The latest survey vessel to join the Royal Navy was commissioned into service at her homeport of Devonport on 28 June.
HMS Magpie replaces the venerable HMS Gleaner in service and was welcomed into the fleet by, amongst others, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was a former commanding officer of the previous Magpie between 1950 and 1952.
The new vessel is 18 metres long and of a catamaran design which makes her unique in the fleet. She is also equipped with the latest high resolution shallow water multi beam echo sounder and side scan sonar equipment.
Magpie is also the first ship to be acquired under a unique contract negotiated by Defence Equipment together with Atlas Elektonik UK Ltd.
In a situation that could have been much worse, one of the future ships of the American fleet, the Expeditionary Sea Base USNS Miguel Keith, was partially damaged when the dry dock, in which she is being built partially, collapsed on 11 July.
The dry dock, at the NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, broke when the barrier keeping seawater out partially broke sending torrents of water into the graving dock. The ship floated off the docking blocks and took on water through holes cut in her hull that were to aid her construction. The full extent of the damage was not known.
The pair are the third and fourth ships of the class, all of which have been launched within the space of a year.
Each of the Type 055 destroyers boast 112 vertical launch missile cells which can accommodate HHQ-9 area defence surface to air missiles, YJ-18 long range anti ship cruise missiles, CJ-10 land attack cruise missiles as well as torpedo carrying anti submarine missiles.
In a major success for BAE Systems and a sign of growing confi dence in the Type 26 frigate design, Australia has decided to place an order for nine of the type worth AU$35 billion. The new frigates will be a slightly modified version of the City class ordered by the Royal Navy and are being purchased under Australia’s future frigate programme known as SEA 5000 Phase 1.
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Minister of Defence Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne were all on hand for the announcement made at the ASC shipyard in Osborne. The ships known as the Global Combat Ship – Australia, or GCS-A will become the Hunter class and will progressively replace the Anzac class in service.
The news of the contract was welcomed in Britain by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson who declared it to be the ‘biggest maritime defence deal of the decade’.