Friday, March 24, 2017

On Midrats 26 March 2017- Episode 377: Too Many SWOs at Sea?

Please join us at 5pm on 27 March 2017 for Midrats Episode 377: Too Many SWOs at Sea?
When is there ever too much of a good thing? Is our officer manning policy in the Surface Warfare Community resulting in too many JOs chasing too few hours of experience actually performing one of their most important professional duties, the safe and effective maneuver of a ship at sea?
U.S. Navy photo MC2 Jeremy Graham

Do we have our numbers, policies, and priorities right to ensure we are giving out Surface Warfare Officers the opportunity to master the fundamentals of any respected leader at sea?

Building off his article in the March 2017 Proceedings, Too Many SWOs per Ship, our guest for the full hour will be Lieutenant Brendan Cordial, USN.

We will not only discuss the issues he raises in his article, but will cover the experiences, responsibilities, and future of our surface forces from the Fleet LT perspective.

LT Cordial is a native of Beaufort, South Carolina. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2011 and commissioned through the NROTC Program. During his division officer tours, he served in USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and USS San Jacinto (CG 56), both home-ported in Norfolk, VA. He is currently assigned to NROTC units at The George Washington University."
Listen live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can pick the show up later by clicking that link or by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Friday Movie: "Land the Landing Force" (1967)

Once upon a time:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

From the Department of Cheaper War Fighting: "A Ship that Still Isn't a Frigate" - byThink Defence

A while ago, Think Defence took on the task of thinking through what sorts of uses could be made of ships built for trade by an armed force that wanted to save its multi-billion dollar real warship hulls for doing what they were meant to do - patrolling the sea against threats from submarines and things like that.

Think Defence expanded on an idea I proposed in The Department of Cheaper Pirate FIghting with an interesting post titled A Ship that Still Isn't a Frigate:
One of the first multi part series on Think Defence was called a Ship
that is not a Frigate, so called because it was a few thoughts on how the Royal Navy could create a class of vessels that could operate in the area between the RFA logistics support vessel and the frigate or destroyer, specifically on a range of non-war-like tasks.

Taking inspiration from Mark Tempest I expanded the concept from re-purposing surplus offshore supply vessels and creating a larger, more flexible ship, utilising an offshore construction vessel as a base.

Since then, and before, I have written about the general concept a few times so this is a continuation and consolidation of those various blog posts and longer series.

The reason I called it ‘not a frigate’ because it was not intended to be a frigate on the cheap, or a surrogate frigate, and to emphasise the point so that people would not get carried away by adding medium calibre guns and cruise missiles.

The reason this article is notionally called ‘still not a frigate’ is because that still stands.

If one wants a Frigate (light or global) ask those nice chaps at BAE or BMT to design and build one for you.

So why bother, the simple point, the whole raison d’ĂȘtre for this, is one of cost, trying to squeeze the maximum utility from the smallest pot of cash. A class of ships that fulfils a plethora of roles that are less than high intensity combat, and might use some notional future budget for an Argus and Diligence replacement, and perhaps with a nod to future mine countermeasures and survey budgets.
Yes! Despite the crazy English spelling, TD has it exactly right. If you need more ships, figure out which missions are best performed by "not a frigates" and get going on building a force of such vessels to take on things like . . .piracy patrols, or the the list TD suggests:
- Training and Defence Engagement
- Salvage, Repair and Firefighting
- Medical support
- Experimentation and Systems Development
- Survey
- Mine Countermeasures
- Ship to Shore Logistics Support
- Maritime and Littoral Security
- Special Forces Support
- Disaster Relief
- Submarine Rescue
- Aviation Support
The U.S. Navy already has a number of normally unarmed vessels it uses for some of these purposes. You can see the list at the Military Sealift Command site.

Now, what, as I have suggested before we alter the equation by adding some armament? By placing hard-charging young officers out there in command of the modern equivalent of armed schooners? Let them get their feet wet in command.

Why? Let me refer you to an article in the March 2017 U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, "Too Many SWOs per Ship which points out that too many of our
surface officer youngsters are going to waste because they have too few opportunities to do the one fun thing about being a surface warfare officer - driving ships:
Inequalities in experience are exacerbated by the sheer numbers of division officers assigned to surface combatants. An afloat SWO training program seeks to enhance the baseline knowledge learned during the Basic Division Officer Course and help ensigns to achieve their SWO qualification. Nothing is more important to the quality of those qualifications than watch-standing experience, particularly during special evolutions. Given a finite number of special evolutions, large wardrooms result in fewer watchbill assignments per officer. Watchbills either become bloated with under-instruction watch standers—often to the detriment of the watch team’s overall cohesion—or junior officers simply are not given more than a handful of opportunities to directly participate in special evolutions.
Solution? More, cheaper ships doing real missions that can fully engage the hearts and minds of our future admirals. On smaller ships, experience comes at you fast.

Give them "Not a Frigates."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fun with North Korea: Again with the "Sea of Fire"

A video put out by the NORKS (uploaded to YouTube by ZeroHedge) "demonstrating" (nice word that, since it attempts to "demonize" the U.S.) how the great forces of the latest Kim-in-Charge will demolish any threat to the Hermit Kingdom and prove the superiority of "juche" over - well, over whatever the U.S. represents to the repressive regime in Pyongyang:

Long term readers may recall that the NORKS have been threatening the world with a "sea of fire". See also here, here, here, and here. Such threats may be annual events, I quit tracking them after a few years.

In any event, the NORK leadership is perpetually ticked off about something (perhaps having to live in North Korea?) and, for the most part, their blustery ways have spooked the better off places in the world into offering food, medicine and the like that prevent the place cratering around the ears of the current Kim. Yes, we prop up this family of nutjobs.

Now, however, the NORKs may have some weapons to threaten the world around them and it seems time to tell the would-be neighborhood mini-bully to grow up. As was touched on during Sunday's Midrats (starting about 52:00), the U.S. and its allies (and the Chinese, neighbors and sometime protectors of the NORKs) need to quit being nice to the current Kim and let him know that his rantings have outrun their usefulness and that, as a rising nuclear power, he is playing with . . . fire when he and his regime make threats.

As my sailors were wont to say, "Paybacks are a ". . ."

Here's hoping that some give Kim a clue that, if he's not in the big leagues, he's nudging up against the self-protection rights of other countries. That has real consequences.

Monday, March 20, 2017

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 13 February - 15 March 2017

Of special interest this week -
1. the first ship hijacking off Somalia since 2012 (but note that last week there were reports of small boats with armed men in the vicinity of Somalia);
2. A Yemeni coast guard vessel apparently hit a sea mine and sank with a loss of 8 crew;
3. An attack on a ship off the coast of Nigeria

Much more in

And, as a by the way, an interesting report from Channel NewsAsia that there's a demand from Somali "secuirty forces," Somali security forces that freed pirated ship say NATO must do more:
Somali officials whose forces freed a hijacked oil tanker and its eight Sri Lankan crew said on Sunday that NATO ships must do more to prevent the illegal fishing that locals say sparked the latest attack.

Monday's hijacking was the first time that Somali pirates had successfully hijacked a commercial ship since 2012. Unlike previous hijackings, the ship was freed swiftly and with no ransom paid after the Puntland Maritime Police Force intervened.

The intervention reassured shipping companies concerned that resurgent pirates could once again threaten one of the world's most important shipping lanes.

Officials from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland blamed local anger over illegal fishing by foreign vessels for the attack. They warned that more hijackings might happen unless the problem was tackled.

"We requested NATO warships to tackle the illegal fishing, but they replied it was not their mandate," Abdihakim Abdullahi Omar, the vice president of Puntland, told reporters at Bosasso port.
Perhaps those "security forces" should be patrolling their own waters . . . or working to get someone in whose "mandate" it is.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: The Mel Blanc Show "The New Radio" (1946)

You imagine that some genius thought it was a wonderful idea to put the "man with a thousand voices" into a radio situation comedy in which he played "fix-it" shop owner.* Which it was for about
9 months.

*Back in the day, instead of throwing out things that broke, we'd take them to a guy whose skill was fixing such things in his "fix-it shop" almost always for a lot less than buying something new.

Friday, March 17, 2017

On Midrats 19 March 2017, Episode 376: WESTPAC's Progress with Toshi Yosihara

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 19 March 2017 for Midrats Episode 376: WESTPAC's Progress with Toshi Yosihara
While a new American President, Russia, and ongoing operations against the Islamic State continue to absorb attention, the Western Pacific from Japan, Korea, China, to Australia continues forward.

Our guest to discuss all the latest developments will be Toshi Yoshihara.

A prior guest on Midrats, Dr. Yoshihara is a Senior Fellow at CSBA. Before joining CBSA he held the John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies at the U.S. Naval War College where he taught strategy for over a decade.

He is co-author of Red Star over the Pacific: China's Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy, which has been listed on the Chief of Naval Operation’s Professional Reading Program since 2012. Translations of Red Star over the Pacific have been published in China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

He has also co-authored Indian Naval Strategy in the Twenty-first Century and Chinese Naval Strategy in the Twenty-first Century: The Turn to Mahan. He is co-editor of Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age: Power, Ambition, and the Ultimate Weapon and Asia Looks Seaward: Power and Maritime Strategy. His articles have appeared in Journal of Strategic Studies, Asian Security, Washington Quarterly, Orbis, World Affairs, Comparative Strategy, Strategic Analysis, Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, and Naval War College Review. The Naval War College Review awarded him the Hugh G. Nott Prize for best article of 2010.

He holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and a B.S.F.S. from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.
Listen live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can pick the show up later by clicking that link or by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Friday Fun Film: "Mr. Push-a-Button" (1961)

Well, I personally can attest that few months in the world of the "Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility" world is more that enough.

Those mothballed ships did serve a purpose, though, and some were recalled to active duty for Vietnam. Some battleships made to Desert Storm.

But this is film is about the "modern" missile Navy of the early 1960's - and not the older ships tied up alongside the piers in the opening sequence. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Somali pirates let go the tanker they "caught"

Fox News and AP report Somali pirates who seized oil tanker release it without conditions"
Pirates who seized a Comoros-flagged oil tanker released the ship Thursday without conditions, according to a Somali official.

Security official Ahmed Mohamed told The Associated Press the pirates have disembarked the ship, which is now heading to Bossaso port, the region's commercial hub.

Mohamed said the release occurred after negotiations by local elders and local officials with the pirates, who seized the tanker on Monday and held eight Sri Lankan crew members hostage.
Apparently there might also have been some gun play, as set out here:
A Somali official says pirates who seized an oil tanker have opened fire on naval troops from the semiautonomous state of Puntland, sparking clashes between the two sides.

Ali Shire Mohamud, the commissioner of Alula district where the ship is being held, says clashes started after naval forces tried to stop a boat carrying reinforcement pirates to the ship.
Seems to me that the pirates may have recognized that if the "athorities" knew where pirate reinforcements were, that this situation could have gotten into one of dual sets of hostages, one group of innocent sailors and the other of pirates.

I would think the "elders" might have pointed that out.