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Israeli Navy Conducts Commando Raid

November 4, 2009

A Israeli Sa'ar 4.5 corvette, INS Hetz.

Since today is a day we set aside discussing modern cruiser warfare, I thought the following story from the Washington Post was a perfect example of the current practice in seapower, and where the USN needs to be more focused:

Israel’s navy intercepted a cargo ship loaded with smuggled arms late Tuesday night, the latest development in the country’s effort to curb the flow of weapons to militant groups in the area, defense officials said.

The vessel was operating under the flag of Antigua and was rigged to appear as if it was carrying civilian goods, said Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitch, a spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces.

A navy special forces unit boarded the ship about 100 miles off the Israeli coast and found “dozens of containers” of arms, she said.

“We had a suspicion” about the ship, which had passed through the Suez Canal and was heading north, Leibovitch said.

The ship was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod for further investigation. Leibovitch said the IDF expected to release more details on the ship, the cargo and the crew later on Wednesday.

She did not provide details on the type of weapons the ship was carrying or the suspected destination.

For the record, the US Navy, like the Israelis, are pretty good at this type of warfare, which is what we insist is a return to traditional surface cruiser combat. Mostly dealing with commerce, it also involves tackling piracy and smuggling, especially arms smuggling, but also narcotics.

That said, current building programs are nowhere near where they need to be to conduct this type of conflict on a global scale. Today we use our most expensive and powerful Aegis battleships for this work, which is a terrible waste of resources, especially when such expensive vessels should be elsewhere guarding against more sophisticated threats. We discussed the problem a while back with Seeking the New Cruisers:

Today’s modern naval combatants which were adequate dealing with their Soviet counterparts of 20 years hence, the deep diving nuclear boats, have been hard pressed to contain those most minor of nautical threats, the pirates and smugglers. Now they are faced with suicide boats foreshadowing the spread of radical jihad at sea. Though there have been some successes, such as the USS Bainbridge’s take-down of pirate kidnappers off Somalia, or HMS Iron Duke’s headline-making anti-drug patrols in the Caribbean, such vessels are too large, too costly, and too few to manage these missions and still contend with traditional roles should they arise. As we see with the growing ballistic missile threat, plus rising China and historically belligerent Russia, such vessels and their heightened abilities are of better use elsewhere than in the backwaters of the Third World.

The new cruisers should be more like the littoral combat ship, only cheaper, easier to build, and deployed in large numbers. In no way can we ensure the safety of the sealanes building only $1 billion dollar battleships or even half billion dollar ones like the LCS. We can and must do better or they win.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2014 9:07 pm

    Esa es una muy buena gran punta especial a las nuevo a la blogosfera .
    Sencillo pero muy precisa información … Gracias por compartir éste.
    Una lectura obligatoria artículo !

  2. January 21, 2010 6:44 am

    “The main problem with the pirates is willpower, not technology. The Royal Navy eliminated the pirate threat using wooden sailing ships. How? They burned their lairs and hanged pirates wherever they found them. Building a special new kind of ship to fight pirates is nuts. We can get rid of them easily with existing technology if we just grow some balls.”

    Exactly!! Robust ROE. Humans live on the land not the sea. Containing the problem isn’t solving the problem. To solve this problem means going ashore. Not to occupy or rebuild Somalia just to deal with pirates. Weapons searches. Removing extra outboards from boats to the reduce their range and speed. Somalia can’t police hereself so we’ve got to do it for her.

  3. Tarl permalink
    November 4, 2009 11:45 pm

    The main problem with the pirates is willpower, not technology. The Royal Navy eliminated the pirate threat using wooden sailing ships. How? They burned their lairs and hanged pirates wherever they found them. Building a special new kind of ship to fight pirates is nuts. We can get rid of them easily with existing technology if we just grow some balls.

  4. Scott B. permalink
    November 4, 2009 4:22 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “The new cruisers should be more like the littoral combat ship”

    Considering that :

    1) The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency defines the littoral zone as :

    “the Coastal sea areas and that portion of the land which is susceptible to influence or support from the sea. The extent of littoral zone can vary widely depending on the customer, but generally it extends from the shoreline to the 200 meter depth contour out into the water and from the shoreline inland to the first major line of communication. Other, broader definitions of the littoral zone would have the zone extend from 25 nautical miles seaward to 25 nautical miles inland.

    2) Off Somalia, commercial vessels gets hijacked several hundreds of nautical miles off the coastline.

    At the risk of repeating myself again, why is it that the *new cruiser* needed to *ensure the safety of the sealanes* has to be *like the littoral combat ship* ?

    In other words, at the risk of asking a *platform-centric* question, is the mythical 1,000-ton corvette, with its lousy seakeeping qualities, lack of endurance, austere crew comfort and insufficient aviation facilities, really such a good platform to perform patrol duties ?

  5. November 4, 2009 3:46 pm

    Mike,

    Multiple news reports out of Israel, with photos of the weapons found, and even a video of the Israeli ‘SEALs’ discovering the first of the armaments found aboard the 140-meter long MV Francop are appearing over at Militaryphotos.net. Hundreds of tons of weaponry have been unloaded at the Israeli port of Ashdod, so far. Interestingly, both the Foreign Ministers of Iran and of Syria were already meeting (gotta wonder why…). The Syrian FM called the forces whose seized the MV Francop ‘pirates.’

    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=168209

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