Royal Australian Navy Discussions and Updates 2.0

SammyC

Active Member
I've trawled all the press releases I can find and the public version of the Surface Fleet Review itself and the government's response, and I haven't been able to find anything that refers to "No Australianisation" of the Tier 2 GP frigates.

While something might have been said verbally by the Defence Minister or the Minister for Defence Industry, it doesn't seem to have been committed to writing - I think that might be telling. I think it is more likely that there will be at least some Australianisation of the Tier 2 ships.

Even if something like "military off the shelf with no Australianisation" of the Tier 2 ships had been put in writing, which would have been extremely foolish, I just don't think it could be adhered to in practice.

At the very least, whatever the country of origin of the new Tier 2 ships, they would need to be adapted for an English-speaking crew. Can you imagine the media furore that would surround RAN personnel having to learn Japanese / Korean / German / Spanish / [insert language here] just to be able to understand and operate basic systems on board the ships, let alone navigate them safely at sea and potentially go to war in them?

Then there is the issue of supply chains - why force the creation of a whole new set of supply chains for key systems when there are existing supply chains that can be tapped into and expanded? This includes everything from radars and missiles to fire-fighting equipment to tables, chairs, beds and heads.

There is also the issue of promoting Australia's self-reliance in defence and championing Australian content, e.g. CEAFAR / CEAMOUNT, Nulka, etc. This is a political hot potato, as well as being an important military issue. Unless the key technology used in the selected design is way ahead of anything Australia can produce, there will be strong political and military reasons to prefer home-grown tech and equipment.

What I think we'll end up seeing is the hulls, key machinery and basic superstructure of first three Tier 2 GP frigates of whichever design is ultimately selected built as quickly as possible overseas, and then shipped to Australia so that the detailed fitout can be completed here. This is what was done with the LHDs - Navantia constructed the hulls up to the flight deck level, then the hulls were shipped to Australia for the fitout to be completed, including the internal fitout and island superstructure. Of course, frigates and LHDs are very different ships, but doing something similar with the first three Tier 2 GP frigates would allow Australian content to be maximised, and it would give the build team at Henderson the ability to gain some practical experience working on the ships before they embark on building the first fully Australian-built ship. What do others think?

I would suggest Australianisation is inevitable. There is however a range, with differing impacts. At the bottom end are bolt on/fitout things things like our standard damage control gear. These are simple changes and are not going to impact cost or schedule. There is a bunch like this.

In the middle are common combat systems like 9LV and the small ceafar. These are the core warfighting items, and there are strategic decisions on how we manage these. These are however mostly mature products, the parts are well integrated and they are likely one for one swaps for existing equipment on the platform. Probably not much of a problem to include however there might be some impact to cost and schedule.

The other group of changes in the middle are Australian local supply equivalents. This largelly hits hotel services, such as electrical components, sewage, bunks, hot water and the like. This is where Australian content is generally maximised, and it provides short length logistics. There is a choice to make about how much we want to go back into the local industry. These probably will add time and cost into the schedule but value adds to the community and improves in service maintainability.

At the top end are changes that alter the size, shape and weight of the base ship design, or involves equipment that is first of type. This is where much of the cost overrun and delays on the Hunter came from, such as installing the large ceafar radar. While I think this is justified on a top end platform such as the Hunter, I would suggest beware there dragons on a low cost GP platform with this approach.

So, provided we avoid changes that alter the weight, size and shape of the hull, or changes that are not already mature, then any Australianisation should be manageable and beneficial.

From my own perspective I would prefer a ship that might be a few years slower in build, but has been better worked out and is easier for a crew to operate and maintain. This will make a difference in an actual combat or damage control situation.

I personally put a lot of priority on common equipment and simplified logistics as these are important for the in-service phase of the asset (where we typically spend orders of magnitude more than the original build cost).
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
You have repeatedly emphasised the time that shipbuilding takes time to get right but you seem to imply that government decision processes can be accomplished almost immediately.
They received an analysis in September. That analysis recommended 7-11 gp frigates, TRANSCAP for ANZAC and 6 LOCSVs.

By February they have decided that there will be 11 new frigates, cancelled TRANSCAP and decided on 6 LOCSVs. They have also (according to them, it looks a bit sneaky to me) budgeted in forward estimates and 10 year outlook for the surface fleet. Presumably they also requested further information from shipbuilders and confirmed with the US government that they could join their optionally crewed program.
All of those processes take time.

Alongside that the government decided to cancel 6 OPVs and 3 FFGs. Such decisions for multi billion dollar contracts are extremely commercially sensitive and almost certainly involve multiple rounds of legal advice. Try getting that quickly.

Finally, the announced package created the prospect of a new “valley of death“ at Henderson. The government doing “nothing” in the period Oct 23-Feb 24 included adding new work for littoral craft.
Not what I am implying at all, not to mention the above does seem to overlook a few things.

I would suggest looking back at some of the previous RAN build/purchase programmes and more specifically their respective timelines and then compare what has taken place in the past vs. what is apparently being put forth as a current plan. More specifically, look at the various processes and stages where information had to be received and decisions made. Using the Hunter-class SEA 4000 project as an example, the contract ordering the frigates was signed in December 2018, but the project had been running for several years before it had reached the point were a design winner had been selected and contracts signed, with the programme getting assigned as SEA 5000 back in 2015.

Prior to the contract getting awarded in 2018 there would have been RFI's sent out to get an idea of what might be available and suitable for the role the RAN and ADF intended for what became the Hunter-class frigate. If one were to really starting trolling back through the histories of SEA 4000 and SEA 5000, one could likely find a number of different RFI's, RFT's or RFP's to select and source different shipboard systems for the classes, most of which would have come out well in advance of contracts being signed or first steel cut.

Now it seems that gov't is "planning" on selecting a new frigate design, ordering long-lead items, and contracting for initial vessels to be built overseas and have first steel cut on the lead ship all within about the same length of time that it has taken multiple gov't to select the design for a new warship.

Now once it became apparent to gov't that new/more warships of a new class or classes would need to be ordered and built, gov't could then have issued some RFI's to get a better idea of what some of the possible options and arrangements available might be, but AFAIK that has not happened yet. It does seem that gov't received some unsolicited proposals from industry, but again it does not appear that gov't has taken some of the steps necessary to get things in place to implement plans formed as a result of the naval review.

At least some steps could likely have been taken ahead of the public release and quite possibly even before specific decisions had been made about the naval review itself. That does not appear to have happened, at least in the public domain. Now I agree that certain announcements would likely have needed to be decided upon and then the decisions vetted or at least reviewed for security and legal concerns (like contractual cancellation fees and/or penalties, etc) that should not have inhibited gov't from starting the work needed for a new class to be brought into service. Even if the specific details on what the fitout needs to be, or even how many are to be acquired, gov't could have started things by making industry aware it was looking at getting a new class of frigate in addition to already being built Hunter-class frigates. Since that does not seem to have happened, either gov't is going to have to move even faster on elements of the acquisition selection process, or the desired timelines are going to be delayed.
 

Morgo

Well-Known Member
I see a few people haven’t ruled out the possibility of an Arrowhead selection. Similarly, although not being named as an exemplar, is there any reason why an Australian Constellation would be out of the question? There is substantially less Australianisation needed compared to other designs and the US shipbuilding jobs would be welcome I would presume.

I imagine crew size is the big negative.
 

devo99

Active Member
I get the impression that the Constellation design and FREMM more generally is outside of what the RAN is looking for in a GP frigate. Going off the words of VADM Hammond it's going to be closer to a modernised Anzac-class than a Hunter-class with damped down ASW capability. More in the order of 16-24 VLS cells as opposed to 32 like on the also rather ASW oriented Constellation-class at which point we might as well be building more Hunters. FREMM after all was one of the competing designs in the Hunter-class program.
Everything points to the intention behind the GP frigates being for a smaller, less expensive, less manpower intensive and less individually capable complement to the planned force of FFGs and DDGs.
 
Last edited:

Reptilia

Active Member
I see a few people haven’t ruled out the possibility of an Arrowhead selection. Similarly, although not being named as an exemplar, is there any reason why an Australian Constellation would be out of the question? There is substantially less Australianisation needed compared to other designs and the US shipbuilding jobs would be welcome I would presume.

I imagine crew size is the big negative.
The Constellation requires too much crew, probably why G & C offered the Aus Light Frigate (the mini Connie) with its less than 100 crew.
If Austal USA were chosen and already building the constellation as the second production line, then maybe it would have been a nice 1v1 replacement for the Anzacs. Could be a while before they establish a second production line with the new facility not even built yet….

I was a fan of the Aus Light frigate offered, unfortunately no overseas builder that could help out australia and no actual existing ship until October 2026 when Taiwan introduce the first AAW and ASW variants.

Features looked good on paper, better than some of the designs chosen.

G & C Aus Light Frigate
L - 117m
W - 16m
T - 3,600-3,800t (all dimensions and weights fit within northern shiplift limits)
Max Speed - 30+knts
Range - Unknown, but roughly the same as an Anzac.
Main Gun - None on the model, but can. Gun chosen depends on forward VLS number.
VLS - 32 on model at Indo-Pacific (16T+16S) or 16 (16S) with main gun. G&C also say 32 SL can be fitted.
SSM - (6xquad) (24 NSM) or (4xquad) (16 LRASM?) on display or alternatively Adaptable deck launchers or containers.
ASW - 2 x triple torpedo launcher, Towed array
CMS - SAAB 9LV + Aegis combination
Hangar - 1 x MH60R, 1 x small Drone, like S100
Defence - 1 x CIWS or SeaRam, Several 30mm, Decoys
Crew - ‘less than 100’
Propulsion - CODLAG, common with the U.S constellation class system.

 

Attachments

Last edited:

Morgo

Well-Known Member
I get the impression that the Constellation design and FREMM more generally is outside of what the RAN is looking for in a GP frigate. Going off the words of VADM Hammond it's going to be closer to a modernised Anzac-class than a Hunter-class with damped down ASW capability. More in the order of 16-24 VLS cells as opposed to 32 like on the also rather ASW oriented Constellation-class at which point we might as well be building more Hunters. FREMM after all was one of the competing designs in the Hunter-class program.
Everything points to the intention behind the GP frigates being for a smaller, less expensive, less manpower intensive and less individually capable complement to the planned force of FFGs and DDGs.
I don’t disagree - on that basis why would we not be equally discounting the “New FFM,” Type 31 or A210 given they all seem to have similar capabilities as the Constellation (although no AEGIS).

On a side note I find it interesting that MHIs display at Indo Pacific last year was very focused on the New FFM rather than Mogami…. do they know something we don’t?

Sigh. Some progress, but still more speculation for the next year or so I suppose until a decision is made.
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
I don’t disagree - on that basis why would we not be equally discounting the “New FFM,” Type 31 or A210 given they all seem to have similar capabilities as the Constellation (although no AEGIS).

On a side note I find it interesting that MHIs display at Indo Pacific last year was very focused on the New FFM rather than Mogami…. do they know something we don’t?

Sigh. Some progress, but still more speculation for the next year or so I suppose until a decision is made.
Difference between the mini Constellation and the others are a couple. While the G&C offer is outfitted nearly as well as others its also all packed into the smallest hull outside of the Navantia ALFA 3000. Makes it a risky long term prospect with minimal to no growth room thus leaving is stuck in similar boat of the Anzac's, Not a bad ship, hell have done great but have always been held back by lack of growth availability. Sort of makes sense when it was largely shrunk to that size to suit Taiwan who rarely will deploy ships away from its home waters so no need for fleets of large ships but does make it bad choice for navies looking at using them out in the wild.

The New FFM, type 31, A210 or even Daegu (batch II, III... IV?) are larger vessels with more growth room so if we want ships future proofed those 4 are the safe bets.

In regards to MHI and the new FFM rather then Mogami at Indo Pacific I wouldn't read to much into that. The core reason why they cut the build from 22 to 12 for Mogami's and doing final 10 as new FFM was Japan said it was stupid ti build same old tech for 11 years. By time any contracts signed and production started Mogami likely out of production so makes sense for them to push the new FFM now.
 

iambuzzard

Active Member
Difference between the mini Constellation and the others are a couple. While the G&C offer is outfitted nearly as well as others its also all packed into the smallest hull outside of the Navantia ALFA 3000. Makes it a risky long term prospect with minimal to no growth room thus leaving is stuck in similar boat of the Anzac's, Not a bad ship, hell have done great but have always been held back by lack of growth availability. Sort of makes sense when it was largely shrunk to that size to suit Taiwan who rarely will deploy ships away from its home waters so no need for fleets of large ships but does make it bad choice for navies looking at using them out in the wild.

The New FFM, type 31, A210 or even Daegu (batch II, III... IV?) are larger vessels with more growth room so if we want ships future proofed those 4 are the safe bets.

In regards to MHI and the new FFM rather then Mogami at Indo Pacific I wouldn't read to much into that. The core reason why they cut the build from 22 to 12 for Mogami's and doing final 10 as new FFM was Japan said it was stupid ti build same old tech for 11 years. By time any contracts signed and production started Mogami likely out of production so makes sense for them to push the new FFM now.
I think the new FFM is the best option. Quick build for the first 3 and commonality of a lot of systems.
 

Brissy1982

Active Member
I see a few people haven’t ruled out the possibility of an Arrowhead selection. Similarly, although not being named as an exemplar, is there any reason why an Australian Constellation would be out of the question? There is substantially less Australianisation needed compared to other designs and the US shipbuilding jobs would be welcome I would presume.

I imagine crew size is the big negative.
Personally, I wouldn't be unhappy if either the Arrowhead 140 or Constellation turns out to be the chosen Tier 2 frigate option; however, I think both are unlikely to be chosen.

I think both designs could be Australianised with minimal difficulty with CEAFAR, Saab 9LV CMS, Nulka and both could be armed with ESSM, NSM, MU90, etc to promote commonality across the surface fleet. The RAN would probably prefer a 127mm or 76mm main gun over the 57mm.

Both can accommodate a 32-cell Mk-41 VLS which would allow flexibility in terms of weapons loadout, with potential to launch SM-2, SM-6, Tomahawk and LRASM.

Both are somewhat larger than the four exemplar designs in the Surface Fleet Review, which gives greater potential scope for future upgrades.

The AH140 also has a relatively small crew size of 80-100, whereas the Constellation crew size is ~200 which is not a positive from the RAN's viewpoint.

I think the main difficulty with both designs would be tapping into a hot overseas production line for the first three ships in the timeframes outlined by the Australian government (steel to be cut for the first Australian ship in 2026) - in this respect the Japanese and Korean designs would appear to have an advantage.
 

Armchair

Active Member
Surely this is a reason why we should speed up and churn out Hunters as fast as we can now it is so close.
There will be years of Australianising like there was with the Hunters
There are several similar posts.

Assuming it is possible to accelerate the Hunter build a) where does the budget come from and b) where do the crews come from?

re a) The Hunter program was costed at $45bn and the govt now says that there was a $20bn unfunded hole. Maybe they are mistaken but an accelerated program has to cost something.
b). The Hunters have large crews (that need to be found from 2034). The GP frigates will (likely) have smaller crews than the less capable, retiring ANZACs. Even if you reject the surface fleet analysis and drop the GP frigate you still have a more intense crewing problem sooner if you replace large crew ships with larger crew ships. The Hunter also likely has new and more complex capabilities than the GP frigate so the training burden is l
heavier.
 

Armchair

Active Member
At least some steps could likely have been taken ahead of the public release and quite possibly even before specific decisions had been made about the naval review itself. That does not appear to have happened, at least in the public domain. Now I agree that certain announcements would likely have needed to be decided upon and then the decisions vetted or at least reviewed for security and legal concerns (like contractual cancellation fees and/or penalties, etc) that should not have inhibited gov't from starting the work needed for a new class to be brought into service. Even if the specific details on what the fitout needs to be, or even how many are to be acquired, gov't could have started things by making industry aware it was looking at getting a new class of frigate in addition to already being built Hunter-class frigates. Since that does not seem to have happened, either gov't is going to have to move even faster on elements of the acquisition selection process, or the desired timelines are going to be delayed.
We don’t know what acquisition process is being followed or what steps have been taken In relation to, for example, requests for information.
That information is not in the public domain and many of the details (despite so-called leaks) have been effectively guarded secrets.
I don’t propose to debate any of that.

On the issue of speed of decision making I do think that the government can be faulted for not establishing a DSR panel that was competent to do the surface fleet analysis (so time was wasted there).
 

devo99

Active Member
on that basis why would we not be equally discounting the “New FFM,” Type 31 or A210
Well, I am.
My personal lean is towards MEKO A-200 simply because it's the most export oriented design and therefore probably the most likely built with foreign modifications in mind. Not to mention the prospect of ships where the exhaust isn't constantly turning the radars black thanks to it all being on or below the waterline.
 
Last edited:

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
I have been following this frigate debate here and it is depressing. I wonder when some dumb a$$ Canadian pollie will propose cutting the CSC program in half (or worse) and propose a new tier 2 frigate. I find it hard to believe that such a solution would be any faster or significantly less expensive when delay and inflation are factored in. Getting the first block of Hunters built should be the priority while at the same time a few foreign builds could ordered and a new block design for Hunter started.
 

devo99

Active Member
The only depressing part in my view is that this wasn't the plan from the get go. I always saw the Hunters as more of an Adelaide-class replacement than an Anzac-class replacement. Now that's been effectively proven to be the case with the future fleet returning to the old 3 DDG and 6 FFG structure with a more numerous class of GP escorts to keep up and spread the op tempo across the fleet and generally increase flexibility.
Essentially back to the pre-peace dividend/GWOT fleet structure, a welcome return of an overall more sensible force structure.
 
Last edited:

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
The only depressing part in my view is that this wasn't the plan from the get go. I always saw the Hunters as more of an Adelaide-class replacement than an Anzac-class replacement. Now that's been effectively proven to be the case with the future fleet returning to the old 3 DDG and 6 FFG structure with a more numerous class of GP escorts to keep up and spread the op tempo across the fleet and generally increase flexibility.
Essentially back to the pre-peace dividend/GWOT fleet structure, a welcome return of an overall more sensible force structure.
Given the proliferation of new submarines in the Asia Pacific region, Hunters should be the priority (along with the SSNs).
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
Given the proliferation of new submarines in the Asia Pacific region, Hunters should be the priority (along with the SSNs).
All depends on the ASW capability of which ever Tier 2 is chosen. If its crap then yes its a step back. But if its good then the RAN ASW surface fleet has gone from 9 planned ships to 14 - 17 ships which is a lot better to have in a area proliferated with submarines.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
All depends on the ASW capability of which ever Tier 2 is chosen. If its crap then yes its a step back. But if its good then the RAN ASW surface fleet has gone from 9 planned ships to 14 - 17 ships which is a lot better to have in a area proliferated with submarines.
I get the increase in numbers is appealing but I really question how much money would be saved building Tier 2 frigates along with 6 Hunters versus an increased build of say 12 Hunters plus an off shore buy of 3 ships. A better ASW capability albeit a possible longer acquisition time (or maybe not).
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
I have been following this frigate debate here and it is depressing. I wonder when some dumb a$$ Canadian pollie will propose cutting the CSC program in half (or worse) and propose a new tier 2 frigate. I find it hard to believe that such a solution would be any faster or significantly less expensive when delay and inflation are factored in. Getting the first block of Hunters built should be the priority while at the same time a few foreign builds could ordered and a new block design for Hunter started.
Certainly a fair question.
We'll know next year hopefully when a ship and it's timetable are chosen.
Then in another ten years with the benefit of hindsight we'll know the correct answer.

In some way we have the benefit of hindsight with former builds and their timetables, hence the active banter and scepticism re this subject.
Ideally we would have made different decisions over the past ten years and would not be in this ridiculous position.

I wonder if we had done so and we were now already replacing ANZACs with Hobart sized ships with Hunters on the horizon if we would bother with a tier two vessel?

I can see some benefits for a tier two concept.
Swapout a Hunter for three smaller ships.

Still not sure as to the driver of this structure.

This need to grow the fleet with a mix of high / low end vessels.
Or the predicament of apathy and the requresite panic to solve out fleet capability and vessel numbers ASAP.

Thoughts

Cheers S
 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
Well, I am.
My personal lean is towards MEKO A-200 simply because it's the most export oriented design and therefore probably the most likely built with foreign modifications in mind. Not to mention the prospect of ships where the exhaust isn't constantly turning the radars black thanks to it all being on or below the waterline.
I agree for more or less the same reason. Basically an updated ANZAC. Just get the things in the water ASAP. Perhaps a variation of the plan would the A-200 for the first batch and then look at developing the A-210 for the later ships.
 

Reptilia

Active Member
MEKO A200 probably the favourite from the 5 designs on the list.

Questions I have.
Will NZ join the program?
Can it be fitted with 32 cell MK41 VLS?
Can it be fitted with 4x quad launchers for NSM?
Can the Mast on the Anzac be transferred over to the A200?
Can it be fitted with future DEW?
With the added weight, how much will it reduce Range/Endurance/Speed?
Are the crew requirements really 120-140 or is it alot more?
Will the first 3 be built in a Luerssen yard with TKMS so that we don’t throw away more money?
How long will an Australian build take for the first and what would be the drumbeat?
 
Top