PV 03 Perak Awaiting Commissioning
While we await the actual status of PV Perak and PV Terengganu and PV Selangor, the former pair supposed to be commissioned while the latter to be launched last month, let us have a look at some of the less contemporary designs that has appeared in the market since the project started. Although the approved second batch is unlikely to stray far from the Meko A100 design of the first batch of six, it would still be a good idea to have a look at the designs and specifications other navies have for their patrol vessels. This is because from the beginning of the RMN patrol vessel program, criticism of the fitted for but not with(FFNW) concept has loudly lingered in the many defence forums, with many pundits saying the Kedah class patrol vessels should be more heavily armed and speedier commensurate with the project cost announced. All this are said without realizing that in general even for the newer designs, a modern patrol vessel is not built to naval shipbuilding standards as a cost saving measure, is usually only sufficiently armed for its general patrol missions, modular so that it can be support simple integration of different combat systems that is actually another way to say FFNW and the hull form optimized for exceptional sea keeping even in high seas, essential for long periods of patrol at sea as offered by their long endurance and range. The incorporation of a level of stealth features in order to reduce radar cross section to a minimum although not essential is a welcome element in the newer patrol vessel design.
VT's OPV For Trinidad And Tobago
UK based VT Shipbuilding holds a strong position as a leading supplier of offshore patrol vessel with a family of OPV in service or in build that extend from basic patrol vessels to highly sophisticated designs. Beginning with Royal Navy River class fishery protection vessels as a basic design, the Batch 2 Falkland Islands patrol vessel improved on the earlier design with additional helicopter capability although only armed with a 30mm gun. Meanwhile their design for Trinidad and Tobago is a new design closely based on their existing portfolio model that has a speed of 25 knots and overall length of 90.5 metres. Long range maritime patrol is enabled by 35 days endurance and a range of 5000 miles at 12 knots. This allows the ships to poise at sea and when appropriate, close an area of interest to project force, including by helicopter. At the higher end of the VT series is the stealthy Ocean Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy of Oman, 99 metres long and fitted with a comprehensive combat system beyond the normal expected levels expected in an OPV including medium calibre guns, SSM and Shorads supported by a comprehensive weapons management system, organic helicopter capability in a hangar propelled at a speed of more than 25 knots by two diesel engines.
VT's Khareef Class OPV For Oman
Fr. Fassmer GmbH meanwhile has found success in South America with two Fassmer OPV 80 design built for the Chilean Navy while Argentina plans to build five and the Colombian Navy one. With a length of 80 metres and speed of 21 knots, the vessel has a range of 12,000 nautical miles at a speed of 12 knots. Armed with a 40/70mm gun, the deck layout incorporates a helicopter launch platform, crane, two RHIBs, container storage and rescue zone. More recently, Fassmer has also introduced a larger OPV design, the Fassmer OPV 90, which at 92 metres is offered at a higher maximum speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles at a higher cruising speed of 14 knots and suitable for the integration of a variety of military payloads and enhanced helicopter capabilities.
Chile's OPV Piloto Pardo From Fassmer
Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding is building four Patrol Vessels for the Royal Netherlands Navy that measures 108 meter in length with a total displacement is 3750 tonnes. The ship's speed is approximately 22 knots. To optimize the seakeeping behaviour of the vessel the hull has been stretched, and the bridge and superstructure are located relatively aftwards. The patrol vessel offer hangar space and landing facilities for one NH-90 helicopter or equivalent types. Two RHIBs will be embarked, one launched and recovered via a slipway in the stern, the other from a boat davit on the port side. The Patrol Vessels will be the first vessels of the Royal Netherlands Navy equipped with an integrated mast module which integrates practically all RF systems, radars as well as communication and optical sensors on board of the ship in one housing that allows detection and tracking of high- and low-altitude air targets, fast boats, periscopes, mines and even swimmers. Their armament will consist of one 76 mm Oto-Melara gun, one rapid-fire gun and two Hitrole machine guns. The weapons will all have full remote control.
Damen Schelde's Holland Class OPVs
Although not mentioned when their specifications were discussed above, these patrol vessels all share the fact that they were conceived as flexible, long endurance vessels equipped to perform a wide range of constabulary tasks with a primary focus on presence missions and maritime security tasks in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of each navy’s nation. Thus armaments can be limited to medium and small calibre guns to fulfil self defence and constabulary requirements. By putting endurance and sea keeping ahead of speed, the patrol vessels will instead use their helicopters and embarked RHIBs to intercept and prosecute targets at range. The helicopter will be able to identify and track targets significantly beyond the ship borne sensor horizon, while the high speed RHIB can be used for boarding operations. Thus even though these ships may by design look like under-armed corvettes, their specifications actually meet their mission design requirements.
And specifically for our Kedah class patrol vessels and the future improved Batch 2, the FFNW concept actually allows them to be upgraded to actual corvette capabilities when the need actually arises, and the modular concept will allow sufficient time for the additional combat systems to be installed when the war clouds are gathering. So remember that even though the Kedah class may look like corvettes and you may wish that they are armed like corvettes or even light frigates, the fact remains that they are sufficiently equipped to carry out their primary role as patrol vessels, with the bonus that ultimately they can be the corvettes that you are dreaming of.