German Navy auxiliary FGS Frankfurt am Main, just spotted entering Portsmouth Harbour.
Tag Archives: warship
HMS Cumberland paid a rare visit to Portsmouth earlier this week. The Batch 3 Type 22 Frigate is normally based at Plymouth.
The Batch 3 ships of the Class were much modified from their earlier counterparts. While HMS Broadsword and HMS Brilliant performed well in the Falklands War, a number of lessons were learnt. It was found that all ships needed a main 4.5 inch gun for shore bombardments, and the Exocet missiles were replaced with more advanced Harpoons. The two Sea Wolf launchers were retained, and each ship also carries a Goalkeeper close in weapon system.
I’ve just started watching this documentary on Channel 4 on demmand. Heres the programme blurb:
HMS Daring is the Royal Navy’s most costly and complex warship to date. With old and outmoded ships standing guard over our shores, the navy is building defence for the 21st century: a revolutionary new ship with cutting-edge technology that has never been to sea. Costing £1 billion, Daring is the first new destroyer built in Britain since 1985 and is to be followed by five more. Irrespective of whether this fleet of Type 45 destroyers is a hangover from a dated Cold War mentality or is more relevant than anyone dare contemplate, these impressive warships represent a quantum leap forward in naval technology. Channel 4 is given special access to HMS Daring, filming the entire process from construction in 2004 through to testing and using the new weapons systems at sea. The shipbuilders construct a warship the modern way, with new skills alongside traditional jobs, in three different locations around the country. Interviews with naval experts and officers, engineers, ship workers and the captains convey a real sense of the scale of the build and significance of Daring for the navy. Its stealth shape is dominated by its high-tech radar, mounted 36 metres above the sea to act as the eyes and ears of a guided missile system. The ship also boasts modern facilities for crew, such as email access, iPod docks and comfortable living quarters, including for mixed genders. This programme captures Daring’s dramatic launch: a Royal occasion for the people of Glasgow, to echo the historic launch days of old on the Clyde. The film also illustrates how the revolutionary British-built radar operates, and follows as Daring’s crew of men and women test their new ship to the limit and the captain leads his crew into action stations in a war game.
Phew, we got there in the end! Right, is it any good? Well, as the blurb suggests, it is a bit of a PR film. Every warship ever launched is always described as ‘the most advanced ever’ – its hardly an objective statement. Its more than a little rose-tinted – of course every ship designed is cutting edge when its launched, but then becomes obsolete almost as soon as it enters service.
And the film is a bit sheepish about describing the problems with the Sea Viper missile – there are clips of the missile being fired from a test barge, but it is not explained that neither HMS Daring nor her sister ship Dauntless have actually fired the missiles themselves.
It is, none the less, a very insightful look at the build process of a modern warship, with some nice footage of the ship being constructed, and some good interviews with naval and shipbuilding personalities.
The USS Mount Whitney is a Blue Ridge Class Command ship of the US Navy. She came into Portsmouth earlier today.
The Mount Whitney previously served as the Headquarters ship of the US Fleet in the Mediterranean. She is currently the Flagship of the US Sixth Fleet and Joint Command Lisbon, a NATO Command. The Mount Whitney has served in various trouble spots around the world, including Haithi in 1994 an Iraq in 2003.
She weighs in at 18,400 tons fully loaded. She has a crew of 170 officers and men and 155 civilians, and also has capacity for 930 men. She is armed with two Phalanx Close in weapons systems for self-defence, as well as two 25mm cannons. She operates one helicopter, currently a SH-60 Knight Hawk.
I managed to catch a rare sight today when HMS Bulwark came into Portsmouth Dockyard. Conveniently when I was able to dash out of work in my lunch hour! Known as Landing Platform Docks, Bulwark and her sister ship HMS Albion are replacements for the HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid.
Their primary role is to embark, transport and deploy troops, their vehicles and equipment. To do this she carries 8 Landing Craft – with a resident Squadron of Royal Marines to operate them – which can be loaded through the dock at the stern of the ship or off of a side door and ramp. They can operate Helicopters up to the size of the Chinook, although there are no Hangar facilities onboard.
Albion and Bulwark, as well as carrying troops, can act as the Flagship for an Amphibious Task Group, containing the Helicopter Carrier HMS Ocean and several ships from the Bay Class of Auxilliary Landing Ships. They can carry 305 troops for long periods, and 710 in an emergency. The whole ship has been specifically designed around the needs of the embarked military force.
Weighing 18,500 tons, they are a significant improvement on Fearless and Intrepid. Although their top speed, 18 knots, is pretty low.
Albion was commissioned in 2003, and Bulwark in 2004. Both are based in Plymouth, along with HMS Ocean. This probably makes sense as the Commando Brigade is based in the West Country. Therefore it is not very often that one of these ships comes into Portsmouth.
Earlier this year HMS Bulwark headed a UK task group taking part in Amphibious exercises and ‘flying the flag’ operations in the Far East. She’s looking pretty rusty – her predecessor used to be nicknamed ‘Rusty B’ so obviously she is living up to the nickname!
The introduction of Albion, Bulwark and Ocean represents a commitment to the UK’s amphibious capability. For years up until the Falklands war the Navy was not quite sure what to do with the Royal Marines, and preferred to spend time and money on aircraft carriers and submarines. The Falklands War changed all that, and along with 16 Air Assault Brigade the amphibious ships and the Commando Brigade comprise the UK’s readily deployable forces, ready and able to deploy into any enviroment from the Arctic to the Tropics.
It is difficult to envisage what kind of environment such a force would be used in – although securing a destabilised country, such as Sierra Leonne, could be one. The Falklands showed that amphibious operations are extremely vulnerable to air attack, and as the Royal Navy is getting shorter and shorter of Destroyers and Frigates armed with anti-aircraft missiles to act as escorts it might be difficult to deploy our amphibious forces against anything more than medium opposition.
But in an unpredictable world a capable Amphibious Task Force is a sound insurance policy.