USN Surface Warships

Baltimore (Oct. 13, 2016) The future Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is pierside at Canton Port Services in preparation for its upcoming commissioning on Oct. 15, 2016.(DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse A. Hyatt)
160421-N-YE579-005 ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 21, 2016) The future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) transits the Atlantic Ocean during acceptance trials April 21, 2016 with the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of DDG 1000, the future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) May 20, 2016. Following a crew certification period and October commissioning ceremony in Baltimore, Zumwalt will transit to its homeport in San Diego for a Post Delivery Availability and Mission Systems Activation. DDG 1000 is the lead ship of the Zumwalt-class destroyers, next-generation, multi-mission surface combatants, tailored for land attack and littoral dominance. (U.S. Navy/Released)

The new Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class destroyers feature full electric propulsion and a radical stealth design. A product of the US Navy’s post-Cold War focus on littoral operations, their cost priced them out of the future construction programme and previous plans for an extensive series have been reduced to just three ships. Instead, production has resumed of the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class, the current Flight IIA version being represented here by Chung Hoon (DDG-93). Construction of a further improved Flight III version will start shortly. Meanwhile, second line surface warships are now concentrated on the Freedom (LCS-1) and Independence (LCS-2) Littoral Combat Ship designs; a controversial programme that looks set to be truncated to forty ships.

The twenty-two remaining Ticonderoga (CG-47) class guided- missile cruisers provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate either independently or as part of aircraft carrier strike groups and surface action groups. They tend to have better command and control facilities than the smaller destroyers; one is typically assigned to each carrier strike group under the command of the group’s air warfare commander. Like other major US Navy surface combatants, they have a combat system centred on the Aegis Weapon System and the SPY-1 series multi- function phased-array radar. Armament includes the Mk 41 vertical launching system (VLS) equipped with Standard Missile surface-to-air missiles and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles; advanced undersea and surface warfare systems; and embarked helicopters. These capabilities are supplemented by extensive command, control and communications systems. The class have been extensively modernised over the past ten years and the navy would like to withdraw half the class from operational service for further upgrades that would extend their lives into the mid-2030s and beyond. However, this plan sparked Congressional opposition, largely over concerns that the no-operational ships would never be returned to service; a modified scheme is now being implemented.

The Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class guided-missile destroyers’ combat system likewise is centred on the Aegis Weapon System and the SPY-1 radar. Like the cruisers, they provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capability, operating independently or as part of an aircraft carrier strike group or surface action group. Twenty-eight Flight I/II and thirty-four Flight IIA variants are currently in service; the latter support two embarked helicopters, significantly enhancing their sea-control capability. The DDG-51 upgrade plan includes an improved multimission signal processor, which integrates air and ballistic missile defence capabilities, and enhancements to radar performance in the littorals. The VLS will be able to support the latest SM-3 and SM-6 variants of the Standard Missile currently entering service. A Flight III variant is also in development and will incorporate the advanced air and missile defence radar (AMDR) and other technology insertions. It would seem that eighty or more DDG-51 series destroyers will ultimately be built.

The Zumwalt (DDG-1000)-class guided-missile destroyer is a 15,000-ton optimally- manned (142 crew), multi-mission surface warship tailored for land attack and littoral dominance. The original acquisition strategy identified thirty-two DDG-1000s. This was reduced to three in favour of restarted production of the cheaper DDG-51 design. The lead ship began sea trials in December 2015. With twenty Mk 57 peripheral VLS modules (each with four cells suitable for several missiles) and two 155mm Advanced Gun Systems, the navy’s first `all-electric’ warship will provide long-range precision fire in support of forces ashore, operating independently or as part of naval, joint or combined strike forces. To ensure effective operations in the contested littoral, it incorporates signature reduction, active and passive self-defence systems, and enhanced survivability features. It fields an undersea warfare suite capable of mine avoidance, as well as self-defence systems to defeat threats ranging from submarines and cruise missiles to small boats.

Turning to smaller surface combatants, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a modular, reconfigurable ship that addresses warfighting capability gaps against asymmetric anti- access threats and will eventually comprise a significant portion of the US Navy’s future surface combatant fleet. Through its modular design, LCS can be reconfigured for mine- countermeasures, surface warfare, and anti-submarine warfare missions. This versatility enables the Navy to provide warfighters with a capable, cost-effective solution to expeditionary operations in the littoral. There are two variants of LCS, the Freedom ((LCS-1) design (odd-numbered ships) and Independence (LCS-2) design (even- numbered ships). The Freedom variant is a steel semi-planing mono-hull with an aluminium superstructure, whilst the Independence variant is an all-aluminium trimaran. As of late 2015, six Littoral Combat Ships had been commissioned and another eighteen were under construction of contract. There has been much debate over the level of capability the LCS offers compared with its cost; this has resulted in a decision to progress to an upgraded light frigate variant from LCS-33 onwards. Whether the recent reduction in the targeted number of small surface combatants to just forty will result in further changes remains to be seen.

The Littoral Combat Ships Fort Worth (LCS-3) – foreground – and Freedom (LCS-1) pass each other off the coast of San Diego. The US Navy’s increased interest in littoral operations following the end of the Cold War eventually spawned the Littoral Combat Ship concept.


With the Soviets gone the United States no longer faced a peer rival able to challenge global sea control, but it was clear that there would still be conflicts and crises that would likely involve the United States in some form or another. The US Navy responded to this new era in a series of `capstone’ policy documents that articulated a shift in emphasis away from `blue water’ operations towards a focus on responding to the challenge of what the US Marine Corps described as `chaos in the littorals’. The first of these documents, entitled The Way Ahead, was published in April 1991, shortly after the conclusion of the Gulf conflict. This was followed in 1992 by… From the Sea, in 1994 by Forward From the Sea, and in 1997 by Anytime, Anywhere: A Navy for the 21st Century.

Despite some notable differences in emphasis between these documents they all shared a common focus on a littoral approach and on the kind of capabilities that would enable the navy to influence events on land from the sea in a context where regional crises could occur in unexpected places. Blue-water concerns were never entirely forgotten, and received enhanced prominence in Forward From the Sea, but the US Navy had clearly repositioned itself from being one designed primarily to fight for control of the sea against a major peer rival to a force able to exploit its near-monopolistic control in order to influence events ashore in a broad range of contingencies. US Navy interest was matched by that of the US Marine Corps whose concept for Operational Maneuver from the Sea, published in 1996, articulated a way for amphibious forces to be employed to decisive effect in the post-Cold War era.

The need to project power ashore was evident in a series of crises including Operations `Deny Flight’ (1994) and `Deliberate Force’ (1995) in Bosnia, where US Navy and US Marine Corps aircraft and sea-launched cruise missiles made an important impact. This was also the case with respect to Operation `Allied Force’ in Kosovo (1999), where sea-launched missiles and carrier aviation made another significant contribution to success ashore. Sea-based missiles and aircraft also contributed to the constant sorties and occasional strikes in the Persian Gulf that marked the interval between the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In all three cases the US Navy also undertook embargo operations in support of international sanctions. The growing range of sea-based strikes was illustrated in 1998 when seventy-five sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at targets in Sudan and land-locked Afghanistan in retaliation for the terrorist attacks on United States’ embassies in East Africa in August that year. That the US Navy could also fulfil more traditional forward presence and deterrence missions was illustrated during the Taiwan Straits crisis in 1996 when two US Navy carriers were deployed to the straits in response to provocative Chinese missile tests; a rather traditional employment of naval forces to demonstrate United States’ capacity and resolve to protect its friends from potential aggression.

By 1999, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the US Navy had contracted significantly, from almost 600 (actually 566) ships and submarines in commission to `just’ 317. The four old battleships were retired and the navy cut the number of carriers in commission from fifteen to twelve. Particularly heavy cuts were experienced by those forces whose primary rationale related to Cold War missions. Thus, the number of strategic missile submarines was halved from thirty-six to eighteen boats over the course of the decade, nuclear-powered attack submarine numbers were similarly cut from ninety-six to fifty-seven and conventional attack submarines were phased out entirely. The number of frigates, intended primarily for anti-submarine work, was cut by nearly two-thirds, from 100 to just thirty-seven. It should be noted that over the same time period the number of amphibious ships was reduced from sixty-five to forty-one hulls, although the replacement of older ships with newer, more capable vessels mitigated the loss in expeditionary capability. As Amund Lundesgaard has noted, the increase in the number of mine countermeasure vessels, from five to sixteen, reflected the new emphasis on littoral warfare.


Gato Class

USS Perch (SS 313) of the Balao class. The Balaos were virtually identical to the Gatos, but design changes to facilitate rapid building resulted in greater structural strength and an increase in diving depth from 300ft (91m) to 400ft (122m). This photograph shows clearly the many protrusions on a typical World War II submarine. As well as creating considerable under- water drag, leading to low speed and limited endurance, they were a source of considerable noise, making them readily detectable.

Geography dictates that virtually all US Navy warships must operate at considerable distances from the continental USA. Apart from purely coastal vessels, therefore, the majority of its warships, and particularly the submarines, need long range and a good cruising speed to reach their operational areas in a reasonable time. During World War I the enemy was Imperial Germany and Japan was an ally, but the possibility of a confrontation with the ever more powerful Japanese was increasingly important to US Navy planners from the early 1920s onwards. The ranges of operations involved in such a conflict were beyond anything then being considered by other leading navies, and in the major strategic plan – Plan Orange – it was expected that the principal operational base in a war against Japan would be the US west coast, the Philippines and the mid-Pacific islands being presumed lost in the early stages.


The US Navy had long followed a policy of gradual improvement, producing submarines which without excelling in any single aspect of their performance were, nevertheless, extremely reliable, with long range, good habitability and large numbers of reload torpedoes, all essential attributes in boats operating for protracted periods at great distances from base. Particular emphasis was placed on propulsion, and the US Navy was so determined to have a guaranteed source of really reliable and economical diesel engines that it even assisted in the dieselisalion of the US railroads, a policy which resulted in the perfection of four types of high-speed diesel. In addition, it had also experimented in the inter-war years with a composite drive on the S class and direct drive on the Ts and Gs. but for the Gato class it returned to the proven diesel-electric drive.

There had been constant debate in the US Navy about the gun armament for submarines, and so strongly did the naval staff feel about preventing submarine captains from becoming involved in surface actions that they deliberately restricted the armament to one Mk 21 Mod 1 3in/50 anti-aircraft gun. This weapon’s inadequacy was proved beyond doubt in the early war years, and US submarines underwent constant up-gunning throughout the war. as did those of most other navies, until the revolution in submarine design led to the elimination of all gun armament. There placement for the 3in/50 on the Gato class was the Mk 17 5in/25 a ‘wet’ gun produced from non-corrosive materials, which enabled the muzzle and breech covers to be eliminated. In design terms the Gato class was a progressive development of the Porpoise class, and the Gatos’ high surface speed of just over 20 knots proved invaluable in reaching patrol areas and achieving good firing positions for torpedoes.

The all-welded construction facilitated production, which was confined to four yards, the most unusual being that at Manitowoc on Lake Michigan, some 1,000 miles (1,610km) inland. Not only did the boats have to be launched side! ways into the river, but they then had to travel down the Mississippi to reach the sea.

This highly successful class show the soundness of the American policy of developing reliable hull and engine designs over a long period. The US Navy’s task was. however, somewhat simplified by having no real requirement for smaller, more manoeuvrable and shorter ranged submarines.

During World War II US submarines, normally operating at considerable distances from their bases, sank over nine-tenths of Japan’s major vessels, an achievement in which code-breaking played a considerable part, but to which successful submarine design also contributed. Most of the later fighting was done by the 73-strong Gato class, and by the 132 Balaos and 31 Tenches that were developed from them. Eighteen of the Gato class were sunk by enemy action and one was a constructive total loss.

The Gato class is one of those which bridged the gap between the last of the submersibles and the first of the true submarines. In its original form the Gato epitomised the US Navy’s long-range attack submarine and operated with great success and distinction against the Japanese, and with the other similar classes, the Gatos played a significant part in bringing Imperial Japan to the verge of surrender by devastating its merchant fleet. However, the Gato class boats were slow under water: their maximum submerged speed was 8.75 knots, and even this could not be sustained for any great period without draining the batteries. Also, as with virtually all their contemporaries, the designed operating depth of 300ft (91m) was a trifle less than the overall length of 311.75ft (95.2m), which imposed considerable constraints on manoeuvrability.

The next class of US submarine – the 132-strong Balao class – was virtually identical with the Gato, but had a strengthened hull, enabling the members of the class to dive to 400ft (122m), and earning them the name ‘thick-skinned Gatos’. The Tench class was also based on the Gato, but only 31 had been built when the war ended and production ceased.


The Gato class boats were among the first to have a comprehensive electronics fit, eventually comprising a full range of radar, sonar, communications and electronic warfare equipment. The actual fit was in a constant state of change as new equipment became available and as boats could be spared to have it installed, and masts and antennas proliferated with little effort at reducing drag until by the war’s end there was a veritable forest atop every submarine’s fin.

The first air search radar small enough to install in a submarine, the SD, became available at the end of 1941, and its small bar antenna was usually mounted at the head of the HF communications rod antenna. The SD gave no directional information, had a maximum range of only 10 miles (16km) and was easily detected by enemy RDF; nevertheless, it met the submariners’ urgent need for early warning of the approach of an aircraft, and by mid-1942 all US submarines were fitted with SD, while the SJ, which gave both range and bearing, was starting to enter service. Although difficult to calibrate and somewhat unreliable, the SJ gave submariners a totally new capability, and when the circular plan position indicator display replaced the earlier horizontal line display great confidence was placed in the system. The SJ antenna was ovoid, originally solid but later a lattice, and unlike the SD it had a mast of its own. The last wartime set was the SS.

Sonars, too, were being constantly improved, and by 1945 most US submarines had the active WFA system, which combined echo-ranging, listening and sounding using a retractable keel-mounted dome. The latter feature prevented the sonar from being used when the submarine was lying on the bottom, and a passive listening device was therefore mounted topside. Initially the JP, a converted surface patrol craft set, was used; like the later JT it enabled the submarine to detect surface ship propeller noise at ranges of up to 20.000 yards (18.288m] and was also used to detect self-noise. The JP was manually rotated but the later it was powered and consisted of a 5ft (1.53m) line hydrophone with a 22° beam scanning at 4rpm. It covered the sonic (100Hz-12kHz) and, with a converter supersonic (up to 65kHz) frequencies. A new and highly specialised type of sonar came into use late in the war: the FM, later redesignated QLA-1, was a precision mine-evasion sonar which was so effective that US submarines were able to work in Japanese home waters with relative confidence.

Other sensors included the usual two periscopes. Number 1 for search and Number 2 for attack, and there was a variety of radio masts, whip antennas and stubs, the actual fit changing with bewildering rapidity. Electronic warfare equipment also began to be fitted, one external indication being a large direction-finding loop. Finally, for surface actions with the gun, there were two target bearing transmitters mounted on the bridge.


As built, the Gatos were armed with one 3in/50gun in line with the prewar policy of ensuring that a submarine captain would not be given a gun which might encourage him to fight it out on the surface. However, weapons were progressively added throughout the war and by 1945 armament normally comprised one 5in/25gun and two 40mmand two twin 20mm cannon. By 1950. however, the Guppy conversion programme (described below) had eliminated the guns.

There were ten 21 in torpedo tubes, six forward and four aft. with 24 reloads, and while the boats themselves were very reliable the torpedoes were far less so. Certainly, the Mk 14 torpedo with its Mk Vl magnetic exploder used from 1941 to 1943 was notoriously unreliable; the torpedo ran much deeper than designed and left a prominent wake, while the exploder frequently failed to detonate and the back-up contact exploder only seemed to work when hitting the target a glancing blow. Later in the war the Mk 18 torpedo, a direct copy of a captured German G7e, was widely used, and was credited with sinking a million tons of Japanese shipping.


The 73 boats of the Gato class were launched between 1941 and 1943, construction being shared between Electric Boat, Groton (41), Portsmouth Navy Yard (14), Mare Island Navy Yard (4) and Manitowoc, Wisconsin 14. Of the 54 that survived the war. most were converted to Guppy 1 (Greater Underwater Propulsive Power) standard: all guns and other external protuberances were removed, the sail was streamlined, a schnorkel was fitted and new, lighter and much more powerful batteries were fitted. This conversion based on the lessons of the German Type XXI, had a dramatic effect on performance, with considerable increases in underwater speed and range. Of the remaining boats six were transferred abroad and seven converted to hunter-killer submarines with more powerful batteries for a higher underwater speed. Another six were converted to radar pickets in 1951-52. with an extra 31ft (8.3m) portion added to their hulls. Tunny (SS-282) was converted into a Regulus 1 missile launching submarine and was then again altered to a troop-carrying submarine in 1964.

No.311 Squadron (Czech) Coastal Command

At the end of April 1942 the squadron was transferred from Bomber Command to Coastal Command in to undertake maritime patrols. It moved to RAF Aldergrove in Northern Ireland on 28 April and began maritime patrol training on 1 May. The squadron was made part of No. 19 Group RAF, moved to RAF Talbenny in Wales on 12 June and undertook its first anti-submarine patrol on 30 June. Its Wellingtons lacked air to surface vessel (ASV) radar, but despite this between June 1942 and April 1943 the squadron achieved the highest success rate of any Coastal Command squadron.

Throughout July and August the squadron’s Wellingtons remained in Bomber Command’s Temperate Land Scheme camouflage: dark green and dark earth above, and black below. This was unsuitable for maritime patrols, but not until September 1942 were the aircraft repainted in Coastal Command’s Temperate Sea Scheme: dark slate grey and extra dark sea grey above, and white below.

In April 1943 the squadron was partly re-equipped with five Wellington Mark X aircraft. This could carry two torpedoes or 3,999 lb (1,814 kg) of bombs, but it was primarily a Bomber Command variant, not designed for maritime patrol work. Air Vice-Marshal Karel Janoušek, Inspector-General of the Czechoslovak Air Force, eventually convinced the UK Air Ministry to re-equip the squadron with Consolidated Liberator heavy bombers, as these had radar and a longer range, both of which made them more suitable for maritime patrols. Retraining flights began on 25 May and continued until August.

Towards the end of May 1943 squadron personnel began to move to Beaulieu in Hampshire, where the unit would begin its work-up on Liberators. Coastal Command had set up a training unit at Beaulieu (No. 1 Operational Training Unit) under the command of Sqn/Ldr Everest, to convert 311 Squadron onto the new aircraft. Both June and July were wholly taken up with conversion to the Liberator, thus no operational sorties were carried out. The Operational Training Unit had a number of Liberator Mk. III/IIIAs at its disposal; FK219 `9′, FK220 `3′, LV339 `4′, LV343 `12′, LV344 `8′ and LV342 `5’and they were later joined by two more Lib’ Mk. IIIs, FK215 and FK224 together with a Liberator Mk. V FL971 `7′ (Once the initial training of 311 Squadron had been completed the training unit moved to Aldergrove in September and eventually merged with 1674 Heavy Conversion Unit. Aircrew from the squadron were still undertaking training into at least October at Aldergrove using Liberators such as LV344 `8′. During the conversion period at Beaulieu, AVM Janousek paid a visit to observe the unit’s progress and the unit on parade he presented the CBE to Gp/Cpt Kubita. Life for the aircrews became a succession of training and operational exercises with rockets and bombs. Initially there were problems with the availability of aircraft, but by the end of July Liberators BZ773 `A’, BZ774 `D’, BZ775 `G’, BZ779 ‘J’, BZ782 `K’ and BZ785 `L’ were all in use. The additional aircraft allowed the training to be intensified, with special exercises being undertaken covering, familiarisation flying, navigation, bombing practice, air-to-air and air-to-sea firing, and with lectures and demonstrations being delivered if the weather was unfit for flying.

The month of August was to prove hugely significant for the squadron and it began on a proud and confident note. The unit hosted a visit from a number of high ranking individuals, who attended the celebrations on the 4th of the month, commemorating the third anniversary of the squadron’s foundation. The President Dr Beneš; the Minister of National Defence General Sergej Ingr; The Minister for Foreign Affairs Jan Masaryk; The Czechoslovak Liaison Officer at Coastal Command Gp/Cpt Kubita all attended together with the AOC Coastal Command AM Slessor and the AOC 19 Gp Coastal Command, AVM Bromet. The squadron paraded and a memorable time was had by all. By the middle of the month the squadron was deemed ready to resume operational status and the first anti-submarine sweep was organised. This took place on the 21st and involved the two crews of the Commanding Officer, Wg/Cdr Jindřich Breitcetl and Sqn/Ldr Václav Korda. Unfortunately the start of the new phase was to be marred, Breitcetl’s Liberator failed to return from the sweep. At the time the reason for the disappearance of Liberator BZ780 ‘O’ was not known, but it was thought to have been lost in combat with enemy long range fighters over the Bay of Biscay. German records appear to indicate that the Liberator was shot down by a group of Me.IIO fighters from 4ZG1 about 120 miles north west of Brest at approximately 1820 hours. Fw. Lothar Uhlig carried out two attacks on the Lib’ and was apparently credited with the victory. A second Me.IIO (No.6406 SG+GN) from the unit failed to return to base and it is thought that it may have been shot down by the Liberator’s gunners. The German airmen Uffz Georg Planer and Uffz Horst Hofman are listed as missing on this date. Amongst the crew of BZ780 was Air Gunner W/O Vilém Jakš , a pre-war boxer of international repute. The others listed as missing were second pilot Flt/Lt František Fencl, navigator P/O Eduard Pavelka, gunners P/O Emilián Mrázek, F/Sgt Josef Halada, Sgt Josef Felkl and wireless operator Sgt Michal Pizur.

This tragic event was not allowed to affect the unit’s routine and Sqn/Ldr Vladimír Nedvěd (who would shortly be appointed as the squadron’s next commanding officer) took off with F/O Karel Schoř and his crew in Liberator BZ779 ‘J’ at ten minutes after six the next morning, to carry out a morale boosting patrol. It was the aircraft’s first operational patrol. During the sweep a submerging U-Boat was sighted, but the Liberator was not in a position to attack before the submarine disappeared. The aircraft returned to Beaulieu later in the day having carried out a patrol of eleven hours and twenty minutes duration. Further tragedies were in store before the end of the month, almost certainly due in no small measure to lack of familiarity with the new aircraft. On the 29th F/O Adolf Musálek perished with his crew when Liberator BZ775 ‘G’ failed to gain height, struck trees and crashed on take-off for an operational patrol. The subsequent investigation came to the conclusion that insufficient runway had been used before the pilot attempted to get airborne with the fully loaded aircraft. The Liberator burst into flames on impacting with the ground and all eight crew members died in the inferno (pilot F/O Adolf Musálek, second pilot Sgt Stanislav Jelínek, navigator Flt/Lt Bruno Babš and wireless operator/gunners Sgt Eduard Blaháček, Sgt Hanuš Polak and Sgt Jiří Rubín together with gunners F/O Miroslav Čtvrtlík and Sgt Václav Blahna). On the 29th of August F/O Metoděj Šebela and his crew, had to divert to Gibraltar following engine trouble while on patrol in Liberator BZ779 ‘J’. They were forced to throw surplus equipment overboard to rid themselves of unnecessary weight, managing to reach Gibraltar with only 70 gallons of fuel remaining. The Lutwaffe were again making their presence felt on the 30th of August, when P/O Josef Stach and his crew in Liberator FL948 ‘M’ were attacked at 1100 hours by a Ju.88 in position 45.28N 08.32W. The Ju.88 opened fire from 500 yards and closed on the Liberator. In all the Liberator was hit some twenty times and the gunners became involved in a protracted duel with the fighter. Their gunnery was of the highest standard and the engines of the Ju.88 were set on fire and it crashed into the sea at 45.48N 09.32W. During the fight the mid-upper gunner (Sgt František Benedikt) had fired 750 rounds and the rear gunner (Sgt František Skalík) 600 rounds. During the fifteen minute combat one of the beam gunners Sgt Andrej Šimek (it was his first operational flight) was killed, although the rest of the crew were unharmed. The Ju.88 was probably Ju.88C-6 No.750399 (F8+FX) of 13/KG40 crewed by Uffz E Itzegehl, Uffz U Lentz and Gefr H Hobusch, all of whom are recorded as missing. Later on the same day, Flt/Lt Emil Palichleb’s Liberator BZ785 ‘L’ crashed and burst into flames, causing the death of all on board (Flt/Lt Emil Palichleb, Sgt Josef Bittner, Sgt Zdeněk Řezáč, Sgt Theodor Schwarz and Sgt Emil Szeliga). The aircraft stalled off a steep turn close to the base during a practice evasion flight and crashed at 1542 hours. It spun into the ground from a height of around 1,000 feet and came to earth at Dilton Copse, near Brockenhurst. It was thought that the aircraft had exceeded the normal all up weight laid down by flight limitations and that this together with poor handling had contributed to the crash. By the end of the month the squadron had carried out ten operations, 21 sorties and covered 31,000 nautical miles in some 200 hours of operational flying.

Life throughout September was fairly quiet, although a number of fighter affiliation exercises were conducted with 310 (Czech) Squadron Spitfires, which was based at nearby Ibsley. A parade was held on the 15th at which the CO Wg/Cdr Nedvěd was decorated with the DFC by the AOC 19 Group. Wg/Cdr Nedvěd had some additional excitement the next day (the 16th). He and his crew were on patrol from early morning having taken off at 0653 hours in Liberator BZ779 ‘J’, when they sighted a U-Boat. Unfortunately they were unable to get into an attacking position before the submarine dived to safety. The aircraft returned to base after a patrol lasting ten hours and forty three minutes. Things got a good deal ‘hotter’ on the 27th September when P/O Jan Irving in newly delivered Liberator BZ786 ‘G’, attacked an unidentified U-Boat shortly before 1115 hours. The submarine appeared to have escaped and no indications of damage were seen. Irving made sure that a sea marker was dropped at the scene. Some time later at 1520 hours, a periscope was sighted at position 49.30N 09.45W and again Irving went into the attack. On this occasion rocket projectiles were fired (believed to be the first time they had been used by an aircraft of the squadron on a submarine. BZ786 had external rocket rails fitted to the forward fuselage, carrying eight 60lb rockets with armour piercing warheads). Three to four minutes after the attack oil began to rise to the surface, spreading rapidly along the submarine’s track. After ten minutes of circling the Liberator had reached its ‘prudent limit of endurance’ (PLE) and the captain decided to head for home. At that time the oil patch had ceased to move forward, but was still spreading. All the indications were that the U-Boat was either sunk or severely damaged. At the end of the month the squadron had accomplished 26 operations with 54 sorties and had covered approximately 87,000 nautical miles in 560 hours of operational flying.

The Liberator’s ability to defend itself was severely tested on at least two occasions in October 1943. F/Sgt Josef Kuhn was at the controls of Liberator BZ779 ‘J’, when the aircraft was attacked by four Ju.88s in position 47.28N 10.17W. The enemy fighters were first sighted at a distance of three miles and they changed formation into ‘line astern’ in readiness to carry out a series of attacks on the Liberator. The first of the Junkers opened fire from a distance of 1,000 yards and together with the others closed in on the Lib’. Kuhn continually corkscrewed the aircraft to present as small and as difficult a target as possible to his attackers. The gunners wreathed in cordite fumes returned fire at every possible opportunity. The aircraft suffered considerable damage; the radar was put out of action and fuel and hydraulic tanks were holed and leaking. Several of the crew were wounded; Sgt Alois Matýsek, the radar operator, had splinter wounds in his leg and shoulder; F/Sgt František Veverka, one of the gunners, had splinter wounds in his leg and face (he had been wounded firstly when manning the rear turret and had moved to the starboard beam gun where he was wounded for the second time). Regardless of his injuries he continued to engage the enemy fighters throughout. One of the enemy fighters was claimed as damaged, probably shot down. The aircraft in question was probably JU.88C-6 No.750434 of KG40, which was listed as missing. The missing crew members were Oblt G Christner, Few E Leubner and Uffz A Knefel. After the attack Kuhn managed to nurse the Liberator back to the airfield at St. Eval for a ‘no flaps’ landing on the nose wheel and one main wheel. Both Kuhn and Veverka were to later receive the DFM in recognition of the courage and skill that they displayed during the incident. On the 23rd it was the turn of P/O Josef Stach to come under attack this time from seven enemy fighters! Liberator BZ774 ‘D’ was bounced at 1315 hours in position 45.00N 10.08W. The gunners put up a spirited defence and the German airmen soon realised that they had picked on a rather tough adversary. During the 45 minute combat that followed, one of the enemy fighters was claimed as shot down and two damaged. Stach manoeuvred the Liberator masterfully and despite the efforts of the enemy fighters the aircraft was not damaged and none of the crew were injured. An exhausted and thankful crew reached base after a flight lasting over 12 hours. This was another classic instance that served to emphasise the squadron’s motto ‘Never Regard their Numbers’. No matter what the odds the airmen of 311 were always ready to give battle. Stach was later to receive the DFC in recognition of his piloting skills. Despite the outside interference, the squadron carried out 23 operations and 54 sorties in 550 hours and covered 86,000 nautical miles during the month.

On 26 May 1943 the squadron moved to RAF Beaulieu in Hampshire. On 4 August it celebrated its third anniversary. Guests again included President Beneš and Foreign Minister Masaryk. They included also General Sergej Ingr, who had succeeded General Hasal-Nižborský as Defence Minister, and the head of Coastal Command, Air Marshal John Slessor.

On 21 August 1943 the squadron began maritime patrols with Consolidated Liberator GR Mk V aircraft and continued anti-submarine work, but now over the Bay of Biscay. On 10 November Liberator BZ774/D, led by Flt Sgt Otto Žanta, attacked German submarine U-966 with rocket projectiles (RP’s) off the Galician coast. The submarine ran aground and her crew abandoned her.

On 27 December 1943 Liberator BZ796/H, led by Plt Off Oldřich Doležal, attacked the German blockade runner Alsterufer in the Bay of Biscay. Doležal’s crew set the cargo ship on fire with five RP’s and a 500 lb (230 kg) bomb, and she sank the next day.

In February 1944 the squadron was re-equipped with nine Liberator C Mk VI aircraft.[5][28] On 23 February it moved to RAF Predannack in Cornwall. On 24 June Liberator FL961/O led by Fg Off Jan Vella, along with the Tribal-class destroyers HMS Eskimo and HMCS Haida, attacked and sank U-971 just west of the English Channel.

On 7 August 1944 the squadron transferred to RAF Tain in Scotland[31] and its area of operations changed from the Bay of Biscay and Western Approaches to the North Sea. In September its rôle was changed from day to night anti-submarine patrols. On 27 October Fleet Air Arm aircraft from HMS Implacable damaged U-1060, forcing her to run aground on the coast of German-occupied Norway. Two days later two 311 Squadron Liberators, FL949/Y led by Fg Off Josef Pavelka and BZ723/H led by Sqn Ldr Alois Šedivý, damaged the grounded submarine with salvos of RP’s. Later two Halifax heavy bombers of No. 502 Squadron RAF finished off U-1060 with depth charges.

In February 1945 the squadron was re-equipped, again with Liberator C Mk VI aircraft but now equipped with anti-submarine Leigh Lights. In March the entire squadron took part in the “Chilli-II” and “Chilli-III” raids on German submarine training areas in the Baltic.

Grave of Sgt Rudolf Scholz in St John’s parish churchyard, Stoke Row, Oxfordshire. Sholz was the flight engineer of Liberator IV EV995 when it crashed on the beach at Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland, on 10 April 1945. Six of its crew were killed and three injured.

311 Squadron was with Coastal Command for 38 months, in which time it flew 2,111 sorties. By the end of the war 247 of its men had been killed, either in combat or in accidents. 33 of its members were released from German prisoner-of-war camps. One PoW, Plt Off Arnošt Valenta, was murdered by the Gestapo in March 1944 for taking part in the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III.


MOMBASA March 5, 1589

A typical Ottoman galley.

A Portuguese map made in 1519 depicting Indian Ocean areas.

Finally, the Portuguese caught the evil Turkish pirate Mir Ali Bec with 4 Galleys and 1 Fusta in Mombasa, on the African East Coast. The Turks have built a fort with heavy artillery south of the harbour to protect the ships from the east and prevent the Portuguese ships to enter the strait. They have two galleys near it and the Portuguese captain, Tomé de Sousa Coutinho, sensing that the time was now, with the sailors and soldiers aboard electrified with the sight of the Turkish ships decided to attack. He has 8 Fustas under Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelos; followed by 8 Galliots and a reserve of 4 galleys under his direct command. But by this time, an army of Zimbas (a “cannibal” African tribal army) is trying to cross the strait from the mainland to attack the island (Mombasa).

In the morning of March 5th Mir Ali Bec sent 2 galleys to prevent the Zimbas from crossing because it was possible to do so during low tide.

As the Portuguese squadron arrived the captain ordered all hands-on deck with colors flying with fifes playing and drums beating to announce their arrival to the Turks. Without paying any interest to the Turkish artillery the Portuguese fleet headed to the port and discharged an artillery barrage against the two Turkish Galleys without any effect. But the Portuguese capitânia (flagship) was able to send some well-aimed volleys at the Turkish fort and killed (maybe with some luck) the Maomethan artillery officer.

Most of the Turks lost moral and abandoned the fort heading to the main town. Seeing this, a young Portuguese officer with half a dozen soldiers got on a small boat from the Galley capitânia and landed near the fort, attacking it with “arme blanche”! After killing the rest of the garrison they returned to the Portuguese squadron with the Turkish flags.

The Portuguese ships sailed past the fort into the harbour determined to engage the remaining Turkish vessels. The Muslims fired two rounds before Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelos and his soldiers and mariners boarded the Turkish fleet. The meleé was so fierce, with handguns firing and powder kegs thrown from the Portuguese ships that the Turks jumped overboard and swam ashore. Such was the excitement that some of the Portuguese jumped after the Turks in pursuit and the captain had to send a couple of officer ashore to rally them. The captain general, Tomé de Sousa sent 100 men to carry the guns from the fort while Mateus de Vasconcelos with 2 Galleys, 7 Galliots and 6 Fustas sailed up the strait to attack the 2 remaining Turkish Galleys guarding the passage from the main continent against the Zimbas, as Tomé de Sousa remained in front of the town with the remaining 2 Galleys and Fustas. The combat with the two remaining Turkish Galleys was fiercer than the previous because they were the best armed and equipped. The Portuguese once again grappled the Turkish vessels and an intense hand-to-hand fight, arquebus firing, “Panelas de Pólvora” (powder mines) throwing ensued with the Portuguese getting the upper hand because of their numbers. The Turks lost many men with 70 being taken prisoners. The Portuguese lost a few wounded and two killed. The rest of the day was spent dividing the spoils of the Turkish cargo. The King of Mombasa was given 24h, by Tomé de Sousa, to deliver all Turks in town. Next day, March 6th, was spent loitering and searching the Turkish ships. On the 7th, since the King of Mombasa hadn’t sent any information about the Portuguese terms, the commander of the fleet, Tomé de Sousa, disembarked 500 soldiers and headed to the town but found no resistance. They sacked and burnt the buildings, along with a great ship and several small boats, before returning to the fleet. During the raid a Zimba emissary reached the Portuguese and requested permission to enter the island. The Portuguese captain gave his approval for the next day, March 8th. As the Portuguese captain had foreseen as soon as the Zimbas entered the island the fugitives, Africans, Arabs and Turks, began to run from their hiding and tried to reach the Portuguese ships. Among them was Mir Ali Bec with 30 soldiers and officers along with around 200 Arabs and many more natives. Scores drowned trying to reach the ships. On the 15th of March arrived two Galleons of the Indian Fleet that had been “lost” during the crossing from India in the Arabian Seas to escort the fleet while Tomé de Sousa Coutinho sailed all along the Indian Ocean and paid visit to the kings of Lamu, Pate and Mandra for their support to the Turks. On the 16th of May 1589 the fleet arrived in Goa with flying colours and Mir Ali Bec was sent to Portugal where he converted to the Catholic faith.

The Portuguese have around 500 experienced soldiers divided mainly by the Galleys and Galliots. They are fierce but difficult to control. The Turks have around 250 soldiers divided by the Galleys and in the fort. They have better soldiers in the two Galleys blocking the Zimbas.

Portuguese Squadron

Tomé de Sousa Coutinho

Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelos

8 Fustas

8 Galliots

4 Galleys (reserve)

Turkish Squadron

Mir Ali Bec

4x Galleys

1x Fusta

U-Boat Tests with Bombardment Rockets

A small Wurfkorper Spreng 42 rocket used by the Kriegsmarine to test the idea of underwater rocket launching during 1942.

Preparations for underwater rocket launching trials with U-511, a Type IXC submarine.

An hypothetical illustration of the projected modification of type XXI U-boat with a “Ursel” rocket launcher.

These images were taken from an allied report dated 1945, “German Underwater Rockets”, produced by the “U. S. Naval Technical Mission in Europe”. As you could see, of the twelve experimental rockets, five were fitted with the “bugbeluftung”, a device set at the rocket nose meant to create a layer between water and the rocket body. That was made with exhaust gas ( a small fraction diverted, like the present Russian “Skhval” ). According the report the latter designs were functioning well. Range and speed were enough for the purpose initially in mind, to defend the submarine from attacking ships. Mind the sketch, with installation aboard a U-boat. It was to be trained and launched automatically by the SP-anlage.

In 1941 scientists at Peenemunde conceived the idea of launching artillery rockets from the deck of a submarine. The Kriegsmarine showed immediate interest and this led to a series of experiments in 1942 involving U-511, a Type IXC boat. A Schweres Wurfgerat 41 rocket launcher carrying six 12in (30cm) Wurfkorper Spreng 42 rockets was fitted to the upper deck. Surface launches proved successful, but surprisingly the tests also worked well underwater to a depth of 50ft (15m).

Six rocket-launching rails were welded to the deck of the U-511, and waterproof cables were run from the rockets to a firing switch inside of the submarine. The only modification to the rockets was waterproofing them by sealing their nozzles with candlewax. The firing tests from a depth of some 25 feet (7.6 m) were entirely successful. About 24 rockets were launched from the U-511, and additional rounds were fired from a submerged launch frame. The slow movement of the submarine through the water had no effect on the accuracy of the rockets. The 275-pound (125-kg) projectiles had a range of five miles (8 km). The only problem encountered was an electrical ground that caused two rockets to fire simultaneously.

Although these were preliminary experiments, Generalmajor Walter Dornberger, the head of the Peenemünde missile facility, presented the findings to the Naval Weapons Department, contending that rocket-firing submarines could attack coastal targets in the United States. The Navy predictably rejected consideration of an Army-designed weapon, the rocket rails were removed from the U-511, and in July 1942 the submarine departed on her first war patrol.

The potential for a new anti-shipping weapon seemed good, but there were guidance issues and insufficient resources to push ahead with development. Nevertheless, some progress had been made by the end of the war under a Research and Development programme called Project Ursel.

Subsequently, as the Type XXI U-boat was being developed, a rocket system was developed for attacking pursuing surface ships. The key to this weapon was a very precise passive, short-range detection system (S-Analage passir) to detect propeller noise from ASW ships. The submerged U-boat would then launch a rocket at the target. The echo-sounding gear performed well during trials, but the rockets were still in an early stage of development when the war ended.

In 1943 Otto Lafferenz, a director of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front), suggested the idea of launching V-1 flying bombs from submarines. This was also seriously considered but finally met with rejection for technical reasons. Then in late 1943, during a visit to Peenemunde, Lafferenz put the idea to Dornberger of launching A4 rockets at sea. The missiles were too big to be carried within a submarine and he came up with the idea of developing a submersible container carrying an A4 that could be towed behind a submarine. At a distance of 186 miles (300km) from the target (the A4’s normal range) the container would be moved to an upright position and the rocket launched. The idea met with considerable interest and the codenames Project Prüfstand XII (Test Stand XII), Apparatus F and Life Vest were assigned. But priority was being given to bringing the A4 into operational service with the Army and the development of a submarine-launched missile remained on hold until the autumn of 1944.

Eventually, a submersible torpedo shaped container was designed that measured 98ft (30m) in length and weighed 550 tons (499 tonnes). Access was gained by a hinged nose cap and the A4 missile was housed in the forward section. Behind this was a small control room and fuel storage tanks for the missile and extra diesel oil for the submarine. The container was fitted with water ballast tanks and power for all systems was supplied by a cable from the submarine. When the launch position had been reached, technicians would enter the container, prepare the rocket and finally return to the submarine. Following ignition, exhaust gas from the A4 would be re-directed through conduits around the missile and emerge at the container opening. Once the launch was completed, the container would be scuttled.

It was felt that undertaking launches against targets in Northern England and America would confuse the enemy about German rocket capabilities and make it possible to strike a number of previously inaccessible targets. Several Type XXI submarines would be adapted for rocket launch missions and one of these newer U-Boats could tow three containers, all trimmed for neutral buoyancy. Conversion of the submarines would be undertaken by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg and Wesser AG in Bremen. However, development of the project faltered and only one of three experimental containers had been completed in the Schichau Dockyard at Elbing by the end of the war. The biggest concern was ensuring container stability during launch while the accuracy of the missile’s flight presented a number of challenges that were never resolved. It is also worth mentioning that twelve dismantled A4 rockets were supplied to the Japanese and these were shipped from Bordeaux during August 1944 on U-195 and U-219, arriving in Djakarta in December 1944. What became of the wartime Japanese missile programme is unknown.

Rocket U-Boat Program




Type IXC

Laid down 21 Feb, 1941 Deutsche Werft AG, Hamburg

Commissioned 8 Dec, 1941 Kptlt. Friedrich Steinhoff

Commanders 12.41 – 12.42

12.42 – 11.43 Kptlt. Friedrich Steinhoff

Kptlt. Fritz Schneewind

Career 4 patrols 8 Dec, 1941 – 31 Jul, 1942 4. Flottille (training)

1 Aug, 1942 – 1 Sep, 1943 10. Flottille (front boat)

Successes 5 ships sunk for a total of 41.373 tons

1 ship damaged for a total of 8.773 tons

Fate Sold to Japan on 16 Sept, 1943 and became the Japanese submarine RO 500. Surrendered at Maizuru in August 1945.

Scuttled in the Gulf of Maizuru by the US Navy on 30 April, 1946.


In the Pacific near the end of the war, a U. S. submarine commander, Medal of Honor-winner Eugene B. Fluckey, experimented with launching rockets from his submarine while on the surface. At Pearl Harbor, Fluckey had an Army multi-barrel, 5- inch (127-mm) rocket launcher welded to the deck of the fleet submarine Barb (SS 220) and took on a store of unguided projectiles. she commenced her 12th and final patrol on 8 June.

This patrol was conducted along the coasts of the Sea of Okhotsk. For the first time in U.S. submarine warfare, Barb successfully employed rockets, against the towns of Shari, Hokkaido; Shikuka, Kashiho; and Shiritoru on Karafuto. She also bombarded the town of Kaihyo To with her regular armament, destroying 60 percent of the town.

Early on the morning of 22 June 1945, the Barb surfaced off the coast of the Japanese home island of Hokkaido and bombarded the town of Shari. The rockets were launched while the submarine was on the surface, at a range of 5,250 yards (4.8 km). During the next month the Barb remained in Japanese waters, attacking ships and carrying out five additional rocket bombardments, some supplemented by gunfire from the submarine’s 5-inch and 40-mm cannon.

The Barb’s rocket attacks were the product of one aggressive commander’s action, not part of a formal Navy program.

Spanish Defense Commitments – Navy


S-80 class submarines

Displacement: 1,565 tons submerged

Dimensions: 61.7 x 6.2 x ?? meters

Propulsion: Diesel-electric, AIP, 1 shaft, 3,800 shp, 20 knots

Crew: 32-35

The S-80 submarine’s sonar suite will comprise of a cylindrical array sonar, a flank array sonar, a passive ranging sonar, and a mine and obstacle detection sonar. These facilities are being provided by Lockheed Martin. The support structures and fairings for the sonars are being provided by Goodrich.

The S-80 will also be integrated with a towed array sonar system, supplied by QinetiQ, an interception positioning system and an own noise analyser.

It will be fitted with satellite communication systems developed by Indra and a guidance automation unit distributed intelligence (GAUDI) autopilot system developed by Avio.

The submarine will be equipped with Aries radars, Friend or Foe identification systems (IFF) and modular Pegaso defence electronic systems supplied by Indra.

The submarine will also be enhanced by integrating non-penetrating all-weather optronic imaging systems, hoistable masts and periscopes, which will be supplied by Kollmorgen Electro-Optical and Calzoni.

Armament: 6 21 inch torpedo tubes (18 torpedoes and Harpoon missiles)

New design to replace the Daphne class submarines.

Number Name                   Year       Homeport           Notes

[S81                                     2005    Cartagena            planned December 2022 ]

[S82                                                 Cartagena           planned]

[S83                                                 Cartagena            planned]

[S84                                                  Cartagena           planned]

Galerna (Agosta) class coastal submarines

Displacement: 1,767 ton submerged

Dimensions: 67.57 x 6.8 meters (222.5 x 22 feet)

Propulsion: Diesel electric, 2 diesels, 1 shaft, 4,600 shp, 20 knots

Crew: 50

Sonar: DUUA-2A, DUUA-2B, DSUV 22A, DUUX-2A (S73 & S74: DUUX-5)

Fire Control: DLA-2A

Armament: 4 21 inch torpedo tubes (20 torpedoes)

Spanish-built French Agosta class with slightly different electronics.

Number Name                   Year       Homeport           Notes

S71     Galerna                1981    Cartagena

S72     Siroco                      1982    Cartagena decommissioned 2012

S73     Mistral                     1983    Cartagena

S74     Tramontana            1984    Cartagena

Delfin (Daphne) class coastal submarines

Displacement: 1,043 ton submerged

Dimensions: 57.57 x 6.74 meters (189 x 22 feet)

Propulsion: Diesel electric, 2 diesels, 2 shafts, 2,000 shp, 15 knots

Crew: 56

Sonar: DUUA-2B, DSUV 22A, DUUX-2A.

Fire Control: DLT-D-3

Armament: 12 21 inch torpedo tubes (12 torpedoes)

Spanish-built French Daphne class with improved electronics.

Number Name                   Year       Homeport           Notes

S61     Delfin                       1973    Cartagena

S62     Tonina                    1973    Cartagena

S63     Marsopa                  1975    Cartagena

S64     Narval                       1975    Cartagena

The first major change in the long dormant WEU (West European Union), the defense arm of the European Community (later European Union). The showcase for this change, calculated to energize European capabilities without recourse to NATO and, in particular, the United States, became the Eurocorps in which the Spanish contribution of the “Brunete” (1994) demonstrated a new Spanish presence in European affairs. Building on the Eurocorps formula, the WEU continued the next year with inceptions of EuroFor and EuroMarFor standing forces earmarked by Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal. A Spanish admiral led the standing naval force in the Mediterranean in the first year of its existence.

The first chance for Spanish military action in this 1990s came in supporting the United States in Spain as part of the UN prosecution against Iraq during 1990-91. So soon after breaking away from further dependence upon U. S. aid in 1988, the Socialist government of President Felipe González proved surprisingly helpful to U. S. forces in Spain. Permission was given to base twenty-two B-52 bombers at Morón and fly their bombing missions against Iraqi forces. Another forty aerial refuelers operated out of Morón and supported these aircraft, and the hundreds of U. S. tactical aircraft ferried through Spain to the Gulf region. When the bombers at Morón began to run out of ordnance, Spanish air force and army aircraft and heavy lift helicopters carried the bombs from storage sites at Torrejón and Zaragoza to maintain the operational tempo. Over 60% of U. S. airlift to the Gulf transited Spanish bases and local commanders stepped up security at the U. S. facilities; Spanish forces deployed ships to the Gulf in 1990 and took over other allied responsibilities in the Mediterranean to free them for deployments. Finally, Spanish air force and army troops deployed to Turkey in mid-1991 as part of Combined Task Force Provide Comfort, a U. S.-led UN mission into Northern Iraq to furnish local security to Iraqi Kurds in wake of the Iraqi defeat in Operation Desert Storm. A reinforced battalion of the Parachute Brigade (586 troops) operated with the U. S. and British forces on the ground, including the U. S. 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which had exercised that spring with the Spanish Legion at Almería.

Spanish defense doctrine created a so-called strategic “Axis” drawn along the line Balearic Islands-Straits-Canary Islands in the 1980s, both to orient its planning and to convince allies of the importance of the southern flank. In particular, Spain sought to advise allies of its archipelago responsibilities in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and to stress the vital role of the Straits zone, including the Ceuta and Melilla enclaves.

Spanish defense forces undertook developing a joint warfighting doctrine. Cooperation among the three services traditionally had proven nonexistent. However, the replacement of the former service ministries by a modern MOD structure and the demands for modernization of forces and warfighting techniques for national and European defense needs brought joint operations to the forefront. Approved in 1995, the new policy formally charged the chief of the defense staff (JEMAD) with the operational command of the units assigned by the separate services for a mission. The staff exercised this control for years in exercises and simulations, and first put the doctrine into action in the Perejil Island recovery operation of 2002.

The services were ordered each to form “operational commands” suitable for expeditionary service in 1991. The commanders of the Mandos Operativos take the character of service component chiefs, each responsible for deploying and tactically directing their units under the command of the JEMAD or a joint deployment headquarters. The Army initially designated its FAR headquarters, the Air Force created its Aerial Operational Command (MOA), and the Navy entrusted its fleet commander (ALFLOT) with these responsibilities. The defense structure changes and force modernization programs fleshed out these and other organizational aims during 1996-2000.

In terms of the military balance, Maghreb nations pose so little offensive threat to Spain and other nearby countries that Spanish Defense Minister Gustavo Suarez Pertierra could assert (1995) “we have no enemies” as the slogan of Spanish defense policy. Reduced tensions in Central Europe, however, contrasted with increased instability in the Mediterranean littoral. Spanish defense policy continued to evolve from the old Francoist policy of peninsular defense and colonial policing to embrace a modern version of territorial defense (mainly air defense and a ground reserve) coupled with modern forces necessary to maintain Spain’s status in NATO, the EC, and the UN.

Even in the event of ruptured relations, the Maghreb nations pose very little military threat to Spanish territory. The Spanish Air Force will replace its older U.S.-supplied radars and command and control systems with a modern SIMCA system (Sistema Integrado de Mando y Control Aereo), featuring three-dimensional radars, NATO and AWACS interoperability, and hardened command bunkers at Morón, Torrejón, and Canary Island sites. The NATO AWACS also serves to fill in radar gaps in the south, especially against low-fliers. Fighter squadrons are well exercised in the defense of Spanish airspace, and, with a few deployments from garrison bases-e. g., to the Balearic and Canary Islands-should be capable of handling a level of intrusion in excess of the threat.

Seaward defenses against raiding patrol craft, mines, and submarines remained the primary effort of the Spanish Navy, assisted by P-3C aircraft of the Air Force and Harpoon-armed EF-18 fighters. The light carrier Task Group Alpha, centered on the carrier Principe de Asturias, is fully oriented to classic sea control missions. The Mine Warfare Flotilla was transferred from its idyllic base at Palma de Mallorca to the naval base at Cartagena in 1992 mainly so that it could concentrate better on the vital shipping lanes into Cádiz, where 70% of Spanish sea imports arrive. The eight (recently reduced to five) Spanish submarines are kept in technically upgraded condition and exercise frequently in ASW roles. Amphibious potential continued to grow in Task Group Delta with the replacement of older transport ships with two Spanish-built amphibious assault ships and the naval infantry of the Tercio de la Armada, composed of a regimental landing team. The amphibious arm would prove essential in the event of a forced evacuation from Maghreb ports or a reinforcement of the Spanish enclave cities. The excellent Spanish Navy combat divers and the special operations companies of the naval infantry can perform hostage rescue actions.

The Navy

The Spanish Navy of the twenty-first century also aims at achieving a technological edge over its possible opponents, and musters over 11,000 enlisted personnel and draws 1,056 million of the 2006 budget. The navy takes advantage of an excellent relationship with the United States to purchase advanced systems such as the Aegis combat system, the Tomahawk land attack missile, and the SH-60 helicopter, but also has led the other services in establishing a solid national industrial base now producing and exporting advanced ships such as the F-100 air defense frigate and the S-80 submarine (Nansen and Scorpene class ships being built for Norway and Chile, respectively).

In 2005, the navy could line up one light aircraft carrier, five submarines (though one is scheduled to be retired in 2006), eleven frigates, six minesweepers, four amphibious ships, twelve patrol ships or corvettes, forty aircraft of all classes, and around fifty auxiliary ships, including an underway replenishment ship. In the same vein as the other services, the operational fleet, based at Rota, includes

Fleet Projection Group with the carrier Principe de Asturias and the amphibious ships carrying units of the naval infantry Tercio de Armada (TEAR). This Tercio forms as a brigade-sized formation that combines light infantry (two battalions), mechanized units (a tank company and a mechanized battalion supported by a self-propelled battery), and a special operations company, making it the most versatile unit in the Spanish armed forces.

• 41st Escort Squadron: six F-80 FFG frigates

• 31st Escort Squadron: three F-100 class frigates and two F-70 frigates

• Submarine Squadron: four Agosta class and one Daphne´ class submarines

• Aircraft flotilla: with helicopter and AV-8B Harrier squadrons

• Minesweeper flotilla: with six Segura class minesweepers

• Fleet replenishment ship Patiño

New programs include the Strategic Projection Ship (a large through-deck amphibious assault ship), an additional replenishment unit, two more F-100 frigates, four S-80 advanced diesel submarines, and four Maritime Action Ships (with a possible ten more to follow), as well as lesser units, like the twelve landing craft. The helicopter force is expected to receive twenty NH-90 helicopters, and it is hoped that JSF will be bought to replace the Harriers.

Arafura Class OPV

Australia’s current Armidale class and Cape class patrol boats are planned to be replaced with a single class of Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), under Project SEA 1180 Phase 1, to be built in Australia by German shipbuilder, Lürssen’s subsidiary, Luerssen Australia partnering with Australian shipbuilder, Civmec in the joint venture, Australian Maritime Shipbuilding & Export Group (AMSEG).

The twelve Australian vessels are based on the PV80 design with the first two vessels to be built at ASC’s Osborne shipyard in South Australia before production moves to Civmec’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia.

On 15 November 2018, the Chief of Navy, VADM Mike Noonan, announced that the OPV will be known as the Arafura Class with construction commencing at the Osborne shipyard.

The primary role of the OPV will be to undertake constabulary missions, maritime patrol and response duties. State of the art sensors as well as command and communication systems will allow the OPVs to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels, other Australian Defence Force units and other regional partners.

The OPV design will support specialist mission packages, such as a maritime tactical unmanned aerial system, and into the future, rapid environmental assessment and deployable mine counter measure capabilities.

Design and features of Arafura class OPVs

The design of the Arafura class OPVs is based on the Lürssen OPV80 platform. The compact design of the OPV offers enhanced seakeeping characteristics and superior performance.

The spacious aft deck will have enough room to house three rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIB). Two 8.5m-long boats can be launched from the side of the vessel while a 10.5m sea boat can be launched from the stern of the ship.

The OPVs will have a length of 80m, beam of 13m, and draught of 4m. The displacement of the vessels will be 1,640t. The ships will be manned by a crew of 40 members and will offer accommodation for more than 60 passengers.

Armament and navigation features of the OPV

The Arafura class OPV will be primarily armed with a 40mm large cannon mounted on the forward bow deck to protect the ship from onshore attacks. It will also feature dedicated mounts, which can be armed with .50 calibre machine guns.

The firepower of the vessel can be further improved by the advanced 9LV combat management system designed by SAAB Australia. The control system will be complemented by the on-board electronic warfare system.

The navigation bridge integrates all the communication, navigation, and sensor systems. The navigation requirements of the vessel will be addressed by next-generation 2D radar and electro-optical sensors.

The vessel will feature an aft flight deck to enable unmanned aerial system (UAS) operations.

Propulsion and performance of Inspector 120

The Arafura class vessels will be equipped with two diesel engines with a maximum-rated power production capacity of 8,500kW each.

The power plant will enable the vessels to sail at a maximum speed of 20kt and attain a maximum range of 4,000nm.

The lead vessel, HMAS Arafura is planned to planned to enter service in 2021.

Type      Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) RAN Arafura-class


    Maritime border patrol

    Maritime constabulary roles including interdiction

    Fisheries patrol

    Humanitarian and disaster relief


    Hydrographic Survey

Builder Luerssen Australia and Civmec

Displacement 1,640 tonnes

Length 80 metres

Beam 13 metres

Draught 4 metres

Propulsion 2 x 4,250KW diesel engines

Speed 20 knots (maximum)

Range 4,000 nautical miles


    2 x 8.5 metre sea boats (side launched)

    1 x 10.5 metre sea boat (stern launched)


    40mm gun

    2 x 50 calibre machine guns

Company 40 crew with accommodation for up to 60 personnel


The scuttled French fleet at Toulon: aerial pictures. On 28 November 1942, the day after the scuttling and firing of the ships of the French fleet in Toulon harbour, photographs were taken by the Royal Air Force. Many of the vessels were still burning so that smoke and shadows obscure part of the scene. But the photographs show, besides the burning cruisers, ship after ship of the contre-torpilleurs and destroyer classes lying capsized or sunk, testifying to the thoroughness with which the French seamen carried out their bitter task. While the vast damage done is shown in these photographs, no exact list of the state of the ships can be drawn up, since the ships themselves cannot be seen in an aerial photograph. Thus the upper deck of the battle cruiser Strasbourg is not submerged, but here are signs that the vessel has settled and is grounded. The key plan C.3296 shows the whereabouts of the majority of the ships and their condition as far as it can be seen from the photographs. Picture shows: damaged and sunk light cruisers and destroyers visible through the shadow and the smoke caused by the burning cruisers.

    left is the Strasbourg (bridge above the water but clearly sunk)

    next to her, burning, is the Colbert

    under the smoke, the Algérie

    to the right, the Marseillaise.

Positions of the main ships during the operation

Darlan’s decision to order a cease-fire in North Africa placed the Vichy leader, Marshal Pétain, in an impossible situation. Pétain immediately countermanded Darlan’s order and declared his action illegal, but too late. The Germans realized just how vulnerable they were if other Vichy officers were to take a similar line as soon as Allied forces approached, and within days had occupied the Vichy zone libre with some help from Italian forces. Darlan had left secret orders for one of the commanders of the Vichy French forces, Lieutenant-General Jean-Marie de Lattre de Tassigny, to resist any German attempt to seize Vichy, and for his actions, de Lattre was imprisoned by the Vichy regime. Otherwise, the Germans met little resistance, and moved to disband the 100,000-strong army that had been permitted Vichy.

Occupying Vichy did not simply give the Germans additional territory, it brought with it a tremendous dowry in that the largest part of the French fleet was stationed at Toulon. There were some eighty ships there, a force which on its own was larger than most of the world’s navies. Indeed, in terms of the number of major surface units, it came close to matching Germany’s own, although by this time the German U-boat fleet had overtaken the French submarine fleet in terms of numbers. Toulon was the French fleet’s main port, and the dockyard itself was well over a mile-and-a-half long and half-a-mile deep.

At Toulon, two other French admirals were in command. Admiral de la Borde commanded the larger warships that pre-war would have constituted the Atlantic and Mediterranean Squadrons. He had been ordered by Darlan to move his ships to Dakar, where they would have been out of reach of the Germans and for the time-being at least, difficult for the Allies to take over as well. When he received Darlan’s order, de la Borde’s response had been brief, and to the point: ‘Merde!’ Admiral Marquis was the port admiral, but he flew his flag in the elderly battleship Provence.

Under de la Borde’s command were the two powerful battlecruisers, Strasbourg and Dunkerque, both 26,500 tons, although the latter had been badly damaged in her encounter with Force H at Mers-el-Kebir. He also had three obsolescent heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, ten large ‘super’ destroyers of the contre-torpilleur type as well as three smaller destroyers. In addition to Provence, Marquis also had the Commandant Teste, 10,000 tons seaplane tender, two destroyers, four torpedo boats and ten submarines. In addition to these ships, which seem to have been fully or nearly fully manned, there were another two cruisers, eight contre-torpilleur destroyers, six smaller destroyers and ten submarines that had actually been decommissioned under the armistice terms and which simply had skeleton crews aboard. Apart from these, there were also minesweepers and other minor naval vessels and auxiliaries.

This was a prize worth having.

The major fleet units, including the destroyers but not the submarines, were steam-powered, which meant that steam had to be raised before they could leave port. Since it could take eight hours to raise steam, once the Germans were at the gates of the dockyard, flight was not an option.

It soon became clear that the Germans were occupying all military and naval installations, and that Toulon could not be far down the list. On 27 November 1942, the personnel at Toulon received the briefest possible warning of what was intended, with German troops and tanks advancing on the port, followed by German naval personnel who were obviously expected to take over the ships.

As in most naval bases, the larger ships were lying alongside the outermost piers with others lying alongside them, while five ships were sitting in the large dry docks, including Dunkerque.

The Germans had intended to take the dockyards and the ships by surprise, using a pincer movement with one group travelling along the road from Nice while another three groups, including the crack Das Reich division seized the Toulon peninsula and the town. While the dockyard had defensive positions, including gun batteries outside the dockyard area, there were just two gateways and a high wall to be passed as well. When Marquis was captured at 04.30, aroused from his sleep by an advance guard of German troops, his staff had time to send a warning signal to de la Borde, although at first he refused to believe that the Germans would attack the base. Nevertheless, he had the presence of mind to immediately order all commanding officers to raise steam on their ships, even though this would take several hours, and to be on their guard to prevent the Germans boarding any vessel. Then the order to scuttle was re-issued, and then repeated as the Germans attempted to enter the dockyard area, but encountered fierce resistance from Vichy forces, who had also been alerted by a dispatch rider sent by a gendarmerie outpost. In the confusion, five submarines, Venus, Casablanca, Marsouin, Iris and Glorieux with their diesel engines providing power almost immediately, managed to slip away and out to sea. The ease with which they did this, their crews manning their deck armament, suggests that the whole procedure had already been rehearsed. Nevertheless, their escape wasn’t easy. They were bombed, strafed and depth charged by the Luftwaffe, leaving Venus so damaged that she had to be scuttled, while Iris, also damaged, was taken by her commanding officer and crew to Spain, where they spent the rest of the war in internment. Nevertheless, the other three boats reached North Africa.

After a German bulldozer forced its way through the main gates, the act of scuttling those ships that could not flee was started. Through the main gate at 05.00, the Germans took another hour to reach the first of the ships, and when they reached the piers alongside which the Strasbourg had been moored, they found that she was already drifting away after her crew had cast of all lines to the shore. Admiral de la Borde was aboard his flagship, and to discourage him from taking the ship to sea, which would have been impossible, a German tank fired an 88mm shell into ‘B’ turret, fatally wounding a gunnery officer. The crew responded, but with machine guns and other light weapons. The officer in command of the German troops demanded that de la Borde return his ship to the pier and hand her over to his forces, but de la Borde replied that scuttling had already started, with her sea cocks opened and the ship settling slowly in the water. Further communication was prevented by the first of a series of loud explosions ripping through the ship. In addition to setting explosive charges, the crew were also setting about wrecking the ship’s machinery with hand grenades and oxy-acetylene cutters. There wasn’t enough depth of water for the ship to sink completely, but instead she settled on the bed of the port, leaving her distinctive superstructure sticking out of the water.

Nearby, the crew of the heavy cruiser Algerie, 13,900 tons, also had opened her sea cocks and her main armament had been destroyed by explosives. This did not prevent a German officer from declaring to Admiral Lacroix that he had come to seize the ship, only to be informed by a bemused Lacroix that he was too late. A brief stand-off then occurred as the German said that he would come aboard the Algerie if the ship would not blow up, to be countered by Lacroix’s declaration that the ship would indeed be blown up if the German boarded. Added emphasis came to the exchange a couple of minutes later when one of the two after twin 8-in turrets blew up. The ship continued to burn for the next two days during which occasional explosions could be heard as her ammunition went up. This was far from a record, as the light cruiser Marseillaise, which had settled at an angle, took more than a week to burn herself out. Another cruiser, the Colbert, was boarded by a German party, but when they saw fuses being set and one of her officers setting fire to his floatplane, they left promptly, but only just in time before her magazine blew the ship apart. The German party that had set foot aboard another cruiser, the Dupleix, also had a narrow escape when she blew up.

Scuttling on its own often causes little damage, and ships scuttled in shallow port waters can be re-floated and salvaged, which was one reason why so much emphasis was given to setting off the magazines and ready use ammunition, not to mention the attacks by grenade and oxy-acetylene cutters. This point was brought home later when another cruiser, a sister ship of the Marseillaise, La Galissonniere, was scuttled, but then re-floated and taken by the Italian navy, although returned to the French in 1944.

In the confusion, the elderly battleship Provence was one ship that was nearly taken by the Germans, as her commanding officer hesitated when he was given the message that the Vichy premier, Pierre Laval, had ordered that there were to be no ‘incidents’. Nevertheless, while he sent an officer to seek clarification, his crew, seeing the other ships sinking and blowing up, opened the sea cocks and the ship began to settle in the water even while the Germans argued with her CO on the bridge.

Nevertheless, it was clear that there were to be victims amongst the French ships. A ship in dry dock cannot be scuttled, and it is usual, for the safety of dockyard workers, for ships entering dry dock to be de-stored. The battlecruiser Dunkerque, sister ship of the Strasbourg and pride of the pre-war French navy, was in dry dock and rather than being refitted and returned to service, she suffered the ignominy of being scrapped by a large gang of Italian workers imported for the purpose, so that she could be sent to Italy in pieces as part of a scrap metal drive intended to rebuild Italy’s dwindling stocks of war materials. The decision to scrap the ship was caused not so much by the damage inflicted two years earlier by the Royal Navy, but by the damage inflicted on her armament and turbines in the brief period between the warning being given and the Germans finding their way to the ship.

Out of the eight contre-torpilleur destroyers, three, Lion, Tigre and Panthere were being refitted and their skeleton crews did not have enough time to sabotage them effectively, so these survived to pass to Italy along with the smaller destroyer Trombe.

Despite having lost his ship, de la Borde was left aboard the Strasbourg when she settled on the bottom of the harbour. He refused to go ashore, remaining aboard and accusing the Germans of breaching the terms of the armistice in attempting to seize the French fleet. Incredibly, the first indication that French naval units in North Africa had of the events at Toulon were when they picked up Pétain’s signal to de la Borde: ‘I learn at this instant that your ship is sinking. I order you to leave it without delay.’ Meanwhile, the Germans had left de la Borde, reasoning that in theory he had gone down with his ship. Certainly, he was no longer a threat.

Not all of the submarines had managed to escape, and the four that were left behind at Toulon were scuttled at their moorings.

In the aftermath of the battle of Toulon and the attempted seizure of the fleet, everyone on the base, including the ships’ crews, were interned, effectively becoming prisoners of war. The Vichy authorities argued that their actions were in accordance with the terms of the armistice, and for once won the argument with the Germans. The internees were all released, and the naval personnel spent the rest of their war on full pay from the Vichy authorities!


The German attempt to grab the fleet at Toulon and Darlan’s orders led Cunningham to expect the French squadron in the Mediterranean, under Vice-Admiral Godfroy at Alexandria to reactivate his fleet, and join the Allies. ‘They have no excuse for remaining inert,’ he wrote home on 1 December 1942. ‘Except perhaps that so many Frenchmen at the present time appear to have lost all their spirit. Doubtless it will revive; but at present the will to fight for their country is completely absent.’