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Navy Postpones Highly Anticipated LCS Downselect

by Greg on August 23, 2010

The Navy has postponed the much anticipated decision as to which of two very different Littoral Combat Ship designs it intends to buy. The service had initially said a down-select would be made by the end of the summer. Now, the Navy says it is “taking the time necessary” to “diligently” and “thoroughly” analyze the competing design proposals.

In 2004, the Navy decided to have two companies, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, build and compete different LCS designs for an anticipated buy of some 55 total ships in the class; the Navy has already bought two ships from each builder.

The Navy said it’s currently “engaged in discussions” with both companies and will request Final Proposal Revisions (FPRs) “soon,” according to an emailed statement from Navy spokesman Cmdr. Victor Chen. The Navy expects tor receive the FPRs by September and the revised offers will remain valid for 90 days. The email said:

“We understand there is keen public interest in this competition, but our duty to protect the integrity of the source-selection process, as well as the confidentiality of the information submitted by the offerors, significantly limits our ability to provide additional details about the ongoing competitive procurement at this time.”

– Greg Grant

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

E_Khun August 23, 2010 at 4:26 pm

I really liked the original concept but I never understood what these things became. They weigh 2500 tons, cost 700 million dollars, have a crew of 40 but have the fighting power of 1 attack helicopter. And that was when NLOS wasn't cancelled.

Yeah, yeah, I know an helicopter cannot linger around but come on, these are just fast (have to give 'em that) floating heli-decks.

I'd like to see fast fighting ships to go up close (about a "sea-hellfire" away) and beat the s*** out of pirates and speedboat swarms. Not just expensive targets.

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blight August 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I imagine a seaplane would've been a better idea, as you can suspend them on a crane, then use the deck space for UAVs instead.

I suspect the LCS is mounting avionics probably only a few steps away from that you'd find on much bigger vessels, and that this drives up the cost considerably.

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Bob August 23, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Don't they at least have a 5" and maybe a few 40mm, and/or 25mm? Besides a chopper, what are they armed with?

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Locarno August 24, 2010 at 3:16 am

Freedom has a 57mm gun (2.2") – a 3-4 round per second job – RAM surface-to-air missiles and a pair of .50 cals. Not exactly a battleship.

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Wombat August 24, 2010 at 10:58 am

Those are just the organic weapons. The LCS concept is to have swapable mission modules for any specific situation the LCS is needed for. For instance one of the modules has 2x30mm autocannons as well as several dozen NLOS missiles (although NLOS was for all intents and purposes cancelled so they don't know what they are going to replace it with.) There are other modules too, for anti-submarine warfare, special operations support etc.

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Robert A. Fritts August 23, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Now you know why the Russians have the Be-40/42 Seaplanes. Cruise missle and Laser guided Bombs, advance sea control radars, cruise at 450Kts and 4500KM range. Our Defence Industry strikes again, re-inventing the wheel to solve problems that do not exist, for billions of dollars. A tiny ship that any attack fighter from the 1950s can dominate for $billions, give the tax payer a break and sink this loser( and the JSF).

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Maxtrue August 23, 2010 at 8:52 pm
Maxtrue August 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://media…. One design….

I thought the purpose of an LCS is get in close with speed and stealth and launch munitions. Some LCS designs even have the ship slightly submerged during transits for added stealth. Making them large and slow doesn't seem the intention. A littoral corvette?

Also enemy Hoots, cruise missiles as well as ballistic missiles targeting the Fleet could require front line defenses in shallow waters. Getting a hypersonics (see new test of hypersonic booster) unloaded in enemy waters would be quite a surprise on airfields and naval bases. Special operations could use these boats too.

In the Pacific, scattered sub/LCS could refuel F-35s, launch and refuel helicopter ship and sub patrols. Our carrier groups can police everywhere.

One could even see littoral areas as forward strike platforms for drones and even DEW.

I am not sure why this concept would not be a smart move. You can't just get in close with something like a sub and do these things. Still, speed and stealth seem key. Given the weapons adversaries are sporting, LCS seems wise.

As usual, two versions might give us options. Still, something lighter and stealthier with speed seems the best bet against adversaries with increasing missile technology.

You can count all the other countries that are highly interested….

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David_McClurkin August 24, 2010 at 10:02 am

Agree, Max! Having been aboard USS FREEDOM in Cleveland and Boston, I observed a ship, concept and crew that is uniquely suited for often asymmetrical naval engagements. The future demands flexibility and adaptability and this ship is responsive to those needs. It is fiscally and militarily responsible to be diligent in the selection process, but understanding and belief in this concept and its execution should remain resolute.

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Maxtrue August 23, 2010 at 6:40 pm

"can't police everywhere"…..excuse me
http://www.militaryaerospace.com/index/display/ar

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Blight August 23, 2010 at 8:24 pm

There's no LCS module to refuel aircraft. Please pay another three billion to refuel JSF one at a time…?

A Swiss army knife is a lot of things. Its a tiny blunt knife, a crummy scissor…

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Maxtrue August 23, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I assume they refuel helicopters so for tactical situations or special missions, it hardly seems a stretch to refuel or reload F-35s. Yes, one at a time. eventually, such a littoral asset with DEW modules, Rail modules, missile modules, drones supposedly interchangeable with other platforms are not reasonable depending on the mission? Not reasonable assets against swarming and adversarial littoral assets?

Hell, at the rate we field new air refueling, LCS might be a plan…lol.

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St6eve Bailey August 24, 2010 at 10:23 am

"a crummy scissor…"

Actually the scissors are the best to be had among any of the folding knives and multi-tools. Still not a full sized pair of scissors, but sometimes good enough for the moment. Kind of like the LCS….

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blight August 24, 2010 at 10:45 am

To be fair, it's probably because I don't buy the "real" Swiss Army knife products.

However, LCS isn't a swiss army knife, cause it can't be modular in the field. It's more like a swiss army knife where you have to pick which attachments go in, yes? And if you choose poorly, then it's just as bad as not having modularity in the first place and sending the wrong boat.

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Stephen Russell August 23, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Invite yacht makers for LCS ship contract bid & see prices drop.
Very doable Im sure.
Yes Yacht builders alone.
See Yacht Network on Facebook.

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Viper August 23, 2010 at 9:47 pm

The LCS provides more capabilities than other ships. Modular designs allow for quick changing from supporting special operations missions to UAV, Anti-submarine, counternarcotics interdiction, maritime security operations, and more missions. The propulsion system allows for operations in shallow waters (no propellers)
as well as higher speeds. http://www.lockheedmartin.com/ms2/features/lcs-ri
Before you blindly criticize a sophisticated weapons system, learn more about it than the front page of the Washington Post or a blog.

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Locarno August 24, 2010 at 4:15 am

Most of the things listed there consist of "by fielding helicopters". Yes, LCS has a helicopter deck. No, it doesn't do a lot else. UAV capability, yes, but the UAV is fire scout (so essentially a helicopter).

The minehunting capability is an RMS, but I'm not sure how close anyone would dare let a ship that's deliberately not designed to the ship shock standards to a potential mine threat (especially when any ship can carry one). Alright, the RMS is supposed to be stand-off, but by definition the border of a mine threat area is fuzzy in the extreme….

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Dean August 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm

The whole LCS concept is hopelessly flawed. The program should be stopped now.
We have no need for a FAST helicopter carrier. What the Navy really needs is a replacement for the Perry frigate, a modern version if you will.
What we need is a warship we can produce in great numbers, a warship that can shoot and defend itself, a warship that can take a licking and stay afloat (proven with the Perry class), a warship that has endurance (that doesn't need to be refueled every 2 days) and finally a warship that can hold it's own in a fight, the LCS couldn't fight it's way out of a paper bag.

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Maxtrue August 23, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Besides what Viper said which is critical considering asymmetrical threats, let's say that five to ten years out we do in fact have powerful DEW, Rail, Hypersonic modules. How exactly do you move in under the radar close to adversarial coasts in shallow water with heavy hardware? Can a frigate do this with stealth and speed?

Although I'm just a layman, I would agree however that just having lightweight weapons alone doesn't warrant the money, still large ships just don't seem to fit all the niches in future war scenarios against the adversaries we see today. Or shall we just build for a war with Russia or China?

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Mitre August 23, 2010 at 11:14 pm

The LCS would have problems landing an F-35 because the heat from the engine exhaust would melt the reinforced deck. WASP class ships have had problems with the Osprey and F-35 deck tests. As for the Swiss army ship concept, sometimes a more flexible / less specialized vessel fits a need. Every Navy ship does not need to be able to shoot down airliners at 200 miles or provide shore battery fire. I carry a Swiss army knife because it does what I need for it to do when I need it.

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blight August 24, 2010 at 10:47 am

But they're selling LCS as a highly specialized vessel…based on module loadout. It isn't exactly Swiss army knife (my previous analogy was flawed). Think of it as a swiss army knife where you have to choose attachments instead of having them all at once.

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Maxtrue August 24, 2010 at 1:00 am

Okay, scale this up to LCS size: http://twistedsifter.com/2009/10/can-your-boat-di

Water tight hangers and quite a good system to go from floating to submerged. Snorkel when you need air…….

Now there's some stealth…..

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STemplar August 24, 2010 at 4:05 am

I think when they ramp up and actually pull the trigger on a contract, the LCS' that are purchased are going to be more like the export versions. Whichever one is picked I think is going to have the VLS option that was offered by both for export versions. I think it is the Independence that can only do the tactical VLS and the Freedom that had the full length VLS offered, although l bet Team Independence is working to add a full VLS option, or something for Harpoons. Don't be shocked if the Block 3 Harpoons are resurrected as well as l think they are suppose to be VLS capable. Not sure what choice the USN has if NLOS is tanked for certain.

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Moose August 26, 2010 at 12:40 am

You have it backward. The LockMart Freedom-class derivative was to use EESM-only VLS cells, while GD/Austal's Independence-class derivative would have full strike-length VLS.

Harpoon Block III is not coming back. There are other missiles in the work, and the money going into the airframe is for SLAM-ER improvements.

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Dale August 24, 2010 at 8:37 am

I have said for a long time that he LCS either one of them is a ship in search of mission. The knock against the FFG's was that it was ship that did a lot of things but did none of them well. The LCS does not even do a lot of things, well or other wise. Even a 76 MM was considered a pop gun on a FFG, now we are supposed to be content with a gun a 1/3 smaller. The modular concept is flawed, murohy;s law says you will never have the one you need when you need it.

A modern Perry class would be better, a smaller VLS cell maybe some kind of mini SPY-1 a variant of the 53 to replace that 56 that can't see to the bottom of a bath tub. Look at engineering the current location to accept a 5 inch. Go electric drive with a pair of isopods. Go with diesels, a pair of really big ones for all electricity instead of LM's for drive and diesels for electric power. Diesels are more efficent especailly if they are turning one constant speed.

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Jeff August 24, 2010 at 9:02 am

Absolutely unbelievable! The MIC strikes again, re-inventing the wheel to solve problems that do not exist, for billions of dollars. These guys, with their pathological need for power and money will be the death of this nation. Go get 'em Gates!

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William C. August 24, 2010 at 12:59 pm

The MIC? Pathological need for power and money? Stop demonizing the defense industry. Countless good people work for these companies as much as you may hate their CEOs.

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Jeff August 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Bill,

I do not hate their CEO's or the military men who work with them. I am saying that both the civilians who build our weapons and the military that uses them have lost perspective, and that the entire system is totally out of control.

Out of control because regardless of the nature of the threat, (1) the brass always want a bigger, badder, quicker AND, UNFORTUNATELY, MORE EXPENSIVE WAY to kill our enemies, and (2) the defense contractors have always VIEWED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AS A CUSTOMER / SUGAR DADDY with an inexhaustible supply of money to fuel their ever growing need for corporate revenues / profits.

Can you say OVERKILL?

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STemplar August 25, 2010 at 4:32 am

Hey, they don't have the total parts for the C17 manufactured in 40 plus states because that's the patriotic thing to do, they do it to maximize the pressure they can exert on Congressman. Spare me the defense of them, one of the greatest military men in US history, a fella named Eisenhower held the same opinion. I'd share his company over any CEO, any day.

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Tony C August 24, 2010 at 9:39 am

The LCS is too large and too expensive to be an expendable asset using up the enemies
coastal armaments to allow larger assets to attack. The LCS is not really aything more than a glorified sealift asset. Small swarms of cheap patrol missile craft would be more effective at defeating other small fast missile craft. Maybe the LCS can take some heat off the main force in a delaying action.

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JDC August 24, 2010 at 11:12 am

The LCS concept was supposed to be a "quick fix to the littoral challenge." It has proven to be neither a fix, nor quick.

Already, Fleet Forces Command knows that all Navy ships are undermanned, including the LCS. Gee, whoda thunk? Just because having a flu bug takes out 1/3 of your 40 person crew, now you become combat ineffective? Or that you go into sustained combat ops for 72 hours like in a small boat swarm Straights of Hormuz scenario.

USN has a real challenge here. The conventional hull has several design problems including location of the main fuel riser over the engine (ever heard of cracks/battle damage?) and no view down the ship's centerline on the bridge due to a big monitor and no window located there. (Hello, shipyard, ever been to sea?) and small mission bay.

LCS #2 challenges too: Ever heard of the USS Stark? We said "no more" aluminum superstructures on warships since they melt…and what do we do? Consider one with an aluminum superstructure. Next comes the billions in retrofit $ for kevlar armor, just like for the FFG 7's…gee whiz guys, where is the corporate memory?

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WTQ August 24, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Bring back the Fletchers!

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blight August 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Littoral combat ship=Patrol Boat, Torpedo?

We may need to look at our adversaries and how they perceive the "littoral" ship to be. Iranians are going back to failed missile boats. Our LCS is basically a missile boat too, bigger, with more avionics and a helicopter bay? And modules that probably can't be changed at sea? Can they be changed at friendly ports? How is this process supposed to happen? Have the contractors resolved this yet?

If the module thing is worked out we may be able to ditch the failed LCS designs and save something. If not…?

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M.G.Halvorsen August 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm

"Littoral Combat Ship", my aged a**…What we need has already been invented. And we could update it as needed. We had it 60-plus years ago. Travels at 40 kts., can carry up to 4 torpedoes, capable of being modified to carry a 25mm plus any number of "Ma-Deuce" .50's…Any more hints? We called it the PT Boat in WWII. Worked then, would work now…Oh, Hell, it isn't high-tech enough…But we could churn them out by the thousands with updated hardware. Or borrow a few ideas from our former advesary and build "Schnellboote"…bigger, faster, burns diesel, possibly missles added for more intense social work. And, BTW, fiberglass is lighter, easier to patch, and is quicker to manufacture…anything is better than the stupidly wasteful crap the taxpayer is being saddled with here…

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Blight August 25, 2010 at 8:48 am

as fond I am of PT boats the modern one would probably need some sort of lightweight cruise missile in lieu of the torpedo.Add a CIWS and use a basic radar. Relying on a gun heavy armament for AA failed in WW2, and what exactly would a PT boat be doing? Getting shot up by coastal defenses?

I remember in WW2 they modified landing craft to spam a bunch of rockets onto target. Perhaps we could reenvision LCS as less expensive amphib support for marine ops…?

We should bite the bullet and buy a bunch of those PC boats…

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Dean August 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Hey JDC, I hear ya and second the motion.
What I call the current thinking is the Navy is “stupid think.”
We seemed to have forgotten what we used to know about building warships.
-warships build entirely of aluminum
-built to merchant marine stadards
-57mm main gun-who’s afraid of that? (all the enemy has to do is stay >5 miles out and lobe 5″ shells at the LCS and the LCS can’t do **** about it)
-speed above everything else, did the navy forget that you can’t outrun a missile (or even a shell)
-small crew and lot of automation, what happens when the automation breaks? Do you call off the battle and go home, wave the white flag?
-RAM is ok but the first near miss is going to take out the radar and the ship will be defenseless (kind of like throwing sand in your enemies eyes)
-modular design, that’s just stupid, a warship should have all of it weapons and capabilities with it at all time, not just a certain times.
-what is need to do is build a cheap small version of the Burke destroyer, perhaps 1/2 the size, but built to the small durable standards, call it a “son of a Burke.” ;-D

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Jeff August 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Amen!

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Mastro August 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

Hope they pick the one with sufficient reserve buoyancy.

Oh- neither one? Oops-

What's with the rollon/roll off thing? Are they really going to unload a lone Stryker on the Iranian coast? What fool will volunteer for that?

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Skysoldier173 August 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

iam not a Sailor, but from wat im reading this thing stinks. Firepower? Almost none. A chopper? Wow, wat a waste$$$$

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joseph dent August 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Go Navy and Marine Corps, got a look at LCD and understand that future test for welds on portside and starboardside solid shuttle rocket boosters are a high priority underway, this will give the push the Navy needs to achieve the knots in the worst case senario. Gen. Joseph Dent United States Marine Corps, 2nd Mar Div. Co.

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Mastro August 26, 2010 at 12:01 am

Rocket boosters?? WT….

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Mastro August 27, 2010 at 10:25 am

What I wonder is – does having a 40 knot top speed really help in the day of small/large antiship missiles? Can they really outmaneuver them? It also must burn fuel like a 1972 V8.

After all- fighters topped out at mach 2 once everyone realized it was a lot cheaper to make an AAM that goes a mach or two faster.

That sort of speed might be good for chasing down drug runners- but the compromises it forces – light body, high noise levels, money- might not be worth it.

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roland August 30, 2010 at 2:12 am

How about producing 1 million BM for submarine and land future defenses.

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Blight August 30, 2010 at 8:35 am

Isn't that Chinas interim solution for self defense?

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roland August 30, 2010 at 11:16 am

Perhaps but we maybe force to defend our allies like Taiwan and S. Korea against North and China if they attack S. Korea and Taiwan, on the otherhand Mr Obama might say we will not attack…

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roland August 30, 2010 at 4:04 am

As I understand this is Aegis family? Does this have multiple BM, Aegis capability?

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Dean August 30, 2010 at 4:08 pm

The LCS is like the Obama presidency, where it can from no one knows (like Obama), it promises to fix every thing wrong in the Navy (the world), gulps fuel (spends money) like there is no tomorrow, makes a lot of noise (PR) but it delivers nothing and leaves us wishing we hadn't developed it (voted him in).

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Jay September 10, 2010 at 11:36 pm

So "DEAN" what experience do you have with LCS?? Just asking since you talk like you know what the ship is and is not capable of doing?? I am sure you are just like everyone else who reads articles online or has a subscription to navy times and likes to try and talk like you have been on the ship and know first hand what she can do.

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short hairstyles November 19, 2013 at 5:32 pm
Maxtrue August 24, 2010 at 12:39 am

again, excuse the typos….its late…

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Thomas L. Nielsen August 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm

"The concept of stealthy littoral platforms makes sense in light of the coming the convergence of of technology." Huh ??

"…..a more lethal gun with proper tracking systems…..". What kind of gun did you have in mind? A larger calibre conventional gun will be bigger and heavier. Is the LCS platform prepared for that? A railgun (if and when these become available) will require A LOT of power and cooling. Is the LCS platform prepared for that? Same for DEW (if and when these become available).

"……underside hull doors to retrieve and deploy seabed caches, mini-subs, sea drones and mines…." Cut holes in the hull? What about structural strength and integrity? Is the LCS platform prepared for this?

I'm not trying to knock the LCS (or you), but it seems to me you're saying that the LCS will be an excellent warship once it’s been redesigned completely.

Oh, and BTW, the Danish Navy had the whole modular, corvette-size, coastal vessel down pat years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyvefisken_class_patrol_vessel).

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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