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Top Navy Stories from 2009

January 1, 2010

Sea Fighter gets a makeover! New Wars choice for Naval Photo of the Year.

Happy New Year! Compiled from our weekly Sea Links posts, here are some top Navy related stories from the past year. Feel free to add your favorites I missed within the Comments.


US Navy


Warships of the World


War on Piracy


The most important story of the year, In my own opinion, was the Chinese anti-ballistic missile plans, which rationally should cause Western navies to rethink how they project power ashore. The next was the slow but certain demise of the DDG-1000 destroyer. The least important story that got all the press was the rumors of impending Chinese aircraft carriers. The most underreported story was Spanish incursions into Gibraltar, which possesses all the signs of a future conflict. The Maersk Alabama story plus the MV Arctic Sea Mystery was very interesting and garnered much discussion here at New Wars. The most frustrating story is the plan to make further cuts on the Royal Navy surface fleet in order to sustain two 65,000 ton aircraft carriers which they in no way can afford. The rise in Piracy and the West’s continued apathy, even as the range of attacks increased out on the open ocean, was also frustrating. Sea Fighter FSF-1 returned to the headlines, at least within the naval blogosphere, with an intriguing makeover, raising speculations of “where is she headed?”

12 Comments leave one →
  1. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 5, 2010 5:32 pm


    Apparently, this Maersk renting of a Tanzanian warship actually occurred following an attack on a Maersk tanker in late 2008 (i.e., it is not a current deployment). Galrahn has decided to cover it at ID and the topic has even appeared at Aviation Week’s Ares webpage (referring to ID).

    A different take on this venture is offered by this Reuters report. In this report it was a one-off instance of improvisation in the face of the threat posed by the Somali pirates.

    Maersk says hired Tanzanian warship against pirates

    Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipper and a large tanker operator, said it hired the Tanzanian vessel to escort its tanker to an East African port after an attack on another Maersk vessel in the Gulf of Aden in December 2008.

    “We only paid salaries and bunker (fuel) for the Tanzanians. It was a one-off,” Maersk spokesman Michael Storgaard said.

    Maersk Tankers have not called in ports in East Africa in the past 13 months, and the company has no plans to resume tanker service to the area, he said.

    I still wonder about that UN backed (funding backing) plan by the Danish Shipowner’s Association to build OPVs and/or PCs for East African navies & coast guards and whether there’s a connection between it and this ‘experiment’ of hiring another navy’s armed warships by the Danish Maersk shipping line.

  2. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 5, 2010 4:30 pm

    D.E. Recall these two posts I wrote on the same subject? the establshed navies won’t bend so the merchants are taking things in their own hands. Let the budget cuts begin!

  3. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 5, 2010 11:02 am

    David Axe at War Is Boring and Eagle1 at EagleSpeak are both reporting the same item today. The Danish Maersk shipping line has hired a Tanzanian Navy patrol boat as a convoy escort for transits through East African waters. That’s right, a shipping corporation has hired a warship from a sovereign nation’s navy to act as anti-piracy naval escort. Here’s the story at The Copenhagen Post:

    Now recall that the Danish Shipowner’s Association has a plan build patrol craft or OPVs for East African navies and coast guards. Do you suppose someone has a big plan underway? Are the Danes going to experiment with how to do this and then deliver new-build naval escort vessels to those they find can do the job of anti-piracy convoy escorting?

  4. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 5, 2010 5:50 am

    Lee, thats right! A mothership that has to be mothered.

  5. leesea permalink
    January 5, 2010 3:25 am

    I really must get the US Navy’s goat that smaller navies like France and Sweden and Denmark get more done with smaller warships in the IO?!

    Wait (some more) until the LCS-1 gets out there and can’t find more pirates because there is only one HSV looking in that oh so big ocean- dahh? Is the Visby going to be in IO at same time?

    And of course the LCS-1 will have to go into port or find an hand NFAF ship on a real regular basis. Will/can the Absalon gas her up?

  6. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 4, 2010 4:17 pm

    Given the near primacy of the Somali piracy problem as it has appeared on this and many other military blogs, then I find this NATO webpage (link below) quite interesting. Lots an’ lots of photos and two short videos depict international, world-wide, coalition anti-piracy efforts. It’s just too bad that all of the international naval cooperation hasn’t proved capable of more effectively suppressing the problem of Somali piracy.

    Still, the Danish command & support ship HDMS Absalon is headed back to the Horn of Africa. Absalon caught 88 Somali pirates in her last tour with CTF-151 during 2008-2009. She’s the champion pirate catcher of any naval ship that’s been deployed to the waters adjoining Somalia. May she enjoy much success in catching more pirates when she assumes flagship duties for NATO’s SNMG 1 task group on January 25, 2010.

    Here’s that NATO webpage featuring those anti-piracty pictures and videos.

    SNMG1 2009

  7. leesea permalink
    January 3, 2010 12:58 am

    oh great the landlubber likes what the strategist thinks! Who thinks there will really be a swarm of HSVs in the US Navy – even counting the LCS? They can’t even decide when to replace the Cyclones and are still begging USCG assets and now the Marines are going to be used for VBSS. You see the drift away for a naval solution?

    P.S. the HSV-2 is crewed by civilians

  8. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 2, 2010 12:22 pm

    David Axe of War Is Boring has picked up on Galrahn’s criticism of the USN’s joint efforts and a general mission failure in achieving certain strategic results in 2009. His short expansion on Galrahn’s ID blog entry is entitled:

    U.S. Navy: Big Fat Failure?

    “The Navy continues to invest its money in a relatively small number of multi-billion-dollar warships tailored for high-end warfare, rather than a larger number of cheaper vessels (such as Swift, pictured) that might allow round-the-clock coverage of vast swaths of ocean. Numbers matter.”

    Thus, Mike’s basic message is being delivered via yet another venue. And yes, the above-mentioned HSV-2 Swift is used to portray the direction in which the USN should be headed (at least partially).

  9. leesea permalink
    January 1, 2010 3:57 pm

    Solomon, of course the SeaFighter can be weaponized and should be sent to the IO. But that would then compete for attention with glorious leaders LCS-1 deployment. And like he sadi no one in naval uniform shall disparge the LCS.

    I would suspect that the Swift’s original armament was downsized when the ship was time-chartered with a civilian crew (and some lawyer got in the middle!) MSC time charters have weapons mounts and a lesser AT/FP set of rqtms.

    You watch how fast the chartered HSVs go away once the Navy starts putting its $700 mil wonder ships into operation. Only the JHSV will continue.

    Further, I bet the Marines won’t get the HI SuperFerrys out in WestPac like we all know they should to help out the Okinawa to Guam stratgic shift.

    Give any naval officer a choice between an expensive Govt owned ship and a cheaper charter and he will go for the former IMHO.

  10. D. E. Reddick permalink
    January 1, 2010 3:24 pm

    Have a look at this new photo of HSV-2 Swift. It would appear that at least part of her original armament of “MK 96 w 25mm/40mm Stabilized Gun and MK 45 Snake Eyes with MK 19 Grenade Launcher” has been replaced with a M2HB .50 cal. machine gun (the M2HB is replacing the 25 mm cannon in the forecastle).

    “High Speed Vessel Swift arrives in Naples, Italy for a brief port visit. Swift will depart Naples for its mission with the guided-missile frigate USS Nicholas to Africa Partnership Station-East. Africa Partnership Station is an international initiative developed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa to work with U.S. and international partners to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.”

    Scroll down to posting # 9 of this thread:

  11. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 1, 2010 9:45 am

    I agree! It would need a combat crew and Captain though, not what it has now.

  12. January 1, 2010 9:26 am

    Now the SeaFighter is the ship that should be sent to the horn of Africa…not the LCS-1

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