RN & USN ‘SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP’ TO GROW EVER TIGHTER
The top officers in the navies of the United Kingdom and USA shared a platform in London to explain how their two services are moving closer together as new ships, aircraft and submarines are being developed and enter service.
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert gave a joint talk at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, with additional input from UK Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon. Admiral Zambellas did not try and hide the fact that the Royal Navy had been through some dark times in recent years, after losing its flagship aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and Harrier strike capability to defence cuts.
There were also big question marks over whether or not the second new super-carrier being constructed for the RN would ever see service, instead being mothballed after completion. The future of the sea-based deterrent force was also far from certain. The First Sea Lord maintained that the future is now a lot brighter, with the second carrier confirmed to be commissioned and new SSBNs promised.
A lot of that has been made possible thanks to support of the US Navy.
“What a turnaround from where we were a few years ago,” Admiral Zambellas observed. “What an opportunity and responsibility for our two nations in the decades ahead. Perhaps here in the UK, certain quarters have been slow to grasp the maritime renaissance quietly unfolding before us but Admiral Greenert has, from the outset, recognised the scale and potential of the Royal Navy’s recapitalisation and the US Navy has been unstinting in its enthusiasm and support. The same is very true for those two other American brothers of the sea, the US Marine Corps and US Coast Guard.”
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GERMAN TYPE 26 GLOBAL COMBAT SHIP?
The Possibility of exporting the UK’s Global Combat Ship (or Type 26 frigate) to Germany has arisen. It is due to a decision by the German government to open up the competition for its nation’s future multi-role combat warship (the MKS180) Europe-wide.
As construction of the Type 26 inches towards commencement in the UK, defence giant BAE Systems (BAES) is keen to promote the vessel in the hope of winning its first export order. A 7,500 tonnes warship is envisaged for Germany under the MKS180 programme, generally comparable to the Type 26 in role, and could involve up to six units.
All recent German warships have been domestically designed and constructed but cost overruns and delays have caused the government to examine ways of reducing risk with the MKS180. French, Italian, and Spanish yards are also expected to compete for the contract.
Some discussion has already occurred between British and German officials, and also, it is believed, between BAE Systems and Kiel-based German Naval Yards. Should the Type 26 be chosen the resulting ships will be built in Germany and feature indigenous German sub-systems such as command and control equipment and other electronics. The Type 26 design has been widely promoted, but there have been no customers so far, though Australia and Canada remain possible markets.
NEW TYPE LAUNCHED
Singapore has launched its first Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV), named Independence. Eight are planned in order to replace Fearless Class patrol vessels built by Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine in the 1990s.
The LMVs are also being built by ST Marine and are larger and much more capable than their predecessors. Independence is set to be fully operational by 2017. The keel for the second in the class was laid in May, with remaining planned LMVs expected to be in service by 2020.
ITALY ORDERS NEW ASSAULT CARRIER
The Italian government has placed a 1.1 billion Euros order for a new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) with state-owned shipyard Fincantieri and defence group Finmeccanica. The LHD, which is scheduled to be delivered in 2022, is part of a 5.4 billion Euros naval modernisation programme that will also deliver six multi-purpose Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) and one logistics vessel.
The LHD is comparable in size and capabilities to the French Mistral Class amphibious assault carriers. It is intended for a similar range of missions though will also have extensive hospital facilities.
The design has been promoted as possessing an even more flexible civil-military capacity than previous ships (of the San Giorgio Class). The dual use nature of the design was one of its driving concepts along with interoperability, in order to handle disaster relief operations as well as war fighting missions. In this regard the design also has enhanced power generation capabilities and a desalination system able to support a community of 6,000 people.
CANADA GEARS UP FOR SUPPLY VESSELS
The Chilean Navy’s Henry J. Kaiser Class replenishment ship Almirante Montt has conducted a series of at-sea training drills with ships and sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) over a period of 40 days.
The joint exercises took place with the Canadian Pacific Fleet and included the Halifax Class frigates Vancouver and Calgary, which both conducted numerous Replenishment at Sea (RAS) evolutions.
It was all part of preparation for the arrival of Canada’s two new Queenston Class supply ships. Going to sea onboard Almirante Montt herself were three groups of Canadian sailors based at Esquimalt to undertake instruction from the Chilean Navy personnel in operating a replenishment vessel.
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