Unique U.S. Navy Minehunter, First Of New MHC Class, Launched At Intermarine USA

unique minehunter

I n t e r m a r i n e USA recently launched the USS Osprey (MHC- 51) at its Savannah, Ga., shipyard. She is the first of a new class of GRP ships solely designed for minehunting. The Osprey, which features advanced technology to locate mines with sonar and then neutralize them via a remotely controlled underwater robot, is the first U.S. Navy ship designed solely for minehunting and the reportedly the world's largest glass reinforced plastic (GRP) ship. This technology was first developed for the Italian Lerici Class minehunters and was built for the U.S. Navy under a technology transfer arrangement between Italian and U.S. authorities.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were Senator Sam Nunn, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Senator Wyche Fowler, Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; U.S Representative Lindsay Thomas; Secretary of the Navy H.

Lawrence Garrett III; His Excellency Rinaldo Petrignani, the Italian Abassador to the U.S.; and sev- eral other senior ranking U.S. Navy personnel, and Ferruzzi Group officials. Colleen Nunn, wife of Senator Nunn, broke the traditional bottle of champagne across the Osprey's bow.

At 188 feet long and 880 metric tons, the U.S. Navy's MHC Class is a larger version of the successful Lerici Class Italian minehunters which were in the Persian Gulf to assist in mine clearance as part of Operation Desert Storm. The vessel is built entirely of flexible and resilient fiberglass to ensure her survival in the event of a close mine explosion. Her crew of 51 will search for mines with a high definition, variable depth sonar and neutralize them with a remotely controlled robot submarine.

The MHC-51 Class design integrates modern mine countermeasures technology into a uniquely designed platform with exceptionally low magnetic and acoustic signatures to protect against mine detonations during minehunting operations.

According to Len Thorell, presi dent of Intermarine USA, and Tom Wright, company marketing manager, the vessel's major reciprocating machinery is not mounted on its hull, but rather, the equipment is hung from "cradles" attached to the main deck. This allows the hull to flex during explosive shock and also provides an excellent sound isolation method.

The Osprey will be commissioned by the Navy and join the fleet following an extensive test and trials program in 1992. The second ship of the class, the Heron, is also under construction at Intermarine.

The program to transfer Italian design and construction technology to U.S. Navy Mine Warfare shipbuilding programs began in 1986 with the award of a design contract to Intermarine SpA, a Montedison company. Montedison and its parent, Ferruzzi, established Intermarine USA as a wholly owned subsidiary of Intermarine SpA in 1987 to build these ships for the U.S. Navy. For free literature detailing the construction and engineering capabilities of Intermarine USA,

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