Monday, 20 March 2017


Written by D-Mitch

This is the fourth post, after a long time, of a new category of infographics of various coast guard vessels from around the world. These infographics aim to highlight the most important equipment of the vessels; I do not analyze the systems in depth as I do for the warships instead I provide some basic information mainly from Wikipedia (if else I provide the source) about the ships, their history and their capabilities.
1.  Sa'ar 62 class offshore patrol vessels of the Azerbaijani Coast Guard
President Ilham Aliyev inspecting the
new shipyards and the boats
Typhoon MLS-NLOS missile launcher
Azerbaijan is one of the very few countries in the world that has in her inventory missile-armed coast guard vessels. Jane's, reported in summer of 2014, that Azerbaijan had bought six Sa'ar 62 offshore patrol vessels (based on the Sa'ar 4.5 class) and six lighter Shaldag Mk V patrol boats. The purchase came to light flowing the release of images from the commissioning of a new naval shipyard in Azerbaijan, which showed the first vessels during handling and construction in new shipyards in Türkan (video here), which is also according to Jane's believed to have been built by Israel Shipyards. The construction hall has capacity for at least three vessels to be constructed simultaneously. It should be mentioned that  Azerbaijan became second country in the world, after Russia with her remaining Krivak III (Nerey) class cutters armed with SA-N-4 surface-to-air missiles, that introduced in the coast guard fleet, vessels armed with missile weapon systems. However, in the Azerbaijani service, the distinction between  a coast guard vessel and a naval vessel is blur, as none of the naval vessels is equipped with missiles in contrast to.. the coast guard vessels! A nice video about the Azerbaijan Coast Guard can be watched here. Recently, Turkmenistan and United Arab Emirates commissioned coast guard vessels with missile weapon systems. These vessels, will be analyzed in a future post.

The lead ship in the Azerbaijani Sa'ar 62 the class during an exercise.
Sa'ar 62's bridge
Typoon 23mm gun and decoy launchers

EC135 helicopter on board
Launching a Spike NLOS missile
The almost 500-ton Azeri Sa'ar 62 class vessels are equipped with a variety of modern electronics and sensors (including an anti-diving sonar system) and have a very impressive armament for their size and especially for a coast guard vessel. Armament comprises a 23 mm ZU cannon in a Rafael Typhoon remotely controlled weapon system (RCWS), Rafael's Typhoon MLS-NLOS (Non-Line-Of-Sight) eight-cell launcher with an integrated electro-optical (EO) device for firing the 25 km Spike NLOS Fire-and-Forget (as well as Fire-and-Observe and Update modes of operation) anti-ship /anti-tank/anti-personnel guided missile with a tandem-charge HEAT warhead (each boat carries 20 such missiles in total), two 12.7 mm heavy machine guns in Mini Typhoon RCWS mounts and four pintle-mounted 7.62 mm IMI Negev light machine guns. The vessels are protected by four 12-barrelled Rafael decoy launchers for a variety of decoys including anti-torpedo decoys. Each vessel carries two RHIB and has a flight deck capable to embark a light helicopter such as the Airbus EC135. The first boat in the class, the S-201, was delivered in September 2016, the second in June 2016 and the third vessel, just recently, in January of 2017. Three more vessels are under construction. It should be mentioned here, that Greece has a similar class in service, the Sa'ar 4 class OPV based also on the Sa'ar 4.5 class vessels, but the Greek vessels are much lighter armed than the Azerbaijani boats.

Sa'ar 62 class offshore patrol vessel of the Azerbaijani Coast Guard. High resolution image here.

2.  Shaldag Mk V class patrol vessels of the Azerbaijani Coast Guard
Typhoon gun system of a Shaldag
Shaldag boat in fast manuevers
The 100-ton Shaldag Mk V patrol vessels have about half the length of the Sa'ar 62 OPVs that were described earlier but are almost 10 knots faster. They are also heavily armed including Armament includes a 23 mm ZU cannon in a Rafael Typhoon remotely controlled weapon system (RCWS), Rafael's Typhoon MLS-ER (Extended-Range) four-cell launcher for firing the 8 km Spike ER Fire-and-Forget (as well as Fire-and-Observe and Update modes of operation) anti-ship /anti-tank/anti-personnel guided missile with a tandem-charge HEAT warhead, two 12.7 mm heavy machine guns in Mini Typhoon RCWS mounts and four pintle-mounted 7.62 mm IMI Negev light machine guns. The Typhoon MLS-ER is using the ship surveillance pod (e.g Toplite) to locate the target and slave the system turret to the target direction. The penetration for the Spike ER is around 1,000 mm (39 in) of RHA. All six (6) Shaldags built to date are operational.

Shaldag Mk V class patrol vessel of the Azerbaijani Coast Guard. High resolution image here.
3.  Reliance class offshore patrol vessel of the Colombian Coast Guard
MBB Bo 105 helicopter aboard the ship
View of the boat's superstructure
The largest vessel of the Colombian Coast Guard today, is the ARC Valle del Cauca, a Reliance class cutter (Medium Endurance Cutter or WMEC) of the United States Coast Guard, the former USCGC Durable (WMEC-628). The boat was commissioned in 1968, retired in 2001 and transferred to Colombia in 2003 without its armament (Mk38 Mod 0 25mm chain gun and M2 heavy machine guns). The boat had already undergone a $28 million refit known as a "Major Maintenance Availability" the period 1986 - 1989. The refit included improving habitability, improving stability by rearranging tank locations, replacement of all asbestos paneling, increasing the berthing space, upgrading the flight deck and helicopter equipment, increasing the amount of helicopter fuel carried, improving the evaporator, increasing and upgrading the communications and electronics systems, and adding a new smoke detection system and fire-fighting equipment. The most obvious change, however, was the removal of her problematic stern exhaust system and its replacement with traditional vertical exhaust stacks. Commissioned into Colombian service in 2003, Valle del Cauca had her navigational, fueling, and aviation systems upgraded. She is assigned to the Colombian Navy's Pacific force, homeported at Bahía Málaga. In Colombian service, the cutter received a pair of light machine guns and at the bow an old 40mm gun mount.

Reliance class offshore patrol vessel of the Colombian Coast Guard. High resolution image here.

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Monday, 27 February 2017

Naresuan class frigates of the Royal Thai Navy

Written by D-Mitch

The lead ship in the class, Naresuan (421), after the upgrade.
Via Fb Combat-Zones
The most advanced and heavily armed surface combatants of the Royal Thai Navy (Thai: กองทัพเรือไทย; rtgsKong Thap Ruea Thai) are two (2) Naresuan class frigates, cooperatively designed by the Royal Thai Navy and China but built by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation in Shanghai the period 1991-94. The two vessels in the class, Naresuan (421) and Taksin (422), were commissioned in December 1994 and October 1995 respectively. The Naresuan class is considered a modified version of the Chinese-made Type 053 frigate. When Thailand ordered four new 053 frigates in 1990, China built them to the (then) latest 053H2 (Jianghu III) standard. Two were modified with helicopter decks in the back. Although the price was excellent, the Thai Navy complained of quality issues. The interior wiring was exposed and had to be re-wired. The ship's battle damage control system was very limited, with poor fire-suppression system and water-tight locks. It's said that if the ship's hull was breached, rapid flooding would lead to loss of ship. The Thai Navy had to spend considerable time and effort to correct some of these issues. The harsh criticisms lead to many improvements in China's shipbuilding industry. By the mid-1990s, the Thai Navy was confident enough to order two enlarged 053 hulls (F25T), later named HTMS Naresuan and HTMS Taksin, to be fitted with western engines and weapon systems. The ships were purchased at "friendship prices" of 2 billion baht each, compared to the 8 billion baht price tag for Western-built frigates.
The two Naresuan class frigates, after their upgrade, in formation
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

INFOGRAPHICS #25: United States Navy Blue Angels, Grumman's Cats and United States fighter aircraft

The following images are created by Steve Freeman (sfreeman421 for deviantart) and depict all the all the types of fighters that were/are in service with the United States Navy as well as the eight different demonstration aircraft that the United States Navy's flight demonstration squadron, the "Blue Angels", have flown from 1946 to present, and the Grumman's Navy Cats. Enjoy this great artwork!

US Navy fighter planes (1915 - present). In high resolution here
Grumman's Navy Cats. In high resolution here.
US Navy Blue Angels. In high resolution here.
Drawing showing the different aircraft flown by the U.S. Navy "Blue Angels" aerobatics team (top to bottom):
  • Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat: June–August 1946
  • Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat: August 1946 – 1949
  • Grumman F9F-2 Panther: 1949 – June 1950; F9F-5 Panther: 1951 - Winter 1954/55
  • Grumman F9F-8 Cougar: Winter 1954/55 - mid-season 1957
  • Grumman F11F-1 (F-11A) Tiger: mid-season 1957 – 1969
  • McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II: 1969 – December 1974
  • Douglas A-4F Skyhawk: December 1974 – November 1986
  • McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/C Hornet: November 1986 – present
Source: U.S. Navy All Hands magazine February 1996, p. 24.
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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

INFOGRAPHICS #24: HMS Warspite, Royal Navy's most distinguished battleship that should have been preserved!

HMS Warspite model by Julian Seddon
Τhis article is related to the POLL which was published yesterday. The "winner" of the poll, was HMS Warspite, thus I thought it would be appropriate to post its glorious story which I borrowed from Wikipedia and I added some extras (see sources). HMS Warspite was one of the five 33,000-ton Queen Elizabeth-class battleships built for the Royal Navy during the early 1910s. Her thirty-year career covered both world wars and took her across the Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Pacific Oceans. She participated in the Battle of Jutland during the First World War as part of the Grand Fleet. Other than that battle, and the inconclusive Action of 19 August, her service during the war generally consisted of routine patrols and training in the North Sea. She was involved in several major engagements, including battles in the North Sea and Mediterranean, earning her the most battle honours ever awarded to an individual ship in the Royal Navy and the most awarded for actions during the Second World War. For this and other reasons Warspite gained the nickname the "Grand Old Lady" after a comment made by Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham in 1943 while she was his flagship. It should be mentioned that HMS Warspite holds the record for the longest hit on a moving target in naval warfare history, when during the Battle of Calabria in 1940, Warspite, hitting the Italian battleship Giulio Cesare at a range of approximately 24km (26,000 yards)!
HMS Warspite During The Spanish Civil War (1937)

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Monday, 30 January 2017

POLL: Which warship should Britain had preserved?

On January 24, I had the idea to create a poll and to ask my followers which warship they think Britain should had preserved as a museum ship. I got the idea, when I saw a photo by Fatih Takmakli (which I tweeted), showing the former Royal Navy HMS Illustrious (R06) at the ship-breaking yards in Aliaga, Turkey on January 13.They were many people who said Britain should have saved her as a museum ship, similarly to the United States' USS Intrepid. Someone can remeber the numerous warships the United States have preserved and the handful of ships Britain have kept as museum ships (of which the most important of them are HMS Belfast, HMS Warrior and HMS Victory). In contrast, the United States, preserves a large number of various types of vessels, including numerous cruisers and submarines, five aircraft carriers (!), but also eight (8) battleships! Britain, the once superpower, not a single one battleship, not a single one carrier! Then I asked my audience their opinion, through the following tweet.
The final results of the poll after three (3) days (from Jan 24, 2017)
Bow view of HMS Warspite
Polishing HMS Vanguard's gun caps
Notice, that I gave four options. The first one, HMS Warspite, is a famous battleship with long career and notable history, earning more battle honours than any other Royal Navy ship. The second, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is the lead vessel of the class that HMS Warspite belongs; also a quite famous battleship but without so much significant action. The third choice is Britain's ultimate battleship, HMS Vanguard, the biggest, fastest and last of the Royal Navy's battleships and the final battleship to be launched in the world. The ship though served less than 15 years and quickly she was towed to the breakers, as she was considered obsolete and too expensive to maintain. The fourth option is any British aircraft carrier or any kind of vessel they like which they should specify; it is like two options in one but gives a lot of freedom to the voters to choose anything they like.The poll run for three days, starting as I mentioned on January 24, 2017.

The photo that inspired for this poll: The former Royal Navy HMS Illustrious (R06)
at the ship-breaking yards in Aliaga, Turkey (Jan 13). Photo by Fatih Takmakli
From the beginning I believed that HMS Warspite will receive the most votes, however I was not expecting that HMS Vanguard, a ship with really zero history, will finish second and not the 2-in-1 option, the 4th one (finished 3rd), where the voter can name any kind of ship. Interestingly enough, five different vessels were named by only six (6) people from the total 43 who chose the fourth option. The five warships are the following:
  • HMS Inflexible, an ironclad battleship
  • HMS Plymouth, a Rothesay-class frigate
  • HMS Ark Royal, an aircraft carrier (the voter did not specify which ship)
  • HMS Hermes, the last Centaur class aircraft carrier
  • HMS Illustrious (by two people), the last Invincible class aircraft carrier 
If you ask my opinion, I would loved to see HMS Warspite moored opposite of the Tower of London, next to HMS Belfast... It is such a pity, Britain did not save that ship, a ship that never gave up, and won everything and everywhere, except its own creators who led her to the breakers. Even, that day, she fought well to avoid a sad end. I would really love to hear your opinion!

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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

NAVAL FORCES #10: Evolution of European Naval Capabilities and the Hellenic Navy - Propositions to meet future needs

This is the introduction to the second article, written by me (D-Mitch) and fox2, about the Hellenic Navy (Πολεμικό Ναυτικό).  The first article titled ΝΑΥΤΙΚΕΣ ΕΞΕΛΙΞΕΙΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΑΝΑΤΟΛΙΚΗ ΜΕΣΟΓΕΙΟ (English: Naval Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean), published on November 24, 2015, marked my cooperation with fox2 through his blog Enjoy a long article (in Greek) that describes in brief the evolution of European naval capabilities (based on the much detailed article The major surface combatants of the most powerful European Navies in 2030) as well as some propositions to the Hellenic Navy in order to meet future needs and to follow the rest European Navies. You can read the new article here!

Photoshopped image of a Hydra class frigate of the Hellenic Navy after an upgrade programme (minimum)
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Thursday, 12 January 2017

Jason class landing ships of the Hellenic Navy

Written by D-Mitch

HS Rodos (L177), final vessel of the Jason class LST
The Jason class Landing Ships Tank (LST) of the Hellenic Navy (Greek: Πολεμικό Ναυτικό) consists of five (5) ship in service. It is worth mentioning that all ships in the class were built and designed by the Greek Elefsis Shipyard in cooperation with the National Technical University of Athens and the Hellenic Navy. The class was ordered to Elefsis Shipyards in 1986. The keel for the first vessel, Chios (L173), was laid down in April 1987. It was launched in December 1988 and commissioned in May 1996. The second vessel, Samos (L174), was laid down in September 1987, launched in April 1989 and commissioned in May 1994, two years earlier than the first vessel in the class. Construction of all the ships was originally scheduled to be completed by September 1990. However, all the vessels, in particular the last three, were delayed due to a financial crisis faced by the shipyard. Privatization of the shipyard in October 1997 resulted in steady progress of the construction. A sixth ship was added to the programme in 2000, but cancelled before construction began.

Landing ships Chios and Lesvos in a amphibious landing exercise

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