Combat Fleets of the World
In late June 2006, the mine countermeasures vessels Weiden and Frankenthal were decommissioned from the German fleet and transferred to the United Arab Emirates. The ships, both Type 332 coastal minehunters, are quite young by minehunting standards and have many years of service life remaining. The Weiden , built by Abeking & Rasmussen, was launched in 1992 and entered service in 1993. The Frankenthal was built by Lürssenwerft and was launched and commissioned in 1992. In 2005, sailors and crew members from the UAE Navy began training with German crews at Olpenitz and Neustadt Naval Bases in preparation for handover of the two ships. Since re-commissioning into UAE service, the Weiden has been renamed Al Hasbah and the Frankenthal is now called Al Murjan . In July, the Al Hasbah was loaded on board the heavy lift ship Condock IV for transport to the UAE while sister Al Murjan , pictured here, will follow late in 2006. Both ships are expected to operate out of Abu Dhabi. With the exception of the Pinguin mine-hunting drones and the advanced MSP 500 multisensor system, the full suite of electronics were transferred along with the two vessels.
The British defence secretary announced on 18 July, an order for 12 Nimrod MRA4 aircraft for use in maritime patrol, search-and-rescue, antisubmarine, and antisurface operations. The aircraft, which are to supplement the MR2 variant currently in service, have a range of more than 6,000 miles and a patrol endurance of 15 hours. The MRA4 will carry an improved pulse-Doppler radar, providing greater range and target resolution, along with improved detection systems, such as advanced sonobuoys and acoustic processing equipment and a turret-mounted electro-optical surveillance system. A tail-fitted magnetic anomaly detector, similar to those carried on board the Nimrod MR2, P-3C Orion, and Atlantique Mk 2 maritime patrol aircraft, will also be carried. A significant improvement over the Nimrod MR2, the MRA4 is expected to enter service in 2009.
The Royal Dutch Navy formally christened its newest amphibious transport ship, the Johan de Witt , on 13 May 2006. Laid down on 18 March 2003, the transport displaces 16,000 tons (full load) and can carry a crew of about 140 sailors plus 550 troops and six helicopters. The vessel's hull was constructed at Damen Shipyard in Galatz, Romania. In late 2004, the bow and stern were temporarily welded together for shipping to Vlissingen, where the next stage of construction began. The Johan de Witt is essentially an enlarged variant of the 12,000-ton Rotterdam-class amphibious transport ship also in service with the Netherlands. Fitting out of the Johan de Witt began in November 2005, and the ship was recently towed to a wharf, where she is to be completed in time for her 21 September sea trials.