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Irish Naval Service news
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 00:00

The discovery of asbestos has put the Navy’s 1980s-built OPVs out of action. Maritime PhotographicThe discovery of asbestos has put the Navy’s 1980s-built OPVs out of action. Maritime Photographic

The Irish Naval service could be facing a €1 million bill for the ongoing removal of asbestos, which has kept their two former Royal Navy patrol vessels out of action for months. The hazardous material was discovered last year in engine room lagging on board the Peacock class OPVs LÉ Ciara (ex-HMS Swallow) and LÉ Orla (ex-HMS Swift) (pictured), even though a now defunct consultancy firm gave them the all-clear in 2000.

Asbestos has previously been found in the engine exhausts and manifold lagging in a number of other patrol vessels. The material was once widely used in the shipbuilding industry, especially in engine rooms, to insulate pipes and boilers, before it was found to be potentially lethal when ingested.

In other news, the second of three 90m patrol vessels on Babcock’s books entered the water for the first time in late November 2014 at the Appledore shipyard in North Devon. LÉ James Joyce was launched, already more than 90 per cent complete, and is on track for delivery in February 2015. The laying down of a third, as yet unnamed vessel, is scheduled for April 2015. LÉ Aoife is to be sold by auction when the new ship becomes operational.


Export dilemma for France
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 14:20

The sale of a FREMM to an Arab customer could pave the way to further export orders. (DCNS)The sale of a FREMM to an Arab customer could pave the way to further export orders. (DCNS)

The French government is reported to be considering relinquishing a FREMM multi-mission frigate from the production line in response to a procurement request from Egypt. Having recently placed a €1 billion order for four Gowind 2500 corvettes, the Egyptians are said to also want an Aquitaine class frigate to help protect the new Suez Canal project.

The prospect of a €600 million quick sale to a customer also interested in acquiring 24 Rafale fighter jets may well be too good an opportunity to pass up. There would be some practical obstacles to overcome, not least the problem of  training a crew to operate such a sophisticated warship at short notice, when the Egyptian Navy is already lacking qualified personnel.

There is also the matter of which ship to transfer. If a deal went ahead, it could be any one of Normandie, Languedoc or Auvergne. The second of class, Normandie, is almost ready for delivery to the French Navy and would require the removal of some of her advanced weapons systems.


ROYAL NAVY: Type 26 off target
Tuesday, 06 January 2015 00:00

A key deadline for the award of a construction contract for the Royal Navy’s upcoming Type 26 frigate will be missed, as the Ministry of Defence and the UK’s sole warship builder have failed to reach an agreement. The so-called Main Gate approval, the main investment decision committing to the full cost of the programme, had been expected by the end of 2014.

With a general election and the next strategic defence review taking place in 2015, the start of a planned 13-ship build project to replace the RN’s Type 23 frigates could now be delayed by up to a year.

BAE Systems had wanted to cut the first metal at a new £200 million facility it hopes to build in 2016, but the Defence Equipment & Support organisation has opted to further review the cost of the project.


US NAVY: Lightning strikes twice
Tuesday, 30 December 2014 00:00

The F-35C Lightning II has impressed during sea trials aboard USS Nimitz. US NavyThe F-35C Lightning II has impressed during sea trials aboard USS Nimitz. US Navy

The carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II strike fighter has successfully completed initial sea-based development testing during two weeks of trials aboard USS Nimitz. Two F-35C test aircraft completed 124 catapult launches, 222 touch-and-go landings, and 124 arrested landings, with no missed attempts to catch an arresting wire on the flight deck with its redesigned tail hook.

The test pilots reported such confidence in the aircraft’s automated control systems, which are designed to help pilots capture and maintain a safe approach and trap, that they were able to test in less than ideal weather conditions and even conduct night operations ahead of schedule.

The F-35C, which is scheduled to replace carrier-borne F/A-18A, B, C, and D Hornets from 2018, has larger wings and tail control surfaces than the other two variants, making it more stable at the lower airspeeds which are required for landing on a flight deck. It also has stronger landing gear and a tail hook.


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.


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