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Peruvian Navy commissions first of new class of large patrol vessels

Warship Technology: July/Aug 2016

Intended to serve with the Coast Guard service (Guarda Costas) of the MGP, the new maritime patrol ships (‘patrulleras maritimas’), known in Peru as Type PGCP-50 465TM, were constructed at the navy-owned SIMA Chimbote shipyard using material packages, design drawings and technical assistance supplied by South Korea’s STX Offshore & Shipbuilding under a technology transfer agreement. The design is a variant of the South Korean Coast Guard 500tonne Taeguk class patrol vessels with differences in the superstructure, weapons, equipment fit and propulsion systems. 

STX beat several other contenders to provide the design for the new vessels, including Damen in The Netherlands and CMN in France to win the Peruvian tender for five patrol vessels (plus five options). The bids were reportedly very close, with navy officials cited as saying that the STX offer design was superior, in part, due to the ships’ fully automated weaponry and fire control system, larger accommodation spaces and greater range and endurance. It is believed that each hull, excluding weapon systems, costs around US$16.5 million based on the reference price set by shipbuilder SIMA. However, according to the Peruvian President, the total budget allocated for the 10-ship patrol vessel project is US$250 million.

The deal was announced in September 2013 followed by a formal contract signing between SIMA and STX in December 2013. At the time, the preliminary goal was to complete the first pair of ships in 18 months. Local media reports note that SIMA successfully completed the first two hulls to cost and on time.

A keel-laying ceremony attended by Peruvian President, Ollanta Humala, took place in late December 2013 at SIMA Callao, although the boats were actually built at SIMA Chimbote. In fact, this event appears to have been more of a ceremonial project ‘kick off’ since actual hull production started in August 2014 according to a SIMA presentation in January 2016, which also noted that the completion date for the first pair was to be March 2016, thus maintaining the original timelines very closely.

By August 2015, SIMA Chimbote reported that the first pair were 76% complete and in an advanced outfitting stage. The largely completed ships were launched in late 2015 – Rio Pativilca on 30 November and Rio Cañete on 1 December 2015 – and then commenced harbour acceptance trials in January-February 2016, followed by sea trials lasting until March 2016. On completion of the trials, both were ceremonially ‘launched’ and named on 18 March 2016 at SIMA Chimbote before being commissioned into service on 28 March 2016 at naval base Callao, sans weapons.

Each vessel displaces around 465tonnes with a length of 55.3m, beam of 8.5m, a moulded depth of 4.5m and draught of 1.85-2.30m. The boats are constructed from a total of nine modules. The hull, made of AH-36 steel, is assembled from five blocks; the topside comprises four blocks of A5083-H321 aluminium.

Unlike the South Korean ships on which they are based, which are waterjet powered, the Peruvian variants have two propeller shafts powered by two Caterpillar 3516C HD diesels, each rated at 2,525bhp at 1,800rpm. Electrical power is provided by two 215kW Caterpillar generators. The ships’ top speed is 23knots, although the sustained cruising speed is 18knots. Their range at an economic speed of 14knots is 3,600nm. Their complement is 25 people, although there is sufficient on board space for another 14 persons.

In another departure from the Korean variant, the Peruvian ships are equipped with two Vogo-supplied 8.5m rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) on single-point davits in addition to a smaller 4.8m Vogo RHIB that is launched with a crane. The larger RHIBs, powered by twin 300hp Mercury outboards for speeds in excess of 50knots, are for interception and firefighting duties. The boats are equipped with two JRC radar sets – presumably X- and S-band sets, as well as a prominent SATCOM antenna atop the bridge. They are also fitted with firefighting equipment.

According to local media reports and ship graphics from SIMA, the ships are due to be equipped with the Rafael Typhoon remote control weapon system with a 30mm automatic cannon and two 12.7mm Mini Typhoon mounts (with a 12.7mm machine gun), along with fire control by a Toplite electro-optical system. MGP acquisition plans for 2016 call for the procurement of ammunition for the weapons. 

The third and fourth hulls are to be named Rio Piura and Rio Quilca. As of January 2016, both hulls were in the pre-block assembly stage with two upright blocks each while the other hull blocks were being worked on in an inverted state (the typical mode of constructing these blocks). Three out of five of these were largely completed. There have been no announcements about the fifth hull as of May 2016. These ships, which will replace an equivalent number of existing vessels, will be engaged in maritime security operations typically between 15 and 100 miles out to sea, according to the MGP.

Construction of the patrol boats is not only a part of the ongoing modernisation of the Peruvian Navy but also of a larger strategic commercial, military industrial partnership with South Korea to promote stronger commercial ties and technology transfer. With this in mind, SIMA Callao is also is also building a 122m, 11,500tonne Landing Platform Dock (LPD) to a design by South Korea’s Daesun that is near identical to the licence-built Makassar-class LPDs in service with the Indonesian Navy.

The MGP, which already operates a number of South Korean-built amphibious warfare ships, was also expecting to take delivery of a former South Korean Pohang-class corvette, Ferré, PM-211 (ex-Republic of Korea Navy Gyeonju 758) on 1 June 2016 at Jinhae naval base in South Korea. The vessel, which was a donation from the Republic of Korea Navy, has been undergoing the final stages of a refurbishment and refit at Jinhae. The corvette was expected to arrive at Callao in Peru on 15 July 2016.

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