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Better late than never
Tuesday, 21 April 2015 00:00

Canada’s submarine fleet is operational for the first time in 17 years.  RCNCanada’s submarine fleet is operational for the first time in 17 years. RCNThe Royal Canadian Navy’s troubled fleet of Victoria class submarines has finally achieved operational status. The milestone means that three of the four vessels are each available for operations for the first time since they were acquired in 1998.

HMC Submarines Chicoutimi, Victoria and Windsor were all at sea in December 2014 and spent a combined total of 260 days at sea last year. The other, HMCS Corner Brook, is currently undergoing an Extended Docking Work Period until 2017.
The former RN vessels were purchased for $896 million, but have since cost more than twice that to repair, upgrade and maintain. Despite their high maintenance, only HMCS Victoria (pictured) is deemed to be ‘combat-ready’, having demonstrated the ability to fire torpedoes and be unhindered by restrictions to her diving depth.

On present plans, all are due to be retired by the mid-2020s, yet there is no mention of new submarines in the government’s $33 billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy fleet renewal programme.

 
ANZACs remember Gallipoli
Friday, 17 April 2015 10:00

HMAS Anzac sails for events to mark the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli. RANHMAS Anzac sails for events to mark the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli. RANAnzac class frigates from Australia and New Zealand have sailed from the southern hemisphere to take part in commemorative events in Turkey marking the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign. HMAS Anzac and HMNZS Te Kaha sailed from their homeports in March and February respectively for five-month deployments centred on the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, which began on 25 April 1915. Australia will also be represented by the sail training ship Young Endeavour, and the UK by HMS Dauntless.

In 2005 HMAS Anzac and her crew also supported observance of the 90th anniversary of the landings, an event annually commemorated as Anzac Day. During her deployment, the ship will visit ports in Turkey, Italy, Malta, the UK, France, Spain, Morocco, South Africa and Mauritius, before returning to Sydney in August. The ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign against the Ottoman Empire involved more than 550,000 troops and sailors from Britain and the Empire.

 
Black Sea royalty
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 00:00

Romania plans to upgrade its Type 22’s for higher intensity NATO tasking. Maritime PhotographicRomania plans to upgrade its Type 22’s for higher intensity NATO tasking. Maritime PhotographicThe Romanian Navy is to resurrect plans to upgrade the Type 22 frigates it acquired from the UK in 2003. The so-called Phase 2 modernisation will include the addition of anti-surface and anti-air missile systems, a 3D surveillance radar, close-in self defence guns and a modern combat management system. A towed array sonar for anti-submarine warfare may also be added.

The much-needed improvements will allow Romania to take part in a wider range of NATO tasking, beyond the lower intensity security and anti-piracy roles it currently takes part in. Although no detailed timeframe or shipyard for the work was revealed, the work is expected to keep the ships in service for another ten to 20 years.

The frigates Regele Ferdinand (ex-HMS Coventry) and Regina Maria (ex-HMS London, pictured) joined the Romanian fleet in September 2004 and April 2005 respectively. They were handed over after Phase 1 modernisation, which involved the fitting of a new Oto Melara 76mm gun and fire control system at the naval dockyard in Portsmouth.

 
Carrier to be retired
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 00:00

The world’s oldest serving aircraft carrier is to be retired after serving in two navies for a combined 57 years.The world’s oldest serving aircraft carrier is to be retired after serving in two navies for a combined 57 years.The Indian Navy has set a date for the retirement of INS Viraat, a ship perhaps better known as HMS Hermes and the Royal Navy’s flagship during the Falklands War. The aircraft carrier will receive a grand send-off at the International Fleet Review, to be held at Visakhapatnam in February 2016.

Increasing maintenance costs and depletion of the Sea Harrier fleet has accelerated the decision to withdraw her from service after 29 years.

Only a handful of aircraft remain in airworthy condition, with others being cannibalised for spares. The decommissioning of Viraat is also likely to signal the end for the Sea Harrier too. INS Vikramaditya and the under-construction INS Vikrant will use the much more capable MiG-29K aircraft.

 
Quick sale prompts reshuffle
Tuesday, 24 March 2015 00:00

The transfer of Normandie to the Egyptian Navy is scheduled to take place by 5 August 2015. DCNSThe transfer of Normandie to the Egyptian Navy is scheduled to take place by 5 August 2015. DCNSEgypt has signed contracts with the French defence companies DCNS, Dassault Aviation and MBDA worth €5.2 billion for the supply of a FREMM frigate, 24 Rafale fighters and a large batch of missiles. In order to meet the very short delivery timetable for the warship, the French Navy has agreed to the transfer of the near-complete Normandie from the current production line. In return, DCNS is to speed up the rate of production of subsequent ships to head off any gaps in operational efficiency.

In practical terms, the move will only delay completion of the project by several months but will necessitate a one-year service extension of the anti-submarine destroyers Montcalm and Jean de Vienne, whose decommissioning dates will be pushed back to 2017 and 2018 respectively. This will also require the reorganisation of crews and trails programmes with those on Normandie moving to the next in the series, Provence.

 
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