26/09/2007Dutch Release Details of Their New OPVs
The new ocean-capable patrol vessels expected to be ordered by the Netherlands shortly will be 102.4 meters (336 ft.) long and will have a displacement of 3,750 tons, senior officials involved in the program disclosed today at the IQPC-organized OPV Conference in Rotterdam.
The four ships are to be procured at a projected cost of 448 million euros ($627 million at the current exchange rate). However, actual cost is turning out to be "several million" above that amount because of developments outside the control of the program, such as the rising cost of raw materials such as steel and the increased cost of labor, a senior program official tells Ares.The new Dutch OPVs will have a length of 102.4 meters (336 ft.), a beam (at G-Deck) of 16 meters and (at the waterline) of 15.25 meters, and a draft of 4.55 meters. Conn, CIC and damage control will all be integrated on the same deck (at bridge level). Image: RNLN
As Ares reported on 9/12/2007 ("DSEi - Dutch OPV order could be signed in November") the two contracts involved (one for shipyard Schelde Naval Shipbuilding; the other for combat systems supplier Thales) may become official November 8 -- but officials warn that this depends on the political approval process which involves Parliament.
"It may be that the November 8 date is a little bit optimistic," Ares heard today.
Previously undisclosed performance figures for the new class of OPVs were presented at the conference by the senior naval architect, Prof. J.J. Hopman who recently joined Delft University of Technology after a long-standing career with the defense ministry's naval shipbuilding division.The new Dutch OPVs will be powered by a diesel-electric hybrid propuslion plant. Image: RNLN
The ships themselves will not be particularly fast: 22 kts powered by a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion plant that provides 2 x 5.4 MW of power for high speed on diesel and 2 x 0.4 MW for slow speed and loitering on electric drive.
They will, however, be equipped with two high-speed (40+ kts) seaworthy 40-ft. interceptor craft that can be launched and recovered in Sea State 5 (see separate post for some more details).
An NFH90 naval helicopter will also be part of the standard equipment, and this can also be launched in Sea State 5 (rough) sea conditions (provided the ship has selected am optimized heading and speed).The lead ship of the four new OPVs is planned to leave from Den Helder Naval Base for the Netherlands Antilles in mid-2011 to start its first Caribbean patrol. Image: RNLN
The crew of the heavily automated ships will number 50, while they can accommodate another 40 personnel for special missions. In addition, 100 evacuees can be taken on board and supported for up to three days, Prof Hopman says.
The armament will be dimensioned to deal with asymmetric threats posed by terrorists or organized criminals such as drugs traffickers, he says. However, he adds, "these are naval ships, but not warships" [in the sense that they could take on high-intensity warfare roles].
Weapons will include an Oto Melara 76-mm. medium-caliber gun, one lightweight (20-30-mm.) gun, two .50-cal machine guns and two non-lethal weapons (fire-fighting monitors).
The sensor suite will be as described in our previous post (see also the video that accompanied that) -- the integrated mast module housing the various new-generation sensors will have an overall weight of 52 tons and will be built up from standard shipbuilding steel by the navy's own shipyard at Den Helder.
When ready with all Thales-supplied sensors and communications systems installed and integrated, the complete mast module is to hosited and bolted on board the new ships.
The sensors and comms will be dimensioned to allow the ship to build up and maintain "excellent situational awareness" over a wide (140-naut.mi. radius) area and to be a node in command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) networks, Prof. Hopman says.
Because building will be done in parallel (two each at Schelde and at its sister shipbuilding company in Romania), the four new ships can be delivered over a comparatively short period of time: between late-2010 and late-2012.
The lead ship is to be delivered, shaken down and its crew fully-worked up for the unit to deploy the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean by mid-2011, to arrive in time for the hurricane season to be on stand by for relief operations in the region when required, Commander Jeroen de Jonge (RNLN) of the Defense Staff Requirement Division says.
The ships will be built according to commercial standards, but because of the possibility that pirates, drugs smugglers or terrorists may be encountered, the navy has decided to give them improved survivability features: some ballistic protection, a gas citadel, and blast resistant bulkheads to reduce the damage in case of an on-board explosion, says Prof. Hopman.
For night operations, the ships will be capable of using "deceptive lighting," says the professor. "The OPVs will be permanently equipped with a lot of extra lights to simulate being another type of ship, like a fishing vessel for example," he tells today's IQPC conference.
In case things go badly wrong (either on board or in a crisis ashore), the OPVs will have "extended medical facilities". Other features include the ability to load two 20-ft. containers (a 10-ton crane is standard fit).
For a more in-depth description of the Netherlands OPV program and new developments in OPV programs elsewhere, see the November issue of Defense Technology International (DTI) which will feature an article devoted to the topic.