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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 04:11 PM


To combat Russian subs, NATO allies are teaming up to develop unmanned systems at sea

By: David B. Larter   1 day ago


The unmanned submarine-hunting surface drone Sea Hunter gets underway on the Williammette River in Portland, Ore. The platform represents an enormous technological leap for unmanned maritime systems. (John Williams/U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. and its NATO allies are teaming up to more closely cooperate on the development and fielding of unmanned maritime systems, according to an agreement signed by the defense heads of 13 NATO allies.

During the July summit, the powers signed onto a plan to jointly pursue technologies aimed at mine and sub hunting, according to an October news release making the agreement public.

“The use of unmanned systems is a potentially game changing leap forward in maritime technology,” the release read. “Working alongside traditional naval assets, these unmanned systems will increase both our situational awareness and our control of the seas.”

The release, while short on details, seems to open up the possibility that development of underwater and surface drones could be even more lucrative for companies involved, as it hints at the alliance seeking common, interoperable systems. That means a proven drone might be competing for business in 13 markets simultaneously instead of just one.

“Through this initiative, Allies will also be able to exploit economies of scale to reduce costs, allowing increasing defence budgets to go even further,” the release said.

The countries involved in the agreement are Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

For NATO watchers, the agreement is the latest sign of just how seriously the alliance is taking the threat from Russian submarines.

“NATO members are alarmed by the growing threat from Russian submarines, and are investing more resources to deal with it,” said Jorge Benitez, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who previously served as the lead on NATO issues for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “Under [President Vladimir] Putin, Russia has deployed new, stealthier submarines in the north Atlantic that are much harder for NATO navies to track.

“This new multinational cooperation in undersea drones is the most recent example that NATO is taking the Russian threat in the north Atlantic much more seriously than it has in the past quarter century.”

Expanding role

The agreement also reflects the ever-expanding role of unmanned systems in the underwater domain, which countries are banking on to offset the ever-quieter and more advanced submarines.

As the U.S. submarine fleet has dipped to 56 attack and guided-missile boats, and the Navy projects that number is slated to further drop to 42 by 2028 and hold below 48 boats through 2032, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report.

The Navy’s 2019 30-year shipbuilding plan shows the number of attack submarines dropping precipitously in the mid-2020s, something CRS has warned about for years as the Los Angeles-class boats begin to retire in numbers.

That shortfall is prompting an all-out push on developing unmanned systems that can perform some functions to free up the big hunters for missions where they are more needed.

When it comes to cooperating in development of drones, monitoring the littorals in and around the Baltic — and in the Greenland, Iceland and the United Kingdom gap — is an area where this kind of cooperation could be helpful, said Bryan Clark, a retired submariner and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The Battle of the Atlantic

The renewed threat from Russian submarines has triggered what the U.S. Navy’s Europe commander, Adm. James Foggo, has dubbed “The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic,” harkening back to the fight with German U-boats in World War I, World War II and the standoff with Russia in the Cold War.

But with the expansion of NATO to former Soviet satellite states, the Battle of the Atlantic will sprawl from the Eastern Seaboard all the way to the Baltic and Black seas, areas that Russia has fortified with anti-access, area denial weapons and other capabilities in recent years.

That battlespace, however, extends not only to the undersea domain but all the way to the ocean floor, which is home to everything from pop-up mines to undersea internet cables that transmit the vast majority of the world’s data.

That means the alliance will need to know more than ever about what’s on the sea floor, a job that simply can’t be done with the declining number of attack submarines needed to shadow nuclear missile subs and conduct high-risk intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions around the globe.

In that arena, experts say that underwater systems — be it drones or stationary systems — will be necessary to monitor crucial chokepoints.

"We don’t have to know everything everywhere,” retired Vice Adm. Michael Connor, former head of American’s submarine forces, told the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee in a 2015 hearing. “But there are places where you would like to have very good knowledge. We have critical things we want to protect, like some of the undersea infrastructure that is so critical to our economy.

“There may be places we decide we want to have some volume of systems and that relatively small area around that infrastructure where you would have sufficient vehicles to obtain perfect knowledge.”

Pawns

Developing and using autonomous underwater unmanned vehicles has proven to be a challenge. The issues are multifarious, but they boil down to three core problems: communications, navigation and endurance.

Communicating underwater is a challenge in the best of circumstances, and surveillance drones aren’t worth much if they can’t tell others what they find. To that end, they must either have a home base to which they can navigate and upload data, or they need to surface and transmit, said Clark, the CSBA analyst.

A second challenge is navigating around obstacles. Fish, which know quite a bit about navigating underwater, have trouble avoiding commercial fishing nets that are common in sea lanes. Likewise, drones have issues finding and avoiding them, and that’s just one example.

Endurance is another challenge. Some of the best underwater drones in the U.S. Navy’s inventory, under ideal usage conditions, last a day underwater, Clark said.

“UUVs can only go a few knots, and that’s of limited duration,” he said.

Underwater drones are showing promise in the areas of mine hunting and mine sweeping, but perhaps even more promising — in terms of becoming an adequate stand-in for an attack boat — are some of the surface drones in development. Clark said programs such as the Sea Hunter, a medium-displacement unmanned surface vessel, could be a huge leap forward for monitoring chokepoints.

Developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, or ACTUV, was designed to track enemy subs while avoiding collisions and abiding by the rules of the road. The first Sea Hunter was christened in 2016, and in January the project transitioned to the Office of Naval Research for further development.

The idea behind Sea Hunter is that one can field a multitude to cover a lot of area at a fraction of the cost of a frigate of destroyer.

“ACTUV represents a new vision of naval surface warfare that trades small numbers of very capable, high-value assets for large numbers of commoditized, simpler platforms that are more capable in the aggregate,” Fred Kennedy, head of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said in a January news release. “The U.S. military has talked about the strategic importance of replacing ‘king’ and ‘queen’ pieces on the maritime chessboard with lots of ‘pawns,’ and ACTUV is a first step toward doing exactly that.”

Other technologies have also shown promise. Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider, which uses ocean current and solar panels to power itself, can stay at sea for months at a time and provide persistent surveillance for anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000 a unit, a company representative told Defense News last year.

The agreement reached by 13 NATO powers is just the latest indication of how countries see unmanned systems impacting the future of warfare.

“It’s an important statement that NATO allies and partners are thinking seriously about these emerging capabilities — and they need to think about them,” said Michael Horowitz, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania whose research has centered on unmanned systems. “It’s a reflection of how they see these systems impacting the maritime domain.”
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[*] posted on 1-11-2018 at 05:54 PM


FTI: A Weapon System of the Future at the Forefront of Technology

(Source: French Armed Forces Ministry; issued Oct 30, 2018)

(Unofficial English translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)


Displacing 4,500 tonnes, France’s future intermediate-size frigates will be comparable in size to the US Nay’s FFG-9-class frigates, and will pack a heavy punch comprising anti-air and anti-ship missiles as well as torpedoes and guns. (French Navy image)

In 2013, the Defense White Paper stipulated that, by 2030, 15 frigates would have to equip the Navy. This directly implies the arrival of a new frigate in the forces, the intermediate size frigate (FTI). The lead ship of this class has now been ordered, and should be delivered before 2023. This ambitious project is the result of the collaboration of the Directorate General of Armament, Naval Group, Thales and MBDA.

The Intermediate Frigate (FTI) will be stealthy with a smaller and lighter size than other frigates. It will still be 120 meters long and will displace 4,500 tonnes. The FTI will have a permanent crew of 120 people and be able to accommodate up to 150 passengers. Among them, she will probably embark commandos because the FTI has the capability to operate two ECUME Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB).

The vessel was also designed to operate an NH-90 NFH helicopter and well as a drone. According to Chief Engineer Grégory, who has worked extensively on this program, the Marine Aerial UAV System (SDAM) is a serious candidate, but may not be the only one.

An armed frigate to intervene on all fronts

According to the Armed Force Minister’s description, this vessel is "a jewel of technology." This frigate of the future is, in any case, an example of operational versatility because it will intervene against all kinds of threats, whether they are air, surface or underwater.

The great innovation of this of the FTI is in the equipment it aligns for the air defense mission. This will be the first French frigate to be equipped with a single mast in the middle of the hull, which will carry a SEA FIRE digital multi-function radar with fixed panels (other vessels are equipped with two masts with rotating radars). This new technology will provide the radar, and the other embarked sensors, with an unobstructed, 360° field of view.

To complete her anti-aircraft equipment, the FTI frigate will carry 16 Aster air-intersept missiles is vertical launchers on the forward beck. The peculiarity is that the SEA FIRE radar will combine the detection of the threat with the real-time update of the trajectory of the missiles after launch.

To engage surface threats, the FTI will be armed with 8 Exocet MM40 Block 3C missiles and 76mm guns. A small novelty compared to its bigger sisters is that the FTI frigate will be equipped with so-called "non-lethal" weapons. This is a new passive electronic warfare solution that, using light or sound stimuli, can deter attackers.

Finally, underwater operations will be conducted using two high-tech sonars: the CAPTAS-4-COMPACT towed sonar and KINGKLIP Mk2 hull-mounted sonar. They will detect the threat and unleash anti-torpedo decoys to deflect enemy attacks.

The frigate will also be able to respond to submarine assaults with MU90 torpedoes.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 1-11-2018 at 06:05 PM


This is one of the more interesting naval projects being developed in the West; a frigate that is an 'actual' frigate!



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[*] posted on 1-11-2018 at 06:52 PM


I have two concerns with this design:

1) The tumble-home bow - I like the "stealth" aspect BUT have serious concerns about how wave effective it is, i.e. that is going to be a very wet area in bad weather conditions, far more so than a traditional bow.

2) The missile load-out is too small, and needs to be double the amount stated. 16 x missiles are a self-defence load-out, not an Escort Vessel load-out.
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[*] posted on 1-11-2018 at 08:52 PM


Quote: Originally posted by bug2  
I have two concerns with this design:

1) The tumble-home bow - I like the "stealth" aspect BUT have serious concerns about how wave effective it is, i.e. that is going to be a very wet area in bad weather conditions, far more so than a traditional bow.

2) The missile load-out is too small, and needs to be double the amount stated. 16 x missiles are a self-defence load-out, not an Escort Vessel load-out.


It is also missing any apparent form of ‘inner layer’ air defence capability, ie: a CIWS or secondary SAM capability. In saying that, MBDA seems to be doing some work on a quad-packed Aster 15 capability, so perhaps this is what the French have in mind? Perhaps it’s a translation issue (to be kind...) and/or the writer is unaware that if appropriately engineered, 16 VLS cells can carry more than 16 weapons?

If not, with a 76mm gun and only 16 SAM’s it’s actually pretty light on, combat capability wise...




In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 1-11-2018 at 09:34 PM


Agree on the CIWS, although Crotale NG (VT1) missiles can be quad-packed in one cell, ASTER missiles cannot (too large).........it also depends on which SYLVER launch tube you have:


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[*] posted on 5-11-2018 at 09:12 PM


‘Trident Juncture’ enters tactical phase

Gerrard Cowan, Belfast - Jane's Navy International

05 November 2018


SNMG2 ships TCG Orucreis a Turkish Navy Barbaros-class frigate, left, and flagship HNLMS De Ruyter (a Dutch De Zeven Provincien-class frigate) are pictured berthed in Trondheim harbour prior to their participation in the NATO exercise 'Trident Juncture 2018'. Source: NATO

NATO's 'Trident Juncture' has entered its tactical phase, with naval elements forming a key focus of the alliance's largest exercise since the Cold War.

'Trident Juncture' is being held in Norway, covering the land, sea, and air domains, and involving more than 50,000 personnel from 31 NATO states and partner nations. It was launched in October and will continue until late November.

The exercise is "almost unprecedented" in scope, from both a joint and a purely naval perspective, said Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean of the French Navy, deputy commander of Allied Maritime Command, which is based in Northwood, UK. There are around 16 nations taking part in the exercise on the naval side, with equipment including 65 vessels (including submarines), and eight maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).

As of late October, 'Trident Juncture' had entered the live exercise phase, Vice Adm Bléjean told Jane's , having just completed force integration training to ensure that ships were prepared to integrate and participate in the exercise on various levels, from anti-submarine warfare to amphibious warfare. The live exercise will see the maritime forces divided into two elements, he said, with the naval assets and personnel equally split between both, meaning each will contain roughly 5,000 sailors and 30 vessels.

Rear Admiral Guy Robinson of the UK Royal Navy - who is deputy commander of NATO Striking and Support Forces (STRIKFORNATO) - will take command of Maritime Component North, while Vice Adm Bléjean will lead Maritime Component South.

The live phase will feature various scenarios that will sometimes pit the two components against one another, Vice Adm Bléjean said, testing "how they interact and how they detect one another, and how they conduct maritime interdiction operations", among other goals. The southern component will aim to protect sea lanes of communication, he explained, and will also focus on delivering amphibious assault capabilities to support the land elements of the exercise.

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[*] posted on 6-11-2018 at 07:55 PM


Norway's a long way from home for a Turkish ship. Interesting that they've posted an obviously armed guard on the bow.



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[*] posted on 6-11-2018 at 07:57 PM


SOP for the Turks (and others) the USN has armed guards even when berthed n an Australian Port.
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[*] posted on 8-11-2018 at 10:39 PM


Looks like Norway is about to lose one of its frigates...

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/24776/badly-damaged-nor...




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[*] posted on 8-11-2018 at 10:46 PM


Yeah saw various pics and a clip on FB...........
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[*] posted on 8-11-2018 at 11:19 PM


They apparently ran it aground to stop it from sinking, so it should be salvageable.



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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 09:32 AM


Tanker collides with Norwegian frigate

Nicholas Fiorenza, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

08 November 2018

The Norwegian frigate KNM Helge Ingstad has been seriously damaged in a collision with the Maltese-registered tanker Sola TS close to Bergen, Norway, on 8 November, the Norwegian Joint Headquarters (NJHQ) has confirmed.


The Norwegian frigate KNM Helge Ingstad takes on water after a collision with the Maltese-flagged tanker Sola TS on 8 November 2018 in the Hjeltefjord near Bergen, Norway. (Marit Hommedal/AFP/Getty Images)

The collision occurred at 0426 h local time in the Hjeltefjord, north of Sotra, the NJHQ said in a statement on 8 November.

Helge Ingstad took on water and all 137 personnel were evacuated, according to the statement, which added that eight suffered minor injuries.

The frigate was part of NATO's Standing Naval Maritime Group 1 (SNMG 1), which participated in the live portion of Exercise 'Trident Juncture 2018', which ended on 7 November.

The Norwegian Armed Forces are leading the recovery operation in close co-operation with the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

The incident was reported to the Accident Investigation Board (AIBN), which said on its website that it would conduct an investigation in collaboration with the Defence Accident Investigation Board Norway (DAIBN). The Marine Safety Investigation Unit (MSIU) of Malta will also participate in the investigation, the AIBN added.

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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 09:49 AM


Here's a series of pics from Max's Philippines Defense page on FB...............

https://www.facebook.com/MaxDefense/photos/pcb.8432148025158...
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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 11:01 AM


Completion of the Mid-Life Refit of the Aircraft Carrier: the Armed Forces Minister on the Charles de Gaulle

(Source: French Armed Forces Ministry; issued Nov 07, 2018)

(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)


Charles de Gaulle, France’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, leaves the drydock after an 18-month refit that will keep her in service until 2038. She is now engaged in sea trials, and will be ready for her next deployment in early 2018. (FR Navy photo)

Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly will today visit the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle on the occasion of the official completion of the ship’s mid-life refit, carried out under the management of the Directorate General Armament (DGA) and the Fleet Support Service (SSF). The aircraft carrier is now again available for Navy operations.

From the first quarter of 2019, she will be able to leave on an operational mission with her entire air group. Florence Parly, who will spend the night aboard, will also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Nuclear Naval Aviation, which implements the airborne component of the Navy’s nuclear deterrence.

After 15 years of operational life, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has undergone an in-depth refit and modernization to maintain her operational performance until her withdrawal from active service around 2038.

This renovation was necessary to enable the Charles de Gaulle to continue to carry out with the same effectiveness her missions in favor of our country’s sovereignty and security. A major strategic tool, the Charles de Gaulle is decisive for France's operational commitments, particularly against terrorism, and to ensure freedom of navigation

Carried out at Toulon and lasting 18 months under Naval Group’s project management, with the assistance of the Charles de Gaulle's crew, the refit and modernization work on the aircraft carrier involved three major areas:

-- The combat system with, in particular, the installation of a new 3-dimensional, longer-range surveillance radar and more accurate navigation radars, the digitization of its networks, the complete overhaul of the Operations Center, and the renovation of telecommunications systems;

-- Aircraft maintenance facilities are now optimized for the Marine Rafale, the only on-board fighter after the withdrawal of service from the modernized Super-Etendard;

-- The platform with, in particular, the modernization of the ship's automation systems, the renovation of the dynamic ship stabilization system, the replacement of two units of the ship’s refrigeration system and the complete refurbishment of one of the two galleys.

This mid-life redesign was also used for heavy maintenance operations of major facilities, such as the two nuclear boilers, including the replacement of their fuel; maintenance of the electrical plant, catapults, power lines. shaft, and stabilizer fins.

This extremely complex project mobilized an average of more than 2,000 people on board every day, half of whom came from the Ministry of the Armed Forces.

After a trial phase alongside and at sea, the Charles de Gaulle and her crew will now begin a training cycle under the authority of the admiral commanding the Naval Task Force (ALFAN) and Admiral Commander Naval Aviation (ALAVIA). The revival of the ship will lead to operational missions again from the first quarter of 2019.

To prepare for the future, an 18-month study phase for the aircraft carrier renewal program was announced on 23 October by Florence Parly at the Euronaval show.

(ends)

The Mid-Life Refit of the Charles De Gaulle Aircraft Carrier, A Real Industrial Challenge, Has Been Completed

(Source: Naval Group; issued Nov. 08, 2018)

The sole prime contractor for the entire mid-life refit of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, Naval Group has returned the vessel to the French Navy. The vessel will now start ramping up its systems before returning to its operational cycle.

One sole prime contractor for the entire project

Designed and built by Naval Group and entering service in 2001, the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, further to its modernisation, has now entered the technological era of the 21st century. This mid-life refit included unprecedented renovations and a density of work that gave the project a level of complexity unseen until now. This veritable industrial challenge required exceptional organisation to achieve the real-time coordination of the entire project, Naval Group’s core business.

“We are proud to have completed this exceptional project at the service of the French Navy within the imposed deadlines. I would like to thank in particular our clients, the DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) and the SSF (Service du Soutien de la Flotte), who entrusted us with the responsibility of overall prime contractor.

This success is the fruit of a collective effort made possible by the commitment of the aircraft carrier’s crew, Naval Group’s teams, those of the Defence sector’s major original equipment manufacturers such as Technicatome, Thales or Safran, the generalist companies and the SMEs originating mainly from the local and regional industrial fabric”, underlines Nathalie Smirnov, Senior Vice Président Services at Naval Group.

An in-depth refit

The in-depth renovation of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier was performed to ensure the vessel’s operational performance levels for the next 25 years and ensure that it maintains its technological advance at the service of France’s interests. This refit focused on three major challenges.

Firstly, the modernisation of the combat system in particular with the modernisation of the tactical system, the brain that manages the sensors and weapons, the installation of new digital networks, the complete replacement of the Control Room, the renovation of the telecommunications systems, the replacement of the air search and navigation radars.

Secondly, the modernisation of the aviation installations covered all the necessary modifications to switch to an “all-Rafale” setup: modification and renovation of the aviation spaces, renovation or replacement of deck-landing systems.

The third challenge of this refit relates to the renovation of the platform i.e., amongst other things, the modernisation of the vessel control PLCs, the renovation of the automatic stabilisation and steering control system, the replacement of two units of the vessel’s cooling system, but also the refit of the control simulator and of one galley.

Through-life support work

In addition to this renovation, the mid-life refit of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft also comprised through-life support work. This aspect of the project related essentially to the maintenance of major installations: the inspection of the two nuclear reactors and the replacement of their fuel elements, the maintenance of the electrical power plant, the maintenance of the propulsion system, the inspection of the catapults, shaft lines and stabilizing fins, and the painting of the underwater hull and topsides.

Key figures

-- 18 months of work (as a comparison: 4 years for a US aircraft carrier)
-- Over 200,000 tasks performed of which 50% by the crew
-- Over 4 million hours of work
-- On average, 2100 persons working each day: 1100 crew members, 1000 employees of Naval Group and its 160 subcontractors
-- 2000 tests performed
-- 5 years of preparation
-- A budget of €1.3 billion (as a comparison: €4.7 billion for a US aircraft carrier)

"Team France" at work

This exceptional programme was conducted by “Team France” bringing together the DGA, the French Navy, the SSF, the aircraft carrier’s crew and actors from French industry. Naval Group worked with major Defence original equipment manufacturers such as Technicatome, Thales or Safran, generalist companies but also SMEs originating mainly from the local and regional industrial fabric.

The timeline

The aircraft carrier entered dry dock in February 2017; it was floated out in May 2018 and at the end of July 2018 it docked at its operational quay for harbour acceptance trials. It then performed sea outings for the trials that must be performed in operational conditions, with the support of other French Navy entities. The final date on which the vessel was made available was 16 October 2018, after the complete recertification of the systems was completed.

Naval Group is a European leader in naval defence. The group designs, builds and supports submarines and surface ships. It also supplies services to shipyards and naval bases. The group reports revenues of €3.7 billion and has a workforce of 13,429 (data for 2017).

-ends-
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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 12:47 PM


Quote: Originally posted by bug2  
Here's a series of pics from Max's Philippines Defense page on FB...............

https://www.facebook.com/MaxDefense/photos/pcb.8432148025158...


This made me lol.:lol:

Quote:
Maybe we can weaponize our merchant marine fleet as secret ramming ships lol.




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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 06:38 PM


There's a suggestion that the ship is continuing to sink, and may slide down the fjord slope into the deep. Those fjords tend to very steep walls.

She may not live long enough to become parts.




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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 06:47 PM


What a way to lose 20% of your major surface fleet...



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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 07:06 PM


Quote: Originally posted by unicorn  
There's a suggestion that the ship is continuing to sink, and may slide down the fjord slope into the deep. Those fjords tend to very steep walls.

She may not live long enough to become parts.


Most of the fjords are VERY deep, very deep indeed..............
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[*] posted on 10-11-2018 at 08:02 AM


Yeah, NATO and Sov SSN's used to play silly buggars with each other inside some of the fjords, back in the first Cold War.



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[*] posted on 13-11-2018 at 09:59 AM


Warnings and confusion preceded Norwegian frigate disaster: here’s what we know

By: David B. Larter and Sebastian Sprenger   1 day ago


The Norwegian frigate KNM Helge Ingstad, right, after a collision with the tanker Sola TS, in Oygarden, Norway, Thursday Nov. 8, 2018. Norway's military says the 137-man crew on a Navy frigate has been evacuated after the ship was rammed by a Malta-flagged tanker while docked in a Norwegian harbor. Seven people were slightly injured. (Marit Hommedal/NTB Scanpix via AP)

The Royal Norwegian Navy was dealt a devastating blow in the early morning hours of November 10 when one of its five capital Nansen-class frigates collided with a fully loaded oil tanker more than 10 times its size while returning NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise.

The frigate Helge Ingstad lost steering and drifted at five knots onto the rocky shore near Norwegian port of Sture, north of Bergen, saving the ship from sinking in the Fjord, according to media reports. The crew of 137 was forced to abandon ship. Ingstad is now resting on its side on three points while crews move to secure it.

The disaster has far-reaching consequences for the Norwegian Navy, which is facing the loss of one of its premier warfighting assets,

“This is a huge blow to the Norwegian navy,” said Sebastian Bruns, who heads the Center for Maritime Strategy and Security at the University of Kiel in northern Germany. The loss of the $400 million ship, which appeared likely, leaves the Norwegian Navy with a 20 percent cut to its most advanced class of ship, Burns said.

The situation is made all the more painful as evidence mounts that Ingstad was repeatedly warned to alter course before the collision and failed to take corrective action to avoid the collision.

Local media reported that the Maltese-flagged tanker Sola TS identified Ingstad and tried to avoid the disaster. The reports also revealed details that show that Ingstad did not have a firm grasp of the surface picture it was sailing into.

The disaster developed quickly, with Ingstad transiting the channel inbound at 17 knots and Sola TS traveling outbound at 7 knots.

Sola TS raised the Ingstad multiple times and was discussing the emerging danger with shore-based Central Station, according to the Norwegian paper Verdens Gang. The responses from Ingstad appear confused, at one point saying that if they altered the course it would take them too close to the shoals, which prompted Sola TS to respond that they had to do something or a collision would be unavoidable.

Contributing to the confusion, the Ingstad appears to have been transiting with its Automatic Identification System switched off. That seems to have delayed recognition by central control and the other ships in the area that Ingstad was inbound and heading into danger, the account in VG seems to indicate.

The AIS being off recalls the collision of the U.S. destroyer Fitzgerald in 2017. Fitzgerald inadvertently crossed an outbound shipping channel with its AIS turned off, which the U.S. Navy found was a contributing factor in the collision.

The Norwegian military has repeatedly declined to comment on the sequence of events, citing an ongoing investigation by an accident investigation panel.

Mismatch

While much remains unknown about the collision details, the extent of the damage to the Ingstad appeared consistent with the sheer size mismatch between the tanker and the warship, several European subject matter experts noted.

According to the shipping site Marine Traffic, the Sola TS when carrying its full load of crude oil displaces about 113,000 tons more than a U.S. aircraft carrier, and even when empty displaces 10 times as much as Helge Ingstad.

Warships typically are constructed of thinner metal than commercial workhorses because they need more speed and maneuverability in combat.

“Naval ships are no longer the biggest ships on the seas,” said Bruns, the University of Kiel professor. “In many cases, it's a bit like a mouse-vs-elephant comparison.”

What appears to have worked well in the aftermath of the collision is rushing all sailors to safety, said Bruns. That could well have something to do with a years-old trend among some European navies of adapting ship designs and crew procedures to so-called low-intensity operations, which includes fighting pirates and smugglers, and rescuing migrants in distress at sea.

A German shipbuilding executive noted a size difference between U.S. Navy ships, which tend to be bigger, and European models used for similar missions. In addition, “the Americans generally still build with more massive steel,” the executive added.

Salvage

Crews are in the process of securing the Ingstad with cables to the shore, and once they are sure the ship wont drift away and sink, the Navy will be able to get their people on board, according to the Norwegian paper Aftenposten.

Radio transmissions from Ingstad indicated that the Sola TS ripped a huge hole in the engine room, VG reported. Once crews are on board, the Navy will assess the level of damage to the ship, the Navy told Aftenposten.

The plan as it stands will be to see if the hole can be sealed up and the spaces dewatered, then the ship will be lifted on to a barge and brought to the Norwegian Navy base at Haakonsvern. The ship is carrying weapons that will be offloaded once it is safely on a barge, the Navy told Aftenposten.

Meanwhile, the Sola TS was cleared to leave Norway after being questioned by police and investigators and was in Britain on Saturday, Aftenposten reported.
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[*] posted on 14-11-2018 at 09:30 AM


HNoMS Helge Ingstad now almost completely sunk, Norwegian Navy photos


Photo: Royal Norwegian Navy

Latest photos of the stricken frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad shared by the Royal Norwegian Navy on Tuesday reveal that the frigate is now almost completely underwater.

In a social media update in the early morning hours of Tuesday, the navy said unexpected events “complicated” plans for the salvage operation.

The navy subsequently shared photos which show the majority of the frigate underwater with only part of the mast and aft deck still above water.

The navy did not specify what caused the frigate to slip from the rocks in the night between Monday and Tuesday and sink further.


Photo: Royal Norwegian Navy

HNoMS Helge Ingstad collided with a tanker in the Hjeltefjorden fjord near Bergen at 4:26 (local time) on November 8. Following the collision, all 137 crew were evacuated while the frigate was intentionally grounded in order to prevent her from sinking in deep water.

In an update on Monday, the navy said the frigate had been firmly secured to land with steel wires. A total of seven fixing points welded onto the frigate’s hull were fixed to anchors on land.

The navy further said plans for salvaging the frigate had been underway as anchor handling vessel Scandi Vega investigated the conditions of the sea bottom and a Hugin autonomous underwater vehicle mapped out the topography of the sea bottom around and below the frigate.

Plans were also in place for navy personnel to go onboard the vessel to evaluate the extent of damages that resulted from flooding and to try and insulate dry compartments from further water ingress. It is not clear how the latest development and the fact that the frigate is now almost completely submerged will affect the plans.


Photo: Royal Norwegian Navy

Two videos, captured by Norwegian Coastal Administration aircraft on Monday and Tuesday, provide a better picture of the frigate’s change in position.

VIDEO 1: https://youtu.be/jx_g_KBiFyg

VIDEO 2: https://youtu.be/NkLQv_CWc6A


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[*] posted on 14-11-2018 at 11:34 AM


New Photos Show Shipwrecked Norwegian Frigate Sinks Further After NATO Drills

(Source: Sputnik News; posted Nov 13, 2018)


Five days after colliding under unexplained circumstances with a Maltese tanker, the 5,500 tonne Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad finally sank this morning, leaving only her ensign and a few antennas showing above the surface. (Forsvaret photo)

Experts estimate that up to 80 percent of the equipment of the shipwrecked frigate, which cost the Norwegian Navy almost its entire annual budget, will have to be replaced.

The Norwegian daily Aftenposten has released fresh photos of the KMN Helge Ingstad frigate, which under unclear circumstances collided with the tanker Sola TS off Norway's coast when returning from a NATO drill.

The frigate received a huge hole in the starboard spanning across the waterline; seven seamen were injured. The crew abandoned the sinking ship which was subsequently tugged to shallow waters to prevent it from sinking.

A few days after the incident, which is still puzzling the Norwegian authorities, the frigate remains above surface, but has completely sunk to the bottom, with a 45-degree lurch to the starboard. Over 10 tons of helicopter fuel has leaked into the seawater.

No information about the status of the weapons abroad, including cruise and anti-aircraft missiles, torpedoes and artillery, is available as of today.

By contrast, the oil tanker Sola TS was not affected by the accident.

The reasons for the emergency are under investigation by a navy commission. Possible explanations for the collision include the frigate moving in stealth mode with the transponder switched off or bad communications with traffic controllers.

A veteran maritime expert estimated that the KNM Helge Ingstad has suffered so much damage that up to 80 percent of the equipment will have to be replaced, voicing doubt that the prized vessel will ever become operational again.

"I have my doubts about the wreck becoming a ship again. The vessel has been torn by the rocks, and the damage is huge," expert Erik Tveten, who has 35 years of experience in assessing marine damage, told the daily newspaper Aftenposten.

According to Tveten, most of the electrical equipment and the wiring on the frigate will have to be replaced. Since the control cockpit is partially under water, most of the furnishing will need to be replaced as well. The main engine and auxiliary motors will have to be replaced as well, together with the ventilation system, as they have already been severely damaged by severe rust and corrosion.

"With regard to the purely military material that has been in seawater, it must be replaced as well. It seems unlikely to be able to restore guns and ammunition that have been in seawater," Tveten told Aftenposten.

The NATO Trident Juncture drill, which involved about 50,000 troops from over 30 countries, including formally non-aligned Sweden and Finland, took place from October 25 to November 7. The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the drill as "obviously anti-Russian" and "leading to deterioration of military and political situation in the region."

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[*] posted on 20-11-2018 at 09:36 AM


U.S. Navy officer could face questions in Norwegian frigate collision


The Norwegian navy frigate KNM Helge Ingstad struck an oil tanker Nov. 8 and sank days later. (Handout/Reuters)

By Paul Sonne and
Dan Lamothe November 17

The U.S. Navy expects one of its officers to be questioned as part of an investigation into the collision of a Norwegian warship and a commercial oil tanker this month in one of the Scandinavian nation’s fjords.

The American officer, who has not been identified, was onboard the Norwegian navy frigate as part of a military personnel exchange, according to U.S. and Norwegian officials. The sailor’s role on the ship remains unclear.

The Nov. 8 incident ultimately sank the 439-foot Norwegian warship and left several people injured.

Norwegian naval officers beached the vessel — the KNM Helge Ingstad — in an attempt to save it, but the frigate sank five days later after the cables holding it in place snapped. The tanker it struck, the Sola TS, was nearly twice its size at 820 feet. It suffered only minor damage.

“The U.S. Navy has an officer assigned to the Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) with Norway as part of the crew of the KNM Helge Ingstad,” Cmdr. Kyle Raines, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet, said in a statement. “This program exchanges personnel from various military components to foreign countries to enhance interoperability with partner navies and services. The concept was born out of the need for partners and allies to share ideas and build relationships.”

Raines declined to identify the American officer by name, citing privacy interests. He said the U.S. Navy is supporting the Norwegian investigation.

Traditionally, investigators interview all officers onboard military ships involved in collisions, so the U.S. Navy expects the American officer to be questioned as well, officials said.

Ann Kristin Salbuvik, an official at the Norwegian Defense Ministry, confirmed that an American officer was onboard the ship but declined to specify the officer’s duties.

“The exchange program has been established to share experiences and create a basis for good cooperation between our navies,” Salbuvik said. “If incidents should occur or if there are situations that involve personnel on an exchange, there is a duty, according to the valid status agreement, to inform the sending state’s military authorities, as well as to ensure that relevant authorities are put in contact with relevant national authorities.”

Salbuvik said Norwegian authorities have notified their American counterparts but declined to elaborate.

The KNM Helge Ingstad was involved in a massive naval exercise last month — Trident Juncture 2018 — in which the U.S. Navy sent an aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman, north of the Arctic Circle for the first time in decades. The exercise was widely seen as a message to Russia.

The Navy has a tradition of hosting Norwegian military personnel and embarking its own personnel on foreign vessels through exchange programs. Participants typically serve two-year tours as a fully integrated member of the host nation’s navy.

U.S. service members who participate in such programs are required to obey all orders from host commanders and remain subject to the American military’s rules and regulations.

“Any individual who commits an offense against the host service code of discipline during the exchange assignment may be withdrawn from his or her assignment,” according to the March 2018 order outlining the program. “If the offense committed by U.S. Navy exchange personnel against the host service code is also an offense against the [Uniform Code of Military Justice], disciplinary action may be taken against the individual by U.S. Navy authorities.”

The incident comes at a sensitive time for the U.S. Navy, following two fatal collisions of guided-missile destroyers in the Pacific last year that together left 17 sailors dead.

Seven sailors died off the southern coast of Japan in June 2017 when the USS Fitzgerald struck a much larger container ship, and 10 sailors died two months later when the USS John S. McCain collided with another vessel off the coast of Singapore.

A Navy investigation of those disasters determined they were preventable and caused by “multiple failures” among service members who were standing watch the nights of the accidents. The service has since forced some personnel who were involved into retirement and launched court-martial proceedings against others.
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[*] posted on 23-11-2018 at 02:54 PM


Norway Reluctant to Disclose Role of US Officer in Frigate Collision

(Source: Sputnik News; posted Nov 22, 2018)

A US officer had a central role on the bridge ahead of the collision, which may set the Norwegian Navy back its entire annual budget; however, he had no formal responsibility, the national broadcaster NRK reported.

The US officer was receiving training from his Norwegian colleagues when the frigate KMN Helge Ingstad collided in the early hours of November 8 with the fully loaded oil tanker Sola ST off Norway's west coast. The frigate was under NATO command at the time, returning to its home port in Bergen after participating in NATO's huge Trident Juncture exercise off Trondheim, national broadcaster NRK reported.

When the collision occurred shortly after 4 a.m., there were seven people on the bridge of the frigate, which is usually manned by only five people. The US officer was being trained to become a duty chief, which was confirmed by NATO. Based on its sources, NRK claimed that the US officer had a central function on the bridge ahead of the collision, but no formal responsibility.

Previously, suspicions were raised that the frigate had long been on a collision course with the tanker and ignored all warnings. Maritime audio logs revealed that the frigate received several proximity warnings from the tanker, whose crew urged the frigate to immediately turn or 'do something'.

Despite having a US intern of the bridge, all communication was in Norwegian.

Norwegian defence officials have consistently declined to answer questions about the collision, prompting complaints about a lack of transparency on the navy's part. The official response has been to wait for the results of the official probe being conducted by Norway's state accident investigations board, which may take months.

Whereas all of the seven people on the bridge have been questioned by the police, inspector Frode Karlsen declined to disclose anything about the role of the US officer.

"For the sake of the ongoing investigation, we wish not to disclose the role of the crew member from NATO," Karlsen said.

As the case now involves a foreign citizen, Norway must obtain permission to conduct further questioning, which may lead to further delays. The state accident investigation board was reported to have sent a letter to US officials at NATO; its contents haven't been disclosed.

Norwegian defence officials, meanwhile, reported that the wreckage of the frigate has been considerably stabilised. Ongoing efforts to salvage the warship, drain it of water, empty it of ammunition and other sensitive military material and eventually transport it to the Haakonsvern Naval Base in Bergen have been assisted by unusually calm seas.

The helicopter-carrying KMN Helge Ingstad, one of the centrepieces of the Norwegian Navy, cost the state coffers about $420 million, a figure comparable to the navy's annual budget.

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