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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.

 
ROYAL NAVY: Both Carriers confirmed
Tuesday, 21 October 2014 00:00

The operation of two aircraft carriers should guarantee 100 per cent availability. Maritime PhotographicThe operation of two aircraft carriers should guarantee 100 per cent availability. Maritime PhotographicThe Prime Minister has announced that the two aircraft carriers currently under construction for the Royal Navy will both enter service. There had been concerns that the second ship would be sold off or mothballed upon completion. The commitment to operate both ships was made after NATO Alliance leaders agreed to reverse declining defence budgets and raise them to two per cent of GDP over the coming decade at a summit recently held in Cardiff.

Assembly of HMS Prince of Wales has now begun, with the docking of two of the ship’s largest hull sections, Lower Block 02 (pictured) and Lower Block 03, weighing 6,000 and 8,000 tonnes respectively, for integration at Rosyth. A significant plan of investment is also under way to prepare Portsmouth Naval Base as homeport for the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers by 2017. This includes dredging the approach and main channels inside the harbour, upgrades to navigational aids and the refurbishment of several jetties.

 
US Navy: Block bookings
Thursday, 16 October 2014 10:42

PCU North Dakota’s commissioning is scheduled for 25 October. US NavyPCU North Dakota’s commissioning is scheduled for 25 October. US NavyThe US Navy has taken delivery of PCU North Dakota (SSN 784), the 11th  Virginia class attack submarine to be handed over since 2004. North Dakota is the first of eight Virginia class Block III boats that feature a new bow design, replacing 12 individual launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk Cruise Missiles.

Despite some quality control issues with some components whose correction required the boat to undergo an unplanned dry-docking, the vessel was still handed over on time. The next boat in the class, Jack Warner (SSN 785), was officially named on 6 September. She is unusual in being one of the few US Navy vessels named after a living person.

This rare distinction is shared with only two other submarines, USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709), a Los Angeles class submarine, and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), a Seawolf class submarine. The first Block IV submarine, the construction of which began in May, is to follow the convention of names for US States, and will become USS Vermont (SSN 792).

 
ROYAL NAVY: The Scottish play
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 00:00

Construction of three OPVs for the RN will begin at BAE Systems’ shipyards in Glasgow in October. Maritime PhotographicConstruction of three OPVs for the RN will begin at BAE Systems’ shipyards in Glasgow in October. Maritime PhotographicThe UK government has awarded a £348 million contract for the previously announced trio of Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy. The timing is curious, coming only weeks before Scotland’s independence vote. As UK policy does not allow warships to be built in ‘foreign’ countries, some may see the motive as a gentle reminder of the benefits of remaining in the union, with upcoming construction work on the Type 26 frigates by no means guaranteed to take place in Glasgow.

As reported earlier, the ships will be built to a modified BAES design, similar to the 90m Ocean Patrol Vessels in service with Brazil and Thailand. The RN has specified a revised flight deck, which can operate Merlin helicopters, and additional storage space for embarking role-specific equipment and increased accommodation.

 
Ecuadorian CG: More Damen for coastguard
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 00:00

 Stan Patrol vessels are in service with more than a dozen maritime forces around the world. Damen Stan Patrol vessels are in service with more than a dozen maritime forces around the world. DamenThe Ecuadorian Coastguard is to boost its fleet of Damen patrol craft to six with a new order for two 50m SPa 5009 vessels for general patrol duties. The vessels are to be built locally at Astilleros Navales Ecuatorianos (Astinave), with Damen supplying prefabricated kits. Ecuador’s Coastguard already operates three Damen SPa 2606 vessels, with a fourth currently under construction at Astinave’s facilities on the banks of the Guayas River.

The Ecuadorian SPa 5009s have been modified from the standard design to accommodate 32 crew and to operate independently and unsupported for up to 30 days. Along with the addition of extra bunks, the design changes include an increase in fuel capacity, the enlargement of storage and freezer rooms and the installation of a powerful fresh water maker.

The Stan Patrol design features  a single so-called ‘Axe Bow’, which is a very deep and high straight bow that has been developed to cut through waves and which is claimed to deliver high speeds with a 20 per cent reduction in fuel consumption.

 
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