“New Drug Seizure By The French Navy In The Gulf Of Guinea” –Naval News

Naval News reports seizure of 1.7 tons of cocaine in an unusual place, the Gulf of Guinea, off the West coast of Africa. It was apparently incidental a normal French Navy deployment, not specifically a drug interdiction operation.

I found it a bit unusual that the cocaine did not appear to be well hidden. That might indicate how unlikely interception along this route may be.

Significantly this interception was conducted in cooperation with the Gulf of Guinea Interregional Network’s centers of the Yaoundé Process.

The “Landing Helicopter Dock” (LHD) Mistral, is certainly not the type vessel typically involved in drug interdiction.

The frigate involved, FS Courbet, is a Lafayette class frigate. This class always seemed similar in function to Coast Guard WHECs, because, as built, they had no ASW capability. Aside from the Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles they carried, in many respects their capabilities were similar, particularly after the WHECs were FRAMed. The French ships were built about aboout three decades after the Hamilton class. In some ways they apear to be as an intermediate design between the Hamilton class and the Bertholfs. FS Courbet is smaller (3600 tons full load), slower (25 knots), and has less range than the Bertholf class NSCs (7,000 nmi), but has been recently upgraded with a hull mounted sonar, improved point defense AAW systems, and later model Exocet ASCMs.

“First Images Of New Inlay Class Warship For Myanmar Navy” –Covert Shores

Myanmar UMS Inlay (54), 12 March 2018, Indian Navy Photo

Covert Shores reports sighting of a second Inlay class, a locally built offshore patrol vessel. This prompted a look at this class and the Myanmar Navy, which turns out to be surprisingly strong, with an apparently capable domestic shipbuilding capability.

Myanmar seems to have been in the news a lot lately, and it has not been “good news.” Like many other nations in Asia, particularly SE Asia, they have been building Offshore Patrol Vessels. Reportedly the Myanmar Coast Guard was established only months ago, in Oct. 2021, but it appears these OPVs will serve with their Navy. Myanmar Coast Guard floating units appear to be limited to four very old patrol boats.

Reportedly these Inlay class Offshore Patrol Vessels displace 1500 tons, but I suspect that is not their full load displacement. They are similar in size to the 1.800 ton 270 foot WMECs, slightly shorter, 265’9′ (81 meters vs 82.3) and a bit broader of beam (41′ vs 38’/12.5 vs 11.6 meters). Speed is essentially the same at 20 knots. The bridge does seem surprisingly large.

Reportedly the Myanmar vessels can hangar a Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, that is essential the same as an H-65. Also, reportedly there is a launch ramp for a RIB in the stern. There might be a boat davit on the starboard side, but I have not seen a good photo of the starboard side. There is a large opening on the starboard side superstructure aft, that mirrors the one visible on the port side.

Apparently, the weapon forward of the bridge is a Soviet era twin 57mm. The weapon might be ancient, but it is probably still very effective at short ranges.

The Myanmar Navy is more impressive than I would have expected, and many of their ships are built locally. As noted in the headline post, they just got their second submarine, one Russian built via India and now one from China. They have a 12,400 ton S. Korean built LPD. They are building their fourth domestically built frigate, to add to two overage Chinese built frigates. They have three domestically built 1,100 ton corvettes. They have twenty vessels similar in size to the Webber class but much more heavily armed, including five armed with Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles, and two slightly larger, 500 ton Fast Attack Craft also armed with ASCMs. These are in addition to six older Chinese built Houxin class missile boats.

All total, they appear to have 21 surface combatants armed with Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles, primarily the Chinese made C-802, which is roughly equivalent to the US made Harpoon.

Myanmar has also begun to build 600 ton, 63 meter, high speed “sub chasers” to replace eight, now overage, Chinese built Hainan class. The new ships are equipped with the same twin 57mm mount that also equips the new OPVs.