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ROYAL NAVY: Illustrious bows out in style
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 00:00

HMS Illustrious, arriving at Portsmouth for the last time, will decommission on 28 August. Maritime PhotographicHMS Illustrious, arriving at Portsmouth for the last time, will decommission on 28 August. Maritime PhotographicThe last of the Royal Navy’s Invincible class aircraft carriers has been retired after 32 years’ service. HMS Illustrious entered Portsmouth for the final time on 22 July with a tug escort and flypast by helicopters from all three services, followed by a navy Hawk jet and a brief air display by a Hawker Sea Fury.

During a long career, the carrier served the nation’s interests in the Falklands, Bosnia, Iraq, Sierra Leone and most recently in the Philippines, providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief after parts of the country were hit by a devastating typhoon. Fittingly, her final high profile public role was in support of the navy’s next generation of aircraft carrier at the naming ceremony of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Following public dissatisfaction about the way the other two carriers, Invincible and Ark Royal, were unceremoniously scrapped, the Ministry of Defence has invited tenders from private companies, charities and trusts to preserve her. However, no word on her future has yet been announced.

 
JAPANESE MSDF: Reach for the skies
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 00:00

 The JMSDF’s Aegis fleet of six ships form Japan’s first layer of defence. The JMSDF’s Aegis fleet of six ships form Japan’s first layer of defence.The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) is to get two more Aegis-equipped destroyers equipped with the latest ballistic missile defence (BMD) systems. The move to bolster air defence capability with more ships is similar to that taken by neighbours South Korea, with their navy to receive three additional Aegis destroyers to guard against the North Korean threat.

The JMSDF ships are likely to be a modified version of the Atago class (pictured), itself an enlarged and improved version of the Kongou class, based on an American Arleigh Burke design. Slated to enter service around 2020-21, their introduction will increase the fleet of BMD-capable ships to eight, with four Kongou and four Atago class. The current pair of Atago class ships are to have their systems upgraded.

 
ROYAL NAVY: Queen Elizabeth leaves dry dock
Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00

The sheer size of HMS Queen Elizabeth is revealed at her float-out on 17 July. ACAThe sheer size of HMS Queen Elizabeth is revealed at her float-out on 17 July. ACAAfter two days of flooding the cavernous dry dock where HMS Queen Elizabeth has been assembled, the new carrier has been eased out by a fleet of half a dozen tugs and moved to an adjacent berth at Rosyth, where she will be fitted out over the next couple of years. The delicate dawn operation to cold move the nation’s biggest ever warship took only three hours, despite there being just two metres’ dock clearance on either side.

Work to assemble the second of class in the vacated dock will begin in September, with large modules of the future HMS Prince of Wales due for delivery during July and August. These include the 8,000-tonne Lower Block 03 from Glasgow, three Central Block 02 sections and the 6,000-tonne Lower Block 02 from Portsmouth. They will join previously delivered sections of the ship awaiting assembly in the dockyard. Prince of Wales should be structurally complete in July 2016 and ready to start sea trials in January 2019.

 
RFA: Incoming tide for tanker

First of class, RFA Tidespring will enter service in 2016. BMT Defence ServicesFirst of class, RFA Tidespring will enter service in 2016. BMT Defence ServicesConstruction of a new class of replenishment tanker for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary is under way after a steel-cutting ceremony at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Mechanical Engineering’s (DSME) Opko shipyard. DSME will build four of the British-designed Tide class as part of the UK MoD’s Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) Fleet Tanker programme.

The manufacture of each ship is scheduled to take ten months from start to launch, with block integration taking just seven weeks. The basic ships are to be delivered at six-monthly intervals with the first-of-class, Tidespring, planned for October 2015, Tiderace in April 2016, Tidesurge in October 2016 and Tideforce in April 2017. After the handover of each completed build, an RFA crew will deliver the ships to a UK shipyard for customisation and fitting out.

The 37,000-tonne tankers will replace the ageing Rover and Leaf class single-hulled tankers, which are no longer fully compliant with international maritime legislation.

 
ROYAL NAVY: HMS Queen Elizabeth named
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 00:00

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the second ship to carry the name after the Dreadnought battleship which served in both World Wars.  John Linton/ACAHMS Queen Elizabeth is the second ship to carry the name after the Dreadnought battleship which served in both World Wars. John Linton/ACAHM the Queen named HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, at a high-profile ceremony in Rosyth on 4 July. The traditional bottle smash was performed with a bottle of Bowmore Surf single malt whisky, aptly known as the ‘water of life’. The Bowmore Distillery on the Isle of Islay was selected for its historic links to the Queen and the sea.  

The grounding of all F35 aircraft prevented the first UK appearance of a British Lightning II aircraft, although a life-size replica was on the ski-ramp. HMS Illustrious, the navy’s current aircraft carrier berthed in an adjacent dock. With the latter being decommissioned later this year, it will be the only time the two will be seen side by side.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has been structurally complete since the installation of the aft aircraft lift in May. Weighing more than 55,000 tonnes, she will be flooded up and moved out of the assembly dock for final fitting out.

 
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