There are more problems for the US Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier programme.
The USS Gerald R Ford, already the most expensive warship ever built for the United States fleet, has missed yet another delivery deadline. The next generation aircraft carrier was originally scheduled to have joined the fleet in 2014 directly replacing the USS Enterprise, which was taken out of service that year. Problems with integrating the ship’s innovative new technology have meant that the programme has slipped considerably since then. A new delivery deadline of November was also missed and this time the US Navy has declined to suggest a new date until the issues have been fixed with the warship.
The USS Gerald R Ford suffered a series of electrical explosions in June and July in the voltage regulators for the four main turbine generators. Other issues include a $600 million overspend on the advanced arresting gear system. In total, the USS Gerald R Ford will cost American taxpayers a staggering £12.9 billion, making her by far the world’s most expensive warship. When ordered, the price tag was $10.5 billion, a price rise of some 23 percent.
Royal Navy News
The future shape of the Royal Navy frigate force has started to emerge at Portsmouth Dockyard. The Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster completed her refit in early October that will enable her to serve the fleet for at least the next decade. The warship has been out of service for the last eighteen months and her profile has been completely altered. HMS Westminster is the first of the Type 23’s to see the removal of her legacy thirty five year old Seawolf missile vertical launch system ahead of the bridge, and its replacement with the much more advanced and potent Seaceptor system. Sister ships, HMS Argyll and HMS Montrose, are also receiving the upgrade during their refits at Devonport Dockyard. In addition to the new anti aircraft missile system, the frigate has received the new Artisan radar system, which can track more than 800 objects simultaneously in an area stretching from 200 metres from the ship out to 125 miles away.
The opportunity was also taken to install a refurbished Kryten main 4.5inch main gun and new ‘slick’ anti fouling paint to the ships’ hull. The next few months will see HMS Westminster conduct a lengthy series of sea trials with the new systems before she retakes her place in the frontline strength of the Royal Navy sometime in the spring of 2017.
In October, over thirty warships from across the fourteen nations descended upon Faslane in Scotland at the start of the Joint Warrior series of exercises that ran for thirteen days from 8 October. The UK led exercise has become one of the most important exercises in NATO’s calendar, but this year’s exercise had a new aspect. Joint Warrior saw the first large scale, multi environment demonstration of unmanned technology. This new technology promises to transform warfare in the coming years and the world’s leading defence industry contractors were on hand to demonstrate their latest prototypes and proposals at military ranges in Benbecula, Stornoway, Applecross and in the Kyle of Lochalsh.
At a ceremony held on 10 October at the Eckernforde Navy base, the German Navy commissioned into service the sixth Type 212A diesel electric submarine U36. Following sea trials and work up, U36 will be homeported at Eckernforde as part of the 1st Submarine Squadron. Interestingly, U36 and U35 are 1.2 metres longer than the rest of the class and also feature a new reconnaissance mast specially designed for coastal and surveillance work.