Whether showing the flag-and showing the goods-will have had any lasting commercial benefits, of course, will take some time to determine. The new construction warship business, however, is not exactly booming. The brief flurry of Middle Eastern naval orders inspired by the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf has run its course, and warship yards worldwide are hungry for any orders that will keep their doors open-and their sub-system suppliers in business. At the same time, the major modem navies, faced with economic stringencies and a widely held perception of greatly diminished threats to national security, are selling off capable vessels with decades of useful service remaining. While not every used warship purchased is a lost opportunity to sell a new one, the emigration of former U.S., British, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, and even Israeli units abroad is even further depressing the warship construction and outfitting industry.
The vast majority of new-construction and used warship sales over the past five years have been to countries either allied to, friendly toward, or at least neutral toward the United States, and no amount of anxious hand-wringing over the putative proliferation of such items as submarines can withstand an analysis that shows that the hardware flow has overwhelmingly been to the good guys. By far the hardest hit by economic, political, and social changes have been the countries that for the most part constituted the standard set of threat nations at the beginning of this decade-and these countries are now in no position to embark on naval expansion or even rejuvenation programs. Some of them, like Cuba, now barely have navies at all, while others, like Russia, still retain significant warship inventories but lack the resources to maintain and operate them. Still others, such as China, which have opened up their equipment to appraising eyes, appear to be far less formidable than it was once fashionable to consider them.
Few navies, friendly or unfriendly, are expanding their naval inventories. In some cases, such as Indonesia's acquisition of five elderly German coastal submarines, acquisitions have been made without regard to whether the country can man or maintain its new units. Navies are still too often evaluated in terms of the amount of hardware they own instead of whether they can operate and maintain it successfully or whether they possess an adequate inventory of munitions, spares, and fuel to sustain combat.
BELGIUM: Fabrication is to begin in 1998 on the first of four 644-ton minesweepers ordered in January 1997, after considerable legal wrangling that had delayed the program for nearly three years. Belgium sold three mothballed, surplus Tripartite-class minehunters to France, leaving the fleet with only seven mine countermeasures vessels in active service.
CROATIA: Progress in completion of new units for the fledgling Croatian Navy has been slowed by a lack of funds and difficulty in obtaining foreign components, with work on a second Kralj Petar Kresimer IV-class guided-missile craft all but halted at Kraljevica. The prototype for a 173-ton minesweeper based on a fishing boat design was to have been completed at Korcula in May 1997, but year's end had brought no news even of its launching, while work on a planned third 880-ton Silba-class minelayer/landing ship at Split has not yet begun.
DENMARK: The Danish Navy plans to replace 17 of its largest surface combatants with a half-dozen multipurpose ships equipped with the modular Stanflex weapon system installation concept pioneered in the highly successful, 450-ton Flyvefisken class. Two of the new ships would be 120-meter, 4,600-ton command vessels capable of acting as vehicle and troop transports for the Danish International Brigade, while the other four would displace around 2,000 tons. Both classes would be capable of carrying two helicopters and up to seven weapon or sensor modules, and all six would be rapidly adaptable as minelayers.
LITHUANIA: Lithuania's small navy, the Eesti Merevgi, received several used foreign units during 1997. German Type 394 inshore minesweepers Minerva and Diana were transferred on 16 June and 8 August, becoming the Kalev and the Olev, respectively.
FINLAND: The 1,450-person strong navy is to be reorganized for the second time in five years during 1998, with the fleet to be combined into a single rapid reaction force, while Finnish Army Coastal Artillery and Coastal Infantry forces are to be integrated within the navy. The first of a planned seven 268ton Rauma 2000-class guided-missile patrol craft was laid down in August 1997. Built of composite materials, the waterjet-driven craft is to employ numerous signature-reduction features and will have much the same weapon and sensor suite as the preceding Helsinki-II class.
FRANCE: More budget cuts will delay commissioning of the third Le Triomphant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), Le Vigilant, until 2003, and the design effort for the follow-on M51 ballistic missile (earlier postponed into the second decade of the new century) was frozen for eight months. Other programs adversely affected included the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, laid down in April 1989 and now further delayed in commissioning until at least 1999, while the ship's first Rafale-M fighter squadron will not be ready until 2002 and the order for a third Northrop-Grumman E-2C Hawkeye aerial surveillance aircraft for the ship has been delayed to 2001. Of the already much-reduced planned acquisition of 27 NH-90 helicopters for the French Navy, only 14 are now to be equipped for antisubmarine warfare, and the first of this much-delayed Lynx replacement will not enter service until 2005. With the decommissioning of the 36-year-old carrier Clemenceau in September, carrier aviation in the French Navy is being handled by her sister, the recently overhauled carrier Foch, until the new carrier enters service.
On the plus side, the French Navy is accelerating the design of its next nuclear-powered submarine class so that the first may be included in the 2001 budget, but that same unit is still not planned to enter service until 2010. The second of the Le Triomphant class, Le Temeraire, was rolled out on 9 August, and her commissioning in 1999 will enable the French Navy to maintain a four-unit strategic submarine fleet into the 21st century.
No further major surface combatant programs have been announced, and the government-owned naval building yards at Brest, Cherbourg, and L’orient are faced with declining export prospects, scant domestic activity, and considerable overstaffing. Brest is expected to deliver the second 12,000-ton Foudre-class dock landing ship, the Siroco, this April, but the first of two planned follow-on units must wait until at least 2001 commence.
French hopes to maintain an industrial base are pinned on exports, but the post-Desert Storm market is drying up. Three modified La Fayette-class frigates are on order for Saudi Arabia, while only one of the six half-sisters ordered by Taiwan remains to be delivered. Past that, the DCN sales staff has had to become ever more creative in its marketing. Typical of recent offerings was an entire defense package offered by France to South Africa in 1997 that would include the gift of a refurbished Daphne-class submarine, the construction of four 3,000-ton mini-La Fayettes configured as offshore patrol vessels, and a generous provision for technical assistance and industrial offsets, along with other weaponry for the South African Army and Air Force. But France is just one of a large number of hungry bidders. One bright spot is the December signing of a contract to build two Scorpene-class export submarines for Chile in cooperation with Spain's Baza.
GERMANY: Naval construction-domestic and export-is in better shape than that of France, with four new Type 212 submarines on order for the newly renamed Deutsche Marine, technical assistance being provided for construction of another two of the class in Italy, and the prospect of an order for four from Greece. The German Submarine Consortium also benefited from the fall 1997 sale of five used, unmodernized Type 206 coastal submarines to Indonesia. But only two new-construction export submarines remain to be completed, the second and third Type 800 Dolphin-class boats for Israel. The once-lucrative foreign submarine refit business has been curtailed because the foreign fleets are increasingly performing the work themselves. New export submarine business has been hurt badly by sales of used submarines to prospective buyers and by skillful competition from Sweden and France. As a result, it seems unlikely that Germany can support two submarine construction facilities much longer.
Plans to construct up to 15 Type 130 corvettes to replace the existing 20 Type 143 guided-missile craft remain fluid, with the first tranche of eight scheduled to be ordered in 2000 for initial delivery in 2007. The design is still evolving, with private industry offering designs incorporating various degrees of "stealth" technology. The Fulda, first of a pair of repeat Type 332 minehunters, was launched on 24 September by Abeking & Rasmussen. She and her sister, the Weilheim, are to be commissioned this year, and work already is under way to convert half of the similar ten-ship Type 343 minesweepers to minehunters and the other half to control ships for a new generation of Troika mine countermeasures drones.
GREECE: The third of four Greek Navy Type 209/1100 submarines completed an extensive modernization in November and work began the following month on the final boat (scheduled for completion during 1999). Greece plans to acquire two or more additional submarines (for a total of 10 to 12) and four or five additional frigates. Greece has joined the ever lengthening list of countries considering the purchase of Great Britain's nearly new quartet of Upholder-class diesel boats. A sixth ex-Netherlands frigate, the Kortenaer, was purchased in June, reactivated, and commissioned in mid-December as the Kontouriotis. The third of the much-delayed Jason-class tank landing ships, the Ikaria, was completed late in 1997 at Eleusis, but the mine countermeasures and auxiliary forces continue to age.
ITALY: The navy's future surface combatant force is tied to the three-nation Horizon frigate, which at 6,500 tons is actually more of a destroyer. The Italian Navy, however, plans to buy only two ships, and the British and French partners continue to squabble over many of the features of what promises to be an obsolescent design if and when the first unit is completed around 2005. Planning is under way for a smaller, wholly Italian design for eight general-purpose frigates to begin replacement of the dozen Maestrale- and Lupo-class frigates around 2010. Meanwhile, the only significant warship under construction for the Italian Navy, the 13,400-ton replenishment oiler Etna, was launched on 12 July. The second through fourth of the 170-ton Esploratore patrol craft class also were launched in 1997 as replacements for the aged ex-U.S. minesweepers used on U.N. patrol service in the Red Sea. Still planned for imminent order is a small aircraft carrier of about 20,000 tons displacement to replace the missile cruiser Vittorio Veneto after 2000, but Italian yards now have no export naval construction work in hand. With the rejection of a domestic submarine design in favor of building the German Type 212 class, Italy effectively has abandoned any hope of developing its own submarines.
THE NETHERLANDS: The first of four 6,044-ton De Zeven Provincien-class guided-missile frigates was laid down in August for commissioning at the end of 2001. The second pair was ordered in May 1997 in a slightly simplified version with less extensive command-and-control capabilities; that same design is being marketed to the United Arab Emirates. There are no realistic prospects for renewed submarine construction in the Netherlands within the next decade, although the RDM yard retains the two retired Zwaardvis-class submarines it purchased from the navy at the end of 1995 with an eye toward refitting them and selling them abroad.
The 12,750-ton dock landing ship Rotterdam is scheduled to commission this June. A sister ship, the Galicia, was launched in Spain in July. Work is under way on a program to convert three of the Netherlands' 15 Tripartite-class minehunters to serve as minesweeping drone control ships, while four others are to be equipped with remote-controlled minehunting submersibles equipped with powerful high-frequency sonars for deep-sea bottom minehunting duties.
NORWAY: With a new submarine program still in the concept stage (it would be produced in cooperation with Sweden and Denmark), the Royal Norwegian Navy is concentrating on a new class of six 3,700-ton frigates scheduled to begin entering service around 2005 as replacements for the remaining four 1960svintage Oslo-class frigates. In addition, work is under way on the prototype composite-construction, 260-ton rigid-sidewall surface-effect guided-missile patrol craft Skjold, which is expected to complete in mid-1998; if successful, a further seven sisters are to be ordered, all to be fitted with more powerful engines to produce 55-knot cruising speeds. The combat control system for the Skjold, ordered last June from a consortium of France's DCN and the Norwegian Kongsberg and Simrad firms, will be a variant of the French Navy's SENIT-8 and is to be backfitted into 14 existing Hauk-class missile boats as part of a refurbishment to enable them to remain in service until 2010 to 2015. The last of five Alta-class minesweeper variants of the four-ship, 375-ton Oksoy-class of minehunters was to have been completed by the end of 1997. These craft and the Skjold program place Norway at the forefront of modern low-signature, rigid-sidewall surface-effect warship design.
POLAND: The Polish Navy, which has no hope of building any ships in the immediate future, nonetheless announced an extensive program to acquire a new submarine, six modified Kaszub-class corvettes, several larger Project 924 corvettes, five Project 257 minehunters and accompanying drone minesweepers, and seven search-and-rescue craft by 2010. Three aged Krogulec-class minesweepers, 17 Project 207-series minesweepers, and 5 Lublin-class minelayers would be retained in the 2010 fleet. The two existing Foxtrot-class submarines are to be retired in 2001-2002, but the 1986-vintage Kilo-class submarine Orzel will be retained.
RUSSIA: The Russian Navy had what it must consider only a faintly successful year in 1997, one that was marked by a number of well-received foreign port visits; the first keel-laying of a major surface combatant since 1990; the summary dismissal of the head of the navy; yet another launch failure of its developmental RSM-52U (SS-NX-28) strategic missile (which has yet to achieve a successful flight in four tries); and yet another somewhat less-than-final agreement on the disposition of the former Black Sea Fleet (see discussion under Ukraine). Admiral Felix Gromov's firing came only three months after he had been granted a stay in office past the mandatory age 65 retirement date. Rumor has it that his downfall came as much for his failure to keep at least two of the remaining 26 strategic missile submarines at sea on patrol at all times as it did over continued scandals concerning corruption among high ranking naval officers, even though he was not one of those publicly accused.
The RSM-52U missile, a treaty-approved "updated" version of the RSM-52 (NATO SS-N-20 Sturgeon) solid-fueled strategic ballistic missile carried by the remaining three operational Typhoon-class (Project 941) submarines, has been destined for use by the new-construction Borey class (Project 955), of which work began on the first unit, the Yuriy Dolgorukiy, in November 1996 and as of 15 months was 1% complete. Indeed, at the present rate of attrition, and without much likelihood of any numbers of new SSBNs being completed or funds being available to overhaul the aging existing units, the Russian SSBN fleet will be virtually extinct within a decade.
The rest of the Russian submarine program is faring little better. What will apparently be the final Oscar-II (Project 949A) cruise-missile submarine, the Tomsk, has been languishing completed at Severodvinsk for a year for lack of $30 million to pay for her sea trials. Work on the nuclear-powered attack submarine program has all but halted, with only the stern portion of the first Severodvinsk (Project 885) SSN completed in the four years since her keel was laid. Work on at least four units of the Akula series (Projects 971 and 971U) is at a standstill; one of these, the Drakon, actually was completed in July 1995 for the Pacific Fleet but has yet to be delivered because of the debt still owed the shipyard. Creative financing with private funds may see completion of a Lada-class (Project 677, the export Amur design) diesel attack submarine, the St. Petersburg, laid down at United Admiralty Shipyard on 26 December 1997 for operation by the Russian Navy as a potential export sales demonstrator. At the end of 1997, for the first time since the 1930s, the Russian Navy had fewer operational submarines of all types than did the U.S. Navy.
The Russian surface fleet situation is no better. The only remaining aircraft carrier, Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov, has not been to sea since her return from a brief Mediterranean training cruise early in 1996 and is immobilized at a Kola Inlet shipyard awaiting funding for major repairs that were halted when only 20% complete. The inactive carrier Admiral Gorshkov, after years of fruitless negotiations, may yet be transferred to India. Only one large cruiser remains even nominally operational, the Kirov-class Admiral Nakhimov. Of her three nuclear-powered sisters, the Admiral Ushakov has not operated since 1989; the Admiral Lazarev was described officially in November 1997 to be headed for disposal because of insufficient funds to repair her; and the Petr Velikiy, to have been commissioned last year in honor of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Russian Navy by her namesake Peter the Great, has remained tied up, her Pacific Fleet crew unpaid, since arriving in the Northern Fleet in November 1996 for final acceptance trials.
The only large combatants active in any numbers have been the newer units of the dozen remaining active Sovremennyy-class guided-missile destroyers and a few of the six remaining operational Udaloy-class destroyers. The only Modified Udaloy, the Admiral Chabanenko launched in 1992, is not yet fully operational. The two remaining unfinished Sovremennyys, Vazhniy and Aleksandr Nevskiy (ex-Vdumchivyy), are lying 65% and 35% complete, respectively, at St. Petersburg, with only the first in the water; they might be delivered to China in 2000.
Evoking considerable surprise, a hull module for the Novik, first of a new 3,600-ton frigate class, was placed on the ways at Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad, in July; the ship could be finished just after 2000, if funding continues.
Aside from Kilo-class submarines, of which seven have been ordered for export since 1991-three to Iran, three to China (the third of which was awaiting delivery as deck cargo at the end of 1997), and one to India (with a second possibly to follow)-Russia has had scant success in foreign naval sales. A 1,650-ton variant of the Amur export submarine design was laid down for India on 26 December 1997, and additional units may follow later.
India is considering a Russian offer to supply three new Project 1135.6 Improved Krivak-class frigates and also may build three more of the frigates at a local yard. Otherwise, the only significant Russian new-construction warship deliveries since 1991 have been a pair of 455ton Tarantul-I guided-missile patrol boats to Vietnam in the fall of 1994. There have been no sales whatsoever of former Russian Navy warships-only a handful of donations to former Soviet republics.
SPAIN: The Spanish Navy's modernization program should produce a smaller, much better-equipped fleet. The first of four 5,802-ton F-100-class guided-missile frigates was scheduled to be down at Ferrol in November for completion in September 2002. Spain no longer is a full partner in the joint Dutch-German-Spanish frigate equipment consortium. The F-100's combat system will use the U.S. SPY-ID Aegis radar rather than a European system. The final ship of the quartet is planned to complete early in 2006 and may be followed by an enlarged F-110 frigate design with similar features but with enhanced gun firepower for shore bombardment missions.
The Segura, the first of four Spannish-modified, 550-ton versions of the British Sandown-class minehunter, was launched at Cartagena early in August and is scheduled for completion this May.
Spanish Navy amphibious warfare capabilities will be enhanced this year with the completion of the 12,490-ton dock landing ship (LPD) Galicia. Launched on 21 July 1997, the ship was designed in cooperation between Spain's Empresa Nacional Bazin and Royal Schelde in the Netherlands.
SWEDEN: The Royal Swedish Navy deactivated the last two Sjoormen-class boats, Sjolejonet and Sjohunden, which along with their already-retired sister Sjohasten were sold to Singapore in September for refurbishment and delivery from 1999 to 2001. This leaves the Swedish fleet with ten active submarines; the Nacken, with air-independent propulsion (AIP) will be retired shortly to bring the force to its planned level of nine. Sweden is a partner with Denmark and Norway in the development of a new submarine class that would enter service toward the end of the next decade; Swedish shipyards have no new submarine construction orders in hand.
The 620-ton, stealthy, 38-knot multipurpose combatant Visby, laid down on 17 December 1996, should be ready in 2000 and will be followed at one-year intervals by three sisters-all four with a weapon and sensor fit tailored primarily for mine countermeasures. A planned follow-on quartet will be equipped with antiship missiles. The ultimate program goal is 14. The other new class, whose design was derived from lessons in signature reduction learned in the construction and operation of the trials craft Smyge (now employed as a public relations and recruiting platform), has been a quartet of 200-ton inshore mine countermeasures craft. The first, the Styrso, was commissioned in September 1996 and the last, the Sturko, in December 1997. Eight more are planned.
TURKEY: Between 1996 and 2025, the Turkish Navy had hoped to acquire 4 submarines, 14 frigates, 16 corvettes, 15 guided-missile patrol combatants, 9 patrol boats, 4 minehunters, 4 minesweepers, 35 landing craft, 1 replenishment ship, and 25 other auxiliaries, along with 38 helicopters, for an expenditure of $12.5 billion (in 1996 U.S. dollars). Other major programs were to add $1.3 billion, and fleet maintenance was expected to cost $8.4 billion over the period. For the years 1997-2007, however, naval acquisitions were scaled back in April 1997 to five new frigates, six minehunters, and ten maritime surveillance aircraft. The minehunter requirement of the diminished program was fulfilled in September 1997 with purchase of five 1970s-vintage Circe-class minehunters from France; the ships are to be delivered in 1998 after equipment upgrades.
The navy also hopes to build an additional four Type 209/1400 diesel submarines to add to the two in service and two already under construction. The six Type 209/1200 boats completed from 1976 to 1990 are to be modernized in order to retire the remaining seven former U.S. Navy submarines.
Only three former U.S. Navy destroyers remain active; the others have been replaced by six MEKO 200-series frigates completed to date, eight ex-U.S. Navy Knox (FF-1052)-class frigates transferred in 1993-94, and three Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)-class guided-missile frigates handed over during January 1998.
The Turkish Navy hopes to order two more German-designed MEKO-200TN Track II frigates; the third ship in the class, the Salihreis, was launched on 26 September at Hamburg, Germany, and the fourth, the Kemalreis, is due for launch in 1999 at Golcuk Naval Shipyard. Plans for further acquisitions of European designed-warships, however, may be hampered by anger over the rejection of Turkish membership in the European Union in December 1997.
Also figuring in current planning is an order for a further pair of the Yildiz-series of FPB 57-class, Harpoon-equipped guided-missile patrol craft, of which the fourth, the Kalkan, was launched in 1997 and the fifth, the Mizrak, is due for launch this year at Taskizak Naval Shipyard, Istanbul. The four oldest of the earlier Dogan-series are to be modernized with new combat direction systems under a September 1997 contract placed with Hollandse Signaal Apparaten. Much of the Turkish mine countermeasures, amphibious warfare, and auxiliary fleet, however, remains antiquated.
UNITED KINGDOM: The Royal Navy continues in the throes of economic and political change and yet has managed to deal with vicissitudes and still meet stringent operational requirements that placed both of its active small aircraft carriers on deployment for much of 1997. The Invincible spent much of the year in the Mediterranean supporting Bosnian peacekeeping and sailed on short notice through the Suez Canal at the end of November when another Iraqi crisis loomed. The Illustrious spent the first half of the year deployed to the Far East, and was present at the turnover of Hong Kong to China. The third ship of the class, the Ark Royal, is scheduled to start a two-year modernization this year to replace the Invincible. All three carriers are having their Sea Dart surface-to-air missile launchers removed to allow for increased deck stowage for the Royal Air Force Harrier GR.7 fighter-bombers that now form an almost regular component of their air groups. The Royal Navy is developing a replacement design capable of operating the new U.S. Joint Strike Fighter and would prefer a ship of more than 30,000 tons-50% larger than the Invincible class; fiscal realities, however, may mean that the Invincibles will be refitted extensively to continue in service until around 2020.
The Royal Navy accepted its third Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarine, the Vigilant, on 2 November 1996. She will go on her first operational patrol this year. After laying up its brand-new quartet of Upholder-class diesel attack submarines in 1994, the Royal Navy is once again giving serious consideration to building conventional attack submarines as a follow-on to the newly ordered, nuclear-powered Astute class. Nuclear-powered submarines have become almost prohibitively expensive, and there is no guarantee that an optional additional pair of Astutes will follow the trio ordered in July 1994. The Astute herself is not to be completed until 2006, and a fifth example of the design would not be in service until 2011. Meanwhile, the attack submarine Swiftsure is being refitted to launch Tomahawk tactical missiles and will conduct firing trials late this year; up to four later Trafalgar-class submarines also will be equipped to fire the missile, 65 of which were ordered in 1995.
The aging Type 42 guided-missile destroyer Birmingham has been extended in service to 2002 to help maintain a 35-ship destroyer and frigate force threatened by the Horizon program delays. The British were to have ordered as many as a dozen Horizons (three-fourths of the total program) but increasingly are concerned with program slippage, bureaucratic complexities, and the performance of the principal surface-to-air missile for the ships. The last of four Broadsword-class (Type 22 Batch 1) frigates, the Battleaxe, was transferred to Brazil in April after less than 15 years' service.
The first of seven repeat Sandown-class minehunters, the Penzance, was launched on II March 1997 for delivery this January; the Shoreham, the last of the series, is scheduled for delivery in December 2001. Three of these ships deployed to the Persian Gulf in January 1998 along with the support vessel Herald.
The 20,500-ton, 18-knot amphibious assault helicopter carrier Ocean continued fitting out at GEC Marine-VSEL's Barrow facility during 1997; she was scheduled for delivery this month and commissioning in February 1999. Analysts wonder whether the Royal Navy can continue operating the 32-year-old dock landing ship Fearless, currently its only operational amphibious warfare asset. Her sister Intrepid, in reserve since 1990, probably cannot be reactivated, and the replacement LPDs Albion and Bulwark, ordered in July 1996, will not be available until 2002 and 2003, respectively.
Among the auxiliary vessels that support the Royal Navy, a 13,300-ton deep-ocean survey ship, the Scott, was commissioned on 19 September 1997. A second commercial vehicle cargo ship is to be chartered to join the 25,500-ton Sea Crusader, which was employed during 1997 to supply Royal Marine units in Bosnia. Two 26,500-ton replenishment oilers, the Wave Knight and the Wave Ruler, were ordered from GEC MarineVSEL on 16 July 1997 and are to replace the elderly Olwen and Olna in 2000 and 2001.
For most of the African continent, naval matters were in general neglect in 1997, with only a few countries making significant efforts either to maintain or rejuvenate their fleets. Indeed, some navies virtually have disappeared. Somalia, Mozambique, and Ethiopia no longer possess any operational craft; and the remains of the Ethiopian fleet interned at Djibouti were auctioned for scrap or commercial use in September 1997 and straggled off to various breaking yards during 1997.
EGYPT: Assisted by massive U.S. aid, the Egyptian Navy made further strides in modernizing its combatant forces in 1997. Although no decision has been made on ordering new submarines-and may not be any time soon-the successful completion of the U.S.-aided Romeo-class update program in January 1996 has given the navy four adequate submarines that should remain in service for a decade.
The ex-U.S. Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates Copeland (FFG-25) and Gallery (FFG-26) formally were recommissioned in Egypt on 13 July as the Mubarak and Taba. Their sister Duncan (FFG-IO) will recommission this year as the El Arish. In August, the U.S. Congress authorized the offer of two additional Oliver Hazard Perrys to Egypt after their deactivations on 31 December: the Fahrion (FFG-22) and Lewis B. Puller (FFG-23).
LIBYA: The nation no longer has any operational submarines, and the remaining surface fleet is incapable of performing anything beyond basic coastal surveillance.
MOROCCO: The nation maintains the best-eui oed navy in Africa between Egypt and South Africa. Last year saw the delivery of the last two of five French-built 650-ton OPV 64-class vessels, the Rais Mauninou and the Rais al Mounastiri, as well as the 2,160-ton supply vessel and vehicle carrier El Dakhla, completed in August.
NIGERIA: The now-hapless and ill-maintained navy has been reduced to a shadow of its former modest glory. The 3,680-ton MEKO 360-class frigate Aradu, reactivated from near-hulk status to assist in maintaining order in Sierra Leone, reportedly broke down on arrival in June and cannot be gotten home.
SOUTH AFRICA: The navy remains an operational and highly professional force three years after the end of apartheid. The largest defense sales prize in the Southern Hemisphere may be decided this year when a decision is made on an order for four Project Sitron 2,000-ton-class offshore patrol vessels; a December 1994 decision to award the contract to Bazan in Spain had been revoked before signing, but the South African Navy has convinced the Ministry of Defence of its dire need for larger patrol units not only for use in domestic waters but also for assisting South Africa's neighbors. The United Kingdom has offered the Yarrow 3000 design; Canada, a variant of its Maritime Coast Defense Vessel; France, a smaller version of its La Fayette frigate; Germany's Blohm + Voss, the MEKO 200 of MEKO A 200; Italy, the Falco Mk 2 (a development of the Maestrale-class frigate); Russia, a patrol version of the Gepard frigate; and Spain's Bazin, the Type 590A, which had won the original competition. Needless to say, the various bidders are offering attractive packages, with various sweeteners such as a free submarine (France), generous industrial offsets, and even equipment updates for other naval platforms as well as for the South African Air Force and Army. The South African Navy later hopes to order six 700- to 1,200-ton patrol combatants and four submarines, all to be in service to replace current units by 2005; how this will be financed has not been revealed.
The Middle East
The Gulf States, now that the flurry of Desert Storm-generated orders is over, seem intent on ordering prestige items like guided-missile corvettes and frigates, while continuing to neglect the more mundane field of mine countermeasures. Past history has convinced them that, with the world needing their oil, the world can be counted on to provide the necessary effort to clear away any future minefields. In the aggregate, the Gulf States have overwhelmingly greater naval resources than does Iran, the principal possible maritime troublemaker in the region, and their fleets are greatly superior in capability to that of Iran in every respect except submarines. What the Arabian Peninsula states lack is any discernable effort to employ their forces cooperatively, and, indeed, some purchases continue to be justified on the grounds of keeping ahead of their immediate neighbors rather than being directed toward the somewhat more menacing (if not imminent) prospect of Iranian aggression. For the purposes of this article, the Middle East is defined as those countries from Syria around the Arabian Peninsula to Kuwait, plus that of Iran. The Iraqi Navy shows no signs of revival after its total defeat in 1991 and, indeed, has declined further to an almost negligible force of small boats.
BAHRAIN: The Bahraini Navy brought the ex-U.S. Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate Jack Williams (FFG-24) home in the spring of 1997 to become the only Middle East Navy with an area-defense, surface-to-air missile ship since the retirement of the last of Iran's trio of Standard SM-1-equipped destroyers. She has been renamed the Sabha.
IRAN: The navy's third Project 877EKM Kilo-class submarine, the Yunes, was commissioned at Bandar Abbas on 26 January 1997. The entire Iranian submarine fleet, however, is suspect because of persistent material problems, particularly with batteries. Training for the Kilo crews has been reported as inadequate.
To replace the capabilities of the retired U.S.-built Allen M. Sumner (DD-692)-class destroyers retired by 1996, the Iranian Navy has announced that as many as three 1,000-ton, 289-foot "destroyers" capable of 30 knots and equipped with a helicopter and antiaircraft, antisubmarine, and antisurface weapons would be built in-country. Work on the first was said to have commenced in September 1996, but obviously, virtually all weapons, sensor, and engineering components would have to be imported (or recycled from other, existing units), which argues for assistance from another country such as China. The Iranian Navy itself has received no new seagoing surface combatants in many years, but some of its French-built Combattante-IIB-class guided-missile patrol craft have been armed with capable Chinese-supplied C-802 antiship missiles to replace the exhausted Harpoon inventory. The same missile has been delivered in large quantities for land-launched use and is installed on the ten Chinese Houdong-class guided missile patrol craft delivered to the autonomous Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy in 1995-96.
ISRAEL: Originally to have been retained in service after the delivery of the Type 800s, the trio of IKL Type 500 submarines completed in the United Kingdom in the mid1970s were offered for refit for foreign sale in 1997, with the first to be available early this year; thus far, no customer for the 600-tonners has been announced. The three 1,275-ton Israeli Sa'ar-V corvettes delivered in 1994-95 by Ingalls Shipbuilding continue to be operated even as their combat equipment suites are being slowly fleshed out. By 1997, at least three of the 450-ton Reshev-class guided-missile patrol craft had been lengthened and re-equipped to the same configuration as the 488-ton Nirit-class unit Hetz, including installation of a Barak vertically launched surface-to-air missile system. With the sale of two other Reshevs to Chile late in 1996, Israel is left with only 11 missile craft. Exports of Super Dvora and Shaldag patrol boats have helped to keep the Israeli naval shipbuilding industry alive, but no locally built unit of more than 50 tons has been delivered to the Israeli Navy since the Hetz in 1991.
KUWAIT: The first of seven 247-ton P37BRL guided-missile patrol craft for the Kuwaiti Navy, the Um Almaradim, began sea trials in France in April 1997 and was to be delivered along with a second craft to Kuwait this month. The program has been delayed by a political squabble over the selection of the superior British Sea Skua short-range antiship missile over the French MM 15, and rising costs have prevented the planned installation of a launcher for Mistral heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles. The Kuwaiti Navy, however, continues to be neglected by its government, and the larger of the two remaining pre-Desert Storm combatants still in-country, the 398-ton missile craft Istiqlal, has been laid up pending funding for an overhaul needed since the conclusion of the fighting in 1991.
OMAN: The well-managed Royal Omani Navy is still assimilating its Desert Storm-inspired group of surface combatants delivered in 1995-96, two 1,450-ton Vigilant-class corvettes from the United Kingdom and three Vigilante-400 patrol craft from France. The Omani fleet, however, lacks mine countermeasures and antisubmarine capabilities-while charged with the defending a nation menaced by a nearby Iran with large stocks of mines and a fleet of three modern, if only rarely operational, submarines.
QATAR: Qatar's quartet of 480-ton Vita-class guided-missile patrol craft was completed by the addition of the Al Debeel in July, but training schedules had slipped sufficiently that the first pair, completed by Vosper Thornycroft in mid1996, was not scheduled to arrive in Qatar until early this year.
SAUDI ARABIA: The Royal Saudi Navy ordered a third enlarged and more powerful version of the French La Fayette-class low-observable frigate design in May 1997; the first pair of the 4,100-ton, 440-foot ships now will carry Aster-15 short-range, vertically launched, surface-to-air missiles on completion in 2003; the third is to be completed in 2005. Work continues on the "Project Mouette" overhaul program at Toulon, France, for the four 2,610-ton Saudi Al Madinah-class frigates and the two 10,500-ton Boraida-class underway replenishment oilers; the first frigate to complete the refit, the Al Madinah herself, left France for Jiddah on 8 April 1997, and the last is scheduled to complete in March of 1999. The Al Kharj, completed by Vosper Thornycroft in September 1994 as the third of a trio of Sandown-class minehunters, finally departed British waters bound for Saudi Arabia on 7 August of last year; an order for three more, tentatively agreed to in 1991, has yet to be finalized.
SYRIA: Some elements of Syria's hopelessly obsolescent Soviet-supplied fleet continue to be exercised at sea, but the trio of late-1950s construction Romeo-class submarines transferred in 1985-86 has expired, making Syria the third Mediterranean navy to lose its submarine arm during the mid1990s.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: The joint fleet of the United Arab Emirates commissioned the 3,786-ton former Royal Netherlands Navy Kortenaer-class frigate Abraham Crijnssen as the Abu Dhabi on 31 October 1997 and was expected to commission her sister Piet Heyn as the Al Emirat early this year after completion of her reactivation. Crews for both ships are receiving extensive training prior to departure for the Persian Gulf, and the U.S. Congress in August 1997 approved the sale of two dozen RGM-84G-4 Harpoon and 72 RIM-7M Sea Sparrow missiles for use on board the pair.
No orders have yet materialized from the proposal to buy six 700-ton, 213-foot Project LEWA-1 missile-armed patrol combatants for the U.A.E. Navy. Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock dropped out of the competition for the order near the end of the year but presumably will remain with the program in some capacity, as it is a partner in the Abu Dhabi Ship Building Co., where the ships are to be built. The U.A.E. consistently has upgraded requirements for the ships while restricting platform growth, frustrating the contenders.
Alarmists have been portraying the navies of Asia as engaged in some sort of slow-motion arms race, but, with the exception of programs in Australia, Japan, and-to a lesser extent-South Korea and Taiwan, none of the new Asian naval programs approaches state-of-the-art. Nearly all of the warships on order are replacements for worn-out units, and only a few fleets-notably Australia's-are actually growing in inventory; indeed, the largest, those of China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, actually are shrinking somewhat in numbers if not in aggregate combat capability. The greatest danger to maritime stability in the region lies in the possibility of misunderstanding the intentions of naval programs in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, whose navies are all struggling to come to terms with the new strategic alignments caused by the virtual eclipse of Russian naval power in the region. Even before the seeming collapse of the Asian economic miracle at the end of 1997, Malaysia had had to curtail its plans for naval rejuvenation and the acquisition of submarines. While it remains to be seen just how far reaching will be any defense-budget belt tightening as a result of the downward turn in various Asian economies, it does seem very likely that naval programs not tied directly to urgent national defense requirements will fall by the wayside.
AUSTRALIA: Australia's economy is not yet much affected by problems to its north, and the country's extensive set of naval construction and modernization programs are for the most part progressing satisfactorily. The Waller, the Royal Australian Navy's third 3,353-ton (submerged displacement) Collins-class diesel attack submarine, was launched by the Australian Submarine Corporation at Port Adelaide on 14 March 1997, and the Ministry of Defense is again discussing the possibility of ordering two more, for a total of eight. This is potentially fortunate for the builder, which has been unable to sell the design abroad. The Collins herself is experiencing software problems that will affect the entire class-not expected to be fully combat-ready until well into 2000.
A defense review at the end of 1997 verified the necessity to update all six Royal Australian Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates to extend them in service until 2015, when the Adelaide, the oldest, will have been in service for 35 years. The third of the eight 3,600-ton MEKO 200ANZ Anzac-class general-purpose frigates on order, the Warramunga, was laid down at Williamstown on 26 July, but the joint MEKO program with New Zealand was dealt a blow by the New Zealand government's decision in the fall not to order an optioned second pair of the frigates. This will, of course, drive up the unit cost of the remaining units. Australian shipbuilders were disappointed again when Malaysia selected a German design for its new offshore patrol vessel program. Had the Australian design won (as had been expected), a dozen of the 1,350-ton ships were to have been ordered for the Royal Australian Navy-in addition to replacements for the aging Fremantle-class patrol craft. Late in the year, it was announced that the Fremantles would have to soldier on.
The Huon-class minehunter program saw the relaunch of the first unit, whose hull had been molded in Italy, at Newcastle, on 25 July, where work began on 13 September on laying up the glass-reinforced plastic hull for the fourth unit of the class; all six of the 720ton ships are to be in service by 2002.
BANGLADESH: TO be paid for with $100 million (U.S.) provided by Saudi Arabia, the navy ordered a 2,300-ton frigate from Daewoo Heavy Industries, South Korea. The new frigate, to be armed in part with four antiship missiles of unknown origin, will replace the Salisbury-class frigate Umar Farooq (ex-HMS Llandaff), which was stricken in 1996, but two other former Royal Navy diesel-powered frigates of similar design and 1950s vintage are also in need of successors.
BRUNEI: The Sultanate ordered its first major combatants, three 1,500-ton small frigates, from GEC-Yarrow Shipbuilders, Scotland, in June of 1997 for delivery in 2001 through 2003. After protracted negotiations, a formidable suite of weapons was selected for the frigates, including eight MM 40 Exocet antiship missiles, a vertical-launch Sea Wolf surface-to-air missile system, a 76-mm gun, and torpedo tubes, the latter to provide the small fleet with its first antisubmarine capability.
CAMBODIA: The navy commissioned the new Malaysian-funded, 44-ton patrol boats Kaoh Chlam and Kaoh Rang on 20 January 1997; the pair, and two Soviet supplied Stenka-class patrol craft refurbished in Malaysia in 1994-96, are the only fully operational craft in Cambodia's small navy.
CHINA: The mainland recovered sovereignty over Hong Kong at the midpoint of 1997, thereby gaining an incredibly valuable economic engine, an excellent fleet of marine police craft, and direct access to a new and dangerous strain of flu. More important, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) was able to take over a brand-new naval base constructed by the British; all four of China's most modern guided-missile patrol craft of the Houjian class (Project 520T) were immediately stationed at the new facility, but a fire on board a PLAN patrol craft at Hong Kong later in the year resulted in an embarrassing loss. Earlier in the year, the naval grand tour of North and South American ports by two of its most recently built destroyers and a newly completed replenishment oiler revealed to discerning visitors a number of technological deficiencies; essentially, most aspects of the PLAN's equipment remain a good three decades behind the naval state-of-the art.
The PLAN may receive a technological boost around 2000 if a November 1997 letter-of-intent to purchase two incomplete Russian Sovremennyy-class (Project 956A) guided-missile destroyers results in a firm contract this year. But, although acquisition of the completed ships would expose the PLAN to more capable weapons and sensors than it has hitherto possessed, the first Sovremennyy was completed in 1980 and the turbo pressurized boiler, steam-turbine propulsion plant in the class dates from the 1950s. China also may buy two additional Russian destroyers, and a high-ranking PLAN delegation is said to have inspected the gas turbine-powered Udaloyyclass (Project 1155) ASW destroyer Admiral Vinogradov at Vladivostok on 3 December. What was originally thought to be a third unit of the 5,700-ton Luhu class of indigenously designed destroyers is now believed to be a larger ship more than 6,000 tons displacement powered by four Ukraine-made gas turbines.
The fifth and sixth 2,250-ton Jiangwei (Project 055) class of small frigates, launched at Hudong Shipyard, Shanghai, during 1997, will not carry the cumbersome HQ-61 surface-to-air missile system fitted to the original quartet but will have improved gun fire-control equipment; both should complete during 1998, but no other frigates are under construction for the PLAN, which remains burdened with an obsolescent inventory in the frigate and destroyer category.
After having launched a single as-yet not fully operational Song-class (Project 039) diesel attack submarine in May 1994, China evidently returned to producing the earlier Ming design (Project 035), which had first appeared in 1975 and whose design lineage traces directly to the late 1940s Soviet Whiskey class. Two more Mings were said to have been launched in 1997, and four more may be in production, for a final inventory of 19 (one of the first three was lost to fire some years ago.) The first of two Project 636 Kilos ordered from Russia was reported being readied for delivery to China as deck cargo on a heavy lift ship at the end of 1997, and the second unit will probably complete in 1998; no more are known to have been ordered. The two earlier-model Project 877EKM Kilos delivered in 1995-96 are said not yet to have attained combat-ready status because of material and training problems. There have been no further reports on the status of the new nuclear-powered ballistic missile and attack submarine programs.
China continues to neglect mine warfare, and especially mine countermeasures; its standard minesweeper, still built for export, is the steel-hulled 1940s-designed Russian T-43 class, and almost no new mine countermeasures ships or craft have been built for the PLAN in over a decade. Any nation professing to fear amphibious invasion or blockade by China would do well to acquire an adequate minelaying capability; in any case, the PLAN is not expanding its amphibious lift capacity, which is at best capable of lifting one lightly equipped division.
INDIA: The navy retired the World War II-era aircraft carrier Vikrant on 31 January 1997. With the impending major refit of the almost equally elderly carrier Viraat expected to keep the ship out of service for several years, the Indian Navy was faced with no seagoing platform for its 17 remaining Sea Harrier Mk 51 V/STOL fighter-bombers. Despite Russian press reports that a contract worth several hundred million dollars was given to Severodvinsk Shipyard on 18 December 1997 for a two-to-three year major refit and midlife modification for the laid-up carrier Admiral Gorshkov to ready her for sale to India, the Indian Minister of Defense said in January 1998 that his country would prefer to build an indigenously designed 24,000-ton carrier, even though the effort may take ten years.
As mentioned above, India took delivery of a ninth Project 877 Kilo, the Sindhurakshak, in Russia at the end of 1997 and was negotiating to purchase another. More important, however, was the keel-laying on 26 December for a new-generation Project Amur diesel-electric submarine for the Indian Navy at St. Petersburg. India also is expected to order three Krivak-derivative frigates from Russia early in 1998, with an option to build three more of the frigates in India. The logjam in indigenous Indian warship production caused by lack of Russian components has been broken, and the first of three Project 15 destroyers, the handsome and powerful, 6,300-ton, gas turbine-propelled Delhi was commissioned late in 1997, a decade after her keel had been laid at Mazagon Dockyard, Mumbai. Two sisters, both long in the water, are expected to follow in 1999 and 2000. The Project 15s carry no less than 16 Kh-35 Uran (NATO SS-N25 Switchblade) antiship missiles, two Shtil (NATO SA-N-7) surface-to-air missile launchers, plus torpedoes, guns, and helicopters. The 4,300-ton Project 16A frigate Bramaputra, launched in January 1994, was scheduled to be completed at the end of 1997, with her sisters Beas and Betwa following at two-year intervals; aside from carrying Kh-35 missiles in place of the obsolescent P-20 Styx, the new ships are virtual repeats of the preceding Godavari class.
Last year also saw the launch of the 1,350-ton corvette Kulish, sixth ship of the Khukri class (Project 25), and the commissioning of India's twelfth Tarantul-I-class guided-missile patrol craft, the Prahar. Nearly six years after her launch at Vishaknapatnam-and a decade after completion of the other tank landing ship of the Magar class-the Gharial was commissioned on 14 February 1997.
INDONESIA: The navy dashed the hopes of several new-construction submarine purveyors with the announcement in November 1996 of the impending purchase of two unmodernized German Navy Type 206 coastal submarines. The Nagarongsang (ex-U-13) and Nagabanda (ex-U-14) became Indonesian property with their decommissioning from the Deutche Marine on 13 March and 25 September 1997, respectively. Also in September, it was revealed that three sisters would be transferred as well, with the U-19 to become the Bramastra, the U-20 the Alugoro, and the U-21 the Cundamani when the ships are handed over this year and next. There may be some difficulty in finding and training adequate crews in a navy that for many years normally has had only one of its two larger Type 209 submarines operational at a time.
Few other new Indonesian acquisitions were reported last year, as the navy remains in the throes of assimilating the 39 former East German warships it was unexpectedly handed several years ago. Now, the country must solve a major currency crisis.
JAPAN: The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) continues its steady modernization as it reduces the size of its submarine and destroyer/frigate components through attrition without replacement. With the transfer of the second Yuushio-class diesel attack submarine, the Mochishio, to training duties as ATSS 8007 on 8 August, the submarine force dropped to its new level of 15 first-line boats.
The first of a new 4,900-ton standard displacement general-purpose destroyer design (full load will be about 5,600 tons) was funded under the 1998 budget. Of the slightly smaller Murasame class, the third and fourth, the Yudachi and Kirisame, were launched on 19 and 21 August last year for delivery in March 1999, while the second, the Harusame, was commissioned on 24 March 1997; four more are on order, with the last two to deliver in 2001. The JMSDF is not building frigates, and the force was reduced to eight by the retirement of the Mikuma last year; the rest will go as they reach 25 or 26 years' service.
The 8,400-ton mine countermeasures support ship and minelayer Uraga was commissioned on 19 March 1997, and her sister Bungo is to commission this month; they replace the much smaller Souya and Hayase. With the perceived elimination of the Russian Navy threat in the Pacific, construction of 1,150-ton Yaeyama-class deep-sea mine countermeasures ships was halted at three, but a new class of eight 620-ton minehunters is now in progress; class name-ship Sugashima was launched on 25 August and the Notof ima on 3 September, with both to commission in March 1999. The total JMSDF minehunter inventory is 27, including the nine Uwajima-class hunters completed from 1990 to 1996.
The dock landing ship Oosumi commenced sea trials on 25 September and was to be commissioned this month. Three more of the class may be built later to complete the replacement of the current six LSTs, whose normal employment is in resupply of Japanese offshore island facilities. The 584-foot Oosumi has a long, uncluttered vehicle parking deck topside that is surmounted by a blocky "island" superstructure offset somewhat to starboard, giving an appearance suggesting to some that she is somehow intended to be employed in the future as an aircraft carrier. The JMSDF, however, insists that the ship can handle only one CH-47 Chinook helicopter. In November, Textron Marine, New Orleans, delivered the first of two LCAC air-cushion landing craft intended to operate from the Oosumi's well deck. The JMSDF's mobility and endurance at sea remain severely constrained by a lack of adequate underway replenishment assets.
SOUTH KOREA: The Republic of Korea, rocked by crippling financial problems at the end of 1997, may have difficulty in carrying out its naval construction plans, which were in any case vastly more ambitious than anything being attempted by North Korea. Thirteen Super Lynx helicopters were ordered from Westland in the United Kingdom in 1997 to supplement the 11 in service for shipboard use, and the navy wants up to a dozen more P-3C Orions to supplement the eight already delivered. The navy's sixth Type 209/1200 submarine, the Chong Un-ho, was launched at Okpo in the fall of 1997, and construction is on schedule to complete the last of the nine ordered by 2001. Pending late in the year was a contract to build up to six larger versions of the Type 209 with a fuel-cell air-independent propulsion system, and submarine builder Daewoo Shipyard is said to be working on a design twice the displacement of the Type 209 in cooperation with a Russian design bureau.
The second 3,855-ton Kwanggaeto (KDX-1)-class small destroyer, the Ulchimundo, was launched during October by Hyundai at Ulsan, and a third is on order from Daewoo; the class nameship is to commission in 1999, and the KDX-1 series is to be followed by six 5,000-ton KDX-2 destroyers and then by four Aegis-equipped, 7,000 to 9,000-ton KDX-3 guided-missile destroyers. Work is ongoing on the design of a 12,000ton aircraft carrier about 650-feet that would carry up to 22 aircraft and enter service in 2012.
The first of two 3,300-ton minelayers was completed in September by Hyundai, and a half-dozen AN/SQQ-23 sonar and AN/SLQ-48 mine-disposal submersible equipped minehunters are on order, with the first possibly to complete this year. A second 4,200-ton tank landing ship, two additional 7,000-ton Chun-Ji-class oilers, and the 4,330-ton submarine rescue ship Chonghaejin were completed last year.
NORTH KOREA: No further information has been released by Western intelligence agencies about North Korean naval building efforts, but it is possible that one or two additional units of the torpedo-equipped, 325-ton Sang-o coastal defense submarine and/or its special forces insertion variant may have been completed during 1997. Other naval shipbuilding evidently had ceased by the end of 1995.
MALAYSIA: First among the Asian nations to suffer recent economic setbacks, Malaysia nonetheless finally announced the winner in its much-delayed competition for a class of what is hoped will total 27 offshore patrol vessels of about 1,500tons displacement. A German consortium was awarded a contract on 13 October for an initial six units based on the Blohm + Voss MEKO 100 design; the ships are to be assembled in Malaysia.
The Royal Malaysian Navy has officially dropped any plan to order its first submarines until at least 2003. Former Iraqi guided-missile patrol combatants Kalid ibn al Walid and Saad ibn abi Wakkad were commissioned in Italy in July-a decade after their completion as the Hang Nadim and the Tun Abdul Gamil and departed for Malaysia in September; two sisters should be handed over next year.
NEW ZEALAND: The Royal New Zealand Navy suffered a major disappointment in the fall of 1997 when the government decided not to exercise its option to order a second pair of MEKO 200ANZ frigates from Australia. At the same time, it was announced that the frigate force would be cut from its longtime level of four to three in 1999 on completion of the second MEKO 200ANZ, the Te Mana, and that plans to convert the 10,500-ton vehicle carrier Charles Upham to transport the New Zealand Army's Rapid Reaction Force had been placed on hold for three years. The bad news was balanced by the delight over the commissioning of the first MEKO 200ANZ, the Te Kaha, on 22 July and the recommissioning of the former U.S. Military Sealift Command ship Tenacious (T-AGOS-17) as the Resolution in February; the latter completed conversion in New Zealand at the end of 1997 to serve as a hydrographic survey ship and oceanographic research ship to replace the elderly Monowai and the retired Tui (ex-USS Charles H. Davis [T-AGOR-5]).
PAKISTAN: The Pakistani Navy opened a new base at Ormara in May 1997 to relieve crowding at Karachi; eventually, about half of the navy's major surface combatants and all of its submarines will be shifted there. Long-term fleet goals include the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, four conventional submarines, six destroyers, six additional maritime patrol aircraft, and coast-defense antiship missiles. In the near-term, however, the navy is being affected by the nation's economic problems. The remaining partial embargo on U.S.-origin equipment has hurt readiness and modernization.
The first of three Agosta-90Bclass diesel attack submarine should be launched in France this year to meet the contracted 1999 delivery date, and a sister is to be built in France and fitted out at Karachi; the third will have a French MESMA steam-turbine air-independent propulsion system and is to be built "entirely" in Pakistan, which has been gearing up its industry for the effort, with the boat scheduled for completion in 2006.
Modernization of the six elderly Amazon (Type 21) frigates bought from the United Kingdom in the early 1990s continues slowly. The Jalalat, a 200-ton, 24knot patrol craft armed with four Chinese C-801 antiship missiles, was commissioned at Karachi Naval Dockyard on 15 August, and two sisters are planned. France provided the technical assistance to allow the same facility to launch a Tripartite-class minehunter, the Mahmoud, on 28 January 1997. PHILIPPINES: Plans to modernize the Republic of the Philippines Navy have foundered on the shoals of economic reality, but the country's aged navy most of it still World War If-built ships and craft-was bolstered on 1 August 1997 by the recommissioning of three 712-ton former Royal Navy Peacock-class Hong Kong patrol combatants. The Filipino-built 279-ton patrol craft General Antonio Luna, launched in June of 1992, may be completed this year, and construction of U.S.-designed and outfitted 78-foot patrol boats continues at Manila. Nonetheless, the navy will remain all but incapable of defending the island nation against maritime attack for the foreseeable future.
SINGAPORE: This small city state continued one of the world's few ongoing naval expansions during 1997. Three late 1960svintage former Swedish Navy Sjoormen-class, 1,400-ton diesel attack submarines were ordered on 31 July for refurbishment at Malmo and delivery in 1999 through 2001. An earlier Sjoormen-class purchase, the Challenger (ex-Sjobjurnen), completed a major refit on 26 September to train Singaporean submariners in Swedish waters.
A new NGPV class of 1,000-ton, 262foot corvettes is to commence construction soon at Jurong; the ships are to be armed with eight Harpoon antiship missiles, 32 Israeli Barak vertical-launch surface-to-air missiles, and four wire-guided torpedoes and are to employ trimaranform, glass-reinforced plastic signature reduction hulls with Kevlar armor. The Gallant, Daring, and Dauntless were commissioned on 3 March 1997 to complete the first group six antisubmarine warfare variants of the Fearless-class patrol craft. The second and third of what was intended to be an antiship missile-equipped variant, the Unity and Sovereignty, were launched on 19 July, and three more are on order. Concurrently, and program to equip the six 600-ton Victory-class 32 Israel Barak missile cells each was completed during 1997. The first of four new 8,500-ton landing ships was laid down in 1997, the 460-foot ships are to replace World War II-era former U.S. Navy LSTs and will be able to transport 18 tanks, 20 vehicles, 350 troops, and several helicopters.
SRI LANKA: The nation's continuing Tamil separatist insurrection has resulted in steady attrition of the patrol craft fleet. Two Chinese 478-ton Chinese Haiqing-class (Project 037-I) antisubmarine patrol craft were to have been delivered during 1997 to follow the Parakramabahu, commissioned as the navy's largest warship in May 1996. A second trio of U.S. Halter Marine-built 55-ton Mk V-A Pegasus 47-knot patrol boats was delivered in September 1997, while the Colombo Dockyard in 1997 was to have completed three 56-ton Israeli-designed Shaldag-class patrol boats and nine 28-ton French-designed 45-knot Sea Sentinel 508-class patrol launches.
TAIWAN: Thwarted again last year in its attempts to acquire more submarines, Taiwan did begin negotiations with a U.S. firm offering midget submarines based on the design of the glass-reinforced plastic-hulled U.S. Navy drone research submersible Kokanee, itself a scale hydrodynamic test model of the USS Seawolf (SSN-21)-class nuclear-powered attack submarine. Midget submarines, it is hped, could not be termed offensive systems thus China could not foil their delivery.
Although seven Taiwanese Gearing (DD-710)-class destroyers have completed modernization first with Standard SM-1 MR surface-to-air missiles and later with Hsiung Feng-II antiship missiles, the navy's destroyer force continues to dwindle with the slow retirement of its World War II-built units. The old destroyers are being replaced primarily by a three-element frigate program. China Shipbuilding, Kaohsiung, delivered the sixth of seven planned U.S. Oliver Hazard Perry-variant Kuang Hua-I-class guided-missile frigates, the Pan Chao, was commissioned on 16 December 1997; the final unit, the Chang Chien, is scheduled for completion this May. The French DCN yard at Lorient has delivered five of the six 4,200-ton La Fayette-variant, Kuang Hua-II-class frigates; Wu Chang commissioned 26 February 1997, the Ti Hua on 8 August 1997, and Kung Ming on 16 December 1997.
Finally, to improve its ASW capabilities, the Republic of China Navy will be receiving two more ex-U.S. Navy Knox-class frigates in 1998 to bring its total to eight.
A contract for 11 shipboard combat systems signed in November 1997 with the U.S. firm Contraves-Brashear Systems signaled that the political logjam in the construction of a further 11 580-ton Jing Chiang (Kuang Hua-III) guided-missile patrol combatants had at last been broken. Construction of between a dozen and 16 1,000 to 1,500-ton Kuang HuaIV corvettes, however, appears to have been deferred for fiscal reasons. Meanwhile, a program to build up to 50 150ton Kuang Hua-VI-class guided-missile patrol craft to replace the 49 remaining Hai Ou-class missile boats was approved in mid-1996; employing stealth design concepts, the craft are to carry four Hsiung Feng-II dual-seeker, 76 nautical mile-ranged antiship missiles. The Hsiung Feng-II is now deployed on several classes of destroyers and frigates and is also positioned in shore-based batteries; it also has been tested successfully for air launching from an AT-3 jet trainer.
Taiwan continues to neglect its mine countermeasures force, which, although well equipped and maintained, still has eight 1950s-built units among its dozen seagoing minecraft. Taiwan has two former Newport (LST-179)-class LSTs, but in 1997 declined the offer of the Newport herself. The Taiwanese-built, 5,000-ton transports of the seven-ship Yuen Feng-class, of which the fourth was to have been delivered last year and three more are on order for completion by 2000, are intended to support offshore islands. The Kuang Hua-V project foresees the construction of up to 20 tugboats to replace existing units.
THAILAND: In addition to the new carrier and AV-8s, the Thai naval air component has experienced a major expansion in the past two years, with the last of 18 ex-U.S. A-7E and TA-7C CorsairII fighter-bombers delivered early in 1997, seven Bell 214ST troop helicopters transferred from the Thai Army late in 1996 for potential shipboard use, the last of six new Sikorsky S-70B-7 Seahawks handed over in June 1997 to follow six S-76B land-based helicopters acquired the year before, and the offer of ten free former U.S. Navy SH-2F SeaSprite shipboard antisubmarine helicopters to be donated in 1998 (with eight to be upgraded at Thai expense to SH-2G Super SeaSprite configuration). By 2006, the navy hopes to acquire another dozen used A-7E Corsair-Ils, a total of 37 shipboard helicopters, 11 land-based search-and-rescue aircraft, and 6 additional maritime patrol aircraft.
Construction is under way on an initial batch of three Australian-designed 545-ton patrol combatants at Asian Marine Services, Pranburi, with the first due for delivery this month. Two Italian-built Gaeta-class minehunters, similar to the larger U.S. Navy Osprey class, are on order for delivery in 1999 and 2000 to replace the last two remaining U.S. MSC 289-class minesweepers.
VIETNAM: The nation began negotiations with Russia in 1996 for the local construction of a 2,000-ton frigate of the KBO-2000 class, but the current state of the program is unknown. Two Russian-designed and equipped BPS-500class, 517-ton guided-missile patrol combatants are on contract for assembly at a yard at Ho Chi Minh City, but, again, no progress has yet been reported. The BPS-500 class is intended to carry eight Kh-35 Uran (NATO SS-N-25 Switchblade) antiship missiles, a 76.2-mm dual purpose gun, and a 30-mm Gatling gun and is to be powered by three German made diesels for 32-knot speeds. Virtually everything going into the frigate and missile craft hulls would have to be imported.
North and South America
None of the Western Hemisphere navies-even Cuba-faces any immediate external threats, and all have continued a general drawdown in their forces, with new acquisitions confined mostly to replacing aged units or to maintaining industrial base capabilities.
ARGENTINA: In January 1997, the Argentine Navy finally had to accept the demise of its 19,896-ton aircraft carrier Veinticinco de Mayo. Argentine economic stringencies also canceled the protracted overhaul of the Type 209/1200-class submarine San Luis, reducing the Argentine submarine fleet to three units, while the Navy's only amphibious warfare ship, the Cabo San Antonio, also was stricken. All three ships are to be scrapped. U.S. largesse, however, is resulting in the transfer of six P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft this year to replace outdated Lockheed Electras.
BRAZIL: Despite a shaky economy, Brazil has maintained a fairly robust naval construction and modernization program, now largely for industrial-base reasons. The second Brazilian-assembled German Type 209/1400-class diesel attack submarine, the Timbira, was commissioned early in 1997; the first, German-built unit of the class, the Tupi, returned to her builders for an overhaul after a decade of service; and the third Brazilian-assembled unit, the Tapajo, was awaiting launch at the end of the year. The Tapajo is to be followed by the Tikuna, an enlarged version of the basic design with more powerful diesels, a new-model electric propulsion motor, improved radiated noise reduction, new communications and combat control systems, new-model wire-guided torpedoes, and a number of other improvements.
Brazil's last destroyer, the Gearing FRAM-I-class Mariz e Barros (ex-USS Brinkley Bass [DD-887]), was retired on I September 1997, but the frigate force is being revitalized. The fourth and final 4,400-ton former Royal Navy Broadsword-class frigate, the Brazen, was transferred on 30 April 1997 to become the Rademaker, joining three Sea Wolf and MM 38 Exocet missile-equipped sisters transferred in 1995-96. Work continues on the Liberal, first of six Niteroi-class frigates scheduled to be re-engined and equipped with an Italian Albatros surface-to-air missile system, a new suite of sensors, and a Brazilian-developed combat control system, and otherwise to be thoroughly overhauled and updated by the end of 2001. Work continues slowly at AMRJ on the 2,350-ton, locally designed frigate Barroso, whose keel was laid in December 1994 as an improved version of the quartet of Inhauma-class frigates built earlier in Brazil.
The 263-ton Graina class of patrol craft gained its eighth unit with the commissioning of the Goiana at Niteroi on 26 February 1997; two more are building at Ceara, Brazil, and the German government has offered to provide construction loans to fund two more to be built at Peenewerft in Eastern Germany, where four sisters were completed for Brazil in 1995-96.
CANADA: The Canadian Maritime Command still has not received a decision from its government as to whether it will purchase the four nearly new Upholder-class diesel attack submarines offered to it by the United Kingdom as long ago as 1993, and the British understandably have been marketing the boats to other possible customers from Chile to Pakistan, Greece, South Africa, and Portugal. Eight of the sparsely equipped dozen 979-ton Kingston-class Maritime Coastal Defense Vessels have now been launched for the benefit of the naval reserve program, but the design has experienced top-weight and engineering system problems.
CHILE: For the past several years, the Chilean Navy has been embarked on a modest fleet expansion, primarily to improve its defenses along its northern sea border and to extend its capability to patrol the waters of the Chilean economic exclusion zone. Fleet improvements have been made through a combination of local construction and taking advantage of bargain prices for used-but still viable foreign warships. A major investment in two new submarines, however, was delayed due to higher than expected costs and changes in the political leadership of the Ministry of Defense. A contract was signed on 18 December 1997 for a reported $420 million for two Franco-Spanish Scorpene diesel attack submarinesh to replace the Navy's two Oberon-class boats; the submarines will be built jointly by Bazan in Spain and DCN in Francethe second is to be delivered by 2005.
The Chilean Navy also has acquired 15 surplus U.S. Cessna O-2A Skymaster aircraft to improve its aerial surveillance capabilities. In the Chilean Navy surface fleet, a second Leander-class frigate, the Zentano (formerly HMS Achilles) completed a major modernization in December 1996, leaving only one of the four ships of the class to be updated with new weapons and sensors, an enlarged helicopter hangar, and a Chilean-developed combat data system. Former Israeli Navy Reshev-class guided-missile patrol craft Reshev and Tarshish arrived in July 1997 and were renamed the Angamos and Papudo, respectively. On 27 August, Type 148 missile craft Wolf and Elster were decommissioned from the German Navy and transferred to Chile as the Guardiamarina Riquelme and Teniente Orella, and four more of the class are to follow this year; the quartet is to be stationed near the Peruvian border.
COLOMBIA: The year's major acquisition was the 30-year-old, 3,483-ton former German Navy Type 701A multi-cargo underway replenishment ship Luneburg, which was recommissioned on as the Cartagena de Indias. The Colombian Navy's patrol capabilities also were improved at modest cost through the purchase of two Spanish Navy Lazaga-class large patrol craft in February 1997.
CUBA: The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released a report in 1997 that revealed the virtual demise of the Cuban Navy. Gone were the three Foxtrot-class submarines, the three Koni-class small frigates, most of the mine warfare units, and all of the amphibious lift component. The navy's newest ship, a 554-ton Paukclass patrol combatant delivered in 1990, has been laid up non-operational, as are the remaining Osa-series guided-missile patrol craft. The largest serviceable combatants are a half-dozen 91-ton Yevgenya-class inshore minesweepers. They and about two dozen Ministry of the Interior Border Guard's 40-ton Zhuk-class patrol launches are about the only units still operating. For coastal defense, Cuba now relies primarily on its large but aging inventory of truck-mounted Soviet Styx-family antiship missiles.
MEXICO: The Mexican Navy is to receive the former U.S. Navy Knox-class frigates Stein (ex-FF-1065) and Marvin Shields (ex-FF-1066) this year after their reactivation refits; the U.S. Congress has authorized the offer for sale of a third ship of the class, the Roark (FF-1053).
PERU: The Peruvian Navy disposed of two large cargo vessels employed to transport commercial cargoes to generate fleet operating revenue. Overhaul and improvements to existing combatants, however, continued. The six French-built PR-72-560-class, MM 38 Exocet missile-armed guided-missile patrol craft are being refurbished and fitted with Peruvian-developed MGP-86 point-defense surface-to-air missile systems, which employ Russian 9M39 Igla heat-seeking missiles purchased from Nicaragua in 1994; the same system has been added to the navy's four Lupo-class frigates.