Proceedings, December 2012
In early November the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) returned home to Norfolk, Virginia, to prepare for her December 2012 inactivation. Her final deployment lasted seven and a half months, during which time she steamed nearly 90,000 miles throughout the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Arabian Sea.
This marks the 25th homecoming for the nation’s first and longest-serving nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Built by Newport News Shipbuilding, the Enterprise was laid down early in 1958, launched in September 1961, and commissioned on 25 November 1962. She has participated in every major U.S. conflict since the Cuban Missile Crisis. She is 1,088 feet long, has a beam of 248 feet, and a full-load displacement of more than 93,000 tons. The Enterprise is not due to be replaced in service until around 2015, when the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) joins the Fleet.
The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence announced in September that the long-term lease for its three River-class patrol ships—HMS Tyne , Mersey (pictured here), and Severn —would not be renewed, but that the ships will instead be purchased outright for continued Navy use. The vessels originally were ordered in May 2001, entering service in 2003 as replacements for the Island-class offshore patrol ships.
Until now, the River-class ships had Royal Navy crews but were leased to the Navy for £7 million per year by their owner, BAE Systems. The £39 million up-front cost paid to purchase the ships will likely save considerable money in the long term, and ensure that the ships remain operational for many years to come. A River-class vessel displaces roughly 1,800 tons when fully loaded; missions include multipurpose patrols, fisheries and environmental protection operations, counterterrorism duties, and disaster relief. A modified River-class patrol ship, HMSClyde , entered service in 2007. Slightly longer than the other three ships of the class, she has an aft helicopter deck, and accommodations for 11 additional personnel.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines are in the midst of an important defense buildup spearheaded by the acquisition of new warships and aircraft. In 2011 the navy commissioned two Hamilton -class cutters that had been retired from the U.S. Coast Guard. These ships have been redesignated frigates in Philippine service. The acquisition of two more Hamilton -class units is also likely, but their transfer has been delayed to fund planned upgrades for the first two frigates, now renamed the Gregorio del Pilar and the Ramon Alcaraz.
The Philippines announced in October that it would be acquiring five patrol boats from France for roughly $116 million. The Philippine Coast Guard will be receiving at least some of these new vessels, which are to include one retired French 82-meter ship and four 24-meter patrol craft delivered by 2014. The Philippine Navy is also seriously considering the purchase of two Maestrale -class frigates from Italy, and in September the Congress of the Philippines approved funds to buy the vessels. About 50 new aircraft and helicopters are also slated to be purchased during the next few years.