In May the Dutch Defense Ministry finalized plans and signed a contract to upgrade all four of the Royal Netherlands Navy’s Walrus-class submarines by 2019. The Zeeleeuw, second of the class, will be the first unit to complete the upgrades, which are to include installation of an advanced optronics mast in place of the current search/navigation periscope. Additional enhancements spelled out under the $120 million contract include satellite-communications and combat-management upgrades. Although designed during the final years of the Cold War, the Walrus class entered service in the early 1990s and has proven exceedingly valuable for intelligence collection and other 21st-century operations. Since 2010, some of the submarines have provided support to NATO counterpiracy operations off the Horn of Africa. Each of the 222-foot boats was built in Rotterdam and displaces 2,800 tons when submerged. All are fitted with four torpedo tubes.
On 23 May the U.S. Coast Guard transferred the 41-year-old high-endurance cutter USCGC Jarvis (WHEC-725) to the Bangladesh Navy. The Jarvis, which has been renamed the BNS Somudra Joy and renumbered F-28, was built at Avondale Shipyard in Louisiana, launched in April 1971, and commissioned in April of the following year. Twelve of the high-endurance cutters were built for the Coast Guard between 1967 and 1972. Three sisters, the Chase (WHEC-718), Dallas (WHEC-716), and namesake of the class Hamilton (WHEC-715), have already been retired and transferred abroad to Nigeria and the Philippines. The Jarvis is the first of the class to transfer to Bangladesh. In U.S. service, the 3,000-ton (full load) cutters operated a Dolphin helicopter and were armed with a 76-mm gun and a 20-mm Phalanx close-in weapon system. The cutter’s SPS-40 air-search radar and Phalanx gun were removed prior to transfer.
Spain’s navy, already beset by significant budgetary cutbacks in recent years, has announced that its S-80 submarine program faces new construction hurdles that could significantly delay the program. Shipbuilder Navantia and the Spanish Navy announced that excessive weight was forcing a reexamination of the S-80’s hull design. To better distribute this unexpected extra tonnage, a lengthening of the current 233-foot submarine is now under consideration. The S-80 diesel-electric boats were authorized for construction in 2003. The first unit, the Isaac Peral, was laid down in 2007, and three more submarines of the class are planned. All are due to be fitted with air-independent propulsion systems for extended underwater operations. The Isaac Peral had been expected to enter service by 2015 with the final sister to follow by 2019; these dates may now slip to the right by as much as two years.