US Navy task force to visit South Africa

Mar 1, 2005
Author: P&S

It can be confirmed that five ships of the US Navy, including an aircraft carrier will visit South African ports at the end of March.

The as-yet-unidentified aircraft carrier and an escort will visit Cape Town, while two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers – USS Barry (DDG52) and USS Mason (DDG87) will call at Durban between 27 March and 1 April. A replenishment vessel, USN Arctic (T-AOE8) will visit Richards Bay at the same time.

USS Barry is a sister type destroyer to the USS Cole (DDG67) that was attacked by suicide terrorists in Aden harbour in October 2000, with the loss of 17 seamen. The ship later returned to the United States carried on board the heavylift submersible vessel Blue Marlin (itself no stranger to South Africa) for repair.

USS Barry and Mason differ only slightly – Mason has a slightly larger displacement and is a little longer providing facilities for two SH-60B Seahawk helicopters – the marine version of the well-known Black Hawk UH-60 – as opposed to a single SH-60B helicopter on the Barry. The later version of destroyers (DDG 79 – 112), including USS Mason, are basically improved versions of the earlier model with upgraded aviation capabilities.

The Arleigh Burke type destroyer is likely to remain the mainstay of the US fleet for some years to come. Thirty-four of the later class have so far either been built or are currently in the planning stages, along with 28 of the earlier Arleigh Burke class (DDG 51-78).

USS Arctic, which will visit the port of Richards Bay, is one of four ‘Supply’ class replenishment vessels in service with the US Navy.

USS Arctic entered service in 1995 and displaces 50,700 tons fully loaded. Designed as a fast general cargo replenishment ship able to keep up with carrier battle groups, the ship has gas turbines driving twin shafts for a speed in excess of 26+ knots – in reality probably in the region of 30+ knots. These ships carry fuel supplies, ammunition and dry and refrigerated stores with hangars for two UH-46 Sea Knight transport helicopters.



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