27 Juni 2011

Philippines Looks to US for New OPV Design

27 Juni 2011

PN warships (photo : Charles Keng)

The Philippine Navy is investigating the possible procurement of one or more helicopter-capable offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) built in-country to a foreign design.

A request for information was issued to potential vendors by US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in May, with a view to progressing the project as a Foreign Military Sales case.

A key requirement, according to the NAVSEA solicitation, is that the OPV "must be new construction but derived from a proven hull design". The specification includes a deep-V monohull built in steel to American Bureau of Shipbuilding classification standards with an overall length of 80-88 m, beam of 10.5-11.55 m and full load displacement of 1,000-1,100 tons.

The ship's complement will be 75 persons (including a flag officer). With an anticipated service life of 30 years, the OPV is expected to operate in conditions up to Sea State 6 and survive in Sea State 7.

Two main diesel engines with fixed-pitch propellers will permit a minimum cruising speed of 14 kt and a maximum continuous speed at full load displacement of not less than 20 kt. Minimum range is 3,500 n miles at cruising speed. A 300 kVA bow thruster is also specified.

Armament will include a 76 mm Oto Melara Super Rapid gun, a stabilised 25 mm gun and two 0.5-inch machine guns. The fire-control system will include radar and electro-optical components, with targeting data obtained from a 3-D surface/air search radar with IFF capability. A passive electronic support measures system will detect radar, laser, infrared warning devices and communications signals.

Margins of space and weight are required for the possible addition of surface-to-air missile, surface-to-surface missile, active electronic warfare and towed array sonar systems, suggesting that the navy wants to 'future-proof' the OPV for possible upgrade to multirole surface combatant.

The communications and navigation suite will include two 255 kW navigation radars (one X-band and one S-band), a satellite communications phone system, a navigational telex and an electronic chart display and information system.

The flight deck will be able to support a 7-ton helicopter for operations during day and night. A hangar does not appear to be a requirement, although a control room and facilities for refuelling and basic maintenance are expected. A stern ramp for two 11-m rigid-hull inflatable boats is also specified, along with a 2-ton deck crane.

The Philippine Navy envisages using the OPV(s) for fleet-marine operations, naval gunfire support tasks, other support for joint operations with the Philippines' army and air force, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

The navy is already acquiring several Hamilton-class high enurance cutters from the US Coast Guard; the first of these was formally handed over on 13 May as BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (15).

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