Friday, April 30, 2010

Somali Pirates: Dutch Navy in Action

With a hat tip to GvG (who posts over at Information Dissemination).

You might note the Obama flashlight found among the pirates' stuff in the first video which cover activity posted about here:

The second video has to do with forces from theDutch ship Tromp retaking the vessel Taipan as set out here:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What happens when Congress doesn't have clue (and doesn't care) about business...

A blog post by Chris Edwards at the CATO Institute nails it (hat tip: Tigerhawk) here:
A few wording changes to the tax code’s section 6041 regarding 1099 reporting were slipped into the 2000-page health legislation. The changes will force millions of businesses to issue hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of additional IRS Form 1099s every year. It appears to be a costly, anti-business nightmare.
Basically, businesses will have to issue 1099s whenever they do more than $600 of business with another entity in a year. For the $14 trillion U.S. economy, that’s a hell of a lot of 1099s. When a business buys a $1,000 used car, it will have to gather information on the seller and mail 1099s to the seller and the IRS. When a small shop owner pays her rent, she will have to send a 1099 to the landlord and IRS. Recipients of the vast flood of these forms will have to match them with existing accounting records. There will be huge numbers of errors and mismatches, which will probably generate many costly battles with the IRS.
Better start collecting that 1099 info from OfficeMax, OfficeDepot,Staples, and every provider of any service to your corporation (yes, even you mom and pop S Corps).

I'm glad we closed down our little monthly newspaper business. All those 1099s from small advertisers and having to generate them for our suppliers and service providers... and now I wonder if I will have to file 1099s with my Continuing Legal Education providers. . .

Defending Arizona

A defense of the Arizona immigration law by the law professor
who helped draft the law:
SB 1070 — that prohibits the harboring of illegal aliens and makes it a state crime for an alien to commit certain federal immigration crimes. It also requires police officers who, in the course of a traffic stop or other law-enforcement action, come to a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an illegal alien verify the person’s immigration status with the federal government.

Predictably, groups that favor relaxed enforcement of immigration laws, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, insist the law is unconstitutional. Less predictably, President Obama declared it “misguided” and said the Justice Department would take a look.

Presumably, the government lawyers who do so will actually read the law, something its critics don’t seem to have done.
 Once again, Mr. Obama seems fuzzy on the law and whether or not a state has the right to act in the absence of federal action.

I'm beginning to wonder what sort of "Constitutional law professor" Mr. Obama was.

After a couple of these hip shot judgments of his, I think it might be he was of the "shoot, shoot, aim" school. He sure is judgmental about some things about which he has limited knowledge.

Of course, if you think it's a "living constitution" perhaps you don't have to worry about what it actually says. But then again, if it's a living document, perhaps the time has come to interpret it in light of the harm illegal immigration is doing to this country...

UPDATE: Another defense (and much more) here:
So when the president hastily pronounced Arizona’s new immigration bill “misguided” and “irresponsible,” Arizona residents — whom the federal government has abandoned to the siege of Mexican warlords, narco-peddlers, and squatters — may be forgiven for snickering. Come to think of it, snickering has become the default reaction to pronouncements on the law by our ex-law-prof-in-chief , particularly those prefaced by his most grating verbal tic, “Let me be clear . . . .” 

Why “misguided” and “irresponsible”? The president elaborated that the Arizona law “threaten[s] to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.” To be sure,  Obama has notions of fairness, but they are his own, marinated in doctrinaire leftism. As for the American ideal that he ceaselessly invokes but clearly doesn’t get, our Constitution’s framers thought fundamental fairness would be fatally undermined by two things: the inability of the governed to consent to legal arrangements because it had become impossible to know what the law is, and the failure of central government to tend to its first responsibility: the nation’s security.
Our elected officials and judicial officers don’t rule us. They are there to govern, to implement our will. When they resort to impenetrable legislative monstrosities to implement their own will without our consent — indeed, over our objection — that is not governing. It is dictating.

Maybe that’s the Obama administration’s problem with Arizona’s new law: It is too short (16 pages), too clear, and too reflective of the popular will. Unlike the social scientists in Nancy Pelosi’s federal laboratory, state lawmakers didn’t need to pass the law first in order to find out what was in it. Essentially, it criminalizes (as a state misdemeanor) something that is already illegal (namely, being present in the United States in violation of federal law), and it directs law-enforcement officers to, yes, enforce the law. Democrats and their media echo-chamber regard this as radical; for most of us, it is what’s known as common sense.

And here’s another commonsense proposition: A government that abdicates our national defense against outside forces is no longer a government worth having. 
Arizona is a sovereign state. Its citizens have a natural right to defend themselves, particularly when the federal government surrenders. The state’s new law does precisely that, in a measured way that comes nowhere close to invoking the necessary, draconian powers Leviathan has but refuses to use.
Which is kinda what I was saying here.

Somali Pirates: Malta Begins to Do Anti-Piracy

Reported by MSC(HOA) here:
Malta’s first EU NAVFOR operational mission protects World Food Programme (WFP) ship Mustafa-H
29/04/2010 15.21 UTC

This morning 29 of April, the Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) from Malta was used for the first time in support of EU NAVFOR’s primary mandate.
They embarked on the World food programme (WFP) ship MUSTAFA-H and will provide protection during her transit from Boosaaso to Berbera in northern Somalia.
The 12-man VPD team is normally embarked onboard EU NAVFOR Dutch warship Johan de Witt during its four months anti piracy mission. This task shows the flexibility of the team and the invaluable contribution that Malta is providing to the EU NAVFOR anti piracy operation.
This is Malta`s first military deployment into the operational theatre under the EU Common Security Defence Policy (CSDP). The Maltese detachment has been sourced from C Special Duties Company of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) and is a valuable force multiplier in the area of operations.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Somali Pirates: Spain Bags Some Pirates

Reported by MSC(HOA):
26/04/2010 13.30 UTC

The EU NAVFOR warship ESPS VICTORIA yesterday intercepted a pirate action group (PAG) comprising one mother ship, a “Whaler”, and two skiffs.
The suspected pirates were detected by the frigate's helicopter 40 miles from the Somali coast north west of the Seychelles. The helicopter crew saw that the mother ship was carrying a large number of fuel drums, and also the normal paraphernalia for hijacking ships (ladders, hooks, etc); there was no fishing gear on board.
EU NAVFOR warship closed the PAG position and, following the orders of the EU NAVFOR Force Commander Jan Thörnqvist, a search was conducted with no opposition from the pirates. The boarding party confirmed the suspicions that these vessels were being used with the intent to carry out acts of piracy.
All the suspects were then put into one of the skiffs and given the necessary equipment to reach the Somali coast. Victoria then proceeded to destroy the other vessels.
Spanish Navy release here.

"Measures to Cut Budget Deficit Are All on the Table"

Clearly this headline is false: "Measures to Cut Budget Deficit Are All on the Table"
The deficit was $1.4 trillion in 2009; the Federal government owes $12.9 trillion now and is expected to add another $1 trillion to that figure every year for at least the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The interest alone on all that debt would eventually comprise 4.5 percent of the economy and 20 percent of the Federal budget.
I'll believe the headline when Congress announces the halt of ObamaCare, an end to TARP, the "stimulus package" and throws out the Department of Education and an number of other useless, expensive agencies.

You know cuts will come in Defense which is a true Constitutional mandate, as opposed to say, subsidizing ethanol, which clearly is not. As an example, and as reported here:
In 2008, the U.S. government spent $4 billion on biofuels subsidies, replacing about 2 percent of the U.S. gasoline supply, according to the Baker Institute report, "Fundamentals of a Sustainable U.S. Biofuels Policy." The average cost to the taxpayer was about $82 a barrel, or $1.95 a gallon.

In 2007, Congress mandated that biofuels production increase from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Corn ethanol is capped at 15 billion gallons a year, but the study says even that level will be difficult to reach.

The report also questions the tariff imposed on ethanol imported from Latin America and the Caribbean, mainly made from sugar cane. Because sustainable production of U.S. domestic corn-based ethanol faces limitations, the report finds "tariff policies that block cheaper imports are probably misguided."
And ethanol isn't even a "clean" fuel.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizona: The Actual Statute

Don't embarrass yourself, read the real Arizona Immigration Statute here.

Funny, they left out the part about "racial profiling" that I've heard about all day on the radio from callers in New York, North Carolina and people in Chicago.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Somali Pirates: The Netherlands Trying New Tactic Against Pirates

GvG has the post: Information Dissemination: The Netherlands Trying New Tactic Against Pirates describing the use of numerous, albeit slow landing craft to patrol waters close inshore with some success. And in there is a revealing lesson:
By using their landing crafts to patrol the pirate infested waters, the Dutch are showing that quantity has quality of its own.
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.
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....

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.
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.
UPDATE: From November 2008:
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.
The more dispersed nature of today's world trade patterns has major implications for our view of maritime security . . .
Ah, there's the rub. Too much ocean, too many shorelines, too many needs, too few ships. What's a navy to do?

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:
  1. Take $250 million dollars and put it aside;
  2. 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).
  3. 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")
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Be generous with UAV assets - use the small "net recoverable" types.
  11. 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.
  12. Use the old MIUW (Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare) van concept for adding some sonar capability. TIS/VIS is a necessity.
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.

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.
Good advice then, good advice now. And the Dutch are proving it.

On the Arizona Immigration Law

Report on latest protests here.

See previous post on this topic here.

All weekend I heard the chattering classes saying this law makes it "a crime under state law to be in the country illegally..."

Which just puts state law into compliance with federal law, which says exactly the same thing.

You can see why the feds hate it when someone tries to get laws enforced when it is counter to a political party's interests...

More constitutional fun ahead.

Somali Pirates: Busy Weekend

Reported by the ICC Commercial Crimes Services IMB Piracy Reporting Center here :

25.04.2010: 0515 UTC: Posn: 13:46.2N – 042:57.7E, Red Sea.

Pirate boats chased and attempted to board a bulk carrier underway. Master increased speed and carried out evasive manoeuvres. After about 80 minutes, pirates aborted the attempt and moved away. No casualties and no damage to ship.

25.04.2010: 0523 UTC: Posn: 13:48N – 043:00E, Bab el Mandeb, southern Red Sea.

Two skiffs were sighted at a distance of one nm from a chemical tanker underway. Suddenly, one skiff with high speed approached and came very close to the tanker. Four pirates armed with guns and an aluminium ladder was seen in the skiffs. Security personal onboard fired several warning shots in the air but the pirates kept approaching. Finally the security personal fired closed to the skiffs and the pirates aborted the attempted attack.

25.04.2010: 0348 UTC: Posn: 17:59n – 065:49e, around 760 nm from Socotra island (Arabian Sea), off Somalia.

Six pirates armed with machine guns and RPG in a white coloured skiff chased and fired upon a chemical tanker underway with intent to hijack. Tanker contacted coalition forces, increased speed and took evasive manoeuvres. Pirates attempted to board the tanker several times but unable due to the evasive manoeuvres and finally they aborted the attempt. No injuries to crew.

25.04.2010: 0215 UTC: Posn: 18:06N – 065:47E, around 760 nm from Socotra island (Arabian Sea), off Somalia.

Four pirates armed with machine guns and RPG in a white coloured skiff chased and fired upon a tanker underway with intent to hijack. Ship raised alarm, sent distress message, increased speed, took evasive manoeuvres and crew locked all accommodation doors. Pirates tried to board the ship using a steel ladder and hooks attached to ropes. They fired RPG at the accommodation and the ship continued with her evasive manoeuvres. After several attempts, finally pirates aborted the attempted boarding. No injuries to crew.

All maps from ICC CCS IMB.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Things that Make Heroes: Navy pilot's last act: saving 3 crew mates

From the The Columbus Dispatch Navy pilot's last act: saving 3 crew mates:
The E-2C Hawkeye, returning from a mission in Afghanistan, was a few miles out from the Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier. Zilberman, 31, was a veteran U.S. Navy pilot who had flown many times in the Middle East with the Hawkeye, a turbo-prop aircraft loaded with radar equipment.

The starboard propeller shut down, causing the plane to become unstable and plunge. Zilberman ordered his three crew mates, including the co-pilot, to bail. He manually held the plane as steady as possible so they could jump.

"He held the plane level for them to do so, despite nearly uncontrollable forces. His three crewmen are alive today because of his actions," Navy Rear Adm. Philip S. Davidson wrote to Zilberman's parents.

Zilberman went down with the aircraft on March 31. The 1997 graduate of Bexley High School was declared dead three days later, his body lost at sea.
Donations for the education of his children can be made here.

Bugler, sound taps.

Where do we get such men?

UPDATE: Steeljaw on it early and first report.

Fearless navy Bloggers Took to the Air: Episode 18: Ponder Back and Look Forward

And you can hear it by clicking below:

LtCol James Zumwalt will be at a book signing at the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC on 26 April 2010. Details here:
James G. Zumwalt Will Discuss and Sign His Book Followed by a Q&A

Monday, April 26, 2010, 12:00 NOON
Free and open to the public

People react differently to grief. For James G. Zumwalt, it turned to animosity, directed against not only the war but also the enemy against whom we had fought. In 1994, traveling to Vietnam for the first time since the war, he met with Vietnamese leaders to discuss the Agent Orange issue. In doing so, it provided him with the opportunity to learn about the conflict from the perspective of those who had fought it on the other side of the battlefield. As these former enemy veterans began sharing their personal stories of hardship and tragedy—one of which was not too dissimilar from Zumwalt’s own—he was struck by a stark realization. As difficult and tragic as the war had been for Americans who served, it had taken as much, if not a greater, toll on the Vietnamese. In war, there are never winners—and Vietnam was no exception. Returning to Vietnam more than 50 times to interview hundreds of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC) veterans, in addition to Vietnamese civilians, Zumwalt obtained a better understanding as to the extent of our former enemy's suffering during that war. The result was a metamorphosis, which changed his attitude towards a former foe. Bare Feet, Iron Will, newly published by Veterans Publishing Systems, became the vehicle by which he shares what this metamorphosis taught him.
Book info here.

Iran: Military Sea Drills

Iran reports on its "Great Prophet 5" war game wrapping up in the Persian Gulf waters off its coast.

The drills reveal that Iran's sea-side defense is built around a combination of missiles, mines and swarm attack small boats, including an alleged missile firing remotely controlled "sonar-evading" boat as set out in IRGC unveils homemade vessel:
Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has unveiled a homemade sonar-evading vessel dubbed Ya Mahdi in the initial phase of a new Persian Gulf military drill.

“The domestically-made vessel that carries rockets with powerful destructive capability shows Iran's determined military strength in establishing security in the Persian Gulf,” IRGC's naval commander Ali Reza Tang-siri said Thursday on the first day of the three-day military drill code-named 'The Great Prophet 5'.

High-intensity rockets launched by remote-controlled Ya Mahdi vessels are able to destroy any targets on water surface, added the top commander, quoted by IRNA.

Over 300 vessels equipped with torpedo and guided-missiles are taking part in the massive naval maneuvers that coincide with the 31st anniversary of IRGC's formation.
Iran asserts its forces can cover the entirety of the Persian Gulf (see here). The Gulf is about 600 miles long and, at most, a couple of hundred miles wide. Of course, Iran cannot claim ownership of the entire Gulf, since it shares it with Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE.

Exercises included mine laying and other exercises as set out here:
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has wrapped up the third phase of a major military exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz after the US threatened Iran with a nuclear attack.

Codenamed the 'Great Prophet 5', the massive air, land and naval maneuvers kicked off on Saturday with the main aim of preserving the security of the region.

Phase three of the war games carried out on Saturday focused on defending the Persian Gulf coasts and islands, featuring anti-heliborne attacks and asymmetrical war tactics.
Missile tests are included in the festivities:
Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has announced plans to test-fire four domestically-made missiles at the fourth stage of its ongoing military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Commander of the IRGC's naval forces Rear Admiral Morteza Saffari said four Iranian-manufactured surface-to-sea missiles were selected for a test launch on Sunday.

Iranian “defense experts have upgraded and improved the power and range of the missiles, and we will witness their capabilities in the new phase of the maneuvers,” Fars News Agency quoted Saffari as saying.

The senior commander identified one of the missiles as Nasr — a short-range cruise missile that can be launched from both inland bases and military vessels.

Earlier in the day, IRGC Air Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh announced that Iran's 'stealth' drone, Pehpad, was scheduled to become operational in the second half of this year.

Commander Hajizadeh added that the radar-evading unmanned aerial vehicle, which is capable of bombing and conducting reconnaissance missions, had played a successful back-up role in the ongoing military drills.
Naturally, all of this is done in the name of peace. In the meantime, the IRGC has thrown its weight around by stopping foreign-flagged merchant ships in the Strait of Hormuz for "environmental inspection" as set out here:
The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps' naval patrol units have stopped an Italian and a French vessel in the Strait of Hormuz and inspected them.

The two vessels were inspected by the IRGC forces during a military maneuver on Friday for verification that they complied with environmental regulations.

The vessels were allowed to continue sailing after confirmation that they had not breached any regulations, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

The IRGC has been holding the third day of a major military exercise dubbed 'Great Prophet 5' in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
According to some reports, the Iranian NASR missile is a version of the Chinese C-704 anti-ship missile and China has opened a C-704 plant in Iran:
China inaugurated a missile plan in Iran last month, even as the United States and its allies were pressing Beijing to support a new round of tough economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program, Jane's Defense Weekly reports.
The Nasr is identical to China's C-704 anti-ship missile, Hewson says. Iran's burgeoning defense industry, much of it controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has been producing Chinese-designed anti-ship missiles such as the C-801 since the early 1990s.

The C-704, developed by China Aerospace Group, targets ships of 1,000-4,000 tons displacement and is the equivalent of the U.S. AGM-119 anti-ship missile. With a range of 106 miles and a 240-pound warhead, the C-704 has a kill probability of 95.7 percent.
You might notice in the photo above the NASR comes with its very own box launcher, suitable for shipboard use and land launchers. You might enjoy this post from 4 years ago in Iran's radar evading missiles. As noted in this DefenseTech post you can get an unclassified intelligence estimate of Iran's military strength here (pdf). From which this highlight:
Coastal defense cruise missiles (CDCMs) are an important layer in Iran’s defense of the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. Iran can attack targeted ships with anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) from its own shores, islands, and oil platforms using relatively small mobile launchers.
The C801/802 is Iran’s primary CDCM, first imported from China in 1995. It is capable of engaging targets at a range of six nautical miles, and has greater accuracy, a lower cruising altitude, and a faster set-up time than the Seersucker missile Iran used during the Iran-Iraq War. The C801/802 allows Iran to target any point within the Strait of Hormuz and much of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Iran has worked with China to develop shorter range missiles, including the C701, for deployment in narrow geographic environments.

Iran can readily deploy its mobile CDCM launchers anywhere along its coast. These systems have auto control and radar homing guidance systems, and some can target using a remote air link. Iran’s objective is to overwhelm enemy air defenses with mobile CDCMs, combined with multiple rocket launchers (MRLs), coastal artillery, and ballistic missiles.
UPDATE: Iran to Mass-Produce New UAVs:
A senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced on Sunday that his forces plan to mass-produce a new home-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) tested during the current wargames in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the last stage of IRGC naval exercises, codenamed as Payambar-e Azam (The Great Messenger) 5 in Iran's southern waters today, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that the new UAV (Pahpad) will be mass-produced in the near future.

"In addition to reconnaissance flight over the operation (battle) field, this kind of drone brings ease to battle command by transferring real-time data," Hajizadeh added.
Judging by the photo accompanying the article, one approach to "stealth" will be to make the Iranian drones look exactly like U.S. "Predator" drones, right down to the U.S. markings on the fuselage . . .that's so . . . asymmetric.

UPDATE2: Another article on Iran's homemade missiles here, this time with a photo of an older "Silkworm" type ASM on the beach.

Of course, that reminds of another post from 4 years ago setting out Silkworm range from Iran's shore here. As I recall, the pink areas are within Silkworm range in the lower Arabian Gulf. Sorry to say, all the source info for the map seems to have dried up.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fearless Navy Bloggers Take to the Air: Episode 18: Ponder Back and Look Forward

Join us Sunday, April 25 at 5pm Eastern for Midrats Episode 18 :
We look back at the Vietnam War and then look forward to the next decade's Fleet options for our Navy. 50 years in 1 hour.

Our guests will be retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel J.G. Zumwalt and journalist Greg Grant.

Lt. Col. James Zumwalt is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the 1989 intervention into Panama, and Desert Storm. He is an author, speaker and business executive, and currently heads a security consulting firm named after his father—Admiral Zumwalt & Consultants, Inc. His articles on Vietnam, North Korea, foreign policy and defense issues can be found in various newspapers and magazines, including USA Today, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Times, The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, The San Diego Union, Parade magazine and others. He is a member of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), and from 1991-92 was the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.

Greg Grant is a national security and defense writer and edits the Defense Tech blog and is an associate editor with Military.com. His writing on military technology and international security have appeared in Foreign Policy, Slate, The Washington Post, The Los Angles Times, Defense Technology International, The Washington Quarterly, Survival, Government Executive Magazine and National Journal. He arrived in Baghdad in April 2003 with the Third Infantry Division and returned a number of times to cover the war there. He reported for Jane’s Defense Weekly and from Iraq, and Afghanistan for the Military Times newspapers. Before taking an interest in journalism, he worked as a military analyst the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds an M.A. in Strategic Studies from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
Listen to Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Latest U.S Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Piracy and Worldwide Threats to Shipping Reports (to 21 April 10)

ONI Worldwide Threats to Shipping Report (to 21 April 2010) found here. Highlights:
1. INDIAN OCEAN: French navy captures six men after pirate attack, 19 Apr 10. French forces captured six suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean after a command and supply ship was attacked by gunmen in speedboats, the French military said on Wednesday. Pirates in two skiffs attacked the (SOMME) overnight on Monday, some 300-km (190 miles) off the coast of Somalia. The French fired back and the speedboats fled. No one was injured and after a brief search of the area, the Somme discovered the assailants' mother ship. "We found the suspected
pirates, petrol and equipment that could be used for anything but fishing," said Colonel Patrick Steiger, a spokesman for the military. It was the second time in six months that the "Somme" had come under attack while taking part in a European anti-piracy operation in the area (Reuters).
2. INDIAN OCEAN: Turkish navy commandos capture pirates, 18 Apr 10. Turkey's
military says navy commandos aboard a frigate captured 13 pirates in the Indian Ocean. The military says the commandos aboard Turkey's (TCG GELIBOLU) stopped the pirate vessel on Sunday as it sailed off the Seychelles on a route being used by a Turkish freighter heading to Mombassa, Kenya. The commandos captured the pirates, destroyed their two skiffs and confiscated other pirate material. The military says the pirates were photographed throwing weapons and ammunition overboard, but didn't say how close the pirates were to the freighter. The military did not say where the captured pirates would be taken (AP).
3. INDIAN OCEAN: US Navy ship captures pirates in Gulf of Oman, 5 Apr 10. The Navy guided-missile destroyer MCFAUL captured 10 pirates after an attack on a ship near Salalah, Oman. The pirates pulled alongside the motor vessel RISING SUN on Tuesday and were firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, prompting the crew to send out a distress call, according to a news release from the U.S. Navy. The RISING SUN’s crew increased its speed and used evasive maneuvers such as spraying the attackers with fire hoses, the release says. The maneuvers worked and the pirates broke off their attack and returned to their mother ship, an Indian cargo dhow under their control. The Oman Navy warship AL SHARQUIYAH arrived
first on the scene, and as it approached the dhow, nine sailors who were being held hostage jumped into the water, the release says. One of the sailors drowned, but the others were taken aboard the Omani Navy ship. The MCFAUL arrived as the Omani crew was helping the sailors who escaped. The MCFAUL’s crew directed the pirates to surrender by putting their hands in the air and gathering on the bow of the seized dhow. As they complied, they could be seen throwing weapons overboard. Two boarding teams from the MCFAUL took control of the dhow and detained the pirates, who were transferred to the U.S. destroyer CARNEY, where they will be
held until they can be transferred for prosecution, the release says. The surviving sailors who escaped their captors aboard the dhow were returned to the vessel, according to the U.S. Navy (LM: Virginian-Pilot).
4. INDIAN OCEAN: Dutch sidestep EU red tape to rescue German ship, 5 Apr 10. Gaining fast on the pirates who had seized a German freighter, Dutch naval captain Col. Hans Lodder had no time to waste on bureaucracy. Sidestepping the command of the European Union's anti-piracy task force, he went instead to his own government for authorization to recapture the ship by force. Lodder first ascertained that the freighter's crew had locked themselves in a bulletproof room. Then he launched his ship's Lynx helicopter with a team of six special forces marines. With troops providing cover fire from the helicopter, the marines rappelled onto the ship's deck of the MV TAIPAN to shoot it out, if need be, with the pirates. But they met no resistance. The 15-man crew was rescued, and 10 Somali pirates were captured. "The pirates surrendered the moment they saw the marines," Lodder said in a telephone interview Tuesday from the Dutch frigate TROMP. No one was injured. Monday's successful rescue showed that, when swift decisions are needed, it can be quicker to work around the European Union's command. It was the first time a Dutch ship involved in the EU mission had used force to recapture a hijacked ship. An EU spokesman could not immediately recall any incident when troops under EU
command had boarded a seized ship under the threat of fire. Lodder said he decided to seek permission from his own command for an "opposed boarding" — one where pirates may resist — rather than act under procedures laid down by Brussels. "We just told my force commander we would operate under national command until after the boarding," Lodder told The Associated Press. "We kept everyone in the EU informed of everything we did." A spokesman for the EU mission acknowledged the Dutch action avoided a delay and was legitimate. "For speed of reaction, if you're on the spot ... (and) dispatched at haste to react to something immediately, the best thing to do is to go under national command," said Cmdr. John Harbour, U.K.-based spokesman for the European Union Naval Force Somalia. "If we were about to conduct an operation with a bit more time on our hands then we may well have gone through the standard EU process with a view to consulting," he added. "That consultation just takes a bit longer." The TROMP may turn over the 10 captured Somalis on Monday to German or Dutch prosecutors for what would be a rare European piracy trial (AP).

7. SOUTH CHINA SEA: Tug (PU 2007), towing barge (PU 3316) reportedly hijacked 19 Apr 10 at 2328 local time while underway in position 04:25.51N – 104:18.92E, approximately 57NM northeast of Kuantan, Malaysia. The tug activated its SSAS while underway at the above position and subsequently every 30 minutes after that. Suspected that it had been hijacked, the owners reported the incident. It is assessed that the tug and barge had deviated from its planned
course and heading easterly. The last assessed position of the tug is approximately 91NM east northeast of Kuantan, heading easterly at almost 4 knots towards the Philippines. On 20 Apr 10 at 1525 local time, the barge was spotted at position 04:29.9N – 104:56.8E, approximately 105NM east northeast of Kuantan (ReCAAP).
9. SOUTH CHINA SEA: Chemical tanker (THERESA LIBRA) robbed 7 Apr 10 at 2300
local time while underway in position 02:44.2N – 105:16.3E, approximately 6NM west of Pulau Damar, Indonesia. While underway at approximately 12 knots, eight men armed with knives boarded the vessel from a boat. They took the engineer hostage and entered the accommodation area. Upon reaching the bridge, they threatened the crew with knives and took the captain hostage. They proceeded to raid the cabin of the captain and officers, taking cash and valuables. After approximately 20 minutes, the robbers escaped in their boat, which was alongside the poop
deck. The men were casually dressed, spoke English with a local accent and were aggressive throughout the incident. No crewmembers were injured (ReCAAP).
10. SOUTH CHINA SEA: Fishing vessels fired upon 23 Mar 10 at 0901 UTC while
underway in position 05:16N – 106:30E, approximately 205NM northeast of Tanjong Berhala, Malaysia. Armed robbers in a 15-meter long boat chased and fired upon two fishing vessels. The vessels increased speed and managed to evade the boat. No injuries to the crew were reported (IMB).
12. PHILIPPINES: Chemical tanker reported suspicious approach 4 Apr 10 at 0215 UTC while underway in position 04:10.3N – 120:41.3E, south of Tawi Tawi, Celebes Sea. Vessel reported being chased by skiffs for 30 minutes. Evasive maneuvers were conducted and the vessel continued its transit (IMB).
From: ONI's SOMALIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report
(Horn of Africa) for 15 April- 21 April 2010:
1. (U) Vessels Hijacked
1. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier (VOC DAISY) hijacked 21 Apr 10 at 0605 UTC while underway in position 16:25N – 057:13E, approximately 280NM northeast of Socotra Island. Suspected pirates in skiffs boarded and hijacked the vessel, taking 21 crewmembers hostage (AP, IMB).
2. INDIAN OCEAN: Fishing vessels (PRANTALAY 11) (PRANTALAY 12) (PRANTALAY 14) hijacked 18 Apr 10 at 0200 UTC while underway in position 09:29N – 069:18E, approximately 230NM northwest of Minicoy Island, India. Armed men in skiffs opened fire on the three fishing vessels and ordered them to stop. They boarded and hijacked the vessels to possibly use as motherships. The three Thai vessels have 77 total crewmembers onboard (AP, IMB, Operator).
2. (U) Vessels Fired Upon
1. GULF OF ADEN: General cargo ship (THOR TRAVELLER) fired upon 14 Apr 10 at 2345 UTC while underway in position 12:42N – 047:23E, approximately 125NM northwest of Bosasso, Somalia. Approximately seven men armed with RPGs and guns in a skiff chased and opened fire on the vessel underway. The captain conducted evasive maneuvers and contacted nearby warships for assistance, who later intercepted the skiff. The vessel sustained damages from gunfire (IMB, CMF).
2. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier fired upon 21 Apr 10 at 1050 UTC while underway in position 01:10.05N – 065:00.08E, approximately 665NM northeast of Port Victoria, Seychelles. Four men in a blue skiff armed with RPGs and automatic weapons opened fire on the vessel for approximately three minutes. The vessel increased speed and conducted evasive maneuvers, forcing the attackers to abandon the attempt (IMB, Operator).
3. INDIAN OCEAN: French warship (FS SOMME) fired upon 19 Apr 10 at 2101 UTC while underway approximately 400NM southeast of Mogadishu, Somalia. Two skiffs opened fire on the ship, causing the SOMME to return fire with warning shots. When the skiffs attempted to flee, the SOMME pursued the skiffs and was able to capture one, detaining four suspected pirates (Reuters, MSCHOA).
4. INDIAN OCEAN: Tanker fired upon 18 Apr 10 at 0725 UTC while underway in position 09:29N – 068:56E, approximately 865NM southeast of Socotra Island and 430NM west of Kochi, India. Four men in a skiff armed with RPGs opened fire on the vessel. Counter-piracy measures were enforced and an embarked security team fired warning shots at the skiff, forcing them to abort the attack. No casualties to the crew or ship were reported (IMB, Operator).
More on the missing tug boat PU2007 available at the ReCAAP site here (pdf) from which the following picture are liberated:

You know, just in case anyone was wondering if piracy might be a problem.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

GM Money Game - Jamie Dupree

All day, local radio has been praising the "GM loan payback" but there's a rest of the story they left off:
GM Money Game - Jamie Dupree :
General Motors will make a big splash in the news today by announcing that the automaker will repay several billion dollars loans from the federal government earlier than expected. But it's not really coming out of the GM wallet.

The issue came up yesterday at a hearing with the special watchdog on the Wall Street Bailout, Neil Barofsky, who was asked several times about the GM repayment by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), who was looking for answers on how much money the feds might make from the controversial Wall Street Bailout.

"It's good news in that they're reducing their debt," Barofsky said of the accelerated GM payments, "but they're doing it by taking other available TARP money."

In other words, GM is taking money from the Wall Street Bailout - the TARP money - and using that to pay off their loans ahead of schedule.

"It sounds like it's kind of like taking money out of one pocket and putting in the other," said Carper, who got a nod of agreement from Barofsky.
Hey, it's just your money they're playing games with.

And they wonder why people are going to tea parties...

Somali Pirates: Mistake French Naval Replenishment Ship for Merchant- 6 captured, boats sunk

Reported here:
Pirates attack French Military Replenishment Ship SOMME – 6 pirates captured
21/04/2010 15.56 UTC

During the night of 19th April 2010, 400 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia, French replenishment ship SOMME came under attack from two skiffs with six pirates on board.
FS SOMME had been engaged in a support mission for the EU NAVFOR anti piracy operation Atalanta, replenishing her supplies, when she was attacked during the night of 19th April 2010. The pirates, mistaking the SOMME’s silhouette for that of a merchant vessel, opened fire on the French ship. FS SOMME responded with warning shots, causing the two pirate skiffs to flee. During their flight the two pirate skiffs were separated.
Whilst chasing one of the skiffs, FS SOMME detected another boat which turned out to be the pirate mother ship, the vessel which controls and resupplies the pirate skiffs. The mother ship was captured less than half an hour later with two pirates on board, and her fuel and pirate paraphanalia (weapons and grappling lines) were seized. The mother ship was destroyed and sank.
FS SOMME then gave chase to the skiff which was apprehended with a further 4 pirates on board. The skiff and the six pirates to now being held on board FS SOMME.

Note: FS SOMME was also attacked by pirates on 7 October 2009. The ship’s company then intercepted 5 pirates and their skiff. (see here)

Drilling Rig Blows Up in Gulf of Mexico -11 still missing

Reported here:
Transocean Corp. said 11 people are still missing from a drilling rig that experienced an explosion and fire late Tuesday night about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a news conference today, officials said they still do not know for sure the cause of the accident, but it appears to have been a blowout, where hydrocarbons travel up the subsea piping to the rig in an uncontrolled manner.

Adrian Rose, Vice President of Quality, Health, Safety and Environment for Transocean, said the rig had stopped drilling and was in the process of getting the 18,000-foot-deep well ready for production. It appears hydrocarbons were able to travel up the drilling riser — a pipe that carries mud and other drilling fluids back to the rig on the surface — and ignite.

“So this was a blowout?” asked a reporter.

“Basically, yes,” said Rose. “But we still don't have all the facts and this is just an assumption we're making.”

Firefighters continued to battle the oil-fueled blaze aboard the Deepwater Horizon this afternoon. The fire has ebbed and flowed throughout the day on the rig, which appears to be listing at about a 10 degree angle, Rose said.

Of the 126 workers onboard, 17 were injured and flown by helicopter to onshore hospitals. Seven were considered critical. One is in a burn unit at The University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile while nine have been released from that facility and others. The location of the remaining seven is unclear.
U.S. Coast Guard photo.Caption:
NEW ORLEANS - Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21, 2010. A Coast Guard MH-65C dolphin rescue helicopter and crew document the fire aboard the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, while searching for survivors April 21, 2010. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126 person crew.

Somlai Pirates: Grab a Ship and 21 Crewmembers Off Oman

MSC(HOA0 reports here:
Liberian owned M/V VOC DAISY hijacked south of Oman
21/04/2010 09.00 UTC

On the morning of 21April 2010, the Panamanian Flagged (Liberian owned) M/V VOC DAISY, a bulk carrier of 47,183 dead weight tonnes, was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden, 190 nautical miles East South East of Salalah, Oman.

At the time of the attack, the MV VOC DAISY, owned by Middleburg Properties Ltd, Liberia, and operated by the Greek company Samartzis Maritime Enterprises, was heading west from Ruwais, U.A.E, making for the eastern rendezvous point of the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC), for onward transit through the Suez Canal. She was 280 miles from the IRTC when she was hijacked.

MV VOC DAISY was registered with Maritime Security Centre Horn Of Africa (MSCHOA) and was able to raise the alarm before the four armed pirates, carrying three AK47s and one RPG, stormed onboard and cut their lines of communication.

EU NAVFOR is monitoring the situation and can confirm that all the 21 Philippino crew of the MV VOC DAISY are safe.

Photo by Ian Baker and found at Shipspotting.com. Used in accord with terms of that site.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Somali Pirates: Moving East, Take 3 Thai Vessels 1200 miles Off Somalia

Reported at MSC(HOA):
Pirates head east to counter EU NAVFOR success
20/04/2010 12.10 UTC

On 18th April 2010, three Thai fishing vessels from Djibouti, were hijacked 1200 nautical miles east of the coast of Somalia.
These latest hijackings are the furthest east of any pirate attacks in the area since the start of EU NAVFOR’s Operation Atalanta in December 2008, almost 600 miles outside the normal EU NAVFOR operating area. It is a clear indication that the EU anti piracy mission, together with those of NATO and CMF, is having a marked effect on pirate activity in the area.
The hijacked vessels, MV PRANTALAY 11, (26 Thai crew) MV PRANTALAY 12 (25 Thai crew) and MV PRANTALAY 14 (26 Thai crew), belong to a Thai based company PT Interfishery Ltd. EU NAV FOR can confirm that all 77 Thai crew are safe and well and that the vessels are heading towards the Somali coast. EU NAVFOR will continue to monitor the situation.
Actually, there have been reported attack at least as far as the one noted by the EU above, see NATO Shipping Center Somalia Piracy Update 20 Apr 2010, for this report of an attack on a merchant (charted by me above):
18. April 2010

WARNING, Pirate Attack, Indian Ocean (0929 N,06856 E)

Alert number 334 / 2010.

At 0726 UTC a merchant vessel was attacked by one skiff in position 0929N 06856E.
See also reports of ships being captured 1000 miles off Somalia, near India Somali Pirates: Turkish Cargo Ship Taken 1000 miles at Sea (23 March 10), report of attack off India here (11 March 10), a December 2009 report of a tanker attacked 300 miles off India here with a follow on here. The maps below reflect those earlier attacks:

If you want to stop these pirates, it's time to get serious in blockading known Somali pirate ports.

Click on maps to enlarge them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Somali Pirates: Turkish navy commandos capture 13 suspected pirates

Reported here:
Turkey's military says navy commandos aboard a frigate have captured 13 pirates in the Indian Ocean.

The military says the commandos aboard Turkey's TCG Gelibolu stopped the pirate vessel on Sunday as it sailed off the Seychelles on a route being used by a Turkish freighter heading to Mombassa, Kenya.

The commandos captured the pirates, destroyed their two skiffs and confiscated other pirate material.

The military says the pirates were photographed throwing weapons and ammunition overboard, but didn't say how close the pirates were to the freighter.