by an Exocet, turned away from the missile, which hit the aft part of the ship which prevented greater damage to the ship. Sheffield was hit amidship. To compare old versus new, one would have to assess what would have happened had Glamorgan been hit amidship and what would have happened if Sheffield was hit aft.

      Comparing old versus new, using the Falkland War as a backdrop, is an interesting exercise. But, in this instance, there is a clear lack of data and further analysis required to make that comparison.

    14. You're repeating yourself and failing to offer any analysis. That probably ends this discussion.

    15. Comments have been deleted due to repetition.

  8. "Shock that the US Navy would still be considering this basic design and manufacturer for its frigate program. If this didn't rule out this manufacturer and their designs, what does it take to demonstrate a poor choice?"

    To be fair, the Norwegian ship was a smaller and cheaper version of the ship that the Navy is considering. I don't know how much DC capability was cut out to save money. Plus the US version would be built at Bath, not Navantia, and Bath at least historically had the reputation of building pretty solid ships.

    But it's definitely a question worth asking. And worth asking about any European design, to be sure. I wouldn't buy anything without upgrading DC to full military standard.

    1. What really scared me from the report is that the flooding was allowed to spread through the equipment to adjoining compartments. The watertight compartments were not watertight … BY DESIGN!!!! How many other such non-watertight compartments exist and how many other unfathomably poor equipment designs that allow the spread of flooding are there?

      Bath's reputation is great. Their current products, not so much. The Burke is lightly built and has required reinforcing strakes just to withstand normal sailing.

    2. Solid points, all of them. And yes, I'm aware that Bath's reputation has slipped a bit.

      But the Norwegian ship that sank is a smaller, cheaper, scaled-down version of the ship that is being offered to the US.

      What I find interesting is that the cost of the original ships in that class was reported to be about $550 million per unit, not that long ago. And now the cost to replace is over twice that. Does that mean that ship costs have inflated that rapidly? Or does it mean that the Norwegians are insisting that any replacement be built right, without the short cuts, and that costs money?

    3. I'm not sure I recall correctly but didn't some the flooding on Fitz also come from wiring connection points across bulkheads not being sealed.

    4. "But the Norwegian ship that sank is a smaller, cheaper, scaled-down version of the ship that is being offered to the US."

      I'm concerned that the fundamental equipment design concepts are the same. For example, whatever design allowed water to pass through shafts and seals - BY DESIGN - is part of any Navantia ship, regardless of size. That may or may not be true but it's a serious concern. For instance, it's very hard to imagine that as a designer was given the task of scaling down to the small frigate size, he said to himself, hey, I've got a good watertight design in the larger scale but as part of scaling down I'll make the compartments not watertight. I don't think that happened. I'm sure that whatever design seemed right on the smaller ship, also seemed right on the larger ships.

    5. "I'm not sure I recall correctly but didn't some the flooding on Fitz also come from wiring connection points across bulkheads not being sealed."

      According to the report, flooding passed from compartment to compartment through the hollow prop shafts (apparently, no seals????), bulkhead stuffing boxes (the purpose of a stuffing box is to provide a seal!), etc.

    6. The last Nansen-class frigate was commissioned in 2011. We need to remember that this is a one-off build. Norway has to pay to recreate the entire production line down to each individual supplier, some of whom might have to be replaced. Some of the additional costs likely include remaking the tooling and fixtures to build the replacement. And, costs are always going to be high when buying one (or even two) of everything you need to build something like a ship.

    7. "I'm sure that whatever design seemed right on the smaller ship, also seemed right on the larger ships."

      I know that I have been a proponent of the European "mini-Burke" frigates as a way to get a lot of firepower cheaply. But I'm also aware that one way they've saved a bunch of money is by going in some cases with commercial damage control standards rather than military. My point was that the Nansens were a scaled-down version of the F-100s, and that one way they may have cut costs was by going with lesser DC standards. I'm not saying that not stuffing the points where shaft alleys passed through bulkheads was part of the cost-cutting or not, it seems more like an execution error than something you would ignore in design, but I don't know. As far as our future frigates, I would ensure that any European design had its damage control standards upgraded to military.

      One supposed advantage of the IEP design, in addition quieter running for ASW, is that they don't have the long shaft alleys.

      As for the Falklands experience, I believe the comments regarding various exceptional situations are correct, but still the raw statistic suggests a problem. I know the Brits re-evaluated their own damage control standards afterwards, along with a bunch of other lessons learned.

    8. Nansen class and the RAN Hobart class are listed as sub classes of Spains
      Almirante Alvaro de Bazan class frigates.
      Spain and Australian ships are the same size, Norways frigates are shorter but same beam
      And yes the general design covers the proposed FFG(X) for the USN.

    9. "I would ensure that any European design had its damage control standards upgraded to military."

      This concerns me in that the LCS was deliberately built to lesser standards. One can argue whether that was appropriate or not but it shows that the Navy has embraced lesser battle design standards at least once and may, therefore, be inclined to do it again for the new frigates if needed to meet arbitrary cost targets. A circumstantial piece of evidence is that the original Navy cost target was $1B (I don't have the exact numbers in front of me but that's somewhere in the near ballpark) and now they claim to have 'gone through' the design and reduced it to $800M. Is that so? How did they achieve those cost reductions? Did they opt to go with LCS/lesser design standards? They did it with the LCS so why wouldn't they with the frigate? Are we going to wind up with one-hit frigates that are designed to be abandoned at the first hit, like the LCS?

      At the very least this is a worrisome question.

    10. "We need to remember that this is a one-off build. "

      A very good point. It's tempered, somewhat, by the fact that the basic F100 design is still being built for various navies and is a strong candidate for others so the parent production line is still active. A replacement Nansen would not, therefore, be a total cold restart. Still, a good point about building a single ship.

    11. From an Australian perspective, the sinking of the Helga Instad was very concerning to people in the Defence establishment and reinforced perceptions created during the Hobart build and procurement.
      The Hobart class was originally meant to be four ships, but the fourth option wasn't taken back.
      One of the issues cited was that work done at the Navantia yards was sub-standard, and didn't meat the basic requirements provided for the production of the ships.
      The welding done at Navantia yards was not acceptable and had to be completely redone in Australia. Even more relevant to Helga Ingstad was that 25% of the internal piping had to be replaced in the Adelaide yards.
      Navantia also provided incorrect drawings to the Australian yards, meaning a ton of work had to be redone.
      A report in 2014, by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), confirmed that 'errors resulting from a sub-standard technology transfer procedure (passing on specific techniques relative to the design) & drawings that were not localised by designer Navantia' were to blame for the fact that the constructed central keel block was warped and distorted and could not be welded to the other components.
      The ANAO report also criticised designer Navantia and the shipyards involved in block construction over poor drawings, repeated errors, and bad building practices.
      There has been no specific mention of watertight compartments that I'm aware of, but if the welding is sub-standard and the piping has to be replaced it doesn't fill you with confidence.
      Suffice to say that it's unlikely that Navantia will ever win another contract with the Royal Australian Navy, and that people in the RAN have some serious concerns about the Hobart classes survivability in battle.

    12. "Suffice to say that it's unlikely that Navantia will ever win another contract with the Royal Australian Navy, and that people in the RAN have some serious concerns about the Hobart classes survivability in battle."

      Well, I hope the US Navy looks closely at the Australian experience when they choose their new frigate.

  9. Instead of repairing it to its original standard, why can't it be modified to still be a useful, albeit not as capable platform? Surely having a navy vessel able to do some missions still on the rooster is more valuable then a pile of parts waiting to be used...

    1. I think that's a good idea (although I know nothing about ships and building/maintaining them). Replace with cheaper systems, make it a corvette or OPV.

      However, it may be the Norweigians don't have the crew numbers , have the budget or pier space for an extra ship.

      Up that way, it's the Russians you need to watch, so maybe an OPV won't cut it.

  10. Good Day: I have two ideas to add.
    First, with modern modular construction, building a new ship will probably take less time, hence money, to construct than the old ship which needs to be torn apart before repairs can begin.

    Second, does it seem like the Navy will stay under a billion dollars per ship, if the cost of this FF is over 1.5 billion? The other candidates for the FFGX are probably similar in cost, and any foreign based design will require "upgrades" to U.S. standards.

    1. "Second, does it seem like the Navy will stay under a billion dollars per ship, if the cost of this FF is over 1.5 billion?"

      Great observation. I think you're exactly right. The Navy is famous (or infamous) for ridiculously low cost estimates that ALWAYS balloon up. I see zero chance that we'll build a frigate for under a billion dollars.

    2. While I understand that the Burke is loud for use in ASW, I'm surprised that a stripped-down Burke wasn't considered for the "frigate" program. Total-Cost-Of-Ownership would allow for the use of existing supporting infrastructure.

      A cool billion dollars for the FFG(X)'s systems and VLS loadout does not sound like much of a deal at all.

    3. As I've said repeatedly, the US Navy doesn't need frigates, it needs a small, dedicated ASW corvette. The second best alternative is a SMALL, ASW focused frigate. The worst alternative, which is what the Navy seems bent on acquiring, is a mini-Burke. With that worst alternative firmly in their sights, I have to reluctantly agree with you that a stripped down Burke would make a lot of sense, from the Navy's flawed perspective. I wonder if they ever considered it and, if not, why not? I never heard a word about even a cursory look at that option.

    4. CNO, I would love your dedicated ASW corvette above all the other options, including the stripper-Burke.

      I was first made aware of the stripper-Burke from another Navy blog that I enjoy:

      USNI has the FFG(X) RFP, and it's not as much of a "mini-Burke" as it is an "alternate-Burke" with less room for growth and less surviability than would be had embarking the same systems on a Burke.

    5. "it's not as much of a "mini-Burke" as it is an "alternate-Burke""

      The frigate RFP is a perfect example of what happens when you don't really know what you want so you try to include a little bit of everything. What we're going to wind up with is a $1.5B (seriously, does anyone believe the Navy's cost estimate of $800M?) ship that's too expensive to risk playing tag with submarines, has too few VLS cells to be an effective strike (Tomahawk) asset, has a single close in defensive weapon (RAM) that's inadequate to provide effective self-defense, a single helo that's next to useless in ASW, a 57 mm gun that's already been proven to be ineffective on the LCS and was dropped from the Zumwalt in favor of a gun half its size in the 30 mm machine gun, and so on - truly a ship that can't do anything well. If you really want a ship that can't do anything well, it should at least be cheap but this frigate won't be!

      It has all the weaknesses of the Burke and none of the strengths. It's an alternate-Burke, all right - the alternate that's bad instead of good.

    6. Great stuff, thank you sir! For $1.5B, why not just get a Burke? If we a need a new class, why not a ASW corvette? This FFG(X) will be a poor value for money.

  11. As a side issue, Norway probably spent a few tens of millions of dollars, if not more, to refloat the ship and bring her home. I wonder what effect this has on their navy. For example, is readiness affected? Is maintenance or training affected?

  12. The question what is a frigate has been asked here previously, the Leander class has always been the archetypal (modern) Frigate in my mind, outstanding sea keeping qualities, light, fast, maneuverable. Brutal living conditions, designed for but not with toilet doors.

  13. Its legal stuff.

    Imagine you raised the Helga, take a missile from the VLS, and put it in another ship.

    Six months later, the warhead explodes and kills a Russian crew member on a cargo ship docked next door.
    Russia demands that the Norwegian Admiral is handed over to tried for negligent homicide.

    Argueing that the missile was improperly stored and despite knowing this, was sent back out.

    What happens if your salvaged CIWS goes bezerk one day and unloads on a schoolbus or an office building

    1. Good point that is problem sometimes of looking at what you could in WW2 vs a navy operating at peace or just brush war capacity. I pretty sure no matter how informative it would the navy would be in a world of hurt if as got has many marines/army/sailors killed training for an amphibious lands as it did in the run up to d-day for example.

    2. "Six months later, the warhead explodes and kills a Russian crew member"

      Come on, be realistic. Sure, we could imagine a salvaged prop flying off its new ship, rolling up onto land and down a crowded highway, destroying hundreds of cars and killing thousands of people but, is that realistic?

      You don't just pull a piece of submerged equipment out and slap it into a new ship. You tear it down, rebuild it, replace damaged components, and when you're done, it's essentially a new unit. Such reconditioned equipment is routinely sold around the world and includes everything from toasters to Harpoon missiles (yes, we take expired missiles and rebuild them and put them back in service - of course, they may spontaneously explode and kill a Russian sailor but that's a risk we accept).

      There is no legal aspect to this, at all.

    3. "the navy would be in a world of hurt if as got has many marines/army/sailors killed training for an amphibious lands as it did in the run up to d-day for example."

      To an extent, yes, however, war is rumored to be a high risk operation. In order to prepare for war you have to conduct some high risk training and accept the occasional death. It happens on a regular basis throughout the armed forces. You do what you can to minimize the bad outcomes (safety observers, rescue personnel and equipment standing by in high risk training, etc.) but you still have to do it.

      You can't train for parachute drops without actually jumping out of a plane. You can't train for high speed, low level NOE flight without actually doing it. And so on.

      It is peacetime so you don't do the bat-crazy stuff you might do in war but train as close to it as you can.

    4. Salt water kills all the electronics. Sure something like a jet engine is designed to be disaasembled and parts reused according to how much 'life' is left in them. Drop the engine into the sea and it changes everything.
      The the Frigate all the very high value parts are unusable again, why even the galley would have micro-processor controlled cookers and fryers- all unusable as the cost of removing them exceeds the scrap value.
      Compare modern warship engines, they are gas turbine and high speed diesel, again all computer controlled. There are where the value lies not in say the diesel engine block. Plus no one would give a warranty on any repairs

  14. This is ultimately due to the immense destructiveness of modern anti-ship weapons and the speed of modern conflicts. There is no point building for resilience when even the lightest anti-ship missile will thoroughly mission kill the heaviest built warship for the duration of a war. It's hopeless. Everyone is an egg with a sledgehammer in modern naval war, so there is no point trying to be a thicker shelled egg. Only having a longer, faster and more accurate sledgehammer is worth anything.

    1. Oh good grief! This is patently untrue. There is nothing more destructive about modern weapons than, say, WWII weapons. Armor will greatly mitigate destructive effects. That's just simple fact, as was proven repeatedly in WWII.

    2. How so? A light anti ship missile like the Harpoon is as destructive as a 16 inch shell, except that it always strikes near the waterline rather than plunging down onto the ship, is much more accurate, and can be fired from a truck or little FAC. A heavy supersonic anti ship missile like the Oniks can penetrate bow to stern through a super carrier and has several times the explosive filler of a 16 inch shell. And these are both missiles older than many of the sailors on our ships. The upcoming hypersonic missiles will be even deadlier.

    3. Well, let's take your example of a Harpoon. It travels at 537 mph (Wiki) versus a 16" shell which travels at 1600-1700 mph. Thus, the shell impacts with many, many times the kinetic energy of the missile. The shell was designed to penetrate thick armor, the Harpoon has no penetration design to it. The thick wall casing of the 2000 lb shell concentrates the explosion and amplifies the explosive effect. The missile does not (compare photos of crater sizes, for example).

      Thus, your statement about the destructiveness of a Harpoon versus a 16" shell is completely false.

      A Harpoon, by the way, is slow, non-stealthy, and would have a hard time penetrating a modern defense. A shell cannot be stopped.

      Post-war tests of Harpoon missiles against battleship armor showed that the missile had absolutely no effect. It could not penetrate the armor and couldn't even dent it. Not surprising, really, given what the armor was designed to resist!

      "A heavy supersonic anti ship missile like the Oniks can penetrate bow to stern through a super carrier"

      That's hilarious! Thanks.

      "and has several times the explosive filler of a 16 inch shell."

      It does and you clearly do not understand how explosions work. I'll leave it at that since I've covered this many times on the blog. You can peruse the archives.

      I'll offer you fair warning - your premise is utterly ridiculous and I won't allow any more untrue comments or waste my time dealing with them so consider that carefully if you opt to respond. What I would encourage you to do is study the topic and collect data, test evidence, historical evidence, etc. and assemble a fact based argument if you wish to continue your discussion.

  15. 21 in Submarine torpedoes, again without thick steel containment, have all proven to defeat battleship armour. The real defence of battleships against torpedo explosion against the hull was the layered internal bulkheads below the waterline, with alternately air and water to absorb the blast. Damaged yes but not severe.
    Harpoon missiles are most effective against the middle decks, modern ships dont have armour anyway.


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