01 May 06. UK troops take over Afghan duties. Commanders say they will make a difference to ordinary Afghans. A contingent of British forces are due to take over security duties in one of the most dangerous Afghan provinces. The soldiers are replacing US forces in the Taleban-dominated southern province of Helmand, as part of an expansion of peacekeeping operations by Nato. Hundreds of British troops are already in Helmand and the full complement will eventually number more than 3,000. Brigadier Ed Butler, commander of UK forces in the country, said he was well equipped for a “challenging mission”. The main job of his soldiers will be to help reconstruction efforts after taking over the Provincial Reconstruction Team. Violence has been increasing in southern Afghanistan and, according to BBC correspondent Alastair Leithead – who is in Helmand – British forces will be at particular risk from suicide attacks and roadside bombs. Last week Taleban fighters told the BBC they planned to target and kill British troops in Helmand. (Source: BBC)
Apr 06. Astute Class Submarines: In Service Dates. DLO News predicts that First of Class HMS ASTUTE will arrive at her base port in 2008 (while the Major Projects Report continues to show January 2009 as the forecast in-service date).
The Armed Forces’ Minister said (20 Apr 06) that second and third of Class, HMS AMBUSH and ARTFUL, were expected to enter service in 2010 and 2012. Comment: Creature comforts in the new SSN are described as “on the utilitarian side”. There will be five showers, five lavatories, two urinals and eight hand-basins for the crew of 98 although the Commanding Officer will have his own hand-basin. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0617, 01 May 06)
Apr 06. Armed Forces: Trained Requirements and Strengths. As at 1 Jan 06 the UK Regular Armed Forces were under strength by 4,640, or 2.5%. Comment: The trained requirement for all three Services is being reduced, as is explained in Note 1 on page 3. Between 1 Oct 05, the previous quarterly return, and 1 Jan 06 the trained requirement for RN/RM Regulars was reduced by 250. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0617, 01 May 06)
May 06. HMS GRIMSBY: Back for Repairs Navy News recorded the return of HMS GRIMSBY to Rosyth during the weekend 15/16 Apr 06. The Sandown Class minehunter was transported from Maloy in Norway by a German heavy lifting barge, Condock 1. Repair options for the ship “are still being considered”. Comment: HMS GRIMSBY struck the side of a fjord during EX COLD RESPONSE on 27 Feb 06. The ship’s outer hull was not punctured but the collision caused sufficient ‘internal bleeding’ to make it unsafe to sail back to the UK. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0617, 01 May 06)
24 Apr 06. Search and Rescue (SAR): Replacement Service. The Armed Forces’ Minister has recently (24 & 27 Apr 06) indicated how the SAR service may be provided in future. The MoD and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) were currently assessing options for a replacement service from “the middle of the next decade”. An announcement is to be made in due course, but tasking of the service will continue to be managed jointly by the MoD and the MCA. Comment: The Services and the MCA provide a 24-hour civil and military SAR service from 12 bases around the UK, involving some 40 Sea King helicopters (25 RAF & 15 RN) and seven Sikorsky S-61 leased by the MCA. The MCA has awarded a five-year interim contract from 1 Jul 07, covering four civil bases, but this is expected to be superseded when the SAR Sea King replacement is selected. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0617, 01 May 06)
27 Apr 06. Navy to Base First Four Littoral Combat Ships in San Diego. The Navy announced today that the first four Littoral Combat Ships(LCS) will be homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif. Key in the success of implementing these new concepts is the ability to collocate these ships to achieve readiness alignment and econom