The focused defence structure has a requirement for four new ships for the Coastguard fleet: two offshore patrol vessels and two logistic support and fleet replenishment vessels. This will create a fleet with one expeditionary ship (Canterbury), two logistic ships, two northern OPVs and two southern OPVs or seven ships. Because they are coastguard ships they are not intended for combat with submarines, aircraft or other ships. This means that they can largely be built to a civilian specification.
Building ships cheaply
Wasting vast amounts on money on ships is quite easy to do. The Americans do it, the British do it, and the Canadians do it too.
The first way to waste lots of money is build big ships. Small ships cost less. Building a lot of small ships is cheaper and easier than building one big one. The yards learn by doing. The more they do the more they learn. Learning to build a nuclear carrier or submarine is hard. A small boat is much cheaper.
The second way to waste money on ships is poor contract management. Give a supplier a way to grab you by the short and curlies and they will. Modular construction, competitive bids for chunks of work that matter using standardised components, penalties and liquidated damages keep the purchaser in charge and the contract in hand.
Experience matters. The cheapest ships in the world are built by the cheapest shipyards: for example Romanian and Korean shipyards, who build ships a lot. The Norwegians were so impressed by Romanian shipyards they bought them out. The most expensive are built by national shipyards whose bosses have lunch with the Minister who can use layoffs as a political weapon.
The next way to make ships expensive is to depart from keep it simple. Keep the basic design simple but incorporate modular extras. Make sure the extras are standard commercial units that don't compromise the ship if they are left off.
The final, and perhaps most obvious way to to pay a fortune for a ship is to cram it full of optional equipment which you never use. Much of the cost of the ANZAC frigates was the software for the battle management system. Naval ships need expensive extras but coastguard ships that won't face anything much more dangerous than a pirate in a speedboat with an RPG-7 simply don't.
Remember the military will gold plate everything until it breaks your bank. What they don't count is the lives lost because that money was not available to civilian agencies every year.
The logistic ships are multi mission ships able to operate at long range from home bases. They are not designed for combat but are capable of managing smugglers, pirates and civilian vessels.
One option is this COTS (Commercial off the shelf) Logistic Support Vessel Supporter 19000 design from Damen Schelde Naval Ship Building Design.
Why do we need this? The ANZAC frigates have served as our floating diplomacy posts since they were first commissioned. They are better at combat than peace and have therefore proven hugely expensive in a peaceful environment. The LSV offers the ability to provide a useful contribution for allied fleets who always need logistic support, are useful platforms for anti-piracy or smuggling operations, and are simultaneously able to provide considerable assistance in disasters in the Pacific, or (if needed) to land considerable resources on remote islands. The ships are much cheaper to build and operate than war ships and provide a completely flexible operational platform.
Weapons: up to 4 remote MG and 2 SAM.
Diesel (F76) fuel: 4,500T
Avgas (F44) fuel: 425T
Hangars: 2 medium helicopters
Davit crane: 4 landing craft or high speed interceptors
Roll-on Roll Off lane meters: 500 (48 MAN HX trucks)
Range: 10,000nm @ 16 knots
Speed: 20 knots max
Endurance: 30 days +
The medical complex consists of: triage room, trauma room, operating room, intensive care, high and low dependency ward, dentist, consulting room etc.
Missions for this design:
Estimated Commissioning Costs: $325m per ship. Total cost $650m
Anti Pollution Polar EPV
The selected polar Environmental Patrol Vessel design is based on the Norwegian Coastguard vessel KV Svalbard, which at 6300 tonnes is considerably larger than the 2,000 tonne RNZN OPVs Otago and Wellington who would continue to operate in the Northern Pacific or even the 3,600 tonne ANZAC frigates.The design has been copied (very badly) by Canada who have made all the mistakes possible in developing a ship. These ships would be build in Norway by the people who built the Svalbard. The KV Svalbard is a deep polar ocean ship designed for environmental protection but with the capability to deal with some military threats as well with two medium helicopters and a 57mm autocannon for dealing with sea, air and missile threats. It is capable of limited ice breaking rescue operations, able to tow vessels of up up to 100,000 tonnes. It has extensive fire fighting capabilities as well as oil spill mitigation systems.
Only one change to the original design is proposed and that is to standardise ship based artillery on the Leonardo/Finmeccanica (OTO Melara) 76mm rapid fire gun instead of the 57mm Bofors.
Why do we need this? The OPVs Wellington and Otago are Ice Class C vessels who cannot operate in the deep southern ocean in winter. Conflict in the southern ocean with large toothfish factory vessels requires a ship that deploy non lethal force including firefighting systems and shoving power. Rescues in the ice require both ice breaking, towing and environmental containment of oil leaks. The Svalbard is a ship built for very cold conditions where environmental risk from oil pollution is considerable. New Zealand's stewardship of the Ross Sea region would be greatly enhanced by the capability to provide environmental protection operations throughout the year.
Mass 6375 tonnes
Range: 6,800 nm
Endurance 30 days
Speed 18 knots, 13 knots channel ice
Towing capability: 100,000 tonnes
Operational range based on a 2,200 nm radius allowing for deployment, patrol and return inside the 6,800nm range without refueling at sea.
This map completely overlaps New Zealand's southern SAR and environmental protection responsibility.
Estimated Commissioning costs: $300m per ship. Total cost $600m.
Based on Lomocean's 44m Atlas Support Vessel although the vessel could stretched to 55m to accommodate side loaded sea containers similar to the Seacor Cheetah crew boat. US Navy research has found trimarans offer more stable and better seakeeping than monohulls. The 55m Cheetah is powered by Hamilton jet engines and can achieve dash speeds of up to 40 knots.
The features of the design would be:
Why do we need this? The patrol boats spread the EEZ monitoring and SAR resource wider, able to operate over all our fisheries, out of the Northern Pacific islands (e.g Tokelau or the Cooks) or with the support of the Logistic Support Vessels. They are not intended for the southern ocean. They are true multi mission craft able to police fisheries, smuggling, and piracy, as well as provide dive support. In disaster scenarios the patrol boats can quickly deliver aid to remote communities which are usually left behind in the rush to get aid to population centres which have airports.
In the event of hostilities small fast boats are scary to fleets. They are extremely fast. They can hide, they can be armed with anti shipping missiles, they can be armed with anti aircraft missiles and they can hound submarines. Swarms always win over big large targets.
Estimated unit cost $40m per unit.
The sale of the two ANZAC frigates is expected to recoup $500m. The estimated cost of replacing two warships with two logistics vessels and two Polar EPVs is $1,200m. That's four ships instead of two for $700m. Bargain!
Obviously there will be considerable operational cost savings as well.