HMS Vanguard expected to return to sea next year

by Tim Ripley

Under current planning HMS Vanguard is expected to rejoin the fleet next year following the completion of its delayed LOP(R). (Crown Copyright)

UK Royal Navy (RN) chiefs hope the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) HMS Vanguard will have competed a delayed refuelling next year and sail to the east coast of the US to test fire its Trident weapon system.

A senior RN source told Janes on 8 October that the submarine would complete the refit – which has taken twice as long as expected and is believed to be considerably over budget – in time for the weapon demonstration “in mid-2022”.

Vanguard started its three-year Long Overhaul Period (Refuel) – (LOP[R]) – at Babcock International's Devonport facility in Plymouth in December 2015, but the project has experienced technical problems and the imposition of safety restrictions during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Microscopic cracks were detected in similar fuel rods to those used on Vanguard

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Series of ‘casual factors' resulted in fire risk and damage to amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, US Navy report finds

by Michael Fabey

A series of “causal factors” led to the fire risk and damage of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), a US Navy investigation found. (US Navy)

Different categories of “casual factors … allowed for the accumulation of significant risk and led to an ineffective fire response” for the 12 July 2020 blaze that caused the damage and eventual decommissioning of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), according to the US Pacific Fleet Command Investigation released on 20 October.

The investigation identified the four categories of causal factors: the material condition of the ship, the training and readiness of the ship's crew, the integration – or the lack of it – between the ship and supporting shore-based firefighting organisations, and the oversight by commanders across multiple organisations.

The command investigation concluded that “a lack of familiarity with requirements and procedural non-compliance at multiple levels of command” contributed to the loss of ship.

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France upgrades La Fayette-class frigates

by Nicholas Fiorenza

The DGA received the first upgraded FLF, Courbet, on 13 September. (Ministère des Armées)

Upgrade work on the first-of-class Frégate de type La Fayette (FLF) La Fayette-class frigate began on 4 October, the Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, announced on its website on 15 October.

Three of the French Navy's five FLFs are being upgraded: Courbet, La Fayette, and Aconit. The DGA received the first upgraded FLF frigate, Courbet, on 13 September after the ship completed sea trials. The trials took place in the Mediterranean beginning in mid-June after Courbet underwent a nine-month refit. The agency expects the third upgraded FLF, Aconit, to be delivered in 2023.

The EUR400 million (USD465 million) upgrade includes the installation of a KingKlip Mk 2 hull-mounted sonar to provide the three FLFs anti-submarine warfare capabilities. Workalso involves upgrading the frigates' combat systems and optronic surveillance capabilities, as well as reinforcing their structure and stability. The Crotale CN2 point defence missile system is being replaced by two reconditioned Sadral sextruple launchers armed with Mistral infrared-guided very-short-range surface-to-air missiles.

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Japan spots Chinese and Russian warships sailing through the Tsugaru Strait for the first time

by Kosuke Takahashi & Gabriel Dominguez

Chinese and Russian warships have been spotted for the first time sailing through international waters at the Tsugaru Strait located between Japan's main islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on 18 October.

The MoD said it is the first time that the ministry spotted Chinese and Russian warships going through the strait simultaneously. It noted that a total of 10 ships were identified.

The MoD said Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force minesweepers JS Izushima and JS Aoshima as well as P-3C maritime patrol aircraft confirmed that five of the vessels belonged to the Chinese Navy – including one Type 055 (Renhai-class) destroyer – while the other five belonged to the Russian Navy, including two Udaloy-class destroyers.

The vessels were spotted about 110 km southwest of Hokkaido's Okushiri Island in the Sea of Japan (also known as the East Sea) at around 08.00 hrs local time, said the MoD, adding that they entered the Pacific Ocean through the Tsugaru Strait in the afternoon.

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UK Royal Navy (RN) chiefs hope the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) HMS Vanguard w...

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