Frigate competition wide open: Navy specs reveal major design shift By: David B. Larter, July 10, 2017 (Photo Credit: Austal USA)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy is looking for inputs from industry on a new multimission guided-missile frigate adapted from existing ship designs, a major departure from its modular littoral combat ship, according to a request for information released Monday.

The RFI lays out a ship that opens the door to almost any existing design that can be adapted to the Navy’s needs, which extends beyond just the two LCS hull forms being built by Lockheed Martin and Austal USA.

The service is looking for a ship with combat and mechanical systems that will fully integrate with a carrier strike group, hunt submarines and kill ships over the horizon. Labeling the ship the FFG(X), the ship will be expected to keep up with the full carrier strike group and be able to operate independently in high-end threat environments.

The Navy is looking to avoid “sticker shock,” said Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, the service’s director of surface warfare, said in a Monday telephone interview, and engage with ship builders about what trade-offs the Navy would have to make to get the most capability from the ship.

“This is an effort to get the design right up front,” Boxall said. “We’re looking to have a dialogue with industry to get the most capability for the best price.”

Boxall did not say how much the U.S. Navy is willing to spend but said the RFI was intended to draw out what the U.S. Navy could get for its shipbuilding dollar.

In order to get the ship to the fleet as fast as possible, the U.S. Navy wants builders to adapt from existing designs, the RFI said.
“A competition for FFG(X) is envisioned to consider existing parent designs for a Small Surface Combatant that can be modified to accommodate the specific capability requirements prescribed by the US Navy,” it reads.
The U.S. Navy wants a frigate that can keep up with the aircraft carrier — a nagging problem with the current classes of small surface combatants — and have sensors networked in with the rest of the fleet to expand the overall tactical picture available to the group.
“The FFG(X) will normally aggregate into strike groups and Large Surface Combatant led surface action groups but also possess the ability to robustly defend itself during conduct of independent operations while connected and contributing to the fleet tactical grid.”
The U.S. Navy would like for the ship to be able to:

  • Kill surface ships over the horizon
  • Detect enemy submarines
  • Defend convoy ships
  • Employ active and passive electronic warfare systems
  • Defend against swarming small boat attacks
The U.S. Navy is looking to limit the number of ground-breaking technologies that go into the ship, looking for engineering and combat systems that are already common in the fleet.

The U.S. Navy lists several capabilities, among the most important including:
  • A fixed, phased-array radar
  • An “AEGIS-derivative” combat system that uses a common source library
  • The ability to launch a single MH-60R Seahawk helicopter
  • Four canister launched over-the-horizon weapons
  • SeaRAM
  • MQ-8C Firescout
Other capabilities in “tier two” include various sonar equipment such as variable-depth and towed-array sonar, Cooperative Engagement Capability to be able to share target data with other ships and aircraft in the fleet, rigid-hull inflatable boats, Next Generation Surface Search Radar, and a MK 110 57mm gun and related systems.
The U.S. Navy wants the ship to be used for surface and anti-submarine warfare — traditional frigate roles — and to take on lower-level missions, such as security cooperation, that don’t require multibillion-dollar warships. It also must be hardened against electronic warfare attack.
The U.S. Navy is also particularly interested in having the frigate be a platform for deploying unmanned systems “to penetrate and dwell in contested environments, operating at greater risk to gain sensor and weapons advantages over the adversary.”
The frigate should be able to establish a complicated picture of a tactical environment with its on-board sensors, unmanned systems and embarked aircraft and beam that information back to the fleet through secure communications.

The U.S. Navy intends to award the contract for the first FFG(X) in 2020. It will buy one in 2020 and one in 2021, followed by two each year after that. The U.S. Navy’s requirement is for 52 small-surface combatants, the bulk of which will be LCS.

You can read the entire RFI here.

This story is developing. Check back later for more coverage, including a Q&A with Rear Adm. Boxall on the new design.

5 things to know about Richard Spencer, Navy secretary nominee

President Donald Trump unveiled his second nominee for secretary of the Navy late last week, and it was a name that had been rumored for months.

Richard V. Spencer, a finance executive with roots in military philanthropy, will go before the Senate for confirmation as the next civilian to oversee policy for the Navy and Marine Corps.


Here are five things to know about Spencer.

1. After college, he was a Marine Corps aviator from 1976 to 1981, serving with the Southern California-based 3rd Marine Air Wing and getting out as a captain.

2. In 2010, he was the architect of a plan to close military commissaries in the United States to save taxpayers an estimated $1 billion a year.

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At the time, Spencer was a member of the Defense Business Board, an appointed group that gives private-sector advice to the Pentagon about business practices.

3. Spencer has links to the top tiers of the Marine Corps and Navy through volunteer work on boards and philanthropy for veterans.

He is vice chairman of the nonprofit Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, which was the driving force behind building the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia. He has served on the executive panel that advises the chief of naval operations.

Spencer is also an adviser to the Washington think tank Center for a New American Security, which provided some high-level executives to the Obama administration.

Additionally, he is on the board of Honoring Our Veterans, a Wyoming-based program to help returning wounded vets.

4. He lives just outside of Yellowstone National Park in Wilson, Wyoming — a state not known for its naval bases.

5. When Spencer’s nomination was announced, a white nationalist with a similar name had a field day on Twitter.

Richard B. Spencer, co-editor of, tweeted: “I humbly accept dominion over the U.S. Navy.”

The question facing the real nominee is whether he will have to withdraw due to his financial ties butting up against Pentagon ethics rules — as the prior nominee, Philip Bilden, did back in February.

Trump is still trying to fill the Army secretary job, as well.

2017 Navy Ball TOP GOLF Tournament – May 25

Fee: $75 per player (includes 3 ½ hrs of golf, team tournament, Skilled-Shot competition, food and door prizes)

Winners receive a trophy and prizes!

A silent auction will be held during the event.

All proceeds benefit the 2017 Tampa Bay Area Navy Birthday Ball.

Tickets can be purchased online or from your Navy Birthday Ball Representative

TOP GOLF Tournament – Navy Ball Event Tickets

(600 Golfer limit)

When: THURSDAY- 25 May 2017

Where: TopGolf, 10690 Palm River Road, Tampa, FL 33619

Free Play: 1230-1430 (All Golfers)

Skilled-Shot: 1300-1430 (Confident Golfers)

Team Play: 1430-1600 (Tournament All Golfers)

Food: Buffet Style (1300 – 1430)

Save the Date! Wednesday May 31, 2017- RADM Leroy Collins Academy Dinner

Image result for admiral leroy collinsThe Admiral Leroy Collins Academy Dinner will be held Wednesday, May 31, 2017. This dinner honors our local students who have received appointments to our military academies and ROTC scholarships. The late Leroy Collins, Jr.  was an incredible man who was a true friend and supporter of the Navy League. We are honored to support these great kids and provide this recognition in his name. The Starship dinner cruise has offered us a discounted rate, a DJ upstairs and given us the entire ship for our party. This event is open to the public, seats are limited to 150. This will be a great night out.  If you can not attend, but would like to support this event, you can donate $63 to the Navy League and we will use that to offset the ticket price for the parents and families. The Tampa Bay Navy League will provide tickets for the youth and would like to provide tickets to their parents as well.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Starship Dinner Cruise and Program: $63 per person

Click here to Register Now  or visit and click on events

603 Channelside Drive
Tampa, Florida 33602
Detailed directions and parking information
Phone: 813.223.7999

Boarding time: 6:30 PM
Sailing time: 7:00 PM
Return to Dock: 9:30 PM

Tall Ship Gunilla in Tampa Bay

The TS Gunilla tied up alongside the Port side of the SS American Victory Merchant Marine ship located behind the Florida Aquarium, 8-11 April.
This tall beauty has a 50-meter-long three-mast barque, with a total sail area of 1,000m² and holds a professional crew of 11 and 44 trainees/pupils. Training Ship Gunilla  is an integral part of the Swedish school system, taking Swedish pupils aged 16-19 years on a unique educational journey, with the world as their classroom.
She sails year long taking pupils on five separate trips. Itineraries include a sail from Safi (Morocco) to Miami and Tampa (the US) via Cape Verde, Grenada and the Dominican Republic. Second year from Öckerö (Sweden) down to Cadiz (Spain) via Germany, France, England and Portugal. And third year they start and stop in Miami (the US) sailing to Cuba, Belize, Mexico and Tampa (the US).

Florida delegates ask for money to bring aircraft carrier to Mayport

Florida’s entire congressional delegation attempted to breath life back into the idea of bringing a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Mayport Naval Station by sending a letter to the Department of Defense on Monday asking for money to upgrade the vessel basin to accommodate the Navy’s largest surface ships.

 The letter stresses the importance of having nuclear carriers (CVN) at multiple locations on the East Coast to diversify Navy assets, and it cites an endorsement in the Department of Defense’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review that called for the necessary construction at Mayport.

“To mitigate the risk of a terrorist attack, accident, or natural disaster, the U.S. Navy will homeport an East Coast carrier in Mayport, Florida,” the 2010 review said.

Mayport has not had a carrier since the USS John F. Kennedy was decommissioned in 2007. Prior to that, the USS Saratoga called Northeast Florida home for years before it was decommissioned in 1995.

“After the conventionally powered John F. Kennedy was decommissioned, the Navy prudently decided to complete construction necessary to make Mayport CVN capable,” said the letter to the Department of Defense.

The was sent to both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley asking them to consider the improvements at Mayport as they finalize the budget for the 2018 fiscal year. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson were the lead writers on the letter, and all 27 congressional representatives from Florida signed it.

“While we understand the realities of the fiscal environment, our Navy overleverages risk to our carrier fleet by having only one CVN homeport on the Eastern seaboard,” the letter said. “Not only are our operational CVN in jeopardy, but our future capital ships under construction are practically co-located, risking tens of billions of dollars of assets as well as our ability to project power abroad now and in the future.”

A statement from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was used in the letter to show a lone port for aircraft carriers on the West Coast was deemed unacceptable while Norfolk, Va. is the only location on the East Coast with the proper facilities. A statement from former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus was used in the letter to show cost should not outweigh the importance of dispersing the carriers along the East Coast.

According to the letter, the Navy conducted a review over the course of several years before making the decision to bring a nuclear carrier to Mayport as early as 2019. But the modifications are still needed, and the talks of bringing a carrier to Mayport have cooled in recent years.

In November, Mabus discussed the Navy’s current landscape in Northeast Florida on his final visit to Jacksonville as secretary of the Navy. He touted the fact that Mayport is the new East Coast home port for the Freedom-variant littoral combat ships which will bring people and jobs to the area.

Mayport welcomed the first two littoral ships to the basin in December — USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) and USS Detroit (LCS 7) — and more are scheduled to arrive each year going forward. The littoral ships operate close to shore with steerable jet propulsion instead of propellers. The Freedom class have steel hulls with aluminum superstructures.

Monday’s letter emphasizes the importance of spreading out Navy forces and highlights Mayport’s strategic and operational value as reasons it would make the most sense as a landing spots for a new carrier.

“We implore you to no longer defer resource allocations needed for Mayport to continue its service to the carrier fleet,” the letter said.

Mayport is the current home to the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. The trio of ships is made up of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).

The Iwo Jima is the largest in the basin with a core crew of about 700 sailors plus aircraft and U.S. Marine Corps personnel when needed.

If the decision is made to bring a carrier back to Mayport it would bring thousands of sailors with it.

Joe Daraskevich: (904) 359-4308

CGC Blackthorn Memorial

The Tampa Bay Council of the Navy League was honored to support our Coast Guard family on Friday January 27, 2017.  The annual Blackthorn Memorial program was held at 2PM that day to honor and remember those brave Coast Guard members who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty during the Skyway Bridge tragedy.  Many of us who were local to the Tampa Bay area remember that day all too well.

Your Tampa Bay Council of the Navy League as well as the Sarasota Council of the Navy League was there to show support and provide a wreath for the memorial service.  The program included an aerial salute fly over from the local Coast Guard Stations, the reading of the names and bell rung, a rose placed upon the memorial, bag pipes and a gun salute.  It was a very moving day.

For more information on the Blackthorn, please visit:

Your contributions support these events and we thank our membership for your support.



Salute to the Coast Guard Dinner

On January 26, 2017, the Tampa Bay Council of the Navy League was proud to support and sponsor the salute to the Coast Guard event with the Tampa Propeller Club.  This is a long-time partnership and friendship between your Tampa Bay Navy League and the Propeller club and we were happy to be able to support the Propeller Club again this year.  This annual event honors the great service of our local Coast Guard Stations and recognize their heroic efforts.  We were able to watch a video of what they do day in and day out in our area and it is impressive!

The donations you make to the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Navy League ensure that we can continue to provide financial support to these type of events. Thank you for what you do to support our missions.

New Tampa Council Officers Elected

Congratulations to the new Tampa Bay Council Navy League officers elected at the annual meeting on February 8, 2017.
Jason Allen – President
Ed Miyagishima – Vice-President
Nancy Allen – Treasurer
Humerto “Chief” Alvarez – Secretary

414 Ships, No LCS: MITRE’s Alternative Navy

on February 10, 2017 at 4:47 PM
 WASHINGTON: The Navy needs a vastly larger fleet — 414 warships — to win a great-power war, well above today’s 274 ships or even the Navy’s unfunded plan for 355, the think-tank MITRE calculates in a congressionally-chartered study. That ideal fleet would include:

All told, the MITRE plan is even more radical than the competing plan submitted to Congress by the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments. Although both studies would grow the fleet, upgrade the America-class amphibious assault ship into a conventionally powered light carrier, cancel LCS, and build a new frigate, MITRE calls for a larger force overall and more new types of ship. Senate Armed Services chairman John McCain finds both alternatives “impressive” but favors the CSBA scheme.

[Read about the Navy’s internal study and McCain’s favored plan, the CSBA proposal]

Bundeswehr image

The German Navy’s new F125 frigate, which MITRE proposes as a model for an LCS replacement.

The High-Low Mix

Building a 414-ship fleet “is unrealistic,” MITRE acknowledges, even assuming the Budget Control Act is repealed. So the study lays out what MITRE considers a good-enough plan to build and upgrade as many ships as possible for an additional $4.5 billion a year ($1.7 billion in shipbuilding funds and $2.8 billion for new weapons, mostly missiles).

This good-enough plan includes many compromises. Most notably, it slows down the production of aircraft carriers in the near term — even though MITRE believes we ultimately need more — because the Navy doesn’t have enough fighter jets to equip them all, and an aircraft carrier without aircraft is pretty pointless. To close the airpower gap, MITRE advocates buying more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, since it believes “accelerating F-35C (Joint Strike Fighter) production does not appear to be a viable option.”

BAE Systems image

BAE Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP)

More broadly, and similarly to CSBA, MITRE argues against today’s reliance on a small number of exquisitely expensive long-range missiles for anti-aircraft and missile defense. Instead MITRE advocates large barrages of precision-guided shells fired from conventional naval cannon — known as the Hyper-Velocity Projectile — and ultimately from electromagnetic railguns. Fielding HVP “must be a top priority” because it would turn the 5″ guns on every Navy cruiser and destroyer into missile defense systems.

In general, unlike CSBA, MITRE explicitly calls for a “high-low mix” with a smaller number of high-end warships supplemented by a larger force of cheaper, less capable vessels. Most of MITRE’s proposed new types fall in the relatively “low” end:

  • The magazine ship or MG(X), similar to the 1990s concept of an arsenal ship, would be a low-cost hull — derived from a commercial or military transport — that’s packed with missiles. Weapons would include both new kinds of cruise missiles and a new ballistic missile based on the Army’s 1980s-era Pershing (but without the nuclear warhead). The MG(X) might also carry HVP-firing cannon. These ships would provide backup to conventional warships, which have better sensors but less capacity for munitions.
  • Diesel-powered attack submarines are far more common worldwide than nuclear ones, even among our First World allies, and with modern Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) — which eliminates the need for snorkeling — they can be highly stealthy, while still costing a fraction of the price of a nuclear sub. MITRE wants to keep building the nuclear-powered Virginia class at two a year, but would also supplement those boats with cheaper diesel subs.
  • The Navy currently plans to replace its aging LSD-class amphibious ships with a scaled-down version of its San Antonio-class LPD amphibs, to be called L(X)R. MITRE argues for economizing much further, replacing each planned L(XR) with either about six small Expeditionary Fast Transports — catamarans formerly called JHSVs — or three modified Watson-class transports.
  • MITRE’s new frigate, however, would be larger and more capable than the LCS it replaces, with a 5″ gun (firing HVP) and sufficient sensor and missile capacity to conduct air and missile defense over a wide area, instead of only being able to protect itself. MITRE proposes Germany’s new F125 frigates as a model.

Until the new frigate comes online, MITRE would funnel funds saved by canceling LCS into building more destroyers. In fact, MITRE’s ideal fleet would nearly double the current force of 84 “Large Surface Combatants” — destroyers and cruisers — to 160, compared to 104 in the Navy’s 355-ship plan and just 74 in CSBA’s proposal.

CSBA, by contrast, sees cruisers as increasingly redundant and relies heavily on highly capable frigates, 71 of them compared to MITRE’s 46 or the Navy plan’s 52. CSBA also calls for a new fleet of 40 corvettes and also emphasizes even-small unmanned craft more strongly than MITRE. Despite the real differences between MITRE and CSBA, however, both strongly concur on the need for a more powerful small warship than LCS, a frigate able to help defend the fleet against swarms of incoming anti-ship missiles.

The MITRE study doesn’t get as enthusiastic an endorsement from Sen. McCain as does CSBA’s. Nevertheless, its striking ideas will make a major contribution to the naval debate.