The prototype of a new Norwegian Navy venture into rigid-sidewall air-cushion vehicle technology, the guided-missile patrol craft Skjold (Shield) was commissioned on 17 April 1999. The 260-ton (full load displacement), 153.5-root Skjold achieved an impressive 57.1 knots on trials and recently averaged 44 knots in state 3 seas on a crossing of the North Sea. Capable of operating in waters as shallow as 1 meter, the craft has an endurance of 14 days and a crew of 15. The Skjold is intended to carry the developmental Kongsberg-Aerospatiale NSM (Nytt Sjomalmissel—New Antiship Missile) when it enters production in 2004. The imaging infrared-guidance, high-subsonic turbojet-propelled NSM is to have a range in excess of 100 km and a 120.kg warhead. Visible on the foredeck is the prototype stealth mounting for the familiar OTOBreda 76turn Super Rapid dual-purpose gun; the mount was returned to the manufacturer in Italy in October for installation on an Italian Navy corvette. Seven production variants of the glass-reinforced plastic-construction Skjold are planned; the builder, Norway's Kvaerner Mandal A/S, earlier had delivered nine 375-ton rigid-sidewall air-cushion mine countermeasures craft to the Royal Norwegian Navy.
The former U.S. Coast Guard Point-class patrol boat Point Hobart (WPB-82377), seen here in August 1999 awaiting shipment to Argentina, will operate as that country's Punta Mogotes for the Prefectura Naval. Retired from U.S. service on 8 July and transferred by donation on 13 July, the craft was completed in 1970 as one of a repeat group built to replace sisters transferred to the then-South Vietnam. Designed in the 1950s, the robust 82foot class is being replaced in the U.S. Coast Guard by the 87-foot Marine Protector class, and retirees—with years of service remaining—are being donated to such countries as Antigua-Barbuda, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, and Venezuela. Of the 79 built, 21 remained in Coast Guard service at the end of 1999, to be gone by the end of fiscal year 2002.
The sea green, 1,720-ton (submerged displacement) Israeli Navy submarine Leviathan, here departing German waters on 20 October, arrived in Haifa on 15 November for commissioning. Sister Dolphin was commissioned on 27 July, and the Tekuma began sea trials on 21 July for delivery in 2000. The trio has been controversial in the Eastern Mediterranean region, where press reports have claimed that they are to carry nuclear-warhead-equipped Israeli modifications of U.S. UGM-84C Harpoon cruise missiles. Capable of 60-day missions, the boats have ten swim-out bow torpedo tubes and can carry 16 full-sized weapons, including Harpoons and the German DM2A3 Seehake wire-guided torpedo. Provision also has been made for launching the developmental, fiber optic-guided Triton anti-helicopter missile. Nearly 90% of the cost of constructing the submarines was paid by the German government.