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Send the Swift to Somalia

April 27, 2009

090218-N-5549O-243If any warship in the US fleet is needed on the frontlines contending with the scourge of piracy, instead of our Blue Water battleships, it should be this shallow water High Speed Vessel Swift. The versatile littoral ship based on an Australian high speed ferry design, just returned from a Caribbean cruise where it taught lessons to our Latin friends which we should be trying out ourselves off the coast of Somalia. From Navy.mil:

High speed vessel Swift (HSV 2) arrived to Mayport, Fla., April 26 to officially mark the completion of the Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2008-2009 mission.

Training teams from Navy Expeditionary Training Command, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Marine Corps Training and Advisory Group trained over 1,400 students from 13 countries during 12 port visits over five months. The courses provided instruction in a variety of fields such as port security, physical security, boarding officer, small boat operations, small boat repair, urban raid tactics, armed sentry, search and rescue planning, leadership, martial arts, and combat lifesaver.

Officers from El Salvador, Jamaica, Barbados, Nicaragua, Colombia and the Dominican Republic embarked Swift and participated in extra training during port visits to other countries, effectively becoming part of the crew.
 “As the mission continued, I formed good friendships throughout the ship,” said Jamaica Defense Force Coast Guard Sublieutenant Anneka Thompson. “Now it’s like a family.”

While I do support ongoing efforts to shore up good will in the South, I’d prefer we would use this valuable and unique asset to make news friends among the Somalis, even if that means through military action. The Swift’s ability to launch small boats and experience in boarding operations would be perfect if the West and her allies finally decided to take action against the pirates, which many in the world say is the only way to end the menace once and for all.

The Navy’s second choice might be to rush the new littoral combat ship USS Freedom into full service, to do the mission it was created for, combat threats in coastal waters. But with the Swift you have a proven crew use to such operations, having trained with dozens of navies in small boat operations. It is a valuable asset which we so far have not taken advantage of in any significant way.

Here’s is more on the High Speed Vessels we wrote earlier:

I have always felt that the Incat and Austal built catamaran ferries, leased by the US Army and Navy early this decade as testbeds for the littoral combat ship concept, should have been purchased outright and placed to work in this role. No need for going to the ship designers and creating a brand new costly and complicated warship program, which is what the $500 million USS Freedom has become. The HSV Swift and her kin have continued with the LCS role already without bells or whistles, proving the concept of warfare off the shelf works.

The Swift is performing missions which the Big Ship Navy can’t do, and is likely equally effective. She isn’t scaring anyone with her “presence” as say, a giant Aegis battleship or supercarrier might, but she still is a symbol of the awesome firepower the US Navy is able to bear upon any potential foe if needed.

One Comment leave one →
  1. leesea permalink
    April 27, 2009 1:33 pm

    The HSV-2 Swift is now operated by Sealift, Inc with a crew of civilian mariners under a time charter with Military Sealift Command. But that should not detract from its usefullness as MSC ships like USNS Catawba and Lewis & Clark have been serving in that theater for some time now!

    The USN might want to add some more weapons and sensors? They definitely should embark more boats and even add a UAV det? How about using its as testbed for ScanEagle too?

    goto: http://www.sealiftinc.com/vessels.htm

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