Combat Fleets

By A.D. Baker III, Editor, Combat Fleets of the World

The nine South African Navy guided-missile patrol craft, originally referred to locally as the "Minister" class and named for white South African ministers of defense, had their class name changed to "Warrior" on 1 April. The first unit retained the name Jail Smuts; the P. W. Botha was renamed Shaka, after the legendary Zulu warrior chief; the Frederic Creswell became the Adam Kok, after a GriqualKhoi tribal commander; the Jim Fouche was renamed Sekhukhulli, after another legendary warrior chief; the Frans Erasmus became the Isaac Dyobha, after a chaplain who rallied soldiers on board a sinking troopship; the Oswald Pirow was renamed Rene Sethrell, after a sailor wounded 27 times while firing at attacking German aircraft; the Hendrik Mentz became the Galeshewe, after a Tswana chief who led a rebellion in 1896-97 against the Cape government; the Kobie Coetsee was renamed Job Masego, who sank a German freighter at Tobruk with a homemade device; and the Magnus Malan became the Makhanda, after a renowned Xhosa general. The South African Navy hopes to replace the missile craft shortly with four 1,500- to 1,800-ton offshore patrol ships under "Project Sitron." A Spanish design selected in 1995 was not ordered when the government failed to provide funding, and the competition has been reopened, with an order hoped to be placed early in 1998.

The 13,300-ton full load displacement ocean survey ship Scott, shown arriving at Portsmouth, England, on 13 March still under her builder's ownership, is to be handed over this month. The largest ship ever built for the Royal Navy's hydrographic office, the Scott's dimensions were dictated by the need for a draft of 27 feet for the mapping sonar's transducer array; the U.S.-made equipment will sweep a path equating to 60 nautical miles wide at 5,000-meter depths. The ship, which is 430 feet long by 70.5 feet in beam, will carry a crew of 25 Royal Fleet Auxiliary civil service mariners, plus a survey party of 35. She has an endurance of more than 35 days and is capable of 17.4 knots on two 5,400 brake horsepower diesels driving a single controllable-pitch propeller.

The Royal Australian Navy's veteran hydrographic survey ship Moresby is seen entering Sydney Harbor for the last time in November 1996. The 2,351-ton, 33-year-old ship had traveled more than a million miles by the end of 1992 and is to be retired later this year, followed next year by the smaller Flinders. The ships are being replaced by the 2,550-ton Leeuwin and Melville, which are building at Cairns by North Queensland Engineers and Agents (NQEA) for delivery in June 1998 and January 1999, respectively. The new ships, with accommodations for 10 officers and 40 enlisted personnel, are to be based at Darwin, with three crews working in rotation to keep them operational some 300 days a year. Each will carry three 35-foot inshore survey launches and will have a mapping sonar capable of charting waters up to 6,000 meters deep. The Leeuwin and Melville, which also will be extensively equipped to conduct oceanographic research, will be 233.6 feet long by 49.9 feet in beam and will have diesel-electric propulsion.


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