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Sea Links

April 9, 2010

Members of Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 1 practice boat battle drills at Fort Knox, Ky.

Special-Iran’s Speedboat Threat

Iran’s speedboat of doom.

Iran speedboat threatens U.S. carrier?

U.S. fears Iran could use powerboat as a weapon.

Brit ‘super boat’ bought by Iran.

Speedboat Diplomacy. (Excellent analysis!)

Iran’s New Speedboat: A Threat? Or Not?

Bradstone Challenger-Bladerunner 51 at Ice Marine.


US Navy

Gerald R. Ford-class carrier costs jump by $5.4 billion.

USS Freedom to Enter 3rd Fleet.

New ships wage battle to be Navy’s new breed, Mayport-bound.

LCS seaframes not yet proven to work with mission watercraft.

Is ‘Big E’ work breaking the bank?

US to Assist S. Korea in Probe of Sunken Warship.

Ghost Fleet Source of History and Harm.


Warships of the World

Mysteries revolve around Cheonan sinking.

Korean Shipwreck Survivors Tell Their Stories.

Cheonan families tell military to give up the search.

Pascagoula shipyard builds first Egyptian defense ship.

Sneak Preview of the RN’s New Carrier. (Video)

British nuclear submarines allowed to berth in South Africa.

Royal Navy’s HMS Ark Royal to lead global exercises.

RN solves destroyer missile problems.

Mistral Sale Threatens More Than Georgia.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet may be moribund.

India’s Project 15A destroyer– INS Chennai.


New Wars at Sea

Dutch sidestep EU red tape to rescue German ship.

Somali pirates warn SKorean destroyer to stay away.

Fire Scout Scores First-Ever Drug Bust with McInerney.

Somali pirates hijack Turkish ship with 25 crew.

Destroyer McFaul captures suspected pirates.

Maritime Unions Urge Government to Remain Engaged in Fight Against Pirates.


From the Navy Vaults

The soul of a ship – USS JASON DUNHAM. (Broadside Blog)

John Barry: True Father of the American Navy. (The New American)

Navy Poster Art. (Naval History Blog)

The First Truly Amphibious Assault in History. (Naval History Blog)

Remembering the Navy at Shiloh. (Naval History Blog)

World War I and Early Unmanned Aviation Vehicles. (Naval History Blog)

The Advent of True Submarines –UK. (Mitch Williamson)

The Advent of True Submarines –Other Nations. (Mitch Williamson)


20 Comments leave one →
  1. CBD permalink
    April 12, 2010 10:59 am

    Nice find, Scott. Not just a weapons effects or SinkEx but shock trials, performance, reliability, wear, etc.

  2. Scott B. permalink
    April 11, 2010 5:33 pm

    More on the Navy trying to figure out what’s life with aluminium is gonna look like :

    FY2011 Navy Budget, pages 12-13

    High Speed Ships and Craft Engineering

    FY 2010 Plans:
    Weapon Effects Testing of Aluminum Structures (MOA – FIN-GER USA) tri lateral testing of Ship 2 of Helsinki Class Fast Missile Craft; High Speed Ships tools, guidelines, validation data sets and training: High speed human systems (trials, testing, numeric modeling, guidelines for early stage design); Light Weight Structures cooperative research with NATO partners; Light Weight Structures Shock (Helsinki Class) Shock Trial.

    FY 2011 Base Plans:
    Reliability Based Structural Design of Aluminum Ships – Helsinki Class Life Time Loads and Fatigue analyses; Composite propulsor construction and testing; Trials, testing, numeric modeling, guidelines supporting for early stage design of High Speed Ships and Craft.

  3. Guess who? permalink
    April 11, 2010 3:27 pm

    That would be Sea Dart from HMS Gloucester.

  4. Hudson permalink
    April 11, 2010 1:18 am

    Given that there are only two known instances of sea skimmers being shot down in flight, I would have to opine that offense is way ahead of defense at this point.

    One Silkworm missile fired at the USS Missouri in the First Gulf War was downed by a British ship launching a Brit missile (Sea Wolf?). A Phalanx went off from a US vessel in the same engagement, missing the missile and bouncing 20mm off the battleship, according to my reading.

    The other known instance, I have encountered, was an Israeli cook/gunner aboard a patrol boat downing a bulky Styx missile coming straight at him with a 20mm deck gun, in the ’48 or ’67 war.

    This against a record of dozens of hits by air, land and sea launched anti-ship missiles.

    Today’s newest missiles are designed to fly in salvos and individually attack their targets according to their artificial intelligence. It could be, as you suggest, Gw?, That decoys and countermeasures will be more effective than active CIWS in saving the attacked vessel. Even then, I think the best defense will be offense: the side that gets off the first salvo or broadside, as in sea battles of old, will more likely survive.

  5. Guess who? permalink
    April 10, 2010 6:26 pm

    These fears appear to be based on the assumption that the USN or a US led task force is attacked before it has launched it’s own strike, which I find hard to take seriously (although if that was the case then I agree severe losses are inevitable).

    Iranian weapons developments and capabilities are to be taken with a pinch of salt, Supercavitation torpedoes such as Hoot are an incredible threat providing a launch platform can get within just a few of miles from a perceived target… whilst they’re 3 times the speed of most 533mm torpedoes they have an engagement range smaller than their slower counterparts (consider the range of weapons such as Spearfish [estimated to just shy of 25km at 80kts] and Mk.48 [around 40km at 55kts] and the new German DM2A4 [officially specified at 50km+ at 50 kts+])

    should the Iranians (or any other perceived enemy) ever look to 650mm supercavitation torpedoes it becomes a far more potent threat, assuming a 650mm supercavitating torpedo is produced it could have a range of upto 25-30km with speeds of 200kts (allowing it to reach a target at maximum range in not much over 4 minutes when it would take spearfish over 10 minutes to clear this distance)

    As for supersonic sea skimming AShM when fired to reach the same target simultaneously from different vectors it creates absolute hell for the “target” (you can’t accelerate at full speed towards 2 missiles in different directions) it becomes a question of what is required to overwhelm defences and that’s a matter far beyond the knowledge of most experts let alone us amateurs although we can and WILL speculate all day long. We often complain about the lack of CIWS it’s within reason although soft-kill measures have come a long way in the past 20 years and for all intent and purpose it may well be the case that soft-kill is more effective (and against supersonic targets that’s highly likely).

    PS: this exchange further underlines the problem with naval forces today under the influence that Littoral waters are moderately safe when in fact most everyone else is well aware that it’s the most dangerous theatre in the spectrum of naval combat

    As to Nimrod not being a fine aircraft, Ignoring Mk.3 AEW which really was a thoroughly crap platform she’s a great aircraft, recent issues stem from lack of funds to keep the kit in good condition and BAEs incompetence RE: NIMROD MRA.4. Had the decision been taken years ago to have new-build aircraft for the Mk.4 programme costs would have been kept alot closer to budget (let’s consider that they are excessively altered aircraft and the vast majority is actually rebuilt anyway!) as opposed to the cost of altering several non-standard aircraft… for the cost of the 12 aircraft rebuilt (3 of which wont enter service) the RAF could have purchased perhaps as many as 40 P-8 Poseidon MPA

  6. Anonymous permalink
    April 10, 2010 3:31 pm

    Guess Who? said “RAF Nimrod fleet… such fine aircraft, such a vital mission.”

    I agree with the latter, but the former? Really? Um. Sorry. No.

  7. Hudson permalink
    April 10, 2010 12:24 pm


    Whatever one means by a “modern western navy,” ships built in recent times are not invulnerable to older weapons. A WWII aerial torpedo carried a 500lb warhead, the sea version twice that. Today’s hulls are not armor-plated quite the way they were in the 1940s, so a “modern” frigate or destroyer could easily take a mortal hit from these older weapons.

    Humiliated in the past, i.e., the Tanker Wars, Iran has been developing the kind of weapons and vessels that rightly keep Western commanders and strategists awake at night. They manufacture copies of recent Chinese missile designs and supercavitating torpedoes based on Russian models. Iran is also believed to have missiles that can reach into the Indian Ocean.

    The question facing Western fleets is: how well would they fare against an all-weapons attack: boat and land launched missiles coming at them in large numbers from different directions all at once? Assuming Iran got off the first salvo. Plus the hazard of mines. Would the fog of war favor us or them?

    Nobody knows for sure. The Millennium 2000 simulation strongly suggested that the Navy would take serious losses. Of course, as I have pointed out in previous posts, the Iranians would face devastating consequences in the counter-strikes even if they managed to win a local victory.

  8. CBD permalink
    April 10, 2010 12:03 pm

    It’s also laughable to believe that a guided missile ship could mistake a civilian passenger airliner for a hostile aircraft, that another fairly modern ship could miss an incoming enemy aircraft and not have CIWS ready to engage the two incoming Exocet missiles, that a navy ship would be operating nearly within visual range of a hostile shore and have its defensive suite entirely shut down…or that a major warship in a friendly foreign port could have a small boat filled with explosives get within a few feet of the ship without anyone noticing…most recently, the Iranian’s friends in North Korea may have or may have not sunk the Cheonan with a mine or torpedo…these friends are in contact with the Iranians and have given them minisub technology.

    But we’ve had the incident with the Vincennes and the strikes against the Stark, the Eilat and the Cole. Defenses work wonderfully when you’re expecting an attack and at the ready…but if you’re distracted or simply inattentive for a few moments it can mean that approaching threats are misidentified or ignored and the memory of the Vincennes will make any CO think twice before authorizing fire.

    Helicopters can do a great deal against known hostile small craft…but only if they have the warning to dispatch from friendly bases, and fly out to intercept the hostile craft before they even know that their prey is in the region.

    The question isn’t whether the US could sink all of Iran’s navy, it’s whether Iran could sink a CVBG passing through the Straits of Hormuz or the Gulf of Aden by dispatching dozens of dhows, small fast boats, ASCMs and explosives-laden UAVs for a simultaneous attack…the perpetrators of such an attack will not expect to survive it…they will not avoid death.

    IF surveillance aircraft could do all of the work then we wouldn’t have a problem off of Somalia and there wouldn’t be any problem finding Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in AF/PAK.

    The Chinese have supplied Iran with the means of building a number of decently capable AShMs (as we’ve previously discussed here), there’s no reason to believe that they haven’t also provided the technology necessary to construct decent torpedoes. The Russians and North Koreans have also been on good terms with the Iranians…

    This one speedboat doesn’t mean that Iran will be any more able to launch such an attack…but it might mean that they have a somewhat more stable and steady platform from which they can launch their weapons. Note the experiences of the Millennium Challenge wargame and the effects of small arms fire in a recent sinkex…do you think we’re the only ones paying attention to this?

    Iran trained and armed Hezbollah to take on Israel. One of the tricks employed to counter advanced Israeli electronic warfare capabilities was the use of fiberoptic communication networks…unjammable and without major electronic signatures being broadcast. They waited at known chokepoints and battered the advanced Israeli tanks and infantry with scores of ATGMs (surprisingly, the number of losses and casualties was light thanks to the excellent Israeli tank designs…but sometimes a dozen direct ATGM hits on a single tank will result in 1-2 that break into critical areas ). The Iranians developed this technique as well as the deployment of Chinese designed AShMs against the INS Eilat. They didn’t accomplish any great victory, but in the more constrained straits they might get a bit more lucky.

    A naval parallel to the 2006 Lebanese invasion would be crippling to any modern naval vessels. Our large ships have been ‘upgraded’ against this threat by the addition of 2 Mk38 Mod 2 remote weapons stations (25mm gun), usually replacing existing 25mm crew-served mounts. These turrets are excellent (far superior to the old crew served versions), but can still only engage so many targets per minute.

    A proper defense for such attacks would put at least 2 such guns per side of the ship along with a half-dozen crew served or remotely operated smaller guns (.50 cal, 7.62mm, etc) just to deal with suicide boat and UAV/civilian prop aircraft attacks. The large guns and missiles would be exhausted dealing with the larger/more visible threats (AShMs). Fighter jets on deck and 1-2 helicopters will do you little good in such an environment.

  9. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 10, 2010 11:36 am

    Some pictures of what happens when pirates attack a USN warship can be found in this thread at – burnt & burning skiff along with pirate fishing…

  10. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 10, 2010 11:14 am

    Somali pirates have done it again. That is, they’ve once again attacked a US Navy warship. This time it was USS Ashland (LSD-48). The pirates opened fire on the warship and then Ashland returned fire, sinking the pirate’s skiff.

    US Navy holds 6 suspected pirates after battle

    (AP) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The U.S. Navy is holding six suspected pirates after a sea battle off the Horn of Africa.

    It’s the third U.S. Navy encounter with pirates in the past 10 days in the violence-plagued waters off Somalia and nearby regions. At least 21 suspected pirates have been captured.

    The U.S. Navy says suspected pirates began shooting at the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland Saturday, about 380 miles off Djibouti, a small nation facing Yemen across the mouth of the Red Sea.

    The Navy says the Ashland returned fire and the suspected pirate skiff was destroyed. All six people on board were rescued and taken aboard the Ashland.

    The Ashland suffered no injuries or damage.

  11. Mike Burleson permalink*
    April 10, 2010 5:44 am

    “To suggest that a modern western navy is at threat from a salvo of speedboats with archaic torpedoes is laughable”

    I wouldn’t call cruise missiles and Hoot underwater rockets as laughable or archaic. I seem to recall laughter coming from the battleship navy pre-Pearl Harbor, or against the little pig boats, submarines of the world wars which spent most of their time on the surface, armed with archaic torpedoes. Yet they sank 30,000,000 tons of shipping before they were managed.

    A fleet properly prepared can certainly manage most any threat. The question is as someone put it, Is the Navy Ready? Or are they still focused on fighting the Red Navy in the Blue Water?

  12. Guess who? permalink
    April 9, 2010 9:51 pm

    To suggest that a modern western navy is at threat from a salvo of speedboats with archaic torpedoes is laughable, ignoring the fact that there will always be surveillance aircraft in the area mapping enemy movements prompting helicopters or even fast air to be dispatched to intercept any targets before they get close to torpedoing range of any asset. In the event of a large attack fleet of such vessels you’ll be glad of those large carriers 200 miles away, (and their CTOL launched fighters providing CAP through ranges that wouldn’t be possible with STOVL aircraft…)

    I understand the fear and It’s similar to one of my own which is why I despise our government for what has happened to the RAF Nimrod fleet… such fine aircraft, such a vital mission.

  13. Scott B. permalink
    April 9, 2010 4:01 pm

    CBD said : “The US is likely involved because these 300t FACs are built with aluminum hulls.”

    The keyword is indeed aluminum

    Aluminum is the link between :

    1) this : Finland working together with US and German navies on warship design

    “The aluminium hulls of the vessels are seen to provide an exceptionally good opportunity to study questions of structural ageing and the effects of weapons.”

    2) this : US Navy request raises issue about aluminum ships

    “In a little-noticed solicitation posted on a Navy website in January, the Navy said it needed better tools to predict possible cracking on aluminum-hulled ships, especially under difficult conditions at sea.”

    3) this JHSV Gets Larger Role in U.S. Navy Plans

    “Work said the Navy now envisions buying up to 23 of the ships for its own use, in addition to five being built for the Army.”

    Basically, the new Navy plan is something like this : let’s buy more aluminum stuff now, and we’ll figure out about structural issues and vulnerability later.

    IOW : Cart Before The Horse


  14. April 9, 2010 3:47 pm

    Perhaps the UN could set up an international piracy court on Diego Garcia? It would avoid these criminals setting foot on Western soil. Here in the UK as soon as this happens the displaced person seems to transform from criminal to asylum seeker to victim to resident in short order. Perhaps a few prison barges could be built too…………..

  15. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 9, 2010 1:56 pm

    Germany is going to try those ten Somali pirates captured by Dutch marines aboard the German flagged merchant vessel Taipan. Note that one of the ten pirates now being held aboard HNLMS Tromp had been previously caught and released by Tromp…

    Radio Netherlands Worldwide: Germany to try Somali pirates on Dutch warship
    Published on 9 April 2010 – 7:22pm

    Germany is going to try ten pirates captured by a Dutch frigate off Somalia’s coast on Monday.

    The pirates had seized a German cargo ship. It was rescued by Dutch marines after an exchange of fire.

    The justice and foreign ministries say that the German judicial authorities in Hamburg have agreed to prosecute the detainees. Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop have voiced delight at the German co-operation.

    On prior occasions, the Dutch frigate, HMS Tromp, was forced to release the captured pirates because no country could be found to try them.

    According to the defence ministry, one of the detained pirates had been captured previously by the Dutch warship.

  16. April 9, 2010 1:31 pm

    I like how the linked article re Sea Viper refers to it as a defensive weapon. Go figure.

  17. CBD permalink
    April 9, 2010 11:19 am

    Also a good bit on LCS-1 UNREP from a carrier…

  18. CBD permalink
    April 9, 2010 11:15 am

    For interested parties, ScoopDeck also got the video of the Firescout surveillance of the drug smugglers. Link. The final arrival of the frigate shows the power of FLIR imagery…the ship’s exhaust heat looks like a flare to the UAV’s sensor.

  19. CBD permalink
    April 9, 2010 10:35 am

    In response to the question you posed in the breaking news section about the joint Finnish-German-US program, the original article has a lot of details:

    The vessels in question are the first two missile boats of the Helsinki-class. The US is likely involved because these 300t FACs are built with aluminum hulls…now well-aged aluminum hulls. It sounds like blast resistance and weapons effects on such hulls are the main details the US wants out of the experience.

    The first of these ships, the Helsinki, entered service in late 1981 (decommissioned 2002, after 21 years of service). The second vessel, the Turku, entered service in 1985 and served 17 years. The US is undoubtedly providing them with the technical experience needed for a proper SinkEx and is getting data in return on how aluminum hulls age.

    Displacement– 300 tons
    Length– 45 meters
    Beam– 8.8 meters
    Draft-3 meters
    Speed-30 knots
    Crew– 30
    Gun: Bofors 57 mm/70 Mk1
    Anti-air: 2 x twin-mounted 20 mm Sako twin-barreled 23 mm/87 (modified ZU-23-2)
    (these can reportedly be swapped out in favor of Mistral SAMs)
    Anti-surface: 4-8 × Saab RBS-15 SSM
    Anti-submarine: 2 × rails for depth charges

    The article also mentions a new class of multi-role ships to replace several different ships of Finland’s Navy:
    “The multipurpose vessels would replace mine vessels of the Hämeenmaa class, missile boats of the Rauma class, as well as the mine vessel Pohjanmaa.”

    These are, respectively, a 1,450 ton/78m well-armed minelayer class (2 ships), a class of 250 ton/48m FACs (4 ships) and another type of 1,450 ton/78m minelayer (1 ship). It sounds a heck of a lot like a ~1,500 ton Corvette that is reconfigurable for anti-shipping, minelaying and anti-submarine missions. I’d guess a class of 4 ships is being sought (given financial constraints), with an eye towards international missions.

    From here, A description of the future ship. (Cleaned up the google translation a bit)
    Future battleship
    Planning for the best future outcome of the next generation combat ship, a preliminary study is currently underway. The vessel will be substantially larger than the current missile boats, and can be used for long-term presence at sea. The vessel will be built to be compatible for international missions, Vanhamäki says.

    So the US is paying for this to understand what will happen to its >3,000t LCS while Finland looks to the effects on its <300t FACs and ~1,500t Corvettes…

  20. Bill permalink
    April 9, 2010 9:40 am

    Gee. So much hype and hand wringing about Iran acquiring ‘just another speedboat’. The Bladerunner brings nothing more to the table than a similarly sized Cigarette, Cary, Fountain, Cougar, etc and, I would argue, less capability thatn the latter in higher seas.

    Much fuss about nothing IMHO.

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