The expansion of the US Navy’s amphibious capability continues with the announcement that General Dynamics NASSCO has received a $1.6 billion contract for the construction of the sixth and seventh ships in the Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) program. The contract also has an option on an eighth vessel of the class. Construction of the two new ships is expected to commence in the spring of 2020 with completion scheduled for Autumn 2023.
The US Coast Guard, in August, accepted two new cutters Kimball and Midgett into service at a joint ceremony conducted at US Coast Guard base in Honolulu. Both ships are Heritage class cutters and even before she entered service, Midgett intercepted drug smugglers in the Eastern Pacifi c on 25 July and again on 31 July seizing 6,700 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of over $89 million.
The name chosen for the fourteenth US Navy expeditionary fast transport (EPF) will be USS Cody, the fi rst time that this name has been used in the history of the US fl eet. It will honour the city of Cody in Wyoming. Construction of the new vessel will start in 2020 at the shipyard of Austal in Mobile, Alabama.
The US Navy’s oldest operational submarine USS Olympia arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 September at the end of her 35 year long career with the fl eet. Her fi nal sevenmonth deployment saw her operating all around the globe including visits to Souda Bay and Gibraltar. She will make one last voyage to Bremerton where she will be prepared for inactivation.
THE ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT has set itself the target of upgrading its military forces. For the Navy, this means that the two former British Type 22 frigates Regina Maria and Regele Ferdinand will receive extensive refi ts as well as ordering the construction of four Gowind class corvettes in a deal worth $1.3 billion US Dollars. The work will be shared between France’s Naval Group and Romanian partner, shipbuilder Santierul Naval Constanta.
ON 30 AUGUST, crowds lined the Portsmouth Old Town to witness the departure of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth en route to the United States east coast for further trials as part of Westlant 19. As part of these trials, the ship will embark the fi rst British F-35B Lightning aircraft. The F-35B aircraft and pilots were drawn from No 17(R) Test and Evaluation Squadron as well as from the RAF squadrons No 207 and No 617 the Dambusters. For the fi ve-week deployment, the aircraft carrier was escorted by the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon and the Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland with support from RFA Tideforce.
The latest Batch II River class offshore patrol vessel HMS Medway was commissioned in a service held in the former Royal Navy Dockyard at Chatham on the River Medway on Thursday 19 September. The ship had previously taken part in the bi-annual defence exhibition DSEI at London’s Excel centre. As part of the commissioning week at Chatham, the ship’s company exercised the freedom of Medway by marching through the streets.
DSEI 2019 also saw the public unveiling of the Navy’s new focus on autonomous craft that can operate independently of human control, or at least be supervised by a distant human controller. Given the name NavyX, the program is seen as a joint military/ industry technology accelerator program that will reduce the time taken to design and acquire new technologies for the future fl eet. NavyX has been driven by a number of factors including the increasing speed of technological advance and the changing economic and political environment in the world today. The Royal Navy is trying to face this hybrid threat in which adversaries can exploit non military aspects of life to exert real power such s economic, cyber, political, media and social media.