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Seaforth World Naval Review 2017

Conrad Waters (editor)
This is an extraordinarily useful annual from the point of view of a comprehensive update on the world’s navies, principally in the domain of construction and acquisition. The authors are particularly good at sketching in the political, strategic, and procurement background of each country dealt with. There is a clear picture, out to generally a five-year horizon, of what countries will be able to deploy.

The first half of the book is devoted to a review by region including specifics on the navies of Malaysia, the Netherlands and Denmark. In each section a distinction is drawn between ocean-going blue-water 'real' navies with global reach, ability to shrug off an air threat, and an organic offensive capability on the one hand, and then minor navies who are either optimised as allies of larger nations, or as contributors to coalitions, and then those that are really only constabulary outfits. Even these last, given modern missile technology, can inflict a nasty sting within their littoral. The leading features for me are the imminent USS Gerald R Ford (whose much decried EMALS catapult system appears to have bedded down, and the subject of an immediate recent visit by President Trump) and China's own-build PLAN aircraft carriers - one emerging and more to come. Under the sea there are other stories - the ownership of submarines seems steadily to grow, with cast-off Kilos popular with navies with historic relationships with the USSR. Expanding emerging navies are seen to have a problem where earlier penny-number purchases of varied types have left an awkward maintenance legacy whose costs erode future purchasing capability. Some of these seem to manage with very few people compared to the numbers of ships. Backgrounds include the inefficiency of India's purchasing process and Russia's dependency on now-non-available Ukrainian gas turbines. Everybody is squeezed for money.

Of the individual ship classes documented, the most interesting for me was the USS Zumwalt, one of three very futuristic 18,000 ton ships currently emerging from a $20bn development project. The discussions of its systems, including its Rolls Royce generators and gas turbines, and the ship's very high levels of automation are particularly informative.

The last quarter of the book is equipment-focused with sections on naval aviation (by the top expert, David Hobbs), ship-to-ship missiles, and submarine rescue.

Production values are very good with an excellent selection of photographs. Will it fit your bookcase? Dimensions are 26.5 x 25 mm.

This series is a key resource for keeping up, whether in cabin or armchair. In America it is published by the US Naval Institute - that's quite some recommendation. BZ Seaforth.
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