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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.


  1. Ga Mongrel8:38 AM

    While the US never had a monopoly on good ideas/innovation/etc... I absolutely *hate* our (USN) snobbishly ignoring new ways of thinking/solving problems/acting above these sort of tactics/refusing to go 'old school' - all because we have Aegis and CVNs and well... we just don't do things that way...

    Good for the Dutch!

  2. Great ideas, Eagle1, but I'll bet no one is listening.

  3. D. E. Reddick10:52 AM

    On Monday three pictures (with captions) from this operation appeared at I counted at least three RHIBs in the water with two landing craft and a pirate whaler. I wonder if those RHIBs were launced directly from the LPD or if they were carried behind the ramps on the lancing craft, ready to be shoved out upon the sighting of pirates with a VBSS crew aboard the boat.

  4. Small, slow patrol boats? No, no! You need large fast, 3000 ton frigates for this type of work, and the fewer the better! The Dutch success here is totally unacceptable. We must reeducate them!

    Maybe kick them out of NATO for making us look bad!

  5. ewok40k1:19 PM

    Most of the numbers of sail era RN were small brigs and "lowest class" frigates... and they expunged piracy from most of the world

  6. cross posted from ID:
    Good for the Dutch Navy! New tactics and positive results - far better than the USN supported "stay offshore" approach. Perhaps even some ROE changes?

    I might point out that the CO of USS DeWert briefed the Mayport Navy League and when asked what he would like to do against pirates (as opposed to sitting offshore), he said to take the fight to the pirates by some NGFS on the pirate ports.

    The USN should loan the Dutch Navy a couple of Seahawks and an air det!

    This seems to be a version of Market Time? Larger ships standing off and smaller craft operate inshore. Market Time had three layers. The inshore portion was covered by PCF Swifts and USCGC cutters. We (USN/RVN) used modified LCVPs on the rivers of Vietnam. IMHO The USN does not have enough smaller warboat assets deployed to the region. Some already are in the NECC force structure. And of course the mighty USN Gator Navy has most of the assets already onboard those exquisite ships.

    "Piracy may have to be solved on the land, but it CAN be fought from the sea!"

  7. you want to kick this up a notch? Goto this link, where the French company CNIM proposes a moderate speed catamaran MPC-2 which can launch multiple RHIBS underway:
    OR translate this:

  8. Funny thing, when the Iraq war was just heating up and I read about the Navy trying to patrol the Northern Arabian Gulf, I thought of kicking the LCUs out of the Gator well decks, putting a couple of those modular berthing units they have at the FOBs aboard and matching 3-4 RHIBs up with each one. The LCU could act as a mini-mothership for the RHIBS as well as a C3 platform. You could even dead-head them on a beach some where for an instant patrol base. Couple that with a few drones. The RHIBs could rotate on station over a fairly large area, and the LCU could provide the 3 hots and a flop for the RHIB crews.

    Guess I was WAY too visionary.

  9. D. E. Reddick8:52 PM


    This MPC-2 seems like a dual-mode variation upon that tri-modal ferry recently launched in Alaska.

    Still, this is much smaller and has a potential speed range (20 to 30 knots) to engage pirates.

  10. IRT your post about armed OSVs. Based on some experience with bringing (35) ships into MSC service, the minute you start talking about ship purchases and naval crewing you doom such a concept. The Congress restricts purchases to almost always US built thus limiting source selection/AOA. NAVSEA gets in the act and gold plates the ship with nebulous rqmts. And naval officers start worrying about career paths for service in non-commissioned ships. The answer of course is to charter existing ships and outfit them with GFE. Its been done before and being done now.

    Below is an example of OSVs already under charter to MSC some of which "support" NSWG operations (never specified) but you get the picture. Even the official photo is pretty sterile.

    MSC operates seven chartered submarine and special warfare support ships for the Navy. Two ships provide deep submergence/salvage support and submarine/escort rescue assistance for the Navy's submarine forces. Two ships support the Naval Special Warfare Command. Four other ships were chartered in 2007 to support the Navy's submarine escort requirements while entering and leaving ports.

  11. Anonymous9:09 AM

    the MIUWU van on a ship concept sounds vaguely familiar.......

    Since Swiftships has a previous relationship with the Navy, it doesn't seem like it would be too much of a stretch to dust off the PCF (Swift Boat) plans and build say 4 squadrons worth. The 110 foot oil service vessels, by the same manufacturer would make great squadron command ships, leased or purchased, if the C4 suite is inadequate, the MIUWU van would provide a quick, effective fix. These are also plenty big enough to operate H-60s from, or at least HIFR and, as the illustration demonstrates, support aerostats and other services. Another viable approach would be 2 of the 110 foot vessels, one as a squadron command vessel with aerostat and a second to serve as a "helicopter scow" providing support for 2 - 4 helicopters. Throw in an LPD for higher level air det support and group command, several divisions of RHIB (some of which are configured for UAV ops, this could readily be migrated to the SWIFT vessels) and one has the capacity to quickly blanket an area of interest.

    Now all you have to do is get around acquisition "reform" and the mania for transfoirmation.

    Shadow (who hasn't figured out how to sign up for the new comment logon system).

  12. DER no the L-Cat/MPC is only a catamaran, unlike that techie wizbang ferry. The feature that makes the L-Cat different is that is has a hoistable cargo deck. Hoistable decks are not new they have been used in merchant ships for a long time. Raising that deck allow the cat hulls to be used at their best depth. It is not amhibious and uses fairly standard marine systems. I think the L-Cat and PASSCAT both are good advances over current USN LCUs and arguably better than LCACs in terms of cost though not fully amphibious.

  13. D. E. Reddick8:48 PM


    Well, it seems to be fast enough to run down most pirates and even a great many smugglers (using dhows and such craft, but not go-fast boats). Arm it with a couple of 25 mm chainguns, perhaps a couple more twin .50 cal. M2HB mounts, say one or two M-19 40 mm grenade launchers, and perhaps some ATGMs and MANPADs and you would have a fairly nice near shore interceptor. And place two, three, or four RHIBs aboard along with the previously mentioned berthing units for VBSS crews and then you have the means to shut down a section of a coastline to small craft attempting various sorts of nefarious actions. It might even be useful in places like the Straight of Hormuz or the Malacca Straight.

  14. great ideas... Netherlands is going good in oil industry...

  15. Check Out A company run by a former Navy/Coastie Officer.

  16. Anonymous1:06 PM

    All of these are FANTASTIC ideas!
    As a Maritime Academy Grad and a MMR I've spent tons of time doing wacky stuff with crewboats offshore. The crewboat is a fantastic platform for all sorts of "out of the box" solutions to traditional and not so traditional problems. Crewboats are good for alongside work, underway cargo and personnel transfers, can take fairly high sea-states, have huge after-decks for "what-ever". Crewboats are fast...are simple....I even had some weirdos fast-rope off a ship onto the little foredeck of one of my boats...while we were both underway...Adding weapons to a crewboat would be "too easy" like the Army is fond of saying. M-2's and M-4's, M-14's for the smaller boats....25mm's + for the the larger boats....Drop-on communications vans' (as others have mentioned)....With the right kind of leadership and budgeting... this could be up in less than six months....