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Lindsey Graham on Stiletto

February 16, 2010

Recently I contacted the US Senator from SC Lindsey Graham concerning the M80 Stiletto stealth boat. The following is most of the reply:

As you may know, the M80 Stiletto is a shallow draft craft that can go fast and can carry necessary military equipment needed to police the waters off the coast of Somalia. The M Ship Company, like you, believes this marine vessel would have been perfect for rescuing the kidnapped American freighter captain from Somali pirates (meaning Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama), chasing down deep-water drug smugglers, or for terrorism surveillance in seaports laden with gigantic freighters. The company is trying to fast track some of these boats into production so they can be demonstrated to the Navy and possibly used in future pirate encounters.

As you know, the situation in Somalia is of grave concern. The United Nation Security Council recently granted authority for United States military operations on Somali territory and in its airspace to curb pirates off the coast of Somalia. United Nations Resolution 1851 authorizes several nations already patrolling the waters around the Horn of Africa to take all necessary and appropriate measures in Somalia to suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea. Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are now on the docking ship San Antonio, the flagship of Task Force 151, a multi-national force assigned to patrol the Gulf of Aden to discourage and if necessary confront the pirates.

I am thankful for the heroic efforts of the Navy Seals crew who successfully rescued Captain Richard Phillips. The men and women serving our nation around the world perform heroic efforts everyday. I will keep your thoughts in mind regarding use of M80 Stiletto ships as I work with colleagues in the Senate Armed Services Committee and as I meet with senior leaders, like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, to monitor pirate actions.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. leesea permalink
    February 17, 2010 8:07 pm

    And a picket op like Market Time stops traffic both ways so the foreign fishing boats in Somali waters problem is solved also. Any the pickets could train up a new Somali CG. And one does not need a whole lot of PIRAZ DDGs either. And the EU navies are a)equipped to provide ships and b) willing to help on that scale of op.

  2. Chuck Hill permalink
    February 17, 2010 3:52 pm

    leesea said, “The problem in the Indian Ocean can not be solved by zipping around hunting small boats at sea, it can be solved by a major picket operation off Somalia’s coastline similar to Operation Market Time of Vietnam era.”

    Absolutely, and while we might not have the stomach for sinking what ever tried to make it through the blockade, disarming everything should not be a problem. Once disarmed, the skinny kids who are Somali pirates are no longer a problem.

    It actually looks like we have enough vessels on scene to do the job if they acted in a coordinated fashion.

  3. February 17, 2010 2:26 pm

    Hello,

    that was meant to be thirty,not fifty!

    tangosix.

  4. February 17, 2010 2:08 pm

    Hello,

    for the price of one Littoral Combat Ship with modules,you could buy fifty of these:

    tangosix.

  5. leesea permalink
    February 17, 2010 1:41 pm

    I say again there already exists any number of fine OPV and FAC designs already in production in US shipyards (rather than buying a technology demostrator which has to have a mothership).
    LCS are not designed to be motheships for small boats other then those carried internally.
    The Navy is being myopic when it says it does not need a small combatant nor is the Navy buying enough warboats for the NECC units (none of which need a Stiletto). Again there are US boatbuilders which have boats in production for NECC missions, but lack of funding maybe because the Navy is focused on exquisite ships?

  6. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 17, 2010 6:29 am

    Price for Stiletto catching smugglers is 10% of the LCS. Yeah, thats good enough. And with Stiletto you are also going to need motherships, and Blue Water escorts. There is still room for JHSVs, CB 90s, Sea Fighter, corvettes, and so on. So you can build a fleet with this mindset, from the bottom up instead of top down. The Freedom might make a good mothership for the M80 but thats about it, and too expensive really for that.

    It’s all about building ship numbers, not just capability which we have tons of in the fleet. The navy says all its needs is LCS, which contributes to the decline, not reverses it.

  7. leesea permalink
    February 17, 2010 1:31 am

    Mike first off you are giving the pirate far too much credit for seamanship than they deserve. The Stiletto is nothing more than a technology demostrator which is where many congressional types like to put their earmarks. Not as much scrutiny over those little projects you know, and the ONR R&D crowd are more than happy spending little chunks of money.

    We should NOT ignore that the Stiletto was concieved as a NSW transport and was rejected by NSW. Ever since them the M-ship company has been shopping their boat around trying to find another sucker! Which is why there is only ONE.

    IF one wants to look at good and real small fast boats, might I suggest Swiftships, USMI, Trinity Marine, or about two dozen other Gulf Coast boat builders.

    IMHO The problem in the Indian Ocean can not be solved by zipping around hunting small boats at sea, it can be solved by a major picket operation off Somalia’s coatline similar to Operation Market Time of Vietnam era.

  8. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 16, 2010 9:56 pm

    Bill, the pirates do it in vessels FAR less capable. Their tiny fishing boats use motherships to back them up and they’ve been launching outwards to 1000 miles or more from land. Surely, with all our high tech and fancy gadgets we should be able to duplicate the same performance closer to shore?

  9. Bill permalink
    February 16, 2010 6:34 pm

    Sure Mike. Let me know when the lift to carry and continuously support 40 Stilletos ..and the Stilletos themselves..are constituted as a coherent fighting unit. And then explain to me why we want a swarm of small rough-riding boats delivered and supported like that in an open sea area that extends over 1000 miles offshore…

    I’m puzzled..I admit.

  10. Scott B. permalink
    February 16, 2010 5:57 pm

    Bill said : “That was an honest statement, I’m sure, Scott. Want to borrow my special translator?”

    My translator said something similar to yours, i.e. :

    “Need help to cram more of that useless thingies down the taxpayer’s throat. Will share some of the pork in return.”

  11. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 16, 2010 5:39 pm

    Robert-I meant that, just didn’t come out right! Thanks.

    Solomon said “That has got to be the longest response with no answer to anything that I’ve ever read”

    Weclome to politics! Doesn’t hurt to plant a seed in one of the most powerful Senators in Congress.

    Bill-Like this?

  12. Bill permalink
    February 16, 2010 5:38 pm

    That was an honest statement, I’m sure, Scott. Want to borrow my special translator?

    This statement: “The company is trying to fast track some of these boats…”

    enter phrase in to translator…brrrzzzz pingity ping..and out the other end pops:

    “The earmarks I supported got the first one built that nobody ever asked for but going beyond that level of pork is too much for me alone to pull off”

  13. Scott B. permalink
    February 16, 2010 5:32 pm

    Lindsey Graham : “The company is trying to fast track some of these boats into production so they can be demonstrated to the Navy and possibly used in future pirate encounters.”

    I was under the vague impression that one of these boats had already been produced, delivered and OPEVAL’d.

    But perhaps it is just me and the good senator knows better… ;-)

  14. Bill permalink
    February 16, 2010 5:13 pm

    How on earth is a small craft like Stilletto going to be deployed, maintained in theatre and effectively covering/patroling an area like the Gulf of Aden?

  15. February 16, 2010 4:49 pm

    That has got to be the longest response with no answer to anything that I’ve ever read. Of course I’m not a fan of the good Senator so maybe my reaction to what he wrote is clouded by my dislike of the guy.

  16. Robert Perry permalink
    February 16, 2010 4:05 pm

    Senator Graham is a United States Senator not a State one.

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