Corvette Week: Coming Nov. 24-30

November 24 to 30, CIMSEC will be hosting a “Corvette Week”

What kind of radar cross-section is that? Does it even HAVE satellite comms?
What kind of radar cross-section is that? Does it even HAVE satellite comms?

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The Corvette is a type designation little used by the US Navy, and there is not a lot of clarity in defining what constitutes a corvette. We will be examining the type, discussing what they are, their roles, advantages, and weaknesses.

We will also be talking a bit about OPVs since they are in many ways closely related.

CIMSEC members of widely varying backgrounds will provide a variety of views, including an international perspective.

Chuck Hill will be be considering the ship designation and the future of the type and will also introduce the Coast Guard’s new Offshore Patrol Cutter, “…the other LCS”

Przemyslaw Krajewski asks and answers “Corvette. What is it and why it exists?”

Alan Tweedie takes a “Second Look” at the LCS

Armando J. Heredia looks at the proposed Philippine frigate program and attempts to determine if it really a frigate.

Sven Ortmann will look at the air defense requirements for Corvettes.

If you would like to contribute, its not too late.

11 thoughts on “Corvette Week: Coming Nov. 24-30”

  1. Just a thought, but looking back to the era of sail, it is worth remembering that a frigate sent off on an independent mission (or cruise) was generally termed a ‘cruiser’, which later became the term used for large ships below capital size, with all sorts of weird and wonderful variations in the early steam age, particularly in the German-speaking navies – “Kovettenkreuzer”, Fregattenkreuzer” etc.

    The corvette of the sail era was generally smaller, although still large enough to self-deploy to distant colonies or stations. But the distinction seems to have lain in the frigate generally being able to undertake an independent ‘cruise’ in a distant theatre, also with enough boats (today boats, helicopters and unmanned systems) and large enough a crew to conduct useful independent operations. By contrast the corvette could deploy to somewhere distant, but really only if there was a base in the vicinity. In addition, ‘corvettes’ seem to have often been used as escorts (as in WW II) but also as protection vessels for fishing fleets.

    Moving to the present period, in SA we came up with the term ‘patrol corvette’ in the 1990s to describe a ship that had the size to allow operations along the outer edge of the EEZ (rough seas) and operations in the region (sufficient volume for fuel, stores, crew comfort, etc), all of which came to a ship of frigate size (about 120 m), but without a full-scale frigate-level sensor/weapons system, because we could not afford that. As it turned out the ships were then classified as FSGs even though they do lack some of what a real frigate would have.

    Please bear in mind that this comment is from an infanteer!

    1. Which is relative to particular naval forces. In the USN in the age of sail there really were no corvettes. USS John Adams was referred to as one occasionally, mostly because as frigates went she was a lightweight but she was bigger than a Sloop-of-War. But there were many Sloops and Schooners that deployed independently during the USN’s age of sail period, from USS Vincennes being the first to make a port call at Singapore, to Falmouth’s long cruises in the Pacific, to the sloops of the Africa squadron. Sometimes they were joined “in theater” by a frigate, but they rarely cruised in company. In the First Barbary, however, they did use tactical pairing. Part of the reason Bad Luck Bill Bainbridge ran Philadelphia aground was because he had sent Vixen (the “smallboy” he was paired with) off casing the rumor of a prize, so when that ketch made the run inshore the shallow draft Vixen wasn’t there to chase (would have just slipped over those 12 foot rocks) and instead he took Philly in close. But I digress.

  2. Would love to research and write an article on the topic – but am buried under paper as a member of the defence review and several other projects, as well as way behind in the help I promised colleagues busy writing books. Just wanted to drop a pebble and see where the ripples go.

    That said, perhaps one other point: What most people envisage as an OPV is too slow, lacks effective sensors and will not be able to defend itself any more than an armed trawler can. The sensor point was made, if I recall correctly, by the captain of the Dutch Navy’s Gerritsen when asked whether it was not embarrassing to be off Somalia in is $ 1 billion ship chasing little pirate skiffs: He told the interviewer that it was only the fact that he had mil-spec radar and optronics that enabled his ship to acquire and track those small craft in choppy seas – the typical semi-COTS sensors of many OPVs would not be able to do so. The height above water of the main radar was another factor.

    And perhaps one should also begin to think of ‘ocean patrol vessels’ in addition to what we today call an ‘offshore patrol vessels’ – ie a ship actually able to remain at sea far from base for extended periods in bad weather. Perhaps something halfway between the SAN’s original idea of the ‘patrol corvette’ and the classic OPV?

    1. Netherlands’ Holland class would certainly qualify as an Ocean Patrol Vessel–3,750 tons and great sensors, and so would the Coast Guard’s Bertholf Class (4,500 tons) with a 14,000 mile range (with segregated ballast).

  3. Corvette Week’s first post will kick-off Monday at 14:00 (2:00 PM) Eastern, immediately following the Sea Control Podcast when Matt and Grant will interview ADM Harvey about sequestration, surface combatants, carriers, china, air-sea battle, and more!

  4. Chuck Hill is absolutely correct, both vessels could most accurately be classified as ocean patrol vessels, as could some of the larger Japanese types.

    Allow me to throw out a wild one: A naval friend and I (remember that I am an infanteer, and so the amateur here) recently had a discussion around a version of Singapore’s Endurance LST in the role of a long-endurance littoral patrol vessel (I am tempted to call it a littoral cruiser): Weld shut the bow doors and throw away the ramp, and you have a nice large platform with plenty of volume, a two-spot flight deck, hanger for two medium helos, a well deck for large patrol craft and/or landing craft (say two of each), and the vehicle deck for mission containers, UAVs, light vehicles, fast iterceptors and additional accommodation or hospital facilities if needed. A bit lake a larger, cheaper LCS. Go back to what the original ‘frigates’ did on their ‘cruizes’ – lots of boat work for one. Summing up, a self-administering, self-maintaining ship large enough to go far from home and stay there for a while, but with the ability to operate in the littoral using its UAVs, USVs, helicpters and assorted small craft from the well deck.

    Definitely not a corvette or OPV of the traditional kind.

    1. I have long been interested in the RSN Endeavour class because they are really smaller LPDs and much more affordable. I like the large helo deck and multiple davtis for smaller landing craft. I do not think one would gain much closing the bow doors (speaking as a Newport class LST sailor). Very capable ships…. certainly would provide presence if that was your intention? Larger ships need more support POL/provisions the further one moves away from homeport.
      But what would you gain? More costly than an OPV to buy and operate plus larger crew.

  5. Sorry, been so buried under paper, I am not sure if I responded to leesea. The gain would lie in having a single ship that is de facto a small integrated joint task group. That is something no other ship of equivalent size could do – except perhaps a suitably modified cargo vessel, bar the well deck that it would lack. So you can deploy one vessel that between it, its fact patrol craft, landing craft, helicopters and UAVs can cover a very considerable stretch of coast for reconnaissance, surveillance and limited action against smugglers and the like. And it can stay out there for and extended time, even quite far from its base, and even longer if replenished on station, because it has the volume for decent accommodation, workshops, et al.

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