The U.S. Coast Guard took an important step on 23 April toward revitalizing its polar capabilities with the award of a $746 million contract for the design and construction of its first polar security cutter (PSC). As many as six of the new heavy icebreakers are planned for service in the Arctic and Antarctic, with construction set to begin in 2021. Delivery of the first hull is expected in 2024. The contract with VT Halter Marine, of Pascagoula, Mississippi, includes options for the second and third hulls of the class. If the options are exercised, these hulls would be scheduled for delivery in the mid- to late 2020s. Each PSC will displace 33,000 tons and will have a 460-foot length and an 88-foot beam. The U.S. Coast Guard’s operational fleet currently includes only one heavy polar icebreaker—the 13,000-ton Polar Star (WAGB-10), commissioned in 1976. Sister cutter Polar Sea (WAGB-11) has remained in inactive commission following an engine casualty in 2010.
Poland ordered four AgustaWestland AW101 naval helicopters in April for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) and combat search-and-rescue duties—a major boost for its maritime forces. Deliveries are expected to run through 2022. Variants of the AW101 are in use with more than a dozen militaries, including the navies of Algeria, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, where they are known as the Merlin. The AW101 has a 34,390-pound maximum gross weight, a 74-foot, 11-inch length, and is powered by three engines to a 150-knot maximum cruising speed.AW101 helicopters normally carry a crew of two to four and are able to transport 25 or more passengers. Typical sensor and weapon loadouts on the helicopters include radar, sonar, and electronic support measures along with lightweight ASW torpedoes. Additional AW101s may be ordered in the future to help reduce Poland’s reliance on its aging fleet of Mi-14 and SH-2G Super Seasprite maritime helicopters.
Brazil announced this spring that it has selected the German MEKO A-100 design as the basis for its new Tamandaré-class corvettes. Current plans call for delivery of four of the 3,455-ton multimission corvettes, to be named Tamandaré, Jerônimo de Albuquerque, Cunha Moreira, and Mariz e Barros. The new corvettes are expected to join Brazil’s fleet between 2024 and 2028. Reports indicate that construction will take place at Oceana Shipyard in the State of Santa Catarina, Brazil, under a technology transfer agreement and consortium led by the German firm ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS). The 352-foot corvettes will have a 52-foot beam and a 17-foot draft. The warships are expected to carry Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missiles, MM40 Exocet antiship missiles, a single 76-mm/62-caliber gun, torpedoes, and one naval helicopter. Each corvette will be powered by four diesel engines that provide a top speed of 28 knots.