The pattern of the last year largely confirms the view put forward in last year's "World Navies in Review": The smaller regional navies are buying new ships, many of them sophisticated and well armed. Fortunately, two potential flash points, the Gulf and Bosnia, provoked no naval action, but the continuing dispute over territorial waters in the South China Sea could all too easily have spilled over into shooting.
Three ships—the French Navy's 54-meter Flamant (P-676), the Royal Moroccan Navy's 64-meter version Rais Bargach (both offshore patrol vessels), and the Royal Malaysian Navy's frigate Jebat—exemplify today's capable naval construction.
Belgium: Although three Aster-class coastal minehunters were laid up three years ago, no purchaser has been found (a rumored sale to Greece did not happen), and four new coastal minesweepers were approved. The first is to start fabrication this year at the same SKB-Polyship Shipbuilders fiberglass construction facility that built the Aster class, and the last is to be delivered in 1999. They will be equipped with the French Sterne multipurpose minesweeping system.
Canada: Last summer the Department of National Defense announced that spending priority would be given to the Army, and this evidently means an end to speculation about the acquisition of Upholder-class diesel-electric submarines from the Royal Navy. The submarine issue is not dead, but the deferment will accentuate the problems of keeping the 30-year old Oberon class running beyond the turn of the century. The Canadians have been operating submarines since 1915—with a long break—and the loss of a Canadian submarine capability would change the Navy radically.
The failure to sell the air-defense variant of the “City”-class frigate design to Saudi Arabia clearly was a setback to Canadian ambitions to order four replacements for the modernized “Tribal’' class air-defense destroyers. It also means the Canadian naval shipbuilding industry faces a bleak future.
HMCS Kingston, first of 12 maritime coast defense vessels (MCDVs), was delivered in December. Six each will be stationed on the east and west coasts when the last unit is completed in 1999, manned mainly by reservists.
France: There is little sign of any respite from budget problems for the Marine Nationale, and lobbying for a second nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been scaled down—nor have the deferred nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) been reinstated in the program. The last of four Rubis- class SSNs rejoined the fleet last year after being brought to Amethyste-class standards, with improved sonar and combat system, and quieting measures applied to the propulsion system. The second of the 14,400-ton Le Triomphant-c\ass SSBNs will be rolled out this year, and the third and fourth will be completed in 2001-2005.
The seven Georges Leygues-class antisubmarine destroyers are to receive the SLASM towed sonar system from 1997, when the three older Tourville- class guided-missile destroyers (DDGs) complete their cycle of modernizations. All ten also are scheduled to be armed with the MILAS standoff antisubmarine weapon system.
The Suffren-class DDGs are to be replaced by the “Horizon”-class air defense ships after the turn of the century, making any major upgrades unlikely.
The Courbet, third of the La Fayette- class frigates, is running trials and is scheduled to become fully operational next January. The second batch of three has been funded and work started on the Jaureguiberry at DCN Lorient last July. The fifth and sixth ships will not be in service until after the turn of the century.
The minehunter Sagittaire was delivered in January 1996. She is the second ship of the Eridan class to bear the name—Pakistan recently bought the first vessel.
Germany: Negotiations to sell some of the six older Type 206 submarines to Singapore came to naught, and the submarines have been offered to other countries, including Poland. This will bring the active submarine inventory down to 12 units, and by the time the first of the four new Type 212 boats is ready in 2003, the modernized Type 206A group will be close to the end of their effective lives.
Little has been done to rationalize German naval capacity, and the luxury of having two submarine builders, four frigate builders, and two minehunter builders is proving expensive.
The Schleswig-Holstein, second Brandenburg-class Type 123 frigates, was commissioned late last year and her sisters Bayern and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern will be in commission by the end of 1996. Work continues on the design of the Type 124 air defense frigates, but construction will not start until 1999, assuming that the contract is awarded this summer as planned.
The ten Type 143A Gepard-class guided-missile patrol boats remain, along with ten of the Type 143B Albatros class and 16 of the original 20 Type 148 Tiger class, and modernization for at least some of these must be an attractive alternative to one-for-one replacements.
With the delivery of the last of ten Type 332 Frankenthal-class coastal mine- hunters next month, the modernization of the mine countermeasures (MCM) force was to be complete, but two more are have been funded for delivery in 1998. As usual, Abeking & Rasmussen and Lurssenwerft will split the construction. Construction of an 18,000-ton intervention force landing ship was canceled in favor of building a less expensive 10,000- ton vessel.
Greece: The Hellenic Navy has achieved a degree of modernization, but at the cost of standardization. The upgrading of the four 1KL Type 209/1100 Glavkos-class diesel submarines is to be completed next year, but there is no confirmation of funding for the four newer Type 209/1100 Poseidon-class boats.
The escort force now comprises four ex-U.S. Navy Charles F. Adams (DDG-2)-class guided-missile destroyers, three ex-U.S. Navy Knox (FF-1052)-class frigates, and five ex-Royal Netherlands Navy Kortenaer-class frigates. The second MEKO 200HN-type frigate, HS Spetsai, is scheduled to be completed this year.
Two more Type 148 guided- missile patrol craft have been acquired from the Federal German Navy, bringing the total to four.
The age of the mine countermeasures (MCM) force means that the ships are virtually obsolete until new equipment is procured. The acquisition of three redundant Tripartite minehunters from the Belgian Navy has been considered but nothing has materialized. Two very old minehunters have been acquired from the Italian Navy, but this hardly counts as modernization.
The tank landing ship program has been badly delayed, and the third of a total of five “Jason” type ordered from Eleusis Shipyard nine years ago will not be delivered until this summer. The remaining two will be delivered in 1997 and 1998.
Italy: The Marina Militare has resolved the problem of how to modernize the submarine force, cutting its losses by canceling the “S 90” project and starting negotiations at the beginning of 1995 to build a variant of the German Type 212 submarine at Fin- cantieri’s Muggiano shipyard. Details are still being worked out with the German Submarine Consortium, but it seems certain that there will be Italian industry participation in key areas such as the sensors, command system, and torpedoes. Work is intended to start on two boats in 1998, with an in-service date of 2004 for the first of two boats; two more are on option.
The surface fleet is aging—the veteran helicopter-carrying missile cruiser Vittorio Veneto and the two Audace-class DDGs will reach the end of their effective lives by the end of the century. As the third partner in the “Horizon” project, the Italian Navy also is waiting anxiously for the next step in the procurement process. Italian plans call for construction of up to four of the ships, but program delays probably will cause projected in-service dates to slip.
The last of four modified Lupo-class frigates ordered by Iraq but embargoed since 1990 has now completed its overhaul. Following the government’s decision to buy the ships from Fincantieri, the builder, the frigates have been downgraded to fleet patrol ships, with sonars and ASW weapons removed. The ships are equipped to operate an AB-212 light helicopter.
A new class of 25-knot, 1,000-ton patrol craft is projected, but no details have been released. Eight are planned, and they will supplement a new group of four coastal patrol craft now on order. Drug smuggling and illegal immigration have become serious problems, and Italy is taking steps to upgrade the Guardia di Finanza (Customs Service) fleet.
With the delivery of the minehunter Rimini in March, the Gaeta class is now complete, and the Navy has a modern mine countermeasures force of 12 ships. A new, larger class of six is planned, but chronic funding problems have caused deferment. The last two elderly U.S.-built minesweepers have been transferred to Greece.
The Netherlands: The downsizing of the Royal Netherlands Navy continues, with the submarine force down to four Walrus-class diesel submarines and only four of the Kortenaer-class ASW frigates still in service.
The eighth “M” type Karel Doorman-class frigate—Van Speijk—was commissioned last summer, and since then efforts have been made to sell the design to the United Arab Emirates and South Africa. As these offers include rapid delivery of running ships it must be assumed that replacements would be built, although the funds could be diverted to offset the construction of the two command/air defense frigates (LCFs). Keel-layings are scheduled for August 1997 and May 1998, both at the Royal Schelde yard in Flushing.
Late last year work started on converting three of the Alkmaar-Tripartite- class minehunters to control ships for the German Troika drone MCM system. Another four will be modernized with a new command system and the Franco-Swedish propelled variable-depth sonar (PVDS).
The new dock landing ship (LPD) Rotterdam will be ready for launching by January 1997, and should be completed late that year. The new underway replenishment ship (AOR) Amsterdam was commissioned last September.
Norway: The Royal Norwegian Navy plans to build six vessels to replace the four surviving Oslo-class frigates. Contracts were let during September 1995 to Blohm + Voss, CN d’Atlantique, Royal Schelde, and Yarmouth for conventional design studies, and to Ariel A/S, Horten, for an unusual, broad-beam design based on that of the intelligence-collection ship Marjata.
All four of the new Olsoy-class mine- hunters and the first of the five Alta-class minesweeper variants have been delivered. With production tailing off by early next year, emphasis is being placed on finding a replacement for the aging fleet of guided-missile patrol boats; a dozen are planned. Last November, design contracts went to Mjellem & Karlsen (air-cushion vehicle), Kvaerner Mandal (air-cushion vehicle), and Liirssen (conventional); the first vessel would be completed in 1998-1999, with follow-ons in 2000-2003.
Portugal: Despite severe downsizing, the Portuguese Navy continues its efforts to maintain an effective force. A British offer to sell two or three Up- holder-class submarines was turned down because the cost was too high, and the design is more capable than required for the limited mission envisaged by the Navy. A likely outcome to the problem of replacing the three Daphne-class boats is collaboration with the Spanish Navy when it reaches a decision on replacing its own variants of the French Daphnd design.
The other priority is to recreate a mine countermeasures force. The Navy is an observer on the Belgian minesweeper program, but collaboration with the Spanish Navy to buy the Contra Minas Espahol (CME) design also is possible. An even higher priority, however, is the acquisition of an amphibious warfare ship, and Portugal began negotiating late last year to buy the mothballed ex-USS Newport (LST-1179).
Spain: The future submarine-force level has yet to be decided, but the age of the French-designed Daphne class must be a matter of serious concern as the end of the century approaches.
The projected in-service date of the first of the planned F-100 type frigates is in some doubt. Not only is the Navy short of money, but the order for the Signaal APAR surveillance radar has been canceled in favor of the U.S. Aegis system, which will require a larger, more expensive platform.
The first fiberglass-hulled CME mine- hunter was laid down last year at the Cartagena yard of Empresa Nacional Bazan for delivery in 1998. Another four minesweeper variants are planned, but funding has not yet been approved.
The new AOR Patino was delivered, and the new LPD (sister-ship to the Dutch Rotterdam), will be launched at Ferrol in July.
Sweden: Despite financial constraints the Royal Swedish Navy has secured key elements of its new construction program. Following her launch in February 1995, the submarine Gotland started sea trials in July and is expected to be commissioned this April. She is the world’s first operational submarine designed from the keel up with a Stirling air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. Her sister Uppland was to be launched at Kockums’s Malmo yard last month, and will be commissioned next year along with the Holland.
The “Submarine 2000” remains a conceptual study at this stage, but there have been joint discussions with the Danish, Finnish, and Norwegian navies concerning a collaborative agreement. For Sweden, this would mean a minimum of five hulls to replace two of the Sjoormen class plus the three Nacken-class boats. The unmodemized Sjoormen has been sold to Singapore, and the other two are reported to have been offered to Thailand and Finland. The submarine force, now 12, may be reduced to no more than 10.
Karlskronavarvet is to begin construction this year on the first of two “YS 2000” guided-missile patrol boats; there is an option for another two. The vessels have been widely touted as stealth designs incorporating some features of the technology demonstrator Smyge. Armament includes a new model of the Bofors 57-mm dual-purpose gun mount and Saab’s RBS-15 Mk 2 antiship missile system, as well as antisubmarine sensors and weapons. The first four ships are to be configured primarily for mine warfare and patrol duties, and the recently enlarged design is to include a below-deck helicopter hangar. Later units, if built, will be optimized for surface warfare.
A new class of four 36-meter inshore minehunters is under construction at Karlskrona. The first, the Styrso, is to be delivered this year, and sisters Spciro, Skifto, and Sturko will be delivered next year.
Turkey: The third and fourth Type 209/1400 submarines are being built at Golcuk Shipyard. Despite its eight modern German-designed submarines in service, the Turkish Navy retains nine elderly ex-U.S. Navy boats.
The Oruc Reis, second of four MEKO 200TN Track II-class frigates, is to be commissioned this month. Her sisters Salih Reis and Kemal Reis should be completed by 1998, by which time a decision should be made on the next frigate design. Three Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)-class frigates have been offered by the U.S. Navy for delivery this year, if congressional impediments can be overcome: the Gaziante (ex-USS Antrim [FFG-20]; the Giresun (ex-USS Flatley [FFG-21]; and the Gelibolu (ex-USS Clifton Sprague [FFG-16]. The Turkish Navy will need up to ten frigates to replace aging destroyers and frigates after the turn of the century.
The Taskizak Shipyard has delivered two Yildiz 56-meter fast-attack craft, and three more are on order. While funds remain unavailable, there can be no progress on the planned MCM program. Six coastal minehunters are required to replace 40-year old ships.
United Kingdom: HMS Vigilant left on her first strategic patrol late last year, and the modernization of the Royal Navy’s Trident missile-armed SSBN force is well advanced. The fourth and last of class, HMS Vengeance, will become operational in 1999. The last of the Polaris A3-armed SSBNs, HMS Renown, is scheduled to leave service this year.
The projected Batch 2 Trafalgar-class SSNs came a step closer with the award of the prime contract to GEC-Marconi. in preference to a consortium headed by Loral in combination with the builders Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering, Ltd. (VSEL), now part of GEC Marine. The decision to arm five SSNs with BGM- 109 Tomahawk cruise missiles has been made, and the contract to provide necessary upgrade to the SSNs’ command systems was awarded to Loral and GEC Marine last October. As time passes, the likelihood of the remaining five Swiftsure class receiving a major upgrade of sonars and command systems becomes more remote, and the eventual force level is likely to stabilize at seven modernized Trafalgars and three to five Batch 2s.
HMS Ark Royal, the Royal Navy’s ten-year old support carrier, is currently laid up and will start a two-year modernization next year. Her two sisters have been operating turn-and-turn-about in the Adriatic off the coast of the former Yugoslavia.
The Type 23 ASW frigates Somerset and Grafton will be commissioned this year, and the 13th of class, HMS Sutherland, will be operational early next year. Bids for another three were requested last year and orders are to be announced shortly, marking the end of the production run, although contingency plans call for more if the tri-national “Horizon” air-defense ship program is seriously delayed. The Horizon’s Principal Anti-Air defense Missile System (PAAMS) received a formal go-ahead in December 1995. The Aster-15 missile, on which PAAMS is based, passed a number of milestones last year, and is expected to start sea trials next December.
With the first of four Broadsword-class Type 22 frigates now in Brazilian service, the destroyer and frigate force totals 35 ships, and as the latest Type 23s enter service the older frigates will be transferred.
The cost of the new LPD replacements—like that of the Batch 2 Trafalgars—is creeping up, and still no order has been announced, but Whitehall sources hint at an order this spring. The other element of the new amphibious warfare forces, the assault helicopter carrier Ocean, was launched on July 14 but suffered some damage during her launch by commercial builders Kvaemer Govan. So far there is no admission that the accident will delay completion in two years’ time. The logistic landing ship Sir Bedivere has completed a major service-life extension program at Babcock Rosyth and rejoins the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in April. Plans to put the remaining two vessels through the program may be cut back to one if funds run out.
The cost of the two Fort Victoria-class AORs proved so high that plans to build four more were abandoned. To meet the growing need for distant deployments in support of peacekeeping (contradicting previous official hostility to out-of-area operations), requests for proposals for two ships of a new, cheaper design were scheduled to be issued this month; the 26,000-ton pair would be completed in 2001.
Russia: Despite appalling problems of finance and a shrinking industrial and logistic base the Russian Navy strives heroically to maintain itself as a front-line force. The Baltic Fleet has been reduced by one-third, and the main Northern Fleet has reduced its tempo of operations. Late in December, the Northern Fleet deployed the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov to the Mediterranean in honor of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Russian Navy to enhance national prestige. At the end of 1995, Ukraine was reported to be negotiating to sell the incomplete carrier Varyag to China, although whether for scrap or for eventual service is not clear. An official Russian source said that the surviving active Kiev-series semi-carrier Admiral Gorshkov, long the subject of rumored sale to India, will be retained by the Russian Navy.
The only effective nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines (SSGNs) still in front-line service are the 11 Project 949/949A and Oscar II types. Two more were canceled, but their partially built hulls are being offered for commercial conversion.
Efforts are being made to maintain continuity of SSN construction. The first of the Project 885 Severodvinsk submarines is scheduled to launch in 1998. At least two more are planned. Two Akula-class SSNs, the Vepr and the Drakon, were delivered in 1995, but no new submarine launches were announced. Only one is scheduled for 1996.
The first Project 636 improved Kilo-class conventionally powered submarine entered service in 1991, and only three or four are in service with the Russian Navy. Two of the last three Project 877 Kilos went to China—the third went to Iran. The first two export 636 Kilos are for China; the first is to launch this year. No Kilos have been built for Russia since 1993.
Only two large surface combatants were delivered last year, the Northern Fleet’s Project 1155 Improved Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and the fourth Project 1144 Kirov-class large nuclear powered cruiser, the Petr Veliky, which the Navy has accepted for trials.
The Besstrashnyy is the latest Sovremennyy-class destroyer delivered (on 17 April 1994); the Vazhnyy is fitting out; and the Alexandr Nevskkiy (ex-Vedumchivyy), not yet launched, is to be the last, according to official pronouncements. Three other partially built ships have been scrapped.
The second Project 1154 Neustrashimyy-class destroyer, the former Nepristupnyy, is still several years away from delivery and has been renamed Yaroslav Mudryy; the third—and last of the class—is to be launched during 1996. It is reported that she will be named 300 Let Rossykomy to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Russian Navy. The Project 11661 Gepard light-frigate prototype is reputed to have run dockyard trials in 1994, but despite being described as an export product she failed to appear at any international naval show last year.
Light forces reflect a similar scaling down, and very few of the elderly Turya type hydrofoils and Osa-type missile boats remain in service. Production of the successful Project 1241.1MP Tarantul III 56-meter missile corvettes continues; the first of three is under construction and scheduled for export.
Ukraine: As predicted, the Ukraine government has settled for a less ambitious navy, more in keeping with its needs and resources. Completion of the Project 1164 5/ava-class missile cruiser Ukraina (ex-Admiral Lobov) was abandoned by the Ukraine Navy, and the ship—renamed the Admiral Flota Lobov—once again is to go to Russia. No progress has been reported on four Project 1124EM-type Grisha V 1,200-ton frigates to be constructed at Kiev, and a Project 1232.2 Pomornik-type air cushion vehicle has failed to appear.
Transfer of some 170 former Black Sea Fleet ships and craft was scheduled to be completed next month, but Ukraine’s inability to absorb so many units has seriously delayed the effort; at the end of 1995, only four of 27 scheduled units had been accepted. Of those, three were Project 1232.2 Pomomik-class air-cushion landing craft.
Croatia: A second guided-missile patrol craft is under construction at Kraljevica. Supposedly, it was launched in April 1994. The yard did complete 750-ton Silba-class tank landing craft/minelayer—the Krka.
Egypt: Following the modernization of four Chinese-built Romeo type submarines, negotiations began with the U.S. State Department to get funding for the purchase of new submarines. As with the Israelis, no U.S. shipyard can bid competitively after such a long “conventional submarine holiday.” But this time the deal offered is more favorable to U.S. industrial interests. The German Submarine Consortium may transfer technology to Ingalls Shipbuilding to build two Type 209 submarines with Foreign Military
Sales funding. Weapons and sensors would be supplied by U.S. contractors. Egypt, however, also has been talking with other submarine suppliers, including Russia and, presumably, China.
The U.S. Navy has offered to transfer two Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)-class frigates—the Copeland (FFG-25) and the Duncan (FFG-10)—subject to reluctant congressional approval. Three small U.S.- built coastal minehunters, ordered in 1990, arrived in Egyptian waters late last year, and a U.S. builder completed a series of 45-foot patrol boats for Egypt’s naval-subordinated Coast Guard.
Iran: The third Project 877EKM Kilo submarine is scheduled for delivery this spring, and there is no sign of any further acquisitions. This seems a sensible policy, giving time to build up operator confidence and to reduce dependence on Russian support. The second batch of five Houdong-class guided-missile patrol craft has not yet been delivered.
Israel: The first Type 800 diesel submarine is to be launched at Kiel next month, and should start sea trials by the end of the year. The second is to be launched in the fall, and all three are to be in service by 1999.
Kuwait: Work is well advanced on the eight “PB 37R” patrol craft at the CMN shipyard in Cherbourg, France, with the first scheduled for completion next year. No decision has been made on the Offshore Missile Vessel (OMV) project.
Oman: The new corvette Qahir al Amwaj began sea trials late last year and is scheduled to be commissioned this month. Her sister Al Mua’zzar, currently fitting out at Vosper Thomycroft’s Woolston yard in the United Kingdom, is scheduled to be commissioned next November. The first two Al Bushra-class patrol boats were commissioned at CMN’s Cherbourg yard last summer, and the Al Najah will be commissioned in April. The planned antisubmarine armament of light weight torpedoes and an active towed array sonar (ATAS) will not be fitted because of funding problems, and Oman turned down a U.S. offer of an Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)-class frigate— which leaves it with no ASW capability against, for example, Iranian Navy Kilo- class submarines.
Qatar: The first of four Barzan-class 56-meter guided-missile patrol craft has been completed by Vosper Thornycroft (UK) Ltd., and the second will be delivered in May.
Saudi Arabia: In January 1996, the final contract for production of two air-defense variants of the French Lafayette-class frigate design at DCN Lorient had yet to be signed. Plans are to fit them with Crotale-G point defense systems as an interim armament pending completion of the vertical-launch Aster 15 surface-to-air missile system; Aster initial operational capability is expected about 2000.
The first of four Al Madinah-class frigates to be refitted in France arrived in December 1995, and the others are to follow at six-month intervals. The underway replenishment oilers Boraida and Yunbou are scheduled to complete their overhauls by 1999 as part of the same “Sawasi II” program. The Saudis plan to modernize the nine Al Siddiq-class guided-missile patrol craft but have yet to implement the program.
The first three Al Jawf-class mine-hunters finally have been accepted and two sailed from the United Kingdom at the end of last year. The second batch of three has not been funded under the “Al Yammamah” agreement with the United Kingdom.
United Arab Emirates: The competition to build up to four air-defense destroyers or frigates for the UAE Navy remains unresolved. The recent offer of two ex-U.S. Navy Oliver Hazard Perry- class frigates means that the frigate project is being dropped or scaled down to something resembling an offshore patrol vessel (OPV) or corvette as the UAE realizes that the complexity and cost of its original naval expansion plan are unrealistic.
Australia: The Famcomb, second of the new Collins-class submarines, was launched last year, and the Collins is scheduled to be commissioned this May. The third should be commissioned by late 1997, and the last in October 1999. Although the option to build two more of the class was allowed to lapse three years ago, there is growing political pressure to reinstate them to maintain work at the Australian Submarine Corporation shipyard. Unfortunately the cost, estimated at up to $1 billion (Australian), means that other, more vital defense programs would have to be sacrificed. Only a government decision to increase the naval budget can resolve the question.
The frigate program also is on time; HMAS Anzac is scheduled to be commissioned in March, 1997. The remaining seven will be completed at yearly intervals thereafter through 2005. Late last year, two project-definition study contracts were awarded for the proposed upgrade of the six Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates. Their air-defense systems may be greatly enhanced, with Standard Missile (SM-2) systems and a new surveillance radar, but funding problems may result in a far more austere update.
The glass-reinforced plastic hull of the first coastal minehunter, to be named Huon, was delivered on 1 September 1995 by Intermarine SpA from Italy. Fitting out started at Australian Defence Industries’ yard in Newcastle, New South Wales, that month, and the ship is expected to start sea trials in April 1998. The others are being built entirely at Newcastle under a technology-transfer agreement; lay-up of the first hull began last September, and the final vessel is to be completed by 2002.
The Malaysian government’s decision last December not to accept the Australian candidate for its offshore patrol combatant program means that the 15 Fremantle-class patrol craft probably will undergo a service-life extension program—and the RAN will not get its nine to twelve 1,200-ton replacements.
A contract has been awarded to Forgacs Dockyard to carry out a major conversion on one of the former U.S. Navy Newport (LST-1179)-class tank landing ships. HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Manoora are to converted to training and helicopter support ships (THSSs) but funds are available for only one full conversion. The second LST will receive the same structural modifications but will not be fully equipped to support Army Black- hawk helicopters. The work will be done at Newcastle, New South Wales, with Transfield Defence Systems providing design and integrated logistic support.
Brunei: The Royal Brunei Armed Forces announced in mid-December that it has awarded a $960 million contract to British shipbuilders Yarrow to build three 95-meter missile-armed patrol vessels. The ships will displace more than 1,500 tons, and will be armed with Harpoon antiship missiles, 16 vertical-launch Sea- wolf air defense missiles, an OtoBreda 76-mm Super Rapid gun, and possibly antisubmarine torpedoes. The first ship is to be operational by January 2000.
China: The SSN and SSBN forces remain unchanged, although the U.S. Director of Naval Intelligence has stated that work continues on a new design for completion after 2000, and deliveries of Kilo-class submarines from Russia have continued. The second Project 877 variant arrived last September, and the first of two Project 636 variants should be launched this year. There have been no reports of construction of a second unit of the Song-class indigenously built attack class, but units of the obsolescent Ming class continue to appear.
The final Type 051 Luda II destroyer Zhuhai appeared at a fleet review in Indonesia last August, along with an oiler and the Jiangwei-type antiair warfare frigate Huainan; the Jiangweis have little ASW capability. The Luda program reached 16 units, and two more Jiangweis—for a total of six—still are scheduled to join the fleet this year.
Production of the Type 052 Luhu design has been stymied by a shortage of propulsion gas turbines; a second was commissioned last year.
The declining light forces still form the most numerous element of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and production of the Houjian and Houxin missile boats continues. Western assessment of the state of readiness of the PLAN’S missile-boat squadrons has been revised downward in recent years, and many older units have been deleted or shown as laid up.
India: Rumors about the purchase of the Admiral Gorshkov from the Russian Navy now seem to be groundless. The official Russian position is that she suffered some minor damage that has been repaired. She has a caretaker crew, but is carried as “operational,” and will be retained. Her two sisters—the Minsk and the Novorossiysk—were delivered to South Korea last year for scrapping, and the Kiev is scheduled to be sold or scrapped. In theory, the projected aircraft carrier is firmly back on the agenda; the official view of the Naval Staff is that large carriers are required, but even a small carrier based on the Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi seems to be beyond the means of the Navy.
The diesel submarine program is getting priority, but it seems unlikely that the prototype will be started next year, as claimed. The submarine force is being reduced slowly as the few Russian-built Project 641 Foxtrot class are discarded. There is no sign of a successor to the eight Project 877EM Kilo type, either a locally built variant or a new Russian design based on the Amur export design series—nor has anything concrete come of announced plans to build more German Type 209/1500-class submarines.
The new DDG Delhi is to be commissioned next year, followed by the Mysore in 1999 and the Bombay in 2000.
The frigate Brahmaputra, first of a batch of three improved Godavari class, is scheduled for completion at the end of this year, but much of the necessary equipment may be lacking. The Khukri-class corvette Kora was delivered last year, although the commissioning has yet to be announced, and three more may be completed by 2000.
No decision has been made on the urgently needed replacements for the obsolescent mine countermeasures force. At least ten minehunters are needed, but reports of a glass-reinforced plastic design from the Goa Shipyard are difficult to verify, and no actual construction seems to be under way.
Indonesia: Although negotiations have been going on with the German Submarine Consortium concerning the acquisition of two more Type 209 submarines, nothing has materialized, nor—given the lack of funds—is it likely.
As predicted, the purchase of 16 Parchim-type corvettes as well as minesweepers and landing ships from the former East German Navy has tied up resources that might have been better employed. More 57-meter German-designed patrol boats may be built.
Japan: The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) continues its scrap-and-build policy, giving the best of both worlds: work for the shipyards and a relatively modern fleet.
Submarine force levels are to be maintained at 16 diesel attack boats, and, as the improved Harushio class come into service from 1998 onward, the older boats will be phased out. In practice, this usually means training duties.
The third Aegis destroyer, the Myoko, will be commissioned this month, and the fourth unit is to follow in two years. The new ASW destroyer Murasame also will join the fleet this month, and seven more are planned through the end of the century. With so many powerful escorts coming into service, there is no emphasis on frigates (rated as destroyer escorts by the JMSDF), and no new construction is planned over the next few years. Retirements of older frigates, however, will reduce the overall size of the escort fleet.
With the third missile-armed hydrofoil delivered last year, construction has temporarily halted, but three more are planned. The JMSDF is currently the only navy introducing these impressive but costly craft.
Work continues on the new 500-ton minehunters and two mine countermeasures support ships. The first of three new 8,900-ton amphibious ships should be finished in two years.
North Korea: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Navy remains an enigma, with a collection of obsolescent Russian and indigenous designs. The nominally large force of 22 Romeo diesel submarines is the most potent element in this purely coast defense force.
Large numbers of a smaller, coast- defense midget submarine design designated the Sang-0 class in the West, are said to be under construction, with perhaps a dozen or more already in service. No details of their characteristics or performance have been revealed.
South Korea: The Republic of Korea Navy has made big strides, with four German-design Type 209/1200 Chang Bogo-class diesel submarines in service, a fifth to be delivered in October and the sixth expected next summer. Longer-term plans for larger submarines have not yet been finalized.
Work is in hand on the first of the new class of destroyers. Designated KDX, the program was to have run to as many as 18 units but has been reduced to ten—to be followed by successively larger and more capable submarines. Long-term plans also include four large DDGs, similar in concept to the Japanese Kongo class, although not necessarily equipped to the same standard.
In addition to a new 3,300-ton minelayer ordered in 1994, the mine countermeasures forces are to be expanded, and plans are in hand for a new class of minehunters some 50% larger than the existing Swallow design.
Malaysia: The new frigate KD Lekiu was to be commissioned last month, and her sister Jebat will follow in August.
What will undoubtedly be the largest naval construction program in Southeast Asian history was to have been announced at the LIMA’95 show at Langkawi last December, but the decision has been deferred until the spring. As many as 27 1,200-ton new generation patrol vessels (NGPVs) are to be built over the next 15 years, at either Penang Shipbuilding Corporation or the ex-Navy Lumut Dockyard, or possibly both. Many international companies are bidding for prime contractorship in this prestigious program, worth up to $2.2 billion. A prerequisite is maximum technology-transfer and participation by local industries.
In a surprising move, Malaysia also agreed to purchase two of the four undelivered Iraqi Assad-class guided-missile patrol combatants from Italy. They will be delivered in 1997, and will be a distinctly odd-lot component of the Royal Malaysian Navy, with little equipment compatible with other ships. In addition, they are too small to perform the offshore patrol mission successfully.
New Zealand: The first of two Anzac-class frigates, HMNZS Te Kaha, was launched in Australia last summer and will be commissioned in March 1998. Her unnamed sister will be laid down this year, for completion in November 1999.
Pakistan: Work has started at DCN Cherbourg on the first of three Agosta-90B diesel submarines. Up to four new frigates are being sought, possibly a variant of the Chinese Naresuan built for Thailand. PNS Muhafiz the second Tripartite minehunter, was launched at DCN Lorient last July and the fiberglass hull of the third was shipped to Karachi for fitting-out.
Philippines: The long-awaited modernization and resurgence of the Philippine Navy still seems stalled on the starting line. There is no ship capable of matching the PLA Navy’s frigates in a local confrontation, something which must be rectified if national claims to sovereignty are to mean anything.
Singapore: After careful consideration of an offer to buy up to five German Navy Type 206 diesel submarines—and a training course on an Indian Navy Foxtrot—the Republic of Singapore Navy surprised everyone late last year by buying the Sjoormen from the Royal Swedish Navy. The Swedish boat is to remain in the Baltic, and the Singaporean Minister of Defense had said that any further acquisition of operational submarines will be dependent on the evaluation of experience gained by Singaporean crews on the boat over the next several years.
The first of six Fearless-class ASW-capable, gun-armed patrol combatants was launched last February, but information on the second missile-armed version is sparse. A second group of six was ordered the day the first combatant was launched. All four of the Swedish-designed Landsort-class minehunters were commissioned together as the 194th Mine Countermeasures Squadron on 7 October 1995. Up to four large amphibious ships are planned, possibly to be capable of operating air-cushion landing craft.
Taiwan: The Kang Ting, first of six modified French Lafayette-class frigates ordered in 1992, is ready for delivery by DCN Lorient, although most of the armament will be fitted at Kaohsiung. The others will follow through 1998, but there is no indication that Taiwan will exercise its option for an additional ten frigates.
The “Kwang Hua Flight II” project to build four heavily modified Oliver Hazard Fern-class air-defense frigates was canceled late last year. Additional purchases of retired U.S. Knox-class frigates are still planned, however, up to a total of 12—of which six already are being converted.
A new class of minehunters is planned, but no design has been selected. The 3,180-ton Italian-built oceanographic research ship Ta Kuan was commissioned last September and two U.S. Newport- class LSTs purchased last summer are to be delivered this year to replace World War II-era LSDs used to resupply the Paracel Islands. A new series of four 5,000-ton Yuen Feng-class transports is on order in Taiwan.
Thailand: The Royal Thai Navy’s new support carrier Chakkrinareubet was launched in Spain on 20 January 1996; it is scheduled for delivery in April 1997. The second Naresuan-class Chinese-built frigate was delivered last September.
The saga of a Thai submarine program continues, with government statements ruling out the acquisition of diesel submarines, then reinstating the project on condition that the Navy fund it with no increase in the overall budget. Swedish builders Kockums and the Royal Swedish Navy are reported to have offered two unmodemized Sjoormen-class boats for interim familiarization and training until new construction is available, and the Swedish press reported unsupported allegations of bribes to Thai officials to favor the Swedish A-19 design over the competing German candidate.
Up to three coastal minehunters are being sought, reputedly with higher priority than the submarines.
Brazil: The Type 209/1400-class submarine Timbira was launched at Rio de Janeiro on 5 January 1996, and is expected to start sea trials this year. A fifth boat, the Tamandare, was authorized by the Brazilian legislature early in 1995. The nuclear-powered submarine program, the subject of much financial scandal, had most of the funding eliminated even as a few concrete results were at last being revealed; an actual submarine is not expected until at 2010 at the earliest.
BNS Greenlialgh (ex-HMS Broadsword) was formally handed over by the Royal Navy last June; her sisters Dodsworth and Bosisio are to follow this August. Work is in hand on the Barroso, first of the modified Inhauma-class light frigates; she will be launched in two years. Details are being finalized for the modernization of the six Niteroi-class frigates.
Chile: The Chilean Navy is reported to have made a firm offer to the British Ministry of Defence to buy the four redundant Upholder-class diesel submarines, but no decision has been announced at the time of writing.
A second destroyer, the Prat, has been equipped to launch the Israeli Barak 1 point defense missile system, as part of a major overhaul of propulsion and weapon systems.
Morocco: The Navy took delivery of the Rais Bargach, first of four 64-meter unarmed offshore patrol craft ordered from French builder Leroux & Lotz. The others will follow at six-month intervals, and an option for a fifth may be exercised shortly. An unverified report has it that Morocco has at last contracted to purchase two of the four undelivered Iraqi Assad-class guided-missile patrol combatants from Italy—possibly with funding assistance from Malaysia.
South Africa: The South African Navy’s plans to build four corvettes were deferred last year, partly because of funding problems but also because of aggressive lobbying by European contenders for the contract. The project may be resurrected after the current defense policy review is completed.
SAS Frederic Creswell is the first of the Minister-class guided-missile patrol craft to undergo a major modernization, with a new combat system and overhaul of subsystems. A variant of the locally designed combat system is being retrofitted to the three Daplwe-class submarines as well.
Little or no construction has been reported for any other African navies, most of whose fleets are continuing to decline because of funding problems, and—in some cases—corruption. Countries with Soviet-supplied equipment have been particularly hard-hit, as spare parts and technical support are virtually impossible to obtain.
Mr. Preston, a distinguished naval correspondent of long standing, writes from London.