Thursday, 27 October 2016

WARSHIPS OF THE PAST: Worcester class anti-aircraft cruisers of the United States Navy

Written by D-Mitch

USS Worcester, lead ship of theWorcester class cruisers
Warships with the size of a battleship and armament of a light cruiser, the Worcester class anti-aircraft cruisers of the United States Navy were the ultimate all-gun light cruisers. With a full displacement of approximately 18,000 tons and a length of more than 207 meters (!), they were larger and heavier than any light or heavy cruiser of WWII and post-war cruisers (and their missile conversions) with only very few exceptions such as the Russian Sverdlov class (they were 3 meters longer but displaced 1,500 tons less..), the American heavy cruisers Des Moines which were the culmination of US navy gun-cruiser design and entered in service the same year with the Worcesters, the American nuclear-powered missile cruiser Long Beach and of course the modern gigantic Russian Kirov class nuclear-powered missile cruisers which are actually considered battlecruisers. All four classes will be analyzed thoroughly in future posts. It is worth of mention, that there was only one cruiser in both World Wars that exceeded the size of the post-war Worcesters; this was the Prinz Eugen of the German Hipper class heavy cruisers, which was 207.7 m long (only.. 0,6m longer!) and with the clipper bow, her overall length was 212.5m. Furthermore, her full displacement was 19,050t, slightly larger than of the Worcesters.

USS Roanoke, second vessel in the Worcester class cruisers, underway in San Francisco Bay,
California, at the time of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz' review of the First Fleet, 13 June 1957.
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Thursday, 6 October 2016

INFOGRAPHICS #22: HMS Repulse battlecruiser of the Royal Ravy

Battlecruiser HMS Repulse
The Renown class comprised a pair of battlecruisers built during the First World War for the Royal Navy, the Renown and Repulse. They were originally laid down as improved versions of the Revenge-class battleships. Their construction was suspended on the outbreak of war on the grounds they would not be ready in a timely manner. Admiral Lord Fisher, upon becoming First Sea Lord, gained approval to restart their construction as battlecruisers that could be built and enter service quickly. Having a full displacement of 36,800tons and length of 242m, they were the world's largest and fastest capital ships upon completion. Even in WWI, they were still some of the largest battleships-battlecruisers of the Royal Navy, second only to HMS Hood and HMS Vanguard. 

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Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Ezzat class (Ambassador Mk III) fast attack craft of the Egyptian Navy

Written by D-Mitch 

Ezzat class (Ambassador Mk III) FACM
The Ezzat class, or else known as the Ambassador Mk III class (sometimes referred to as the Ambassador Mk IV design), of the Egyptian Navy, consists of four fast attack missile craft (FACM). These are perhaps the most powerful vessels in this category considering that the Taiwanese Tuo Chiang-class boat with its 16 (!) anti-ship missiles, Phalanx CIWS, 3in gun and torpedo launchers is classified in the category of corvettes, even though this vessel is actually a fast attack craft due to its small displacement of 570tons and length of about 60 meters. In the second place, one would place the Greek Roussen class FACM with their eight (8) MM40 Blk3 SSM (superior to Harpoons in the range), RAM launcher, one 76mm gun and two 30mm gun turrets. One thing is for sure: the Ambassador Mk III boats are some of the the most well armed and advanced FACM in the world today! The lead ship, S. Ezzat, was laid down on 7 April 2011 and launched in October 2011 and was handed over to the Egyptian Navy on 19 November 2013. The F. Zekry was handed over in December of the same year. On 17 June 2015, the US delivered the remaining two vessels M. Fahmy and A. Gad, on board a U.S. transport ship, to the port of Alexandria, Egypt.

The two boats during their transportation
The last pair of boats on board a U.S. transport ship

The two boats during their transportation

The two boats during their transportation

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Friday, 30 September 2016

BOOK REVIEW #1: Gary Slaughter's Sea Stories - A Memoir of a Naval Officer (1956-1967)

Welcome to my first book review, Gary Slaughter’s Sea Stories - A Memoir of a Naval Officer (1956-1967)

Gary Slaughter's Sea Stories
When I got in my hands on the Sea Stories (released on Sep 4, 2016), my first thought was that this book was mainly about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the role of a former US naval officer before and after this dramatic event. But it wasn’t about that. More precisely, it was not only about that. The book was much more entertaining and interesting than I had in my mind based on the brief description on the book, the information available on author’s website or events that were highlighting this true episode. This is just one story emphasized in the book, one of the 60 (!) vignettes comprising the 298-page Sea Stories; motivational, uplifting stories and life lessons. Furthermore, stories that show new insights into everyday life on the Cold War front line and the life of a US Navy officer in the ‘60s.

But who is Gary Slaughter? Gary Slaughter served for eleven years in the US Navy as a midshipman (officer cadet) and naval officer. Following his distinguishing Navy service, he became an expert on managing corporate information technology. He traveled extensively, lecturing and consulting to clients in the United States and abroad. In 2002, he put his career on hold and began to write the Cottonwood series, five award-winning novels, depicting life in the US during World War II. During his naval career, he served aboard two of the three destroyers that surfaced soviet submarines during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The most significant moment during his naval career was his role in dissuading the Captain of a Soviet Foxtrot class submarine (B-59), from unleashing his T-5 nuclear torpedo which most certainly would have triggered a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and USA and their allies. This incident was the closest that the Soviet Union and the United States ever came to having an exchange of nuclear weapons. However, the event was classified as Top Secret under the terms of an agreement between Premier Khrushchev and President Kennedy that ended the crisis. Α dramatic story that was kept secret until 2002; thanks to the few men whose lips remained sealed for 40 years! The event was finally declassified when his story was revealed in Peter Huchthausen's 2002 book, October Fury. Since then, four documentary filmmakers sought Gary Slaughter's participation in developing a film to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He selected Bedlam Productions, whose movie, The King's Speech, won the 2010 Best Picture Academy Award. Fittingly, the Bedlam documentary was entitled The Man Who Saved the World. He was also interviewed and filmed for the BBC documentary, The Silent War.

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Thursday, 22 September 2016

The major surface combatants of the most powerful European Navies in 2030

Written by D-Mitch

In this article, I will describe briefly the future developments in the major surface combatant fleet of the five most powerful in Europe, the five navies that historically maintain and develop a strong naval fleet of very advanced warships. But what do we mean when we talk about surface combatant? According to the Office of Naval Research of the United States Navy, "..surface combatants (or surface ships or surface vessels) are a subset of naval warships which are designed for warfare on the surface of the water, with their own weapons. They are generally ships built to fight other ships, submarines or aircraft, and can carry out several other missions including counter-narcotics operations and maritime interdiction. Their primary purpose is to engage space, air, surface, and submerged targets with weapons deployed from the ship itself, rather than by manned carried craft.". The term is primarily used to mean any modern vessel type that is not a submarine; although a "surface ship" may range in size from a small cutter to a large cruiser, the largest surface combatant today in any Navy. 

Three major surface combatants of US
Navy in formation: the destroyer USS 
 (DD-761), battleship USS Wisconsin
(BB-64), and heavy cruiser USS Saint Paul
(CA-73) off the Korean coast in 1952.
The (once) major surface combatant
classes of the US Navy. By Jeff Head
Notice that I refer to the major surface combatants that includes the largest surface combatants, battleships and battlecruisers (outdated types of warships), cruisers (only few in the world), destroyers, frigates, and corvettes. Corvettes, if any (see below, Navies in 2016), that have downgraded to offshore patrol vessels or their equipment is limited (sensors and/or armament), therefore are suitable only for low-intensity conflicts, are excluded from the graph. This applies for the classes Minerva, Floreal, D'Estienne d'Orves and Descubierta. Non-surface combatants such as the attack and ballistic missile submarines are excluded. The same stands for the fast attack craft or gunboats. Of course those types of ships and boats can boost dramatically the capabilities of a naval force or even to discourage absolutely any naval battle if one of the naval opponent  have a ballistic missile submarine in its inventory.  This may sounds unfair for some traditional naval forces such as the Hellenic Navy or the Dutch Navy. The former has in its inventory 13 frigates but without any declared replacement plan for the future, 17 fast attack craft and 11 submarines of which the five (5) are some of the most advance in Europe. The latter has four (4) very modern anti-aircraft warfare frigates (equipped with 40-cell VLS), four (4) modern submarines but only two general purpose frigates. But as I mentioned in the introduction, this article focuses only on the front line surface combatants of the most powerful navies in the region and those Navies that have announced an ambitious shipbuilding program.

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Friday, 2 September 2016

The STIDD Diver Propulsion Devices (DPD) of the Turkish Navy

Written by D-Mitch

Two U.S. Marines of the MSPF operating a Diver Propulsion
Device (DPD). Photo: United States Marine Corps
In a recent a article by e-amyna titled The YUNUS Project for the defence of the Turkish  naval bases (in Greek language), the author analyzes the effectiveness of the YUNUS Project to defend the main naval bases and harbors of Turkey against surface and sub-surface threats. In the discussion that followed the article and in regard to the Greek Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs), a reader (kostaspgn) posted a nice video about the Sualtı Taarruz Grup Komutanlığı, the Turkish Underwater Offence Group Command, known also as SAT, which is the special operation unit of the Turkish Navy, based in the Foça Naval Base near İzmir, on the Aegean coast of Turkey and Istanbul. The missions of the Su Altı Taarruz (SAT) include the acquisition of military intelligence, special reconnaissance, direct action, counter-terrorism and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations. They are trained and organized in a similar way to the U.S. Navy Seals who have close training relationships with them. In that video, for just two seconds, from 2:23 till 2:25, two SF divers use a STIDD Diver Propulsion Device (DPD) (many thanks to my friend, blogger and expert in the field of mini-subs, H.I. Sutton, for the recognition of the vehicle and of course kostaspgn who spotted first the device!). I should mention here that this article does not include any actual photo of the Turkish DPD, but I find useful to publish this article about the capabilities of this device as a follow-up from the Greek SDVs article. Therefore, I may say that the title is not the most accurate one. Some screenshots are following before the complete video.

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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

WARSHIPS OF THE PAST: Tiger class cruisers of the Royal Navy

Written by D-Mitch

HMS Blake as a helicopter cruiser
Laid down in 1941-42, the three cruisers of the Tiger class were originally to have been sister ships to Superb, an improved variant of the Swiftsure class cruisers (also known as the Minotaur class), a modified version of the Crown Colony class cruisers, but their construction was slowed down. Finally, the ships were launched in 1944-45 and they were left incomplete until their future had been decided. It was not until 1951 that a plan was agreed under which the three ships would be completed as advanced gun-cruisers due in large part to the perceived threat of the new powerful Soviet Sverdlov class 210-meter cruisers. Their completion took significant amount of time and they joined the fleet between 1959 and 1961, nearly two decades after they have been laid down. The Tiger class cruisers were the last class of all gun cruisers completed for the British Royal Navy. With the three “new” cruisers entering the fleet, the Royal Navy decommissioned their half-sister, Swiftsure and Superb, and both were scrapped by 1962.

HMS Swiftsure - outside Sydney Harbour 20 December 1945
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