In the competition for the most futuristic looking vessel at the Euronaval show being held this week in Paris I would put the clear front runner as the Fast Attack Craft (FAC) on the Saab stand. Designed for naval patrol, anti-piracy and surveillance missions in peace time the ship would be a missile ship to launch Saab's RBS15 Mk3 anti-ship missiles in war time. And for added interest the vessel has a fascinating design history.
Maket Trimaran Lundin [photo: Christina Mackenzie]
The FAC is not entirely new. Based on a design by New Zealand's LOMOcean, the KRI Klewang for the Indonesian Navy was launched on Aug. 31, 2012. And was then completely destroyed by fire four weeks later on Sept. 29.
KRI Klewang had been entirely built at the North Sea Boats shipyard at Banyuwangi, East Java. North Sea Boats is the trading name for PT. Lundin founded by John and Lizza Lundin in Indonesia 2003; John Lundin is the son of the late Allan Lundin who founded the Swedeship company that operated the Gotland and Djupvik shipyards, amongst others, in Sweden.
The idea for the KRI Klewang came to John Lundin after seeing LOMOcean's Earthrace, a 24m wave-piercing trimaran originally created to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe. He thought a militarized version could be of interest to the Indonesian government for littoral missions as the wavepiercing prow is perfectly suited to the short, high wave pattern typical of the Indonesian archipelago. The vessel became a Black Ops project equipped with a Chinese combat system.
Some time after the fire, Lundin was having lunch with Saab and talk turned to combat systems. He apparently learnt more about them in an hour than he had from the Chinese in over a year. This convinced him that the next version of the vessel should be equipped with a Swedish combat system.
So Saab, LOMOcean and North Sea Boats worked together to redesign the top part of the vessel (everything above the trimaran hulls) around Saab's 9-LV combat system.
However, building has already begun on the replacement ship using the same specifications as the first one. “But everyone from the Indonesian navy down agrees that the top part needs to be a new design,” Stefan Hedenstedt , head of naval sales at C2S Saab told Ares. And there are now four such ships in the offing. So construction will stop just above the hulls while discussions about a contract continue.
The 245-ton, 63m (207 ft) long, ship is entirely made of carbon fibre foam sandwich using fire retardant vinyl ester resin (lessons have been learnt!). The four diesel-engined ship has a beam of 16m (52 ft) but a draught of only 1.2m (4 ft) making it ideal for Indonesia's shallow littoral waters. It has a top speed of 28 knots (51 km/h) and a cruising speed of 16 knots (29.6km/h) that gives it a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704km). It has been designed to have an endurance of 10 days at sea.
The FAC is equipped not only with anti-ship missiles but also the BAe Systems Bofors 40Mk4 naval gun.
It has a crew of 23 with accommodation for an additional seven special forces.
The “right signals” are apparently being issued from Indonesia regarding the newly designed topside for the FAC so perhaps a contract will be signed at next week's Indo Defence Show in Jakarta.
Oh, and last but not least, Saab has gone counter to almost every other shipbuilder in proposing this vessel as a turnkey solution rather than allowing the customer to pick and choose what they want. “Its turnkey not smorgasbord,” is how one Saab manager put it.