The 3,870-ton, one-of-a-kind French Navy destroyer Aconit, seen here during a visit to England in June 1996, is to be decommissioned this month as the first major combatant to be retired under the force-level reductions announced last July. The ship's name, which commemorates a World War II Free French corvette, will live on with the fourth La Fayette-class "stealth" frigate, which originally was to have been named Jaureguiberry. Commissioned in 1973 and originally typed as a corvette herself, the steam-powered Aconit was France's smallest and oldest destroyer and the only one not equipped with some form of surface-to-air missile. The large radome atop the bridge superstructure housed the antenna for a DRBV-15 air-search radar, while flanking it were radomes over the Syracuse satellite communications antennas.
By A. D. Baker III