When saving is dangerous for the ship: the truth about frigates Oliver H. Perry


A shroud of sea foam - that's all that this frigate expected when meeting with the enemy.

Last week, my esteemed colleague listed the benefits Oliver Perry and raised it to the standard of the sea weapons. Apparently, many of the ideas implemented during the creation of the Perry needed to be used in the construction of domestic warships.



But were those ideas so useful?

And will there be any benefit from a ship designed with an eye on a foreign frigate from a past era?


You need to stop seeing in Perry a simple, cheap and therefore massive ship.

He did not become mass because he was cheap. And it was cheap not because it was planned to become massive. The logic based on domestic examples does not work in the case of Perry.

Serial construction of frigates (51 for the US Navy) was carried out during the 1977-1989 years. In a similar time, the fleet replenished ... 53 warships of the "cruiser" and "destroyer" classes!

31 "Spruance" and 14 "Ticonderoge" - up to and including 1989. Plus, the “white elephants”, by chance caught under the striped flag of the destroyers "Kidd", the strongest in its class. And the hi-end exotic is the four Virginia nuclear-powered cruisers.


Only modelers can distinguish "Kidd" from "Spruance". The third representative of the family, the cruiser URO "Ticonderoga", was unified with destroyers for most systems

That’s the whole truth about simple and cheap workhorses. If the main part of the Navy really consisted of 4200-ton ships of simplified design, designed according to the methods of "Oliver Perry", such a fleet would be worthless.

In addition to the 53 cruisers and destroyers of new projects, the US Navy included over 20 missile cruisers, Kuntz / Feragat missile destroyers, and other serious equipment of the past decades. As of mid-late 80's, the number of large warships in fact exceeded the number of "cheap and massive" frigates.

Just as in our time the number of built “Berks” is four times higher than the number of smaller LCSs.

Perry frigates came out cheap because they were going to perform a limited range of tasks, behind the backs of their senior colleagues. And they were built by 51, because the Yankees considered it necessary such a number of auxiliary ships.

No one pursued numerical records and mass character.

The choice of “Perry” for the role of a standard in the design of future Russian ships can not cause anything but a smile


Given the role and purpose of the project, further questions to the technical side of the ship disappear. The forced compromises in its design did not come as a surprise to the customer.



With a given displacement at the technological frontier of the 70's, the frigate was obliged to concede in terms of combat capabilities to cruisers and destroyers.

The appearance of "Perry" was chosen not by a computer, but by living people. In their ideas about the frigate as a single-shaft ship with a sharp clipper bow, simple chopped forms of the superstructure and transom stern with a displacement of approx. 4000 tons of Perry creators focused on its predecessors - Knox type anti-submarine frigates. Given these preferences, the computer calculated the exact dimensions and helped to choose the optimal layout of the compartments and mechanisms. But the trends were set by the people themselves with an eye on existing projects of similar sizes.


Perry and Knox

The predecessors, the Knoxes, were created to escort convoys in World War III. Where only Soviet submarines could become the only enemy on the transatlantic routes.

With a tonnage of 4000 tons, the Knox frigate was quite fit for its purpose. Given the volume and complexity of the work ahead, it was a very expensive ship carrying the most sophisticated anti-aircraft equipment of the time.

“Knox” could not do anything else, and until the end of his days did not learn anything.

As for the Perry, its creators used a hull, similar in size to the Knox, to create a ship for everyday service in the conditions of the Cold War, which was to go into local conflict zones, where each detected boat and plane could be the carrier of an anti-ship missile . Where they could shoot from the shore. Where at any moment a battle with the "mosquito forces" of an unpredictable enemy (which was considered an ally in the morning) could break out. Where the ship could be required to provide artillery support to forces on the shore. Or a lightning strike on the deck of an enemy corvette, with the help of a missile launcher with a contactless fuse turned off.

The Yankees considered a frigate with a primitive two-coordinate radar and a single-channel air defense system acceptable for these purposes. In the absence of full countermeasures and electronic warfare.

In addition, the frigate was equipped with the only “Phalanx” covering the aft corners, that is, in the language of experts, had an open air defense circuit.

Given the "one-armed" launcher and the accepted consumption of two missiles for one target, the frigate had every chance not to survive a meeting even with a pair of enemy aircraft. However, like any other ship of its size, built on 1960-1970's technology.

The customer received exactly the frigate that the Navy needed: an auxiliary unit of the second or even third rank, which was a pity to spend an extra cent.

The safety of the Perry was by no means guaranteed by the strength of its weapons or the training of its crew. We rephrase the Soviet commander, who proudly answered the provocative calls of NATO ships:
“You are taking a dangerous cruise.”
- Our security is ensured by the flag of the Soviet Union!

Gouging "Perry" was not difficult. It is difficult to survive under sanctions later. However, once this logic did not justify itself.

The consequences of the attack on the "Stark" do not contain a sensational connotation


Such a ship could not drown from hits of a pair of Exocets, all the damage fell above the waterline. The explosion that arose from the engine stuck in the RCC add-on was effectively handled by the explosion of the second Exocet. Which, paradoxically as it sounds, even eased the position of the frigate.

Unlike the Sheffield, which was damaged on the edge of the earth, the Stark was near the American base in Bahrain, where he was brought the next day.

As for the overall assessment of survivability, the Perry frigates received a superstructure, traditional for that time, from fire-hazardous aluminum-magnesium alloys. Subsequently, this decision was declared unacceptable, and such ships have not been built for a long time.

The single-shaft design of the power plant is another compromise. The creators of "Perry" found such a decision justified for a second-class 2-ranking unit.

When saving is dangerous for the ship: the truth about frigates Oliver H. Perry

My colleague’s claim that there is no effect on survivability when using a single or two-shaft GEM scheme is contrary to common sense. It is interesting how the experience of using single-shaft ships during the WWII was analyzed if the main-class combat ships with a single-shaft GEM simply did not exist.

Even the smallest destroyers of the time with a displacement of approx. 2000 tons were equipped with a twin-shaft power plant.

Of course, the twin-shaft GEM radically increased survivability. There are a great many cases of combat damage to the propeller on one shaft or destruction of engine rooms on one side. At the same time, the ships retained the opportunity to give way. An example is the second trip to Theodosia of the cruiser "Red Caucasus".

Is it worth looking for meaning where it is not?


A frigate of the Oliver Perry type was programmed to defeat. The question was only in readiness to give him a fight. As time has shown, none of his opponents had the determination (or need) to attack small ships. A unique incident with Stark remained a mystery stories. Who and for what purpose gave a crazy order?

In addition to compromises, the Perry design contained positive elements. Among them is a set of technical equipment under the acronym LAMPS, which made it possible to link together all anti-submarine means of the frigate, including search and sighting systems on board helicopters. Criticizing the Perry, we must not forget about the scientific and technological level of the country in which the ship was created.


The fatal innate flaw of the Oliver Perry was mediocre seaworthiness. In fresh weather, with a longitudinal pitching, the frigate's nose showed up out of the water, followed by a terrible blow (bottom slaming). In addition to the loss of operability of sonar equipment, constant impacts destroyed the already not solid structure, causing multimeter cracks in the superstructure.

It had nothing to do with the size of the Perry; he, like any ship, was small only on paper. The reason for slamming was a too large lengthening of the hull (9,7), which made it possible to dispense with less power of the power plant at full speed. And, probably, mistakes in the design of contours.

Apparently, the computer did not take into account something in the calculations.


Dimensions of the ship with a displacement of approx. 4000 tons compared to humans. In the illustration: sailors wash off pacifist activists climbing the anchor chain. It’s happening in Denmark, they would be shot at an American base

At the beginning of the new century, the Perry underwent extensive modernization: a “one-armed bandit” was dismantled from their decks, and a patch was welded in its place. Left without missile weapons, they began to gradually withdraw from the fleet.

If twenty years ago, decommissioned "Perry" was a welcome present for the US allies, nowadays they are not even interesting for them. Modern ships have long had a different look and are built according to different standards.


Oliver Perry Frigate and Spruance Destroyer
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