On 26 September the United Kingdom commissioned its sixth and final Type 45 destroyer. HMS Duncan was laid down in early 2007 and launched in October 2010 at the BAE Systems’ Govan shipyard on the River Clyde. These ships, known collectively as the Daring class, represent to most advanced surface ships in the Royal Navy. The 8,000-ton destroyers each measure 500 feet in length with a beam of more than 50 feet and a top speed in excess of 31 knots. The Duncan and her five sisters are each fitted with the highly capable Sea Viper air-defense system that includes vertically launched Aster-15 and Aster-30 surface-to-air missiles linked to the Type 1045 SAMPSON 3D radar. Also carried are a 4.5-inch main gun and Merlin or Lynx helicopters; the class retains the capability to carry other weapons such as the Phalanx close-in weapon system and Harpoon antiship missiles. The Duncan and the rest of her class have replaced the now-retired Type 42 air-defense destroyers in service.
There has been much recent debate concerning the fate of the Dutch joint-support ship Karel Doorman. In September the Netherlands announced that the long-planned auxiliary vessel, pictured here arriving in the Netherlands from Romania for fitting out, would not join the fleet but would instead be sold abroad due to budget cuts. By November, however, plans to sell the Karel Doorman appear to have been reversed, and the ship is now once again expected to enter Dutch service by 2015. Intended to support the full range of maritime operations, including humanitarian and disaster relief, amphibious, sealift, and underway fleet support, the vessel would be a boon for NATO maritime operations by providing troop transport, a large sealift and roll-on/roll-off cargo capacity, a landing deck that can accommodate up to six NH90 helicopters, the employment of landing craft, underway replenishment capabilities, and extensive medical facilities. The 28,500-ton, 671-foot vessel was ordered in 2009 as the largest ship ever built for naval service with the Netherlands.
This past summer the Belgian frigate Leopold I completed sensor modernization and upgrades that will significantly increase the 22-year old warship’s capabilities. The 3,000-ton, 400-foot frigate was purchased from the Netherlands in 2005, where she had previously been named the Karel Doorman. The Leopold I’s latest enhancements include addition of an enclosed mast housing the Seastar non-rotating active phased-array naval surface-surveillance radar as well as installation of a new Gatekeeper electro-optic search-and-alerter system. Similar upgrades are also due to be completed in the near future on all active-duty sisters still serving with the Dutch and Belgian navies. These ships, which were constructed at Schelde Shipbuilding in Vlissingen, Netherlands, have a crew of roughly 155 personnel and are armed with Harpoon antiship missiles, a 3-inch gun, and Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles. Other ships of the class continue to operate with the Portuguese and Chilean navies.