Setting Standards, Becoming Excellence
Fr. Lürssen’s Role in Addressing Global Needs
Fr. Lürssen Werft designs and builds a wide range of naval vessels – fast patrol boats, Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) and frigate-sized combatants. Providing high-performance, high-reliability platforms is the philosophy the shipyard developed over decades. The design found in products like the PV 80 or PV 85 patrol ships is able to cope with the growing demand for multimission-capable surface assets capable of supporting the agile development of defence capabilities. This is mainly in response to rapidly changing operational requirements as can be found across the whole of Southeast Asia. When the PV 80 design was down-selected by the Government of the Sultanate of Brunei, it was expected that the platform will replace some of the Royal Brunei Navy’s older assets, and successfully compete with other designs like the three “Nakhoda Ragam” class corvettes originally built for Brunei. At the end, the Sultanate rejected the delivery of the latter, stating that the newly selected PV 80 design will be able to better cope with completely new challenges, e.g. developing strategic partnerships with other Navies in the region and cooperating in the combat of smuggling and terrorism.
Fr. Lürssen Werft delivered them – in two batches – in 2011 and 2014. Now in full-scale deployments, the vessels are described as a “completely new capability” of the Royal Brunei Navy. The shipyard has a long history of involvement, at various levels, in shipbuilding projects of other Navies and law enforcement agencies in Southeast Asia. This ranges from the supply of complete vessels, design, construction documents, know-how, and technology transfer to logistics and through-life support. This scheme also includes the supply of material packages, training, and cooperation with local shipbuilders.
The portfolio of OPVs, fast patrol boats, and minehunter designs Fr. Lürssen Werft showcases at DSEi 2015 in London is not surprising. The shipyard is described by many observers as a well-proven, traditional partner of a number of the world’s naval fleets, including the Turkish Naval Force and the German Navy.
Exemplifying Turkey as one of the shipbuilder’s main customers, it had received a total of seven contracts; six of which called for the local construction and delivery of 10 “Doğan” class missile Fast Attack Craft or FAC (Lürssen FPB57 design), three “Kiliç” class (Lürssen FPB57-052 B) missile FAC, and six “Tufan” class (Lürssen FPB 57-052 Mod) fast patrol boats. The latter is also known as the KILIÇ-II programme which included the licence-production of five units at Istanbul Naval Shipyard.
The German Navy’s new flagship, the 7,300 tons (full displacement) Type F125 frigate “Baden-Württemberg” (F 222), is to prove to the world’s naval community their inherent expertise in naval shipbuilding Fr. Lürssen has developed over the past decades. German Navy officials said at the christening ceremony of her sister ship, “Nordrhein-Westfalen” (F 223), in Hamburg on 16 April 2015 that the shipbuilding expertise found in this new class of surface warships marks another major milestone towards the strategic partnership between Fr. Lürssen Werft and the German customer. Fr. Lürssen Werft, part of the ARGE F125 consortium, not only delivered a new ship but also a vision of what quality and performance can mean in today’s naval shipbuilding.
Today, a little over a third of the shipbuilder’s workload is still for the German Navy, however. But this reputation forms the company’s ‘key’ for addressing worldwide demands for sophisticated surface ships.
Reaching New Heights
Founded by Friedrich Lürßen in 1875, the shipyard achieved a number of major milestone throughout its history, mainly in commercial shipbuilding: building the first motorboat in 1886; designing record-breaking speedboats shortly before WWI (upon which Fr. Lürssen earned a reputation for performance); delivery of the first large yacht “Oheka II” in 1927 (that set the standards for large yachts); manufacturing of racing and pleasure boats in the 1920s and 1930s; launching of the first superyacht in 1971 (which is now seen as a precursor of the modern Lürssen yachts). The Lürßen family continues to be dedicated to the defining principle of “leading in quality and performance”. The founding philosophy is purely the ‘blueprint’ for how Fr. Lürssen Werft is recognised today on a worldwide scale. “We always try to be at the forefront of technology, methods of production, and quality”, said the company.
Spanning a history of 140 years, no other shipbuilder in the world owns this magnificent heritage. Also a technology leader in integrated logistics support (including system documentation, spare part management and supply, and repair, refits, and upgrades) and consultancy, Fr. Lürssen, which now has several manufacturing locations across northern Germany, is always eager to be at least two steps ahead of others, offering best practice to its commercial and military customers.
Building a Strong Presence Abroad
It cannot be ignored that ‘globalisation’ plays a key role in Fr. Lürssen’s vision to address new markets. Because they are forever-changing places, Fr. Lürssen’s leadership knows that it will have to adapt to the ever-changing requirements of naval fleets, Coast Guards, and law enforcement organisations in the future. In recognition of the increased shipbuilding needs and procurement activities across Asia, the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, and in parts of the African continent, Fr. Lürssen Werft has decided to step up their presence with the setting up of Lürssen Marine Technology Pte. Ltd. (LMT) in Singapore. The organisation now serves customers in these regions. Fr. Lürssen also established an experienced design team under the name of Lürssen Design Centre Asia Sdn. Bhd. (LDCA). Both these organisations will aim to meet the demand for paramilitary and law enforcement vessels to be built in Asia. This trend also goes in line with the development of new patrol craft designs like the Interceptor FIB 25 design. It can be more effectively deployed for surveillance, interdiction, patrol, and policing duties in coastal and territorial waters than larger and more costly frigate-sized combatants.
For the MENA region in particular, Brigadier Dr. (Eng) Thani A. Al-Kuwari, Assistant Chief of Staff for Financial Affairs, Qatar Armed Forces, expects a strong growth of the naval market, with the regional new-construction ship market valued at US$45Bn. This is led by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). All of these countries have important shipbuilding plans on the table.
A premier example in Asia, Brunei, certainly mirrors the region’s ‘fast run’ for new-build platforms that display inherently improved performance and multimission characteristics. With the induction of four 80m vessels of the PV 80 design, the Royal Brunei Navy can now position itself as a capable force, fulfilling its steadily increasing obligations in the Sultanate’s coastal waters. Adding to the capability of the four “Ijtihad” class (Type FPB 41) patrol boats also built by Fr. Lürssen Werft, and delivered to the service in 2009 and 2010, they considerably enhanced its operational capabilities, and provide the fleet with a significant enforcement capacity.
Brunei’s Defence White Paper of 2011 cited the importance of securing the nation’s part of the South China Sea. The “Darussalam” class OPVs form exactly that part of a more capable force, which is needed to defend Brunei’s souvereignty and territorial integrity. The Royal Brunei Navy’s Chief, First Admiral Halim, stated in an interview with NAVAL FORCES in 2014 that the “Darussalam” class allows the service to deploy at far greater distances, including the Philippine Sea, eastern Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific Ocean. “...their versatility was emphasised in the tragic wake of Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines. We deployed two of our “Darussalam” units to provide Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief [HA/DR]”, the Admiral said.
The fourth PV 80 unit, KDB “Daruttaqwa” (09), recently visited Singapore and participated in the biannual IMDEX Asia 2015 maritime defence exhibition. The 80m long patrol ship was received on 13 May 2014. Like her three PV 80 sisters, she was ordered by the Government of Brunei after rejecting the initial three “Nakhoda Ragam” class corvettes built by BAE Systems.
Strategic Issues Influence Naval Ship Offerings
Strategic aspects face the whole of Southeast Asia. They become an issue for shipbuilders like Fr. Lürssen Werft in their efforts to promote mission-oriented surface ship designs. Innovations in naval ship design and construction will arguably help certain customers outline their naval doctrine. According to Admiral Halim, no maritime sector is currently attracting as much attention as Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) and Maritime Security, requiring “new ships and capabilities to defend against the spectrum of new threats”. Brunei’s Defence White Paper notes that the new assets received by the Sultanate’s Navy are also capable of monitoring much larger powers, like China or India, acting in hydrocarbon-rich areas close to Brunei’s territorial waters. The White Paper re-affirmed that the main function of the Government was to defend the country, although it stated that the threats were no longer conventional but less traditional security problems like smuggling or terrorism.
All the nations in the region have strong motivations to invest in MSA and Maritime Security capabilities. This scheme also includes countries like Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, both of which do have a stronger commitment to MSA in littoral or coastal waters in the near future. Also, developing strong strategic partnerships with other naval forces in the region will be indispensable to combat smuggling, terrorism, and other illegal activities in parts of the South China Sea and Philippine Sea. For the small and slowly developing Navy of Papua New Guinea in particular, this means that achieving military presence in its littoral and EEZ waters not only requires the ability to fill in existing capability gaps (e.g. maritime surveillance), but also a high degree of interoperability with multinational force components. Therefore, analysts predict an increasing demand for small, agile, and multimission-capable surface assets in both these countries. It is important to note that Papua New Guinea is presently lacking any viable surface force for protecting its marine resources – hydrocarbons, minerals, wildlife. Territorial waters off Papua New Guinea are believed to host huge oil and gas resources, as well as base, precious, and strategic metals intimately associated with high-grade Seafloor Massive Sulfide (SMS) systems. They are in need of a certain level of protection.
By Stefan Nitschke