VT Shipbuilding, part of VT Group, has launched a new range of designs tailored to the Royal Navyís Future Surface Combatant (FSC) requirement for flexible ships. The FSC programme will ultimately comprise a series of variants to replace the RNís Type 22 and Type 23 frigates as well as the existing MCM vessels and survey ships. The first of these variants, a 100m vessel, is seen as an ideal solution to the C3 element of the FSC programme that identifies the need for an eight-ship class of general purpose vessels for worldwide deployment to fulfill tasks including minehunting, survey work and patrol duties.
VT has utilised the hull of the Ocean Patrol Vessel (OPV) it is building for the Royal Navy of Oman to develop the FSC solution, although the ship has a larger equipment fit that increases displacement to just over 3,000 tonnes. VTís C3 design would have speeds in the region of 25 knots and would be diesel-powered, while there would be accommodation for up to 76. The ships would be built in steel but with provision for FRP composite in areas such as the masts. The ships would essentially be compartmentalised by having the assets of a patrol vessel forward, while aft the ship would be equipped for its MCM and/or survey role. In its patrol role, armament would include guns of 76mm or 30mm calibre and provision for surface-to-air missiles if required.
The FSC design would include the option for a flight deck to accommodate a helicopter up to Merlin size and weather protected working deck which would accommodate four 11 metre rigid inflatables or unmanned surface vessels. These could be deployed either by shipís crane or via a stern ramp that would include an integral launch and recovery system. Space is also available for two 20 ft ISO containers to carry additional MCM or survey assets. Additional assets may be transported on the flight deck and deployed by the shipís crane at the expense of the capacity to simultaneously carry out helicopter operations.