Wednesday, November 30, 2016

History of Convoy and Routing [1945]

Early in WWII, Hitler's plan was to cut off supplies to the British Isles and starve the Brits into submission. Using his submarine force the effort was to stop the flow of oil, war material and food from Canada, the U.S and the western hemisphere.

As set out here, the losses to merchant shipping were terrific:

The fight against the U-boats was the "Battle of the Atlantic":
Winston Churchill once wrote that, '... the only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril'. In saying this, he correctly identified the importance of the threat posed during World War Two by German submarines (the 'Unterseeboot') to the Atlantic lifeline. This lifeline was Britain's 'centre of gravity' - the loss of which would probably have led to wholesale defeat in the war.

One of the tools that turned the tide against the U-boats was the use of convoys and routing ships
around known danger areas.

Not that convoys were a new technique - instead their use in WWII was a modern adoption of a practice used almost since the dawn of shipping - placing armed escorts with merchant ships to prevent the cargo vessels from being taken by pirates and other bad actors.

It is useful to take a look at the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command's republication of History of Convoy and Routing [1945] (also available here):

1. Since the beginning of their war in 1939 the British Admiralty, through their Naval Control Service Officers (N.C.S.O.) in the principal ports of the world, have maintained a routing, diverting and reporting service, covering all areas except those under control of the Axis. The details of instruction for N.C.S.O.'s are laid down in "Naval Control Service Instructions". The reporting system so established was called "VESCA" system, and that portion of it devoted to U.S. merchantmen was known as the "CHATFOLD" system, centered in Ottawa. Individual routes for all independently sailed ships under British and Allied registry were furnished from main ports under such standard routing orders as those contained in "Mercantile Atlantic Routing Instructions" (short title MARI)54 64 (see Chapter V).

2. Article 714 of Navy Regulations specifies that in time of war "the Commander in Chief shall afford protection and convoy, so far as it is within his power, to merchant vessels of the United States and to those of Allies." As the Axis threat developed it gradually became apparent to the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington that the U. S. Navy would require an organization similar to the Admiralty's particularly in the event of the war being forced on us. A Ship Movements Division (Op-38) had been set up during World War I, and had continued in existence. Furthermore, in June 1939 a new Naval Transportation Service, War Plan Orange (WPNTS-1) had been issued, based on the tasks assigned by the Basic War Plan, as a consequence of which the Port Directors (San Francisco and New York particularly) had built up their organization. The Joint Merchant Vessel Board, also organized in World War I, but virtually inactive since, was revitalized bytransfer to Op-30-M in September 1939. On 13 November 1939 the C.N.O. (Op-30M-BD, Serial 7904) sent a letter to Commandants of all Naval Districts, less 9th and 16th, concerning duties of Port Directors in war; "Port Director - Guide for Peace Time Preparation for War". About August 1940 the first compilation was made of merchant vessels and small craft suitable for Navy use. Shortly thereafter, on 14 November, Op-30-M was transferred to Op-38 and set up as Op-38-S, Ship Movements Division31.
3. Material progress appeared in the "Report of the Combined British-United States Staff Conversations" (short title ABC-1)dated 27 March 1941. By Annex V of this report the world was divided into two spheres of merchant ship control in place of the previous world-wide British system. U. S. control was to extend over the western half of the Atlantic from about 26° W and the whole Pacific to 100° E. The British service was to continue to function in the U. S. area until such time as we were ready to assume full responsibility. The Sea Frontier had not yet been established and the idea of a fleet control zone outside the limits of the coastal zones was still a basic feature50.

4. After the conclusion of this ABC-1 agreement there was prepared in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Division of Ship Movements, Captain Charles S. Alden, U.S.N.) the "Principal Navy Shipping Control Plan, Rainbow No. 5" (short title WPSC-46). This basic plan - which superseded pamphlet "Navy Shipping Control-General Instructions", prepared by Op-38-S on June 19 1941 - outlined the tasks of the Chief of Naval Operations, Commanders in Chief and what were then known as Coastal Frontier Commanders in connection with the control of merchant shipping; agreements with great Britain, New Zealand and Australia; and general instructions for the operation of the Merchant Ship Control Service. (Note: This plan, which is based upon Navy Basic War Plan - Rainbow No.5, was actually promulgated 15 December 1941 by C.N.O. letter, Op-38-S-P, serial 064038. It was to remain the basic ship control directive until superseded 28 February 1944 by MER-1, issued with Cominch serial 00678, mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this history)5 31 59.

5. On 17 October 1941 the first actual routing directive for merchantmen of American Flag was issued by Op-38-S-A, under the subject of "Routing of American Flag Merchant Shipping", and addressed to Commanders, Coastal Frontiers and Naval Districts and Commanders in Chief, Atlantic, Pacific and Asiatic Fleets. Although the routing of merchant ships continued to be of the utmost importance, considerable opposition was experienced from merchant ship operators, Maritime Commission, etc., and long conferences wasted valuable time4 31.

6. Finally, on 18 November 1941, to administer the directives of WPSC-46, a "Convoy and Routing Section" (Op-38-O) under the Ship Movements Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, (then Admiral H. R. Stark) was organized and placed in effect with the immediate objective of assuming responsibility in the Western Atlantic area west of the dividing line of responsibility. Thus it can be said that "Convoy and Routing", gradually developed as "Ship Movements Division" since the summer of 1940, was finally brought into operation only 19 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor59.
Yes, it's not the most exciting reading, but, as you read the source material, think about the consequences to the war effort had there not been such an organization put into place . . .

Monday, November 28, 2016

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 25 October - 23 November 2016 and NATO Ending Indian Ocean Counter-Piracy Operations

In addition to the information in the following ONI report, it is of interest that Voice of America reports NATO has announced that it is ending its counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean:
NATO has ended Operation Ocean Shield after a sharp drop-off in attacks by Somali pirates.

The Royal Danish Air Force carried out the last Indian Ocean surveillance missions for NATO.

The NATO operation had been one part of a highly successful coordinated international response to the threat of piracy that also included the European Union, the United States and other independent nations.

During its peak, piracy off the Horn of Africa had an economic impact of $7 billion, with more than 1,000 hostages taken. There hasn’t been a successful piracy attack since 2012, down from more than 30 ships at the peak in 2010-11. The NATO planes flew from the Seychelles.
NATO is now shifting resources to deterring Russia in the Black Sea and people smugglers in the Mediterranean.

NATO's spokesman Dylan White said in a statement that the global security environment had changed dramatically in the last few years and that NATO navies had adapted with it.

After more than a decade of NATO-led operations far beyond its borders, the military alliance is shifting its focus to deter Russia in the east, following Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.
According to NATO, operations will cease on 15 December 2016.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Logistics Week at EagleSpeak: "Sealift Program"

U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command's Sealift Program:
Our Sealift Program provides high-quality, efficient and cost-effective ocean transportation for the Department of Defense and other federal agencies during peacetime and war. More than 90 percent of U.S. war fighters' equipment and supplies travels by sea. The program manages a mix of government-owned and long-term-chartered dry cargo ships and tankers, as well as additional short-term or voyage-chartered ships. By DOD policy, MSC must first look to the U.S - flagged market to meet its sealift requirements. Government-owned ships are used only when suitable U.S.-flagged commercial ships are unavailable.

One high-speed transport vessels recently acquired by our Navy also belong to MSC. USNS Guam (HST 1), formerly MV Huakai, will replace the high-speed vessel Westpac Express, whose mission is to transport military personnel and cargo for the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force between Okinawa and other U.S. Pacific Command training sites. The specific mission of USNS Puerto Rico (HST 2) is still being evaluated.

U.S.-flagged commercial tankers, under long-term charter to MSC, transport refined petroleum products for DOD, primarily between commercial refineries and storage and distribution facilities worldwide. Our tankers also perform unique missions such as refueling the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station in Antarctica and the U.S. Air Force early warning station at Thule Air Base, Greenland.

During wartime or other contingencies, our Navy charters dry cargo ships under contract to MSC to move cargo as needed. These ships carry items that are too large to fit in containers, such as engineering and construction equipment, military vehicles, aircraft and ammunition.

With a shrinking U.S. merchant fleet, the importance of ready and available surge vessels increases each year. The Ready Reserve Force, owned and maintained by the Maritime Administration, provides a resource to offset the shortage of militarily useful U.S.-flagged ships. The RRF consists of fast sealift ships, roll-on/roll-off ships, lighter aboard ships, heavy lift ships, crane ships and government-owned tankers. Maintained in four-, five-, 10- or 20-day readiness status, these ships are activated when needed, fully crewed and placed under the operational control of MSC in support of U.S. wartime, humanitarian and disaster-relief operations. RRF ships are also used for some military exercises.
The MSC Sealift program list of ships:
Sealift Program Ships
Containers and RO/RO
USNS 1st LT Harry L. Martin
USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat
USNS MAJ Stephen W. Pless
USNS PFC Eugene A. Obregon
USNS SGT Matej Kocak
Dry Cargo
T/B Sea Eagle
High-Speed Transport (HST)
High-Speed Vessel (HSV)
MV Westpac Express
Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off
USNS Benavidez
USNS Bob Hope
USNS Brittin
USNS Fisher
USNS Gilliland
USNS Gordon
USNS Mendonca
USNS Shughart
USNS Watson
Long-term Chartered Tankers
MT Empire State
MT Evergreen State
MT SLNC Goodwill
Petroleum Tanker (T5)
USNS Lawrence H. Gianella

With these Sealift ships, the MSC graphic fills in:

The Maritime Administration's Ready Reserve Fleet:
The Ready Reserve Force (RRF) program was initiated in 1976 as a subset of the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) to support the rapid worldwide deployment of U.S. military forces. As a key element of Department of Defense (DOD) strategic sealift, the RRF primarily supports transport of Army and Marine Corps unit equipment, combat support equipment, and initial resupply during the critical surge period before commercial ships can be marshaled. The RRF provides nearly one-half of the government-owned surge sealift capability. Management of the RRF program is defined by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between DOD and Department of Transportation (DOT).

The MARAD graphic:

With the exception of any ships contracted on an "as needed" to carry U.S. military cargoes, the posts in this series have set out the sea-going logistics force.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Hercule Poirot "Rendevous with Death (1945)"

'Nuff said

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday Films: USNS Jack Lummus Offloading Marine Gear and "Land the Landing Force" (1967)

U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment-17, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and U.S. Navy sailors with Naval Beach Group-1, Expeditionary Strike Group-3, conduct Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) training and offload equipment from the USNS 1st Lt. Jack Lummus in support of Exercise Dawn Blitz 2013 in San Diego, Calif., June 14, 2013. Dawn Blitz is part of an annual training exercise that prepares Navy and Marine Corps forces to conduct amphibious operations and offload shipping. (U.S. Marine Corps Motion Imagery by Lance Cpl. Travis A. D’Ambrogi/RELEASED)

Logistics Week at EagleSpeak: Prepositioned Ships

The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command has a number of ships staged around the world in anticipation of need, as set out in Prepositioning:
Our Prepositioning Program is an essential element in the U.S. military's readiness strategy. Afloat prepositioning strategically places military equipment and supplies aboard ships located in key ocean areas to ensure rapid availability during a major theater war, a humanitarian operation or other contingency. MSC's 25 prepositioning ships support the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency.

Prepositioning ships provide quick and efficient movement of military gear between operating areas without reliance on other nations' transportation networks. These ships give U.S. regional combatant commanders the assurance that they will have what they need to quickly respond in a crisis - anywhere, anytime. During a contingency, troops are flown into a theater of operations to rapidly employ the cargo from these ships.

Many of MSC's prepositioning ships are able to discharge liquid, containerized or motorized cargo both pier side or while anchored offshore by using floating hoses and shallow-draft watercraft, called lighterage, that are carried aboard. This allows cargo to be ferried to shore in areas where ports are non-existent or in poor condition and gives the nation's military forces the ability to operate in both developed and undeveloped areas of the world.

Prepositioning ships include a combination of U.S. government-owned ships, chartered U.S. - flagged ships and ships activated from the Maritime Administration's Ready Reserve Force. All prepositioning ships are operated by U.S. civilian mariners who work for ship operating companies under contract to the federal government.

While most active ships in MSC's Prepositioning Program strategically place combat gear at sea, there are other ships, including:
  • The Mobile Landing Platform, a new class of ships designed to serve as a mobile sea-base option that provides our Navy fleet with a critical access infrastructure supporting the flexible deployment of forces and supplies
  • Two offshore petroleum distribution system ships that can deliver fuel from up to eight miles offshore; and
  • Zero aviation logistics support ships that are activated as needed from reduced operating status to provide at-sea maintenance for Marine Corps fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft

Ship Types

Maritime Prepositioning Force ships strategically position supplies for the U.S. Marine Corps at sea. These ships are laden with a variety of Marine Corps equipment and supplies, including tanks, ammunition, food, water, cargo, hospital equipment, petroleum products and spare parts - ready for rapid delivery ashore when needed.

MPF ships are organized into two Maritime Prepositioning Ship (MPS) squadrons, each comprising four to six MPF ships as well as additional prepositioning ships dedicated to other military services. Each MPS squadron carries sufficient equipment and supplies to sustain more than 16,000 Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Navy personnel for up to 30 days.

Army Prepositioned Stock-3 ships strategically place U.S. Army combat equipment at sea to supply and sustain deployed U.S. troops during national crises. Five of the APS-3 ships are government-owned cargo ships, called large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships, or LMSRs. Each ship has a cargo-carrying capacity of more than 300,000 square feet.

LMSRs are ideal for the rapid loading and off-loading of Army wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as other outsized Army equipment. A series of internal and external ramps makes this possible, and shipboard cranes allow cargo to be lifted without relying on local port infrastructure. In addition to LMSRs, APS-3 ships include two container ships that store ammunition at sea for the Army.

Navy, Defense Logistics Agency and Air Force ships (NDAF) are the most diverse subset of MSC's prepositioning program. These ships operate around the world in support of the Department of Defense services and agencies.
Ship descriptions:

Air Force:
Provide Air Force with prepositioned ammunition stocks.

Provide 30 days sustainment for an Army Brigade Combat Team.

Dry Cargo/Ammunition:
Ships provide ammunition, food, repair parts, stores and small quantities of fuel for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off:
Part of the Prepositioning Program, MSC's largest sealift ships preposition Army stocks and are also available to move common user cargo.

Maritime Prepositioning Force Containers, RO/RO and LMSR:
Combines the enhanced prepositioning capabilities with modifications to provide a multi-mission vessel to the unified commander.

Mobile Landing Platforms:
Provides logistics movement from sea to shore supporting a broad range of military operations.

Offshore Petroleum Distribution System (OPDS):
Transfers fuel from a tanker to depots ashore from up to eight miles off the coast.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


At the table today, will it be a toast or prayer that kicks off the meal? Or both in one?
Tonight . . . we are thankful for and toast to . . . life.

For absent friends and family. For those here.

For our many blessings.

For shelter, for the food we eat, for the laughter of children, for courage, for God's grace.

For freedom, for  love, for kindness. For forgiveness. For joy.

For hope.

We give thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Logistics Week at EagleSpeak: Where We Were, Where We Are

Let's take a stroll back in time to 1971. As the Vietnam war was coming to an end and while the Cod War was still "hot," the U.S. Navy had 752 active ships of various types.  You might note that this was down from 932 ships in 1968. To support the surface combatants and aircraft carriers, the 1971 Navy had 177 "auxiliary" ships, which included ammunition ships (AE), fleet oilers (AO), fast replenishment ships (AOE and AOR), stores ships (AFS), destroyer tenders (AD), and others. In June, 1971, the Navy counted 262 "surface warships."

As you can see from the following chart, in September 2015, the "surface warships" of the Navy numbered 99.

By way of explanation of the numbers of auxiliaries, there is this note:
To clarify the ship numbers included in this table, the year 2000 entries include active commissioned ships, those in the Naval Reserve Force (NRF) and ships operated by the Military Sealift Command (MSC). Row entries are self-explanatory, with the auxiliary category including combat logistic ships (such as oilers, ammunition, combat store ships), mobile logistics ships (such as submarine tenders) and support ships (such as command, salvage, tugs and research ships). Command ships have been subsumed into that category and the separate line entry removed. A new row has been added for guided missile submarines (SSGN).
When the Navy offers up The Status of the Navy on its website, you have to understand that that"deployable battle force ships" category includes roughly 2/3 of the fleet that are not "surface warships." Certainly, the submarine force composes a warship category of 72 ships. Due to their unique abilities, these submarines are not dependent on the same sort of logistics train that is required by aircraft carriers and surface combatants.

Operating under U.S. Transportation Command under the Military Sealift Command, the U.S. Navy maintains a fleet of logistics ships:
MSC safely operates, supplies, and maintains the ships that provide logistics support, conduct special missions, move military equipment, supply combat forces, provide humanitarian relief, and strategically position combat cargo around the world.

Combat Logistics Force
Combat Logistics Force
Ships Dry Cargo/Ammunition Ships
USNS Alan Shepard
USNS Amelia Earhart
USNS Carl Brashear
USNS Cesar Chavez
USNS Charles Drew
USNS Matthew Perry
USNS Medgar Evers
USNS Richard E. Byrd
USNS Robert E. Peary
USNS Wally Schirra
USNS Washington Chambers
USNS William McLean

Fast Combat Support Ships
USNS Arctic
USNS Supply

Fleet Replenishment Oilers
USNS Big Horn
USNS Guadalupe
USNS Henry J. Kaiser
USNS John Ericsson
USNS John Lenthall
USNS Joshua Humphreys
USNS Kanawha
USNS Laramie
USNS Leroy Grumman
USNS Patuxent
USNS Pecos
USNS Rappahannock
USNS Tippecanoe
USNS Walter S. Diehl
USNS Yukon
Prepositioning Ships
Air Force Containers
MV MAJ Bernard F Fisher
MV CAPT David I Lyon
Army Containers
MV SSG Edward A. Carter, Jr.
MV LTC John U. D. Page
Dry Cargo/Ammunition Ships
USNS Lewis and Clark
USNS Sacagawea
Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off
USNS Charlton
USNS Pomeroy
USNS Red Cloud
USNS Soderman
USNS Watkins
Maritime Prepositioning Force Containers, RO/RO and LMSR
USNS 2ND LT John P. Bobo
USNS SGT William R. Button
USNS 1st LT Baldomero Lopez
USNS 1st LT Jack Lummus
USNS Pililaau
USNS Sisler
USNS GYSGT Fred W. Stockham
USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams
Mobile Landing Platforms
USNS John Glenn
USNS Montford Point
Offshore Petroleum Distribution System (OPDS)
USNS Fast Tempo
USNS Vadm K. R. Wheeler
The 31 ships in blue are capable of replenishment at sea. As such, they are vital to the "surface warships" and aircraft carriers of the fleet, as they allow those ships to remain at sea while conducting combat operations. The logistics ships provide food, munitions (including for aircraft), and fuel for ships and aircraft.

Dry Cargo/Ammuntion ships:
Deliver supplies to customer ships at sea — ammunition, food, repair
parts, stores and small quantities of fuel. Replace T-AE, T-AFS and T-AOE when operating with T-AO. Two dedicated ships* provide ammunition, food, repair parts, stores and small quantities of fuel for the U.S. Marine Corps.
Those dedicated ships are Sacajawea and Lewis and Clark.

Fast Cargo Support Ships:
Deliver petroleum products, ammunition, food and other cargo to customer ships at sea. MSC's largest combat logistics ships.

Fleet Replenishment Oilers:
Provide underway replenishment of fuel, fleet cargo and stores to customer ships at sea.
The question posed by Bryan McGrath quoted in the first installment of this series is whether this combat logistics force is large enough to support even our limited number of surface warships in a large scale conflict.

One of the concerns is the vast distances that may need to be covered by a "train" of logistics ships if local supplies of food, fuel and munitions are not available. To circle back to those Vietnam days, the U.S. had a very large logistics base in Subic Bay, Philippines. Subic was very short sail from the Vietnam coast, so a replenishment ship could leave the Gulf of Tonkin, go to Subic and be back on line within a week. If those ships had have to transit to Guam, Hawaii or the U.S., the transit times would have been much longer and more ships would have been required to maintain the same level of fleet support that the logistics force provided during that war, which saw extensive use of both ships' guns and bombs from aircraft.

While more recent operations probably have seen fewer bombs used because they are mainly precision guided weapons compared to the mostly "dumb" bombs of the Vietnam war, there has been virtually no used of naval gunfire in recent years. Instead, the Navy has used lots of  missiles. Replacements for expended missiles can be transferred at sea, but reloading the VLS cells at sea has not been a U.S. Navy skill set (see here). One of the advantages of the new rail guns that will someday introduced to the fleet will be that there will be no need for ships so equipped to carry more than the projectiles that the rail guns fire, and the space now needed for powder can be used for additional projectile storage. Propelling ships using nuclear power (carriers, especially) saves the need to refuel them, though their aircraft still need the oilers for their fuel (which is why you see oilers alongside carriers). Food and parts will always be needed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Logistics Week at EagleSpeak: Naval Logistics Defined and Implemented

From Administration of the Navy Department in World War II [Chapter 18]
The word "logistics" did not come into common usage in the English language until comparatively recent times, although it was employed in French and German military parlance long before it was used in English. In 1888, Alfred T. Mahan used the term in his address on "The Object of the United States Naval War College" but with a meaning much more limited than its later connotations. He said:

"Between strategy and grand tactics comes logically logistics. Strategy decides where to act; logistics is the art of moving armies; it brings the troops to the point of action and controls questions of supply; grand tactics decides the methods of giving battle. There are obvious differences of condition between armies and fleets that must modify the scope of the word logistics, which it yet may be convention to retain."

The use of the single word "logistics," to denote the very broad field of planning and implementation necessary to give effect to the strategy and tactics of naval warfare, seems first to have been accorded formal recognition by the Naval War College in a lecture by Commander C.T. Vogelgesang, U.S.N. during its 1911 Summer Conference.

In its broadest sense "logistics" signifies the total process by which a nation's resources in men and materials are mobilized and employed to achieve military ends. Logistics ha been officially defined as:

"Design and development, acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation and disposition of matériel; induction, classification, training, assignment, separation, movement, evacuation and welfare of personnel; acquisition or construction, maintenance, operation, and disposition of facilities; and acquisition or furnishing of services. It comprises both planning (including determination of requirements) and implementation."

A simpler and in some respects a more satisfactory definition is the one given by Major Cyrus Thorpe, USMC, in his booklet, Pure Logistics, "Strategy and tactics provide the scheme for the conduct of military operation; logistics provides the means therefor."
Elements of Logistics

Logistics tasks, whether concerned with men materials, or services, have certain elements that are common to all. These are the planning and determining of requirements, procurement of matériel, and finally the distribution of men and things to the combat areas and Operating Forces. The elements of requirement, determination and distribution (the what, when, and where of logistics) may be viewed as the consumer segment of logistics; procurement n the other hand as the producer segment, sharp line of demarcation between the two elements cannot, however, be drawn, as they are interdependent, and must be closely integrated if logistic tasks are to be carried out efficiently and economically. Consumer logistics is essentially a command prerogative and responsibility; producer logistics a staff function The latter is concerned principally with the procurement aspects of logistics.
Here's good read on WWII logistics, Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil: The Story of Fleet Logistics Afloat in the Pacific During World War II by Rear Adm. Worrall Reed Carter

Also Ships, Salvage, and Sinews of War and Building the Navy's Bases in World War II: History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps 1940-1946

The key, however, is to remember that no fleet or force can sustain operations without a sound logistics plan and the assets to carry out that logistics plan.

When ships changed from coal to oil fuel, some far-sighted officers developed practical methods to refuel ships while underway. The following document is a joint U.S. Maritime Administration and Historic American Engineering Record effort to document that remarkable achievement - one that Admiral Nimitz called "The Navy's Secret Weapon."

Monday, November 21, 2016

U.S. Navy Office Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 18 October - 16 November 2016

U.S. Navy Office Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 18 October - 16 November 2016... by lawofsea on Scribd

Logistics Week at EagleSpeak Begins with a Plan

A hallmark of the U.S. Navy is its ability operate for long periods of time away from its own shores. The ability to sustain such operations involves logistics, which, as we all know, is what professionals talk about when amateurs are discussing other things.

How do we plan to sustain our forces? Is the current logistics force large enough to support a far-flung fleet?

Some say it is not - for example, Bryan McGrath in his "You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat": Principles for Getting the U.S Navy Right wrote:
Logistics, logistics, logistics. Because Navy leadership seems to agree that the Navy needs to grow and be more widely distributed geographically, it is rational to consider the logistics necessary to support such a fleet. Today’s logistics force is pitifully small to support even the peacetime operations of our too small Navy. Should that fleet be called into war, we would quickly realize that our reach exceeds our grasp and that the culprit is insufficient prepositioning, forward-based ship repair and re-arming capacity, and oilers and other logistics ships designed to supply the fleet. Navy leaders must account for both the actual requirement and combat attrition, the latter of which has been (in my experience) consistently hand-waved in previous force structure assessments.

Well, then, we'll spend a week looking at U.S. Navy logistics. A good place to start is with a plan:

Well, it's a start.

Other item of interest:
Naval Operations Concept 2010
A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Gettysburg Address and "Mr. President" (1950) Tells a Tale of a President Fighting Congress

President Lincoln gave his "Gettysburg Address" on 19 November 1863:

Here's one show from a old radio series dealing with "Mr. President" which presented history as a challenge to the listeners, this episode is "Advice and Consent" -

On Midrats 20 Nov 2016 - Episode 359: A Foreign Policy Short List for the New CINC, with Mackenzie Eaglen

Please join us at 5pm EST on 20 Nov 2016 for Midrats Episode 359: A Foreign Policy Short List for the New CINC, with Mackenzie Eaglen:
Old foreign and defense challenges return, new ones emerge, and existing ones morph in
to something slightly different. The only thing that is constant is that there is no opportunity for a learning curve for the Commander in Chief of the United States of America. From the first day in office to the last, a needy, grasping, and unstable world will look to or at our nation.

What are those challenges that will test President-Elect Trump in his first few years in office, and what in the background is waiting for the opportunity to spring to the front?

Our guest for the full hour will be Mackenzie Eaglen, Resident Fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute where she works on defense strategy, defense budgets, and military readiness.

Eaglen has worked on defense issues in the House of Representatives and Senate and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Staff. In 2014, Eaglen served as a staff member of the congressionally mandated National Defense Panel, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission established to assess US defense interests and strategic objectives. This followed Eaglen’s previous work as a staff member for the 2010 congressionally mandated bipartisan Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, also established to assess the Pentagon’s major defense strategy. Eaglen is included in Defense News “100 most influential people in US Defense” both years the publication compiled a list. A prolific writer on defense-related issues, she has also testified before Congress.

Eaglen has an M.A. from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a B.A. from Mercer University.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. You can also pick the show up later from our iTunes or from Stitcher pages.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Building a Temporary Larger Fleet While Waiting for New Construction Ships (A Reanimation of an Old Post)

There is a great deal of brilliant discussion of how to build the 350 ship Navy called for by President-elect Trump see Jerry Hendrix's 12 Carriers and 350 Ships: A Strategic Path Forward from President Elect Donald Trump and Bryan McGrath's Quick Hit: Small Surface Combatants and the 350-Ship Navy for what the smart kids in the room are saying.

And, if you need to ask why we need a Navy - well, I respectfully suggest you listen to the Midrats show with Bryan McGrath:

On the other hand, there is that part of me that keeps reverting to being smart in how we spend our money and still increase our striking power while waiting for a host of new construction ships to join the fleet.

Some of this lies in the world of "distributed lethality" in which we spread advanced weapons to platforms that have, historically, been under-armed for a world in which combat may come sooner and in places where it might be less expected. While "DL" is a good idea, it does not increase the number of ships in our fleets. As I have often said in these posts, even the most capable ship can only cover so much ocean.

Numbers matter.

So does assigning the right ship to the right mission - should a multi-billion dollar cruiser/destroyer be assigned to chase pirates in speed boats? Or to show the flag off some limited threat shore?

I have said "No" in the past - see Department of Cheaper Pirate Fighting and the links therein for earlier thoughts.

In keeping with this theme, I offer up a post from 2008, which, if not as smart as those of Hendrix and McGrath, may prompt some cost-effective short-term Navy expansion:

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.
  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. Experiment 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 MIUW 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.
But wait, there's more! For only "shipping and handling" you can call these cheap ships "corvettes" and go really additive - as I set out in Cheaper Corvettes: COOP and STUFT Like That:
Looks like sea-going trucks to me
If the answer to the Navy’s future is robotics, then Admiral Greenert’s July 2012 U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings piece, “Payloads Over Platforms, Charting a New Course” opens up a whole new world of possibilities for using existing small ship platforms as “trucks” to deliver large numbers of modern weapons platforms to areas of interest.

As former Under Secretary of the Navy Bob Work emphasized during his recent appearance on MIDRATS, the Littoral Combat Ship is such a truck–a vehicle for delivering unmanned weapons system.

This post is meant to take that concept and cheapen it.
Now, I know that "Big Navy" like large platforms, but I assert that large platforms are mostly big targets.

Conversely, a fleet of small, well-armed. fast, expendable - and cheap - "platforms" is a smart, asymmetric response to the threats that exist now.

After all, one of our jobs is to make a potential enemy's task harder - and more fighting hulls in the water sooner works to that end.

See also The Small Ship Navy: Numerous and Expendable? Why not?

Anti-Submarine Warfare in the 21st Century, Sea "Gliders" Division

Or, as the Sam LaGrone USNI News piece is titled, Navy Deploying Unmanned Gilders from Destroyers to Help ASW Mission, and, no, these are not sail plane air craft, but rather mini ships:
The Navy is set to deploy unmanned buoyancy gliders from its guided missile destroyers in an effort to expand its anti-submarine warfare edge.

The service has used the gliders – that use wave action to travel under the water to record information like water temperature and pressure – to build complex models of the ocean depths the service uses as part of its ASW and mine warfare efforts.

Read the USNI News article for more on this promising use of unmanned tech to help expand the Navy's awareness sphere.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Pair of Good Things to Read

Here's an excellent argument about the high :costs of using the wrong tool for the job at hand by Mike Pietrucha, Logistical Fratricide: The Cost of Fast Jet TACAIR Measured in Purple Hearts. If you understand Maslow's quote ""I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail," you will see how having a limited tool kit has far-reaching effects - especially, as argued in this piece on the support forces.
Combat operations drive high fuel consumption. In 2006, as Central Command argued for a surge in Iraq, the majority of the U.S. military’s fuel use (58 percent) was jet fuel, dwarfing the next largest category (marine diesel) at 13 percent. In 2008, total fuel deliveries to Iraq and Afghanistan exceeded 90 million gallons per month — 20 percent of the entire Defense Department consumption. Because of the poor in-ground petroleum transport infrastructure in Iraq and especially in Afghanistan, the heavy use of fuel in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom can be directly tied to casualties incurred by ground operations required to get the fuel to U.S. bases, particularly airbases. Overall, roughly half of the total tonnage hauled overland was fuel, with the Army bearing the lion’s share of the ground transportation burden for all of the services. Air Force airpower supported the Army’s wider campaign, but the Army itself moved and protected the fuel needed to make that happen.
You might also find an underlying argument in this piece for some light tactical Navy planes flying off smaller carriers that mitigate that vulnerable Army log chain.

The other piece for morning reading is B.A. Friedman's John Boyd’s Revenge: How ISIS got inside our OODA Loop - which covers a lot more than ISIS:
But the most reliable test for one’s strategic ideas is history. Or in this case, history in the
making. John Boyd’s ideas are evident in three modern day strategic actors and the success they’re currently enjoying is self-evident. Despite the loyalty of his acolytes, the best advocates for Boyd’s ideas are Russia, China, and the Islamic State. Each of these actors, probably without knowing it, are demonstrating Boydian strategic methods. Each of them is using an adroit mix of ambiguity, deception, distribution, and propaganda, all while demonstrating a keen awareness of the moral plane of war and warfare in a way that is serving their ends. To those of us aware of Boyd’s ideas, it comes as no surprise. Everyone else is trying to figure out if there is even a war.
Probably could have included Iran in that mix, too.

So. Happy Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Fun with Drones: Autonomous Undersea Vehicles Operating Cooperatively

The Ocean News headline understates the import of the exercise in Iver3-AUV Plays Active Role in Unmanned Warrior (UW) 2016
Multiple Iver AUVs were put in active roles by members of the Royal Navy, US Navy and the Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC). The Iver-3 systems were used in a segment of Unmanned Warrior known as Hell Bay, during which groups of underwater vehicles demonstrate how they collaborate to carry out autonomous tasks like target location and recognition.

Several of the Iver3 AUVs were equipped with SeeByte Neptune, an open architecture enabling autonomous multivehicle collaboration. Designed to enhance Mine Counter-Measure (MCM) missions, the system offers launch and recovery software management, water column flight management, static and dynamic exclusion zones, survey and re-acquire tasks, and real-time progress and status monitoring. The Iver3 MCM systems come equipped with high resolution side-scan sonar, RDI Explorer DVL w/ADCP, WHOI Micro modem, Iridium Communications and an operator console.
The ON report is based on a Iver3-AUV manufacturer, OceanServer press release.

This is very cool stuff. Autonomous cooperation and deconfliction of the water space are vital for future ops.

More, please.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fighting Pirates and Sea Kidnappers with a Private-Public Deal Off Nigeria

Maritime Executive reports on a Private Maritime Security with Active Duty Personnel off Nigeria:
. . .[T]he contractor may provide private patrol vessels, which are then "crewed, flagged and armed by the Nigerian Navy [who] use Nigerian national Rules of Engagement" on for-hire ship escort missions arranged by the PMSCs.
Damen FCS 3307

Diaplous Maritime Services Nigeria says that its security escort vessels have seven to 10 Nigerian Navy servicemembers on board and are armed and equipped to deter emerging threats. The firm uses Damen FCS 3307 patrol boats, the same model recently delivered to Nigeria's Homeland Integrated Offshore Services Limited (HIOSL).

In addition, in cooperation with the Nigerian Navy, Diaplous offers armed embarked maritime security teams of four to eight members. For unarmed options, it can provide security consultants – Hellenic nationals or former Nigerian Navy officers – who are experienced in operating in the Gulf of Guinea security environment. ***

However it happens, more forces on the water are a good idea to fight the bad guys in the Gulf of Guinea.

Hat tip to Claude Berube. , whose books you should buy.

Photo from Damen.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 11 October - 9 November 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

On Midrats 13 Nov 2016 - Episode 568: Seapower as a National Imperative, with Bryan McGrath

Please join us on at 5pm EST on 13 Nov 2016 for Midrats Episode 568: Seapower as a National Imperative, with Bryan McGrath

Why a Navy? Why a strong Navy? Why is a strong Navy an essential
requirement for the United States Navy?

From its ability to project national will, to it hidden hand in the economics of every citizen's life, why is it so critical that we have a Navy second to none.

To discuss this and more - especially in light of the election - will be returning guest, Bryan McGrath, Commander, US Navy (Retired).

Bryan McGrath grew up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1987. He was commissioned upon graduation in the United States Navy, and served as a Surface Warfare Officer until his retirement in 2008. At sea, he served primarily in cruisers and destroyers, rising to command of the Destroyer USS BULKELEY (DDG 84). During his command tour, he won the Surface Navy Association’s Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Award for Inspirational Leadership, and the BULKELEY was awarded the USS ARIZONA Memorial Trophy signifying the fleet’s most combat ready unit. Ashore, Bryan enjoyed four tours in Washington DC, including his final tour in which he acted as Team Leader and primary author of our nation’s 2007 maritime strategy entitled “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.”

Since retirement, Bryan has become active in presidential politics, serving first as the Navy Policy Team lead for the Romney Campaign in 2012, and then as the Navy and Marine Corps Policy lead for the Rubio Campaign in 2016.

He is the Assistant Director of Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, and he is the Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group LLC, a small defense consulting firm.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here or pick the show up later from our iTunes or Stitcher pages.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: The Lone Ranger "One Nation Indivisible" (1941)

With the stirring sound of the William Tell Overture - from the classic opera of the little guy standing against a tyrant- setting the scene, truth and justice rode through the Old West - in the form of a "masked man" - the Lone Ranger and his trusty sidekick and the best horse ever -

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election Day Special: "Seasonal Changes in Trees"

I'm sure there is some underlying message I'm trying to convey by posting this:

Perhaps it's the comfort of knowing that like the changes in trees, this election, too, shall pass.Or something.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: "The Black Museum" with Orson Welles and a "Can of Weed Killer"

About The Black Museum shows
Opening in 1875, the Crime Museum at Scotland Yard is the oldest museum in the world purely for recording crime. The name "Black Museum" was coined in 1877 by a reporter from "The Observer", a London newspaper, although the museum is still referred to as the Crime Museum. It is this museum that inspired The Black Museum radio series, produced in London by Harry Alan Towers.
This murder mystery series was based on true life cases from Scotland Yard's files. Each episode was based on an item or items of evidence in the museum.

Orson Welles hosted and narrated the shows. . .

On Midrats 6 Nov 2016, Episode 567: Goldwater–Nichols; Problems and Solutions with Justin T. Johnson

Please join us at 5pm EST on 6 November 2016 for Midrats Episode 567: Goldwater–Nichols; Problems and Solutions
The systems that trains, mans, and equips our military - and provides guidance and support to their civilian masters is broadly shaped by Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. There is much discussion that in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, is there a better system to serve our national security requirements than one designed at the height of the 20th Century's Cold War?

Using his article in War on the Rocks, Don't Rush to "Fix" Goldwater-Nichols as a starting point, our guest for the full hour to discuss this and other related issues will be Justin Johnson of The Heritage Foundation.

Johnson spent over a decade working on defense and foreign policy issues on Capitol Hill before coming to the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense were I am now a defense and foreign policy analyst at Allison Center for National Security and Foreign Policy.

Johnson received a master’s degree from the Naval War College with a particular focus on terrorism and the maritime domain. He is also a member of the 2013-2014 Future Leaders Program at the Foreign Policy Initiative, the 2011-12 class of Next Generation National Security Leaders at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and the 2012 class of the Heritage Foundation’s Marshall Fellows.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Johnson grew up in Iowa before moving to Eastern Europe. After living in Germany, Belarus and the Czech Republic, Johnson attended Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia where he studied philosophy and art.
Join us live if you can, or if you forgot the time change, you can pick the show up later by clicking here or from our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Piracy Down, Crimes Against Merchant Sailors Still Present

As the ICC's International Maritime Bureau puts it "Threat to seafarers remains despite piracy clampdown" and support their statement with numbers:
IMB's latest global piracy report shows that pirates armed with guns or knives took 110 seafarers hostage in the first nine months of 2016, and kidnapped 49 crew for ransom. Nigeria, a growing hotspot for violent piracy and armed robbery, accounts for 26% of all captures, followed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Guinea and Ivory Coast.
But with just 42 attacks worldwide this quarter, maritime piracy is at its lowest since 1996. IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) has recorded 141 incidents so far this year, a 25% drop from the same period in 2015. A total of 111 vessels were boarded, five were hijacked, 10 were fired at, and a further 15 attacks were thwarted.
"We are encouraged by the efforts of national and international authorities - and the shipping industry - to keep piracy down. But clearly the threat to crew being taken hostage remains, and it is therefore necessary for shipmasters and response agencies to remain vigilant," said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, which has monitored world piracy since 1991.

It's a dangerous world and some places and jobs are more dangerous than others.