Military


DDG 1801 Keelung / Chi Teh / Kidd-class destroyers

China's two 8,000-ton Sovremenny-class destroyers are the largest and most powerful warships in the Chinese fleet, and Taiwan's navy had no comparable vessels. The Kidd-class vessels are formidable warships and will be the most powerful weapons in Taiwan's navy.

The four Kidd-class destroyers were decommissioned by the US Navy in the late 1990s and offered for international sale. Originally built for the Shah of Iran, the ships were acquired by the US Navy following the Iranian leader's overthrow. They were regarded as the most powerful multipurpose destroyers in the US fleet. Although they were taken out of service in 1998 and 1999, they remain capable of carrying out anti-air, antisubmarine and anti-surface warfare. In 1998, they were to have been transferred to Greece under a lease-sale arrangement. But Greece backed out of the deal. The destroyers were subsequently decommissioned and had been in storage ever since.

Taiwan used the four Kidds to take the place of its seven World War II-era Gearing-class destroyers. The four Kidd class destroyers would be delivered to the ROCN in December 2006. The ships were equipped with 248 Standard Missiles (SM-2 Block IIA) that were installed by Raytheon.

Among the most powerful combat and anti-submarine warships used by the US Navy, the 9,574-ton warships are fitted with advanced Standard surface-to-surface missiles and possess superior air defense, anti-submarine, and battlefield management capabilities designed to handle simultaneous air, surface, and submarine attacks. Although details of how the vessels will be outfitted for Taiwan remain uncertain, the original Kidd-class destroyers carried a full complement of weapons systems as well as radars and other electronics. These included an aerial threat detection and tracking capability at the heart of the ship's combat control center. It could be linked to aircraft, missiles and shipboard guns.

The Kidd-class vessels also carried anti-submarine warfare sensors linked to both torpedoes and rockets as well as helicopters capable of being transported on the ship itself. For dealing with surface threats at sea, the Kidd-class destroyers carried surface-to-surface missiles and guns. They also had electronic warfare capabilities allowing the ships to fire off chaff as a defense against any incoming missiles. The Kidd-class vessels contain four gas-turbine engines and are capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots or some 50 kilometers an hour.

Kidd-class destroyers were proposed by the Pentagon in 2000 because they would come from existing reserve fleets and could be transferred to Taiwan within a few years. Four Kidd-class destroyers could cost about NT$20 billion (US$600 million). With an upgraded fleet-defense radar system, the cost to Taiwan would be $732 million, or about $185 million a ship. In contrast, Aegis ships would cost over $1 billion each and could take between 8 and 10 years to build and deploy.

Under Taipei's proposal, it would lease the warships for five years, with ownership of the vessels transferred to Taiwan after it pays off the rent of about US$500 million. Other reports suggest a pricetag for the four Kidd-class ships of $750 million.

On 21 November 2002, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States of KIDD Class Guided Missile Destroyers, SM-2 Block IIIA STANDARD missiles, RGM-84L BLOCK II HARPOON Missiles as well as associated equipment and services.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States has requested a possible sale of 4 KIDD Class Guided Missile Destroyers, 248 SM-2 Block IIIA STANDARD missiles, 32 RGM-84L BLOCK II HARPOON Missiles, shipyard/port support services and post transfer activities relating to "cold ship" turnover of 4 KIDD Class destroyers from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel support services, repair and calibration services for shipboard equipment, design/construction/upgrade of shipyard maintenance and docking facilities, publications and technical data/drawings, personnel training and training equipment, support equipment, spare and repair parts and other elements of logistics necessary to prepare the destroyers for transfer to Taiwan in a "Safe to Steam" condition with all shipboard and weapon systems operational. The estimated cost is $875 million.

In December 2003 Raytheon Company's Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) was awarded a combat system production coordination contract to assist with the reactivation of four Kidd-class destroyers for Taiwan. Under contract to VSE Corporation's BAV Division, IDS will assist in the coordination of work item development planning, reactivation execution, total ship testing, crew training, and logistics support. Work will be performed at Detyens Shipyards Inc. in Charleston, S.C.

In January 2003 it was reported that the US initially wanted to charge Taiwan 20 percent of the original price for the four Kidds plus their weaponry. The US later reduced the charge by 5 percent to 15 percent of the original cost for the Kidds.

On September 21, 2006 the BAV Division of VSE Corporation announced that it had completed the reactivation of two ex-Kidd Class guided missile destroyers. Harry Flammang, the Division Manager of VSE/BAV, said the final of four ex USS Kidd Class guided missile destroyers reactivated in Charleston, South Carolina for the Taiwan Navy. The departure of these ships for Taiwan drew to a close a successful, high-visibility program that had spanned three years.

VSE/BAV managed the successful reactivations as Prime Contractor to the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) for support of ships and systems transferred under NAVSEA's Foreign Military Sales program. VSE Chairman, President and CEO/COO Don Ervine commented, "Over ten years ago VSE/BAV departed from the Navy's traditional business model for overhauling and maintaining ships in favor of a more effective and efficient business model that significantly reduces costs, improves and controls schedules, and continuously delivers sound technical performance to our customers. This business model coupled with strong systems integration capability and exceptionally knowledgeable and talented team of people has allowed VSE/BAV to complete the complex overhaul and reactivation of the four ex-USS Kidd class guided missile destroyers in two and one-half years, which is well ahead of schedule and under budget."

The ex-Kidd Class guided missile destroyers included the USS Kidd (DDG-993), USS Scott (DDG-995), USS Callaghan (DDG-994), and USS Chandler (DDG-996). Prior to reactivation, the ships had been stored at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facilities at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Bremerton, Washington since being decommissioned from the U.S. Navy in the late 1990s.

To restore these ships to full operational capability, VSE/BAV and its 21 subcontractors planned and performed in excess of 14,600 industrial work items requiring more than 168,300 man days. The subcontractors included Detyens Shipyards, Booz|Allen|Hamilton, Rolls-Royce, Raytheon, DRS, L-3 Communications/PACORD, B&D Boilers, Sullivan and Associates, Anteon, and George C. Sharp. At one point in the project, three ships were in full industrial production, with advance work being conducted on the fourth ship.

Over the course of eleven years and 30 previous transfers, VSE/BAV has used a process of ship systems reactivation that minimizes expense to the customer. Systems are opened, inspected, the condition assessed and only the components necessary for reactivation are procured. Reactivated systems are subjected to extensive quality assurance tests and then fully tested again during sea trials. The result is similar to a "just in time" business strategy that minimizes expense to the customer by reducing the amount of resources expended on unnecessary inventory and unneeded repair efforts, while fully achieving the customer's operational requirements.

Rear Admiral Pu, Commander of Taiwan's Kidd Class Ship Transfer Squadron, commented, "Many did not believe the four ships would be delivered within the budget. At times, I had my doubts, but we all worked together to deliver all four ships early and under budget."

The industrial reactivation of these four ships included significant repairs and modernization. Two sonar dome rubber windows had to be replaced and all four of the SQS-53A sonars were upgraded to the SQS-53D (digital version). Additionally, New Threat Upgrade (NTU) weapons systems were modernized to shoot the Standard Missile 2, Block IIIA, the standard area defense, anti-aircraft missile used by the U.S. Navy. The VSE/BAV team also replaced 11 waste heat boilers, part of the DDG's power generation system, reactivated all 28 of the ships' propulsion and electrical generator gas turbines, installed two "Triple S" clutches that transfer power from the gas turbines to the massive reduction gears, and installed the first ever Close in Weapons System that combines two different model mounts on the same ship.

While part of the U.S. Navy active fleet, the four ships received the baseline NTU modernization to their Anti-Air Warfare System, an extremely capable and complex system of sensors, computers, and advanced ordnance systems. The last NTU ship, USS California (CGN 36), was decommissioned in 1999. Thus, active U.S. Navy support of the NTU system had ceased almost five years prior to the start of this project. Reactivating this system required exceptional ingenuity to ferret out sources of repair parts and find people with the requisite skills to reactivate the ships' systems.

The VSE/BAV Team recruited extensively among ex-U.S. Navy technicians and particularly among ex-USS Kidd Class sailors to staff not only the project's industrial management team, but also a group of fifty people hired as instructors and technical specialists directly supporting the ships' crews. This team, referred to as the Ship Transfer Assistance Team, or STAT, was almost entirely composed of retired U.S. Navy personnel who averaged 20 years' experience on their respective systems. STAT personnel were primarily used as instructors for training Taiwan crews, but they also provided technical expertise to Taiwan Navy technicians who actively participated in industrial work. In training the Taiwan crewmembers, the STAT conducted 4,625 classes, comprising 19,574 instructor hours and 156,247 student hours. The STAT also produced 193,736 Personnel Qualification Standards system signatures to validate Taiwan crewmembers' progress.

The ships and their crews were subjected to a rigorous training regimen. They received scrutiny similar to that which any U.S. Navy combatant receives after emerging from a major industrial availability period. The final inport and underway training was modeled on the U.S. Navy's Tailored Ship Training Availability (TSTA) and Final Evaluation Phase (FEP) format, including drill packages and exercises any U.S. Navy Sailor would find familiar. Before that, the crews were taught theory in a classroom setting, received extensive on the job training, and were subjected to a tailored Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS) system. On several occasions, actual U.S. Navy inspection teams were brought onboard to evaluate the training of the crews and material condition of the ships, particularly during the Light Off Assessments (LOA) for the ships' engineering departments.

Mike Fahey, VSE/BAV's Waterfront Manager for the project, commented, "The composition of the waterfront team is the finest group of professionals I have ever seen. Their vast experience coupled with exceptional managerial and technical skills epitomizes the finest qualities of American character which is a credit to VSE/BAV Corporation."

In addition to the VSE/BAV Team's management and performance of the industrial availability and crew training, it also provided extensive logistical support including messing and berthing the Taiwan crews, and procuring and warehousing all materiel required for both the industrial work and ships' outfitting. Crew support entailed the feeding and berthing of more than 1,500 Taiwan military members during the course of the project. Industrial support required the receipt and issuance of more than 51,000 material line items.

The ships, with their new crews, performed extensive post-overhaul testing and sea trials, to ensure all systems were working to specification. The culmination of these tests and trials was the successful SM 2 Block IIIA live fire missile exercises, conducted by DDGs 1801 and 1802, off the Virginia coast in October 2005.

On November 1st, 2005, the first two ships, ROCS Kee Lung (DDG 1801) and ROCS Su Ao (DDG 1802) departed Charleston for Taiwan, ahead of schedule and under budget. Only ten months later, the remaining two ships, ROCS Tso Ying (DDG 1803) and ROCS Ma Kung (DDG 1805) departed, again significantly ahead of schedule and under budget. VSE's International Group President Jim Knowlton said "VSE/BAV has a long relationship with the Taiwan Navy. Since 1997, we have participated in the transfer of an ARS, two Knox class frigates, an Anchorage class LSD, and now the four Kidd Class Destroyers. Each of these efforts has been extremely successful and has significantly enhanced Taiwan's naval strength. We look forward to our next opportunity to work with our Taiwan Navy shipmates."



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