Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Open Books

Books currently being read:

Narrow Seas, Small Navies, and Fat Merchantmen (1990) by Charles W. Kobdurger, Jr.:
In the narrow seas , more often than not, it is the bordering small navies which now call the tune to which the super-navies dance. It is they who determine who shall pass and the price he shall pay .
. .
In these small navies, there are few conventional flat-deck aircraft carriers or nuclear-powered submarines. Ship types tend to be down-sized across the board. If they do have a carrier it will be a V/STOL one. They replace destroyers with fast attack craft.
They pay for this in comparative radius of action and in sea-keeping ability --- neither of great interest in most narrow seas it should be noted.

Asymmetric Warfare at Sea: The Case of Sri Lanka (2016) by Jayanath Colombage (Admiral, former Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy):
Maritime terrorism is not just a possibility but a real one. Recent history indicates that the general vulnerability of the maritime environment has become more apparent. To analyze the maritime terrorist threats,
it is not enough to study only the capabilities and motives of terrorist groups, but one must also observe the maritime industry, shipping practices, the vulnerability of the shipping trade as well as counter measures taken by the authorities and other institutions which are entrusted with the security of the shipping routes.

USNI on Naval Cooperation (2015) edited by Sam J. Tangredi. Excerpt from CDRE Adeniyi Adejimi Osinowo's "Africa Partnership Station Helps All Sides" (2011):
APS provides a platform for addressing both African maritime-security limitations and non-African stakeholders' strategic interests. With the extent of challenges and thinness of resources, it is imperative that African maritime services cooperate at all levels to tackle the situation. This mission can be seen as representing a necessary compromise between pride of sovereignty and maritime-security capability. It is an effort-multiplier benefiting all sides.

Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World (2010) by Martin N. Murphy:
Several of the factors that favour pirate activity also favour maritime insurgent/terrorist activity. . .

The overriding common factor is politics. While this might be obvious in the case of insurgency and terrorism, including that weak states are less capable of resisting insurgent or terrorist infiltration , it is possibly less evident when it comes to piracy.

Throughout history, however, the ebb and flow of pirate fortunes has been inextricably linked with the ebb and flow of power on land, with the power and policies of states and their political leaders, strong as well as weak. . . .

Small Navies: Strategy and Policy for Small Navies in War and Peace (Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies Series) (2014) from Michael McDevit, "Small Navies in Asia: The Strategic Rationale for Growth":
The ROKN shifted focus to littoral war fighting, concentrating on the North Korean submarine threat. Pyongyang's onventory of midget submarines (40 small 300 tonners, and 100 minis) is challenging. One of the most embarassing features of the post-sinking (sinking of the ROKN Cheonan) investigation was the finding that ASW readiness for ships operating in the Yellow (West) Sea was neglected because of the ROK Navy assumption that the Yellow Sea was too shallow for submarine operations.
General Lee: His Campaigns in Virginia 1861-1865 (1906) by Walter H. Taylor:
General Lee anticipated a severe struggle. There were many prominent men on each side of the controversy who contended that the war would be of short duration ; with them there was a disposition to underrate the steadfastness of purpose and the endurance of the other side; and they pretended to expect a sharp, short, and decisive contest. The first call of Mr. Lincoln for volunteers was for three months' service, and the leaders on both sides contended that the war would not last ninety days. General Lee took an entirely different view of the case. He seemed to realize the magnitude of the impending conflict; he gaged correctly the indomitable will, the untiring energy, the fertile resources, the pride of opinion, that characterized the people of the North ; and he knew full well that there would be no holiday affair in a conflict between the two sections of the United States, each animated by a traditional devotion to cherished institutions, each boasting the proud lineage of the Anglo-Saxon, each determined to win or die, and each confident of success.

He looked upon the vaporific declamations of those on each side who proposed to wipe their adversaries from the face of the earth in ninety days as bombastic and foolish. Notwithstanding his views, so freely expressed, and his recommendation that the volunteers be enlisted for the war, the Virginia troops, as also most of those of the other Southern States, were enlisted for twelve months. The civil authorities could not bring themselves to believe that there could possibly be any need for an armed force beyond that time.
So many lessons to be learned from history and examining assumptions that come back to bite those who assumed.

In many ways, naval fiction helps to focus on possibilities that might have to be dealt with. In this vein, Claude Berube's The Aden Effect and Syren's Song and Singer and Cole's Ghost Fleet are interesting to expand your discomfort zone.

UPDATE: Forgot to add a gem, Peter Hopkirk's For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History (2011) which was industrial espionage on a grand scale, indeed.

Finally, if you want an understanding of China's 100 years of humiliation, you could start with The Opium Wars: The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another (2004) by Hanes and Sanello.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Fat Man "Murder by Mail"

The Fat Man, a popular radio show during the 1940s and early 1950s was a detective drama created by (or at least credited to) Dashiell Hammett. It starred J. Scott Smart in the title role, as a detective who started out anonymous but rapidly acquired the name 'Brad Runyon'.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Somebody in "Somalia Calls On NATO to Prevent the Illegal Fishing"

All Africa reports "Somalia Calls On NATO to Prevent the Illegal Fishing" which is interesting since there really is only a imaginary construct of "Somalia" in the atlases of the world, while the reality is that the physical territory that was once Somalia is just a series of clan enclaves and would-be states like Puntland. In short, "there is not there there."

Thus, in reading such headlines, one has to decipher which group now seeks to make claim on the assets of other countries to protect the shores and littorals and EEZ that a failed mess of a state cannot protect on its own. Let's look at the article
Somali officials said that NATO must do more to prevent the illegal fishing that sparked the latest pirate hijacking.
Some Somali fishermen, including ex-pirates, have complained of harassment by illegal foreign trawlers. Officials from Puntland have warned that more hijackings could occur if the problem isn't 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 where the crewmen were released.

"We told them that if they cannot take measures against the illegal fishing vessels who come under their cover and those who pour wastes into our waters, then their presence is a burden rather than a benefit."
So, not a Somali government official, but rather a Puntland official.

And, one has to wonder how NATO ships impose any sort of burden on the Somalis, except those who are engaged in illegal activities, since I don't think there are many liberty ports in the failed state and I know Somalia or Puntland is paying one dime for the NATO forces. I guess just having them out there weighs heavy on the Somali minds.

Then there is this, which echoes what I have long said,
However, Joshua Tallis, a Research Analyst at CNA Corporation, a nonprofit research and analysis organization, told the Sri Lanka Guardian that fishing has not traditionally been a major part of Somali culture or economics, nor were most pirates former fishermen. "That does not excuse the devastation of toxic dumping and IUU fishing, only its ability to causally explain piracy," he said.
Puntland Marine Police
I would suggest that if Mr. Omar is serious, that Puntland put some real effort into forming a coast guard (see also here) and getting it out to enforce Somali interests. Otherwise, bad things undoubtedly will continue to happen to his failed state.

Let's Talk Arsenal Ships and Missile Barges

"Payloads, not platforms" so sayeth a former CNO.

So, how to get a whole lotta fire power in to a single ship? About 20 years ago there were proposals for the minimally crewed, missile laden Arsenal Ship, designed to deliver a flexible package of ordnance downrange for support of, say, amphibious operations or something:
The Arsenal Ship was developed initially as a demonstration program to provide a large increase in the amount of ordnance available to ground- and sea-based forces in a conflict, particularly during the early days. The Navy envisioned that the ship would have a large capacity of different missiles, including Tomahawk and Standard, and space for future extended range gun systems. The ship could also have a sea-based version of the Army Tactical Missile System. This ship could greatly increase capabilities in littoral operations to conduct long-range strike missions, provide fire support for ground forces, defend against theater ballistic missiles, and maintain air superiority.
The Arsenal Ship has the potential to provide substantial fire support to a variety of missions in regional conflicts without the logistics burden of transporting both delivery systems and ammunition to the shore and forward areas. The Arsenal Ship is expected to carry a large number of VLS cells but without the sophisticated command and control and radar equipment found on Aegis-equipped ships.
The number of VLS cells being bandied about was 500 per ship, with 4 or 5 ships contemplated.

More recently, the concept has been revived in the SSGN submarine conversions:
The SSGN Program Office refueled and converted four SSBNs into SSGNs in a little more than five years at a significantly lower cost and less time than building a new platform. USS Ohio (SSGN 726) entered the shipyard on Nov. 15, 2002, completed conversion in December 2005 and deployed for the first time in October 2007. USS Florida (SSGN 728) commenced its refueling and conversion in August 2003 and returned to the fleet in April 2006. USS Michigan (SSGN 727) started its shipyard availability in October 2004 and delivered in November 2006. USS Georgia (SSGN 729) completed conversion in December 2007.
Combined, the four SSGNs represent more than half of the Submarine Force's vertical launch payload capacity with each SSGN capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. The missiles are loaded in seven-shot Multiple-All-Up-Round Canisters (MACs) in up to 22 missile tubes. These missile tubes can also accommodate additional stowage canisters for SOF equipment, food, and other consumables to extend the submarines' ability to remain forward deployed in support of combatant commanders' tasking. The missile tubes are also able to accommodate future payloads such as new types of missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and unmanned undersea vehicles.
Well, heck, there has been discussion of using the LPD 17 hull to develop a "Ballistic Missile Defense Ship" with up to 288 VLS cells:
Atop the superstructure is a massive S-band phased array radar, over 21 feet on each side. Compare that to the 12.5 ft. diameter of the SPY-1 radars aboard Ticonderoga Class Cruisers and Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers. For radars, larger size means greater range and better resolution and these arrays have three times the area of those which equip current BMD vessels.

Starting behind the superstructure and continuing along the periphery to the stern is a vertical launch system (VLS) with 288 cells to carry surface to air missiles (SAMs), Tomahawk cruise missiles or Vertical-launch Anti-submarine rockets (VLAs). For comparison, Ticos have 122; later Burkes 96 and earlier Burkes 90. So, that’s triple the average missile load to start, with plenty of room to install more. Plus, the ship is taller than the surface combatants, which means it can hold future missiles of greater length and range.
Why? Some suggest it would help defeat anti-access systems, as Capt. Tangredi did in Breaking the Anti-Access Wall:
Before describing the specifics of an arsenal ship, it is important to describe what it is not—or rather, what it should not be. It is not a multipurpose ship; therefore, it is not a replacement for any other ship, especially not aircraft carriers. It is not a destroyer or cruiser capable of conducting missions in multiple domains (that is, antiair, antisurface, antisubmarine, and anti–ballistic-missile warfare). Its weapons are for strike from the sea, not for war at sea . It is not a ship for all reasons. It is a gap filler that will give us the anti-anti-access capability that we need but do not have in the necessary quantity.

A modern arsenal ship should not be designed to make port visits, provide humanitarian assistance, provide C2, host any sort of staff, or do anything else other than fulfill the third capability required to defeat anti-access strategies: provide maximum volume of precise fire onto enemy targets. The C2 of its ordnance should come from other warships. Its long-range and mid-range defenses would be provided by the rest of the Fleet or other joint assets. It should not be expected to operate independently, although a low maximum speed and unique sea-keeping characteristics might require independent transits and tactical rendezvous with deception techniques minimizing the risks.

Perhaps we should call it a self-propelled arsenal barge.
SNAFU has this image of a towed missile barge, the source of which is hard to track, but the caption on the picture indicates this is Russian design using a Sovremennyy-class destroyer as a towing ship

There is this U.S. Navy image of what appears to be a JHSV pulling what appears to be a high speed missile barge:

Even Lego modelers seem to be on the arsenal ship band wagon with a fantasy build:
If you've got any info on the Russian design or the JSHV barge, please let me know.

In the meantime, there is this 2005 article by Cmdr. John B. Perkins from the Armed Forces Journal, "Surface ship, submarine missions are coalescing" to ponder:
Andrew F. Krepinevich, director of the U.S. Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), alluded to this trend 10 years ago.

“Just as bombers are becoming relatively less important than the ordnance they carry,” he said, “so too might surface warships, which could evolve to become “barges” (with some perhaps operating below the surface) for advanced conventional munitions that can strike pre-designated targets at extended ranges.”

This concept makes the case that barges would be ideal as strike platforms of the future. The reference to the barges “operating below the surface” is the first precursor toward the idea of larger systems operating underwater.
One of Krepinevich’s associates at CSBA put it this way: “This type of basic anti-navy architecture could be made more effective by incorporating increasingly sophisticated mines, active and passive sea-based sensor networks and quiet-attack submarines. Such architectures would have far lower barriers to entry (cost and learning) than carrier battle group operations, potentially enabling those competitors to leapfrog the carrier era and become major maritime competitors, at least in littoral waters. Absent a revolutionary breakthrough in ASW[anti-submarine warfare], naval power-projection operations could be driven sub surface.”
This reference brings the point home in stark fashion: Technologies meant to find and destroy objects will become inexpensive and plentiful. The world’s strongest navy should not build anything but ships that employ the best covering tactics available. The CSBA suggested that the capital ship of the fleet in 2020 might be an arsenal ship — a missile-firing submersible armed with cruise and conventional ballistic missiles — and that such ships might be armed with a few hundred to a thousand missiles.

A distributed power projection navy might include several classes of arsenal ships and other submersible power projection forces in the fleet.
Of course, here's the 12 year old kicker:
The Navy must become bold in decision-making before it is relegated to playing catch-up in a world fast becoming shaped by quick-striking revolutions in military affairs.
Well, we've got the SSGNs.

UPDATE: About that LPD based missile platform:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Interesting Read from "Think Defence on the UK Amphibious Capability - Today and Tomorrow"

The Royal Navy (and its sisters and cousins and aunts) has some amphibious capability, as set out by Think Defence in UK Amphibious Capability - Today and Tomorrow :
The UK maintains a fairly broad array of amphibious combat capabilities with contributions from the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the British Army and a number of civilian providers.

In many ways, the future looks bright; improvements to naval gunfire, new support helicopters and attack helicopters on the horizon, and of course, the carriers and F-35B capability, joined by development in unmanned systems, all point to a strong future.

But with the impending ‘out of service’ date of HMS Ocean, block out of service of the amphibious shipping in the medium term, a changing threat and political landscape, and the constant pressure on budget, there are many difficult issues that remain to be resolved.
One issue is size. The RN is under-sized and under-funded.

More good reading at the Royal Navy website where "sea blindness" is being fought daily:
Maritime trade is the lifeblood of the UK economy and industry. 95% of Britain’s economic activity depends on the oceans. And every year Britain imports goods worth £524 billion.

The UK is so dependent on the seas for its prosperity, that without the Royal Navy acting as a deterrent the effect on the economy would be overwhelming.
The UK has 77 commissioned ships, including "13 frigates and 6 destroyers." See also here. By comparison, Japan has 46 destroyers and naval vessels..

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 13 March - 12 April 2017

UPDATE: China's Navy rescues vessel from pirates as reported here:
The Chinese navy rescued a Panamanian merchant ship from pirates in the Gulf of Aden over the weekend, the second time it has helped a vessel under threat this month.

The Frigate Hengyang from China's 25th convoy fleet sent by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy to the Gulf of Aden rushed to the hijacked ship ALHEERA, after receiving reports that it was under attack at 9:30 pm on Saturday. Hengyang's helicopters reached the ship one hour later and drove the five pirates away, the PLA Daily reported on Sunday.

The ALHEERA is now safely continuing its journey.
Perhaps related is this VOA report of two dead suspected pirates:
A Somali official says foreign naval forces in international waters shot dead two pirates and wounded another when the bandits attempted to hijack a ship on Saturday.

Ahmed Abdullahi, an official with the anti-piracy force in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, said the two killed men were part of a group of nine pirates in a boat approaching an unidentified ship near the Gulf of Aden when a naval force opened fire on them.

He said the six other pirates survived the attack and escaped.

Residents in Durduri, a coastal village in Sanaag region, said that on Sunday morning they found two dead bodies, apparently left by the pirates, near the coast.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


The Empty Tomb, 1889, Mikhail Nesterov

Matthew 28King James Version (KJV)

28 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.