Saturday, August 17, 2013

PN's Strategic Sealift Vessel and its relation to the sinking of MV St. Thomas Aquinas

The recent accident involving the passenger ferry MV St. Thomas Aquainas and the cargo ship Sulpicio Express Siete off Cebu City is a very unfortunate event, with still hundreds reported missing besides the dozens of confirmed deaths. According to news reports, the 2 ships collided just near the Cebu port, with the cargo ship's bow hitting the passenger ship on its side, sinking the ferry in just less than 30 minutes (some latest reports put the time as early as 10 minutes) More details about the accident could be found in local and foreign news, and won't be elaborated much in this blog.


The ill-fated passenger ferry MV St. Thomas Aquinas. The ship is probably even larger than the PN's specified Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV).
Photo taken from Shipspotting.com c/o Bermejo Imaging.
The cargo ship Sulpicio Express Siete, with its bow damaged.
Photo taken from Reuters.


So what is the relation between the MV St. Thomas Aquinas ferry tragedy with defense issues that are usually highlighted in MaxDefense blogs?

The Philippine Navy's current transport ship project, the Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV), as well as the currently on-hold Multi-role Vessel (MRV) project, as well as the passenger ferry MV St. Thomas Aquinas are all designed and built/to be built using commercial shipbuilding standards.


The damaged bow of the cargo ship Sulpicio Express Siete.
Photo taken from Associated Press.


The SSV will probably be built according to commercial standards due to the need to drive down costs and fit the allocated budget. The current SSV project budget is Php 2 billion per ship, and will probably cost even less depending on the winning bidder. As compared to similar-sized LPDs, which cost thrice or more to build such using naval shipbuilding standards, which are constructed to ensure high survivability in combat and ability for the ship's structure to survive impacts and attacks. It is worth mentioning that the original SSV project actually involves the purchase of a used Japanese Ro-Ro ferry very similar to the ill-fated MV St. Thomas Aquinas (as discussed here).


The initial Strategic Sealift Vessel project was actually based on a Japanese passenger Ro-Ro ferry very similar to the ill-fated MV St. Thomas Aquinas.
Photo taken from MarineTraffic.com.

As an example: the Indonesian Navy's Makassar-class LPD and Royal New Zealand Navy's HMNZS Canterbury (L421) are all based from commercial car ferry designs, and it is highly probably that the SSV will also be based on such platform. Daewoo International / Dae Sun Shipbuilding of South Korea and PT PAL of Indonesia, both builders of the Makassar-class LPD, are both vying to win the contract for the PN's SSV project (and probably the MRV project should it proceed in the future) using a derivative of the Makassar-class LPD. 


PT PAL's SSV proposal for the Philippine Navy is actually a derivative of the car ferry-based Makassar-class LPD.

As a military transport, the SSV is projected  to be used to transport the Philippine Marine Corps' expeditionary forces in combat conditions, and is expected to be targeted by opposing forces. It is expected that the ship would have a far greater threat parameters than a standard merchant vessel. But the SSV, like any normal sea vessel, must also survive accident impacts unlike what happened to MV St. Thomas Aquinas, which just plunged to the bottom of the Cebu Strait immediately after impact. It must be capable of surviving even after serious flooding of several compartments, enough for it to still move away from danger and keep its passengers and crew safe. 

Indonesian Marinir (Marines) troops and tanks for transport using the TNI-AL's Makassar-class LPD. The Philippine Marine Corps will use the SSV in the same manner, including in combat conditions when necessary.
The Philippine Navy's SSV project planners must give importance to the survivability aspects of the SSV regardless of cost implications. Sinking in just 10 to 30 minutes after impact could mean that the ship design may not have incorporated the provision of multiple compartment design to effectively control flooding, plus possibly the lack of or inefficiency of crew to control flooding on the hull. The PN must be aware of what happened to the MV St. Thomas Aquinas and ensure that faults on the ship will be remedied and addressed the SSV design or any future naval ships in its fleet.






21 comments:

  1. 'As an example: the Indonesian Navy's Makassar-class LPD and Royal New Zealand Navy's HMNZS Canterbury (L421) are all based from commercial car ferry designs, and it is highly probably that the SSV will also be based on such platform....'
    Are you sure Max?? This statement you got from credible sourche??

    Please check Enforcer 13000 design by schelde Netherland

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    1. Yes. Im so sure as this has been discussed to me by both PT PAL and Daesun representatives before for the Makassar class. Its been a longtime issue. Meanwhile the Canterbury is based on the RoPax ferry MS Ben my Chree which is still in use in the Isle of Man.

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  2. That's why if the Philippines build an LPD to a commercial shipping standards and not the Military standards. You wind up getting what the Royal New Zealand Navy has called the HMNZS Canterbury (L421). It has so many problems such as, it was designed from an RORO ship called the MS Ben-my-Chree. The other issues with the HMNZS Canterbury (L421) are the RHIB, Landing craft and Sea keeping performance. The HMNZS Canterbury (L421) has serious issues with using RHIB's and Landing craft. Even Sea keeping is a serious issue for the HMNZS Canterbury (L421) because it can't handle high sea states.

    Which is why for the Phillippines, their best bet is to go for the Endurance class LPD or the Makassar-class LPD. They don't want an LPD that has problems such as the HMNZS Canterbury (L421). The need something with reliability and zero problems.

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    1. Nicky as I discussed in the blog and some replies the Makassar is also similar to the Canterbury as they are both based on RoPax vessels. The Endurance would be a better choice but is more expensive.

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  3. Hi max what would, be a better choice? Esp among the bidders.

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    1. As I don't have the exact and complete info on the offers, I'd rather leave that question to be answered by the DND BAC.

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  4. Again max....I'm still curious with your statement above that 'Makassar Class LPD based from commercial ferry design'...after I've look in to PAL website and searching there is no 'commercial ferry'PAL design similar with Makassar Class LPD even little bit on shape and length. There is only one 'commercial ferry' product of PAL and the rest (out of naval) are super tanker and container same with daesun there is no 'commercial ferry' product. If you could show me or explaine to me what type of 'commercial ferry' that used as base design for Makassar LPD according to your source. Thanks
    This is the PT PAL link http://www.pal.co.id/v5/product/index.php?act=list_product&page=P_1

    Java Indonesia

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    1. Its because the design is not made by PT PAL but by Daesun Shipbuilding of Korea. The 3rd and 4th Makassar-class ship were the ones built by PT PAL. The 1st and 2nd units were made in Korea. The technology and design was transferred to PT PAL so it can now produce its own model based on the Makassar.

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    2. As far as I know the info I got from my coleague and military blog from Indonesia and outside Indoneasia (netherlands) there've mentioned or believe that the design is based from Damen Schelde 'Enforcer LPD' (Rotterdam class, John de witt class. etc) especially Enforcer 13000 class design that offered to Indonesia, Malay and Thai on 2003.
      But it will be interesting dicussion if your 'source' can show you the 'commercial ferry' type which's used for based design of Makassar class LPD like you mentioned above.

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    3. As I said earlier, the Makassar-class was designed by Korea's Daesun Shipbuilding, not Royal Schelde of Netherlands. Daesun did not need to get designs from other shipbuilders because they can make ship designs themselves. My source came from my previous discussions with Daesun representatives several years ago in Jakarta. The Enforcer design was offered as part of Royal Schelde's push for sales, but it is not in any way related to the Daesun design which led to the Makassar-class.

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    4. But I can sure you that big difference beetwen Makassar LPD and 'commercial ferry' is atleast the Makassar hull has "double skin" and Makassar LPD has sent to Adden bay to support the Indonesia Army and as a flag ship to set free the super container from somali pirate hostage

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    5. The base design might be same but the design was militarized considering more protection than the usual commercial ship.

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  5. max, if PN, had gone ahead with the purchase of the ex-japanese ro-ro ferry, your stability/survivability concerns would come into play right away, but the stability/survivability issues with old ro-ros does not apply as much to new ro-ros due to new maritime standards(google it). of course, if there is money to burn, the best combat survivability standards are the US navy specced ships

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    1. Hi. The info I provide not only comes from "google-ing" on the net, but from experience and limited personal knowledge on shipbuilding design. So far we do not know the specifications and design parameters for the SSV, so it can be anything from a commercial RoPax or car ferry designs. Although there are improvements in merchant vessel designs, it is still not impossible for these ships to have a similar fate as the MV St. Thomas Aquinas. The huge price difference between a militarized ferry and a real LPD is already a dead giveaway.

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  6. This is a statement by PT PAL company president .PAL president director Harsusanto said the company had modified the original design.
    The new LPD will be able to carry five helicopters instead of three.

    Another new feature is the stealth-based design that gives it a smaller radar cross section.
    The KRI Banjarmasin cost US$30 million, half of it for the Korean-made engine.
    Base on this claims could there be any way to verify that would specify the hull integrity of the vessel . What about the sea state capability and other design to support handling & manuverbility of an LPD class.
    All these concerns are address to the PN requirements for their "SSV" project . I've also read an article that they labeled it as "a non combatant vessel " . Would that compromise the ship point defence. My point here is the PN or DND purpose of acquiring an LPD vessel for humanitarian or military there should be no comprising of the ship overall capabilities.
    The Makassar class was able to be a sought after LPD because of its affordability and availability plus the technologies it can offer. For these reasons it may be a strong contender for the PN amphibious upgrade or could be the 1st LPD of the PN.

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  7. Hi Max, I do wonder why we don't still have a combatant ship to our navy I'm referring with missile carrying ships although we have already an enough fund of procuring ships with different builders all over the world and even here in the Philippines. I have always been monitoring the updates with the Wikipedia time to time for our Navy and Air force particular, but it seems it so unclear. Of 100% they have been planning for the modernazation based on Wikipedia, only 4% have been already accomplish this includes only the 8 sokol, 3 wa109 and i will not include this two ex USCG since this is not brand new and no missiles at all.. I would say that we still in the drawing process of our modernazation and far beyond to what I am expecting for our AFP. So slow and a shameful report by the AFP. thanks for the update always and I am enjoying your post here. lem

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    1. simple, its because of corruption is the priority of the Philippine congress, senate, and the crooked AFP hierierachy. they think they can repel an invasion by guerilla warfare which is a backward thinking banana republic.

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  8. All issues with HMNZS Canterbury have been fixed now...

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  9. Hi Max,

    The Enforcer LPD's from Damen

    http://products.damen.com/en/ranges/landing-platform-dock

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  10. De LST products from Damen.

    http://products.damen.com/en/ranges/landing-ship

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCTPSoaUtwk

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  11. LOGISTIC SUPPORT VESSEL SUPPORTER 19000

    http://products.damen.com/en/ranges/logistic-support-vessel/logistic-support-vessel-supporter-19000

    ReplyDelete