The Fiagai-class Patrol Vessel is a multi-purpose workhorse for the SDF-Navy: blue-water patrol vessel, escort, counter-boarding ship, general warship and several more in one.
With its two twin dual purpose 76mm guns, one forward, the other one sternwards, it can combat all possible pirate-threats to merchant shipping when they choose to come in close, while the sonar, rails and the hedgehog serves as a measure against the possibility of submarines (in fact, the Fiagai-class was used in the past to shadow foreign submarines illegally entering the waters of the Free Lands) attacking the merchant shipping. The multi-purpose missile launchers, usually armed with SAMs, but capable of being equipped with a wide array of missiles, including anti-ship and surface-to-surface missiles, sweaten up the deal as a limited defense against aircraft. It has systems to deal with incoming missiles and for electronic warfare.
All in all, the Fiagai in its usual SDF-configuration can engage with its guns alone targets from a distance of 30 kilometres after tracking for around 250 kilometres. With a crew of 37 people, plus 8 as boarding troops, the Fiagai can not take aboard prisoners, although she comes equipped with a small pinnace for operations with these boarding soldiers. All in all, the crew can stay at sea for 14 days as far as supplies go and can travel for 5000 nautical miles at 15 knots, as fast as many freighters.
The Fiagai is basically a swiss army knife, capable of many missions, on which using larger ships like corvettes, frigates, battleships and fleet carriers would simply be too expensive - combined with its low maintenance cost, low manpower cost and relatively low training costs for the simple functions, the Fiagai-class Patrol Vessel is a cheap and easy solution for many problems now and in the future.
In 1998, as the SDF-Navy searched for a cheap and effective replacement for the four slightly outdated Rhiannon-class Light Cruisers (launched in Silverport in 1925) for the Blue Water Patrols, many proposals were made.
Light Aircraft Carriers with VTOLs and frigate screens, land based patrol planes, new cruisers, all were considered and all were thrown away, until the Navy decided in 2000 to have a class of small patrol vessels developed by the shipwrights of the Free Lands. The statements of requirements included a maximum crew of 50 soldiers, a landing space for a helicopter, the speed to catch up with any freighter, high range, complete sensor suite and strong armament.
The engineers sat at their tables to build these wavehorses, including at Silverport Dockyards, where the design was named Pattern 186, a group of experts of the SDF-Navy looked over the thirty-six entries in 2002. They order prototypes for five designs, including the Fiagai-class, and sent them on trials.
Being safe and stable at sea, the test crew forgave the Fiagai (at the time named "Future Patrol Vessel FPV-3") the almost complete lack of comfort, and the SDF-Navy decided, on their recommendation, to order a small fleet of these ships in January 2004.
During the following decade, Fiagais were the first line in guarding the shores of the Free Lands, oftentimes shadowing foreign submarines, which entered our Exclusive Economic Zone. In the timeframe from March 23rd, 2004, when FPV-3 was officially commissioned as SDFS Fiagaí, until today, they detected and kept up with seventy-six foreign submarine incursions, most of which are of unknown origin.
But that wasn't their only role: The Fiagai-class Patrol Vessels were very soon adapted into the role of general patrol vessels, also doing the work of a coast guard and, as administrative assistance, customs authorities. They kept (and still keep) the trading routes within their range safe from pirates and criminals.
Some serve as radar pickets for the Air Traffic Control, some regularly participate in regattas as waypoints, one is a testbed for new technologies and two demiliterized vessels serve as long-range tugs for us at Silverport and Laclan.
Their first major refit is planned for 2018, they are expected to be paid off by 2061.
As the success of the Fiagai-class Patrol Vessels became apparent, Silverport Dockyards began to export these craft to foreign lands: In 2015, several nations placed large orders for these Patrol Vessels, totalling an additional 95 to be build.