By using their landing crafts to patrol the pirate infested waters, the Dutch are showing that quantity has quality of its own.Well, some of us have been arguing for just this sort of thing for some time - see, for example, Department of Crazy Ideas: How about a cheap inshore fleet?, How to Make the Navy Bigger, Sooner, Cheaper, If the "'Sea [is] too large to prevent all piracy,' admiral says"--then you have to make the sea smaller....
And I would think that it should be easier to catch the pirates closer to were they left, because the area to look for pirates is smaller (although still quite large) compared to trying to find them when they are 700NM away from the Somali coast.
So, good for the Dutch! Now, if everyone else would just join in and blockade the pirate havens...
UPDATE: Dutch Navy site report here: (Google translation)
Gade Beaten from the Johan de Witt bring two landing craft seized a pirate ship amphibious transport op.Het Hr. Ms. Johan de Witt is by applying a new tactic, possibly due to its landing craft, all 2 times pirate activities successfully disrupted. Johan de Witt patrol for only a few days off the Somali coast.UPDATE: From November 2008:
The successful patrols done differently than hitherto. The amphibious transport ship of the Navy may, in its landing craft operate closer to shore. Instead of waiting to detect pirates on the open ocean, patrolling the Johan de Witt famous pirates near cities and prevented the pirates since the departure.
"That's exactly what happened," said Major of Marines Theo Manure Rini, who leads a group of landing craft. He has his cabin on board temporarily exchanged for a cot on the deck of a landing craft. "Early in the morning we suddenly noticed a large fishing boat. It was close to a pirate village, where we last nights activities had seen everything." After approval of the commander of the Johan de Witt was called the Whaler approached. "It soon turned out here to go to a Whaler as mother ship for pirates is used. They were about to leave the ocean. We have thus nipped in the bud".
It was the second successful campaign in just 4 days. Now are two former pirate boats on the deck of the Johan de Witt. The crew returned to shore. "The Johan de Witt has six landing craft with him, put the commander Ben Bekkering. "We can always a large part of the coast coverage. This kind of commitment is entirely new. It's a different part than we're used to, but it shows the flexibility of the ship and its vessels to."
Somali pirates make it difficult actions taken hostage by the shipping in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia. Therefore, the navies of many countries for some time active in the area to combat piracy. Johan de Witt participates in the anti-piracy mission Atalanta of the European Union. The success of the approach demonstrated by the fact that the pirates operate further from home and the number of successful attacks decreases.
In the September 2008 issue of the United States Naval Institute's magazine Proceedings, the Secretary of the Navy looked at the issue of "An Affordable Naval Presence." It has a sub-head of "We need a more cost-effective Fleet."
The piece lays out the requirements imposed by our maritime nature:
Our nation's maritime strategy reaffirms the use of sea power to influence actions and activities at sea and ashore, including the need for our naval forces to support humanitarian operations, counter piracy, and assist in capacity building and training of partner nations. The requirement to support these missions moves us to adopt persistent global presence as a key tenet of our strategy. The increasing desire for U.S. Navy presence is one of the driving factors behind our decisions on Fleet size and composition.
The value of presence is under-appreciated by many, for they fail to recognize the role of maritime security in support of the world economy to protect it against the vulnerabilities that terrorism and rogue nations pose. Clearly, most would agree that the world is far more connected and interdependent than in years past. Nations have moved away from the idea that they must possess economic self-sufficiency and have largely recognized the value of trade and specialization.
Good advice then, good advice now. And the Dutch are proving it.Ah, there's the rub. Too much ocean, too many shorelines, too many needs, too few ships. What's a navy to do?***The more dispersed nature of today's world trade patterns has major implications for our view of maritime security . . .
Secretary Winter wants analysis of the right ships to build and a more efficient process to build them. All of which is fine, but - there is a faster, cheaper path to get bigger, sooner at lower cost - putting hulls in the water while awaiting that analysis.
Here's my modest proposal:
Start with a couple of squadrons, tell your O-6 that you want them ready in 6 months for operational testing. Unleash the budget dollars. For op testing, send one squadron off to the coast of Somalia for anti-pirate work. Send the other off Iraq. Put those expensive great big cruisers and destroyers currently in the area to work doing blue water stuff.
- Take $250 million dollars and put it aside;
- Of that $250 million, use $100 million to buy or lease 50 to 100 offshore crew boats as currently used in the offshore oil industry (many of them are reaching the end of their expected useful life in the industry - you might be able to pick up some bargains).
- Invest $50 million in refurbishing the boats and in getting weapons for their decks. Turn them into "navalized" vessels. Make 22 knots the minimum acceptable speed. (UPDATE: Or 15 kts - just bring some "go fasts")
- Do not try to make these low cost littoral combat ships into battleships for all conditions. Talk to the LCDRs who will be squadron commanders and the LTs who will be the commanding officers about what they would need to provide a presence, fight in a low threat environment against modestly armed pirates and the like, support occasional missions ashore and interdict drug smuggler semi-submersibles. Give them what they need in terms of state of the art comms using COTS (heck, load put a communication van on board if so that no time is wasted trying to rewire the little ships more than needed). Put in some comfortable berthing suited for the sea states in which these things (I call them Special Purpose Vessels or SPVs) will operate.
- Under no cirmcumstance should the total U.S. Navy investment in any single SPV exceed $2 million, excluding the cost of adding weapons systems (adding a M-1 Abrams, for example) and the personnel costs.
- Make the project a 12 month "emergency" - and kill the bureacracy that would ordinarily take on this job - find a hard charging Captain, make him or her report directly to SecNav and tell them what the mission and the budget will be. Then get out of the way except for monthly status reports.
- Find a group of O-3s who are ready for command and who can think for themselves and train the heck out of them by letting them go to sea in the type of ships that you are acquiring, let them learn from the masters of current offshore supply and crew vessels. Find some O-4s who can take hold of the idea of being a squadron commander of a 5 ship squardron and train them in mission like that being conducted by the Africa station.
- Borrow some Army Rangers or fleet Marines and train them in the ship boardings, small boat ops, shipboard firefighting and ship defense. Treat them like the Marines of old. Stress people skills appropriate for counterterrorism work.
- Lease some ships to be used as "tenders" for the SPVs - small container ships on which the containers can be shops, supply warehouses, refrigerator units, etc. Bladders for fuel. Use the Arapaho concept to set up a flight deck for helo ops.
- Be generous with UAV assets - use the small "net recoverable" types.
- Don't limit the small boat assets to RHIBs. Experiement with M-ships, small go-fasts captured from drug dealers, whatever. The idea is to have boats that can operate in one sea state worse than the pirates, drug smugglers, etc.
- Use the old MIUW (Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare) van concept for adding some sonar capability. TIS/VIS is a necessity.
Paint Coast Guard like stripe on the hull of the SPVs - but make it Navy blue. If the Coasties want to join in, give them a boat and paint the stripe orange. Make the SPVs highly visible. Nothing deters crime like a visible cop on the beat.
Show the flag.
Please let your thoughts be known.