Asia | Europe | Africa and Middle East | Western Hemisphere
In terms of numbers and total tonnage, naval shipbuilding worldwide has reached a low point in the post-World War II era, and the agonizing process of consolidating shipbuilding and naval-systems manufacture continues unabated. The United States not only still outbuilds the handful of tenuously potential rivals, but in sheer total displacement tons also is outbuilding virtually the rest of the world combined. Tons, of course, are not necessarily related to technological superiority, but in that category as well, the United States simply has no peer save in a few areas, such as mine countermeasures, small combatant design, and non-nuclear submarines.
Much of what is being built in the way of warships worldwide is the result of the need to replace older, obsolescent ships, but a major political impetus to new naval construction is coming from the need to maintain industrial capabilities and worker employment; few navies anywhere in the world today seriously anticipate combat at sea.
In the following survey of naval force developments during 1999, displacements for surface ships are given in terms of full-load displacement and those for submarines in submerged displacement. For reasons of space, only those countries experiencing significant developments are discussed.
The final year of the 20th century was a traumatic and complex one for the Royal Australian Navy. The government released a report in June that severely criticized the capabilities of the new Collins-class submarines, and a major reconfiguration and improvement program for the six boats now must be put in place. The last of the reliable Oberon-class boats, the Otama, was decommissioned on 17 December, leaving only the first pair—the Collins and the Farncomb nominally operational—although restricted in their combat effectiveness. The third submarine of the class, the Weller, was commissioned on 10 July; the fifth, the Sheean, was launched on 1 May, and the sixth and final submarine, the Rankin, is to be launched this May. The Sheean and the fourth submarine, the Dechaineux, are to be given an interim—but expensive—upgrade before entering active service.
The six Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)-class guided missile frigates are scheduled to be modernized between 2001 and 2005 (the ships will receive an eight-cell vertical launch group forward of their Mark 13 launchers, an Israeli electronic warfare system in place of AN/SLQ-32, and a new sonar, among other improvements), but the hoped-for, class-wide major upgrade for the new Anzac-class frigates was canceled late in the year, because of cost and the realization that the ships were just too small to accommodate a significant antiair capability. The Anzacs, which still are being delivered, will instead have their antisurface capability upgraded through the installation of Harpoon missile launchers; the fourth of eight Anzacs, the Stuart, was launched on 17 April and the third, the Warramunga, is scheduled to be commissioned this month. To replace the fleet air-defense capability lost through the cancellation of the Anzac upgrade and the decommissioning of the three ex-U.S. Navy Charles F. Adams (DDG-2)-class guided-missile destroyers (the Perth was retired on 15 October and the Hobart goes this year), the RAN is giving serious consideration to the purchase of the entire Kidd (DDG-993) class from the United States, with three to be reactivated and the fourth to be used as a spares source and pierside trainer. The protracted major conversion of two ex-U.S. Navy Newport (LST-1179)-class tank landing ships to helicopter-carrying troop transports finally saw results at the end of 1999, with the Manoora beginning post-conversion sea trials. A further major construction program is being studied to replace the current 15 Fremantle-class patrol craft starting in 2008, possibly with a much larger and more seaworthy design.
The Royal New Zealand commissioned its second—and probably last—Anzac-class frigate, the Te Mana, on 10 December, but with the relegation of the frigate Wellington to pierside training duties in July, is now left with only three frigates, one of them, the Canterbury, scheduled to retire in 2005 and the new government not looking favorably on the possibility of a replacement; this will inevitably curtail New Zealand's welcomed and useful participation in peacekeeping activities.
The Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) always has had a combat potential much less than the considerable sum of its parts, and the 25 December 1999 commissioning of the first of its two Sovremennyy-class guided-missile destroyers, the Haizhou, in Russia, is not likely to improve its standing, at least in the short term. The 8,480-ton Haizhou left for China early in January, and the second ship, launched on 16 April 1999 at St. Petersburg, is intended to be delivered at the end of 2000; the 48 Moskit (SS-N-22) missiles ordered for the pair, however, are not due to arrive in China until October 2000. China was reported in December 1999 to be negotiating with Russia for two more Sovremennyys but they would not be deliverable as quickly as were the first pair, which had been begun in the late 1980s for the Soviet Navy. Indigenous production of surface combatants in China has been slow and unspectacular through most of the 1990s; 1999 saw the commissioning of the first of two planned 6,600-ton Luhai-class during January, with the ship carrying twice the number of antiship missiles—16—than the two smaller Luhu-class destroyers completed earlier in the decade, but still without modern sensors or defensive systems. The second and third 2,180-ton Jiangwei-II-class frigates, with the Chinese version of the French Crotale Modulaire point-defense surface-to-air missile system, were to have been completed during 1999, with the fifth to have launched and a sixth building. Other surface combatant production is confined to additional units of the 542-ton Houjian and less-elaborate 478-ton Haiqing classes, but production is by no means keeping up with the retirements of the older missile craft built in the 1960s through 1980s.
Press reports that work has at last started on the first Type 094 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine and its analog Type 093 attack submarine at Huludao circulated at the end of 1999, possibly inspired by reports of imminent at-sea testing of the first of the 8,000-km-ranged JL-2 missiles destined for the Type 094, which is to carry 16 of them. The second 2,250-ton Song-class diesel attack submarine was reported launched during November at the same time the press was stating that the first unit had been a considerable disappointment to the PLAN. The second of two Russian Project 636 improved Kilo-class diesel submarines arrived in Chinese waters early in 1999, although, again, there have been several credible reports that both versions of the Kilo have not been successful in Chinese service due to their complexity and Chinese unwillingness to invest in proper training and maintenance. Two of the 2,113-ton, 1960s-designed Ming class diesel boats remain to be delivered, which would bring the class total to 19.
China is doing little to improve its marginal amphibious warfare capabilities and continues to neglect mine countermeasures. A new 4,600-ton missile-range tracking ship and the 6,000-ton cadet training ship Shiyan were completed during 1999, but there seems to be no program to provide the PLAN with more than a minimal fleet of replenishment-at-sea vessels.
The Indian Navy's star, on the other hand, is ascendant, even if all of the current modernization and expansion programs do not produce results for some years to come. Still undecided at the beginning of 2000 was whether the Russian Navy's long-inactive 44,570-ton semi-aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov would be purchased, but an 8 November 1999 protocol to buy the ship and repeated reports of a decision to purchase several dozen MiG-29K carrier-capable fighters made it seem more likely that the ship would be acquired and undergo the very extensive modifications needed to permit her to operate conventional fixed-wing aircraft. At the same time, the Indian Navy was told during June 1999 to go ahead with plans to construct at Kochi the indigenous, 32,000-ton "Air-Defence Ship," which would operate 16 fighters and around 10 helicopters when completed around 2010 as a replacement for the antiquated carrier Vikrant. Indian naval aviation also will be greatly enhanced by a contract to deliver four (possibly refurbished) Tu-22MR Backfire maritime strike and aircraft from Russia during 2000 and six Tu-142MKE maritime patrol aircraft by 2002.
Although permission was granted during June 1999 to start the long-delayed fourth and fifth German Type 209/1500 submarines at Mazagon Dock, Mumbai, the effort is to be supported with French, rather than German, technical assistance. On 14 October 1999, Russia launched a tenth old-model Project 877 Kilo-class diesel submarine for India, which is also showing renewed interest in purchasing the Amur 1650-class export submarine now lying about 7% complete at St. Petersburg. The first Kilo to be refitted in Russia, the Sindhuvir, was recommissioned on 31 October and is said to be able to launch the new 3M54 Klub export derivative of the Novator Alfa antiship missile; two Kilos sent to Russia during May 1999 for overhaul also will be Klub-capable, as will be the new boat launched during 1999.
Also intended to carry the Klub, in eight vertical launch cells, are three greatly modified derivatives of the Russian Krivak frigate class on order from Northern Shipyard in St. Petersburg. The first, the Talwar, was laid down on 10 March 1999 and the second, the Trishul, on 23 September, while the third, the Toofan, will be started this year; a very rapid construction cycle is foreseen, with the Talwar to deliver in April 2002 and the last unit in June 2003; three more may be built under license in India. The Project 11356 variant of the Krivak is to carry a launcher for the Shtil/Uragan surface-air missile system (NATO's "SA-N-7"), two Kashtan close-in weapons systems, a 100-mm dual-purpose gun, torpedoes, and a Ka-31 Helix helicopter, all on a full-load displacement of 3,780 tons. Much less is known about the indigenous Indian Project 17 frigate program, other than that the three ships approved in June 1999 are to displace around 4,500 tons and be powered by license-built LM-2500 gas turbines.
As a measure of reality, however, it must be remembered that Indian shipyards have had great difficulty delivering even fairly simple warships in a reasonable amount of time. The second 6,900-ton Delhi-class guided-missile destroyer, the Mysore was commissioned on 2 June 1999 after eight years in the construction cycle, and the third is planned for commissioning this year. The first Project 16A frigate, the 4,450-ton Brahmaputra, now is scheduled to commission in March 2000 after 11 years of work, and the third may not be operational until 2003. Other combatant construction in India during 1999 saw the launch of the seventh and eighth 1,400-ton Khukri-class frigates and the 12th and 13th Tarantul-class guided-missile patrol craft (in a revised variant said to be armed with eight Russian Kh-35 Uran antiship missiles and an OTOBreda 76-mm gun). The 24,600-ton fleet replenishment oiler Aditya, laid down at Calcutta in 1986, ran trials during 1999 and is to commission this year. Word came late in the year that the 1,890-ton Sukanya-class ocean patrol ship Subhadra was being adapted as launch trials ship for the Dhanush ballistic missile, a weapon with a range of 250 km and a 500 kg payload that may be added to the meager weapons suite on the other six ships of the class to give them a shore-attack mission.
India's rival Pakistan took delivery of the 1,760-ton French-built Agosta-90B-class diesel submarine Khalid in September, and the boat was commissioned at Karachi on 21 December. Two others are under construction in Pakistan. A third Haibat-class guided-missile patrol boat was launched with Chinese assistance during June and was to enter service during March 2000. Pakistani naval aviation suffered a great loss when Indian fighters shot down one of its four Atlantic Mk 1 maritime reconnaissance aircraft on 10 August with the loss of the 16 aircrew; one of the three P-3C Orions was lost in a landing accident with its 21 personnel on 29 October.
Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) is now the most capable indigenous naval force in the Western Pacific, and, despite the country's economic problems, the fleet continues to be modernized with new ships, aircraft, and weaponry. The submarine Michishio, second unit of the 3,600-ton Oyashio class, was commissioned on 10 March; the fourth, the Makishio, launched on 22 September; and the sixth was laid down on 2 April—out of a planned total of ten that will maintain the conventional submarine fleet at 16 very modern units. North Korea's potential as a ballistic missile threat and its continued incursions into Japanese waters have prompted announcement of plans to order two additional Aegis-equipped guided-missile destroyers during the 2001-2005 construction plan, and the existing four helicopter-carrying 6,800-ton Shirane- and 6,650-ton Harima-class destroyers are scheduled to be replaced with a uniform class of 10,000-ton ships toward the end of the decade. The first of a new 5,300-ton escort destroyer class is to be laid down this year; meanwhile, the third and fourth units of the nine-ship, 5,100-ton Murasame class, the Yudachi and Kirisame, were commissioned during March 1999, the seventh, the Ikazuchi, was launched on 24 June for completion in March 2001, and the two final units were laid down during the year. Also inspired by North Korean actions were two of a planned ten guided-missile patrol boats approved under the 1999 budget, with two more requested this year; the craft will carry four SSM-1B antiship missiles and a 76-mm OTOBreda gun.
Announced late in the year was a long-term plan to construct a class of large amphibious warfare command ships, while the second 13,000-ton Osumi-class dock landing ship was laid down during November and two more are programmed; the ships each can carry two U.S. Navy LCAC 1-class air-cushion landing craft, of which two have been delivered to Japan by Textron and a total of eight is planned. The Osumi and two other JMSDF ships journeyed to Turkey to provide relief supplies after Turkey's disastrous earthquake in August. Mine countermeasures is a vital mission for the JMSDF, and new units continue to be procured as old ones are phased out or altered for subsidiary roles. The first two Sugashima-class minehunter/minesweepers were commissioned during March 1999 and the fifth of the 12 planned, the Naoshima, was launched on 7 October. Also in 1999, a second Hatsushima-class minesweeper completed conversion to act as a controller for Swedish-built SAM-01-class mine countermeasures drones. Rounding out news of the comprehensive JMSDF building program's progress for 1999, funds were requested to build a 25,000-ton fleet replenishment ship under the 2000 budget to replace the aged Sagami and keep the force at four units, the target training tender Tenryu was launched of 14 April for delivery this year, the survey ship Nichinan was commissioned on 24 March, and a new fleet yacht, the Hashidate, was commissioned in December.
The Republic of Korea (ROK) also continued to procure new units, most of them intended to replace outmoded warships dating to World War II, despite economic slowdowns and the unwelcome news that one of its major suppliers, Daewoo, was going out of the shipbuilding business. Daewoo had launched the eighth of nine German Type 209/1200 diesel submarines, the Na Daeyong, during June and is still expected to complete the ninth, but any submarine construction done in South Korea in the future is likely to be accomplished by Daewoo's rival, Hyundai, with technical assistance from France. During 1999, however, navy plans for a six-unit indigenous SSU-class construction program were at least temporarily derailed by political attachment to a scheme to buy between two and six Kilo class submarines (some of them probably to have been used units from the Pacific Fleet) from Russia in return for writing off a huge Russian debt to the country, which otherwise would have had to be declared in default. The scheme seems to have evaporated, especially in the face of the ROK Navy's considerable unhappiness as the prospect of being saddled with unfamiliar Russian technology of dubious reliability and maintainability.
The second of three Daewoo-built KDX-1, Kwanggeto/Daewang-class destroyers (a courtesy designation, as they are only of 3,855 tons full-load displacement), the Ulchimundok, was commissioned on 1 September and the final unit, the Yang Manchun, is to deliver this year. Destroyer production has now switched to Hyundai, which is building three considerably larger KDX-II destroyers for delivery between mid-2003 and mid-2005, when it is hoped to switch to building a 7,000-ton Aegis-equipped class. The first of a new class of minehunters, the 730-ton Yangyang, was launched in February and will carry the AN/SQQ-32 minehunting sonar. Plans were announced to complete, in 2005, a 10,000-ton dock landing ship to carry 700 troops, ten helicopters, and a dozen landing craft; meanwhile, however, the third and fourth of a planned nine 4,278-ton tank landing ships were to have been delivered during 1999, with no further examples reported to have been laid down.
There were no credible reports of any additions to the hopelessly obsolescent navy of North Korea during 1999.
Not far behind South Korea in terms of naval modernization is Taiwan. Although no firm solution to the navy's desperate need for new submarines has been found, and Republic of China Navy dreams of a class of four Aegis-equipped destroyers to provide a ballistic missile defense for the island seem to have been quashed by the government's belief that the necessary capability can be more cheaply and effectively installed ashore, new ships continue to be built and older—but still effective—ones procured from abroad. The influx of new and used frigates of U.S. and French design origin in recent years permitted the retirement of six World War II-construction destroyers during 1999. An eighth PFG-2-class guided-missile frigate, the Tian Dan, was ordered in January 1999 for delivery in June 2003, while former U.S. Knox (FF-1052)-class frigates Aylwin (FF-1081) and Valdez (FF-1096) became the Ning Yang and Yi Yang, respectively, as the seventh and eighth of their class in Taiwanese service and were recommissioned on 18 October after refits in South Carolina. The Kuang Hua V program announced in 1996 for the construction of up to 16 small frigates of about 2,000 tons is still stalled for lack of funding, but by the end of 1999, all but two of the dozen 680-ton Kuang Hua III program patrol combatants had been commissioned after a holdup caused by problems with their U.S.-made weapons control systems. Also constrained by funding limitations is the Kuang Hua VI program for a class of 30 180-ton missile boats to replace the current Hai Ou class; only a prototype has been authorized. The United States transferred the 13,680-ton dock landing ship Pensacola (LSD-36) on 22 September 1999, and is to transfer her sister Fort Fisher (LSD-40) this year, along with the Newport-class tank landing ship Schenectedy (LST-1185); these ships will replace vessels built during World War II. The United States also offered to Taiwan the salvage ship Conserver (ARS-39), which Mexico turned down in 1998.
Among the smaller navies in Southeast Asia, Malaysia finally received the 2,270-ton small frigates Lekiu and Jebat, which were commissioned on 7 October and 10 November, respectively—three years late, because of system integration problems. The first two of what is hoped eventually to be a class of 27 "patrol ships" (in fact, they are to be small frigates) will be built by the designer, Germany's Blohm+Voss, with the rest to be built in Malaysia; six of the 1,650-ton, 90.1-meter MEKO A100-class ships were ordered under a letter of intent signed in February 1999 and are to be equipped with eight MM40 Exocet antiship missiles, a 57-mm dual purpose gun, and a helicopter. The second pair of a class of 705-ton missile combatants begun in Italy for Iraq in 1982 were handed over to Malaysia in July as the Laksamana Muhammad Amin and Laksamana Tun Pusman.
Nearby Brunei delayed again a firm commitment to order two 2,000-ton frigates from the United Kingdom—possibly swayed by Malaysia's bad experience with the Lekiu class from the same yard—and may eventually order the pair from a builder in another country. Bangladesh has a 2,300-ton frigate under construction in South Korea for delivery in 2001 and was negotiating last year for a 1,930-ton frigate to be built in Ukraine. The Philippines, on the other hand, has once again had to postpone new naval acquisitions for lack of funds. Thailand's Silkline/Asia Marine launched the first of three 645-ton Hua Hin-class patrol combatants on 3 March 1999; they are to be armed with an OTOBreda 76-mm gun and two smaller guns. The same builder completed the first of three 120-ton patrol craft, the T 81, in July. Italy's Intermarine completed the 679-ton minehunter Ladya during March and was to hand over her sister Tha Din Daeng this January. Thailand's 1997-delivery mini-aircraftcarrier, the 11,486-ton Chakri Naruebet, has been confined to port largely for lack of operating funds, and, prior to a grant for new engines from the United States, had only one flyable Harrier fighter.
Singapore continues a modest but significant naval expansion. The second and third of four 30 year-old, 1,400-ton Sjöormen-class diesel submarines were handed over in Sweden on 28 May as the Conqueror and Centurion. Planning continues for a class of four-to-six 2,000- to 3,200-ton "New Generation Patrol Vessels" that are to carry 8 Harpoon and 32 Israeli Barak missiles, as well as a 57-mm or 76-mm gun and four 21-inch torpedo tubes; Kockums in Sweden and Ingalls Shipbuilding in the United States were competing for the design, the first of which is tentatively planned to be delivered by Singapore Technologies Marine in 2004 or 2005. Concrete progress continues on the same yard's four-ship, 8,500-ton Endurance-class tank landing ship program, with the third unit, the Persistence, launched on 13 March of last year and the class-name ship to commission this June.
There were some faint signs of a naval revival in Russia during 1999 as the government took advantage of the somewhat improved financial situation to inject cash into the completion of naval vessels begun mostly before the fall of the Soviet Union. Although the work on the first Borey-class ballistic missile submarine remains halted while a redesign is completed to allow her to launch a naval version of the Topol-M, and work seems to have halted permanently on the first Severodvinsk-class nuclear-powered submarine, Severodvinsk shipyard finally launched the second Akula-II attack submarine, the Gepard, on 17 September 1999, with delivery planned for this year. Cash also was injected into the completion of the Akula-II Nerpa, stalled at Komsomol'sk since at least 1995; the yard had attempted to sell the Nerpa and an unnamed, even more incomplete sister to India and China during 1999, but the government halted the unauthorized effort. At the end of the year, the first Lada-class diesel attack submarine, the Sankt Petersburg, was said to be about 30% complete since her keel laying two years earlier; the export version of the design laid down on the same date, however, only had achieved 7% completion, although, as mentioned above, India may now purchase the boat. Operationally, Russian submarines also enjoyed a bit more success than in recent years, with several well-publicized missile launches (including one from a Typhoon-class SSBN, a class that had been thought to be headed for oblivion by the end of 1999) and the deployment of the Oscar-II-class cruise missile submarine Kursk to the Atlantic and Mediterranean in the fall.
Although the announced deployment of the carrier Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean during 1999 failed to occur (the Northern Fleet's annual fuel allowance had been all but used up in a modest series of exercises early in the year), a renewed attempt may be made this year, and the Kuznetsov was briefly at sea in October for trials with the new two-seat Su-27KUB combat trainer; the Russian press reported that, while only a dozen of the 24 Su-27K Flanker-D shipboard interceptors delivered early in the decade for use with the ship were still in service, others were being updated and given a long-delayed attack stores capability.
With the commissioning of the one-off destroyer Admiral Chabanenko on 28 January 1999, there are no more major surface combatants in the pipeline for the Russian Navy, and no concrete plans have been announced for any resumption of construction. The Russian Navy retrieved the 11,490-ton Slava-class cruiser Moskva from a Ukrainian yard in July 1999 and hoped to have her back in service early this year; the fourth ship of the class, meanwhile, was taken over by Ukraine as the Ukrayina by a presidential decree of 17 February 1999 for completion late in 2000. Three long-delayed overhauls on the dwindling number of Udaloy-class antisubmarine destroyers have been greatly aided by the establishment of a production facility for large marine gas turbines in Russia. Although the Kirov-class nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser Admiral Ushakov entered a White Sea yard for a politically-mandated overhaul in November, funds to perform the work are still lacking; the ship was originally to have been cannibalized for parts needed for the overhaul of her sister Admiral Nakhimov, which had begun in August, and with the Pacific Fleet unit of the class, the Admiral Lazarev out of service since the early 1990s, only the 1998-commissioned Petr Velikiy remains operational. Three 1,930-ton Gepard-class (Project 1166) small frigates lying at an inland yard remain stalled at 93%, 67%, and 40% complete, respectively, but a late 1999 report stated that funds had been injected to complete them for export, possibly to Algeria.
The second 1,050-ton Dergach-class guided missile-launching surface-effect ship, the Samum, was delivered nearly complete to the Baltic Fleet at the end of 1995; late in 1999, she began running sea trials and is planned to be commissioned this year. Also running trials in 1999 was a 550-ton variant of the Tarantul class guided missile craft design built as a foreign sales demonstrator and equipped with Moskit (SS-N-22) antiship missiles; grandiose plans to construct a "Skorpion" stealth missile combatant remain frustrated by lack of a sponsor, and the two final units of the Natya-class minesweeper design, the Valentin Pikul and Vitse-Admiral Zakharin, remain incomplete at the Almaz yard at Kolpino, although there is still hope of finishing them for Russian Navy service.
Of the former Warsaw Pact navies, new NATO member Poland is to receive the former U.S. Navy guided-missile frigate Clark (FFG-11) on 15 March 2000 and rename her the Kosciuszko; a second Oliver Hazard Perry-class unit is to follow in a year or so as the Pulaski. Germany has offered Poland two Type 206 coastal submarines as replacements for Poland's two Foxtrots, which are to be retired in 2001-2002. Poland also hopes to contract for six 1,600-ton Blohm + Voss MEKO A-100 corvettes, which would be built in a Polish yard and would have eight antiship missiles, 16 Mk 41 vertical-launch cells for surface-to-air missiles, a 76-mm gun, and a Goalkeeper close-in-defense system. A Bereza-class degaussing tender left incomplete when the customer, Russia, could not pay, is now to be altered as a mine countermeasures support ship for the Polish Navy, for which the 33-year-old minesweeper Mewa was to recommission in December 1999 after conversion as a minehunter; two sisters are undergoing similar updating. Bulgaria's navy, on the other hand, is sharing the fate of the other Bulgarian armed services, for which a 50% reduction in size and funding was decreed in November; the navy's share of the new $135 million total annual defense budget is only a little over $9 million.
Of the other NATO navies, that of Denmark is to receive a major renovation. In June 1999, the country rejoined the Swedish-Norwegian Viking submarine program; although the current Danish submarine force is to be reduced from five to three, post-2004, the existing boats may be replaced by leased Swedish Navy Västergötland-class units until the Vikings begin delivery post-2010. Also announced in June were plans to construct two 4,600-ton SF300 command and support vessels, two 700-ton helicopter-equipped fisheries protection ships, and six 175-ton and ten 125-ton "Minor Standard Craft" to replace older units; all four classes will employ the versatile "StanFlex" concepts used in several highly successful current Danish classes, with weapon, sensor, and support systems available in interchangeable modules.
The French Navy through the 1990s has sacrificed new construction in most warfare areas in order to fund completion of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and to maintain a quartet of ballistic missile submarines, which are now the country's only strategic combat asset. The commissioning of the Charles de Gaulle, laid down in 1989 and launched in 1994, has again been delayed, this time to October 2000, because of the extent of repairs and modifications necessitated by her less-than-successful sea trials: the angled flight deck is being lengthened to permit landing E-2C radar aircraft under all conditions, the rudders are being modified to eliminate vibrations, corroded piping is being replaced, and available power is being increased for cooling the two reactors, for which unspecified safety problems are being corrected. The carrier's displacement, originally to have been 36,500 tons full load, may rise to 41,000, and the sustained speed has reportedly dropped to 23.5 knots. The 14,335-ton Le Triomphant-class missile submarine program is progressing much more successfully, albeit at a slow pace; the second new unit, Le Téméraire, was commissioned on 23 December to replace the retiring Le Tonnant, and Le Vigilant is scheduled to be launched in March 2002; the fourth submarine of the new class, however, remains unfunded but is scheduled to enter service in 2008 with the new M51 ballistic missile, of which 16 will be backfitted into the earlier boats of the class.
Anticipating a greater availability of funds for neglected construction of attack submarines and surface combatants (no new antisubmarine warfare-capable surface ship has been ordered for the French Navy since 1979, and no surface combatants of any kind are currently under construction), the navy announced plans to complete six Project Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarines from 2010 to 2020 to replace the current quartet of small SSNs; in January 2000, however, the Ministry of Finance decreed a 30% cost reduction for the program that will result in a smaller and less capable design than had been desired.
The predictable defection of the United Kingdom from the tripartite Project Horizon major surface combatant program in April 1999 created concerns for the remaining partners, France and Italy, but the program had been recast by October; interestingly, the new units are to be slightly smaller and less elaborate than the original Horizon design, and there will be greater differences permitted between the Italian and French versions than would have been the case under the original concept. The first ships are not to be available before 2005, and only two are to be built for each navy. The French Navy's plans to arm its pair with the supersonic ANF (Anti-Navir Futur) antiship missile were dashed when the project was canceled on 23 December, ostensibly because of a diminished threat environment but more likely because escalating costs made export sales prospects dim.
Among the few other French Navy construction programs, the fourth La Fayette-class patrol frigate, the Aconit, was commissioned on 26 April, and the fifth and final unit, the Guépratte, was launched on 3 March. The 5,885-ton destroyer Duguay Trouin was retired on 13 July 1999, and three D'Estienne d'Orves-class corvettes also were retired during the year, leaving 13, of which three more are to be retired next year; there is no replacement program for the class. No new mine countermeasures ship construction is foreseen, but the 13 Tripartite-class minehunters completed between 1984 and 1996 are all to undergo modernization. Plans to build two additional Foudre-class dock landing ships have been deferred several times, and two new survey ships also have had their initial funding postponed.
Germany's Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW) acquired Swedish submarine builder Kockums on 21 September 1999, a blessing to the Swedish firm, which had no submarines building and no prospects for new units until—and if—Project Viking gets under way late in this decade. Both HDW and Thyssen Nordseewerke (which also cooperate, with Ferrostaal, as the "German Submarine Consortium" for export business) are working on a quartet of 1,840-ton Type 212A submarines for the German Navy, and the first boat, with fuel-cell air-independent propulsion, is to be delivered in 2003. The first of the three Type 124 guided-missile frigates, the Sachsen, was christened on 30 November for delivery two years later; the ships will carry 24 Standard SM-2ER Block IIIA and 32 ESSM Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles. Modified Charles F. Adams-class guided-missile destroyer Rommel (built in the United States as DDG-30) was stricken on 30 June, and her two sisters Lütjens (DDG-28) and Mölders (DDG-29) are scheduled to retire by 2003. A program to replace the remaining 30 guided-missile patrol boats with 15 Type 130 corvettes of 1,400 to 1,800 tons is supposed to result in a contract for the first five being let in 2001, but rising costs may delay or curtail the program. The current effort to convert the ten Type 343 minesweepers to five minehunters and five drone mine countermeasures is far behind the original schedule, with only one of each version completed by the end of 1999. Germany's largest naval ship since World War II, a Type 702 Einsatzgruppe Versorgungsschiffe (Deployment Group Support Ship), the 20,240-ton Berlin, was launched on 30 April for completion this September; the Berlin also will be able to carry 26 containers constituting a portable disaster-relief medical facility. Construction of a 3,600-ton SWATH (Small Waterplane, Twin Hull) research ship has again been delayed for budgetary reasons.
Greece ordered three Type 214 air-independent propulsion-equipped submarines in July; to cost $433 million apiece, the first will be built by HDW and the others by Hellenic Shipyards as the first submarines ever assembled in Greece. In November, Greece finally turned down the U.S. offer of the four Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers; in their stead, two additional MEKO 200 frigates, stretched to accommodate Mk 41 vertical-launch missile cells, may be built, along with a class of four 1,200-ton corvettes. The Vosper Thornycroft Super Vita guided-missile patrol craft design was selected in September for construction at Elefsis Shipyard, where the first of three (with an option for four more) is to be laid down this fall for delivery in December 2003; as part of the package, the United Kingdom is throwing in two Royal Navy Hunt-class minehunters. Elefsis will also be building a 13,400-ton unit of the Italian Navy Etna-class replenishment oiler design. For use by a new "Rapid Reaction Force," four 550-ton Pomornik-class air-cushion amphibious landing craft have been ordered, two from Russia in June and two from Ukraine in August; all four had been begun for the Soviet Navy prior to 1991.
In September, the 1,700-ton patrol ship Ro"s"n was launched for the Irish Naval Service by Appledore Shipbuilders in the United Kingdom; the design is based on that of the Chilean-built, Canadian-designed Mauritius Coast Guard's Vigilant, but no helicopter hangar is incorporated.
A contract was expected late in 1999 for construction of the 20,800-ton, $854 million aircraft carrier-cum amphibious warfare ship Luigi Einaudi for the Italian Navy. In addition to facilities for an air group of up to eight AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft or a dozen EH.101 heavy helicopters, the Luigi Einaudi will have an 82 x 46-foot docking well at the stern to accommodate an LCAC or four medium landing craft, and there will be below-decks parking space for up to 12 tanks. Meanwhile, the two 7,665-ton San Giorgio-class landing ships are having their flight decks enlarged and equipped for night operations to handle EH.101 helicopters, while their bow doors are being welded up and their 76-mm guns removed.
Work started in the summer of 1999 on the first of two 1,340-ton German-designed Type 212A submarines, and the four newest existing submarines are being modernized with new sonar and combat direction system suites; two more Type 212As may be ordered later, to keep the Italian submarine force at eight units.
Italy's two Project Horizon major surface-combatant design will have eight Teseo antiship missiles and three 76-mm dual-purpose guns, whereas the French pair will carry MM40 Exocets, one 76-mm OTOBreda gun (the first of its kind in the French Navy), and two Sadral point-defense missile systems. The remaining 60-ton Sparviero-class hydrofoil-equipped missile boats have been laid up for eventual disposal; their nominal replacements are four Nuove Unitá Minori Combattenti, lightly-armed, helicopter-equipped, 1,520-ton patrol ships ordered early in 1999 for delivery from 2001 through 2003.
Steady progress is being made, however, on the new Netherlands four-ship De Zeven Provinci"n guided-missile frigate class, with the second ship, the Tromp, laid down on 3 September, a year after the first ship was begun. The 6,048-ton De Zeven Provinci"n is to be delivered in February 2003 and will be armed with 40 Mk 41 vertical-launch cells for 32 Standard SM-2ER Block III and 32 ESSM Sea Sparrow missiles, eight Harpoon antiship missiles, a 127-mm dual-purpose gun (formerly aboard a Canadian Tribal-class frigate and refurbished by OTOBreda), two Goalkeeper close-in weapons systems, antisubmarine torpedoes, and a helicopter. Cuts are being made in the existing frigate force, however: The old Tromp was decommissioned on 11 December 1999, after conducting trials with the new SMART-L search radar for the De Zeven Provinci"n class, and all four remaining Kortenaer-class frigates, the Tromp's sister the De Ruyter, and possibly the two Van Heemskerck-class guided missile frigates are to be retired by 2003. The Van Heemskerck herself ran aground on 15 September off western Scotland; her immediate fate was still undecided after examination in a Dutch dry dock revealed she was not as badly damaged as first thought. The surface combatant reductions will leave the navy with only a dozen frigates at the end of the decade. The start of a program to upgrade the Netherlands Navy's Tripartite minehunters has been delayed until later this year.
The design selection for the long-awaited Oslo-class frigate replacement program for the Royal Norwegian Navy was again postponed at the end of 1999; the Navy has made very plain its preference for the 4,660-ton, AN/SPY-1F Aegis-equipped design from Spain's E.N. Bázan (in cooperation with Lockheed Martin), but the ministry of defense appears to favor a less-capable design from Blohm+Voss of Germany; a decision may have been reached by the time this report appears in print. Norway has meanwhile kept its clear lead as NATO's leading designer and producer of surface-effect combatants, with the prototype guided missile boat Skjold delivered on 17 April and proving an outstandingly successful platform; problems that may adversely affect series production of the design, however, include the decision by the builder, Kvaerner, to leave the shipbuilding business and delays in development of the new NSM antiship missile selected as the main armament.
Several times during the past decade, politicians have made a run on the Netherlands Navy's submarine force, so it must have been a consolation when the government announced at the end of the year that the four Walrus-class attack boats are to be given a mid-life modernization—possibly to include addition of an air-independent auxiliary propulsion system—starting in 2009. On the other hand, Netherlands submarine builder RDM, which has not had a new order since 1985, has no firm prospects in sight beyond refit work.
Portugal's naval auxiliary fleet is being augmented by the transfer of a second ex-U.S. Navy Stalwart (T-AGOS-1)-class ocean surveillance ship; the Assurance (ex-T-AGOS 5) became Portuguese property on 28 October and, after a reactivation refit, was recommissioned on 26 January 2000 as the Almirante Gago Coutinho for use as an oceanographic research ship. Four additional 94-ton Argos-class patrol boats were to be delivered during 1999. No decision has been announced on the overdue replacement program for the Portugal's three aged, French-built Daphné-class submarines; the Franco-Spanish Scorpène and a German design had been short-listed in 1998, but a source of funds with which to build the new submarines is lacking.
The Spanish Navy hopes to order four Scorpènes of its own to replace a quartet of Daphnés, and an order may be placed next year. The major current Spanish construction program, however, is for four very sophisticated and capable Álvaro de Bázan (F-100)-class, AN/SPY-1D Aegis-equipped guided missile frigates. The class name ship was laid down by E.N. Bazan on 14 June 1999 for delivery in October of 2002, and the final unit, the Méndez Nuñez, is to complete during February of 2006. The 5,802-ton, 481-ft. quartet are to have 40 Mk 41 vertical launch cells, 8 Harpoon antiship missiles, a 127-mm Mk 45 dual-purpose gun, a Spanish-developed Meroka close-in weapon system, torpedo tubes, and an SH-60 Seahawk helicopter; there will be two illuminators for the Aegis system.
Other major current Spanish Navy construction programs include a quartet of 550-ton, glass-reinforced plastic construction minehunters, the first two of which were commissioned during 1999, the Segura on 27 April and the Sella on 25 May; four minesweeper variants of the design (which is based on that of the British Sandown class but has significant modifications) are to be ordered during 2000. Spain's second new 13,815-ton dock landing ship, the Castilla, was launched on 14 June for commissioning in June 2001, and the 4,560-ton roll-on/roll-off vehicle cargo ship Cindya was acquired for dual Spanish Navy and Army manning as the El Camino Español to carry Army vehicles and equipment.
Turkey's fourth Type 209/1400 submarine, the Anafartalar, was commissioned on 22 July 1999, and the first of a second group of four, the Gür, is to be completed in 2003. Only five old ex-U.S. Navy submarines remain to be replaced in Turkish service, and the last of the old Gearing-class destroyers was scheduled to retire by year's end. Their place has been taken by German-designed MEKO 200-series frigates and Knox- and Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates transferred by the United States. Of the latter class, the Gelibolu (ex-USS Reid [FFG-30]) was transferred on 1 January 1999, the Gökçeada (ex-USS Mahlon S. Tisdale, [FFG-27]) arrived in Turkey on 27 September, and the USS John A. Moore (FFG-19) is to be transferred this year to complete a sextet of the class in Turkish service.
The costs associated with the severe earthquake of 17 August 1999 and other problems within the Turkish economy have adversely affected plans to acquire up to a dozen TF 2000 Program frigates, and the goal may be reduced to four. Completion of the final MEKO 200TN Track IIA frigate building in Turkey, the Kemalreis, may be delayed by earthquake damage; the ship was to have been delivered this year. The first Turkish-built example of the 540-ton, German-designed, Harpoon-armed Kiliç-class guided-missile patrol craft, the Kalkan, was commissioned on 22 July, and the third unit, the Mizrak, was launched on 4 April at Taskizak Naval Shipyard. The last two of five former French Navy Circé-class minehunters were delivered early in 1999 after extensive overhauls in France, while a $625 million order was placed on 30 July for a half-dozen German Type 332 minehunters; the first of the 650-ton units is to be built by Lürssenwerft in Germany and the remainder at Taskizak, with deliveries coming from 2003 through 2007. U.S. Navy hydrographic survey ship Silas Bent (formerly T-AGS 26) was transferred to Turkey at Singapore on 28 October and has been renamed the Çesme. The Turkish private shipyard KOÇ-RMK Tersanesi launched the 1,500 deadweight ton transport tanker Yüzbazi Tolunay on 21 November, and sister Albay Hakki Burak was commissioned the same day.
Design contracts were awarded to competitors Marconi Electronic Systems (now part of British Aerospace) and the French firm Thomson-CSF (teamed with Raytheon and British Marine Technology) on 23 November for two 40,000-ton aircraft carriers to be completed for the Royal Navy in 2012 and 2015; the construction contract for the winning design package is to be let in 2004. The ships are to carry roughly 50 aircraft and will probably be powered by four W21 integrated, recuperative gas turbines. The ships will replace the current three 20,710-ton Invincible-class vertical/short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) and helicopter carriers, of which the Illustrious emerged from a reconfiguration on 16 March 1999 with an enlarged flight deck and support features added so that she can accommodate four Royal Air Force GR.7 Harriers as well as her normal complement of six FA.2 Sea Harriers; also included in the 22-strong air group are seven HAS.6 Sea King ASW helicopters, three AEW.2A Sea King airborne radar surveillance helicopters, and two HC.4 Sea King transport and utility helicopters, but the modifications required the removal of the Sea Dart surface-to-air system. The Invincible was undergoing a similar refit at the end of the year, while the Ark Royal was taken from reserve in May to begin a reactivation refit that will allow her to replace the Invincible at the end of 2001.
The fourth and final 15,850-ton Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, the Vengeance, was commissioned on 27 November, and work began on pressure-hull sections of the first 6,900-ton Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarine in October; although the government announced in mid-1998 that a fourth and fifth Astute would be built, no contract has yet been awarded.
The United Kingdom departed the tripartite Horizon major surface combatant program on 21 April 1999, but the replacement Type 45 program is still planned to carry the French SAMP/N surface-to-air missile system, with 48 Sylver A50 launch cells to carry 16 French Aster 30 and 32 Aster-15 surface-to-air missiles; although eight antiship missiles will be carried, the choice of the Sylver launch cell precludes the ships being able to launch U.S. Tomahawk missiles. Other weapons to be carried by the 6,500-ton Type 45s include either a 127-mm 62-cal. Mk 45 Mod. 4 or Vickers 114-mm Mk 8 gun, four antisubmarine torpedo tubes, two close-in weapons systems (shown as U.S. Phalanx Mk. 15 Mod.1A mounts in the official sketches), and a Merlin helicopter. The design contract for the $11.3 billion program to build a dozen Type 45s went to British Aerospace Marconi Marine on 23 November, but Vosper Thornycroft also will participate in the design and building program.
The Type 45s will not begin to enter service until 2007, but the first of the Type 42 guidedmissile destroyers they are intended to replace, the Birmingham, was decommissioned on 12 November. Also retired during 1999 were the 1980s construction Type 22 frigates Beaver, London, and Boxer, while the Brave was placed in reserve for disposal late this year. The losses will to some extent be met by the completion of the final three Type 23 frigates, of which the fifteenth, the Portland, was launched on 15 May. The final unit, the St. Albans, is to be launched on 6 May 2000—the same date as the launch of the trimaran trials ship Triton, whose configuration, if successful, may be adapted for a new class of frigates planned for the next decade. The Royal Navy's destroyer and frigate force is being reduced to 32 units, although its operational commitments remain unchanged.
Even as the final units of the 484-ton Sandown minehunter class are being completed (the Bangor and Ramsey were launched on 16 April and 25 November, respectively, while the Grimsby was commissioned in 25 September), word came that their sister Cromer would be laid up in 2001 after only nine years' service; two 725-ton Hunt-class minehunters, the Bicester and Berkeley, are to be transferred to Greece after their premature retirements in July 2000 and February 2001.
The 21,578-ton amphibious warfare helicopter carrier Ocean was commissioned on 19 March 1999 and proved very successful in exercises later in the year (although she is handicapped by an 18-knot maximum speed). The replacements for the antiquated dock landing ships Fearless and Intrepid (the latter in reserve since 1990 and planned for disposal in July 2001) have been greatly delayed by administrative problems at British Aerospace Marconi Marine; the Albion, laid down in May 1998, is now planned to be launched next January and delivered two years later, but the keel for the Bulwark had yet to be laid early in 2000. Despite the current lack of naval shipbuilding resources in the United Kingdom, plans still called for ordering two or three "Alternative Landing Ship Logistic" vessels in February 2000 and up to six roll-on/roll-off vehicle cargo ships. Badly needed 30,300-ton replacement replenishment oilers Wave Knight and Wave Ruler, ordered from Marconi Marine in 1997, are also well behind schedule and are not expected to be delivered until well into 2002.
Among the other non-NATO countries in Europe, Sweden has by far the largest and most capable navy, but recently announced budget cutbacks will result in a loss of numbers and capabilities. The submarine force is to be reduced to five units by 2004, including the three Gotland-class boats that formally entered service in September 1999 and the Västergötland-class boats Södermanland and Östergötland, which are being lengthened by 10 meters to incorporate two Stirling Mk 3 air-independent auxiliary propulsion systems; the other two boats of the class, along with the two remaining Näcken-class submarines, will be retired, with two possibly to be leased or loaned to Denmark. Sweden's stealth surface combatant program, the Visby class, has been cut from an originally-planned total of 20 to six, all of which are now on order; the 600-ton, 38-knot Visby is now to be launched this June for delivery in February 2001. To replace aging conventional small combatants, a class of 2-300-ton surface-effect ships is planned to begin deliveries after 2010.
Elsewhere in the Baltic, Latvia and Lithuania each were gifted by Germany with former German Navy Type 331B minehunters during 1999; the Völkingen became Latvia's Nemeis on 24 March and the Koblenz was transferred to Lithuania as the Süduvis in September. The third of the Baltic Republics is earmarked to receive another Type 331B, the Cuxhaven, after her retirement this year, and the Black Sea-based Georgian Coast Guard may receive the two others, the Lindau and Marberg, to follow the Ayety (ex-Minden), which was handed over in October 1998 for use as a patrol craft.
Africa and Middle East
On all the African continent, only two countries have current new-construction programs, Morocco and South Africa. The former has on order from Chantiers d'Atlantique at St. Nazaire, France, two 2,950-ton patrol ships of the French Floréal class on order; to be delivered this October and in June 2001, the pair will differ from their French Navy sisters in having OTOBreda 76-mm guns instead of a 100-mm mount. The naval component of South Africa's major military modernization program was initiated on 3 December 1999 when the German Submarine Consortium received a contract for three Type 209/1400 submarines and Germany's Blohm + Voss an order for four MEKO A-200SA frigates. The submarines are to be delivered in 2004 through 2007, while the 3,590-ton frigates, nearly eight times the size of the largest surface combatants now in South African service, are to enter service in 2004-2005 after several years of training and workup. The helicopter-equipped, 29-knot MEKO A-200SA design incorporates signature reduction features and will be armed with eight MM40 Exocet antiship missiles, 32 South African Umkhonto vertically-launched surface-to-air missiles, a 76-mm gun, and four 21-in. torpedo tubes.
Egypt is studying proposals for a $1.3 billion program to construct a class of 500-ton, 41-knot guided missile patrol combatants, with bids from four U.S. yards under consideration, but plans to acquire two submarines seem indefinitely on hold. Across the Red Sea, Yemen ordered a 1,305-ton Project 773 medium landing ship and two or three Project 716 utility landing craft from Poland in October 1999, with all units to be delivered during 2002.
Saudi Arabia's F-3000S class guided- missile frigate program is progressing in France, with the keel for the first ship, the Arriyad, laid down at Lorient on 29 September 1999 for launch this June and delivery in 2002; the third of the 4,650-ton trio is to be delivered in 2005, with each of the ships—based on the French Navy's La Fayette-class design—armed with eight MM40 Exocet missiles and two 8-cell vertical launchers for Aster 15 surface-to-air missiles; also on board will be two Sadral launchers for point-defense missiles and a 100-mm gun. Elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula, only Kuwait saw a significant addition to its small fleet, with the arrival of the first four of eight French-built P37 BRL missile boats on 15 August; the 250-ton, 38-knot craft carry four short-range Sea Skua antiship missiles and one 40-mm and one 20-mm gun each. Across the Persian Gulf, there have been no authenticated reports of any increases in Iranian naval strength, and information about progress—if any—in the construction of three 1,000-ton "destroyers" has been unavailable.
Israel took delivery of two of its three German-built IKL 800-class submarines in 1999; the Dolphin entered service on 27 July and the Leviathan arrived in Israel on 15 November. The third unit, the Tekuma, was to be handed over in February 2000. Although no new surface combatants are under construction for the Israeli Navy, two additional Sa'ar-IV missile craft were being modernized and lengthened to the 488-ton Nirit configuration during 1999.
Navies in Latin America in 1999 were for the most part facing severe economic constraints on new-construction programs; the effect on badly needed fleet modernizations has been slightly alleviated by donations and sales of various retired warships—most very small—from the United States. Mexico and Venezuela, however, have fairly robust new programs in place.
Mexico has completed two of a planned six 1,175-ton Holzinger 2000 patrol ships and the first Centenary-class 450-ton patrol craft, the Democrata; no further units of the smaller design have been announced. Venezuela ordered the first of a planned six 580-ton "stealth" missile boats in September 1999 from E.N. Bazán in Spain; the first is to be armed with eight Harpoon missiles and the ubiquitous OTOBreda 76-mm gun when delivered in 2002, and the last of the 65-meter craft is planned to enter service in 2008. Venezuela also ordered its first underway replenishment oiler in 1999, the 9,750-ton Ciudad Bol"var, from Hyundai in South Korea. In addition to a number of local-construction patrol launch classes for riverine service, the Venezuelan Navy took delivery of eight 48-ton Gavión-class patrol boats from Friede Goldman Halter in the United States during 1999, with four more to arrive by April 2000; the same builder delivered ten somewhat smaller patrol boats to the Venezuelan National Guard during the year. In addition to the refit of two of Venezuela's six Lupo-class frigates by Ingalls in the United States (scheduled to complete in February 2000), the navy began a sequential modernization of the other four ships at Puerto Cabello.
Chile retired one of its four submarines in 1999, along with a destroyer, a frigate, several small combatants, and landing ship, and three logistics support tugs. Its Scorpène-class submarine program on order from France and Spain, on the other hand, appears to be on track, with the Hyatt now planned to enter service in 2005 and the O'Brien in 2007; at 1,908 tons submerged, the Scorpène design is one of the smaller diesel submarine designs now being marketed. Brazil, meanwhile, continues construction on a fifth German Type 209-derived submarine at Rio de Janeiro, with delivery planned for 2003, but work on a single small frigate, the Barroso, laid down in 1994, has been slowed, as has progress on the class-wide modernization of the six Nitero"-class frigates. The last three of the dozen 263-ton Graúna-class patrol craft were delivered in 1999, one from a Brazilian yard and two from Peenewerft in Germany; Brazil is another Latin American country with a large indigenous production program for riverine craft to police smuggling and the drug trade and also to provide humanitarian services to the rural populace. France reportedly has offered the Brazilian Navy the carrier Foch after her retirement in 2000, as a replacement for the elderly, slow, 19,890-ton Minas Gerais, which is seen as unsuitable for the Brazilian Navy's long-sought fixed-wing fighter component, now planned to enter service shortly with its 18 active former Kuwaiti A-4 Skyhawks; the aging Foch, however, is far larger than the current Brazilian carrier and would be far more expensive to operate.
Argentina, which had several times turned down the offer of retired U.S. Navy oilers, purchased the laid up French Navy replenishment oiler Durance, which, renamed the Patagonia, departed in July 1999 for Argentina for a reactivation refit and recommissioning. Argentina was also the recipient of its second and third donated Red-class navigational aids tenders from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Ciudad de Rosario (ex-Red Wood [WLM-685) and Ciudad de Zarate (ex-Red Cedar [WLM-688]) on 30 July, while the 82-foot cutter Point Hobart (WPB-82377) was transferred on the 12th of that month as the Punta Mogotes. Other regional recipients of former U.S. Coast Guard units in 1999 were Costa Rica, which received the former Point Camden (WPB-82374) on 15 December; the Dominican Republic, which received sisters Point Martin (WPB-82379) and Point Batan (WPB-82340) on 22 September; and Panama, which acquired the former Point Francis (WPB-82356) and Point Huron (WPB-82357) on 22 April. Perú retired the Dutch-built cruiser Aguirre on 19 March, leaving half-sister Almirante Grau as the world's only remaining operational gun cruiser; also retired later in the year was the remaining Peruvian Navy ex-British Daring-class destroyer, the Ferré.
The operational activities of the Canadian naval forces are being severely curtailed. Under a December 1999 decision, naval readiness is to be reduced, with only one Contingency Task Group (one destroyer, two frigates, one oiler, one submarine, and six maritime patrol aircraft) to be available for deployment with a 30-day warning, one National Task Group (with similar composition) to be available within 60 days, and five additional Halifax-class frigates to be capable of deployment within 90 days. Ships of the first two groups will receive 120 days of sea time annually, while the others will have only 80 days; other ships will be retained on 180-day deployment readiness and may have as few as 20 days at sea per year. Delivery of at least the first former British Upholder-class submarine to Canada, the Victoria (ex-Unseen),