Commissioned on 31 January, the Royal Australian Navy's 3,353-ton-submergeddisplacement submarine Farncomb is the second unit of what is now the world's second largest diesel-electric combat submarine design, behind Japan's new 3,600ton Oyashio class. With four of the Collins -class boats in the water and the last of the six scheduled for delivery in 2001, Australian politicians are reconsidering ordering additional units of this or a new, smaller design to keep the Australian Submarine Corporation at Port Adelaide open. Despite vigorous efforts, the company has been unable to secure export orders for the very expensive (about $550 million each) Collins class, which also has been experiencing significant combat and ship-control systems software integration problems. Although commissioned in July 19%, the Collins now is not expected to be available for operational patrol duties until mid-2000.
The first of four 8,500-ton full load displacement amphibious landing ships for the Singapore Navy, the Endurance —seen here building at Singapore Technology, Shipbuilding & Engineering's Jurong yard last October—was launched in mid March but will not be commissioned until 2000. Designed in cooperation with Ingalls Shipbuilding, the 462-foot ships, the largest naval units yet built in Southeast Asia, will replace ex-U.S. Navy LST 542-class landing ships completed in 1944; also in service is the British-built Perseverance (ex-RFA Sir Lancelot ), acquired in 1992. The new ships will be able to sustain 15 knots and will carry up to 350 troops, 18 tanks, 20 other combat vehicles, and helicopters. A stern docking well and a bow ramp are fitted.
Pictured is the Portuguese Navy's French-built, 2,250-ton Commandant Riviere -class frigate Comandante Joao Belo , showing the recent modifications made to her and her two sisters to update the 30-year-old ships for another decade of service; a fourth ship was retired in 1997 when it was decided not to adapt her as a cadet training ship. During modernization, the remaining trio lost one 100-mm dual-purpose gun aft, had their quadruple 405-mm antisubmarine mortar forward removed, and had two triple Mk 32 antisubmarine torpedo tube mounts substituted for the original 550-mm triple French mountings. In addition, a Canadian SQS-510(V) sonar replaced the original two sets, a Boeing ArgoSystems APECS-II/700 electronic warfare suite was added, and a new SEWACO-derived combat data system with Link-11 compatibility was installed. Three former French Navy sisters are operated by the Uruguayan Navy, but the last French Navy unit was retired in 1996.