The trimaran-hulled, 1,100-ton Triton was launched on 6 May at Southampton by Vosper-Thornycroft for Britain's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. The 321-foot research ship is to test hydrodynamic and propulsion concepts for a new generation of surface combatants to be built following the Royal Navy's Type 45 guided-missile destroyer program. The U.S. Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command is cooperating in the trials program for the Triton, which is to be delivered this October. The 20-knot ship's unusual hull is expected to have 20% less wave-making resistance and will have 40% more main deck area than a conventional hull of the same displacement. The side hulls are 111 feet long and have beams of only 4.6 feet, and the main hull has a beam of 23 feet; overall beam is 74 feet.
The first of four 6,048-ton (full-load displacement) guided-missile frigates on order for the Royal Netherlands Navy, the De Zeven Provincien, is shown above during float-out from her building hall at Schelde Shipbuilding, Vlissingen, on 8 April. The artist's rendering shows the ship as she will appear when operational in 2002; in the background is the similarsized German Navy Type 124 guided-missile frigate Sachsen, christened last December. Both the Dutch quartet and the German Type 124s will be armed with vertically launched Standard SM-2ER Block IIIA and Evolved Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, and both classes will employ the DaimlerChrysler Aerospace APAR phased-array target detection, tracking, and illumination radar and the Hollandse Signaalapparatan SMART-L long-range air search radar. The two designs also will carry eight Harpoon antiship missiles, a helicopter, and antisubmarine torpedoes. The Dutch ships will have a 127-mm dual-purpose gun and two 30-mm Goalkeeper close-in weapon systems, and the German ships will have a 76-mm gun and two RAM point-defense missile systems. The submarine Collins returned to the Royal Australian Navy's submarine base at AMAS Stirling, Western Australia, in April after modifications to improve the flow of water over the outer hull and sail and the installation of new engine mountings to reduce vibration. An anechoic hull coating has been added and the sail extensively reconfigured-broadened at the base and given a curved fillet forward like that on the U.S. Navy's Seawolf (SSN-21) class. The fourth and fifth units of the sixboat, 3,353-ton (submerged displacement) class, the Dechaineux and Sheean, are to complete similar upgrades by December and also will receive new electronic warfare and communications suites. The final unit, the Rankin, is to be launched in November. The entire class is to be provided with a completely new combat system to replace the original, unsuccessful, U.S: developed SCCS Mk 2 suite.