Naval vessels

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Naval Vessels

Naval vessels are ships or boats employed by a countries Navy, or similarly by paramilitary organizations. Naval vessels generally are exempt from international regulation; however, increasingly are being built to classification standards - particularly for non-combat auxiliaries - as a means to reduce costs.


Naval Vessel Design

Unlike merchant ships, were cargo capacity and operating costs drive profitability and thus the design, naval ships are focused on life-cycle costs and capability.

Commercial Convergance

Naval vessels increasingly have been turning to 'COTS' - 'Commercial, Off The Shelf' design elements to reduce costs. Similarly, commercial vessels are increasingly prioritizing performance, such as container ships and ferrys with speed, or offshore vessels with all-weather stationkeeping and rescue capabilities. Government vessels are also being designed with more elements traditionally prioritized by naval vessels, such as command capabilities for disaster relief, helicopter decks & sensor suites for research, & stealth features for coast guard, interdiction, & policing roles. Both types of vessels have seen increasing trends in;

  • Specialized hull types (catamaran, trimaran, SWATH, hydrofoils)
  • Market construction - foreign design firms and yards building naval vessels, commercial construction increasing in developing economies

Facets of Naval Vessel Design

  • Stability - Combat vessels are expected to perform high-speed maneuvers, operate in all weather conditions, and resist heeling moments from weapons discharges. Conditions of load are often more limited, as most combat vessels have limited cargo capacity (and thus a narrow draught range). Draft ranges are typically maintained, either by ballast or dual-purpose tanks.
  • Survivability - Extensive subdivision, armour arrangement, nuclear washdown systems and thermal protection, lockdown/citedal capabilities, torpedo belts, damage and flooding control arrangements
  • Stealth - Noise reduction, radar cross section reduction, thermal signature reduction, electronic emissions reduction
  • Livability - Crew accommodations, naval specific compartments, naval traditions at sea
  • Offensive weaponry - Guns, cannons, anti-aircraft artillery, torpedoes, missiles
  • Defensive fittings - CIWS, ECM, EM protections
  • Sensors - Hydrophone, sonar, radar
  • Aircraft operations - Helicopter decks, flight decks, hangers
  • Communications - Radio, Networking, Signal lights, signal flags, integrated systems, fleet or theatre control capabilities
  • Supply Lines - May operate where ports are hostile, capable of 'Replenishment at Sea' (RAS) from supply ships, or by helicopter (winch zones or helipads)

Duty Cycles

Unlike commercial vessels, where their use generates income & so can be expected to be operational 80-90% of the time (often at 85-90% MCR), naval vessels cost money to operate & are rarely used at their full capability. For example, a typical mid-sized warship will have gas turbines for high-speed operations, but may transit on one or two diesel engines at a fraction of the power/fuel consumption (i.e., CODOG, CODAG). Navy vessels also have large crews, allowing for continual maintenance cycles where manpower is not a major consideration.

Classes of Naval Vessels

There are many types of naval ships;

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