Vanguard will have what is effectively a plug-and-play capability, enabling the multipurpose vessel to pack containers with equipment to swap diverse mission in a matter of hours. Credit: Handout.

Finally, a warship you and I can afford. Well, not really …

But if you are a navy, looking to spend less, Norwegian defense company Kongsberg may have just what you’re looking for. Step onto the new boat lot and have a look at the “game changing” Vanguard.

Kongsberg recently took the wraps off a new multirole warship design that the company says extensively uses commercial systems and can be built in commercial yards for substantially less money and in less time than traditional warships.

With warship procurement becoming eye-wateringly expensive, Kongsberg’s defense and aerospace arm is pitching its Vanguard design as a way to save money via a 50% life-cycle cost reduction, Defense News reported.

Vanguard will have what is effectively a plug-and-play capability, enabling the multipurpose vessel to pack containers — that meet this International Organization for Standardization’s guidelines — with equipment to swap missions as diverse as hydrographic survey to anti-submarine, area-denial and other roles in a matter of hours.

Kongsberg doesn’t traditionally build or design warships. The Norwegian company is better known in the defense sector for pioneering the use of remote weapons for land vehicles and development of the surface-to-surface Joint Strike Missile for use on the F-35 fighter jet.

Design work on the platform was led by Norwegian maritime consultancy Salt Ship Design. It’s the company’s first major military program, having previously focused on complex commercial ship design work in the offshore energy sector, among other markets, the report said.

Kongsberg and Salt have been collaborating on the project for more than two years. Salt executives said conceptual work was more or less finished, and they are now engaged in initial design work.

Vanguard has been fitted out with Kongsberg equipment like a commercial bridge system overlaid with military specifications. But company officials said the flexibility to install other systems to meet customer requirements is a key element of the program.

Baseline ship equipment is predominantly supplied by Kongsberg Defence Systems. Its sister operation, Kongsberg Maritime, is a major player in the commercial maritime sector and earlier this year acquired Britain’s Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine, the report said.

Frank Tveiten, Kongsberg’s vice president of naval integrated defense systems, said Vanguard has sparked the interest of potential customers and shipyards.

“We have tested it in the market with very positive reactions. The baseline warship fitted with Kongsberg systems and sensors is substantially cheaper than other warships. It’s going to rock the market a little bit,“ he said.

Tveiten said the economies stretched beyond procurement with manning levels as low as 16-20 people, and a speed requirement that results in very low fuel consumption.

Build time for a Vanguard in a commercial yard could be as little as two years, according to the Salt executives.

Kongsberg executives said Vanguard would suit emerging navies as well as interest some larger navies looking to increase offshore patrol, corvette and frigate numbers without breaking the bank.

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