Royal Navy News
The Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender has been participating in one of the world’s largest minewarfare exercises in the Persian Gulf.
The International Mine Counter Measures Exercise (IMCMEX) is conducted on a bi-annual basis and involves navies operating in the region in simulating an attack on the two principal ‘choke points’ in the region: The Straits of Babal-Mandeb in the Red Sea and the Strait of Hormuz. The Royal Navy were one of over two dozen navies including the US 5th Fleet who contributed forces to the exercise which lasted for three weeks.
Casual visitors to Browndown Beach in Gosport in mid April were in for a shock when Exercise Griffin Strike sent hundreds of British and French marines screaming towards the beach from the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, the assault ship HMS Bulwark, landing ship RFA Lyme Bay and the French assault ship FS Dixmude. These ships were escorted to their destinations by the Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland.
The minesweepers FGS Siegburg and FGS Pegnitz together with their auxiliary support vessel FGS Main, visited London’s West India Docks from 15-18 April during a break from a fortnight’s squadron exercise in the North Sea together with other units of the German Navy’s 3rd minesweeping squadron.
The first Type 125 frigate FGS Baden-Württemberg, started her builders sea trials on 6 April. The new frigate is a significant step forward technologically for the German Navy as she features new combined diesel electric and gas turbine propulsion systems and the ships can be deployed for up to two years utilising regular crew rotations.
The programme is running around two years later than planned with this ship expected to have been operational in 2014. She will now be handed over to the German Navy in mid 2017. Sister ship Nordrhein-Westfalen will follow her in 2018 and the third vessel Sachsen-Anhalt in 2019 and the final frigate Rheinhland-Pfalz sometime in 2020.
X-Ship is intended to integrate novel and innovative concepts in crewing, sustaining and deploying warships and it is hoped that lessons learned from the trials onboard the frigate will lead to cost savings, better utilisation of scarce assets and improved human factors.
Friday 1 April proved to be a busy day for the US Navy with Austal laying down the keel for the eighth expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Yuma.
The shipyard in Mobile, Alabama was awarded a ten ship contract in 2008 for what was formerly known as the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) programme. The $1.6 billion block buy programme has resulted in a number of cost savings for the US Navy.
Currently Austal is building three vessels having handed over the USNS Brunswick at the end of 2015.
The 1 April also saw the US Navy awarding a contract to Lockheed Martin for another Freedom class Littoral Combat Ship the as yet unnamed LCS 25 under the terms of a 2010 block buy contract.
The next day saw the christening of the latest Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula in Mississippi. This vessel, the 64th member of the class will commission into service in 2017 and will be home ported at Everett Naval Station in Washington.