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Saturday, 31 December 2016

INFOGRAPHICS #23: U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group (CSG)

Ships from the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group simulate
a strait transit in the Atlantic Ocean on Dec 10, 2013. Photo
by Justin Wolpert, U.S. Navy
A carrier strike group (CSG) is an operational formation of the United States Navy. It is composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, a nuclear-powered super-carrier (Nimitz class), which is the centerpiece of the strike group and also serves as the flagship for the CSG Commander and respective staff, at least one cruiser (Ticonderoga class), a destroyer squadron of at least two-three destroyers (Arleigh Burke class) and/or two-three frigates (currently the U.S. Navy does not operate any frigates, thus more destroyers in the group), a carrier air wing of about 70 aircraft (typically up to nine squadrons) and up to two nuclear-powered attack submarines (Los Angeles class, Virginia class), used to screen the strike group against hostile surface ships and submarines, but which also carry cruise missiles for long-range strike capability. A carrier strike group also, on occasion, includes attached logistics ships and a supply ship. CSGs are not restricted to a specific composition and can be modified depending on expected threats, roles, or missions expected during a deployment, and one may be different from another. The Navy states that "there really is no real definition of a strike group. Strike groups are formed and disestablished on an as needed basis, and one may be different from another. However, they all are comprised of similar types of ships."

The U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group. An illustration by Austin Rooney for the United States Navy. High resolution image.
Carrier Air Wing. High resolution image here.
The carrier strike group commander operationally reports to the commander of the numbered fleet, who is operationally responsible for the area of waters in which the carrier strike group is operating. Carrier strike groups comprise a principal element of U.S. power projection capability. Previously referred to as Carrier Battle Groups (a term still used by other nations; the change in nomenclature from 'Battle' to 'Strike' appears to have been connected with an increasing emphasis on projecting air power ashore), they are often referred to by the carrier they are associated with (e.g., Enterprise Strike Group). As of March 2016 there are ten (10) carrier strike groups. The carrier strike group is a flexible naval force that can operate in confined waters or in the open ocean, during day and night, in all weather conditions. The principal role of the carrier and its air wing within the carrier strike group is to provide the primary offensive firepower, while the other ships provide defense and support. These roles are not exclusive, however. Other ships in the strike group sometimes undertake offensive operations (launching cruise missiles, for instance) and the carrier's air wing contributes to the strike group's defense (through combat air patrols and airborne anti-submarine efforts). Thus, from a command and control perspective, carrier strike groups are combat organized by mission rather than by platform.

Source:
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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

WARSHIPS OF THE PAST: Elli cruiser of the Royal Hellenic Navy

 Written by D-Mitch

Elli, cruiser of the Royal Hellenic Navy (1951)
In 1947, Greece accepted from Italy the cruiser Eugenio di Savoia, a Condottieri class light cruiser of the Italian Navy (Regia Marina,  the Navy of the Kingdom of Italy) as a World War II reparation for Greece. The new warship renamed Elli, to honor the Elli light cruiser that was sunk by the Italian submarine Delfino while the cruiser sat at anchor near the Greek island Tinos, before the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War on 15 August 1940. The ship was commissioned into the Royal Hellenic Navy (Βασιλικό Πολεμικό Ναυτικό) in 1951 and had a very short career. The 186-meter cruiser was the longest warship ever served with the Hellenic Navy and the largest surface combatant after WWII. However, the largest ever Greek warships were the two per-dreadnought battleships of the Mississippi class, Kilkis and Limnos, that had a full displacement approximately 14,500tons at full load. It should be mentioned that today's Hellenic Navy largest warship is the logistic support ship Prometheus that has a displacement of about 14,000tons and length of 146 meters.

Elli, cruiser of Royal Hellenic Navy in 1951
Elli, during her official commission (1951)
Elli, during her official commission (1951)
The article contains more than 70 (!) photos and the most accurate and complete information about the ship, which in Greek service, very little is known about its equipment and history. Unfortunately, the photos are not of high resolution, so it was really difficult to distinguish the equipment on the vessel and to analyze it better. Moreover, this article was another example where the researcher should be responsible for evaluating all his sources with criticism, and to not rely entirely on the online sources, but to report only the credible information based on careful judgment of the reliability of information. Yet, despite all these issues, I hope I did a good job and you will enjoy the article!

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Sunday, 27 November 2016

FACTS & TRIVIA #3: HMS Hood, HMS Agincourt, Jean Bart, Gorz and surpercarriers

Enjoy the third part of a new category of articles where all the significant and interesting facts in naval history as well as "strange" and unique features of naval combattants' equipment, are described in brief. 

1. HMS Hood, the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy

HMS Hood, 17 March 1924
HMS Hood
HMS Hood
HMS Hood was a fast and very beautiful warship, a steel giant of 262m, about 47,000tons displacement and armed with eight 15in guns, but with serious design limitations. She was the pride of Royal Navy for more than two decades. As one of the largest and most powerful warships in the world, her prestige was reflected in her nickname ‘The Mighty Hood’. On 24 May, 1941 Hood with the newly commissioned Prince of Wales intercepted the German battleship Bismarck, one of the largest battleships ever built, and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen in the Denmark Strait. The pride of Royal Navy was lost quickly that day. The fifth salvo of the German battleship Bismarck sank the mighty Hood splitting the ship in two; the ship sank in three minutes! In only eight minutes of firing, Hood had disappeared, taking all but three of her crew of 1,419 men with her...

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

FACTS & TRIVIA #2: 21st century cruisers, Ise class hybrid battleship-carriers, British 18in naval gun, Valmy and HS Vasilissa Olga

Written by D-Mitch

This is the second part of a new category of articles where all the significant and interesting facts in naval history as well as "strange" and unique features of naval combattants' equipment, will be described in brief. Enjoy!

1.  21st century cruisers

There are very few navies in the world today that have cruisers in their inventories. Two of the world's superpowers, as somebody could expected, the USA and Russia, have such warships in their fleets, ships that exceed the 10,000tons displacement and of length greater than 170 meters.

  • Ticonderoga class cruisers of the United States Navy
USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser

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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

FACTS & TRIVIA #1: Modern torpedo launchers, USS Hull, HMS Victoria, Mississippi class and HMS Vanguard

Written by D-Mitch

This is the first of a new category of articles where all the significant and interesting facts in naval history as well as "strange" and unique features of naval combattants' equipment, will be described in brief. Enjoy the first part of my collection!

1. Non-trainable torpedo launchers in unusual positions on modern surface combatants

There are various torpedo launchers on modern large warships; some of them are trainable such as the popular US Mk32 triple/twin torpedo launcher, the B515 (ILAS-3) and the Russian ChTA-53, and some are not such as the US Mk32 Mod 9 twin launcher or the Cray Marine twin launcher. What do all these launchers have in common? They are located mainly amidships on large warships and on small vessels across the deck (Pauk class, torpedo craft etc.) or at the stern in a two-single torpedo launchers configuration (Combattante class etc.). But there are some large warships in modern era that had/have torpedo launchers in quite unusual positions and configuration. Such ships are the following:
  • Hamburg class destroyers and Deutschland training cruiser of the German Navy

Hamburg class destroyers of the German Navy with the initial triple torpedo launcher at the bow.

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Sunday, 20 November 2016

FLEETS #16: Combined Naval Fleets of the Royal Netherlands Navy and Belgian Navy and the Admiral Benelux (ABNL)

The flag of ABNL
The Dutch and Belgian Navies have been working together since 1948. In that year, the two countries agreed that their navies would operate under single command during times of war. The Admiral Benelux (ABNL) is the Commanding Officer of the combined military staff of the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Naval Component of the Belgian Armed Forces. The Benelux union, is the politico-economic union of three neighbouring states: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The position of ABNL, a result of developing naval cooperation between the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Belgian Navy, was created together with the combination of the Staffs of the two contributing navies on March 28, 1995 in the BENESAM Accord (from the Belgisch-Nederlandse Samenwerking, English: Netherlands Cooperation Accord). This cooperation was first geared at mutual battlefield cooperation and later at mutual defense in the Cold War as part of NATO's Allied Command Channel. After the end of the Cold War the focus of the Dutch-Belgian cooperation turned more and more to the efficient use of equipment and personnel (also driven by cutbacks in military spending after the collapse of the Soviet Union). The ABNL is responsible for the combined operations of the Dutch and Belgian Navies and can be tasked with the responsibility for the operational readiness and deployment of the combined fleets in joint operations, both in war- and peacetime operations. Most of all the ABNL is responsible for the efficient use of joint material and personnel and oversees the joint training programs of the two navies. That is the reason why the two navies use the same types of ships and helicopters. Recently, the two countries signed an agreement to replace their four (4) modernized Karel Doorman class frigates with new vessels under a joint programme as well as their twelve (12) Tripartite class mine countermeasure vessels with new ones (source).
 
The two following graphs depict the major fighting ships of the two Navies, the combined fleets form a quite significant force for the European standards. Notice that, ships that do not carry even the minimal armament, are excluded from the graph. These ships are mainly hydrographic survey vessels, tugs, training ships, diving support vessels, etc.

The combined Naval Fleets of the Netherlands and Belgium (version II). For a high resolution image click here.

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Friday, 4 November 2016

PHOTO GALLERY #13: Blessas, fast attack craft of the Hellenic Navy

HS Laskos. Photo: D-Mitch
On Friday, October 28, I had the opportunity to visit the fast attack craft P-21 Blessas, second vessel in the Laskos class (Combattante IIIA) of the Hellenic Navy. The vessels of the class were extensively modernized with the exception of their weapon systems (especially their obsolete MM38 Exocet anti-ship missiles) and handed over to the Navy the period 2008-2011, featuring the most cutting edge electronic systems similar to those of Roussen class, the latest and most advanced class of fast attack craft in service with the Hellenic Navy. However, some months ago, it was announced, that the Laskos class missile boats will receive the MM40 Block 2 Exocet, from the first three boats in the Roussen class, while the latter will receive the more advanced MM40 Block 3. HS Blessas, together with the Elli class frigate HS Kountouriotis (photo gallery here) and Type 209 submarine HS Pontos (photo gallery here) were opened to the public at Piraeus harbor due to the forthcoming celebration of Ohi Day (anniversary of the "No") to commemorate the rejection by Greek Prime Minister Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Mussolini on October 28, 1940 during WWII. It was very surprising to see so many people waiting to visit the vessels as the weather was a bit windy and rainy, and the most significant was that this public holiday fell on Friday (3-day weekend for public employees)! To learn more about the equipment, the armament and the capabilities of Laskos class click here. So, I hope you will enjoy the photos!

The three warships at Piraeus harbor. Photo: D-Mitch
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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. Equal to the Ezzat class are the Sa'ar 4.5 FACM of the Israeli Navy that except the regular armament of a boat in the category, they carry 16 Barak-1 short range anti-aircraft missiles (in the past they carried 32 plus six Gabriel anti-ship missiles except the Harpoon launchers)! 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 
Buck
 (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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Saturday, 9 July 2016

HISTORY #6: CosMoS CE2F, the Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDV) of the Hellenic Navy

 Written by D-Mitch

CE2F/X60 SDV of the Hellenic Navy
CosMoS CE2F were a series of Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV) built by M/s Cos.Mo.S Spa. which was in Livorno of Italy. Cosmos is probably the most famous military wet-sub (chariot) / midget sub manufacturer in the world. The firm originated in the 1950s when Ing. Sergio Pucciarini, an ex member of the Decima Flottiglia Mezzi d'Assalto (MAS), also known as La Decima or Xª MAS, an Italian commando frogman unit of the Italian Royal Navy, started to build wet subs for civilian and military use. The Hellenic Navy (Πολεμικό Ναυτικό) purchased some SDVs of the CE2F/X60 model (perhaps four) in the late '70s. In service, they were known as ΥΠ.ΟΧ. (Υποβρύχια Οχήματα). The CE2Fs are designed from the outset as a mean for attacking enemy warships in harbor mainly as well as for other special operations.

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Thursday, 30 June 2016

NAVAL FORCES #9 and INFOGRAPHICS #22: World's Ballistic Missile Submarines

The following artwork was created by H. I. Sutton and it was included in his excellent article published on June 18 of this year entitled The Gods of M.A.D.ness which analyzes the Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarines that are in service nowadays. Just click on the previous title to learn all the amazing details regarding the current ballistic missile submarines in world's navies as well as other great infographics about submarines in general but especially about submarines designed for special purposes such as Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs), midget subs and similar craft. For other infographics and information in this blogger-page about Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarines click here or just the appropriate label.

Today's World's Ballistic Missile Submarines. High resolution image here.
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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The evolution of Japanese destroyers after WWII

Article written by Jon Harris
Editing, photos and graphs by D-Mitch

JMSDF destroyers (DDG and DDH) in formation
Since the end of World War Two, Japan has commissioned as many different destroyer type designs as the United States and the former Soviet Union. This exceptional feat has gone little noticed. The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) has produced a steady stream of gradually improving designs, culminating in the powerful, well-balanced fleet of today. Their design bureau didn't produce radical forms such as the Russian KYNDA class cruisers, or Swedish VISBY class corvettes. Rather, this island nation developed a variety of platforms designed to defend the homeland and its vital oceanic trade. The application of existing weapons and sensors, primarily of US origin, provided for robust growth, and limited expenditures on research and development.
A massive fleet of Japanese destroyers in formation
As of 2016, the JMSDF operates a total of 50 destroyers including; four (4) helicopter destroyers of three different classes (IZUMO, HYUGA, SHIRANE), eight (8) anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) destroyers of three different classes (ATAGO, KONGOU, HATAKAZE), 18 destroyers of three different classes (AKIZUKI, TAKANAMI, MURASAME), 11 small destroyers similar in size to frigates of two different classes (ASAGIRI, HATSUYUKI), six (6) destroyer escorts of the ABUKUMA class (similar in size to light frigates and corvettes) and three (3) small SHIMAYUKI class (reconverted HATSUYUKI-class) destroyers that are used mainly for training purposes but they keep all their armament intact. But let's go back some decades ago...

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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

HISTORY #5: 100 years since the Battle of Jutland!

The 2nd Division of the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet prepares
to open fire on the German High Seas Fleet.
The 31st of May 2016 marks 100 years since Britain and Germany fought each other in the Battle of Jutland. It was the biggest fight to take place on sea during World War One and happened in the North Sea, just off the coast of Denmark. British ships had set sail to stop the German fleet and there was an expectation that Britain would win the battle. Britain's navy was superior to Germany's - they had a bigger fleet and more firepower. But the battle didn't unfold as simply as many thought it would do. Around 100,000 men were involved in the battle of Jutland and 250 ships. The battle was fought over 36 hours from 31 May to 1 June, 1916. The German High Seas Fleet was under the command of the Admiral Reinhard Scheer. In charge of the British fleet that day was Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. It brought together the two most powerful naval forces of the time and it became the largest sea battle in naval warfare history in terms of the numbers of battleships involved. More than 6,000 Britons and 2,500 Germans died. Who won the battle? The Germans claimed victory, as they lost fewer ships and men. The British press reported this and Admiral Jellicoe was criticized for being overly cautious in the battle and was later sacked. But within days, attitudes changes and Jutland was seen by some people as a victory for the British. This was because Germany never again tried to challenge the British Grand Fleet and stayed in their bases for the rest of the war. Who really won the Battle of Jutland is a topic that is still debated now, 100 years on. More information, details and photos from the battle here and here.

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INFOGRAPHICS #21: Deutschland class heavy cruisers (pocket battleships)

German heavy cruiser pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee
returning from an Atlantic cruise, October 1938.
The Deutschland class was a series of three Panzerschiffe ("armored ships"), a form of heavily armed cruiser, built by the Reichsmarine officially in accordance with restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. The class, which comprised the ships Deutschland (renamed Lützow later), Admiral Scheer, and Admiral Graf Spee, were all stated to displace 10,000 long tons (10,000 t) in accordance with the Treaty, though they actually displaced 10,600 to 12,340 long tons (10,770 to 12,540 t) at standard displacement. Despite violating the weight limitation, the design for the ships incorporated several radical innovations to save weight. They were the first major warships to use welding and all-diesel propulsion system, a radical innovation at the time that contributed to significant savings in weight. Due to their heavy armament of six 28 cm (11 in) guns, the British began referring to the vessels as "pocket battleships". The Deutschland-class ships were initially classified as Panzerschiffe or "armored ships", but the Kriegsmarine reclassified them as heavy cruisers in February 1940. The three ships were built between 1929 and 1936 by the Deutsche Werke and Reichsmarinewerft in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, respectively. The three Deutschland-class ships varied slightly in dimensions, appearance and armament. The Admiral Graf Spee was confronted by three British cruisers at the Battle of the River Plate. Although she damaged the British ships severely, she was herself damaged and her engines were in poor condition. Coupled with false reports of British reinforcements, the state of the ship convinced Hans Langsdorff, her commander, to scuttle the ship outside Montevideo on December 17, 1939. The Lützow and Admiral Scheer were destroyed by British bombers in the final weeks of the war (April 1945). Lützow was raised and sunk as a target by the Soviet Navy while Admiral Scheer was partially broken up in situ, with the remainder of the hulk buried beneath rubble.

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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Baden-Württemberg class frigates of the German Navy

Written by D-Mitch 

The German Navy F125 class frigate Baden-Württemberg
during sea trials (July 1st). Photo: Carsten Vennemann
After approximately two years, and with very limited time, I managed finally to reach my 100th post. Due to this special occasion, I chose to write an analysis on a warship class that has not been in service yet, a new "controversial" warship design if I may say which I will elaborate later why is that. This is the newest frigate design today in Europe and one of the latest worldwide, the Baden-Württemberg class of the German Navy, also known as F125 class which is the project name. The F125 class intends to replace the eight aged F122 class (also known as Bremen class) of frigates in a 1:2 ratio which means one F125 class frigate will succeed two F122 class frigates. There is not so much information regarding the capabilities of the design and her electronic equipment or photos of her special features as only few images of the lead ship of the class during its first sea trials were just recently released in public. That is the main reason why the majority of the photos in the article are of low resolution; once they become available better photos I will update the analysis.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Cruisers and Men

RHS Georgios Averof
HMCS Ontario of Canadian Navy
This is the second article (after the article Battleships and Men) that is dedicated to crew photos together with their warships. After battleships, the largest surface combatants once in the world, the second largest are the cruisers (and the largest surface combatants today) of which some of them exceeded even the 200 meters in length (for example the American Des Moines class heavy cruisers had a length of over 218m and a crew of about 1,800 men!). Therefore, I felt that I had to create a post about them and their crews, similarly I did about battleships, in order to have a complete collection of massive surface combatants and their numerous crews. This is a collection of over 45 crew photos of various countries' cruisers. So, enjoy some nostalgic photos of these former but also some of the today's elegant and powerful rulers of the seas with their crews! If you have similar photos, please do not hesitate to contact me!

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Sunday, 27 March 2016

PHOTO GALLERY #12: Kanaris, frigate of the Hellenic Navy

F464 Kanaris Kortenaer class frigate of the Hellenic Navy
Yesterday, March 26th of 2015, I had the opportunity to visit some Hellenic Navy ships and boats that were moored at Piraeus Port for the celebrations of the Greek Independence Day on March 25, the day that commemorates the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821. Such day of the year is a great opportunity for citizens of Athens and Piraeus to visit warships of Hellenic Navy that visit Piraeus for three days (March 25-27). As usual, Hellenic Navy brings one frigate, one submarine and one fast attack missile craft for the celebrations at Piraeus. F464 Kanaris was the representing frigate, one of the nine (ten once as Bouboulina was decommissioned in 2013) of the Elli class frigates (Kortenaer/Standard class) of the Hellenic Navy. This is the former HNLMS Jan van Brakel (F825), launched on the 16th May 1981 at the Royal Schelde shipyards in Holland and commissioned on the 14th April 1983. On the 29th of November 2002 she was acquired by the Hellenic Navy and was renamed Kanaris, becoming the 8th Standard class frigate of the Hellenic fleet. The ship is one of the three non-modernized frigates in the class (you can compare the ship with the modernized Kountouriotis frigate) but despite that, she is an excellent condition. The ship's name derives from the hero Konstantinos Kanaris, who participated gloriously in the Hellenic Revolution in 1821, serving the Navy. To all the officers and non-commissioned officers of the ship: thank you a lot for the tour! Εnjoy more than 40 photos of the ship!

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Saturday, 26 March 2016

PHOTO GALLERY #11: Okeanos, submarine of the Hellenic Navy

S118 Okeanos Type 209/1500
Today, March 26th of 2015, I had the opportunity to visit some Hellenic Navy ships and boats that were moored at Piraeus Port for the celebrations of the Greek Independence Day on March 25, the day that commemorates the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821. Such day of the year is a great opportunity for citizens of Athens and Piraeus to visit warships of Hellenic Navy that visit Piraeus for three days (March 25-27). Once again I was there, not so much for the other ships but especially for the submarine Okeanos S118 (English: Ocean), a unique boat in the Greek fleet. This time I skipped visiting the fast attack craft that was there because I have visited already two boats of the class (photos of Daniolos and Roussen); I should mention that usually Hellenic Navy brings one frigate, one submarine and one fast attack missile craft for the celebrations at Piraeus. The fast attack craft was Ritsos P71, the newest boat in the Roussen class (5th in the series) and the newest vessel in the Greek fleet. Some photos of the boat I will include them in the article I have written about the Roussen class.

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Friday, 25 March 2016

WARSHIPS OF THE PAST: Colbert and De Grasse anti-aircraft cruisers of the French Navy

Written by D-Mitch

Cruiser Colbert in the early '60s
Cruiser De Grasse in the early '60s
The De Grasse (C610) and Colbert (C611) were two anti-aircraft cruisers of the French Navy (Marine Nationale) that served the period 1956-1991. The two warships were the ultimate anti-aircraft gun cruisers after the WWII era with a number of guns of medium caliber dedicated for this role more than any other warship before in the cruiser category with the exception of the first four ships of the Atlanta-class cruisers that had the heaviest anti-aircraft armament of any cruiser of World War II (16x5in guns). Only battleships were some of the few ships that had more 5 or 6in guns than the two French cruisers. Elegant ships with a powerful armament they were promising that could overcome any future aerial threat. However, the introduction in service of the missiles, which can engage targets in much longer distances and much more precisely than guns, made them quickly obsolete for this role.

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Friday, 19 February 2016

Armidale class patrol boats of the Royal Australian Navy

Written by D-Mitch

HMAS Albany and HMAS Maryborough of the Armidale class
The Armidale class patrol boats is a class of 14 boats which were commissioned the period 2005-2008 in the Royal Australian Navy. The boats were built in order to replace the 15 aging boats of the Fremantle class that entered service the period 1980-1984. Of the seven proposals tendered, the Austal Ships/Defence Maritime Services (DMS) proposal for twelve vessels based on an enlarged Bay-class patrol boat was selected. Two additional patrol boats were ordered in 2005 to provide a dedicated patrol force for the North West Shelf Venture. The vessels were built at Austal's Henderson shipyard near Freemantle. The Armidale class ships are operated by the Australian Patrol Boat Group, and based in Darwin. They are primarily tasked with border protection, fisheries patrols, and the interception of unauthorised arrivals by sea. The Armidales are longer and heavier than their Fremantle class predecessors, with improved seakeeping ability and increased range, allowing them to reach Australia's offshore territories. Initially, the ships are multi-crewed, with three ship's companies available for every two vessels, allowing allows the patrol boats to spend more time at sea without cutting into sailors' rest or training time. The last years however, are no more multi crewed .

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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

WARSHIPS OF THE PAST: Jeanne d'Arc helicopter cruiser of the French Navy

The helicopter cruiser of the French Navy, Jeanne d'Arc
Jeanne d' Arc was a helicopter cruiser of the French Navy (Marine Nationale). She was the third vessel of the French Navy named after Joan of Arc ("Jeanne d'Arc", in French). In the mid-1950s the need arose to replace the old training cruiser Jeanne d'Arc of 1930. Various proposals were considered, including the use of a flotilla "avisos escorteurs", but in 1956 it was decided to construct a specialized helicopter cruiser which in wartime could be employed for ASW operations, for amphibious assault, or as a troop transport capable of lifting a battalion of 700 men. The resulting PH 57 design adopted a hull form based on that of the anti-aircraft cruiser Colbert. A conventional cruiser superstructure forward accommodated all command and control facilities, together with the boiler uptakes, while the after part of the ship was dominated by a helicopter deck (62x21m) beneath which were located the hangar and aviation facilities.

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Sunday, 7 February 2016

INFOGRAPHICS OF COAST GUARD VESSELS #3: Russia, China, Peru and Greece

Written by D-Mitch

This is the third post 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. Krivak III (pr. 11351, NATO codename Nerey) class frigates of the Russian Coast Guard

Varovsky Krivak III class frigate. Photo: Владимир Кононов
The Project 1135 Burevestnik (Storm Petrel) class were a series of frigates built for the Soviet Navy. These ships are commonly known by their NATO reporting name of Krivak and are divided into Krivak I, Krivak II (both navy), and Krivak III (coast guard) classes. These ships were designed as a successor to the Riga class. The design started in the late 1950s and matured as an anti-submarine ship in the 1960s. A total of 40 ships were built, 32 ships for the Soviet Navy (Russian Navy) and nine (9) modified ships of Nerey (Krivak III) subclass for the KGB Maritime Border Guard. Of the nine Nerey class vessels, eight (8) served in the FSB Coast Guard and two (2) units were transferred to Ukraine prior to completion (the Hetman Bayda Vishnevetskiy never completed) of which one, the Hetman Sagaydachny, is till today the flagship of the Ukrainian Navy.

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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

INFOGRAPHICS #20: The Battleship-Carrier and the Battleship of the Future!

How do you imagine the warships of the future? See how an American designer was imagining in 1940 the Battleship of the Future and how another designer in 1943 was imagining the Battleship-Carrier, a battleship with extensive flight deck that could be "transformed" to a light aircraft carrier!!!
From Popular Mechanics magazine of September of 1940 via James Vaughan, flickr.com. High resolution image here.

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Monday, 18 January 2016

WARSHIPS OF THE PAST: Panagopoulos class coastal patrol boats of the Hellenic Coast Guard and the Hellenic Navy

Written by D-Mitch

Panagopoulos class coastal patrol boats of the Hellenic Navy
The three coastal patrol boats of the Panagopoulos class were designed and donated by the engineer and reserve sub-lieutenant Eugenios Panagopoulos a graduate of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). Panagopoulos after the events in Cyprus on July 20, 1974, took the initiative to strengthen the Hellenic Navy fleet with the donation of three heavily armed and quite innovative, small and very fast warships. The total cost was about 3 million US dollars. The following year the three boats entered in service with the Hellenic Coast Guard. (source) All the boats of the class, were built at the Hellenic Shipyards.

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Monday, 4 January 2016

NAVAL FORCES #8: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Naval Forces

Written by D-Mitch

Member States of NATO
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO /ˈnt/; French: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique Nord; OTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. NATO's headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, where the Supreme Allied Commander also resides. Belgium is one of the 28 member states across North America and Europe. (source: wikipedia) The following graph depicts the Naval Forces of NATO in categories/types of warships. Next to the quantities I have included the percentage of the United States Naval Forces in order to highlight the important contribution of the U.S.A. to the Alliance. This time, I have included a table in the image, where I explain briefly the acronyms, the classes and how they differ with each other, as well the criteria I set for the inclusion or exclusion of a number of countries' warships.  I avoided each country's system of pennant numbers and classification (sometimes for political reasons) such as -D- for George Leygues class making them in that way to belong to destroyer type despite the non destroyer's capabilities and the small size of the class. I tried to avoid also the unfair categorization of warships in a higher position in the hierarchy such as the Pauk or Joao Coutinho class to corvettes without having missile launch capability while other larger ships such as those of Holland class are classified as oceanic patrol vessels. I tried to avoid all these unfair classifications and based on capabilities, size and armament I divided all the classes (in brackets) except of the auxiliary ships in 18 main types/categories. Warships that are out of service (cannibalized) or in reserve (without sensors or weapons) are not included in the graph.

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