Designed for coastal anti-submarine duties, the A-69 D'Estienne D'Orves' class frigates were commissioned by the French navy from 1976-84. Seventeen A-69s are currently operated, and three were purchased by Argentina and served in the Falklands war. One, the Guerrico, was hit by the Royal Marines on South Georgia with an 84-mm Carl Gustav anti-tank rocket and small-arms fire; she required three days in dry dock to repair. Although not intended for deep-water ASW operations, the A-69s are used for overseas patrols with two or three of the French ships usually stationed in the Pacific.
The Type A-69 D'Estienne D'Orves corvettes comprised a class of 17 French Navy ships entering service during the 70s and early 80s. These ships were designed for coastal anti-submarine warfare as well as scouting, training and other secondary duties. Only 250' in length and displacing 1,100 tons, these are not large ships but are nevertheless seaworthy and economical-vessels. Armament and combat systems vary, and there were even plans - subsequently canceled - to outfit two of them with helicopter landing facilities.
French D'Estienne D'Orves (Type A 69) class frigate of 950 tons displacement launched in 1974. She is crewed by 83 ratings and 7 officers and has a top speed of 23 knots and a range of 7200 km at 15 knots. She is armed with four Aerospatiale MM 40 Exocet anti- ship missiles; one DCN 100 mm/55 Mod 68 CADAM automatic dual-purpose gun; two Oerlikon 20 mm anti- aircraft guns; four fixed torpedo tubes taking the ECAN L3 anti-submarine torpedo; one Creusot Loire 375 mm Mk 54 6-tubed trainable anti-ship mortar launcher.
In December 2000 it was announced that Turkey had agreed to buy six D'Estienne D'Orves (Type A 69)-class frigates from France. Three frigates - Quartier Maitre Anquetil, Commandant de Pimodan and Commandant Drogon -- were delivered in mid-2001 following routine maintenance work. The 25-year-old frigates, decommissioned by France in 1999, were renamed Bandirma, Bozcaada and Bodrum. Two additional decommissioned vessels (D'Estienne D'Orves and Amyot d'Inville, renamed Beycoz and Bartin) were overhauled prior to delivery in early 2002. The sixth unit -- Second Maitre Le Bihan -- will be decommissioned from French service in 2002 for transfer to the Turkish Navy as Bafra. The vessels will remain in service while Turkey completes construction of a new class of corvettes under the National Vessel (Mil Gem) program.
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