Surface Forces: September 28, 1999

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Civilianized Aircraft Carriers: After World War II, many warships were converted to civilian uses. For example, many of the sight seeing ships that circle New York City's Manhattan island are converted landing ships. The end of the Cold War brought some similar conversions, but on a much grander scale. The Soviet Union was, through the 1980s, building a fleet of aircraft carrier fleet. When the Cold War ended, there was no longer a need, nor available funds, for these ships. So Russia has been trying to sell them off. Nations considering purchasing these ships for military use were put off by the cost of upgrading (or finishing) them and the enormous expense of running the ships and their aircraft. With no military sales in sight, Russia has sold one of its carriers to a South Korean firm, which will convert it into a floating entertainment center. The party carrier will be based in Guangdong, China. Another Russia carrier, as yet unconverted, is berthed in Macao, where tours are offered. Macao, a Portuguese colony, reverts to Chinese control in late 1999.

Sweden has ordered two more Visby-class stealth frigates, bringing total orders to six. (Original plans for a class of 10 will not survive recent budget cuts, and the class will stop at six.) The Visbys are stealth frigates, with extensive design features designed to reduce radar, thermal, acoustic, magnetic, hydrodynamic, visual, and electronic signatures. The Visbys mount a 57mm cannon, four tubes for 400mm anti-submarine torpedoes, and an ALECTO multi-role rocket launcher. They have a complete Mine Counter Measures system, but this can be removed and replaced by four RBS15-II anti-ship missiles. The Visbys are 72m long and displace 600 tons. Their hulls are made almost entirely out of fiber-reinforced plastic. The first Visby will launch next year; all six will be in service by 2008.--Stephen V Cole

South Korea has commissioned the second KDX1 destroyer, the Ulchimunduk. The first of these ships is undergoing sea trials and the third was launched last year.--Stephen V Cole

 


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