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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First SLAM-F component handed over

by Richard Scott

France has accepted delivery of the first hardware for its SLAM-F (Système de lutte anti-mines futur) future mine countermeasures (MCM) capability.

A prototype Maritime Mine Countermeasures (MMCM) system was formally handed over to the Direction générale de l'armement by Thales in Brest on 25 November to support operational evaluation activities and establish an initial operational capability.

The SLAM-F recapitalisation is intended to provide the French Navy with a next-generation MCM capability to deliver against four different MCM tasks: to maintain the security of the strategic deterrent and the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle ; to protect access to French ports; to support the deployment of a deployed task group; and to support evacuation, crisis prevention, and contested intervention operations.

The MMCM programme, co-funded by France and the UK, has matured an end-to-end offboard minehunting system that uses remote offboard systems – both autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) – to enable the detection, classification, localisation, and neutralisation of mine threats at stand-off ranges.

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NAVSEA establishes new US Navy group to improve industrial fire safety

by Michael Fabey

Fire damage led to the decommissioning of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in 2020. The US Navy has established a group to prevent such incidents. (US Navy)

The US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has established a new team focused on preventing future industrial shipboard fires and reducing risks highlighted in the investigations of previous fires, NAVSEA officials confirmed on 6 December.

Over the past 12 years, the navy has suffered four major shipboard fires that resulted in the loss of two capital asset ships, extended availabilities, and significantly increased costs, NAVSEA officials noted in a statement.

The launch of the Industrial Fire Safety Assurance Group (IFSAG) by NAVSEA Commander Vice Admiral William Galinis and Executive Director Giao Phan, “provides the command and the navy with a team focused specifically on analysing industrial shipboard fire metrics, and developing actions to address and reduce those risks”, NAVSEA officials said.

“Hot work and electrical fires,” Eric Duncan, IFSAG director pointed out, “are top offenders, along with material handling and stowage, and compliance with fire safety requirements.”

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Thyssenkrupp might shed naval business

by Marc Selinger

Thyssenkrupp's naval products include the F125 frigate. (Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems)

German industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp is exploring divesting its Marine Systems (TKMS) business to facilitate consolidation in the fragmented European naval shipbuilding industry.

One option under consideration is to combine TKMS with another shipbuilder, Thyssenkrupp said on 2 December. Another is to turn TKMS into a standalone entity, which could ultimately lead to a merger with another shipbuilder. The TKMS review is in an early stage, according to Thyssenkrupp CEO Martina Merz.

TKMS builds submarines, surface ships, and electronic systems for naval customers. In fiscal year (FY) 2020–21, which ended on 30 September 2021, the business generated sales of EUR2 billion (USD2.3 billion), an 11.1% increase from the previous year, fuelled by surface ship deliveries to the German and Israeli navies. Its adjusted earnings before interest and taxes rose 30% to EUR26 million, and its order intake more than tripled to EUR6.7 billion.

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Upgrade work on the first-of-class Frégate de type La Fayette (FLF) La Fayette-class frigate began o...

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