And on it goes…
B. 1970 – 2000
The Agaidh Dearg government which came into power in 1966 considered the Navy fascist contaminated and strove to cut down and humiliate it. Apart from a purge of the senior officer corps which drastically reduced efficiency without significantly improving political reliability, the navy’s equipment roster was to be drastically changed towards a pure brown-water mosquito fleet consisting of numerous small craft not exceeding the size of a corvette; the proud destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers were to be discarded in their entirety. Before the Soviets, of all people, who wanted their strongest ally in the western hemisphere to retain a strong blue-water fleet, put a stop to this spiteful self-destruction programme in 1970, a new class of corvettes was designed which was to form the first line of defense in Thiaria’s new ‘democratic’ navy. They were to be armed with Soviet P-15 (SS-N-2) SSMs and Osa-M SAMs and engage enemy surface forces to soften them up before a swarm of FACs (which the Soviets never delivered) swept in. A 76mm gun and a 20mm CIWS mount complemented the missile armament; no ASW equipment whatsoever was planned. The concept resembled the contemporary Soviet Project 1234 Ovod (Nanuchka) type, but with a more conventional and much larger hull. To operate in the open sea, a displacement of 1.000 tons was considered the minimum; a speed of 30 knots was considered sufficient. To keep the silhouette small, the design had no funnel for its all-diesel powerplant; exhausts were discharged through the lower hull directly above the waterline. Under the 1968 estimates, the planned four large ASW frigates were cancelled and replaced with an initial batch of eight missile corvettes, whose particulars were the following:
Displacement: 1.200 ts standard, 1.650 ts full load
LOA: 100,0 m
Beam: 10,5 m
Draught: 3,65 m mean, 4,40 m deep load
Machinery: Four Nairn D19N-1 diesels on two shafts, 32.000 shp
Design Speed: 30 knots
Range: 2.500 nm @ 20 kts
They were named for predatory animals, like WWII vintage escorts, but numbered in the frigate sequence. As the cancelled Saoirse-Class frigates had already been ordered, their numbers were not re-assigned. All corvettes were built on the recently nationalized CTS and CDO yards at Abernenui and Corcaigh, respectively. The former laid down Pantar / G137 (Panther), Tiogar / G138 (Tiger), Ursan / G139 (Bear) and Fiachat / G140 (Wildcat) in 1969 and 1970; the latter’s ships were assigned the names Hiaena / G141 (Hyaena), Leon / G 142 (Lion), Lincse / G143 (Lynx) and Sionnach / G144 (Fox). Construction went ahead swiftly till launch readiness was achieved, but after half the class was afloat, the 1970 elections marginalized the Thiarian Labour Party (Lucht Oibhre) from Red Front (Agaidh Dearg)’s equal to junior partner. Ministeries were reshuffled, and the Communists ceded the – to them – unimportant naval ministry to Labour. The new minister immediately scrapped the mosquito fleet project, re-ordered the Saoirse-class and had the aircraft carrier Oirion modernized. As he had full backing of the Soviets, he was allowed to proceed, and the next batch of eight Pantar-class ships (their names had already been selected: Seacal (Jackal), Cu (Wolfhound), Brocmeala (Ratei), Iaguarundai (Jaguarundi), Bulladoir (Bulldog), Archu (Bloodhound), Bhombat (Wombat) and Colocolo (Pampa Cat)) were never ordered. The first batch was completed with low priority, as there was no real requirement for them after Thiaria reverted to its old oceanic strategy. They were commissioned between 1973 and 1976.
Their service record reflected the fact that they had been designed not to strengthen, but to humiliate the navy. Morale and training levels of their crews fell short of the usual high Thiarian standard, and after Ursan had capsized and sunk during a severe winter storm in 1985, the Thiarian Navy only wanted to get rid of them. Their waterline exhausts proved unsuitable for South Atlantic conditions, as they frequently remained submerged for too long, choking out or even damaging the engines. Their P-15 missiles quickly became obsolete during the 1980s; with CIWS becoming common on everyone’s ships, their chances of reaching a target were approaching zero by 1990. Five of them were taken in hand for modernization in 1989/90 pending sale to a brown water navy which could make better use of them. Their main armament was changed to eight MM40 Block 1 SSMs, a 57mm gun with CIWS capability, and R7S-4 missiles with increased range (12 nm), accuracy and ECM resistance and an electronically scanned director that could track eight targets simultaneously in a 60° cone. Most importantly, they received funnels instead of the old waterline exhausts.
Three were sold to Uruguay in 1996, being commissioned there as Uruguay (1), Montevideo (2) and Rio de la Plata (3); one of the non-modernized hulls was added as a spare donator. The Uruguayans added basic ASW capability in the shape of a US-sourced hull sonar, a VDS (an old 1960s vintage system acquired used from Thiaria) and two US sourced 324mm triple torpedo banks. They served as the main combat strength of Uruguay’s fleet for seventeen years till they were replaced by a militarized version of Thiaria’s standard coast guard patrol frigate from 2014.
Another two – plus the last unmodernized hull as spares donator - went to the newly founded navy of New Portugal after that archipelago’s independence in 1997; they arrived there in 2000 and achieved FOC in 2002 after being subjected to the same ASW refit as their Uruguayan half-sisters (interestingly, the refit was not applied in Thiaria, but in Montevideo). They were named Independencia (101) and Triunfo (102).
Both are still in active service, at over 40 years of age; nobody would ever have expected any of this ill-conceived class to last that long.
1.2.1. Batch 1 and 2
During the 1970s, general-purpose frigates with more or less balanced ASW, AAW and antisurface armament (like the British Type 22, the Dutch/German Kortenaer/Bremen, the Italian Lupo/Maestrale and the French Georges Leygues/Primauguet) became en vogue in the west, and Thiaria jumped that train early. The 1970s oil boom provided the necessary funding, and under the 1976 and 1977 estimates, a total of eight multipurpose frigates were funded, with the following particulars:
Displacement: 3.350 ts standard, 4.200 ts full load
LOA: 132,15 m
Beam: 15,20 m
Draught: 4,72 m mean (without sonar dome), 5,65 m deep load, 7,45 m maximum with sonar dome
Machinery: Two-shaft CODAG: Four CLTI RT1C-4 gas turbines (40.000 shp), coupled to four Nairn D22N-2 diesels (24.000 bhp), total power 64.000 shp
Design Speed: 30 knots
Range:6.000 nm @ 20 kts
With these particulars, they were fully compatible with current NATO designs; as they were larger than most, they did not need to use aluminium superstructures to cut back top weight. Like most Thiarian ships, they excelled in seakeeping and offered spacious accommodation. The entire armament, sensors suite and electronics was Thiarian-made, although some of the systems were unlicensed copies of US and Soviet gear; only the Exocet SSMs were made under French license. Armament consisted of a Mk42 mount (the gun itself was relined to fire Thiarian 130mm lomg-range ammunition), four 20mm AK-20H CIWS mounts, two retractable 20-round launchers for R7S-2 (improved copy of Osa-M with longer range of 10 nm and backup IR targeting) missiles, four MM38 Exocet launch canisters, two triple 400mm ASW torpedo launchers, two RBU-6000 ASW rocket launchers and a hangar and helipad for two MCE Mioltog helicopters, which were equipped with torpedoes and dipping sonar. Like all Thiarian surface warship classes between 1975 and 2000, the order went to the country’s two remaining large private yards: CSCA laid down Oirirceas / G145 (Fame) and Daingne / G146 (Resolution) in 1978 and Duthracht / G147 (Diligence) and Cinneadh / G148 (Determination) in 1979. SCI laid down Fuaimint / G149 (Vigour) in 1978, Cathgangaid / G150 (Warspite) and Mioscias / G151 (Malice) in 1979 and Teanntas / G152 (Audacity) in 1980. Oirirceas was completed first in 1981, and Teanntas as the last unit followed early in 1984.
The SCI-built ships differed from the CSCA-built units by mounting Thiaria’s indigenous fully automatic 130mm gun with more range and better than twice the ROF of the US Mk42, and its associated domed radar fire control system.
The class provided reliable and effective service as Thiaria’s main ASW asset for the remainder of the Cold War. Their combat system was not yet fully digital, however, and its defensive armament was becoming obsolescent after 1990, as was the MM38. During the late 1980s, the Thiarians converted the MM38, of which they had copious stocks, into a standoff ASW weapon by installing a 400mm ASW torpedo forward instead of the original warhead and seeker. The missile – essentially similar to Italy’s contemporary Milas – was dubbed MS38 and had inertial guidance and a range of 20 nautical miles; it could be fired from both the original MM38 launch canister or – with folding fins – from the standard MM40 launch tube. Between 1993 and 1996, all Oirirceas-class ships were thoroughly modernized with a rebuilt bridge, a digigal combat system, an automated tactical datalink, completely new radars of lighter weight and better ECM resistance, the much improved R7S-4 SAM complex with digitally scanned multi-target illuminator/trackers, and two quad MM40 Block 2 launchers; the Mioltog helicopters were replaced with much larger and more capable Muiscits, and the AK-20H CIWS by two self-contained Spanish Meroka 12-barreled CIWS which were acquired in large numbers as part of a counter-trade deal after Spain bought six frigates of this very type.
With this modernization, the class remained high-end, and six of them took part in the New Portugal war of independence in 1997. Cinneadh was credited with damaging a Brazilian Gearing-class destroyer with two Exocet hits beyond economic repair, but Duthracht became Thiaria’s only total loss of that war when a torpedo from the Brazilian submarine Tymbira tore off her forecastle, sinking eight hours later when flooding could not be contained. As Duthracht was out of MS38 missiles by that time, the ASW/ASuW missile loadout was considered insufficient; Thiarian Frigates carried only four of each, while contemporary Japanese and Kokoan ships had eight Harpoons and up to 24 ASROCs each. To provide more punch, Teanntas had her RBU-6000s removed in 1999 and replaced with two more quad MM40 launchers for a total of 16 missiles, half of which were MS38s.
Teanntas however remained the only unit of her class so modified. The others usually shipped only MS38s after 2000, as the aircraft carriers and the D-class destroyers with their supersonic ANS missiles provided sufficient antisurface punch; during the Madagaskar intervention of 2000 there was no opportunity for any of the four Oirirceas-class ships involved to engage an enemy surface target. The three remaining CSCA-built ships were not modified again and retired in 2006 through 2008 after reaching their projected 25 years of service life. Two were scrapped till 2012, but Daingne was delivered to Argentina in 2008 as a spares donator for two half-sisters in Argentine service. Due to delays in the construction of their replacement, the Muirbhreid-Class, the SCI-built vessels in 2005/6 received new S-band 3D-radars, modernized Satcom, a new countermeasures suite, and remote controllable 12,7mm weapons stations for defense against asymmetric threads.
In this shape, the four SCI-built frigates served till 2015/6 when they were finally replaced by fully capable Muirbhreid-class ships. As they were over thirty years old by that time, there was no thought of selling them off. By late 2019, they were all scrapped.
1.2.2. Batch 3
In 1984, two further Oirirceas-class hulls were laid down at CSCA. Argentina had taken considerable losses against the British and Patagonians during the war. Her anti-air and anti-surface assets were particularly depleted; the sole operational cruiser and one of two air-defence missile destroyers were gone, and the other missile destroyer was very badly damaged (it would never be restored to full capability, spending the rest of its days as fast amphibious transport). To restock their inventory, the Argentines ordered two compact missile frigates based upon the Oirirceas-design, with an option for another two. Unfortunately, Argentina went bankrupt while construction was underway, and the contract lapsed. Both hulls were in an advanced state by that time, and the Thiarian Navy decided to purchase them, lest they fell into the hands of unsavoury customers (Pakistan was interested, but probably as a proxy for Iraq, and Colombia certainly acted as a proxy for Iran). They were standard Oirirceas-class hulls, but with the poop cut down and hangar and flight deck suppressed to mount a twin launcher for R10S-1 missiles (32 rounds stowage) and its associated fire control arrangements; both had the new generation 130mm gun, and the foremast carried a 3D-radar instead of the surveillance set previously mounted. They were named Laochas / G153 (Heroism) and Iontaoibh / G154 (Assault) upon delivery in 1988 and 1989.
Due to various problems the Thiarians experienced with their C-class destroyers, both missile frigates were frequently employed as carrier escorts in the 1990s, despite the relatively short range of their R10S missiles. Laochas was present during the New Portugal war of independence and not only downed three Brazilian aircraft, but also accidentally shot down a Venezuelan Airliner with 60 passengers, an incident which would cost the Thiarians a billion and a half dollars in compensations. In 1998 and 1999, both units were thoroughly overhauled and comprehensively upgraded. They received a rebuilt bridge with a new integrated combat system, new ECM and countermeasures launchers, improved Satcom, new surface search radars, and R7S-4 point defence missiles with digitally scanned illuminator/trackers. Their MM38 missiles were replaced with MM40 Block 2, their R10S-1 missiles with R10S-2 (featuring TVM guidance) and their four AK-20H CIWS mounts with two Merokas.
Both accompanied the UN amphibious assault force during the Madagaskar intervention in 2000; Iontaoibh sank a Lemurian FAC with gunfire in a confused night action after intercepting four P-15 missiles. At that time, all eight D-class AAW destroyers were in service, fully covering the navy’s AAW requirements. When Argentina, whose economy had somewhat recovered, expressed interest in purchasing both ships in 2004, the Thiarians were immediately forthcoming, and both hulls were transferred in 2005 and commissioned with the Argentine fleet in 2006. They were renamed Moreno (13) and Rivadavia (14).
In 2008, one Oirirceas-class hull was transferred to Argentina to donate spares; the Argentines apparently used it wisely, because Rivadavia and Moreno remain in active service by 2020, aged 31 and 32. In 2009, they were upgraded to fire R10S-4 missiles, essentially the upper stage of the R11S-5 in service with the Thiarian Navy. This missile is capable of Mach 4,5 and has a range of 30 nm; it was also exported to France. As Argentina is - again - quite broke these days, they will likely have to soldier on throughout the 2020s.
1.2.3. Export hulls
The Oirirceas-class was marketed aggressively, and some success was achieved: although only four hulls (including the Argentine ships mentioned above) were built on Thiarian yards for export, another ten were license-built in two countries; with a total of 22 hulls serving four navies, this class was Thiaria’s most successful surface warship type till the Muirbhreid-class came up. In 1982, Spain purchased the plans for a slightly lengthened version with US-supplied combat system, radars, commo and ECM gear and main armament (one Mk32 single launcher with 32 Standard SM-1MR SAMs and eight ASROCs); the SSMs and torpedoes also were US supplied (Harpoon and Mk46, respectively). The Thiarian offer beat an US proposal for a Perry-class clone and a Dutch one for a slightly modified Heemskerck-class; the US design was disqualified because of its aluminium superstructure, the Dutch one because of its high price tag, and neither offered the range and flexibility of the Thiarian CODAG plant. They were built on Spanish yards with Thiarian assistance; the engines and the sonar suite were imported from Thiaria. Limited yard space made for slow construction; Bazan needed twelve years to fulfill the contract. The first hull was delivered in 1986, the last in 1993. Nevertheless, the ships turned out very well and remain the last Spanish warships built with foreign assistance. They were named Santa Maria (F81), Victoria (F82), Numancia (F83), Reina Sofia (F84), Navarra (F85) and Canarias (F86).
All six remain in service to this day; they will be replaced by F110-class frigates in the 2020s.
The other export customer was the Mexican Navy. Like Thiaria, Mexico had much profited from the 1970s oil boom, and by the early 1980s, the navy’s funding for the first time since the Second World War allowed acquisition of new hulls rather than hand-me-down US castoffs. Thiaria was a traditional ally and supplier of the Mexican armed forces, and the choice of a Thiarian design – which had proven itself with Thiaria’s own fleet and already attracted two export customers – was pretty much a foregone conclusion when the project was announced in 1983. Unlike the Spanish hulls, the Mexican frigates were standard length and featured Thiarian R7S-2 SAMs and a Thiarian combat system including Thiarian radars and sonars. They had no ASW rocket launchers and used US torpedoes, and their antisurface component consisted of eight US supplied Harpoon missiles. The contract did not only involve the construction of three hulls on the CSCA yard, but also expansion of the ASTIMAR yard at Tampico and rendering technical assistance with the construction of another three ships in Mexico. CSCA laid down one hull each year in 1985, 1986 and 1987; they were delivered to Mexico in 1989 (first two) and 1990, respectively. The other three were laid down in Tampico one per year in 1989 through 1991, and completed between 1995 and 1996. Gestation times were rather long, but the Mexican-built ships showed no discernible difference in workmanship compared with their Thiarian and Spanish half-sisters. The CSCA-built ships were named Ignacio Allende (F211), Mariano Abasolo (F212) and Guadelupe Victoria (F213); the locally built hulls were named Francisco Jose Mina (F214), Alejandro Beltran (F215) and Fulgencio Pacheco (F216).
All six delivered sterling service as the most modern and powerful units of the Mexican fleet for a quarter century; there were no significant military events, but Francisco Jose Mina was severely damaged by a collision with a freighter during an antidrug operation in 2009. The class is currently in the process of being replaced by new Muirbhreid-class ships, of which the first was delivered in 2012 from Thiaria, and five more have been ordered to be built in Mexico. Mariano Abasolo and Francisco Jose Mina have already been struck in 2018 and 2011, respectively. The other four are expected to serve for at least thirty years.
The Oirirceas-class were rated as good all-round ships, but although they left little room for improvement, the navy as usual wanted more of everything for the follow-on class which was due to be ordered in 1983, to replace the second batch of Daonlathas-class ships which would reach the end of their designed 25-year service life in 1986. The need to process lucrative export orders and the huge cost of the 1985 aircraft carrier programme however delayed the follow-on frigate till 1988, when four ships were approved; two more followed in 1990 and another two in 1991. The external design had been little changed since 1983 and looked old-fashioned by late 1980s standards because of the utter lack of stealth features. They were however over a thousand tons heavier than the Oirirceas-class, and the hull was ten meters longer and two meters beamier. It also had more freeboard and a longer forecastle. Particulars were:
Displacement: 4.600 ts standard, 5.750 ts full load
LOA: 142,50 m
Beam: 17,00 m
Draught: 5,20 m mean without sonar dome, 6,40 m deep load, 8,25 m maximum including sonar dome
Machinery: Two-shaft CODAG: Four CLTI RT1C-7 gas turbines (48.000 shp), coupled to four Nairn D34N-1D diesels (28.800 bhp), total power 76.800 shp
Design Speed: 31,5 knots
Range: 7.200 nm @ 20 kts
The new frigate – size-wise a destroyer by anyone’s standards, but still labelled a frigate, in contrast to the even larger D-class destroyers – was the first Thiarian ship to be designed with a VLS for its air defence missile complex. 48 cells were provided forward and another 24 cells aft, for the R13S-1 missile which was introduced with this class. It consisted of a standard R7S-4 with a newly developed booster and had a range of 18 nautical miles, almost as long as the much heavier R10S. With 72 missiles stowed, the 1988 frigate had one of the most powerful SAM suites of any frigate worldwide; a 3D radar and two electronically scanned illuminator/trackers enabled it to engage sixteen targets simultaneously. The last line of defence was provided by no less than four self-contained Meroka CIWS mounts. Of this weapon, over sixty were delivered to Thiaria by Spain as a counter trade for the plans, engines and sonars of Spain’s six Santa-Maria-class frigates; it was not the best CIWS on the market, so the Thiarians made up for its deficiencies with numbers. The main gun was the now standardized 130/60. For their main role as ASW ships, two quad canisters for MS38 standoff ASW missiles – they could also fire MM40 Block 1, but of these only few were purchased and they were usually not shipped on this class – and four fixed 400mm ASW torpedo tubes were provided; they were delivered with standard 400mm torpedoes, but already came with adapters to launch 324mm MU-90s, whose development Thiaria co-funded and which were introduced in 2000. A flight deck and a spacious hangar for two Muiscit helicopters occupied the stern; below the flight deck, a new generation of VDS with smaller dimensions was stowed, along with a towed torpedo decoy. The package was exceptionally powerful against air and subsurface targets, but came at nearly twice the cost of an Oirirceas-class ship, so it never attracted any export orders. The 1988 order was split between CSCA and SCI, the 1990 ships all went to SCI and the 1991 batch again to CSCA. They were named in the following sequence: Spleodar / G155 (Zeal), Urraim / G156 (Honour), Neamhchead / G157 (Defiance), Sasamh / G158 (Resistance), Diograis / G159 (Ardour), Fiontar / G160 (Quest), Contuirt / G161 (Adventure) and Fadcheann / G162 (Providence). The 1988 ships were laid down in 1989 and 1990 and delivered in 1992 through 1994; the 1990 batch was laid down 1991 and delivered 1994/5 and the 1991 ships were laid down in 1992 and 1993 and both delivered in 1996. They replaced not only the decrepit second batch of the Daonlathas-class, but also the much newer Saoirses.
After the New Portugal war of independence, Neamhchead landed her aft VLS. The space was taken up by two additional quad launch canisters for MM40 or MS38 missiles, in a similar effort to increase antiship and antisub punch as on Teanntas of the Oirirceas-class.
Three of the class had deployed with the UN fleet to the Madagaskar intervention, and between them, they shot down seven aircraft and 23 missiles. The class ship Spleodar scored the first combat hit with a MS38 during that conflict; the Lemurians never acknowledged the loss of a Kilo-class submarine, but one of theirs never again showed up anywhere either. Unlike the smaller Oirirceas-class ships, which were not supposed to operate alone under any circumstances, the Spleodars were capable of solitary missions, and the navy wanted additional antisurface punch, but without any sacrifice in AAW. SCI designed a sextuple launch container for MM40/MS38, which was installed on the whole class in 2000/2001 after the Madagaskar intervention, along with new MM40 Block 2 missiles with extended range. Usual loadout was four MM40 and eight MS38.
Between 2009 and 2013, the whole class received a thorough midlife refit. They had their radar and commo suite revamped and their combat system upgraded with ten times the previous computing power. IRST and electro-optical surveillance and targeting systems were installed for fighting a battle under EMCON conditions, and two new illuminator/trackers with a 90° cone and the ability to engage twenty targets simultaneously (each!) were installed. The SAMs were upgraded to R13S-2 with higher terminal speed, better accuracy and ECM resistance and shorter reaction time. Four remote-controllable 12,7mm HMGs were installed for dealing with asymmetric threats, and the flight complement was augmented with two Camcopters.
In this shape, all eight remain in active service. According to current plans, they will be replaced one-for-one by the second batch of the Muirbhreid-class between 2022 and 2029, one every year, which is easily within their extended service life after the midlife upgrade. Contuirt and Fadcheann will be transferred to Argentina in 2022 for free as part of a deal covering the construction of six new light frigates for the Argentine Navy which are currently under construction.
Prior to the 1990s, Thiaria did not routinely embark on stabilization and disaster relief operations around the globe. But as such interventions were becoming more and more en vogue, they faced the problem that their coast guard, which alone had the necessary equipment, was constitutionally prohibited to use force outside Thiaria’s EEZ. This resulted in a requirement for a class of ‘disaster relief ships’ for the navy which could perform the whole range of police, antipiracy, intervention and relief duty in foreign waters. The timing coincided with a Kokoan programme to renew their 1970s vintage fleet of large coast guard patrol frigates, and the Kokoan basic design was chosen by Thiaria’s Riordan yard – usually specializing on civilian vessels – as its proposal. Economy of scale made this design the cheapest contender, even if it was also the largest; CSCA’s proposal would be a complete new development to be built in a mere four copies, while Riordan’s design was already under construction in Koko, where a dozen units were required. Consequently, Riordan was awarded the contract. Particulars of the design were:
Displacement: 3.650 ts standard, 4.250 ts full load
LOA: 121,15 m
Beam: 14,50 m
Draught: 4,55m mean, 5,35 m deep load
Machinery: Two-shaft Diesel-Electric: Two OSD E-175 diesel generators, powered by 4 Nairn D22N-5 diesels (26.000 bhp)
Design Speed: 22,5 knots
Range: 8.000 nm @ 15 kts
Crew: 115 + 50
Armament consisted of an automatic 57mm cannon forward and four 20mm HS804 cannon (removed from retired minesweepers). A hangar and flight deck were provided for two Muiscit helicopters, and below the flight deck, two RIHBs were stored, to be launched via stern ramp. The radar and electronics fit included a combined air/surface search 3D radar, two navigation radars (also for helo approach) and a military grade ECM system. The ships received standard Thiarian frigate names, which were probably a tad too martial for the peaceful purpose of these vessels: Muisiam / G163 (Pique), Seasmhacht / G164 (Persistence), Iomra / G165 (Renown) and Uchtacht / G166 (Bravery). They were laid down one per year between 1995 and 1998 and delivered between 1997 and 2000.
The Kokoan vessels, which were commissioned between 1996 and 2002, differed in sundry detail, the most visible one being their completely enclosed sterns and different commo arrays. They were more heavily armed, toting 76mm guns forward and 30mm autocannon amidships, and carried S-76 helicopters. Their names were Heizei (PLH 13), Jito (PLH 14), Gensho (PLH 15), Shomu (PLH 16), Kitajima (PLH 17), Yozei (PLH 18), Heian (PLH 19), Sutoku (PLH 20), Chichibu (PLH 21), Hyoto (PLH 22), Temmu (PLH 23) and Koyomei (PLH 24).
A fifth Thiarian-built hull was laid down in 1999 for the Irish Navy and delivered in 2002; she was the largest ship ever in the Irish Navy’s inventory and named Eire (pennant number 01). She differed from the Thiarian vessels by having a single sextuple Sadral SAM launcher for Mistral missiles, in addition to her other armament.
In Thiarian service, the Muisiam-class frigates were active at hotspots all around the world, performing as advertised. Due to a constitutional change effected in 2015, the Thiarian coast guard was allowed to perform such missions abroad as well, and the Navy decided to hand these vessels down to the Coast Guard and replace them with a faster and better armed patrol frigate type. The transfer was completed in 2017.
2. Coast Guard
The Thiarian coast guard were masters in keeping antique ships operational, but by 1975, it was evident the service lifes of their mostly WWII-vintage fleet could no longer be stretched. With oil revenues on steady increase, the Coast Guard for the first time since the 1930s was in for a complete renewal of its fleet. The design for the new standard oceangoing patrol frigate was approved in 1977, and four hulls each were ordered in 1978, 1980 and 1982 - two per budget year from Riordan Steel in Cathair Riordan and LongAon in Iartha Mor, respectively. The hull form was very similar to the late WWII vintage Tradghaoth-class AAW escort, but beamier; internally however, there was little resemblance. Particulars were as follows:
Displacement: 2.450 ts standard, 3.200 ts full load
LOA: 99,25 m
Beam: 14,50 m
Draught: 4,65 m mean, 5,50 m deep load
Machinery: Four Nairn D22N-1 diesels on two shafts, total power 20.000 shp
Design Speed: 20 knots
Range: 6.000 nm @ 15 kts
Crew: 90 + 40
Armament was limited to an old-fashioned 37mm cannon and two HS804 20mm cannon, plus hard points for half a dozen crew-served MMGs. Firefighting gear, a hospital, a spacious brig and accommodation for 40 troops were standard, and there was a large helicopter deck aft for a single HH-34 rescue helo. The Riordan-built ships were named Carriolar (G17), Cathair Riordan (G18), Seanmainistir (G21), An Ceardlan (G22), An Priomhcuan (G25) and Malin Mor (G26). The LongAon-built ships were named Nuatearman (G19), Coleraine (G20), Mormainistir (G23), Cathair Etheile (G24), Longfort (G27) and Naomh Gebhrail (G28). The class was delivered between 1981 and 1986.
They served stalwartly, if unspectacularly for an average of thirty years. All exchanged their decrepit HH-34 helicopters with Muiscits in the early 1990s.
From 2010, they were replaced with Arathiar-class patrol frigates on a one-for-one basis. Delays in that programme (the Arathiar-class quickly became a popular export product, and foreign sales were processed with priority) required some of the ships in the class to remain in service longer than planned (as usual in Thiaria’s coast guard). Four were refit with 30mm remote-controllable autocannon instead of their WWII vintage 37mm guns and 12,7mm HMGs in lieu of their 20mm cannon in 2006/7. These four – Coleraine, Seanmainistir, An Priomhcuan and Malin Mor, remain in active Service with the Thiarian Coast Guard.
Carriolar, Cathair Riordan, Nuatearman and An Ceardlan were transferred for a symbolic price of $1 per hull to Angola in 2012 in order to strengthen that country’s ability to fight pirates, refugee smugglers and drug dealers. They were renamed Revolucao (601), Progresso (603), Libertade (605) and Independencia (607). They retain their outdated Thiarian sensors and weapons, but ship brand-new AW189 helicopters.
The four remaining hulls are out of service and laid up, pending disposal.