Sunday, November 27, 2016

INS Sumitra of the Indian Navy

Next up after the Otago I was hoping to jump on board the KRI Banda Aceh (a Makassar class Landing Platform Dock ship designed for the Indonesian Navy) or the RSS Resolution (an Endurance-class Landing Platform Dock ship from the Republic of Singapore Navy). Unfortunately the lines for the Banda Aceh were long, and the Resolution were huge (rumoured to be upto 3 hours long!).

Instead I headed further down and too a look at the INS Sumitra of the Indian Navy. The Sumitra is a  Saryu class patrol vessel, launched in 2010 and commissioned in 2014 making it a relatively new ship. Boarding the ship I was a little underwhelmed after visiting the Chunbuk and Otago as we saw relatively little of the interior, a couple of passageways, the hangar, the medical bay and that was it. On the positive side the line was relatively short and it turns out that thanks a little reading after the fact it is quite an interesting ship.
I didn't grab a decent bow on shot of the INS Sumitra so "thanks Google".
A view from the stern. The landing pad as been covered - it was a mightily sunny day so a break from the sun was welcome.
Another view from the stern, a little further along in the queue. The hanger door is partially open.
The midships area. Note the unit citation marking - presumably this was the Sumitra's efforts during Operation Raahat where it helped to rescue 350 Indian citizens stranded in Yemen.
On the ship now, looking into the hanger space. One (fairly minor) note that I found interesting. On the Otago the hanger was well lined with (presumably) heat reflective or fire retardant fabric whereas the Sumitra was just "clean".
A HAL Chetak helicopter parked up in the hanger. Walking past it I thought it had really jumped out of the 60's and was surprised to see such an old looking airframe.
Turns out the Chetak is a pretty iconic piece of history (at least in my books) as it is an Indian built (under licence) version of the Aérospatiale Alouette III. Looking back I wish I had paid more attention to it at the time.
After a brief trip down two passageways we found ourselves at the bow of the INS Sumitra, looking down on us was the bridge.
An OTO Melara 76mm SRGM (Super Rapid Gun Mount) up front.
Another view of the gun. Keen eyes and those with an excellent memory will notice that it is not the same turret mount found in the first picture? The Sumitra now has this very rounded turret exterior whereas it appears to have a more angled version when launched? From a brief Internet search it seems like they are the same gun but who knows?
This image, once again, stolen from Google shows the mounting system. It is a compact system designed for smaller ships and it's high rate of fire and availability of specialised ammunition make it well-suited to varied roles such as short-range anti-missile point defence, anti-aircraft, anti-surface, and ground support.
Member of the Sumtra's marines/boarding party. He was a popular lad with a queue of people lining up for photo opportunities. He appears to be armed with an INSAS (an abbreviation of Indian Small Arms System) Rifle. A locally produced AK/FN FAL cross-breed that is not a reliable as either of the rifles that inspired it.
One final shot from the bow of the INS Sumitra.
I wasn't sure what this little "turret" was so had to hit the digital books again. Turns out it is an AK-630, the Soviet/Russian designed version of the US Phalanx CIWS (Close In Weapons System). Designed to destroy incoming missiles and aircraft as well as other small "on water" targets, the INS Sumitra has a pair of these a six-barreled 30 mm rotary cannons. Google it, there are some cool videos!

After the Sumitra it was time to meet the family and head over to the Japanese ship, the JDS Takanami and one of the New Zealand ANZAC frigates, the HMNZS Te Mana. Little did we know it was also time for an hour long wait...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

HMNZS Otago (P148) of the NZ Navy

After finishing up on the Korean ship, the ROKS Chungbuk I headed a bit further down the wharf to the HMNZS Otago. The Otago is a Protector class off-shore patrol vessel (OPV) in service with the Royal New Zealand Navy. For those of you that don't know (which included me) an OPV is usually the smallest ship in a navy's fleet that are large and seaworthy enough to patrol off-shore in the open ocean.

Launched in 2006 but suffered from problems during construction and was not commissioned until 2010, two years later than planned. Costing around $110 million NZD she is not cheap, but her excellent indoor-outdoor flow, large deck space and sea views makes her pretty cheap compared with the Auckland house prices these days. 

Surprisingly enough the Otago was possibly my favourite ship of the day. Lacking the missile systems and "big-badda-boom" of some of the other ships I visited it still had a "kicking butt" charm to it. The ship (and it's crew) also exuded a quiet confident vibe. In terms of access to the ships internal areas it was second only to the ROKS Chungbuk and we were able to have quite a look around the ship.
Stolen from the NZ Navy here is a shot of the HMNZS Otago and the HMNZS Wellington, HMNZS Pukaki, HMNZS Rotoiti, HMNZS Hawea, HMNZS Taupo and HMNZS Manawanui.
Whilst in line we got to have a chat to a couple of the members of the boarding party. They were sporting the new Benelli M3 semi-auto shotguns and SIG Sauer P226 pistols (soon to be replaced by Glock 17 pistols). These guys were happy to have a chat whilst we waited in the sun and handed their (unloaded) weapons to the crowd to check out.
Despite being a relatively small ship, it is still a 'big' thing.
Once on board we headed up the side of the vessel

To the bow where could see up to the bridge
And the main armament of the Otago, a single remote controlled Rafael Typhoon 25 mm stabilised naval gun. The gun can maintain groupings of 250mm on a target up to 1,000 metres away!.

From the bow we headed down the centre of the to the back end (checking out a few of the sights along the way including some fairly spacious crew quarters off "Castle Street"). Here some of the crew were showing off their damage control gear.
Then another wander around and back up through the hanger to the landing pad at the rear of the Otago where our Super Seasprite SH-2G(I)  helicopters can land.
Just in case the chopper pilot isn't sure where he/she is landing....

From here I wandered past a few ships checking out the queues - by now it was about 11am and it felt like all of Auckland had turned up with the Singaporean ship the RSS Resolution - an Endurance-class landing platform dock (LPD) - having a queue that was rumoured to be 3 hours long. Instead I headed on to the INS Sumitra, a Saryu class patrol vessel of the Indian Navy.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th Birthday celebrations and the ROKS Chungbuk

On 1 October 1941, His Majesty King George VI approved the designation “Royal New Zealand Navy” for the regular element of the New Zealand Naval Forces (with Reserve and Volunteer Reserve elements appropriately titled.)

2016 marks the 75th Anniversary of the foundation of the New Zealand Navy and the occasion is being celebrated with a programme of commemorative events and activities – collectively named Operation NEPTUNE.

One of these events is an Open Day where ships from friends and allies were open to the public to have a walk around certain parts of the vessel. Unfortunately the tragic events of Kaikoura earthquake meant that a number of vessels scheduled to visit were providing support humanitarian support to survivors including a large number of residents and tourists stuck in the area and unable to leave. Two of the vessels that I was most looking forward too, the USS Sampson (an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer) and HMAS Darwin (an Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate that is based on the US Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates) were amongst those that were diverted.

The day itself proved to be a lot of fun with Auckland weather turning up and providing a beautiful sunny day for us to enjoy and I managed to get aboard 5 vessels. First up was the ROKS Chungbuk, Incheon-class frigate.

ROKS Chungbuk, Incheon-class frigate
The Incheon-class frigates are coastal defense frigates of the Republic of Korea Navy. The lead ship was launched on 29 April 2011. They will replace the aging fleet of Pohang-class corvettes and Ulsan-class frigates, and take over multi-role operations such as coast patrol, anti-submarine warfare and transport support.

The Incheon-class frigates main gun is the 127mm/L62 Mk. 45 Mod 4 naval gun. This was chosen over a smaller 76mm for naval barrage support in amphibious landings and superiority in ship to ship firing. Point-defense armaments include a single 20 mm Phalanx CIWS and a RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile Block 1 21-round launcher. The anti-submarine warfare armaments consists of K745 LW Cheong Sahng-uh (Blue Shark) torpedoes. Anti-ship capability is provided by SSM-700K Hae Sung (Sea Star) long-range anti-ship missile, each with performance similar to the U.S. Harpoon.

The ROKS Chungbuk is the fifth ship in the class and was launched in October 2014 and commissioned earlier this year in January.
Another front on view of the ROKS Chungbuk
A view from the rear of the ROKS Chungbuk showing the hanger door open on the left
The 127mm gun mount
Another view of the gun with the masts of the Bark Esmeralda (from Chile) in the background
The business end of the ROKS Chungbuk
The bridge of the ROKS Chungbuk
A view from the wings of the bridge looking back down at the bow. Unfortunately we were firmly (be very politely) asked to not take any photos inside the vessel. The ROKS Chungbuk was the only ship where we made it to the bridge. It was smaller than I expected with no room for any unnecessary people or equipment
The RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block 1 21-round launcher. This is a point defence missile system designed to target incoming cruise missiles.
An action photo on display on the ship.
SSM-700K Hae Sung (Sea Star) long-range anti-ship missile launchers. Two sets of four launchers mounted amidships. We were able to walk around these and have a close look at the launchers themselves. Below are the K745 LW Cheong Sahng-uh (Blue Shark) torpedo launchers.
At the rear of the ship above the hanger a single 20 mm Phalanx CIWS. Ever since my Harpoon gaming days this has been a favourite piece of technology of mine.
On the landing pad, the CIWS at the top of the shot, the hanger door open on the right.
Another shot of the rear ROKS Chungbuk, taken from the HMNZS Otago
One of the ROKS Chungbuk crew patrolling the vessel. Unlike the rest of the vessels these guys looked pretty serious about their patrol duties.

Next stop was the HMNZS Otago, a Protector class off-shore patrol vessel.