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US NAVY: Fighting top added
Friday, 19 December 2014 09:25

The future USS Michael Monsoor takes shape. GDBIWThe future USS Michael Monsoor takes shape. GDBIW

The second of the Zumwalt class destroyers, Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), achieved a major construction milestone overnight on 13-14 November 2014 with the addition of her prefabricated superstructure.

The installation of the composite deckhouse, which will house the bridge, radars, antennae and intake/exhaust systems, one of the more complicated evolutions in the construction of the futuristic warships, it was successfully carried out during a snowstorm. With the 900-tonne structure held in place by four cranes, the hull of the ship was rolled into position underneath. Once the superstructure had been lowered into place, the entire ship was moved back out to the main construction location in a delicate operation, which took ten hours to complete.

The third and final Zumwalt ship, Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG1002), also under construction at Bath Iron works, will differ from her sisterships in having her deckhouse made from steel rather than carbon-fibre to reduce spiralling construction costs, currently estimated at US$3.5 billion per ship.


ROYAL NAVY: Small ships, big ticket
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 00:00

The RN’s Batch 2 River class OPVs are to be named Forth, Medway and Trent. BAE SYSTEMSThe RN’s Batch 2 River class OPVs are to be named Forth, Medway and Trent. BAE SYSTEMS

The names and details of equipment Šfit of the Royal Navy’s upcoming River class Batch 2 OPVs have been revealed as construction got under way on 10 October. The ships will feature 29 changes to the standard design in service with Brazil. These include a reinforced flight deck, uprated helicopter in-flight refuelling arrangements, an IMO-compliant waste treatment plant, additional accommodation for embarked military detachments, and improved watertight integrity and fire-fighting provisions to meet Naval Authority standards.

The vessels will mount a single 30mm main gun and two Mk 44 miniguns. The ships will also have a variant of the CMS-1 combat management system along with a SCANTER 4103 I-band radar as the primary air/surface surveillance sensor. The improved specification does not account for the extra cost of the ships in comparison to exported versions. The £348 million deal for the Batch 2 ships equates to £116 million each versus the £50 million unit cost sold overseas.


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.

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