Tag Archives: Ship

Kiel Week 2011

Kieler Hafen

Image via Wikipedia

I know I’ve written on this subject before, but take a look at the line-up for Germany’s Kiel Week this year.

Kiel week is the equivalent of Cowes and Navy Days combined, and funnily enough was established by the Kaiser in an attempt to instil an English-style affinity with the sea into German society. But looking at the line up, it has far exceeded the scale of Navy Days in the UK. The last few have been pretty woeful, even for British vessels. At the last Navy Days in Portsmouth we had two Destroyers and two Frigates, and no Foreign visitors at all. You have to wonder whether we bothered to make an effort, or we had offended too many navies? But whatever the reson, the woeful inactivity of the Royal Navy PR Department is pretty embarassing, especially in a country with acute sea-blindness.

German Navy

Schleswig-Holstein (Brandenburg class Frigate)

Ammersee (Coastal Tanker)

Spessart (Replenishment Tanker)

Spiekeroog (Ocean-going Tug)

Fehmarn (Ocean-going Tug)

Lutje Horn (Harbour Tug)

Russian Navy

Minsk (Landing Ship)

Dutch Navy

Zuiderkruis (Replenishment Ship)

De Ruyter (De Zeven Provincien class Frigate)

French Navy

Commandant L’Herminier (D’Estienne d’Ovres class Patrol vessel)

Irish Navy

Eithne (Fishery Patrol Vessel)

Estonian Navy

ENS Ugandi (Sandown Class Minesweeper, formerly HMS Bridport)

Lithuanian Navy

Suduvis (Lindau Class Minesweeper)

Jotvingis (Vidar Class Minelayer)

Polish Navy

Naklo (Gardno Class Minesweeper)

Druzno (“)

Gardno (“)

Kondor (Kobben class Submarine)

Danish Navy

Absalon (Absalon Class Frigate)

Havkatten (Flyvefisken Class Patrol Vessel)

Svanen (Sail training ship)

Thyra (Sail training ship)

Kureren (Patrol boat)

Budstikken (“)

Speditoren(“)

Royal Navy

Express (P200 Class Patrol boat)

Puncher (“)

US Navy

Mount Whitney (Command Ship)

Phillipine Sea (Ticonderoga Class Cruiser)

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HMS Cumberland waiting off Libyan Coast

from http://www.dtic.mil/jointvision/graphics/...

HMS Cumberland (Image via Wikipedia)

According to news reports the Royal Navy Frigate HMS Cumberland has been ordered to halt her voyage home from the Gulf in order to standby off Libya. Regular readers will recall that Cumberland and her Type 22 sister ships are to be decommissioned later this year. A reminder, if any is needed, that British interests and the safety of British national is being imperilled by defence cuts.

I’m not entirely sure what use a Frigate would be for evacuating the 500-odd British nationals living in Libya. Unlike an aircraft carrier or an assault ship, a Frigate does not have large hangars or vehicle decks in which to accomodate people. And a ship the size of the Type 22 has a crew of around only 200 in the first place – how would such a ship cope with a few more hundreds mouths to feed, one wonders? And Libya is a lot further from the UK than the north Spanish coast was during the Volcanic Ash Cloud rescue effort last year, meaning a longer sea journey.

This is yet another hollow commitment from the Government. In order to be seen to be doing something, regardless of whethers its worthwhile or not, a soon-to-be-decommissioned Frigate is sent to await a task for which it is wholly unsuited. And its another indication of how short-sighted our defence planning is – politicians want warships off the balance sheet, but when the proverbial hits the fan they are only too happy to commit them to action.

I’m reminded of the Israeli-Lebanon conflict several years ago. The then Foreign Secretary eagerly promised a British Frigate to patrol off the coast for illegal arms shipments. Apparently it was quietly pointed out that no Frigates were available, and that if the Foreign Secretary wanted one, then he had better make one magically appear from nowhere.

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Filed under defence, Navy, News, politics

Ark Royal open day report

Ark Royal on Victory Jetty

Today’s Portsmouth News reports that over 11,000 people visited HMS Ark Royal over the weekend, taking a lost opportunity to visit the ship before she is decomissioned. I went with my Girlfriend and Dad. We had planned to visit some of the Historic Dockyard afterwards, but in the event only had time to go round the Mary Rose Museum – after a restorative Hot Chocolate of course!

The queue snaked all the way back from Victory Jetty right back through the Historic Dockyard, and at times almost reached the Gosport Ferry at the Hard. If anyone doesn’t know Portsmouth, that is a very long way. All in all we had to queue for over an hour just to get on, then queue round the ship just to get off again.

The famous ski-jump

There wasn’t even much to look at or see. A Merlin and a Gazelle on deck (what exactly a Gazelle has got to do with Ark lord only knows), and in the hangar we had the ubiquitous displays of firefighting equipment and suchlike, like on every ship at every Navy Days ever. It’s extremely boring standing round on a ship for hours on end, even more so in January.

The end of a famous ship deserved so much better. I guess the Ark is a victim of her own popularity, it wouldn’t have been so bad if 1) it had been in the summer, and 2) it had hadn’t been so crowded. If the RN had got its planning right it would have ensured that Ark Royal was at Navy Days in Portsmouth last year, ensuring a welcome publicity coup and a much more fitting chance to say goodbye.

Hopefully with her being decomissioned soon at least the Ark Royal brownie points bandwagon will cease. In more than one place I’ve seen an article about the Ark, accompanied by a picture of the OLD Ark Royal. Have people been getting a piece of the Ark circus while they can?  We’ll see when Illustrious retires from service in 2014 (or earlier if Dave and Boy George decide) and what kind of a send-off she gets. Invincible, a Falklands veteran, left service in 2005 with barely a whimper.

Hells Bells? :P

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Filed under Dockyard, Navy, out and about, Uncategorized