2014: The year's biggest Naval Technology stories

France suspended the first Russian Mistral warship delivery, Russian forces took control of another Ukrainian naval base in Crimea, and the UK Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class (QE) aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was christened. Naval-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from 2014.


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France suspends first Russian Mistral warship delivery

Mistral

France reportedly suspended the delivery of the first Mistral-class aircraft carrier Vladivostok to Russia 'until further notice'.

A statement from the office of the French President François Hollande said: "The current situation in the east of Ukraine still doesn't allow for the delivery."

France had been under pressure from the UK and the US to delay the delivery of two warships because of Moscow's reported involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.

HMS Queen Elizabeth set for christening

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II christened the UK Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class (QE) aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at Babcock's Rosyth dockyard in Fife, Scotland.

Marking 'the start of a new era of British sea power', the christening represented a key moment in the project to build two new carriers, which has attracted criticism because of its £6.2bn cost and height of ambition.

The UK Navy is expected to begin sea trials for the vessel in August 2016, followed by commissioning in May 2017.

Russia seizes additional Ukrainian naval base in Crimea

Russian forces took control of another Ukrainian naval base in Crimea, soon after storming a headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, where they then raised their flag.

Ukrainian naval officer major Eduard Kusnarenko said that the Russian military attacked the naval transportation facility in Bakhchisaray, 30km south-west of the regional capital Simferopol.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu asked the authorities in Crimea to release Ukrainian Navy head admiral Serhiy Haiduk, who was detained by forces after attacking the fleet headquarters, Reuters reported.

GD signs $17.6bn US Navy contract for Virginia-class submarines

General Dynamics (GD) Electric Boat received a $17.6bn contract from the US Navy for the construction of ten Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Under the multi-year block IV contract, Electric Boat and its industry partner Newport News Shipbuilding will build two submarines a year through to 2018.

The construction on the first block IV submarine SSN-792 is scheduled to start on 1 May, with the procurement of the tenth expected in 2023.

Northrop wins $3.6bn US Navy contract for E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

Northrop Grumman received a $3.6bn contract from the US Navy to deliver 25 new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, specifically designed as a carrier-based airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system.

The latest fixed-price, incentive-fee multi-year agreement brings the total number of aircraft on contract with Northrop to 50.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems E-2 / C-2 programmes vice-president Bart LaGrone said: "It's a win-win. Our warfighters will get the advanced AEW&C technology that the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye brings, at a lower cost for taxpayers."

UK MoD awards £3.2bn contracts to support British naval bases

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded contracts worth £3.2bn to support the management of British naval bases and the maintenance and overhaul of the Royal Navy's fleet of 56 warships and submarines.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "This huge investment in our naval bases will directly sustain more than 7,500 jobs and skills across the UK, and ensure that the Royal Navy's fleet of 56 warships and submarines are in the best possible condition and available for operations.

"Following the £3.5bn Scout armoured vehicle contract, this is the second biggest defence contract placed by this government and reflects our commitment to giving our armed forces what they need to keep Britain safe."

Sikorsky signs $1.24bn deal to build new Marine One helicopter fleet

Sikorsky signed a $1.24bn contract to build the new Marine One helicopter fleet for the Office of the President, which will replace the existing fleet.

The fixed-price incentive-firm target contract was awarded by the US Navy for the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the Presidential Helicopter Replacement programme.

In addition to the procurement of six test aircraft, the contract includes the supply of associated support equipment, integration of mature government-defined mission systems, a training system, including a flight training device and a maintenance training device, as well as logistics, engineering and test and evaluation support.

UK MoD awards £348m patrol vessel construction contract to BAE

BAE Systems

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a £348m contract to BAE Systems to construct three new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Royal Navy, formalising an agreement signed in November 2013.

The new vessels will be built at BAE Systems' shipyards on the Clyde in Scotland, and will be designed to perform counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling missions.

The construction forms part of a deal signed in 2009 between BAE and the MoD.

UK-led Joint Warrior 2014 exercise begins

Joint Warrior 2014

The UK-led Joint Warrior 2014, Nato's biggest military exercise, started off the coast of Scotland.

Maritime forces from a number of Nato nations, including 22 ships and submarines and 52 fixed-wing aircraft, took part in the exercise, which aimed to enhance combat skills.

It involved air, surface and underwater threat training, starting with military and political tension, in addition to simulated war fighting.

 

US Navy's Triton UAS successfully completes debut cross-country flight

The US Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) successfully completed its first cross-country ferry flight from California to Maryland, US.

The flight was mainly aimed at demonstrating its capability to perform operational missions in the maritime domain.

During the 11-hour, 3,290nm flight, the aircraft, which was controlled by a joint team from a ground station at the Palmdale Navy System Integration Lab at Patuxent River, ferried the broad-area maritime surveillance demonstrator from Palmdale to the Patuxent River.

UK Royal Navy tests electric shipboard handler prototype

UK Royal Navy handlers and engineers tested the remote-controlled electric shipboard handler (aircraft) kit, which is designed to move the 23t F35B Lightning II safely on to HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales.

Carried out at the Pax River, US Naval Air Station Patuxent River, near Washington DC, the trials were conducted without the need to flash up its engine.

A team of Royal Navy and RAF engineers have been collaborating at Pax River for several years to maintain the £120m F35B Lightning II stealthy strike fighter, which will replace the Harrier aircraft.

ONR develops new lightweight boot for sailors

Researchers at the US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) TechSolutions office developed a new lightweight boot for sailors and naval aviators to increase comfort over long watches at sea.

Designed to replace current steel-toed boots, the new footwear, which has a composite replacement toe, is scheduled to undergo a six-month user evaluation.

Initially, 150 participants, including sailors and naval aviators aboard submarines, destroyers and amphibious vessels, will start the evaluation.