19 Sep 06. General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, has announced the opening of a conversion facility for its EUR 94m NIMCIS contract with the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. The centre was officially opened by Major General Rob Zuiderwijk, Commandant of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps and Commodore Klaas Visser, Director of the Naval Establishment, Den Helder, on 19th September 2006. The Royal Netherlands Marine Corps vehicles will be converted at the centre to allow the installation of equipment for NIMCIS, the New Integrated Marines Communication and Information System. NIMCIS is the first major Bowman export contract and involves the digitisation of some 300 platforms to enable the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (RNLMC) to use a range of network-enabled command, control, communications, computing and intelligence (C4I) systems. As prime contractor and systems integrator, General Dynamics UK will provide the Dutch Marines with a Bowman secure voice and data communications infrastructure. This will enable full interoperability with Britain’s Royal Marines, especially 3 Commando Brigade, in support of the joint UK/NL Amphibious Battlegroup.
Sep 06. HMS SOVEREIGN: Decommissioned. HMS SOVEREIGN flew her decommissioning pennant when she sailed (12 Sep 06) from HM Naval Base Clyde for the last time. The First Sea Lord was on the quayside to say farewell to the RN’s longest-serving SSN.
Comment: Concerns about HMS SOVEREIGN’s seaworthiness were expressed in the media during March 2006 (i.e. ‘Crippled nuclear sub is a death trap say crew’). Only two Swiftsure Class boats (SUPERB & SCEPTRE) remain in service, together with seven Trafalgar Class SSN. HMS TALENT was rededicated on
7 Sep 06, following a major overhaul. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0635, 18 Sep 06)
Sep 06. Type 45 Destroyers: Programme Progress. First of Class HMS DARING was launched on 1 Feb 06 and is expected to join the Fleet in May 2009. Second of Class HMS DAUNTLESS is now due to be launched in Glasgow in January 2007 (previously April 2007), prior to entering service in 2010. On 2 Sep 06 it was announced that the City of Newcastle was to be affiliated to HMS DAUNTLESS (replacing the decommissioned Type 42 destroyer HMS NEWCASTLE). Third and Fourth of Class, HMS DIAMOND and DRAGON, were laid down in 2005. Steel was first cut for the Fifth of Class, HMS DEFENDER, on 31 Jul 06. Work should start on the Sixth of Class before the end of 2006. On 8 May 06 the Armed Forces’ Minister reiterated that there were plans for a Class of eight Type 45 destroyers, of which six were on order. The Minister added: “Formal approval and a subsequent order, for ships seven and eight, will be made at the appropriate time.”.
Comment: The delay in ordering another two ships appears to be due to cost, with Ministers talking about “value for money” and “affordability”. As at 31 Mar 05 the (official) forecast cost for the first six destroyers was £5,896m (an increase of £421m since approval in July 2000). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0635, 18 Sep 06)
Sep 06. RAF: Move of HQ Personnel and Training Command (PTC). Commander-in-Chief HQ PTC has officially moved (1 Sep 06) from RAF Innsworth to High Wycombe.
Comment: The move follows an announcement (16 Jun 05) to rationalise and collocate HQ PTC and Strike Command (STRIKE) on a single site at High Wycombe. A reorganisation of Group Headquarters at STRIKE, reducing from three Groups to two, took effect on 1 Apr 06. Innsworth is due to close by 2008, if no other suitable military role can be found for the base. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0635, 18 Sep 06)
18 Sep 06. Dell Inc. will invest €200m ($254.5m) in Poland, including a new factory that will help it battle for market share in fast-growing central Europe. Dell to date had invested little in Poland, leaving it trailing competitors including Hewlett Packard and IBM on a