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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Waiting on the UN to do something about the Somali pirates

The UN once again springs into "dynamic inaction"* in dealing with the Somali pirates, and interested parties are getting restless, as set out here:
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) wants the UN Security Council to undertake urgent measures to restore sanity to Somali waters, where piracy and armed attacks against ships have become the order of the day.

Following the appeal by IMO secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, the Security Council is expected to pressure the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to either crack down on the menace itself or seek international assistance.
UN action would include consenting to naval ships operating in the Indian Ocean, entering the country’s territorial waters when engaging in operations against pirates or suspected pirates and armed robbers endangering the safety of life at sea, in particular the safety of crews on board ships carrying World Food Programme humanitarian aid to Somalia or leaving Somali ports after having discharged their cargo.

The Council authorised the secretary general to take action in accordance with his proposal.

“The continuing incidents of acts of piracy and armed robbery in waters off the coast of Somalia is of great concern to IMO member states, the IMO secretariat and to me personally,” Mr Mitropoulos said. “The Council’s endorsement of this high-level approach will help considerably in alleviating the situation, especially if support and assistance to ships is enhanced; and if administrations and the shipping industry implement effectively the guidance that IMO has issued and the notices promulgated regularly by naval operations centres.”
Talking isn't the same as taking action.

*A wonderful phrase from the mind of Jim Boren, well stated as
Dynamic inaction, doing nothing but doing it with style, ...providing the appearance of performance while not having to actually do something.
Mr. Boren is an expert on bureaucracies and the minions who inhabit them, and is the author of one of my favorite books, When in Doubt, Mumble.

The pirates of Guyana strike again

The pirates of Guyana strike again, attacking fishermen, as set out here:
Five armed sea pirates struck again in the Waini River robbing two fishing crews of a quantity of equipment and other items last Friday.
Their haul included fish, fish glue and a boat.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Land rush under the ice

Russia leads the way in seeking "resource rich" subsurface territory under Arctic, as set out here:
Thinning ice in the Arctic has raised hopes of accessing energy reserves.

Russia's claim to a vast swathe of territory in the Arctic, thought to contain oil, gas and mineral reserves, has been challenged by other powers, including the US.

Moscow argued before a UN commission in 2001 that waters off its northern coast were in fact an extension of its maritime territory.

The claim was based on the argument that an underwater feature, known as the Lomonosov Ridge, was an extension of its continental territory. The UN has yet to rule upon the claim.

The teams aboard the mini-submarines Mir 1 and Mir 2 are expected to carry out scientific experiments and measurements on the seabed.

The Law of the Sea Convention allows states an economic zone of 200 nautical miles, which can sometimes be expanded.

To extend the zone, a state has to prove that the structure of the continental shelf is similar to the geological structure within its territory.

At the moment, nobody's shelf extends up to the North Pole, so there is an international area around the Pole administered by the International Seabed Authority.
Molten Eagle has thoughts:
The nominal purpose of the expedition is to provide new evidence proving the North Pole is an extension of Russia's coastal shelf (Lomonosov Ridge). Russia would thereby perfect earler claims to mineral rights the size of Germany, France and Italy combined - a region estimated to contain 10 billion cubic meters of hydrocarbons, plus diamonds and ores.

Under international law, Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark control economic zones within 200 miles of their continental shelves. Russia laid claim to vast swaths of undersea Arctic territory in 2001. But the four other polar countries objected. Danish scientists maintain the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of Greenland. The Russian expedition hopes to end the controversy with samples of the seabed unique to the motherland.

Maritime Monday 69 at Fred Fry International

Once again, Fred's on top of matters maritime with Fred Fry International: Maritime Monday 69, this week featuring feeder ships and much more.

Also, Xformed has a teaser up for his Monday Maritime Matters about James Lawrence of "Don't Give Up the Ship!" fame which he promises to turn into a full post this afternoon.

Bahrain gets praise for anti-piracy efforts

BAHRAIN's military and its security measures against extremism were praised by a top US official yesterday.

Bahrain's Navy and its other forces are something the country should be proud of, said US Naval Forces Central Command and Fifth Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff.

"I've been working here since February with the military and I've been uniformly impressed with the quality of the officers and sailors in the Bahrain Navy and other members of the Bahrain forces," he told a Press conference at the Naval Support Activity (NSA), Juffair.

He said Bahrain was the first country in the region to join the Combined Maritime Forces and it remained at the forefront of operations.

The Combined Maritime Forces commander said that since Bahrain had joined, it had operated in task force 152, (geographically responsible for the majority of the Gulf) and its ship Sabah and missile control boats regularly operated inside the coalition.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Navy Riverines in Action

Reported in the Marine Corps News as Navy ‘Riverines’ are irreplaceable asset to 13th MEU:
Navy Riverine Squadron One, a compact, water-borne unit from Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, has been the “tip of the trident” supporting counterinsurgency operations in Al Anbar province since May 5, and is now assisting the 13th MEU.

Conducting operations based off of MEU intelligence products, the RIVRON is constantly patrolling the murky waters and canals of Lake Thar Thar in search of insurgent activities and opening lines of communications within the community. The RIVRON also takes the responsibilities of a boat raid company, which the MEU realigned to accommodate a forecasted mission in the desert. Seeing the Riverines in action gives the feel of a Hollywood special operations flick – complete with mud, rifles, jet boats and a rough-and-tumble cast.

Understanding the Riverines is simple. Take a sailor from a weapons specialty, put him through Marine Corps School of Infantry, machine gunners course, a few civilian security courses and a boat school. Fly him to a war zone and place him directly into the fight. You now have a Riverine.
BZ, Riverines!

Photo information:
A Riverine from Riverine Squadron One leaps into action from a Small Unit Riverine Craft July 13. Riverine Squadron One is currently conducting counter insurgency operations in Al Anbar province with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Photo by: Sgt. Andy Hurt

Sunday Ship History: Beachmasters

Amphibious landings against a hostile force require many things but key among them is the ability to organize the landing area and establish a coherent flow of men and equipment onto the beachhead and beyond.

Someone has to take charge of the beach, turn it into a "port" and decide what goes where and when. Or, as set out here:
Beach Battalions were a product of World War II. After Dunkirk, Crete and Corregidor, when it was determined that territory lost to the enemy could be regained only by storming the coasts of Europe and Africa, and the island beaches of the Pacific, concepts of modern warfare changed dramatically. High level planners concluded that they could put assault troops ashore from ships and planes, and that, landed in sufficient force, the infantry could fight its way inland. To stay there however, the infantry had to be supplied with food, weapons, clothing, ammunition, artillery, and tank support. Someone had to control the gigantic flow of material across the beaches while and after they had been assaulted, and to that end the concept of Naval Beach Battalions was born. Shore Parties were nothing new to the Navy. They had been around for years. Most were composed of members of the ship's company, picked to go ashore to put down revolts, fight fires, give aid in time of disaster, etc., but, during a conflict such as the sea-to-land assaults of World War I, ship's captains simply could not spare men from the crew for such duties. Accordingly, separate organizations, skilled in jobs related to amphibious warfare, were needed.
Well, that's partially right. The need for "beachmasters" had been foreseen by planners before WW II, but time worked against having an organization in place before the U.S. was involved in the war. In the original planning for amphibious operations, it was the Marines who led the way. More specifically, it was a Marine thinker named Earl Ellis who had a vision of what might be needed to defend far flung interest across the Pacific Ocean:
This all but exclusive concern for the defense of bases was clearly borne out by the writing of Major Earl H. Ellis. Ellis, one of the most brilliant young Marine staff officers, was among the farsighted military thinkers who saw the prospect of war between the United States and Japan prior to World War I. Around 1913, he directed attention to the problems of a future Pacific conflict. To bring military force to bear against Japan, Ellis pointed out, the United States would have to project its fleet across the Pacific. To support these operations so far from home would require a system of outlying bases. Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, which were the most important of these, we already possessed. Their defense would be of utmost importance and would constitute the primary mission of the Marine advanced base force. Ellis discussed in considerable detail the troops which would be required and the tactics they should employ.

In addition to the bases already in the possession of the United States, Ellis foresaw the need of acquiring others held by Japan. To the Marine Corps would fall the job of assaulting the enemy-held territory. Although he did not discuss the problems involved nor take up the tactics to be employed, Ellis foreshadowed the amphibious assault which was to be the primary mission of the Marine Corps in World War II.
Today, we tend to forget that the Germans had extensive holding in the Pacific before World War I. But the division of these possessions following the war led literally led to world changing events:
Nothing seemed changed, but delegates of the Great Powers, meeting at Versailles to write the peace treaty ending World War I, had already taken an action which was to have far-reaching consequences for a future generation of Marines. In the general distribution of spoils, the former German island possessions in the central Pacific had been mandated to the Japanese. At one stroke the strategic balance in the Pacific was shifted radically in favor of Japan. That country now possessed a deep zone of island outposts. Fortified and supported by the Japanese fleet, they would constitute a serious obstacle to the advance of the United States Fleet across the Pacific.

Earl Ellis was one of the first to recognize the significance of this strategic shift. In 1921 he modified his earlier ideas and submitted them in the form of Operations Plan 712, "Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia." In this plan Ellis stressed the necessity for seizing by assault the bases needed to project the Fleet across the Pacific. He envisioned the seizure of specific islands in the Marshall, Caroline, and Palau groups, some of which were actually taken by Marines in World War II. He went so far as to designate the size and type of units that would be necessary, the kind of landing craft they should use, the best time of day to effect the landing, and other details needed to insure the success of the plan. Twenty years later Marine Corps action was to bear the imprint of this thinking:
To effect [an amphibious landing] in the face of enemy resistance requires careful training and preparation, to say the least; and this along Marine lines. It is not enough that the troops be skilled infantry men or artillery men of high morale; they must be skilled water men and jungle men who know it can be done--Marines with Marine training.
The Commandant, Major General John A. Lejeune, and other high ranking Marines shared Ellis' views. "The seizure and occupation or destruction of enemy bases is another important function of the expeditionary force," he stated in a lecture before the Naval War College in 1923. "On both flanks of a fleet crossing the Pacific are numerous islands suitable for submarine and air bases. All should be mopped up as progress is made. ... The maintenance, equipping and training of its expeditionary force so that it will be in instant readiness to support the Fleet in the event of war," he concluded, " deem to be the most important Marine Corps duty in time of peace."
This, in turn, led to fleet experiments and exercises and to the development of doctrine, in the form of the 1938 "Landings Operations Doctrine," which detailed the role of the "Shore Party:"
Shore Party
One of the most serious problems encountered in early landing exercises was congestion on the beaches as men and supplies piled ashore. To keep such a situation reasonably in hand requires a high degree of control; control difficult to achieve under such circumstances, even when the enemy remains only simulated. Assault troops must push inland with all speed not only to expand the beachhead, but also to make room for following units and equipment to land and to provide space in which personnel assigned strictly beach functions can operate.

To solve this problem the Tentative Landing Operations Manual provided for a beach party, commanded by a naval officer called a beachmaster, and a shore party, a special task organization, commanded by an officer of the landing force. The beach party was assigned primarily naval functions, e.g., reconnaissance and marking of beaches, marking of hazards to navigation, control of boats, evacuation of casualties, and, in addition, the unloading of material of the landing force from the boats. The shore party was assigned such functions as control of stragglers and prisoners, selecting and marking of routes inland, movement of supplies and equipment off the beaches, and assignment of storage and bivouac areas in the vicinity of the beach. The composition and strength of the shore party were not set forth except for a statement that it would contain detachments from some or all of the following landing force units: medical, supply, working details, engineers, military police, communications, and chemical. The beach party and the shore party were independent of each other, but the Tentative Landing Operations Manual enjoined that the fullest cooperation be observed between the beachmaster and the shore party commander, and the personnel of their respective parties.

It was not indicated from what source "working details" for the shore party would come, but in practice, since there was no other source, the policy of assigning units in reserve the responsibility for furnishing the labor details quickly developed. This in effect, however, temporarily deprived the commander of his reserve.

No realistic test of the shore and beach party doctrine took place during the early fleet landing exercises. Although some material was landed on the beach, it generally consisted of rations and small quantities of ammunition and gasoline. Not until 1941 were adequate supplies available and the maneuvers on a large enough scale to provide a test of logistic procedures. The results were not encouraging. "In January of 1941 ... the shore party for a brigade size landing ... consisted of one elderly major and two small piles of ammunition boxes," wrote a Marine officer who "suffered" through those years. "The ship-to-shore movement of fuel was a nightmare. We had no force level transportation, [no] engineers and no supporting maintenance capability worthy of the name. In short, the combination of the parsimonious years and our own apathy had left us next to helpless where logistics were concerned."

Major General H.M. Smith, the landing force commander at the New River exercise in the summer of 1941, reported that "considerable delay in the debarkation of troops and supplies was caused by lack of personnel in the Shore and Beach Parties. ... Roughly, the supplies except for subsistence it was possible to land ... were insufficient to sustain the forces engaged for more than three days."

General Smith, who had a deep respect for logistics, was determined to correct these deficiencies. "It is evident," he reported to Rear Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, "that special service troops (labor) must be provided for these duties in order to prevent reduction of the fighting strength of battalion combat teams. ... The present doctrine results in divided authority between shore party commanders." He recommended that "the beach and shore party commanders be consolidated into one unit, a Shore Party, under control of the landing force."31

Solution to the problem of divided authority came from a joint board of Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers appointed by Admiral King. Its recommendations closely followed those of General Smith and were accepted in toto and published on 1 August 1942 and Change 2 to FTP 167. The principal changes were: (1) joining together of the beach and shore parties under the title Shore Party, as a component of the landing force; (2) designating the beach party commander as the assistant to the shore party commander and his advisor on naval matters; and (3) transferring the responsibility for unloading boats at the beach from the naval element to the landing force element of the shore party.

Marine Corps Headquarters solved the labor force problem by adding a pioneer (shore party) battalion of 34 officers and 669 enlisted men to the marine division. This change occurred on 10 January 1942, too late for the personnel concerned to gain practical experience in large-scale exercises in the techniques of handling vast quantities of supplies or to test the adequacy of the strength and organization provided. At Guadalcanal this lack came close to having serious consequences.

General Smith was not content merely to submit his shore party recommendations to Admiral King. At his direction, the logistics staff of the Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet prepared a detailed Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) covering all phases of logistics. Issued as Force General Order No. 7-42, SOP for Supply and Evacuation, it served as the basic guide to combat loading and shore party operations during the Guadalcanal operation.
Landing Operations Doctrine (1938):
212. Shore Party-

1. The shore party is a special task organization formed for the purpose of facilitating the landing and movement off the beach of troops and material. It comprises elements of both the naval forces and the landing force, and is commanded by an officer of the landing force known as the shore party commander. Each shore party commander is responsible to the senior troop commander operating in the zone which his shore party serves. He exercises control of all activities in the immediate beach area delimited by the senior troop commander in that zone. The beachmaster is the naval officer in charge of the naval section of the shore party. He will act as assistant to the shore party commander and will be his advisor on naval matters.

The tasks of the shore party are as follows:

1. Mark hazards to navigation in the vicinity of the beach and determine most suitable landing points.

2. Effect emergency boat repairs.

3. Evacuate casualties to ships in accordance with Naval Attack Force and Landing Force Medical Plans.

4. Control boat traffic in the vicinity of the beach.

5. Direct landing, retraction, and salvage of boats.

6. Mark landing beach limits.

7. Establish and mark unloading points on landing beaches.

8. Unload the material of the Landing Force from small craft.

9. Remove underwater and beach obstructions.

10. Evacuate prisoners of war to ships in accordance with Landing Force Instructions.

11. Construct landing facilities when required.

12. Maintain liaison with senior troop commander within the zone served by that particular shore party; and in the case of the Senior Shore Party Commander, with the senior command of the landing force ashore.

13. Maintain order and direct traffic on and in the vicinity of the beach.

14. Provide bivouac, parking, and storage areas on and in the vicinity of the beach for various elements using that beach.

15. Insure rapid movement of equipment and supplies landed on the beach, in accordance with requirements of the units which the Shore Party is serving.

16. Maintain a record showing organizations, matériel, and supplies by appropriate categories, which have been landed on the beach.

17. Construct and maintain beach exit routes.

18. Provide for decontamination of gassed areas on the beach.

19. Maintain a situation map for information of landing units.

20. Operate emergency motor maintenance service to assist vehicles damaged in landing.

21. Provide local security for beach area.

22. Perform such other functions as are assigned.

23. Establish communication with adjacent shore parties.

24. Maintain communications with naval vessels and forces ashore as necessary.
This would make for some busy men.

Some of the organization of "Shore Parties" or "Beach Battalions" that came to be was made up on the fly:
Subsequent to, and to some extent during the North African landings, sailors ordered to Beach Battalion duty were normally assigned to one of four duty classifications; communications, hydrographics, boat repair, or medical. When a beach battalion went into action, it was organized along the lines of an Army battalion - three companies, with each company divided into three platoons whose interlocking duties embraced every phase of the battalion's task. Company and Battalion Headquarters personnel, as noted, brought the battalion, at full strength, to 450 officers and men.

Headed by a Beachmaster and his Assistant, each platoon of a Beach Battalion was assigned signalmen, radiomen, medical personnel, hydrographic specialists, and boat repair experts. In a typical beach assault, the personnel of the beach battalion went ashore in one or more of the first three or four assault waves, scattering their equipment over the beach so that a single bomb or artillery shell would not destroy all of it. Digging their own slit trenches and foxholes on the beach, the men prepared as best they could for possible enemy counterattack while still setting up the beach as a simulated port for the onslaught of supplies, equipment and men soon to be landed in support of the initial assault troops already headed inland to their assigned objectives.

Scheduled to be the first into action during a beach assault were the medical personnel, administering to assault troops cut down during the first waves, and evacuating casualties to naval ships lying to off the beaches. Emergency treatment was given, and a casualty section was augmented by hydrographic and boat repair personnel pressed into service as stretcher-bearers. Meanwhile, the Beachmaster and the men trained in hydrographic duties were locating the various beach sites, surveying the approaches and beach exits, locating and charting underwater obstacles, and determining the best passages for the armada of landing craft soon to come. Enemy gunfire and strafing runs were usually ignored in the early stages of beach operation. There was no place to go. Navy underwater demolition teams and army engineering personnel were called in when required to clear approach lanes and to blow beach and underwater obstacles. Boat repairmen, when released from stretcher-bearing duties, turned their attention to the problem of landing craft that had been damaged or broached in landing, in an attempt to get them back into service and returned to their parent ships.

Beach communications often decided the turn of a battle, and so the communications elements of the Beach Battalion were rapidly deployed and established, (normally in the first assault wave), to link the Beachmaster up with the fleet and the assault troops. Radios, signal lights, and the gyrating arms of battalion signalmen were put to immediate and effective use in the establishment of the overall beach operations.
These units took various forms were used depending on the theater of operations:
In the Central Pacific, the Shore Party was an integral part of a combat division and was organized around a Marine Pioneer Group or Army Combat Engineer Group. In both services, Army and Marine, the Shore Party formed the nucleus to which the various elements were assigned for an operation. The Naval elements included the Underwater Demolition Team, a Naval Pontoon Unit, and a Boat Pool. The Attack Transport ships (APAs) supplied the Beach Party elements of the Shore Party by providing a Beach Party Team of approximately two officers and thirty men to support the battalion landing of troops. The Beach Party Team would land at the objective area and take charge of the beach in a manner similar to that of the present, but they were normally withdrawn with the parent ship. The concept was that the Shore Party was an instrument of the assault and would be relieved promptly by garrison elements, including a garrison beach party, to unload follow–up shipping.
Probably because of the lack of experience with Beachmaster Units (however designated) things did not always go smoothly on the actual invasion beaches. For example, some criticism of shore parties here. And, a tale from Guadalcanal
Logistical difficulties were worse. movements of supplies from the landing craft to the beaches and then to supply dumps soon began to snarl. Admiral Turner blamed this on the Marines' failure to understand the number of troops required for such work, failure to extend the beach limits promptly enough and, to some extent, a lack of control and direction over troops in the beach area. But the trouble and its causes were neither as clear-cut nor a damning as that. Marine planners had foreseen a dangerous shortage of manpower at this critical point, but under the uncertain circumstances on this hostile beach they felt they could allot no more men to the job than the 500 from Colonel George R. Rowan's 1st Pioneer Battalion. Vandegrift did not want working parties to cut the strength of his fighting units to a level which might risk getting them defeated.

Hindsight now makes it clear that the supplies mounting up as a juicy beach target jeopardized the operation more than a call for additional working parties would have done. There were hardly enough Japanese fighting men ashore on the island to bother the Vandegrift forces, but if enemy planes from Rabaul had concentrated on hitting the congested beach they would have played havoc with this whole venture. Marines were aware of this risk, but they also expected to run into a sizable Japanese force somewhere in the thickening jungle. The people in the shore party would just have to work harder.

Sailors joined the pioneers but the beach remained cluttered in spite of this help. Needed, division officers reported later, were "additional personnel in the proportion of at least 100 men for each vessel discharging cargo across the beach."5 It was not that this problem had never been thought out and planned for in fleet exercises over the years. It was just that this was "Operation Shoestring." The situation became so bad during the night of 7-8 August that the landing force had to ask the ships to stop unloading. There had been air attacks that afternoon, and more were expected on the 8th. The exhausted workers needed time to clear the beaches and spread out the gear so it would be less of a target.
With practice, things got better in the Pacific.

Things, again due to inexperience, did not start any better on the European front, with the "Sailors in Army Uniforms" not being as effective as hoped in actual invasions, despite their undoubted bravery. The price of getting experience is high.

From the lessons learned file:
Human frailty was a problem in the key area of the management and control of men and materials onto and off the beaches. This unenviable and arduous job was that of Beachmaster. There were abuses in the deployment of men and materials. One divisional commander re-deployed men engaged on shifting supplies. Within 12 hours they were on the front line. He later complained about the delay in supplies reaching the front lines! Pilfering was rife. Too many senior officers who should have known better regarded the Beach Groups as a "God-sent pool of everything." Later reports from different sources criticised this phase of the operation;
* "Beachmasters and assistant beachmasters should be men of personality, experience and adequate seniority, capable of exercising complete control in the dark." (McGrigor)
* "Naval Beachmasters should be preferably bad tempered, and certainly dictatorial by nature." (Henriques)
* "The Brick (Beach) Commander must be King of the Brick (Beach) area" (Maund)
* "Some of the American Beachmasters are too junior and too polite to Generals." (General Wedemeyer of Eisenhower's staff)
An oral history concerning Beachmasters at Normandy here. And the tale of
Carusis Thieves speaks of the bravery of the D-Day beachmasters and their losses, which were about 41%:
The specific mission of a Beach Battalion was to sit at the very heart of this incredibly complex effort and direct the traffic coming in - men and munitions, tanks and trucks, self-propelled weapons, whole field hospitals. These would have to come in to the right places on schedule, or the confusion might lead to unimaginable slaughter, or even failure of the assault.

With thousands of small craft scheduled to hit the beach, the loading of this or that boat by as little as one gun was planned to achieve maximum efficiency; schedules were timed by seconds to anticipate every possible contingency.
Looking around that beach it was plain that everything had gone wrong! Nobody seemed to be where they should have been according to plan, and that included us. All up and down the beach tanks were sitting in the surf line knocked out, impotent and burning. Heavy smoke and mist covered everything; usual signals were absolutely no good - and worst of all, equipment of every conceivable sort was piling up in huge hills at the waterline. The time schedule as well as the schedule of priority objectives had jumped the track, the great ships lying offshore were pumping men and munitions toward the beaches with which they had no communication, and if ever disaster threatened the whole gigantic undertaking it was at that moment.
Much more on the Beach Battalions here.

After the war, changes were made:
After studying post-WWII battle analyses and organization, the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps reviewed the requirements for Shore Party operations and established new organizations. Today’s Landing Force Support Party (LFSP) within the Marine Corps replaces the WWII Shore Party. The LFSP provides the landing force with initial combat support and combat service support during the ship-to-shore movement. (The Engineer Amphibious Brigade is the Army’s counterpoint to the Marine’s LFSP.) The post-war analysis also led to the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) decision to commission naval beach groups as afloat commands assigned to the two Amphibious Forces.
The revised Beachmaster Units are very active. Current Beachmaster Unit mission
Beachmaster Unit Two is assigned the mission of providing tactical components in support of Amphibious Operations. BMU-TWO provides Naval Beach Party Teams (BPTs) for deployment in conjunction with Expeditionary Forces in order to provide beach and surf zone salvage and to facilitate the landing and movement over the beach of troops, equipment, supplies, and the evacuation of casualties, prisoners-of-war, and non-combatants.

A Beach Party Team consists of Traffic Control and Salvage, and Communications. The Traffic Control Section, provided by Beachmaster Unit TWO, is tasked with controlling the boat traffic in the surf zone, controlling the beaching and retracting the landing craft, and directing the smooth and efficient flow of personnel and material over the beach. The Communications Section establishes visual and radio communications with the Primary Control Ship and enters prescribed radio nets.
Beachmaster Unit One info here. In addition to participating in any number of ship to shore missions, the Beachmasters participate in exercises:
Queensland, Australia (June 19, 2005) - A beachmaster from Assault Craft Unit Five (ACU-5), embarked aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4), gives guidance to a Landing Craft, Air Cushion, (LCAC) vehicle during Exercise Talisman Saber 2005. Talisman Saber is an exercise jointly sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defense Force Joint Operations Command, and designed to train the U.S. 7th Fleet commander's staff and Australian Joint Operations staff as a designated Combined Task Force (CTF) headquarters. The exercise focuses on crises action planning and execution of contingency response operations. U.S. Pacific Command units and Australian forces will conduct land, sea and air training throughout the training area. More than 11,000 U.S. and 6,000 Australian personnel will participate. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Paul Polach
As well as supporting domestic emergencies like Hurricane Katrina.
A resident of Biloxi, Miss., whose shore-side home was leveled by Hurricane Katrina, watches as a U.S. Navy sailor from Beachmaster Unit 2 clears rubble from his land with a bulldozer on Sept. 15, 2005. Department of Defense units are mobilized as part of Joint Task Force Katrina to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster-relief efforts in the Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Chris Gethings
Top painting: Shore party art
A signalman semaphores a message from an operations center on the shores of Lingayen Gulf during the battle of Luzon. In the background a landing ship unloads.
Note that in the exercise in Australia, some things have remained the same.

Give a salute to the Beachmasters - whose job is to bring some order to the chaos of war.

UPDATE: Okinawa beach operations described here:
Control of operations on the beaches, initially in the battalion landing teams, passed step by step through the echelons of command until Tenth Army, acting through the Island Command and the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, assumed responsibility on 9 April. Navy beachmasters maintained liaison with the ships and scheduled the beaching of landing ships and the assignment of lighterage. General unloading began on 3 April. It was soon apparent that the limiting factor was the availability of transport from the beaches to the dumps. The shortage of service units and equipment due to space limitations was immediately felt, especially in the Army zone; the problem was eased for the Marines by the use of 5,000 replacements landed with the Marine divisions. The rapidity of the advance and the immediate uncovering of Yontan and Kadena airfields required a rearrangement of supply priorities. The difficulties in initiating so intricate an undertaking near the enemy's homeland were prodigious, and it required time and the process of trial and error to overcome them. Suicide planes and suicide boats were a constant menace, and on the afternoon of 4 April the weather came to the aid of the enemy. A storm, bringing with it from 6- to 10-foot surf on the Hagushi beaches, lasted through the night and the following day. All unloading ceased, and some landing craft hit against the reef and were damaged. Again on 10 April surf backed by a high wind brought work to a standstill, and on 11 April conditions were but slightly improved. Rain accompanying these storms made quagmires of the roads and further complicated the supply problems. Despite these handicaps, the assault shipping was 80 percent unloaded by 16 April, and 577,000 measurement tons had crossed the Hagushi beaches, a larger amount than had been anticipated in the plans.

Interesting photo showing the part of the awesome force needed to support troops ashore. Photo caption:
SUPPLYING AND DEVELOPING THE BEACHHEAD had by L plus 3 made substantial progress. Supply ships were run in to the reef's edge, where they unloaded into trucks or amphibian vehicles. Indentation in shore line is Bishi River mouth, with Yontan airfield on horizon beyond

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The truth will out

Latest ONI Worldwide Threats to Shipping Report (to 25 July 07)

Latest ONI Worldwide Threats to Shipping Report (to 25 July 07 found here. Highlights:
1. LEBANON: The Lebanese army's gun-battles with Fatah al-Islam fighters at the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared has caused severe power shortages across the country with ships unable to deliver oil to a nearby power plant, energy officials said on 24 Jul. Ships transporting diesel and fuel oil for the Deir Ammar power plant, near the camp, have been ordered not to moor in the area for security reasons and are being diverted to other ports in Lebanon. Roger
Mouracade, representative in Lebanon for P & I Clubs, which provides maritime insurance, said as long as the Nahr al-Bared battles continue, shipping companies could not take the risk of unloading fuel in the area. "If one rocket hits a vessel, we will not only have a disaster on the human level but also an ecological disaster," he told AFP. "As long as there is the slightest risk, there will be no ships calling at Deir Ammar." He said four vessels transporting fuel to the plant have been diverted since the beginning of the standoff at Nahr al-Bared and another ship was
headed to the region this week (AFP)

1. GULF OF ADEN: General cargo ship reported suspicious approach 20 Jul at 2115 UTC while underway in position 12:32N–044:03E. An unlit boat, doing about 8 knots, approached the vessel on a collision course. Alert crew directed the search light towards the boat and the boat moved away (IMB).
2. GULF OF ADEN: General cargo ship reported suspicious approach 20 Jul at 2020 UTC while underway in position 12:31N – 044:12E. Two unlit boats, doing about 11.5 knots approached the vessel on a collision course. The ship took evasive maneuvers, increased speed and directed the searchlights towards the boats. The closest the boats got to the ship was about two cables. When the boats came into the beam of the searchlights they moved away (IMB).
3. GULF OF ADEN: Tug reported suspicious approach 10 Jul at 0245 UTC while
underway in position 12:59N-049:17E, 67NM south of Yemen. The tug observed a dhow type-fishing vessel on her port side proceeding on a reciprocal course. The fishing vessel altered and started coming closer to the tug. As the tug altered its course, the fishing vessel altered its course and increased its speed as well. Once the tug increased its speed, the fishing vessel aborted the attempt (IMB).
4. SOMALIA: Container ship reported suspicious approach 20 Jul at 1200 local time while underway in position 11:09.0N–052:46.8E, 95 NM off the NE coast of Somalia. A small, white hulled, boat about 30-50 meters long began to follow the vessel. At a distance of about 5 nm, the boat increased speed and approached the vessel. The master altered course and the boat adjusted its course to follow the ship. At a distance of 3 NM, the boat stopped following the ship. Master altered course and moved away from the boat (IMB).
5. SOMALIA: Bulk carrier reported suspicious approach 16 Jul, 2000 UTC/2400 local time in position 00:27S-049:10E. The vessel was bound south for Argentina from Socotra when an unidentified boat attempted to close in on the vessel. The vessel altered and moved away after noticing (Operator, IMB).
6. SOMALIA: Tanker reported suspicious approach 16 Jul at 1130 UTC in position 01:46.3S-047:46.7E. A suspicious boat was sighted 5NM away from the vessel. It was 20 meters in length (Operator, IMB).

9. SRI LANKA: LTTE leader reportedly injured in a boat explosion 19 Jul, in the morning off Mullaitivu. According to military sources, an LTTE suicide boat exploded and it’s believed that the sea Tiger leader Colonel Soosai was in the boat at the time and was critically injured

1. BANGLADESH: Bulk carrier boarded 17 Jul at 2300 UTC while anchored at
Chittagong Anchorage ‘B’. Six robbers, armed with knives, boarded the vessel. Duty officer raised the alarm. All crew mustered. The robbers escaped without stealing anything (IMB).
12. BANGLADESH: Bulk carrier reported attempted boarding 18 Jul at 2100 UTC while anchored at Chittagong Anchorage ‘B. Twelve robbers, in two small boats, armed with knives, attempted to board the vessel during lightering operations. D/O raised the alarm, crew mustered. The robbers aborted their boarding attempt (IMB).

1. NATUNA ISLANDS: Vietnamese fishing vessel fired upon by Indonesian Navy 19 Jul
after failing to comply with orders to stop while in Indonesian waters. The shooting occurred after four Vietnamese fishing vessels entered Indonesian waters around the Natuna Islands. Two men were confirmed dead and another wounded. The Vietnamese fishing vessels are suspected of poaching in the Indonesian territorial waters. Last year, the Indonesian Navy's Western Fleet, which supervises the waters in the western part of Indonesia, held more than 100 foreign vessels, mostly from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, for illegal fishing. Sixty percent of them were caught around Natuna Islands (LM: Kyodo).
Chittagong Port information here.

More info on Chittagong here:
The largest sea port in the country, Chittagong is the main route for almost all of Bangladesh's imports and exports, and generates a huge amount of revenue each year, attracting many investors internationally.[citation needed] Its harbour also contains extensively developed port facilities, and is particularly suitable for ocean steamers.
Anchorage "B" general vicinity is marked on GoogleEarth image.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Museum aircraft carrier could serve as Emergency Operations Center

Contingency plan #107: If all else fails, use that old aircraft carrier as an EOC, as set out here:
The aircraft carrier Intrepid _ in the midst of an 18-month makeover _ will return to Manhattan next fall prepared for double duty: its renewed status as a floating military museum, and a future as a potential command post in the event of another terrorist attack.

"Upon its return, it will stand at the ready should we need her," said Mark Mershon, head of the FBI's New York office. The legendary World War II ship was retrofitted with an onboard facility that could double as an emergency operations center if needed, he said Thursday.

The Intrepid is considered ideal for a law enforcement because it could be immediately and easily converted into a full-fledged, secure auxiliary emergency operations post with air, sea and land capability, said Bill White, president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
A little of her story here.

You know, there are some other places (Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc) that might want to consider floating contingency EOCs. Others, namely Professor Whitehurst at Clemson University, has suggested outfitting ships for seaborne disaster set out here.

See also Disaster Logistics. About 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a sea coast. See here:
So if we just limit it to within 50 miles of the coastline, what we found as of when we were looking at Census 2000 data was that there were 137.5 million people – and that’s 48.9 percent of the U.S. population – lived within just this 50-mile zone of the coast.
Some other large percent lives with 50 miles of navigable waterways, and, should roads and bridges be damaged, the best highway to get assistance into some areas is by water...

Generally, the discussion of such seaborne effort contemplates carrying some emergency equipment on board ships, loading more at ports enroute to a disaster and having the ships deliver water, food, shelter, emergency medical supplies, fuel, shelter for emergency workers, security forces, and the like. There are several Ro-Ro ships that could do this job but it's a matter of funding to keep a couple of them on standby at locations where they are out of harm's way, but available on short notice if needed.

Friday Reading

A taste of the tale of a brave Canadian warship at CDR Salamander: Fullbore Friday and Steeljaw Scribe takes on "Hurricats" in his latest installment of "Flightdeck Friday." A little more on that concept here, too.

UPDATE: Don't forget News of Afghanistan from Major John.

Protecting your boat

Now here's a bright idea:
Mott designed a series of prototypes and eventually ended up with a product which he named the BMS07 Boat Monitoring System. The system will send an SMS to up to two mobile phones if the boat is towed, sailed or driven away or breaks from its mooring. If you connect other sensors to the BMS07 you will also receive an SMS if they detect break in, water in the bilge, fire or a low battery. Itís like giving your boat a mobile phone and the ability to tell you whatís happening when you are not there.

Mott says the unique design feature of the new product is its low power consumption; BMS07 uses just 1.6mA while monitoring the sensor inputs. As the systemís GPS unit (which is used for movement detection and tracking) draws the most power, the BMS07 powers it up every 15 minutes and switches it off as soon as it obtains a position.

This all means that ëit draws a very, very small amount of current so it can run off its own small battery. Depending on the amount of sun that your boat receives, and the sensors that you use, you would only need something like a small 5 watt solar cell, which you can buy for $80, to keep the battery charged and the system running indefinitely.
I wonder if boat insurance carriers will be offering a discount if you have such a device on board?

H/T: worldmaritime

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser dies

Oh, my! A Merchant Marine Academy grad (Class of '72) and an asset to the sport of college basketball, Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser dies.

Condolences to his family and to his team.

Dancing helicopters

Photo from here. Caption:
Five MH-60S Seahawks, from the "Sea Knights" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, perform formations over Chambers Field at Naval Station Norfolk. HSC-22 can perform vertical replenishments, search and rescue, and anti-surface warfare as part of a mobile detachment for expeditionary strike groups. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Danals

Rotorhead fun...

UPDATEL I see "Bullnav" over at Op-For beat me to this photo here. Yeah, but I'm pretty sure I know one of the pilots...

Latest ICC CCS Weekly Piracy Report (to 24 July 0&)

Latest ICC Commercial Crime Services (to 24 July 07)found here. Highlights:
20.07.2007: 2115 UTC: 12:32N – 044:03E, Gulf of Aden.
An unlit boat, doing about 8 knots, approached a general cargo ship underway on a collision course. Alert crew directed the search light towards the boat and the boat aborted the attempt.

20.07.2007: 2020 UTC: 12:31N – 044:12E, Gulf of Aden.
Two unlit boats, doing about 11.5 knots approached a general cargo ship underway on a collision course. The ship took evasive manoeuvres, increased speed and directed the searchlights towards the boats. The closest the boats got to the ship was about two cables. When the boats came into the beam of the searchlights they aborted the attempt to board

20.07.2007: 1200 LT: 11:09.0N – 052:46.8E, South of Socotra Island, Off Somalia.
A small, white hulled, boat about 30-50 meters long followed a container ship underway. At a distance of about 5 nm, the boat increased speed and approached the ship. The master altered course and the boat adjusted her course to follow the ship. At a distance of 3 nm, the boat stopped following the ship. Master altered course and moved away from the boat.
And some angry fishermen
20.07.2007: 0635 LT: Khorramshahr terminal, Iraq.
While underway to the pilot station, with pilot onboard, a container ship had to pass over fishing nets. The Iraq fishermen opened fire on the vessel. Bullets hit the accommodation. Pilot notified the incident to the Iranian coast guard and port security officer. No casualties.
Wonder who was there first?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Where is M/V Infinity Marine 1?

Gone missing and staying missing, as set out in Lost Ship Mystery:
A cargo ship with 21 UAE-based sailors on board has been missing for more than three weeks leading to fears for the crew's safety. Worried relatives of the men on board the MV Infinity Marine 1 are now bombarding the boat's owners in a desperate quest for information fearing the boat has sunk or been hijacked by pirates.

“The ship set sail on June 26, but it was diverted due to Cyclone Gonu that came through the Arabian Gulf,” Captain Khaldoon Kalla, of KK Marine Consultants, and the technical manager of the ship, told 7DAYS. “It safely sailed out of UAE waters, but there has been no news of it since it entered Somalian waters some time ago,” he added.
Despite intensive searches by the US and French navies there have been no sightings of the boat or its crew - made up of 15 Indians, five Pakistanis and one Iraqi. The pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast have seen numerous boats and sailors taken hostage in the past
few months.
“The ship may have found a shelter in Somalia but the waters there are controlled by pirates and so a hijack cannot be ruled out,” Kalla said. However, the fact that no ransom has yet been demanded for the boat or its crew means that nothing has yet been ruled out, he added.
Andrew Mwangura, from the Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said the ship disappeared some 37 nautical miles off the northeastern village of Ras Hafun in Somalia, adding that some debris had been found in the area where the cargo ship was last located.
Red arrow on map points to "Ras Hafun" area and yellow line is of general pirate haven area. Click on map to make it bigger.

Port Security: Al Qaeda is out there

Still focusing on chipping containers as a tool for carrying WMD, Northern Command looks seaward, as set out here:
Port security has long been identified as a key weak point for terror attacks, including the need to scan cargo containers coming into the country by ship.

Renuart said officials are expanding their use of sensors and other technologies that allow them to track ships, including their location, their speed and other commercial information. And, while he would not provide details, he said there has already been "real payback" in terms of identifying vessels of concern and either checking or boarding them well before they entered U.S. waters.

In addition, he said he is increasing the number of Coast Guard personnel assigned to U.S. Northern Command to help during port security incidents or hurricanes. Currently there are 20 active duty personnel, and a new team of five reservists was created in April. Another five reservists are being added to that team by the end of the year.

"Because the national intelligence estimate talks about the vulnerability of ports, and because of the importance that we place on the movement of a variety of goods through those ports, finding ways to improve that is a really important element of our day-to-day work," Renuart said.
Of course, the main point of the article is preparation for what might happen should something leak through...

A little more attention to those 44 foot yachts, please...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Maritime Security: Mexican Navy to Build Radars in Gulf of Mexico

Reported here:
According to reports, Mexico's navy said Monday that it plans to build five radars near oil installations in the Gulf of Mexico to safeguard against terrorist attacks.

U.S. Navy Riverines: Boat contract to Safe Boats

Reported here:
SAFE Boats International, a U.S. based boat manufacturer, has been contracted to provide a new asset to the United States Navy’s Riverine force. The vessel, designated as the Riverine Command Boat (RCB), is a 49-ft. diesel/jet platform with reconfiguration capabilities that will allow the Navy to convert the vessel’s mission with minimal changes to the base design.
More on the boat here.

UPDATE: Video here.

Maritime Security: Cargo carriers and their view

Interesting report from the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Port Security Seminar held recently:
Even though there are many initiatives and forms of political legislation designed to protect ports, carriers, and shippers in the event of an act of terrorism or natural disaster, the underlying theme is that much more work, planning, resources, and education is needed to make ports truly safe, according to panelists at the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Port Security Seminar held in Boston last week.

The panel, entitled “Ocean Carrier Perspective on Port Security Challenges,” touched upon what is—and what is not—happening to make ports as safe as possible.
Regarding the issue of 100 percent container examination at the port of origin, which is a major component of the SAFE Ports Act, Hyde said that may be a good thing to strive for some day, but added that “the reality is we are a long way from that.”
From the perspective of ocean carriers, CBP and the Department of Homeland Security, a risk-based, layered approach to security processes is the most efficient way to go about making ports safe, said Hyde.

“You cannot have any one component be the silver bullet [for security], because that does not exist,” he said. “We have to raise the security level a lot on vessels internationally and at the origins we call. There are [more than 700] foreign ports that ship cargo to the United States all the time. So how are you going to establish a regime you are comfortable with at this many ports? Security in an ocean environment needs to be ingrained into everything we do.”

More than anything, Hyde stressed it is important for all involved regulatory bodies and the private sector to “keep the dialog going” with politicians to ensure port security and safety initiatives continue to head in the right direction.
Burke noted that as various facets of the ocean carrier industry continue to be regulated by politicians in Washington that are coming out with legislation he described as ill-advised.

“We don’t do a good job of educating our political people in Washington of what this industry is really all about,” said Burke. “Look at the Dubai fiasco. It is important for our industry to focus in on how do we [best] educate Congress and the Senate to..make them understand that what we do has a tremendous impact on their constituents, our country, and the world?”
“So many times on Capitol Hill staffers are advising politicians on what action to take,” said Burke. “And these staffers often have no port experience or have ever been in a port themselves. We have [to realize] we are not doing a good job of educating politicians. This is the time for us to do it in an election cycle. It is very important for the future of our country. We cannot afford to let politicians to continue to make policy that affects the maritime industry, our international trade, and our standing in the world.”
Educating Congress and its staffs... good idea.

And for proof, here's a related article about a Congressional "5-year Plan" for port security:
In a decision which could potentially have a major impact on how ocean cargo moves through the global supply chain, the conference committee on the 9/11 Commission legislation last week signed off on an amendment that would establish a five-year deadline for 100 percent scanning of all containers before they are loaded up on ships bound for U.S. ports.
At the center of this bill was an amendment introduced by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) that proposed requiring DHS officials to develop a plan with yearly benchmarks leading to 100 percent container scanning at U.S. ports. This amendment was required by the Senate by a 58-38 vote in March. The amendment was also included in the SAFE Ports Act, which passed last October, but it was removed before it was signed into law. It was also included in H.R.1, Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007, but awaits Senate approval.

While the drumbeat for 100 percent container inspection continues, these measures have been largely been rejected on the basis that they would be impossible to implement without harming domestic and global economy operations. ***
While the concept of a five-year deadline is a “great concept,” the transfer from paper to reality could be far more difficult, said Captain Joseph Ahlstrom, professor of maritime transportation at SUNY Maritime College.

“Everyone is on the same page when it comes to security; they all want 100 percent scanning,” said Ahlstrom. “But are we able to do that? The other thing people are waiting to learn is exactly what exactly we will be screening for. Is it chemical agents? Nuclear agents? Some sort of explosives? 100 percent screening of containers where containers can be inspected is one thing, but I would much rather see some sort of system where an alarm will be triggered if there is something suspicious in the containers as they go through.”

Monday, July 23, 2007

Taliban Scum

Taliban and hostages here. The captives are Korean aid workers:
The South Korean hostages' church said it will suspend some of its volunteer work in Afghanistan. It also stressed that the kidnapped Koreans, which include 18 women, were not involved in any Christian missionary work but only provided medical and other volunteer aid.
Nothing says "whackoism" like killing hostages...

Maritime Monday 68 at Fred Fry International

Fred had a busy week tracking down all the stuff he jammed into Fred Fry International: Maritime Monday 68 with everything from "gun pron" to a video of a replenishment at sea (always a fave with the SWO world) and a whole bunch more. Why you could spend hours digging through the links...

And, as long as you are studying matters of the sea. visit Xformed's Monday Maritime Matters here for the story of the hero for whom USS Caron (DD-970) was named.

Maritime Security: All cargo containers that enter US to be scanned

Found as All cargo containers that enter US to be scanned:
Virtually all cargo containers entering US ports will be scanned by radiation detecting equipment by the end of the year, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Friday. However, more advanced equipment is needed to help speed the process and spot a potential nuclear device or dirty bomb, he said during a visit to the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The agency also expects to scan 'virtually 100 per cent' of all containers that enter through border points, he said. 'Countering the threat of nuclear terrorism and weapons of mass destruction is really the most important priority,' Mr Chertoff said. 'We need to make the investments now to be able to counter the threat as time passes.' It was his third visit to the giant port complex, the gateway for more than 40 per cent of all cargo container traffic entering the United States. A system is already in place at the giant complex to scan all of its incoming cargo, officials said.

Mr Chertoff said that his agency has been adding radiation portal monitors at major seaports and facilities and now has more than 1,000 of the devices in use. Trucks carrying containers unloaded from ships pass through the detectors. If the machine find signs of radiation, the container gets another scan and possibly an inspection by hand-held devices to help identify how much and what kind of radiation is present.
UPDATE: Mr. Chertoff had more to say:
Flanked by lawmakers and law enforcement authorities at a fire station at the Port of Los Angeles, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Friday unveiled a new strategy for the rapid resumption of trade after a terrorist attack at a major U.S. port.

As the U.S. Coast Guard gunboat Halibut idled a few yards offshore, Chertoff said the plan was "about making sure we spend as little time as possible paralyzed by an attack."

The 130-page Department of Homeland Security's new Strategy to Enhance International Supply Chain Security provides protocols for damage assessments of international supply lines. It also describes what kind of cargo and vessels should receive top priority based on public health, national security and economic needs.

The plan aims to streamline the maze of jurisdictions through which commerce moves, devise a chain of command and return into service key terminals, bridges, roads, rail lines and pipelines. The aim is to quickly restore the flow of commodities and goods, such as crude oil, clothing, car parts and medical supplies if a terrorist attack were to occur at a major port.
Planning is good, so long as you remember that "no plan ever survived contact with the enemy" and build in some flexibility...

Reminder: International supply chains complex

Found here, a reminder:
Outsourcing has created complex supply chains spanning the globe, demanding far closer attention from logistics operators than in the past. This was the consensus of logistics company executives attending the recent Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) conference in Tianjin.

"Supply chains are often much more complex than we need to see,'' said John Mentzer, professor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management at the University of Tennessee. "In today's world it is common for commodities to be designed in Singapore, made in China, shipped to Hamburg or Los Angeles, and distributed to Europe or North America. Often, garments made in China have to reflect the latest varieties, even for Turkey and India as well, in a matter of days.''

Supply chain management (SCM) represents the future trend, said Guowen Wang, China representative for the US-based CSCMP. He said SCM encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and management activities within and across borders. It also includes co-ordination and collaboration with chain partners.
Mentzer said companies face three stages of sophistication in the global supply chain. The first applies to procurement costs. He noted one US company shifted its base from the US to China to cut procurement costs.

The second stage of sophistication is total landing costs, Mentzer said. The same above mentioned US company later moved its manufacturing base from China to Mexico after counting the combined costs for procurement, transportation and inventory, he noted. The move to Mexico was made because of overcapacity and delays at US West Coast ports.

The third stage of sophistication according to Mentzer is identifying supply chain cycles. This refers to six items: Services, products, information, financial resources, demand and forecast.
The time element is important too, according to Alan Turley, vice-president of international affairs, Asia Pacific, at FedEx Express. "Today's logistics players do not count the kilometres, we count the time instead,'' he said. Some freight is delivered from Beijing to US within a certain amount of time, in disregard of the distance, he noted. "The target of FedEx is to cut down time and costs,'' he added. The company is investing heavily in the supply chain network to move air cargo from Shanghai to any destination in the world within 48 hours.
And a related warning sounded here:
Mutual marine liability insurer The North of England P&I club claims shipping is at risk of being “overwhelmed by a rising tide of inexperience”. “Unless the industry ploughs more profits from the current boom into recruiting and training new staff, the present adverse claims trend could soon reach critical levels,” says managing director Rodney Eccleston.

“The imminent shortage of experienced seafarers we’ve been forecasting is now a reality,” he says. “There are simply not enough good people out there to run the world’s much bigger fleet properly or to provide the necessary support and experience from ashore.”

Somali pirates demand $1.5 million (U.S.) for capive Danish ship

Somali pirates demand $1.5 million (U.S.) for captive Danish ship, as set out here:
The Danica White, with five crew members, was hijacked on June 2, about 240 nautical miles off the Somali coast while heading to Kenya's Mombasa port.

"We were informed yesterday that the pirates are demanding $US1.5 million in order to release the vessel," said Kenyan official Andrew Mwangura.

Three other vessels – one from Taiwan and two from South Korea – are also currently held by pirates off the coast of war-torn Somalia and a Panama-flagged cargo vessel was recently reported to have gone missing in Somali waters.
Some other information on ships missing in the Indian Ocean, not all of it accurate, here (that's "Gross Registered Tonnage", not "Growth") with a possible sad note:
Mwangura also said the owners of the MV Infinity Marine One, which flies a Panamanian flag, were last in touch with the vessel on June 26.

He said the floating debris of the vessel which was headed for Somalia's main port of Mogadishu from United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been spotted northeast of Somalia.

"Floating debris have been spotted northeast of Somalia where the Panama flagged cargo ship MV Infinity Marine 1 released a distress signal on 26th June prior to her disappearance indicating that she was taking in water," Mwangura said.
Previous posts on Danica White here, here, here, here, and here.

Useful post from Strategy Page here, pointing out that Somali war lords have turned "disaster relief" into a business, but leaving out the money being made by pirates who capture UN World Food Program ships and hold them fo ransom, depriving their fellow Somalis of aid from sea...
What the "aid community" has lost sight of is the fact that the idea that the UN was supposed to be "impartial" was not part of the original UN concept. The original idea was that the Great Powers (the West) would use the UN to maintain order. But since the Great Powers couldn't get along, the UN evolved its own ways. The aid community, and all those NGOs that appeared in the last half century, through they were above politics. Now they have received a reality check, and they don't like it at all.
See this ReliefWeb sitrep:
Due to the high number of road blocks, travel time between Kismayo and Buale now takes up to six days, while the same distance used to be covered within a day and a half. The estimated passage fee per truck to be paid through checkpoints and roadblocks for the entire trip is now close to $400.
Access by sea remains hampered by piracy. Reportedly another commercial cargo vessel was reported missing on 15 July in the Somali waters, totaling the number of missing / pirated vessels to five. On 16 July, the executive director of WFP and the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) appealed for more-effective action to enforce order off Somalia's coast after the World Food Program lost half its capacity to ship aid to the country because of pirate attacks. They called on the TFG to allow foreign warships into its waters to combat the threat. The pirates appear to have changed tactics and are now operating mainly in Somalia waters to remain out of reach of the international forces.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Ship History: "The Unbeatable Ship"

World War II provides some exciting sagas of ships surviving or succumbing to torpedoes, suicide airplanes and ship to ship combat. But not much time is spent with ships who sailed into harm's way, fought in major battles and, somehow, remained unscathed. But such tales should be told - and one of them involves "The Unbeatable Ship", the light cruiser USS San Diego (CL-53):
The San Diego was a light cruiser-one of four of the Atlanta class-and the only one of her sisters to survive the war unscathed. Ships of this class could steam at over 30 knots and carried a main battery of 16 five-inch guns, which enabled them to provide formidable anti-aircraft defense for the fast carrier task forces that spearheaded the naval offensive in the Pacific.

A fortunate and well-run ship, always ready for action, the San Diego steamed over 300,000 nautical miles, engaged the enemy on 34 different occasions, and never lost a man. She earned 18 battle stars for her World War 11 service, more than any other Navy ship except for the famous carrier Enterprise.

In recognition of her battle record and her long, reliable and steady service-from the darkest days of the war to the final victory-Admiral Halsey designated the San Diego to be the first allied warship to enter Tokyo Bay at the war's end.
From her official history:
USS San Diego, a 6000-ton Atlanta class light cruiser, was built at Quincy, Massachusetts. Commissioned in January 1942, she passed through the Panama Canal en route to the Pacific in May and operated in the Hawaiian area with the carrier Hornet during June and July. In early August, San Diego's task force steamed to the south Pacific. Over the next six months, the cruiser provided anti-aircraft protection for U.S. aircraft carriers during the protracted and difficult campaign to hold Guadalcanal. She was present when USS Wasp was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 15 September and screened Hornet during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October. In the complex three-day Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in mid-November 1942, San Diego operated with the carrier Enterprise.
San Diego continued in her aircraft carrier escort role as the war moved up the Solomon Islands chain in 1943. In November of that year, she covered USS Saratoga and USS Princeton as their planes hit the Japanese base at Rabaul, New Britain. She also accompanied Pacific Fleet carriers as they raided the Marshall Islands in early December.

During January-March 1944, San Diego participated in operations to seize bases in the Marshalls and reduce enemy facilities on Truk. Her combat role was briefly interrupted by west coast shipyard work, but she was back in the war zone in time to join in the assault on the Mariana Islands in June and July. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea in mid-June, she was part of a task force built around the carriers Essex, Langley and Cowpens. For the rest of the year San Diego accompanied the carriers as the war pushed into the western Pacific, leading to the capture of some of the Palau Islands in September and a beachhead on Leyte in October.

In 1945 San Diego took part in raids against targets around the South China Sea, in the Philippines and in the Japanese home islands. She also supported the invasions of Luzon in January 1945, Iwo Jima in February and the Ryukyus beginning in late March. Her five-inch guns bombarded the enemy ashore during the latter campaign. In late August 1945, after Japan's capitulation, San Diego steamed into Tokyo Bay as flagship of a task force that liberated Allied Prisoners of War. She returned to the United States in mid-September and afterwards helped to transport service personnel home in Operation "Magic Carpet". Decommissioned in November 1946, San Juan had no further active service. She was redesignated CLAA-53 in March 1949, stricken from the Navy list ten years later and sold for scrapping in February 1960.
More history here, along with the following ship identification page:
And it wasn't like she was operating in safe waters:
On 21 September, the Task Force struck at the Manila Bay area. After replenishing at Saipan and Ulithi, she sailed with Task Force 38 in its first strike against Okinawa. From 12 to 15 October, the carriers pounded the airfields of Formosa while San Diego's guns shot down 2 of 9 Japanese attackers in her sector and drove the others away; unfortunately, some enemy planes got through and damaged Houston (CL-81) and Canberra (CA-70). San Diego helped escort the two crippled cruisers out of danger to Ulithi. After rejoining the fast carrier force, she successfully rode out the typhoon of 17 and 18 December, despite heavy rolling of the ship. In January 1945, Task Force 38 entered the South China Sea for attacks against Formosa, Luzon, Indochina, and southern China. The force struck Okinawa before returning to Ulithi for replenishment.

San Diego next participated in carrier operations against the home islands of Japan, the first since the Dolittle/Hornet raid of 1942. The carrier force finished the month of February with strikes against Iwo Jima.

On 1 March, San Diego and other cruisers were detached from the carrier force to bombard Okino Daijo Island in support of the landings on Okinawa. After another visit to Ulithi, she joined in carrier strikes against Kyushu, again shooting down or driving away enemy planes attacking the carriers. On the night of 27 and 28 March, San Diego participated in the shelling of Minami Daito Jima; on 11 April, and again on 16 April, her guns shot down two attackers. She helped furnish antiaircraft protection for ships damaged by suicide attacks and escorted them to safety. After a stop at Ulithi, she continued as part of the carrier force supporting the invasion of Okinawa, until she entered an advanced base drydock at Guian, Samar Island, Philippines, for repairs and maintenance.

How different from her predecessor bearing the San Diego name, USS San Diego (AC-6) (formerly USS California) - the only major U.S. warship to be sunk during WW I:
In September 1914 California was renamed San Diego to make her original name available for assignment to a battleship. She frequently was employed as Pacific Fleet flagship between then and July 1917, when she was sent to the Atlantic for World War I service. San Diego operated as a convoy escort in the North Atlantic until 19 July 1918, when she was torpedoed and sunk off Fire Island, New York, by the German submarine U-156.
See also here and here for details on the older ship as a diving location plus an nice history.

And a very nice memorial to "The Unbeatable Ship" in San Diego described here:
This monumental public artwork provides long overdue commemoration of the distinguished service of the cruiser USS San Diego and her crew, serving as a perpetual reminder of their selfless contribution to victory in World War II.
For which we offer this small salute. Great ships have great crews.

CL-53 battle stars and mileage art from here.