Thursday, May 31, 2018

Three Days of the FREMM

Regulars here know I've been on Team-FREMM for years and have been as happy as a bee to see it on our Top-5 list for FFG-(X) replacement.

Our friend David Larter at DefenseNews give you a great overview of the contender. Read the whole thing, but here are the juicy bits;
The Fincantieri-built warship is a contender for the U.S. Navy’s next-generation frigate, the FFG(X), and the Alpino is on this side of the Atlantic giving the service a look at what the hull can do.

The Alpino is one of 10 FREMM destined to make up a significant portion of the Italian Navy’s surface fleet – four ASW versions like Alpino and six general purpose FREMM that replaces the variable-depth sonar array with a rigid-hull inflatable boat.

Defense News spent three days on board Alpino. Here is everything you need to know about FREMM.

Crucial Details

Length: 167 meters (547 feet, just 20 feet shorter than a Ticonderoga-class cruiser)

Width: 16 meters (52 feet)

Displacement: 6,500 tons

Top speed: 27 knots

Range: 6,000 nautical miles. During normal operations – not zipping around at 25 knots – you can get about two percent fuel consumption per day.

Propulsion: A combined diesel and gas system system of four diesel generators providing power to two electric motors that turn the twin shafts for up to 15 knots. Above 15 knots there is a single LM2500 gas turbine forward of the combining gear. You need two generators to run the screws or just the LM2500. All the main components can be switched out without cutting a hole in the ship.

The ship also has an Auxiliary Propulsion Unit that can spin 360-degress, has a top speed of seven kts, and can be used to do some nifty maneuvers. Getting underway from Norfolk, the Alpino pulled away from the pier without tugs, which is a breeze with the APU.

Power capacity: Four 2,1-megawatt diesel generators

Crew size: 167, but it can hold accommodate up to 200.


Missions: Primary mission is anti-submarine warfare. Capable of point-defense anti-air warfare, electronic warfare, anti-surface warfare and special operation insertion.

Design: The ship is largely enclosed with plenty of angles to reduce the radar cross-section.

Armaments: Two Oto-Breda 76mm Guns; 16-cell vertical launch; two three-tube torpedo launchers positioned both port and starboard; two Oto-Breda 25mm machine guns; two NH-90 helicopters.

Sensors: Primary sensors are the THALES variable-depth sonar, known as the CAPTAS-4, a towed array sonar and a hull-mounted sonar. The VDS deploys from a pneumatically controlled door and ramp system that in the general purpose FREMM is used for a 13-meter RHIB for special operations forces.

The ship is also equipped with an air search radar, surface search radar, an electronic warfare system, and commercial radars. The helo is strapped with FLIR, a surface-search radar, a dipping sonar, and Link 11.

Payloads: MU90 Torpedoes; Aster surface-to-air missiles; Teseo surface-to-surface missile; Milas anti-ship missile and anti-submarine missile, and Marte missile on the helo.
Of note, you can also upgun, converting the forward 76mm to a 5" mount.

The following are below the fold, but one could argue the most important things the ship brings;
The damage control system is highly sophisticated.

The ship is equipped with an incredible camera system that exists almost everywhere except the living spaces and spaces like central control that are constantly manned. If fire or flooding is detected in any space, a live video feed will automatically pull up on the screen of the damage control system monitors.

Fire boundaries on the main deck can be set automatically from central control with the flip of a switch, which releases the magnetized door stops, and the damage control officer can see when anyone breaks fire boundaries (he will let you know).

The primary fire system is highly pressurized water sprinkler system that sprays atomized demineralized water that decouples the fire from its fuel source. About a gallon of water is sufficient to handle most spaces, including main-space fires and the demineralized water protects electronics.
As bridge watchkeeping is in the news;
The bridge is state-of-the-art but in a way that makes your job easier, not in the way that saves people by lumping too many functions in one watchstander.
The visuals on the bridge are fantastic, with 180-degrees plus visible without stepping outside on the bridge wings.
Living conditions? Of course;
The crew lives in staterooms, the largest of which are two six-person staterooms for (of course) the Marines and air detachment. Most are four-person staterooms. One-person staterooms are for the embarked admiral, the captain, the executive officer, and the department heads. The rest of the officers are in two and four-person staterooms. The beds are the same throughout the ship. In the two-person staterooms the racks the fold out from the wall, with the bottom rack folding out into a couch. In the four-person staterooms the racks are fixed. Each stateroom has an identical private bathroom, officer and enlisted.
Nothing is perfect - but it is workable;
There are a couple of things on this version of the FREMM that would make the U.S. Navy uncomfortable in terms of design.

FREMM has only a single LM2500 and the redundancy-obsessed NAVSEA would likely want two. The AEGIS version of the FREMM being pitched by Finacantieri has two independent propulsion systems, one for each shaft, instead of two motors and one LM2500.
Here is the best thing about the FREMM; it is underway. The kinks are worked out. It does not have the original sins of either LCS class. It's not a mini-Burke. 

A side issue, but a real one, is that we are asking our allies to adopt the F-35. We should return the favor and let them know that, yes, we are mature enough to buy someone else's design if it is this good.

Time to cut steel.

No comments: