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The Perry class FFG forms a capable undersea warfare [USW] platform with the LAMPS-III helicopter onboard. The Mk 13 Mod 4 missile launcher provides secondary anti-air capability. Ships of this class are often referred to as "FFG-7" (pronounced FIG-7) after the lead ship, U.S.S. Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7). These ships were originally conceived as a low-cost convoy escort (hence the original “PF” hull number for the prototype). They are particularly well suited to be a convoy escort and are Link 11 capable. As older first-line destroyers and frigates were retired without replacement, however, the FFG 7 class has been integrated into the fleet, and numerous updates have been applied to permit it to cope with modern combat conditions. As a result, the fully equipped units displace nearly 500 tons more than the designed displacement, and crews have been greatly enlarged. The soundness of the design has permitted the expansion, and the ships have proven remarkably sturdy.
These ships have a full load displacement of that ranges from 3,658 tons to 4,100 tons, are either 445 or 453 feet in overall length, have a 45 foot beam and a draft of 22 feet. They are powered by a single shaft driven by 2 LM2500 gas turbines. Their maximum sustained speed is about 29 knots and the have a 4,200 nautical mile range at 20 knots. The ships active complement is about 15 officers and 179 enlisted personnel.
Frigates fulfill a Protection of Shipping (POS) mission as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups and merchant convoys. PERRY-class frigates are primarily Undersea Warfare ships intended to provide open-ocean escort of amphibious ships and convoys in low to moderate threat environments in a global war with the Soviet Union. They could also provide limited defense against anti-ship missiles extant in the 70’s and 80’s. The ships are equiped to escort and protect carrier battle groups, amphibious landing groups, underway replenishment groups and convoys. They can also conduct independent operations to perform such tasks as counterdrug surveillance, maritime interception operations, and exercises with other nations. The addition of NTDS, LAMPS helicopters, and the Tactical Towed Array System (TACTAS) has given these ships a combat capability far beyond the class program expectations of the mid-1970's, and has made the ships an integral and valued asset in virtually any war-at-sea scenario and particularly well suited for operation in the littoral.
The class has only a limited capacity for further growth. Despite this, the FFG-7 class is a robust platform, capable of withstanding considerable damage. This "toughness" was aptly demonstrated when USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine and USS Stark was hit by two Exocet cruise missiles. In both cases the ships survived, were repaired and have returned to the fleet. The FFG-7 class was designed from the keel up as a total warfare system, capable of operating independently or as an integral part of a carrier or surface action group. Innovations in high speed digital computer technology enable the on-board weapons system to instantly detect and evaluate contacts at greater ranges with minimum human interface, thus providing increased reaction time.
The engineering and combat systems suites were new and innovative for their time. The unique gas turbine propulsion system can be brought "on line" and be ready to get underway in less than ten minutes, quite a difference from the four hours plus it took conventional steam powered ships. The combat system employed a new computerized command and decision system that was fully integrated with the ship's sensors and weapons. Two computers provide rapid evaluation of potential threats detected by her radar and sonar suite; and surface-to-air missiles, surface-to-surface missiles, a 76mm rapid fire gun, anti-submarine torpedoes, and the embarked LAMPS helicopter can be employed quickly and effectively to counter potential threats that may come from any air, surface, or subsurface platforms.
Displacements have steadily increased, to the detriment of stability. FFG 59 was delivered at 4,100 tons full load, although the class was designed for 3,600 tons and with only 39 tons planned growth margin. These ships are particularly well protected against splinter and fragmentation damage, with 19-mm aluminum-alloy armor over magazine spaces, 16-mm steel over the main engine-control room, and 19-mm Kevlar plastic armor over vital electronics and command spaces. Because of a hull twisting problem, doubler plates have been added over the hull sides amidships just below the main deck. Speed on one turbine alone is 25 knots. The auxiliary power system uses two retractable pods located well forward and can drive the ships at up to 6 knots. Fin stabilizers began to be backfitted in earlier units, beginning with FFG 26, in 1982.
Early in their operational lives, ships of the FFG 7 Class began to develop serious cracking in the superstructure, which extended from side-to-side and for approximately 70% of the length. These cracks were serious in that they could extend down into the hull portion of the ship and provided a way for water to flood important weapons system spaces. Detailed inspections were made, analyses undertaken, and model-scale tests conducted. Fixes compatible with the entire class were developed and installed. Tests were conducted at sea and were found to be satisfactory; further fixes were then carried out on all ships of the FFG 7 Class.
The Navy developed the FFG 7 class using the minimal manning concept. This concept has a profound effect on engineering organization. Supervisors must accomplish all tasks with fewer people than larger ships. Below decks, two gas turbine engines (similar the engines on the wings of a DC 10) provide power for propulsion that enables the ships to reach speeds in excess of 25 knots. Gas turbine engines are more cost effective than steam or diesel propulsion ships. These advanced propulsion units allow a ship to get underway quickly and rapidly change operating modes. The propulsion plant as well as the electrical power plant is computer controlled and monitored to ensure a smooth running and efficient system. The gas turbine engines can be started and be ready to come up to full power in five minutes. This quick reaction time allows the ship to be more maneuverable and reduces the preparation time to get underway.
Designed as cost effective surface combatants, they lack the multi-mission capability of modern surface combatants faced with multiple, high technology threats. The Perry class were originally fitted with Raytheon's AN/SLQ-32(V)2, a self-defence electronic support measures (ESM) system offering limited frequency-cover and questionable security. The SLQ-32 antennas in a Perry are carried at about 50ft above the waterline, providing an intercept range of only 23nm. Following the Iraqi air-launched Exocet attack on the USS Stark (FFG-31) on 17 May 1987 it was decided to upgrade the (V)2 installation by adding a jammer codenamed "Sidekick". The new variant was later designated SLQ-32(V)5, and to date a number of (V)2s have been brought to the new standard, including most but not all the Perrys.
To enhance the on-board anti-surface/anti-submarine capabilities, the new LAMPS Mark III Helicopter System adds significantly to the ship's sensor and weapons delivery range. Although the ships were intended to operate the LAMPS-III ASW helicopter, FFG 7-35, as completed, lacked the equipment necessary to handle them. Beginning with the FY 79 ships (FFG 36 and later), helicopter support equipment was aboard on completion: fin stabilizers, RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure, and Traverse system-not fitted as completed until FFG 50), and other systems. The RAST system permits helicopter launch and recovery with the ship rolling through 28 degrees and pitching 5 degrees. The equipment was first installed in MCINERNEY (FFG 8), which was reconstructed, in 1981 at Bath Iron Works, to act as LAMPS-III/SH-60B Seahawk helicopter trials ship.
The Mk 92 Mod 4 fire-control system controls missile and 76-mm gunfire; it uses a STIR (modified SPG-60) antenna amidships and a U.S.-built version of the Hollandse Signaal Apparaaten WM-28 radar forward and can track four separate targets. The ships have the Mk 13 weapons-direction system. The Mk 92 system was updated in three stages; the first, given trials in FFG 29 in 1983, was backfitted to all by 1984 as the “Near-Term Improvement,” and included the capability to employ SM-1 MR Block VI missiles.
Phase II (Mk 92 CORT) began trials in FFG 15 in 1986. The CORT (Coherent Receiver Transmitter) Phase-II upgrade to the Mk 92 weapons-control system improved performance in jamming and clutter. The Navy upgraded the Mk 92 Mod 2 system to the Mod 6 system, along with upgrades to radars and processors on 12 frigates. The search radar was upgraded to SPS-49(V)5, and the SYS-2(V)2 integrated action data system was added. As of 1993, FFG 36, 50, 51, and 57 had received CORT, and FFG 61 was completed with it; FFG 47, 48, 52-55, and 59 had it by end of 1995. The weight and cost of CORT, however, are considerable, and plans for further conversions were canceled. The Mk 92 Mod 6 CORT ships were also planned to receive RAM point-defense missile launchers, but that upgrade has also been canceled. The Navy plans to upgrade the self-defense capability of the 12 CORT Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates by installing the Phalanx Block 1B.
Ten other units of the class received the CAN-DO (Commercial-off-the-shelf Affordable Near-term Deficiency-correcting Ordalts) upgrade to the Mk 92 Mod 2 fire-control system, incorporating improved clutter rejection in the radars, automatic target track display, and further improvements to the SPS-49(V)4 radar to detect small radar-cross-section targets over land and in severe clutter conditions.
All 22 ships of the class to be retained in active service began to receive Standard SM-1 Block VIB missiles with improved fusing to counter small radar-cross-section missiles in 1994.
While the guided missile frigates (FFG) bring an anti-air warfare (AAW) capability to the frigate mission, they have some limitations. The FFG-7 Class has good capability against (2 or less) medium and high altitude ASMs. If equipped with the SM-1 BLK VIB and Mod 6 FCS, it also has a good capability against low altitude ASMs. It features an improved 2D air search radar, and high SM-1 salvo rate against a single target. However, the cycle time for SM-1 is relatively long, and the capability against low ASMs for Mod 2/SM-1 BLK VIA ships is poor. Radar illuminator blockage zones are excessive, and the radars must illuminate target continuously during missile flight. The long range air search radar is 2D, and track capacity is limited.
In 1994, the self-defense configuration for the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates included the SPS-49 radar, the STIR/CAS system, and the SLQ-32 electronic support system. The MK 92 performed the control function. Engagement systems consisted of the Standard Missile I variant and the Phalanx Block 0 or 1.
Since 1994, ship self-defense capability improvements have consisted of the installation of RAIDS. In 1998, the Navy had assessed the ship self-defense capability of this class as having low capability against the near- and mid-term threat requirements. Although there are 36 ships in this class, the Navy has focused its attention for ship self-defense improvements on the 12 CORT ships, which have improved detection and tracking capability. Accordingly, only the 12 CORT ships received the RAIDS system. Additionally, some of the CORT ships have received radar and electronic warfare upgrades. Additionally, the Navy plans to add Phalanx Block 1B to the 12 CORT ships by July 2002. The non-CORT ships were not assessed because of their short remaining service life. The Navy projected the self-defense capability of frigate class ships to be low against the near- and mid-term threats.
The Mk 75 gun is a license-built version of the OTOBreda Compact. Two Mk 24 optical missile and gun target designators (mounted in tubs atop the pilothouse) were not fitted to the ships as completed until FFG 27 and have been backfitted in the earlier ships. The only ship-launched USW weapons are the Mk 46 or Mk 50 torpedoes in the two triple torpedo tubes; a total of 24 torpedoes can be carried, but ships with magazines altered to accept the larger Mk 50 can also carry the Penguin anti-ship missile for helicopter use, for the loss of one torpedo for each missile carried.
The Mk 15 CIWS (Close-In Weapon System) 20-mm Phalanx CIWS was backfitted into all by end-1988; the improved Mk 15 Block 1 is to be backfitted in the later 1990s. The 12 CORT Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates will receive the Phalanx Block 1B. Harpoon missiles are launched via the SWG-1 launch control system.
FFG 61 incorporates all of the changes once planned for backfit to earlier ships and is considered the first Baseline 8' unit; she has integrated radar sensors (with the SYS-2(V)2 Integrated Action Data System), Mk 92 Mod 6 CORT weapon-control system, integrated EW suite, and integrated SPS-49(V)5 and SPS-55 radars. FFG 36-60 have the integrated EW suite, the SQQ-89 sonar suite, and Links 11 and 14. FFG 8-35 had non-integrated SLQ-32(V)2 and Mk 92 Mod 2 FCS. All were planned to be backfitted with the Sidekick active adjunct to the SLQ-32(V)2 EW system; FFG 29, 30, 54, 55 and several others had the antennas by mid-1992. A few ships have been given Furuno-made navigational radars. All have SSR-1 and WSC-3 SATCOM equipment.
PERRY-class ships were produced in two variants, known as "short-hull" and "long-hull", with the later variant being eight feet longer than the short-hull version. The long-hull ships [FFG 8, 28, 29, 32, 33, 36-61] carry the SH-60B LAMPS III helicopters, while the short-hull units carry the less-capable SH-2G.
The units with long hulls (FFG 7, 8, 15, 28, 29, 32, 36-61) were to have had the sonar suite upgraded to SQQ-89(V)2, with SQS-56 hull sonar retained, SQR-19 towed linear passive hydrophone array added, and SQQ-28 helicopter sonobuoy datalink system added. There were, however, significant delays in the development of the SQQ-89’s processor equipment, and many ships received the SQR-18A towed array with SQR-17 processor as an interim fit. FFG 8 received the towed array during FY 87, along with FFG 55-60; in FY 88, FFG 28, 29, 32, 36, and 39 were equipped; in FY 90, FFG 7 and 15 received the system during overhauls (FFG 7 was lengthened and received the SQQ-89 suite but was not equipped with RAST, leaving her unable to employ SH-60B helicopters); under the FY 91 budget, FFG 9, 48-50, and 52 were modified, and in FY 92, FFG 20 and 51 were equipped. FFG 12 is unusual in having the electronics fit for the LAMPS-III system and in having the towed sonar array but not having had the hull extension to permit flying SH-60B LAMPS-III helicopters. As of 1997, two variants of the SQQ-89 sonar system were in service on this class: SQQ-89(V)10 on FFG 14, 30, 34, 37, 50, 51, 52, and 54, with SQR-19B(V)2 towed array sonar; and SQQ-89(V)2 on FFG 7-9, 11-13, 15, 28, 29, 32, 33, 36, 38-43, 45-49, 53, 55-59, and 61, with SQR-19(V)2 and the UYQ-25A(V)2 processor.
For Arabian Gulf service, FFG 22 and 47 were equipped in 1991 with 25-mm Mk 38 Bushmaster low-angle chain guns amidships on the main deck, and others have since had the weapon added when on deployment. FFG 47 received a Kingfisher mine-avoidance modification to her SQS-56 sonar. FFG 37 conducted trials with the McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Mast-Mounted Sight (a modified helicopter electro-optical device) atop the pilothouse, with the display being in the CIC.
USS Halyburton (FFG-40) completed a Norfolk docking availability in March 2000 in which it received a prototype installation of a new ship service diesel engine on its number four generator. The new engine replaces its originally configured Detroit Diesel 16V-149 series, which is presently installed on all Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7) Class frigates. One of the primary drivers for the effort to re-engine the frigate diesels was life cycle affordability. The Detroit Diesels were of a two-stroke design that are no longer in production. This engine is a high-cost driver to the Fleet through high overhaul costs and relatively low time between major overhauls. It is a major item on the Top Management Attention and Top Management Issues (TMA/TMI) program, which assesses items that show undesirable metrics and are costly to maintain. In addition, this engine does not meet current EPA and proposed IMO emission requirements.
Originally to be 75 in number, a total of 55 FFG-7 OLIVER HAZARD PERRY-class ships were built, including 51 for the US Navy and four for the Royal Australian Navy. Australia subsequently built a further ship of this design at a very high cost. Spain also built to this design and a modified design was built in Taiwan (the Cheng Kung Class).
Of the 51 ships built for the US Navy, 33 are in active commissioned service and 10 are in the Naval Reserve Force (NRF). The "short-hull" Perry-class frigates are being retired at an advanced rate, even though they have 20 years left on their life. The Navy had hoped to phase out construction of this class with the FY 83 ships, FFG 59 and 60, but Congress authorized (but did not fully fund) FFG 61 in FY 84.
The Navy's fleet of PERRY-class FFG 7 frigates will remain in the fleet well into the second decade of the 21st century. The most capable FFG-7s will be retained the longest. The goal of current plans is to transform the FFG-7 force into an all SH-60 helicopter capable force by FY'03. The primary mission of the ships will remain antisubmarine warfare and escort.
Two ships of this class suffered heavy damage while patrolling in the Persian Gulf. On 17 May 1987, two Iraqi fired Exocet SSMs hit the U.S.S. Stark (FFG-31), one of which detonated near berthing spaces resulting in heavy loss of life. On 14 April 1988 the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) struck a mine which detonated an estimated 250 pounds of TNT. The explosion heavily damaged propulsion systems and blew a nine-foot hole under the keel. In both attacks, the ships suffered intense fires aggravated by the all aluminum construction of the hull. Nevertheless, exceptional damage control efforts carried out by their crews kept both ships on the surface and enabled them to reach friendly ports in the Persian Gulf. The Stark returned to the United States on her own power and underwent repairs. The Roberts was transported to the United States on the Dutch-flag heavy-lift ship, Mighty Servant 2.
The Naval Reserve currently operates eight Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7)-class frigates, down fro the ten operated in the 1990s. This number includes the four Reserve frigates of DESRON ONE based in San Diego. The number of Reserve frigates in DESRON ONE declined from five to four as of 01 September 2000, when the USS John A Moore (FFG-19) was disposed of through the Security Assistance Program (SAP). Atlantic Fleet ships include: USS Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG-13) based at Mayport with DESRON 6; USS Estocin (FFG-15) based at Norfolk with DESRON 14; USS Boone (FFG-28) based at Mayport with DESRON 6; USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG-29) based at Pascagoula with DESRON 6. These ships maintain full readiness status and deploy with their Active Component counterparts when needed. One of their primary missions, which they fulfill simply by being available, is to make it possible for the Active Component to maintain its operating tempo at acceptable levels. Incidences of Reserve ships playing a part in what used to be exclusively Active force mission areas are becoming common. Perry-class frigates have been responsible for 16.3 percent of Navy steaming days in support of counter-narcotics operations and will continue to relieve the operational and personnel tempo of Active combatants by assuming more forward presence deployments. By the year 2000, seven of the FFG 7s in the NRF were modernized to Flight III baselines. These ships fulfill an important role in reducing the Active force's operational and personnel tempo by responding to contingencies such as the Haitian embargo, counter-narcotics operations, and overseas deployments.
Although Naval Reserve FFGs were reduced from 10 ships to 8 by FY 2000, the remaining ships will have much greater capability as all Flight I NRF FFGs will be replaced by the much more capable Flight III’s. Congressional adds to the Navy’s FY 1999 procurement programs provided $5.5 million for an upgrade of one Reserve FFG radar system. Reserve FFGs comprise about a third of the Western Hemisphere Group whose primary mission is to support counter drug operations in the Caribbean.
The Naval Reserve Force (NRF) is in the process of transitioning all Flight I class Guided Missile Frigate to Flight IIIs. The Naval Reserve Force will replace all Flight I class Guided Missile Frigates (FFG) with Flight III class (H-60 capable) FFGs by FY 2003. It is anticipated the transition to an all Flight III FFG NRF will be completed by FY 2003. The SH-2G, a primary weapons system of Flight I class FFGs, will retire from service in FY 2001. This will leave several NRF Flight I FFGs without the capability to conduct their full range of missions. These ships will be assigned missions that will not require the use of their full aviation capabilities. NRF ships regularly deploy to support Navy’s operational requirements and relieve the operational tempo of Active ships. In FY 1999, 43 percent of NRF ships deployed for four to six months in support of US maritime interests.
In 1996 one FFG 7 supported Baltic Sea operations, two served in the Western Pacific for Carat 96, and three others patroled the Caribbean in counter-narcotics operations. One Reserve FFG (USS Wadsworth) to deploy in support of Carat 97, one FFG (USS Estocin) participated in BALTOPS 97.
FFG-56 USS Simpson was directed to shift homeports from Norfolks VA to Mayport FL as of July 2001. This change in homeports involved an administrative transfer from COMDESRON TWO TWO to COMDESRON SIX as of March 2001.
As of early 2002 the Navy planned to decommission its five remaining "Flight I" (non-SH-60 capable) Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates by FY 2004.