China's Navy Boosts Ties With Philippines

By Eric Wertheim

This spring, Argentina returned the icebreaker Almirante Irízar to service ten years after a disastrous fire destroyed much of the vessel, including her engine room, helicopter hangar, and parts of the flight deck. The Finnish-built scientific research ship has played an important role in Argentina’s Antarctic research activities and exploration efforts since first entering service in the late 1970s. The vessel has a storied history, and in addition to scientific duties, the Almirante Irízar served as a hospital ship during the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas conflict. Sea trials have now begun on the 15,000-ton (full load) vessel, which is 398 feet long with a beam of 83 feet. She is expected to return to full duties in the South Atlantic during the next few months. Improvements include modernized laboratories and enhanced berthing facilities, permitting larger contingents of scientific staff to operate from the refurbished vessel.

On 26 April the first steel was cut for Australia’s new Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) vessels. Nineteen of the craft will be delivered between 2018 and 2023 for donation to 12 Pacific island nations. The PPB-Rs will replace older Pacific Patrol Boats which were gifted by Australia to 12 Pacific island countries between 1987 and 1997. Current plans call for transfer of the vessels to all current PPB operators including Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, and also to Timor-Lest, which is a new member of the program. The 130-foot steel boats have a beam of 26 feet and a draft of 8 feet. Each of the new boats, as pictured here in a computer rendering, will have a top speed of 20 knots, a cruising range of 3,000 nautical miles at 12 knots, and will accommodate 23 people.

Mr. Wertheim, a defense consultant in the Washington, D.C., area, is the author of the 16th edition of The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, published by the Naval Institute Press (see www.usni.org ).

Photo credits: Chinese Ministry of Defense, Argentinian Ministry of Defense, Austal

 

 
 

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