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International Frigate Working Group: A Collaborative Effort to Improve FFG's

By FFG CLASSRON Public Affairs

MAYPORT - The Oliver Hazard Perry Class Guided Missile Frigate (FFG) is a foundation platform in eight of the world’s Navies and a key contributor to the Global Maritime Strategy. Creating strong international relationships in order to increase capabilities, modernize, and reduce obsolescence among the world’s FFGs was the goal of the first International Frigate Working Group (IFWG) conference held at Naval Station, Mayport, Fla., May 12-15, 2009.

Recognizing the benefits of partnership, Team Ships and the Guided Missile Frigate Class Squadron (FFGRON) worked together to find better ways to tackle and align FFG issues. The IFWG and May’s conference are among the results.

Approved by the Chief of Naval Operations, sponsored by Team Ships Director Rear Adm. Jim McManamon, and hosted by FFGRON Commander, Commodore Glenn Zeiders, the IFWG conference was attended by all eight countries that operate Oliver Hazard Perry Class Frigates, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Poland, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United States.

Using the success the U.S. Navy has achieved with the Class Squadron (CLASSRON) concept and enterprise approach to managing ships of the same class, the vision for the IFWG is to do the same, taking a holistic view of all ships. Zeiders says the IFWG is basically an “International CLASSRON,” because the experience and data from each of the FFG operators can be shared for the mutual benefit of all.

“Instead of 30 data points we have 63,” he said.

Throughout the week, each country’s delegation presented honest assessments of current issues associated with FFG’s and the initiatives to resolve those issues. The IFWG presentations, discussions and site visits laid the groundwork for future collaboration; sharing new technology and potentially significant cost savings.

Commander naval surface Force, Atlantic Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn stressed the historic nature of the first IFWG conference.

“Given the variety of missions the Frigates supports, it has earned its place as a stalwart in operations around the world,” said Quinn. “It comes as no surprise that with its undeniable track record of success, this ship class has migrated to navies all around the globe. This working group is timely, relevant and a critical enabler for the future of the FFG Class.”

IFWG highlights included presentations and discussions associated with corrosion, maintenance availabilities, and modernization of FFG's. USS John L. Hall (FFG 32) hosted a tour where subject matter experts were available to answer any questions from the foreign delegates. They included Alan Karpovitch, an authority on the LM2500 gas turbine engine, and Bob Bell, an expert for the MK92 fire control system. A reception hosted by Mr. Ted Turowski, President of the St Augustine Navy League and supported by Navy League Councils throughout Florida and Georgia was also held onboard John L. Hall. The reception was instrumental in forming unified bonds of cooperation and camaraderie between the various delegations.

Over the course of the week the IFWG developed more than 50 action items.

Key initiatives include:
•Finalize Terms of Reference for the Group
•Develop a Configuration / Modernization Data Base
•Develop Smart Acquisition / Inventory Management
•Examine Third Party Transfer Process
•Corrosion Control Status and Structural Cracks

Ultimately it is hoped the IFWG will provide cost effective alternatives for FFG sustainment. Over the next year, the IFWG will sustain communications, report progress on initiatives and actions, and plan the next IFWG meeting in Istanbul next year.

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