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France reinforces security
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 00:00

France is to base  new warships near the  Equator at its north Atlantic territory in South America.  Bureau MauricFrance is to base new warships near the Equator at its north Atlantic territory in South America. Bureau MauricThe French defence procurement agency has placed an order for two 60m patrol vessels to protect French interests in the Antilles-Guiana region. The so-called Patrouilleur Léger Guyanais (PLG) vessels are to be built and fitted out by Socarenam at their shipyards in Saint-Malo and Boulogne-sur-Mer respectively, with deliveries scheduled for late 2016 and mid-2017.
They will replace the 1987-built pair of Type 400 patrol craft La Capricieuse and La Gracieuse, mainly providing security for the European Space Agency’s primary launch site at the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.

The PLGs, which are similar to those recently delivered to the Belgian Navy, will be equipped with the latest surveillance electronics, a gyro-stabilised, remotely-operated 20mm Narwhal gun and two RHIBs, one of which is launched via stern dock. Displacing around 700 tonnes and with a shallow draught of just 3.5m, necessary for their operating areas, each will have a crew of 24, with accommodation for 14 extra personnel.

 
Je suis Charles
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 00:00

France is to tackle IS forces head-on with air strikes from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Maritime PhotographicFrance is to tackle IS forces head-on with air strikes from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Maritime PhotographicFrance has dispatched a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to the Indian Ocean. The deployment of FS Charles de Gaulle and escorts had been planned for some months and is not as a direct consequence of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailed from Toulon in company with the destroyer Chevalier Paul and replenishment tanker Meuse, and was later joined by the Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Kent in the Red Sea. The group is being shadowed by a Rubis class nuclear-powered attack submarine. Officially, the purpose of the deployment is for exercises with Indian forces, no doubt to help progress stalled negotiations over the sale of 126 Rafale fighters and of additional submarines to the sub-continent.

However, in the light of recent events, they are likely to sail to the Persian Gulf in support of ongoing military operations against Islamic State forces in Iraq. As in 2014, during its last deployment to the region, the French CSG will operate under US operational control to co-ordinate air strikes and intelligence-gathering.

 
Rising sun down under
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 00:00

The Japanese Soryu  class has a unique  lithium-ion battery propulsion  system for better underwater range and speed than other diesel-electric submarines.The Japanese Soryu class has a unique lithium-ion battery propulsion system for better underwater range and speed than other diesel-electric submarines.

The Abbott-led government is on a collision course with the Australian shipbuilding industry over two of the navy’s most important fleet renewal projects. It is becoming ever more likely that the Royal Australian Navy’s next generation of submarines will be an off-the-shelf purchase from Japan after the government ruled out an open tender, saying there was not enough time for such a process.

The cost of ten state-of the-art Japanese Soryu class submarines to supersede the current Collins class is estimated to be around A$20 billion compared with A$36 billion for an Australian-designed and -built replacement. Any deal with Japan would signal the end of submarine construction in Australia.

The government’s intention to have new submarines built overseas was clear following remarks by the Defence Minister that he would not trust the government-owned shipyard, Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), to build a canoe. ASC is responsible for the Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyer programme.

 

 
Not according to schedule
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 00:00

The US Navy’s Ford class aircraft carrier programme has a US$43 billion budget. Newport News ShipbuildingThe US Navy’s Ford class aircraft carrier programme has a US$43 billion budget. Newport News Shipbuilding

A government spending watchdog has warned that the future USS Gerald R. Ford is unlikely to be ready for service when delivered so long as the navy adheres to a US$12.9 billion cost cap for the aircraft carrier. In a stark assessment, the latest Government Accountability Office report into the project has estimated a further US$988 million may be required to complete the Nimitz class follow-on to the expected operational standard.

Delivery of the ship, which is currently around 85 per cent complete, has already been moved back from September 2015 to March 2016 as the navy wrestles with the engineering and integration of a raft of new technologies, such as electromagnetic catapults.
A construction contract for USS John F. Kennedy, the second of three planned ships, worth around US$4 billion, is expected to be placed soon, subject to final negotiation with the only shipyard capable of building such a vessel. This astronomical figure does not include the nuclear power plant, radar systems or launch and command-and-control equipment, which will add a further US$7.5 billion to the final cost.

 

 
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.

 

 
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