In May, Senegal received a 14-year-old utility landing craft (LCU) transferred from France. The LCU, named the Sabre and pictured here while still serving the French Navy, was built by the Société Française de Construction Navale shipyard and originally entered service in June 1987. Fitted with a bow ramp, the craft displaces 282 tons light, or 726 tons fully loaded, and is able to transport 340 tons on board its 28.5 × 8–meter cargo deck. The vessel is operated by a crew of 17 and measures roughly 60 meters long with a 12-meter beam and a draft of less than 2 meters. As built, the craft were fitted for a single 20-mm anti-aircraft gun and two single 12.7-mm (.50-caliber) machine guns, though the weapons were rarely carried. Additional sister LCUs, part of the EDIC 700 utility program, have served with France, Senegal, and Lebanon.
Construction has begun on the first of Germany’s new frigates under the F125 program. The ceremonial first steel was cut on 9 May at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg. The keel of the first vessel, to be named the Baden-Württemberg, is expected to be laid this November with delivery of the ship planned for March 2016. A second unit is scheduled for February 2017 with two additional frigates entering service in January and December 2018. These four warships are intended to replace the eight Bremen-class frigates that entered service between 1982 and 1990. A key innovation of the F125 program will be a reduced crew size of 120 sailors, as well as the implementation of a double-crew system, similar to that employed by the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ships and ballistic-missile submarines. The crew can be supplemented by 20 additional personnel to operate helicopters, as well as up to 50 special-operations troops for unconventional missions. The new frigates will displace 7,000 tons and carry up to four rigid inflatable boats and two helicopters. The armament fit will include Harpoon and RAM missiles as well as one 127-mm and two 27-mm guns.
Vietnam has received two newly built frigates from Russia. The two ships, members of the Gepard class (Project 11661), were ordered in late 2006. The first vessel, the Dinh Tien Hoang, entered service last March, while a sister ship departed Russian waters in May, en route to Vietnam on board a heavy-lift ship. Displacing around 2,000 tons fully loaded, the new warships measure 102 meters long and are the largest and most advanced vessels in the Vietnamese fleet. It is likely that the frigates, which can carry a helicopter, are fitted with antiship missiles in addition to naval guns. Vietnam also has ordered Kilo-class submarines from Russia and recently purchased six new maritime-patrol aircraft from Canada in an effort to enhance Vietnamese naval capability in the tense South China Sea region.