A surprisingly large number of new naval construction programs emerged during 2000, with major surface combatants, submarines, and amphibious warfare and sealift ships predominant. As in the past decade, there were few noteworthy developments among the United States' former Cold War adversaries or possible future antagonists. The long drought in the Russian economy has begun to abate, freeing some funding for incomplete naval units begun before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and allowing refits and repairs to units out of service for several years.
Probably the most significant development is the increasing number of military sealift programs within the navies of European Union nations. The totality of these efforts would not even begin to rival the enormous sealift capacity available to U.S. forces, but the onset of new such programs in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere reveals a political unity of will toward being able to intervene overseas without resorting to the NATO structure.
The following survey is arranged by broad category of ship and within that alphabetically by country. Displacements for surface ships are given for full-load condition and for submerged condition for submarines; figures are in metric tons.
The French Navy retired the 37-year-old, 32,780-ton carrier Foch on 15 November 2000 and transferred custody of the ship on the same day to Brazil, secure that it would not be without an operational aircraft carrier for very longthe nuclear-powered, 40,600-ton Charles de Gaulle already had embarked on the "long cruise" required before her expected commissioning at the end of the year. Unfortunately, the $2.7 billion Charles de Gaulle, begun in 1989, lost a propeller blade while in the Caribbean and had to return early. At Toulon, it was discovered that both propellers would need replacement, and documents relating to the design and fabrication of the faulty propellers were mysteriously lost in a fire. The only propellers available were leftover spares from the retired Foch and Clemenceau; less than ideal, they could be installed but would limit the ship's speed to about 25 knots when she finally was commissioned, now expected to occur early this April. The ship's air group will be without the services of the intended Rafale-M fighter complement for several more years, and the Charles de Gaulle is scheduled to undergo her first reactor recoring in 2002. Despite these problems, the government is looking more and more likely to approve construction of a second nuclear-powered carrier, although funding for that ship, along with ambitious plans to construct new attack submarines, destroyers, frigates, and major amphibious units, will be problematic.
Meanwhile, the former Foch, bought for $41 million and renamed the São Paulo by Brazil, departed French waters on 31 January, en route to Rio de Janeiro to begin training with an air group comprised of helicopters and former Kuwaiti A-4KU Skyhawk fixed-wing light strike aircraft. The funds required for the Brazilian Navy to achieve its first carrier strike capability, however, have resulted in a curtailment of other naval procurement programs and a stretch-out of what little indigenous shipbuilding was ongoing. The old carrier Minas Gerais is to be retired when the São Paulo is operational, possibly by the end of 2001, and the 56-year-old ship is almost certain to be scrapped. Brazil will remain the only Southern Hemisphere nation to operate any kind of aircraft carrier for the foreseeable future.
Italy's 26,660-ton Nuova Unita Maggiore (NUM, major new unit) was ordered on 22 November for delivery in 2007. The 776-foot-long ship initially is to carry either eight Harriers or a dozen EH.101 helicopters (or a mix), although she would be an ideal eventual platform for the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter (JFS). The docking well for landing craft originally to have been installed at the stern has been eliminated from the NUM's design, but the ship still will have accommodations for 450 troops in addition to the normal complement of 450 crew, 250 members of the air group, and a flag staff of 140.
Well into February 2001, the shoe had yet to drop in India's endless negotiations for acquisition of the decrepit Russian cruiser-carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The Russians have offered to donate the ship, but the cost of the extensive conversions needed to make the 44,570-ton ship into a passable carrier for fixed-wing fighters has held up Indian agreement. In addition, at the end of 2000, India rejected the Russian offer of 22 newand unprovenMiG-29K shipboard fighters. India's only remaining carrier, the elderly Vikrant, reentered service in January 2001 after an overhaul but without most of the planned upgrades, and construction has yet to commence on India's planned 32,000-ton "Air Defense Ship" at Kochi.
The unlikely possibility of China's being able to exploit the stripped hulk of the incomplete Russian carrier Varyagpurchased in 1998 from Ukraine by private Chinese interests ostensibly as a theme park exhibitwas thwarted when Turkish authorities refused permission last July for the 1,005-foot vessel to be towed through the narrow, twisting, and crowded Bosporus. The forlorn, rusted Varyag remained moored off Turkey's Black Sea coast into the new year. Meanwhile, the Varyag's Russian Northern Fleet sister, Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov, was unable to carry out a planned, triumphant Russian Navy return to the Mediterranean as the centerpiece of a modest flotilla of modern warships. The carrier's part in rescue and salvage operations off the Kola Peninsula after the loss of the submarine Kursk all but exhausted the Northern Fleet's fuel allotment for the year; another attempt may be made this year or next. Only about a dozen Su-33 Flanker fighters are available for the ship, with another dozen in rework to install a capability to launch underwing ordnance.
Numerous problems uncovered during trials with Australia's early Collins-class diesel submarines caused political and operational havoc during 2000, but fixesother than the selection of a replacement for the unsatisfactory U.S.-supplied combat data systemare well in hand and apparently successful. The fourth and fifth units of the class, the Dechaineux and Sheean, were commissioned on 23 February 2001 at Australia's Naval Base West. The launch of the sixth and final boat, the Rankin, was delayed while alterations were carried out on the others, and the 3,353-ton submarine now will not be launched until August 2001. Heavy-handed pressure from the U.S. Department of Defense in the prospective sale of the Australian Submarine Corporation at Adelaide, the selection of new torpedoes for the Collins class, and the choice of the new command system for the boats has not improved relations between the Royal Australian and U.S. navies.
The Royal Australian Navy submarine Dechaineux, along with sister Sheean, was commissioned on 23 February 2001; all six of Australias Collins-class submarines will operate from Naval Base West on the Indian Ocean coast.
Royal Australian Navy (Darren Yates)
Brazil's last remaining British-built Oberon-class diesel submarine, the Tonelero, flooded and sank along side a naval pier at Rio de Janeiro on Christmas day. Raised on 4 January 2001, the aged submarine, which had been used only for training in recent years and was due for retirement, probably will not be repaired. Construction of Brazil's fifth Type 209/1400 diesel submarine at Rio de Janeiro, the 1,590-ton Tikuma, has been slowed by funding problems; laid down at the end of 1998, the boat now is planned for completion in 2005. Meanwhile, the long and expensive gestation of the Brazilian nuclear-powered submarine program continues to produce fewif anyuseful results.
After a short delay caused by the discovery of piping corrosion problems in the nearly new submarines, the first of four former Royal Navy Upholder-class diesel attack submarines, the Victoria (ex-HMS Unseen), was handed over to Canada on lease on 6 October 2000 and commissioned at Halifax on 2 December. The other three 2,400-ton Upholders are to be delivered at six-month intervals, with the Victoria eventually to be based at Esquimault on the Pacific coast and the Windsor (ex-Unicorn), Corner Brook (ex-Ursula), and Chicoutimi (ex-Upholder) to operate from Halifax. Canada's last operational Oberon, the Onandaga, was retired on 28 July 2000.
The midbody section for the first of Chile's two French-designed Scorpne-class diesel submarines was shipped to Cherbourg for outfitting by Spain's Izar (formerly E.N. Bazn) yard at Cartegena on 3 July. The 1,908-ton O'Higgins is to commission in 2005 and the Carrera in 2007. Chile's Oberon-class O'Higgins was retired on 10 April 2000, leaving the O'Brien as the last operational unit of that once numerous class.
The first at-sea launch of China's JL-2 ballistic missile in mid-January 2001 brought into question a recent report that the Chinese Navy's Project 094 nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine (SSBN) program at Huludao had been deferred in favor of Project 093 nuclear-powered attack submarine construction. Project 093 is unlikely to produce the first example until after 2005, sources say. The 8,000-kilometer-ranged JL-2 (Ju Lang 2, "Giant Voice") is a submerged-launch variant of the DF-31A land-based missile, and the January launch almost certainly took place from China's elderly Golf-class trials submarine and not from the sole existing 13-year-old Xia-class (Project 092) SSBN, which as far as is known has never made an operational deployment and is reported to have been in overhaul (or undergoing disposal) since 1995. China's success with nuclear-powered submarine design has been marginal, and by 1999, only one of the five Han-class (Project 091) nuclear-powered attack submarines was said to be fully operational.
The first 2,250-ton Chinese Song-class diesel attack submarine, launched in May 1994, did not become operational until 1998 and is said to be a less than satisfactory design. A second unit may have been launched in the fall of 1999, and a third is said to be under construction. The indigenous, 2,113-ton Ming-class (Project 035) program, under way since the early 1970s, produced its 20th hull late in 2000, with the newly launched boat said to be two meters longer than her predecessors. There is no sign of a rumored license agreement to build Russian Kilo-class submarines in China, but negotiations were under way through 2000 for the purchase of a late-version Project 636 Kilo to be assembled in Russia from surplus components. The first two Chinese Kilos, delivered in 1995-96, are to be refitted at Russia's Bol'shoy Kamen yard on the Primoriy Peninsula.
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are cooperating in the "Viking" design effort to develop a new diesel submarine employing two Stirling Mk 3, 120-kilowatt air-independent auxiliary propulsion modules. Denmark's first of four planned boats would not be needed before 2008, and Norway, which seeks a longer-ranged, deeper-diving variant, does not foresee completion of its first boat until 2015. Sweden will need only two. An official long-range assessment of Norway's defense needs released in 2000 recommended retirement of Norway's remaining four Kobben-class submarines by 2005, leaving the six, decade-old Ula-class boats as Norway's submarine force for the succeeding decade.
The ever-optimistic Dutch RDM corporation at Rotterdam announced that a letter of intent was signed on 15 September for the assembly of two of its 1,600-ton Moray-class diesel submarines at Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi, for Egypt. Actual construction, however, is dependent on the U.S. government's approval, for the U.S. taxpayers would bear nearly all the considerable cost. At Haifa on 22 October, Egypt's neighbor, Israel, commissioned the Tekuma, the last of its trio of German-built, mostly German-financed, 1,710-ton IKL Type 800 submarines; three more are desired, but they are not likely to be affordable. The Israeli Navy's trio of retired Gal-class, IKL 500 submarines has yet to find a buyer.
The fourth French Navy Le Triomphant-class SSBN, Le Terrible, was ordered on 28 July and is to enter service in 2008 with the first of France's new M51 strategic missiles on board; the ballistic missile will be backfitted into the others of the class. With the first of the six Barracuda project nuclear-powered attack submarines not yet ordered and not programmed to be begun until 2003, there is little submarine construction ongoing at Cherbourg other than work on the Chilean Scorpènes and on the third new SSBN, Le Vigilant, which is to launch in March 2000. The number of diesel attack submarines in French service was reduced to one, the Ouessant, when sister Agosta-class boat La Praya was decommissioned on 30 June 2000.
On 15 February 2000, the Greek Navy ordered three (with an option for a fourth) German-designed Type 214 submarines. The initial $1.26-billion contract calls for the first of the 1,860-ton units to be delivered by Howaldtswerke, Kiel, in February 2005, and the next two will be assembled by Hellenic Shipbuilding at Skaramanga for delivery in 2007. The 213-foot Type 214s each will have two 120-kilowatt Siemens PEM fuel-cell air-independent auxiliary propulsion systems and will carry 16 torpedoes and/or Harpoon missiles.
Since 1974, the Indian Navywith Russian technical assistance since 1999has pursued design and eventual construction of the "advanced technology vehicle" (ATV), a nuclear-powered, missile- equipped submarine program that received a new leader and a reorganization during 2000. In addition, on 5 December it announced negotiations with Russia for the lease of a nuclear-powered attack submarine to retain the familiarization with nuclear propulsion gained over a decade ago during the three-year lease of the Charlie-I-class submarine Chakra. The ATV, which is intended to carry the Indian-developed Sagarika land-attack missile, is expected to take about nine years to build, once a design is finalized and a contract placed. Long-range plans announced during 2000 call for the construction of 24 diesel attack submarines by 2030, half of Russian design (the Amur 1650 class) and half of Western European origin (with the French Scorpne design seemingly favored as of the end of 2000). The tenth Project 877EKM Kilo, the Sindhushastra, was commissioned at St. Petersburg on 16 July, and an earlier pair of Kilos is being refitted in Russia. When the refits are complete, at least fivepossibly sixof the Indian Kilo contingent will have been equipped to launch 3M-53E Klub-S antiship missiles, which India also hopes to modify for land-attack use.
Iran's announcement of the commissioning of a "submarine" on 29 August turns out to refer to a 49-foot-long swimmer delivery vehicle named Al Sabiha-15 (for 15 meters), capable of carrying two crew and three swimmers and said to be able to operate "anywhere in the Persian Gulf."
Work began at Muggiano on the first of two German-designed Type 212A submarines on 3 July 1999 and on the second a year later, but the pair will not enter Italian Navy service until 2005 and 2006. Meanwhile, the two Italian-designed, 1,862-ton Primo Longobardo-class and the two 1,662-ton Salvatore Pelosi-class submarines are receiving new STN-Atlas Elektronik ISUS-90-20 combat data and control systems, new silencing measures, and new ship control systems in a program to be completed next year. Of the older quartet of Nazario Sauro-class diesel submarines, the class-name ship was placed in reserve at the end of the year to await final disposal.
Japan's Kawasaki Shipyard at Kobe built the third of ten planned 3,600-ton Oyashio-class submarines, the Uzushio, which was commissioned on 9 March 2000. Mitsubishi's yard at the same city built the Makishio, to be commissioned this month. Four more of the class are building or on order, with the tenth planned to commission in 2007. The 268-foot submarines carry 20 torpedoes and/or UGM-84C Harpoon missiles and, unlike the three previous Japanese submarine classes, have bow-mounted torpedo tubes and conformal sonar arrays. To keep the attack submarine force at 16, the four-year-old Harushio-class Asashio was reclassified as a training submarine on 9 March 2000, joining the 1982-vintage, Yushio-class Setoshio in that role. Japanese training submarines retain their torpedo tubes, but the torpedo rooms are converted into berthing and instructional spaces for trainees.
There no longer are reports of submarine construction in North Korea, but South Korea continues to build a force vastly technically superior to the antiquated designs operated by the North. The German Type 214 design had an excellent year in 2000, being selected on 3 November as the follow-on submarine program for construction in South Korea. An offer by Russia for three to six Kilos was rejected in October on the grounds of the design's performance and maintainability. Although previous submarine construction has been undertaken at Daewoo Shipyard, Okpo, in a surprise decision, the contract to assemble the Type 214s was given to rival Hyundai Shipyard at Ulsan. Three boats are said to be involved, to be delivered between 2007 and 2009, and under the contract, German expertise is to be given in the design of an indigenous, follow-on 3,000-ton submarine class. Meanwhile, the seventh and eighth 1,285-ton Type 209/1200 boats, the Lee Sunsin and Na Daeyong, were commissioned in 2000, and the final Daewoo boat, the Lee Eokgi, was launched on 26 May 2000 for commissioning this year.
The Malaysian Navy has long sought a submarine arm. To that end, the Netherlands RDM corporation transported its two former Royal Netherlands Navy submarines, the Zwaardvis and Tijgerhaai, to Lumut on board a heavy lift ship, arriving there on 14 December. The private PSC Naval Dockyard at Lumut was to purchase the pair and reactivate them as training platforms for lease by the Malaysian Navy until two RDM-built Moray-class submarines could be delivered. As of mid-February, however, the Malaysian government had not signed on to the arrangement. Notwithstanding, the Thai Navy, which had last possessed Japanese-built submarines that survived into the mid-1950s (mostly because they almost never went to sea), announced that it was negotiating with the Swedish Kockums yard (a division of Howaldtswerke since 1999) for the lease of one or two former German Navy Type 206 submarine to match the neighboring Malaysians.
The same two Type 206s, the ex- U-19 and ex-U-21, were offered by Howaldtswerke during 2000 as replacements for the Polish Navy's two about-to-be-retired, Russian-built Foxtrot-class submarines, the last of their type in service anywhere. France, in turn, was offering Poland two retired units of the much larger Agosta class, but no choice (if, indeed, there is to be one) has been announced. Poland's sole Kilo class submarine, the Orzel, is being refitted so as to be able to operate with NATO forces.
Although no funding was included in the Russian defense budgets from 1997 through 1999 for work on the new Project 955 ballistic missile submarine Yuriy Dolgorukiy, the boat, which was reported in 1998 to be only 2-3% complete three years after keel laying, was said to be 47% complete as of May 2000, indicating that ongoing work may have been funded by the building yard, Sevashpredpriyatiye, at Severodvinsk. In any case, new government funds were released in December 2000 to continue construction on the 19,400-ton SSBN, which is intended to carry a dozen naval variants of the Topol-M ballistic missile when it enters service, perhaps by the end of this decade. By the end of 2000, the active Russian SSBN force had been reduced to about a dozen submarines, although a few other units remained nominally in commission.
The Severodvinsk yard quietly had launched the unfunded 12th Oscar-II-class (Project 949A) cruise missile submarine, the Belgorod, in September 1999, perhaps only to clear the ways for other work, but the 19,400-ton boat eventually might serve as a replacement for her lost sister Kursk (at least three earlier Oscar-IIs are laid up awaiting funds for refueling).
A Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine for which official funding has been provided, the second Akula-II (Project 09710)-class Gepard was launched at Severodvinsk on 18 September 1999, began state acceptance sea trials in December 2000 and is to be commissioned on Russian Navy Day, 29 July 2001. Still within a Severodvinsk building hall are sister Akula-IIs Kuguar and Rys, with at least the former planned for completion. At Komsomol'sk-na-Amur, funds were provided in January 2000 for further work on the 82%-finished Modified Akula-I-class Nerpa, laid down as long ago as 1986, and the 25%-complete Kaban, begun in 1992, also eventually may be completed. No work has been reported for several years on the suspended follow-on Project 885 submarine Severodvinsk.
With the delivery of the tenth Project 877EKM Kilo to India in 2000, Russian submarine yards now have only one export submarine under construction, a 2,700-ton Amur 1650 export variant of the naval Project 677, Lada-class design. The Amur 1650 was hoped to be sold to India on completion but to date has failed to find a buyer. The Amur 1650 prototype and a single Lada, to be christened the Sankt Petersburg, both were laid down at the end of December 1997 at Admiralty Shipyard, St. Petersburg. The privately funded Sankt Petersburg was said to be about 30% complete and the Amur 1650 only 7% finished as of January 2000, but by the end of the year, Russian officials were predicting confidently that the unit destined for the Russian Navy would be launched during 2001.
On 7 July 2000, the Republic of South Africa signed a formal contract for three German Type 209/1400 submarines, and work already had begun on the first on 11 June. The 1,594-ton trio will be delivered to South Africa starting in July 2005 for outfitting with locally manufactured equipment prior to commissioning.
The first former Swedish Navy Sjöormen-class submarine to arrive in Singapore, the 30 year-old Conqueror, was commissioned there on 2 July 2000, and a second, the Centurion, completed modernization in Sweden by the end of the year. The initial 1,400-ton unit, the Challenger, remains in Sweden as a training platform. The Swedish Navy, under a 1999 contract with Kockums, is having the decade-old Västergötland-class submarines Södermanland and Östergötland rebuilt with a ten-meter pressure hull extension to house two Stirling Mk 3 air-independent auxiliary propulsion power modules. When the pair are returned to service in 2004, their 1,143-ton sisters Västergötland and Hälsingland will be retired and may be leased to Denmark. The 1,494-ton Gotland-class submarine Halland, which had earlier become the first Swedish Navy submarine to operate with NATO navies in the Mediterranean, is being modified to improve operations in warm waters and to upgrade her communications suite to permit the boat to participate in future international operations.
No decision was announced during 2000 on a long-planned contract to build four Scorpène-design-based submarines for the Spanish Navy, nor despite the retirement of one of its three Daphné-class submarines, the Albacora, in 2000, had the Portuguese Navy found a means to finance replacements for the 30 year-old survivors. The Republic of China Navy, also seeking new submarines, failed again in 2000 to find a way to meet its desperate need for additional units to defend Taiwan against the overwhelmingly larger mainland Chinese submarine force.
In the United Kingdom, work commenced in 1999 on the first of a now-planned nine Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarines. The official keel laying for the Astute is to be 31 October 2001, and the 7,200-ton, 318-foot submarine is to be delivered in June 2005. Two sisters, the Ambush and Artful, are on order, and a contract to construct two more is said to be imminent. A sixth was added to the program in August 2000, and three more were added at the end of the year to ensure timely replacement of the dozen current Trafalgar and Swiftsure-class SSNs. The Trafalgar herself experienced reactor piping cracking in May 2000, leading to an examination of other units of both active SSN classes; enough had problems that the entire SSN force was confined briefly to port, and repairs to the seven affected units are to be completed this summer. The reactor difficulties are said not to affect the Royal Navy's four Vanguard-class SSBNs, which use the same PWR-2 reactor to be employed in the Astute class. The four-boat Royal Netherlands diesel submarine force also was hobbled by piping corrosion problems during 2000, but three were to be back in service as of February 2001 and the piping on the Walrus is being repaired during a regular overhaul scheduled to complete this September.
Major Surface Combatants
The 1,670-ton Algerian Navy Koni-class frigate Raïs Korfo completed a four-and-a-half-year refit at St. Petersburg in November 2000 and journeyed home in company with the Nanuchka-class missile craft Salah Raïs. Both ships had their electronics suites extensively updated, and four torpedo tubes were added to the Koni and 16 Kh-35 Uran antiship missiles had replaced the four P-20 series (Styx) antiship missiles on the Nanuchka. Another Algerian Koni and Nanuchka are to arrive in Russia this May for similar refits.
The Argentine Navy's Type 42 guided missile destroyer Hercules completed a refit in Chile during 2000, but the ship and her sister, the Santísima Trinidad, have not had operational Sea Dart missile systems since shortly after the Falklands War in 1982. The 1,790-ton MEKO 140-class frigate Robinson, laid down in 1983 and launched in December 1985, was at last commissioned on 28 August 2000; the sixth and last MEKO 140, the Gomez Roca, may be commissioned this October.
The Italian Navy-destined version of the Franco-Italian Project Horizon guided-missile destroyer class will resemble this artists rendering. The French version will have two point-defense missile launchers atop the helicopter hangar aft; the first of the Italian ships will have a third 76-mm gun when it enters service in 2007.
The Royal Australian Navy, directed to turn down the offer of units of the prematurely retired U.S. Navy Kidd (DDG-993) class, began a search for another source for three guided-missile destroyers in 2000. Originally, these were to be completed in 2005 through 2010, but their acquisition now may be delayed by a decade. Meanwhile, the Charles F. Adams (DDG-2)-class Hobart (ex-DDG-26) was retired on 12 May 2000 and the remaining ship of the class soon will follow, leaving the RAN with no area-defense capability other than that inherent in its six Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)-class guided-missile frigates, which are to be extensively upgraded starting this year and completing between 2003 and 2005. The six will receive, among many other significant improvements, an eight-cell Mk 41 vertical-launch missile group to add 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles to the 40-odd Standard SM-1 missiles already carried. A plan to add an area-defense capability to the eight new Anzac-class (MEKO 200ANZ) frigates was rejected late in 1999 on grounds of excessive cost and impracticality. The fifth Anzac, the Parramatta, was launched at Williamstown on 17 June 2000, and the fourth, the Stuart, was to be commissioned last month.
In 2000, the Belgian Navy announced a highly ambitious, long-term modernization plan that would see the completion around 2010 of the first of two 4,000-6,000-ton "Multi-Purpose Escort Vessels" to replace the current trio of small frigates. Brazil's single-unit, 2,350-ton frigate Barroso's completion has been delayed to June 2006 and modernization of the existing Niteroi-class frigates has been slowed because of financial constraints. The first of three 1,940-ton frigates for the Brunei Navy was launched on 13 January 2001 by the BAE SYSTEMS yard at Scotstoun, near Glasgow, Scotland.
Because of personnel shortages, the Canadian Pacific-based guided-missile destroyer Huron had to be laid up at Esquimault during December, and it now appears that replacements are unlikely to be built when the four-ship class is retired in the middle of this decade. Chile also is retiring major surface combatants without replacement: both Sea Slug missile- equipped, former British County-class guided-missile destroyers have been retired, along with the unmodernized Leander-class frigate General Baquedano. And despite very generous financial terms from Germany, a plan to construct up to a half-dozen 3,800-ton Blohm + Voss MEKO-A200 frigates in Chile appears to have come to nought.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy commissioned its second Russian-built Sovremennyy-class guided-missile destroyer, the Fu Zhou, at St. Petersburg on Christmas Day 2000 and is negotiating for the purchase of two more. Unlike the first two Sovremennyys, which essentially were new ships, the second pair would be refurbished former Russian Northern Fleet units. The construction program for the simple, 2,180-ton Jiangwei-II-class frigates has spread to a second yard, Huangpu Shipyard, at Guangzhou in southern China, where two of the class are said to be building. The fourth Shanghai-built unit of the Jiangwei-II class was delivered to the East Sea Fleet during May, but at least one of the ships may be destined for transfer to Pakistan.
No contracts have yet been announced for the construction of two 5,000-6,000-ton, multipurpose OPV 3000 frigate/command ships for the Danish Navy, nor have any of the four 3,500-4,000-ton new fisheries protection ships been ordered, although the older fisheries protection ship Beskyterren, disarmed, was donated to Estonia in June 2000, becoming the Admiral Pitka.
After a protracted gestation, the French Navy's two Project Horizon guided-missile frigates at last were ordered on 26 October; the 6,700-ton Forbin and Chevalier Paul are to be completed in December 2006 and April 2008, respectively, and two more may be ordered later for completion in 2010 and 2012. These are the first antisubmarine warfare-capable surface ships ordered for the French Navy since the late 1970s. As many as 17 4,500-ton derivatives of the current La Fayette-class frigate design may be ordered under the Frégates d'Action Naval program, with nine to be configured primarily for land-attack warfare and the others to be capable of antisubmarine duties (but with the ability to launch land-attack missiles for which targeting would be provided by other platforms). The new ships, plus the Horizons, will replace all current French Navy destroyers, frigates, and corvettes except the five La Fayettes. The final La Fayette, the Guépratte, is fitting out for delivery next year.
The second of three 5,690-ton Sachsen-class (Type 124) guided-missile frigates for the German Navy, the Hamburg, was laid down on 1 September for delivery at the end of 2004. The program to construct 15 Type 130 corvettes over the next decade to replace the current guided-missile patrol boat fleet has been cut to 6 ships. The winning design for the 1,580-ton, 26-knot ships was announced on 20 July, a construction contract is to be issued this year, and the Type 130 derivatives of the Blohm + Voss MEKO A100 design are to carry eight medium-range and eight short-range antiship missiles.
Having turned down the U.S. offer of the quartet of Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, the Greek Navy still is operating four 35-year-old Charles F. Adams-class DDGs. Two Dutch Kortenaer-class frigates retiring during 2001 will be added to the six now in Greek service, but plans also were announced during 2000 to order a single new guided-missile frigate to be laid down during 2004 and three 295-foot corvettes armed with MM 40 Exocet antiship missiles to start delivery during 2005.
The third Indian Navy Delhi-class (Project 15) guided-missile destroyer, the Mumbai, was commissioned on 24 January 2001, but the planned start on a trio of Project 15A variants has been delayed while the design is reworked to incorporate the ability to launch land-attack missiles. The newest two of the five Soviet-supplied Kashin-class DDGs are to have their four Styx-family antiship missiles replaced by 16 Kh-35 Uran missiles. Work was started at Mazagon Dockyard, Mumbai, on 18 December on the first of three Indian-designed Project 17 "stealth frigates," with the 4,500-ton ship perhaps overoptimistically expected to be delivered late in 2005. Meanwhile, at Severny Werf, St. Petersburg, the greatly modified Krivak-series (Project 11356) frigate Talwar was launched on 12 May, sister Trishul was launched on 23 November, and the third of the trio, the Toofan, was laid down on 26 May. The 3,780-ton stealth frigates are to be delivered during May 2002 through May 2003, but there has been no announcement yet of an expected order for three more. The first Improved Godavari-class (Project 16A) frigate, the 4,450-ton Brahmaputra, was commissioned on 14 April 2000, having been launched as long ago as 21 January 1994. The second and third ships of the class are planned to have the Indian-developed Trishul surface-to-air missile system, which saw its first successful trial launches during 2000, and the Project 16As otherwise differ from the preceding Godavari-class trio in mounting four quadruple launch tubes for Kh-35 Uran antiship missiles instead of four launchers for P-20-series weapons.
The 1,890-ton Indian Navy Sukanya-class offshore patrol vessel Subhadra, modified to carry and launch two Dhanush ballistic missiles from a stabilized platform, conducted the firstand unsuccessfulsea-based launch of the 250-kilometer-ranged weapon on 11 April 2000 at the Balasore Test Range. Other ships in the class may be similarly modified to carry the Dhanush, which is planned to carry a 500-kilogram payload and to have its range doubled. The fifth Sukanya, the Sharada, was sold to Sri Lanka and recommissioned at Trincomalee as the Sarayu on 9 December. The second Project 25A (Modified Khukri-class) corvette, the Kirch, was commissioned at Mumbai on 22 January 2001; the Type 25As carry 16 Kh-35 missiles and a 76.2-mm gun but have no antisubmarine capability.
Iranian officials announced in September 2000 that the first of a planned trio of "1,000-ton," missile-equipped "destroyers" would be launched shortly, but there has been no subsequent announcement of the event. The locally designed vessels are said to be 289 feet long, and their machinery, electronics, and weapon systems, along with much other equipment, would have to have been imported.
A predictable political controversy erupted in the Japanese parliament late in 2000 over the design of a projected quartet of 13,500-ton (standard displacement; full load displacement probably would be on the order of 16,000 tons) "helicopter-carrying destroyers" to replace the current two Shirane and two Haruna-class flagship destroyers. Drawings made the planned ships appear somewhat similar to aircraft carriers, a type of ship considered purely an offensive system by many Japanese. Although the Japan Maritime Defense Force has for some time hoped to acquire Harrier shipboard fighters, the oddly arranged new destroyer design (which has flight decks fore and aft and a hangar-like superstructure spanning the mid-portion of the hull) officially is intended to carry only three SH-60J antisubmarine and one MH-53E mine countermeasures helicopter. The first of the quartet is to be requested under the fiscal year 2004 budget. The first two of the 4,600-ton (standard displacement) Improved Murasame-class destroyers were laid down on 25 April and 17 May 2000 at Tokyo and Nagasaki, respectively. The fifth unit of the basic, 4,400-ton version of the class, the Inazuma, and the sixth, the Samidare, were commissioned during March 2000, and the eighth and ninth ships of the class were launched in September to complete the series.
Across the Sea of Japan, the first of three 5,000-ton KDX-II destroyers for the Republic of Korea Navy was to have been launched during December at Daewoo Shipyard, Okpo. The combined diesel or gas turbine (CODOG)-powered trio are to be fitted mostly with U.S. weapons and sensors, including a 21-round launcher for RIM-116 Rolling Airframe missiles. The third and final Daewoo-built KDX-1-class destroyer, the 3,855-ton Yang Manchun, was to have been commissioned during 2000 but may have been delayed by Daewoo's financial problems.
In Malaysia, protracted negotiations surrounding the plan to construct up to 27 Blohm+Voss MEKO A100 light frigates finally resulted in a contract during November 2000. Prefabricated modules for the first two of the 1,650-ton ships will be supplied by Blohm+Voss, which will provide technical guidance for the transition to total assembly of later ships at Lumut. The 30-knot, 296-foot light frigates will carry eight MM 40 Exocet antiship missiles, a 57-mm dual-purpose gun, and a helicopter, but no antisubmarine systems.
The Polish Navy version of the Blohm + Voss MEKO A-100 light frigate design would have a Bofors 57-mm dual-purpose gunmount forward, and eight Mk 41 vertical launch system missile cells would be installed forward of the bridge and a Mk 31 RAM point-defense missile launcher atop the hangar aft.
Mexico, departing from past practice, purchased its third U.S. Knox (FF-1052)-class frigate, the former Pharris (FF-1094), on 2 February 2000 and had the vessel towed to Manzanillo for reactivation as the Guadalupe Victoria. Morocco's pair of French-built Floréal-class ocean patrol ships, the 2,950-ton Mohammed V and Hassan II, have been delayed in the construction phase, and the first will not be launched until later this year at St. Nazaire. The pair will differ from their French Navy counterparts in mounting a recycled 76-mm OTOBreda gun in place of the larger French 100-mm weapon, but they will carry two Exocet missiles.
The first of four De Zeven Provinciën-class guided-missile destroyers was launched on 8 April 2000 at Vlissingen and is to be delivered in February 2002. The second ship, to be named the De Ruyter, was laid down on 1 September. Repairs to the guided-missile frigate Jacob Van Heemskerck, which had run aground off the west coast of Scotland on 15 September 1999 and originally been thought to be a constructive total loss, were completed at the Den Helder naval base in November 2000. Greece has requested the opportunity to purchase the Kortenaer-class frigates Pieter Florisz, retired on 24 January 2001, and Jan Van Brakel, to be retired this July. This leaves only two of the class remaining in Royal Netherlands Navy service, although six others serve the Greek Navy and two were purchased in 1996 by the United Arab Emirates.
The Norwegian Navy's selection of design for a quintet of 5,100-ton guided-missile frigates was confirmed by the Norwegian government in February 2000, and a $1.92-billion contract with what was then E.N. Bazán was signed on 23 June. Norway's Mjellem & Karlsen will provide hull sections for the assembly of the first two ships in Spain and will transition to final assembly of the fourth and fifth ships in Norway. Lockheed Martin is providing the AN/SPY-1D Aegis system and weapon system integration. The class is to be named for Norwegian explorers, and the first, the Fridjof Nansen, is to deliver in 2005. The 433-foot ships, despite the capabilities inherent in their Aegis systems, will not carry Standard-series surface-to-air missiles but instead will be fitted with eight cells to carry a total of only 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow self-defense weapons. Other armament is intended to be eight Norwegian NSM antiship missiles, a single 76-mm OTOBreda gun, and four antisubmarine torpedo tubes, and there will be facilities for a single helicopter.
Pakistan may be receiving a single Jiangwei-II-class frigate in the near future. Although an agreement to purchase four of the ships for $500 million reportedly was signed on 12 April 2000, the arrangement evidently was too expensive for the Pakistani government, and by January 2001 it had been changed to one ship to come from China for $60 million, and three more to be constructed at Karachi by 2010 to replace older, British-built vessels.
The former U.S. Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate Clark (FFG-11) was transferred to Poland on 15 March 2000 and commissioned at Gdansk on 25 June as the Gen. K. Pulaski on the 80th anniversary of the Polish Navy. A second ship of the class is scheduled to be transferred during U.S. fiscal year 2003 as the Gen. Kosciuszko. Plans to acquire six 1,900-ton versions of the Blohm+Voss MEKO A100 frigate design may prove unaffordable, but it is hoped to order one per year, with actual deliveries to come at two-year intervals and the initial unit(s) probably to be built in Germany. No contracts have been signed to date.
Although there has been almost no new surface combatant construction started for the Russian Navy in nearly a decade, money at last has become available to complete a number of long-delayed overhauls. The 12,500-ton guided-missile cruiser Moskva (ex-Slava) was designated the Black Sea Fleet flagship during April 2000 after completion of a refit that had begun in December 1990. The Black Sea Fleet's other cruiser, the 1964-vintage Admiral Golovko has begun a refit at Sevastopol', where work also slowly continues on the 8,825-ton Kara-class DDG Ochakov, which has not operated since the early 1990s. The Northern Fleet Sovremennyy-class DDG Rastoropnyy arrived at Sverny Werf, St. Petersburg, in November 2000 for what was said to be a modernization, but the ship may be one of two destined for sale to China. Meanwhile, there have been a spate of refits for Udaloy-class destroyers, now that a production capability for large marine gas turbines has been established within Russia's borders. The Severomorsk completed refit on 30 August 2000, the Admiral Levchenko arrived at St. Petersburg for a refit in February 2000, and the Vitse-Admiral Kulakov, laid up at Kronshtadt through the 1990s, arrived at Severny Werf in June for a refit to be completed in 2002. The single-unit frigate Neustrashimyy finished a brief overhaul at Kaliningrad in time to participate in last summer's Russian Navy Day festivities at the end of July. The only new frigate thus-far planned to enter Russian service this decade is the first 1,930-ton Gepard-class (Project 11661) unit, launched in July 1993 at Zhelenodol'sk, where she has remained at the shipyard. Renamed the Tatarstan, the ship is expected to be commissioned into the Baltic Fleet this June, although she may instead be destined for service with the Russian Border Guard fleet in the Baltic. Although it had been reported that work ceased on the 2,560-ton frigate Novik immediately after her keel laying in July 1997 and that the unfunded project had been canceled in January 1998 when the ship was only 4.5% complete, official mention was made of renewed funding for the project being included in the 2000 defense budget.
The 4,650-ton Saudi Arabian "stealth" frigate Al Riyadh was launched in 1 July 2000 by DCN at Brest for completion in September 2002. Two sisters are on order, and the ships will be the first export vessels to carry the French vertically launched Aster-15 surface-to-air missile. A version of this design may be the prototype for the new French Navy's Frégates d'Action Naval program. The last of Saudi Arabia's four Al Madinah-class frigates completed a mid-life update at Toulon on 21 March.
South Africa ordered four MEKO A-200 frigates from Blohm+Voss on 3 December 1999; the first is to be delivered in October 2002 but is not planned to enter operational service until June 2004 so that South African-made equipment can be installed and tested. This version of the MEKO A-200 will displace 3,590 tons full load and be able to achieve 27 knots. The 397-foot ships are to carry eight MM 40 Exocet antiship missiles, 16 South African-developed Umkhanto surface-to-air missiles, a 76-mm dual-purpose gun, and a twin 35-mm antiaircraft mount of local design, as well as 533-mm torpedoes and one or two helicopters.
The first F-100-class guided-missile destroyer, the Alvaro de Bazán, was launched at the Izar yard at Ferrol on 27 October 2000 for delivery to the Spanish Navy two years later. On the same day, the hull for the second ship in the class of four, the Roger de Lauria, was laid down. The 5,850-ton, 481-foot ships are being equipped by Lockheed Martin with the AN/SPY-1D Aegis system and will carry 32 Standard and 64 Evolved Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, as well as eight Harpoon antiship missiles, a 127-mm gun, a Meroka close-in-defense system, and an SH-60B helicopter, six more of which were ordered during June from Sikorsky.
The first of three Royal Navy Type 45 guided-missile destroyers, Daring initially will not be able to handle the Merlin HM.1 shown hovering over the helicopter deck when she is delivered at the end of 2007. Later ships of the class are planned to receive a 155-mm gun in place of the recycled 114-mm mounts of the first three and also will carry land-attack missiles and a point-defense missile system.
Taiwan announced early in 2001 that it was seeking to buy the U.S. Navy's four decommissioned Kidd-class DDGs and that a price of $732 million had been established. The ships will require a great deal of work to be made operational but would provide the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) with a significantly improved air-defense umbrella when operational. The year 2000 also saw the retirement of the last of the ROCN's World War II-vintage, ex-U.S. Navy destroyers, aside from the seven that had been modernized to carry a few Standard SM-1 missiles. These elderly ships would be replaced by the Kidds. The much-delayed eighth PFG-2-class guided-missile frigate (essentially a license-built copy of the U.S. Oliver Hazard Perry class but with additional armament) finally has been ordered and is to be laid down next month for delivery in 200411 years after the first of the class. The PFG-2s are to have their Taiwanese-developed Hsiung Feng-II antiship missiles removed and replaced by Harpoon missiles to be ordered this year. The Mk 13 launcher's magazine now will hold both Standard SM-1 and Harpoon missiles, and the Hsiung Feng II weapons and their launchers will be employed for shore-mounted coastal defense.
The former USS John A. Moore (FFG-19) became the Gediz on 1 September 2000, the sixth Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate to be transferred to Turkey. Turkey also will buy six retired French Navy D'Estienne D'Orves-class(A-69) corvettes, three for delivery this year and three in 2002. The 1,250-ton ships average 25 years' of service and are to replace older patrol ships and craft. During 2000, the Berk-class frigates Berk and Peyk were retired, along with three of Turkey's six U.S. PC-1638-class patrol craft and several other patrol units. Plans to construct around six 1,900-ton corvettes have been deferred.
The 12,500-ton guided-missile cruiser Ukrayina (ex-Russian Admiral Flota Lobov) was to have been completed for the Ukraine Navy in November 2000, but lack of funds and the realization that the navy could not afford to buy missiles for the ship's weapon systems slowed work, and a new completion data has not been promulgated. The Slava-class cruiser originally had been laid down at Mikolayiv in 1983 and was launched during August 1990. Ukraine also has decided to part with a number of the warships and auxiliaries transferred from the Russian Black Sea Fleet in 1996; two Krivak-I frigates, three Grisha-series corvettes, and a Tarantul-III-class missile craft are among the many units earmarked for disposal, and several auxiliaries already had shown up at the Turkish shipbreaking yards at Aliaga during 2000.
Although Britain's BAE SYSTEMS is to be the lead contractor for construction of a planned Type 45, Daring-class guided-missile destroyer, no actual construction contract had been signed by mid-January 2001 while the government considered an "unsolicited bid" from BAE that would squeeze shipbuilder Vosper Thornycroft out of its expected one-ship share in the initial group of three vessels. To reduce unit costs, a number of significant warfighting systems were to be left off the first three, including all antisubmarine weapons and sensors, the planned close-in weapon systems, and any provision for antiship or land-attack guided missiles, nor will the ships be able to operate the new Merlin helicopters now entering Royal Navy service, as a result of the deletion of any deck-traversing system. The sonars were restored to the program during January 2001, but they may be sets recycled from retired warships. The 6,500-ton Type 45s are to be able to maintain 28 knots and will be 500 feet overall. The Daring is to be delivered during 2007 and the second ship, the Dauntless, during 2009. Another group of three is planned to be ordered in 2004 to achieve the goal of a force of 12 by 2014 to replace the last of the already overaged Type 42 DDGs. The 14th Type 23 frigate, the 4,300-ton HMS Kent, was commissioned on 8 June 2000, and the 15th, the Portland, was handed over to the Royal Navy during December; the 16th and final unit, the St. Albans, is to deliver early in 2002.
Minor Surface Combatants
There were very few significant new developments in small combatant programs during 2000, as the number of guided-missile patrol craft in the world's navies continued to decline. Curiously, most of the new missile craft and patrol craft designs on order or planned are relatively large craft around 60 meters long and displacing more than 500 tonsexpensive craft that cannot replace on a one-for-one basis the first- and second-generation missile boats now being retired.
Assuming the needed permission and funds are provided by the U.S. government, four Ambassador Mk III guided-missile craft will be operating in the Egyptian Navy by mid-2005. Note the antiship missiles located in the well amidships to reduce the crafts radar signature.
Friede Goldman Halter
Probably the two most important developments were Egypt's selection on 2 January 2001 of Friede Goldman Halter to build four of its 550-ton Ambassador Mk III guided-missile patrol combatants at a U.S. Gulf Coast yard. Assuming U.S. government approval is received (for the ships will be built primarily with U.S. funds), the first unit will be delivered in summer 2004. The design will employ the same hull as the pair of Vosper Thornycroft-designed Europatrol 250 patrol craft built recently by Halter for the Bahamas, but six MTU diesels of three shafts will provide more than 30,000 horsepower to drive the 199-foot craft at 41 knots, and their armament will include 8 Harpoon missiles, a 21-cell Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launcher, a Mk 15 Phalanx close-defense weapon system, and a 76-mm dual-purpose gun.
The other new missile combatant program of interest got under way during September with the keel laying for the first of three Vosper Thornycroft Vita-class guided-missile craft at Elefsis Shipyard, Greece. Almost the same size as the Egyptian craft, the 34-knot Greek units will carry eight MM40 Exocet missiles, a RAM launcher, the ubiquitous OTOBreda 76-mm dual-purpose gun, a twin 30-mm gunmount, and two 21-inch tubes for wire-guided torpedoes. The first Vita is to complete in September 2003, and an option exists to order four past the initial buy.
Italy is building two very similar classes of offshore patrol ships that resemble small frigates but that are only minimally armed. The first of four NUMC (Nuove Unitá Minori Combattenti) variants of the design, the 1,520-ton Comandante Cigale Fulgosi, was launched on 7 October for delivery next February. Armed only with a single 76-mm OTOBreda gun and a pair of 25-mm cannon, the NUMCs are powered by two Wärtsilä NSD Italia diesels to provide 17,370 horsepower for 25-knot speeds. In August, two 1,580-ton NUPA-Nuove Unitá per il Pattugliamento d'Altura (New High-Seas Patrol Ships) variants of the design, the Sirio and the Orione, were ordered. Equipped with two 5,800-horsepower diesels for 22-knot speeds, the pair will have no armament other than light machine guns but will have provision for installation of a 76-mm gun and fire control system later, if needed. Both classes share the same 291-foot hull, and both have a helicopter flight deck and hangar. Ireland commissioned the first of two similar-sized replacement offshore patrol ships, the Roísín, during 2000. Built by Appledore in the United Kingdom as a modified version of a Canadian ship built in Chile for Mauritius, the 22-knot Roísín also carries an OTOBreda 76-mm gun but has no helicopter facilities.
In China, very little construction of small combatants, other than for export, is under way. The number of 478-ton, 62-meter Houxin-class guided-missile craft completed since 1990 has reached 14, with about three per year being completed. The basic design and propulsion plants for the Houxin essentially are the same as those of the Hainan-class submarine chasers that began building in the 1960s. Armament for the 32-knot Houxin consists of four C-801 antiship missiles (a design said to be based on the French MM 38 Exocet), two twin 37-mm antiaircraft mounts whose design dates to the a Russian mount that appeared just after World War II, and two twin machine guns. An unknown but small number of 170-ton Haizhui-class patrol craft, both for domestic use and export, continues to be built. The Haizhui is a product-improvement version of the old Shanghai-II class that began to appear just after 1960 and has found a ready overseas market in Sri Lanka, among other customers.
Finland may be leading the West with the introduction of a new 84-ton, multipurpose patrol and transport air-cushion vehicle powered by two Honeywell/Vericor TF-40 turbines. Building at Aker Finnyards, Rauma, the craft is to be delivered this year for trials, and if successful, will go into series production. The outstanding performance of the 260-ton Skjold, Norway's far more impressive surface-effect guided-missile patrol craft prototype, may not result in the planned production of seven further units, because of the high costs of the new Nansen-class frigate program and the need for new Norwegian Air Force fighters. The 2000 paper recommending changes to Norway's defense posture also called for the retirement of the 14 Hauk-class guided-missile and torpedo-armed patrol craft, which would leave the country without any of the small, high-speed, difficult-to-detect combatants that have characterized its naval forces for more than five decades.
Neighboring Sweden launched the 620-ton Visby, a highly stealthy multipurpose fast combatant, on 8 June for delivery this February for an extensive series of trials and entry into service in 2004. Stealth, speed, and combat capability, however, cost significantly, and what originally was to have been a class of 20 now is reduced to 6, with the last, the Uddevalla, to be delivered by Karlskronavarvet in 2008. The 239-foot Visby can achieve 38 knots on the power from four Honeywell/Vericor TF-50A gas turbines driving KaMeWa waterjets, and two 1,740-horsepower MTU diesels provide power for low-speed cruising. Rather than build further Visbys, the Swedish Navy has regrouped and is planning a new class of 200-300-ton missile boats to begin delivering after 2010.
Russia's navy has received no new small combatants for many years, but during 2000, the Rybinsk Shipyard completed an expensive prototype for a further follow-on variant of the successful Tarantul series, the 550-ton Molnaya. The Russian Navy may become involved with trials for the craft, which will be able to carry four Moskit (SS-N-22) antiship missiles, but the Molnaya is intended primarily as an export demonstratoralthough there are few countries that both would want such a craft from Russia and that could afford it. One such country is Vietnam, which obtained two Tarantul-Is in 1994 at a bargain price and was due to receive two more during 2000. India continues to construct its own 477-ton version of the Tarantul; the Prabal and Pralaya were launched by Mazagon Dockyard on 28 September and 14 December, respectively, as the 12th and 13th units of class, which eventually will total 20.
The Russian Federal Border Guard, meanwhile, continues to receive new small combatants, including a new Svetlyak-class patrol craft launched at St. Petersburg on 25 May and a sister named Storozhevik that was commissioned at Vladivostok on the 15th of the same month.
Several other small combatant programs are worthy of mention. On 21 July 2000, Taiwan commissioned the last four of a dozen 680-ton Jing Chiang-class (Kuang Hua III program) patrol craft. Only the class prototype carries antiship missiles, while all carry a single elderly 40-mm and 20-mm gunmounts, depth charges, and, if need be, mines. Much more impressive is the latest iteration of the Lrssen 57-meter guided-missile patrol craft for the Turkish Navy. Following the commission of the third Kili-class unit, the Mizrak, in Turkey on 8 June, the Turkish Navy ordered an additional four on 19 June, one to be built in Germany and the others locally. The 540-ton, 62.4-meter Kiliç can make 38 knots and is armed with eight Harpoon missiles and the usual 76-mm OTOBreda gun forward and a twin 40-mm gunmount aft. But this latest variant of a design that has been built successfully since the 1970s also is equipped with a 3-D search radar, a low-probability-of-intercept surface-search radar, and a sophisticated combat data system and electronic countermeasures. The final four French-built P37 BRL-class guided-missile boats arrived in Kuwait during November.
The Royal Australian Navy Huon-class mine hunter Norman was commissioned on 26 August 2000.
Royal Australian Navy (Darren Yates)
Finally, mention must be made of the U.S. Coast Guard's donation of retiring 82-foot Point-class cutters to numerous small nations around the world. Despite having seen as much as 40 years of service, these craft remain in excellent condition and are ideal for use by smaller navies and coast guards. Recipients of the craft during 2000 included Georgia, Turkmenistan, Colombia, Trinidad & Tobago, the Dominican Republic, Panama (two), and Jamaica, and units scheduled for retirement during 2001 will be going to Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica, Colombia (2), Panama, El Salvador, and the Philippines. The only problem is that the availability of suitable free patrol boats deprives boat yards of potential sales. Needless to say, however, such construction still goes on and is likely to continue, as demand for replacement patrol boats for navies, coast guards, customs services, and marine police forces remains steady.
Mine Warfare and AmphibiousWarfare Ships and Craft
The third Australian Huon-class mine hunter, the Norman, was commissioned on 26 July; the fourth, the Gascoyne, was launched on 11 March 2000 for delivery last month; and the fifth of the six ships, the Diamantina, was launched on 2 December. The small catamaran mine hunters Rushcutter and Shoalwater were placed in reserve on 28 July. An unsolicited design for a class of three 22,095-ton, 735-foot combination amphibious warfare helicopter carrier/logistics support ships received considerable publicity in 2000 but probably would be unaffordable; thus replacements for the landing ship Tobruk and the RAN's two replenishment oilers still are being sought for deliveries to start at the end of this decade. The former U.S. Navy Newport (LST-1179)-class tank landing ships purchased in 1994 are expected to operate until around 2015. The first of the Newports to complete a major conversion to a helicopter and troop transport, the Manoora (ex-Fairfax County [LST-1193]) has proved extremely useful since recommissioning last summer, and her sister Kanimbla (ex-Saginaw [LST-1188]) began running postconversion trials early in 2001. The spectacular-looking, 500-passenger fast ferry Jervis Bay also has been very helpful for evacuation duties and for transporting troops over short distances, and it is likely that her lease will be renewed this May. The 43-knot catamaran's design has spawned considerable interest in the U.S. Navy, and larger, militarized versions of the design have been prepared by her builders.
The Belgian government canceled the construction contract for four seagoing mine countermeasures vessels on 12 May 2000 but plans to go ahead with modernization of six of the navy's seven Tripartite-class mine hunters. The new fleet acquisition plan calls for construction of a 19,200-ton Command/Logistic Support/Transport (CLST-A) to be completed by the end of 2005 to carry Belgian and Luxembourgian Army troops and their equipment. The French Mistral class and a variant of the Dutch Rotterdam design are under consideration, and the ship is to be able to carry two CH-46 and five NH-90 troop helicopters as well as two landing craft air cushion (LCACs) or landing craft medium (LCMs) in a stern docking well. Also planned is a 12,000-ton mine countermeasures support ship to replace the Godetia and the mothballed Zinnia around 2012.
China continues to display no interest in acquiring new mine countermeasures ships to replace the 1940s-designed Russian T-43 class now in use, but a modest construction program to complete four additional 3,430-ton Yuting-class tank landing ships brought the total of such vessels in service to seven, with three to follow shortly. The Yutings replace World War II-built ex-U.S. Navy tank landing ships, all of which have been retired.
What originally were to have been two additional Foudre-class LPDs for the French Navy now are to be much larger, 21,000-ton, 689-foot helicopter carriers with the capability to transport 450-900 troops and to support 20 Cougar or NH-90 troop helicopters at 20 knots. The ships will have a docking well large enough to accommodate two LCACs or one of the French Navy's large CDIC-series utility landing craft; the Mistral and Tonnerre are to be delivered in 2005 and 2006.
The last of Germany's 1950s-era Lindau-series mine countermeasures ships were retired during 2000. Six of the Type 351 drone-control conversion variants have been sold to South Africa and departed German waters on board a cargo barge on 15 January 2001. Two were to be cannibalized for spares, but all six may be commissioned for use as patrol craft, since the German Navy did not wish to sell any of its Troika-class mine countermeasures drones, and the Type 351s have no onboard mine disposal equipment. A second Type 331 mine-hunter version of the Lindau design, the Marburg was transferred to Lithuania as the Kursis in November, and Estonia recommissioned the former Cuxhaven and Lindau as the Wambola and Sulev, respectively, on 2 September. Latvia also had a Type 331B transferred in 1999. Meanwhile, although behind the original schedule, conversions continue on the ten amagnetic steel-hulled, decade-old Type 343 minesweepers, half to Type 352 drone mine countermeasures boat controllers and the others to Type 333 mine hunters. The German Navy announced in November that it plans to acquire two large dock landing ships, possibly of the Netherlands Rotterdam design or a larger variation of it.
As part of the contract that resulted in Vosper Thornycroft winning the competition for Greece's new guided-missile combatant program, two surplus Royal Navy Hunt-class mine hunters were offered free of charge; the Bicester became the Evropi on 31 July 2000, and the Berkeley became the Kallisto on retirement at the end of February 2001. The Greek Navy retired the World War II-vintage dock landing ship Nafkratoussa (ex-Fort Mandan [LSD-21]) on 29 February 2000, but the fifth 4,916-ton-class tank landing ship, the Rodos, was commissioned in May. Greece ordered two Russian-designed, 550-ton Pomornik-class (Project 12322) surface-effect vehicle and personnel landing craft on 24 January 2000, and the first of these, a surplus Russian Baltic Fleet unit renamed the Kerkyra, arrived at Piraeus on 16 January 2001. A sister originally begun for the Russian Navy to be renamed the Kefallinia will be delivered this July, and two more to be provided by the Ukraine, the Zakynthos and the Ithaki, are to be delivered by this month. An additional four of the craft, which this time probably would have to be new rather than surplus Russian and Ukrainian Navy units, were ordered on 24 January 2001 for use as transports in the new Greek Navy "Rapid Reaction Force." The Pomorniks are the first Russian-designed ships in Greek Navy service and can transport 360 troops (or 140 troops and 130 tons of vehicle cargo) at 55 knots for up to 300 nautical miles, but in Russian service the design has proved expensive to operate and difficult to maintain.
The Indian Navy, which is acquiring large numbers of new combatants, hopes to obtain a new dock landing ship but has not yet completed a planned third tank landing ship, nor is there any sign of a contract for a long-held plan to purchase ten new mine countermeasures ships to replace its dozen obsolescent Russian-built Natya-class minesweepers. Indonesia lost an ancient Russian T-43-class minesweeper, the Pulao Ratowo, when it collided with a merchant ship on 17 May. The Italian Navy is planning to buy three to four seagoing mine countermeasures ships starting around 2008, with a surface-effect ship design offered by Intermarine currently being favored. No new amphibious warfare ships (other than the capabilities inherent in the NUM) are being considered at the moment for the Italian Navy, but modifications to improve the capabilities of the dock landing ships San Giorgio and San Marco are under way.
The second Japan Maritime Defense Force (JMSDF) Osumi-class dock landing ship was to launch during November 2000, and the third was laid down by Mitsui on 7 September. The 13,000-ton, 22-knot ships resemble small aircraft carriers but can accommodate only a single helicopter, and their stern wells can each hold two LCACs. The inability of the Osumis to be beached, however, and the nature of the terrain of Japan's volcano- and typhoon-threatened offshore islands resulted in an unexpected announcement in December that the JMSDF will acquire three 2,000-ton tank landing ships to perform the rescue and humanitarian services duties originally intended for the larger ships. The 3,200-ton tank landing ship Miura was retired on 4 April, leaving only three small LSTs capable of such services. The third Sugashima-class mine countermeasures ship, the Tsunoshima was commissioned on 13 March, the fourth and fifth units are to be commissioned this spring, and another seven are fitting out or programmed to keep the JSMDF's seagoing mine countermeasures force strength to 33 ships, including two large mine layers delivered at the end of the 1990s. Across the Sea of Japan, the Republic of Korea Navy mine hunter Yang Yang was operational at the beginning of 2000, and seven more of the 730-ton ships were on order.
The Royal Netherlands Navy now is to order a second "Amphibious Transport Ship" in April 2002 to complement the highly successful Rotterdam. The new vessel, to be delivered by 2007, is to be a larger version of the Rotterdam, with a meter of beam added so that the docking well can accommodate British landing craft utility Mk 10 landing craft, and an extra 18 meters of length added to provide space for a major medical facility as well as quarters and working spaces for a flag command staff of 400 plus a crew of 146. In addition to the command staff, the "ATS-2" is intended to transport logistic and combat elements of a Royal Netherlands Marine battalion, whereas the existing Rotterdam will carry the actual combat troops when both ships are available. In addition to the recent British order for four modified Rotterdams and the possibility of the sale of others to Belgium and Germany, negotiations to build one of the 12,500-ton ships for Portugal were under way at the end of 2000.
The second of two Russian Navy Gorya-class mine hunters, the Vladimir Gumanenko, although delivered on 9 January 1994, at last transited from the Baltic to her Northern Fleet base in November 2000. A long-delayed Natya-class mine-sweeper, the Valintin Pikul', was launched on 31 May, and a final sister, the Vitse-Admiral Zakhar'in, is to be completed when and if funds are made available.
The first two of four 8,500-ton tank landing ships, the Endurance and the Resolution, were commissioned together on 31 May, and shortly thereafter, the Endurance departed on the Singapore Navy's first world cruise. Sisters Persistence and Endeavour are to be commissioned shortly, and the quartet will greatly expand Singapore's capability to move troops and military equipment, with each of the 15-knot vessels capable of accommodating 350 troops and 1,080 tons of tanks, other vehicles, and supplies.
The Spanish Navy's second Rotterdam-class dock landing ship, the Castilla, is scheduled to be delivered this June to complete replacement of the old Paul Revere (LPA-248)-class troop transports acquired from the United States 20 years ago. The 1,620-ton Descubierta-class frigate Diana completed conversion as a mine countermeasures support ship late in 2000, with all armament save the 76-mm OTOBreda gun removed and provision to carry four mine countermeasures workshop vans added. The second pair of 550-ton Segura-class mine hunters is due for delivery this year.
In December 2000, Sri Lanka ordered two landing ships from China, probably additional units of the 799-ton Yuhai class, of which Sri Lanka already operates two. The former U.S. Navy dock landing ship Pensacola (LSD-38), renamed the Shui Hai, arrived in Taiwan on 2 June 2000; the Republic of China Navy desires a second ship of the class to replace its remaining World War II-built LSD, but it has turned down the offered Fort Fisher (LSD-40) on grounds of poor condition. The second of two mine hunters built in Italy for the Royal Thai Navy, the 697-ton Tha Din Daeng, entered service near the beginning of the year.
The Turkish Navy retired the 20-year-old mine layer/landing ship Çakabey, and at least one of the two newer Sarucabey-class mine layer/landing ships during 2000, along with several more of its dwindling number of large utility landing craft. No new amphibious warfare ship or craft programs have been announced. Of the six 715-ton modified versions of the German Type 332 mine-hunter class ordered on 30 July 1999, the first is to be laid down in Germany this year, and the last is to be delivered during 2007. A contract to equip the ships with the Alenia-Marconi Nautis-III command data system was signed late in 2000.
The 9th Sandown-class coastal mine hunter for Britain's Royal Navy, the Bangor, was commissioned on 26 July; the 10th, the Ramsey, was delivered on the same date; the 7th, the Pembroke, was belatedly commissioned on 6 July; and the 11th, the Blyth, was launched on 4 July. The final unit, the Shoreham, was to be launched last month, and the 3rd ship of the class, the Cromer, is to be retired this year after only nine years' service. Mention also has been made of the transfer of the late-1980s-completed Hunt-class seagoing mine hunters Berkeley and Bicester to Greece. This would leave 11 of the 725-ton ships in service, with 3 of those assigned more-or-less permanently to fisheries protection patrol duties and the others destined to receive a "Hunt Minimum Update" starting in 2003 to substitute a new Type 2193 wideband mine-hunting sonar to detect mines in water depths of up to 250 feet and provide updates to the ships' towed influence sweep arrays. The update is to add only five to ten years to the ships' service lives, however.
The much delayed new dock landing ships Albion and Bulwark are at last under construction, which is a good thing, as the surviving operational unit of the previous LSD class, the 36 year-old Fearless, suffered a major fire on 2 November while on deployment. The 16,981-ton Albion is to be launched next month and delivered a year later. The Largs Bay and Lyme Bay, two of a new class of dock landing ships based on the Dutch Rotterdam design, were ordered during December 2000 from Swan Hunter, and two more were to be ordered early in 2001 from BAE SYSTEMS' Govan yard in Scotland. The 16,160-ton, quartet are to begin entering service in 2005 to replace the aged Sir Bedivere-class vehicle landing ships and are to be able to accommodate 350 troops, along with their equipment. Only a single 240-ton LCU Mk 10 landing craft will be accommodated in the stern docking well, however, and there will be no smaller, davit-handled landing craft. All four of the Largs Bay-class ships will be operated by civil service Royal Fleet Auxiliary crews and will have only token armament. Production of the LCU Mk 10 landing craft destined for the Albion and Largs Bay classes, meanwhile, has been slowed as a result of the closing of BAE SYSTEMS' Ailsa Troon shipyard and the transfer of the program to Govan. In addition to the gray-hull amphibious ship programs now under way in the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Defence during October contracted for a $1.8-billion, 25-year build-and-charter arrangement to acquire the services of six new commercial Ro/Ro 2700-class vehicle carriers, two to be built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast and four by Flensburger Schiffsbau Gesellschaft in Germany. However, this deal may have collapsed. The 20,000-ton ships will have contract crews of 18, a speed of 22 knots, and 2,700-lane-meters of vehicle space to be able to accommodate 130 armored vehicles and 60 tanks each. In noncrisis times, the sextet is intended to be operated by their owner, AWSR Shipping, in commercial service.
In addition to the unusually numerous new programs, there were equally large numbers of new naval auxiliary ship and craft developments during 2000. Lack of space also precludes mention of the many new developments worldwide in the various coast guards, maritime border guards, customs service, and marine police forcesnot to mention the many new orders for maritime aircraft. All of these combine to warm the heart of a maritime reference book compiler and, at the same time, to provide a bit of hope to the world's beleaguered warship construction yards and the suppliers of naval equipment and armaments.
Mr. Baker is a columnist for Proceedings and Naval History and editor of the Naval Institute's Guide to Combat Fleets of the World.
© 1995-2001 SUBSIM Review.