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AUSTRALIAN CUSTOMS: The Cape crusaders
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 00:00

Cape class patrol boats are named after geographical capes in each Australian State and Territory. AUSTALCape class patrol boats are named after geographical capes in each Australian State and Territory. AUSTAL

Austal has launched another Cape class patrol boat destined for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) at their main facility in Henderson, Western Australia. Cape Jervis is the fifth of eight 58m aluminium monohulls being provided for the ACBPS as part of a A$330 million design, build and maintenance contract awarded in August 2011.

Similar in appearance and size to the Royal Australian Navy’s often-maligned Armidale class patrol boats, the unarmed Capes have greater range and endurance, as well as being able to operate in more severe sea conditions than the current ACBPS fleet of 38m Bay class vessels, which are nearing the end of their planned operational life.

Designed for unsupported patrols of up to 28 days, out to the full extent of the Australia’s 200nm Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Cape class will carry out the full gamut of maritime security duties. All eight are to be operational by late 2015.


SWEDISH NAVY: The hunt for Red October
Tuesday, 25 November 2014 00:00


An intensive week-long search for a suspected intruder in waters near Stockholm has drawn a blank. The operation to find what was believed to be a Russian midget submarine saw Sweden’s largest naval mobilisation since the Cold War.

The high-profile deployment of corvettes (pictured), minesweepers and fast patrol boats was given credence after several sightings of a mysterious manmade object breaking the surface inside the Stockholm archipelago and the interception by Swedish Intelligence of a coded distress call on a frequency used by Russia. The suspicious movements in the area of NS Concord, a Russian-owned tanker-cum-suspected mothership, added to the intrigue.

The Russian Defence Ministry has denied violating Swedish sovereignty and even suggested the culprit was a Dutch submarine (which happened to be berthed at an Estonian port at the time). Swedes will not be surprised at Russian subterfuge, given the frequency of Soviet submarine incursions into their waters during the Cold War. In 1981 a nuclear-armed Whiskey class submarine became stranded near the naval base at Karlskrona.


RFA: Auxiliary on a mission
Thursday, 20 November 2014 15:53

RFA Argus has dual roles as a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship and an Aviation Training Ship. MARITIME PHOTOGRAPHICRFA Argus has dual roles as a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship and an Aviation Training Ship. MARITIME PHOTOGRAPHIC

The British government has responded to the Ebola crisis in West Africa by sending the part-time hospital ship RFA Argus to support the UK Aid mission, which involves 750 defence personnel from all three services. Argus sailed from Falmouth in mid-October for a six-month deployment to Sierra Leone. En route, the ship called at Gibraltar to embark a fleet of 32 4x4 pick-up trucks onto her flight deck for delivery at Freetown. The vehicles will be used to transport medical teams and equipment to treatment centres throughout the country to help tackle the virus, which has claimed more than 4,000 lives in the region so far.

Although the ship is equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities and a 100-bed hospital, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary will not directly treat Ebola patients because of the high risk of transmission. The ship will remain offshore and act as a forward operating base for medical teams setting up field hospitals. Her three embarked RN Merlin helicopters will be used to ferry personnel and supplies to difficult-to- access areas, with a team of 70 Royal Marines providing security.

ISRAELI NAVY: Israel gets more teeth
Tuesday, 11 November 2014 00:00

Israel is procuring a second batch of three $500 million submarines from Germany. Israel is procuring a second batch of three $500 million submarines from Germany. The first of three new Dolphin II class submarines built by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in Kiel for the Israeli Navy has arrived in Haifa. Much of the 7,500km voyage to her new home was spent underwater, aided by an air-independent propulsion system and an extra fuel tank that allows her to stay submerged for extended periods.

Named INS Tanin after a biblical sea creature, also translated as ‘crocodile’, the Type 800 vessels, based on the German Type 212, are the largest submarines to be built in Germany since the end of World War II. Displacing 2,300 tonnes submerged, they are around 25 per cent larger than earlier Dolphin class vessels.

Tanin will have Israeli systems installed before entering operational service. The exact armament carried by Israeli submarines is a closely-guarded secret, but they are reported to have a nuclear-strike capability. A fifth submarine, INS Rahav, is expected to arrive at Haifa Port early next year followed by an as-yet-unnamed sixth submarine in 2019.

French Built: France stops delivery
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 00:00

The future of the Franco-Russian Mistral deal is uncertain. Christian PlagueThe future of the Franco-Russian Mistral deal is uncertain. Christian PlagueFrance has bowed to international pressure generated by the ongoing Ukraine crisis and halted the October delivery of the helicopter landing ship Vladivostok to Russia. The French President has said Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine meant conditions were not right for delivery of the helicopter-carrier and that the contract is suspended until November. No mention was made in the statement of second-in-class Sevastopol, scheduled to be delivered in 2015.

While described as a temporary measure, the deal has never been more likely to collapse. In addition to France being left with a large compensation bill for breach of contract, there is also the prospect of having to find a use for two 21,000-tonne assault ships.

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