Britain's P&O Group Designs New Type Naval Vessel To Be Built In Private Yards

Britain's giant shipping group P and 0 has unveiled designs for a versatile new type of naval vessel which can be built or refitted in any commercial shipyard capable of handling a deepsea trawler.

The designs are intended to help governments with limited defense and manpower budgets and without specialized naval dockyards to provide adequate defense and coast guard cover, oil rig and fisheries protection.

The company does not propose to build the vessel itself, but would supply the designs, help select a suitable shipyard, and supervise construction. It would also offer assistance in obtaining parts and equipment.

The use of commercial shipbuilding practice, says P and O, enable costs to be kept to a minimum. The basic vessel could be built for around $14,000,000, while the most advance type, with full weapons and electronics, would cost around $28,000,000.

Named the "Flower Project" after the Flower-class sloops of the First World War and corvettes of World War Two, the designs are for a corvette of approximately 1,100- tons displacement with an overall length of about 282 feet (86 meters).

The vessel's main feature is the ability to operate and maintain two helicopters at sea, though its cost and manpower requirement is only half that of a full-size frigate which can operate only one helicopter.

Three main versions are available. Type 86 P is the basic low-cost vessel for coast guard and para-military duties, Type 86 N is the full naval version with heavier armament and more advanced electronics, while the main features of these two types are combined in the third version, Type 86 M.

Both types 86 P and 86 M can also carry decompression equipment for divers, and equipment for survey and research work or disaster relief. All three types can be varied to meet individual requirements including, for example, fitting either ship-to-ship or ship-to-air missile systems.

Normally, the Flower Project vessels will use British Westland Lynx helicopters, and armament would include a single 76-mm and two 40-mm guns and antisubmarine torpedo tubes.

The designs are by P and O subsidiary Three Quays Marine Services, which supervises design and construction of P and O vessels, and also works for other shipowners.

It is currently involved in the building of cargo vessels in Korea for Arab shipping interests.

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