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Future Solid Support Ship

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Future Solid Support Ship

Postby shark bait » 21 May 2015, 10:13

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As part of the military afloat reach and sustainability program (MARS) there is a requirement to replace the royal fleet auxiliary replenishment at sea (RAS) fleet. Studies have shown for a large navy, separating the fuel and solid supply ships its the most efficient method, rather than the mixed approach seen in the past. The first part of the program is the Tide Class Tanker, which are under construction now. The second part of the program is the solid support ship which will be separate to the tanker, under a different class name (although currently unnamed).

The Solid Support Ship will be vitally important to the navy, particularly the carriers which will require a purpose built system to fill its big logistical footprint in the most efficient way possible. I think we can expect some more news in this years SDSR and hopefully the program can start once the tide class are built. I think the tide class seems to be coming along remarkably well so it would seem reasonable that the Solid Support Ship will follow a similar program.

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The image above is from a BMT study into the optimal layout. Things to note are the large vehicle deck, steel beach, and large hanger. This design is for mixed use but its easy to see how the fuel cargo tanks can be replaced.

as always Gabriele has some great information on the project: http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/thinking-about-mars-solid-support-ship.html
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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby The Armchair Soldier » 21 May 2015, 10:56

We already have a thread for the new tankers, mate. :P

viewtopic.php?f=15&t=24

Would you like me to merge your post into it?

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby GibMariner » 21 May 2015, 11:28

I think it's a good idea to have a separate thread for the MARS tankers (Tide-class) and this one for the (hopefully) future MARS Solid State Ship (or whatever the project name is now, if it even exists) as although they are similar and under the same MARS family of ships, they are different classes and capabilities altogether.

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby shark bait » 21 May 2015, 11:31

GibMariner wrote:I think it's a good idea to have a separate thread for the MARS tankers (Tide-class) and this one for the (hopefully) future MARS Solid State Ship (or whatever the project name is now, if it even exists) as although they are similar and under the same MARS family of ships, they are different classes and capabilities altogether.


That was my thoughts. Tide class is already happening. Solid support is still at the speculation stage.
I'll try and make it clearer this will be a different class to the new tankers
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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 21 May 2015, 11:45

Yep, two different things... especially as it looks like the RAS on the Tides will be of the old kind and the heavy (up from 2 to 5 te) will only come onstream with the solid support ships (despite being there on land already, for training).

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby The Armchair Soldier » 21 May 2015, 11:54

Yeah, fair points, guys. I'll leave this thread here. ;)

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby shark bait » 21 May 2015, 12:58

ArmChairCivvy wrote:Yep, two different things... especially as it looks like the RAS on the Tides will be of the old kind and the heavy (up from 2 to 5 te) will only come onstream with the solid support ships (despite being there on land already, for training).


yep system fully developed, tested, and ready to go. just needs a floaty thing to put it on.

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Navy News wrote:But beyond simply building a replacement, engineering giants Rolls-Royce who are overseeing the new complex are taking resupply to the next level, testing the ability of future ships to transfer not two tonnes of supplies – equivalent to a pallet of around 20 rounds for a 4.5in main gun – on a cable between two vessels, but five tonnes.

No Navy in the world possesses such an ability at present.

The aim of the new complex is to transfer 25 five-tonne loads every hour for five hours across a 55-metre (180ft) gap separating two – that’s one pallet every two minutes and 24 seconds, or 625 tonnes of stores in all. Even with fully-honed teams on both ships, the best you could hope for presently would be 200-250 tonnes.
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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby RichardIC » 21 May 2015, 18:36

Honestly, this is really beginning to bother me.

The silence on MARS SS has been deafening. And Fort Vic's latest refit allegedly extended her service life out to 2035.

I honestly expect her to be carrier consort for at least a decade. And she's not fitted with the new heavy RAS gear.

If SDSR does give the green light to MARS SS it almost seems a no-brainer for the hull and basic fit-out to go to SK. But they'll be hugely more complex vessels than the tankers. I've posted previously on Gabrielle's blog whether the facilities currently being used at Rosyth for the QEs couldn't play a part in the fitting out the stores handling facilities, which will presumably be closely related to the HMWHS on the carriers.

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby shark bait » 22 May 2015, 00:13

Your right, there has not been much news for years on the topic, and considering how important it will be (particularly to the carriers) there has been little chatter in the forums too.

I could totally advocate your stance, defiantly build in Korea and fit out in the UK. It will be far more affordable, and probably be on time and on budget so we actually get the numbers needed. I'm also not sure it will be hugely more complex than the tankers, it will be slightly more complex but there will be some similarities between it and vehicle transporters which are built commercially.

I suppose it really depends how ambitions they want to be with the design. Will it be just a cargo ship or will it be much more the multi purpose sea base concept. I personally hope for the latter.
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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby marktigger » 22 May 2015, 00:59

the design looks like a revamp of Fort Vicky why was her sister scrapped?
the navy should have had more of them.

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby shark bait » 22 May 2015, 11:18

marktigger wrote:the design looks like a revamp of Fort Vicky why was her sister scrapped?
the navy should have had more of them.


Fort Victoria carries fuel and solid store's, something we're moving away from now. It is also single hulled. However it does quite good aviation capabilities because it was designed to act as a kind of sea base, which is a concept I hope they stick with and grow !
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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby marktigger » 22 May 2015, 11:23

find it interesting yet another ship from Harland and wolff remains in service when her sister built in a mainland yard goes to the breakers.

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby marktigger » 24 May 2015, 16:53

would the Dutch Karel Doorman be a good basis for the FSSS?

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby shark bait » 24 May 2015, 17:15

marktigger wrote:would the Dutch Karel Doorman be a good basis for the FSSS?


Yes. That would also be my suggestion.
Karel Doorman has capability for solids, fuel, aviation and roll on roll off. We wouldn't need the fuel capability so replace the tanks with additional solid stored. Add ,2 replenishment as sea heavy masts and I think we would have a great solid support ship that is multi roll capable.

Such a ship would be useful in many operations in my mind.
In a replenishment at sea role there is lots of space for stores, and without helicopters embarked there is even more room, plus deck space for containers.
The aviation capabilities are also great enough that the ship could act as a helicopter carrier and would be capable of sustained operations.
It could also act as a sea base, much like the bay class does at the moment, supporting smaller vessels such as MCM
Big stores and aviation capabilities has humanitarian aid written all over it, as well as options for a medical roll.
Lots of space for vehicles, a steel beach, some mexefloats and landing craft as well as the aviation facilities and you have a ship that can support amphibious operations as well.
Perhaps with some Merlin's embarked it could even be capable of sub hunting in the north sea (invincible class style) if we needed.

Pretty much its a well designed multi roll vessel that could be a good workhorse in support of the navy. It could also be built commercially in Korea , similarly to the tides, making it very affordable.
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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby marktigger » 24 May 2015, 17:31

if you add in another hull dedicated to PCRS role or put a modular PCRS it would give a common platform......to sensible an idea for the MoD and of course if BaE isn't the prime contractor a total non starter!

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby shark bait » 24 May 2015, 17:40

marktigger wrote:if you add in another hull dedicated to PCRS role or put a modular PCRS it would give a common platform......to sensible an idea for the MoD and of course if BaE isn't the prime contractor a total non starter!


Better yet make it a containerised facility that could be swaped between hulls maintaining flexibility.

Or fund a dedicated hospital ship out of the foreign aid budget...
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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby marktigger » 24 May 2015, 17:44

to many legalities with hospital ships and given most anti ship missiles can't distinguish between a hospital ship and a big target. the PCRS allows the ship to be inside the ADA and to have some defensive capability.
by Modular I mean containerised when not installed could be used for training at strensall

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby shark bait » 24 May 2015, 23:24

apologies, I didn't see the modular part of you previous comment.
That would defiantly be the correct way to go in my opinion, maximise the flexibility and reduce costs.
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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby shark bait » 24 May 2015, 23:56

Image
Possible ship layout ?
The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea so had to make something
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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby Opinion3 » 25 May 2015, 00:10

One of the important features of the MARS SSS needs to be the ability to venture closer to the coast (threats) than the Aircraft Carriers. I am not particularly happy with the theory that the QE Class offers a suitable replacement to Ocean. It made absolute sense for the carriers to be 'capable of' acting as a significant helicopter platform but combining the roles within the same platform at the same time does not.

What the MARS SSS offers in a sea basing role is not just a platform to put more in harms way, and a means to off load by a number of different means both equipment and manpower, it also offers a dedicated workshop role for the equipment and helicopters. Given the numerous means to offload and onload people and equipment a significant PCRS role makes absolute sense.

Sadly I feel the T26 needs to be the full focus, we just seem unable to sell our maritime skills abroad, with such low volumes we can only afford to run one program at a time. Right now that is the T26, or two if we include the subs.

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby marktigger » 25 May 2015, 11:57

Opinion3 wrote:
Sadly I feel the T26 needs to be the full focus, we just seem unable to sell our maritime skills abroad, with such low volumes we can only afford to run one program at a time. Right now that is the T26, or two if we include the subs.


I would agree and would suggest like we have done with the Tide class MARS and the Dutch did with Karel Doorman build the ship overseas and fit them out in the UK. Go for existing designs with minimal modifications.

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby Opinion3 » 25 May 2015, 17:16

@Mark

Honestly I think we have too much debt and need to get the T26s into the water. Indeed the carriers and their full kit out (F35s, AEW, ASW, even folding Chinook blades) I would wish to see prioritised. I can understand why this particular project is low profile. I hope the MARS SSS is everything I want it to be, but I suspect that unless there are the funds to build a big ship, with several in the class, the result might be very disappointing.

They are ridiculously expensive but I see the San Antonio class as the model not the dutch Karel Doorman. Something fighty and extremely useful. Stores, workshops, hangars and numerous means to off and on load supplies, stores, people and casualties. I believe three could be built for something more than £1bn but not too far North.

It interesting because right now I believe Russia and poor EU leadership to be our biggest threats. Russia is clearly not out to threaten us directly, but it is going to push us all the way. Time and time again, we are in danger of not knowing what to do, what we can do and how best to respond. Whilst the Cold War was difficult, we did at least know our capabilities and spent to ensure that they were substantial. Not having sub-hunters and reducing the first tier Naval fleet is dangerous.

At the end of the 1980s, the Royal Navy had two aircraft carriers, seven amphibious ships, 13 destroyers and 35 frigates. Today, the like-for-like comparison sees Britain carrierless - and left reliant on still on helicopter carriers for some years to come - with just 18 active major surface combatants, comprising of five destroyers and 13 frigates. The Ukrainian situation was badly handled by the EU, and I fear that Greece is an even bigger danger. The EU is going to spend the next few years squabbling (to put right the wrongs in it's powers, objectives and accountability) and any weakness WILL be noted by Putin. The mood in Russia is different too, young people are more inclined to join Nashi than an anti-government rally.

Therefore when these ships come having missile cells and some serious capabilities might actually make sense. A proper modular naval ship.

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 25 May 2015, 18:07

Opinion3 wrote:One of the important features of the MARS SSS needs to be the ability to venture closer to the coast (threats) than the Aircraft Carriers. I am not particularly happy with the theory that the QE Class offers a suitable replacement to Ocean. It made absolute sense for the carriers to be 'capable of' acting as a significant helicopter platform but combining the roles within the same platform at the same time does not.

What the MARS SSS offers in a sea basing role is not just a platform to put more in harms way, and a means to off load by a number of different means both equipment and manpower, it also offers a dedicated workshop role for the equipment and helicopters.


I would think that a QE (for that one, we probably need two) is that base for Chinooks (with their range & speed), and when actually operating one for extended periods needs an SSS (two? RASsing every 7 days can't go on ad infinitum without fetching some more stuff in-between), we should not forget the aviation aspect. But it is not the primary driver, now that so many RN vessels will be able to accommodate Chinooks (take off, landing & refuelling). And those Chinooks made available way OTH, with facilities to sustain them, too.

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby marktigger » 25 May 2015, 18:50

one option we should look at is extending RFA Fort victoria, the aussies have got babcock looking at double skining HMAS Success. The Fort Austin class are the last of the falklands war vessels as is Argus

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Re: Future Solid Support Ship

Postby Opinion3 » 25 May 2015, 19:39

@ACC

I am not entirely sure where the Chinooks could be maintained for anything more than 'light' maintenance. My hunch is that having the Chinooks on the QE class being maintained with the F35s and Merlins doesn't fit nicely with design of the QE. Having been on the QE and in the hangar and I am not suggesting it is small, it isn't, but unlike the USN we don't store our birds on the decks but below.

I suspect that a campaign of prolonged use of both the F35 and Chinooks being maintained on a QE would fairly quickly become problematic. This is the great thing about the sea basing it that not just the Helicopters could be maintained in a substantial workshop but the landcraft too. The QE will never be able to achieve the same results.

A MARS SSS need not be bells and whistles though. Empty lanes, decent workshops, a PCRS/hospital would add cost as would including some mk41s. I'd probably like to say to the Naval chiefs. Basic ship £300-400m plus £50m for bells and whistles.

Of course with only 48 F35s spread across two carriers my comments sharing hangars isn't going to be a big issue, but if we started talking 48 chinooks it would be.


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