Oliver Hazard Perry class missile frigate (1975-2004) High resolution picture

The American frigates of the Oliver Hazard Perry class were built between 1975 and 2004 for the United States Navy and several foreign nations; Australia, Spain and Taiwan built in their shipyards a certain number of them. The FFG-7 project has its origin in the specifications for the patrol frigate proposed in September 1973. The intention was to build a large number of unexpensive escort units; consequently were set strict limitations regarding displacement, human dotation and costs in general. Contrarily to the almost contemporary Spruance class, which had specialized facilities for its construction, these frigates were projected to be built in any shipyard.

The simplest construction techniques were applied with a maximum utilization of flat panels and bulkheads, ensuring that transit passages were very narrow. The structure of the hull could be realized from prefabricated modules of 35, 100, 200 or 400 tonnes, allowing to the different shipyards to use those more convenient for them. This would allow to keep the production costs notably close to the original estimations. Besides, the FFG-7 program applied the concept "fly before buying" used by the United States Air Force, originating a delay of two years between the completion of the first ship and the rest. This would allow to solve the problems emerged during the trials of the first ship and to incorporate the required modifications in the subsequent ships during their construction. Furthermore, the individual systems had been already tested in ships of other classes.

As in preceding frigates, the Oliver Hazard Perry was fitted with a "second-class" powerplant attached to a single propeller. The disposition was however much more compact than in the Knox class, because of the adoption of gas turbines. Two turbines LM2500 were installed side by side in a single engine room. Two small retractable propulsion units installed just after the sonar casing provide backward motion during berthing maneuvers, and they could impulse the ship at 6 knots in case of emergency. The sonar device was of a new but austere type, lacking long range and the multimode capacity found on the SQS-26 installed in former frigates. It was intended that these frigates operated along those equiped with the SQS-26 to receive the sonar information via data link.

The armament in these frigates was not intended for antisubmarine purposes, however they were provided with a wide hangar for two LAMPS helicopters. They were armed with a Mk 13 launcher for surface-to-air missiles Standard SM-1 or the antiship Harpoon, and a 76-millimeter fast-firing cannon OTO Melara, placed in unusual position. Whereas the Spruance class was projected to incorporate a great amount of space for long-term future growth, the FFG-7 project was strictly restricted to accommodate those systems provided for a near future. And surprisingly, the FFG-7 project survived beyond the Spruance class.

Oliver Hazard Perry class: 71 units, including: Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7), Clifton Sprague (FFG-16), Antrim (FFG-20), Copeland (FFG-25), Stark (FFG-31), Crommelin (FFG-37), Halyburton (FFG-40), Robert G. Bradley (FFG-49), Taylor (FFG-50), Ford (FFG-54) and Ingraham (FFG-61) for the United States Navy; HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Newcastle for the Australian Navy (six ships in total); Santa Marķa (F-81) and Canarias (F-86) for the Spanish Navy (six ships in total); Cheng Kung and Tian Dan for the Taiwanese Navy (eight ships in total)

Type: Missile frigate

Length: 135.6 meters

Beam: 13.7 meters

Draught: 7.5 meters (including sonar bulb)

Displacement (full load): 3710 tonnes

Propulsion: 1 x shaft, 2 x gas turbine General Electric LM2500, 40000 horsepower

Speed: 30 knots (55.5 kilometers/hour)

Range: 4500 nautical miles (8334 kilometers) at 20 knots

Complement: 176

Armament (early design): 1 x Mk 13 SSM/SAM missile launcher, 1 x Mk 75 OTO Melara 76-millimeter DP cannon, 2 x Mk 32 triple 324-millimeter ASW torpedo launcher, 2 x SH-60B Sea Hawk LAMPS III ASW helicopter

Armament (from 1982): 1 x Mk 13 SSM/SAM missile launcher, 1 x Mk 75 OTO Melara 76-millimeter DP cannon, 1 x Mk 15 Vulcan Phalanx CIWS 20-millimeter cannon, 2 x Mk 32 triple 324-millimeter ASW torpedo launcher, 2 x SH-60B Sea Hawk LAMPS III ASW helicopter

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