IRANIAN WEAPONRY STILL FUELLING YEMEN WAR
Despite a UN-authorised coalition presence at sea, weaponry suspected to have mainly originated in Iran, is being smuggled to Houthi rebels.
A recent report by the think-tank Conflict Armament Research highlighted how Australian, French, and US warships operating in the Arabian Sea in 2016 intercepted shipments of small arms, ammunition, and weaponry, such as guided anti-tank missiles of Iranian and Russian origin.
The recovered weapons were similar to those being employed by the Houthi rebels and bore the same serial numbers, many of them in sequential order. Some were even believed to have been manufactured in Iran. The seizures are being promoted as evidence of continued Iranian logistical support via a weapons pipeline using dhows to transport weaponry to Somalia for onward shipment to Yemen. Some weaponry is still reported to be making its way to the Houthis via other routes.
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIP PROGRESS
Key naval programmes have commenced as the British shipbuilding industry struggles to cope with delays. Work has begun on the gearboxes for the future Type 26 frigate at manufacturer David Brown Santasalo’s new Marine Gearing Assembly & Test Facility in Huddersfield. The main reduction gearboxes for the first three ships in the class are to be built at the factory. The gearboxes are to be delivered fully tested at yearly intervals from 2017, hopefully allowing construction of the frigates at the BAE Systems facility in Govan, Glasgow to progress smoothly.
Work is also to commence on two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), Tamar and Spey, under a £278 million contract with BAE Systems. It not only includes construction of the ships but also support for the class once complete. The first of five new River Class OPVs will begin to enter service in 2018. The 2,000 tonnes ships will be tasked with operations at home and abroad, undertaking duties such as anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, counter terrorism and maritime defence.
UK’S NEW CARRIERS TO PATROL DISPUTED SEAS
The Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class carriers will take part in freedom of navigation missions in the South China Sea led by the US Navy, starting from when the first becomes operational around 2020.
Beijing’s response has been to warn through its state-owned media that an increased British military presence in the region will be contrary to China’s interests and not conducive to joint economic projects.
The inference was that Chinese investments in Britain, amounting to some £34.3 billion in the ten years to 2015, would be at risk. The warning comes at a time of great uncertainty for the UK after its vote to leave the EU and as it tries to upgrade its energy generation infrastructure with Chinese help.
EGYPTIAN BOAT NUMBER TWO CHRISTENED
The first of four Type-209/1400 submarines, named S41, has been officially handed over to the Egyptian Navy during a ceremony at the TKMS shipyard in Kiel. Vice Admiral Osama Rabie, Commander of the Egyptian Navy, was present and the submarine’s delivery marks a huge leap in modernising Egyptian maritime power. During the ceremony a second Egyptian submarine was named S42. Both vessels were ordered in a 2011 deal reported to be worth some 900 million Euros. This was followed by a deal for two more of the class (worth in excess of 500 million Euros).