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Sea Links

April 30, 2010

Two landing Crafts and one Whaler From Dutch warship HNLMS Johan de Witt. Photo via EU NAVFOR

US Navy

Iranian Plane Checks out USS EisenhowerMore.

Defense secretary Gates confronts cost of ballistic missile subs.

The US Trident Replacement Dilemma.

Controversy flares over ship named for Murtha.

Official: No Mayport carrier until 2019.

USS Hartford repairs to cost $92.1 million.

The Ice Strengthened, Twin Hulled Susitna.

The Navy Goes in Search of a U.S.S. Prius.

Navy name change comes with costs.

Northrop Grumman to build 30th DDG 51 ship.


Warships of the World

Sea Dart Missile still bites.

Former Royal Navy Falklands’ patrol ships sold to Bangladesh.

French Guided Missile Frigate Visits Canada.

Israeli warships make rare Suez crossing.

Iran ups the ante in the Strait of Hormuz.

Pak to get $65 million US warship ‘free of cost’.

Malaysian Navy plans to expand fleet.


New Wars at Sea

EU NAVFOR Dutchman uses new strategy to combat pirates. More.

EU NAVFOR Frigate Victoria destroys pirate vessels.

SOUTHCOM Battles Drug Cartel Submarine Armada.

Post 26/11 challenges of guarding India’s sea lanes greater.

Piracy rattles Japan to open first foreign military base.


From the Navy Vaults

The Battle of Leyte Gulf (War and Game)

Battle of the Atlantic. (War and Game)

Alfred the Great’s Defence against the Vikings. (Cog and Galley)

Alfred and the Vikings. (US Naval Academy)

Modest naval leader witnessed history. (The Winsdor Star)

An honor long overdue – Chief Watertender Oscar Peterson. (Broadside blog)

Portsmouth, England: Centuries of Naval History. (ABC News Travel)

The Captain of Nombre de Dios. (Pauline’s Pirates & Privateers)

Women At Sea: Madame La Jolie Commandante. (Pauline’s Pirates & Privateers)

Loch Ness monster is real: former Scottish police chief. (Christian Science Monitor)

Salute the merchant navy. (North Shore News)


34 Comments leave one →
  1. D. E. Reddick permalink
    May 2, 2010 3:15 pm

    Oh, I left off mention of this SNAFU! thread regarding the new design of 30 meter long, high-speed, air cushion PACSCAT LCU.

    QinetiQ’s PACSCAT technology demonstrator.

    QinetiQ’s PACSCAT technology demonstrator takes to the water

  2. May 2, 2010 12:39 pm

    Hudson said “Pirate cove..”

    Which made my smile!!! Arhhhhhh Jim lad!!!

    But I think we need to give consideration to the armoured ship if we think that special builds are needed to tackle the pirate problem. (I don’t but it doesn’t mean I can’t consider the other approach.)

    If we are to tackle this fast boats perhaps a semi-submersible would be one approach. Low profile; better survivability (you could have quite a largish hull with lots of watertight zones perhaps even foam filled.) Armour doesn’t necessarily mean metal plates but ceramics. Use of modern stabilised optical sensors. At sea level a 6ft tall person can see 5km; so a low aspect mount say 12ft tall would give coverage. I think manned stabilised mounts are best. But I would have predominately .50cals and only two heavy cannon (20mm to 40mm.)

    Walking the dog gives me too much thinking time.

  3. Hudson permalink
    May 2, 2010 12:14 pm

    Mike: In NYC, if you dial 311 for non-emergency calls, you hear:

    ‘To continue in English, press #1

    To continue in Spanish, press #2″

    Additionally, on ballots, you get Korean and Chinese.

    Remember this one?

    “One nation, Indivisible, under God, with Liberty and Justice for all…” Oh, well.

    The catch-and-release of pirates is the open back door to these brilliant captures. I read that Kenya is getting tired or taking new pirate prisoners. A few are being tried here in NYC, at great expense to the taxpayer. I’m not yet in favor of summary execution of these perps. But there must be a better way to take pirates off the seas for a long stretch. A prison barge off Somali shores until Somalia gets a real government? That would constitute a long stretch.

    The Strb-2010 resembles a tiny version of a monitor that the naval powers once made, a kind of sawed-off battleship with one big gun turret and little else. Not of much use in chasing pirates, although you could sure blast pirate cove going in.

  4. D. E. Reddick permalink
    May 2, 2010 10:31 am

    The new, armed small landing craft being introduced by Sweden is being discussed over at Solomon’s SNAFU! It’s the Strb-2010, which “looks like a CB90 on steroids”. It has a troop compartment and an AMOS dual 120 mm breach-loading mortar turret. That latter feature suggests it for an approach to any coastal pirate port.

  5. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 2, 2010 4:05 am

    Hudson, I thought it was:

    “For English press 1”

    “For Pirate press 2”

    I know. Bad!

  6. Hudson permalink
    May 2, 2010 12:19 am


    From your posted video links way down the thread:

    This video gave a pretty good answer to my previous question: How do the naval powers communicate with the Somali pirates? Mostly via hand signals at gunpoint. The narrator drowns out the commands of the Dutch Marines. The narrator speaks in a kind of pigeon Dutch-English. I thought I heard the word “semaphore.” Professional op. Interesting vid.

  7. May 1, 2010 5:18 pm

    Though I did my RYA qual’s in RIBs I wouldn’t want to go to war in one!!!!!!!!!!

    I think proper ship boats are a better solution than corvettes, etc. for these “new wars on the sea.”

    Of course to deploy a good sized boat you need a good sized ship.

  8. B.Smitty permalink
    May 1, 2010 4:51 pm

    X said, “When you say boat do you mean R(H)IB?

    I’m picturing something more like an IC 16.5M. But anything that fits within the size/weight constraints will work.

  9. May 1, 2010 3:44 pm

    “8 CB90s could launch a larger, company-sized amphibious raid to a suitable shore.”

    This is more like it. These fishing villages aren’t Mogadishu.

    I know states are keen on infringing the sovereignty of other states as it undermines the states system.

    But at some point the UN are going to have to do something about failed states (if they threaten others in any way) and their place within the nation-state system.

  10. May 1, 2010 3:31 pm

    When you say boat do you mean R(H)IB?

    I think the volume of traffic (fishing boats up to super tankers and everything in between) in the region would mitigate even the effectiveness of “many” patrol boats. Think of all those RADAR contacts. Further from the air how does the crew know what they are looking at is a vessel going about its lawful trade or a pirate ship in hiding.

    Patrol boat is a catch all term. I am impressed with Oz Armidales. But I think you need lesser ships with flight decks too. But is chasing around chasing ghosts less than 25kts the best way to handle this situation?

    Look at how complicated boarding operations were in the restricted waters of the upper Gulf.

  11. B.Smitty permalink
    May 1, 2010 3:21 pm

    Mike said, “Only a very few planes would be required to support the patrol boats on most missions, such as ongoing off Somalia, and in the absence of an aerial threat

    Well then just increase the ratio of boats to aircraft on the carrier. Having a few fixed wing aircraft available provides a quick response option. They would also be useful for strikes on HVTs in Somolia.

    I disagree with your desire for frugality with regards to air power. Modern aircraft are very capable, but each can only be in one place at a time, have limited endurance and aren’t always available. So numbers are as (if not more) important for aircraft as for other types of “boots on the ground/air”.

    A modest air wing of the type I described could also launch limited overland raids.

    Assuming 7 out of 8 mission-capable MH-60S helicopters, the carrier could launch an air assault of two full Ranger platoons, or one Ranger/USMC platoon plus Delta, either with F-35B/Harrier CAS.

    8 CB90s could launch a larger, company-sized amphibious raid to a suitable shore.

  12. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 1, 2010 1:27 pm

    Smitty wrote “For Mike’s favorite peacetime sea control mission, a notional loadout might consist of 6 fighters, 8 helicopters and 8 patrol boats.”

    In part I will have to agree with X’s comments. Only a very few planes would be required to support the patrol boats on most missions, such as ongoing off Somalia, and in the absence of an aerial threat. A couple helos and the 8 patrol ships, maybe a persistent UAV or two, the latter which would solve the availability issue brought up by X.

    You can be very frugal with your airpower assets, they are amazingly capable, but be generous in deploying your low end ships, the nautical version of boots on the ground, and allow no gaps in your sea control.

  13. D. E. Reddick permalink
    May 1, 2010 1:00 pm

    I just placed a news report in Breaking News about the Mistral class French helicopter carrier FS Tonnerre (L9014). It’s part of the EU NAVFOR task force operating off the coast of Somalia. Tonnerre used a helo and boat to intercept and capture a Somali PAG. They now have eleven pirates aboard. They destroyed the pirates’ mothership and took aboard their two skiffs. So, large flight-deck amphibs can successfully use both helos and boats in the anti-piracy fight.

  14. B.Smitty permalink
    May 1, 2010 12:11 pm


    Yes, my thought was for hunting pirates you don’t really need a large number of available air assets. You can keep a pair of fighters ready on deck in case of an attack somewhere. Or you could keep one orbiting constantly for a faster response.

    Eight helicopters would also let you keep at least one airborne constantly, or have a few in reserve for boarding parties. Or you could carry a half dozen Fire Scouts in place of 2 helos. This would allow for two persistent VTUAV orbits. Then the remaining 6 helos wouldn’t be pressured to fly constantly.

    The nice thing about a carrier is that it was a modular warship before modular became stylish. You can tailor the air (or boat) composition depending on the mission.

  15. May 1, 2010 11:58 am

    “For Mike’s favorite peacetime sea control mission, a notional loadout might consist of 6 fighters, 8 helicopters and 8 patrol boats.”

    Yes, but you need to look at the availability of those assets. Of those 6 fighters how many would be available 2? At stretch 3? Of the 8 helicopters again you may get 4 in the air, but based on average availability for forces equipment it would be more often than not 2. Of course the majority of those boats will be available the majority of the time. But sea always trumps air….. :) ;)

  16. B.Smitty permalink
    May 1, 2010 11:34 am

    I wonder if it would be feasible to use a small carrier like these to carry and operate small patrol boats as well as fighters and helicopters. A CB90 is around the same size as a folded EH101.

    It might need a crane or davit or two to launch and recover boats.

    For Mike’s favorite peacetime sea control mission, a notional loadout might consist of 6 fighters, 8 helicopters and 8 patrol boats.

  17. May 1, 2010 9:25 am

    Or this……….

    Which I think looks a lot prettier than the Spanish/Thailand (US design based) ships.

    The big mistake with the T45 was not going with the Mk41 VLS; must keep Europe happy even though they will kick you for it. I thought T45 was designed with Harpoon in mind.

    I am not sure about the AIP for all attack boats; but I would like to see an increase in attack boats/ What the LibDems here don’t appreciate is that keeping a submarine based deterrent keeps the naval nuclear reactor production open. Remember there is a reason why Brazil and India want SSNs; even the Chinese can’t build a good one. (Though we should note the tendency of rising powers to ape the capabilities of established powers.) The nuclear submarine (more than a space program) is a measure of country’s technical capabilities.

    Of course the question we should be asking is what are the armed forces of the UK for? If it is purely homeland defence (or to deter or slow an attack or provide a base level of physical security) we only need a few squadrons of Typhoons, some AWACS, some tankers, 6/8 SSNs, 4 SSBNs. 6 T45s, and scrap the army.

  18. B.Smitty permalink
    May 1, 2010 8:02 am

    Oops, one too many “this”s.

  19. B.Smitty permalink
    May 1, 2010 8:00 am

    MatR said, “You know what I’d really like? Some kind of 6 to 10 k ton ship with a big, broad helo deck running along half of it or more, and a ‘full tool box’ of multiple helos, uavs and missiles. Something not flash or fancy – maybe an Absalon or Largs Bay -like capacity with a whopper of a flight deck. Flex deck, versatile, cheap.

    Why not go all the way and build something like this or this or this or this?

  20. DesScorp permalink
    April 30, 2010 9:45 pm

    On the boomer replacement issue…

    I say we go back to the future, and simply adapt the Virginia class into a boomer design. We did that with our first class of boomers (Skipjacks converted to the George Washington class), and we should do it now to save money. Just keep using Trident II’s… really, you’re not going to build a better missile from scratch… and convert the current Virginia’s via a plug of new hull with missile tubes into the current boats, and then build the subsequent Virginia’s as boomers from the ground up.

    Then, build smaller, more efficient AIP conventional attack boats. No real reason to go nuclear in the attack role anymore. The propulsion systems are over half the cost in nuke subs, so go conventional in attack to afford nuclear in the boomers.

    Look, the budget cuts are coming. Either the Navy accepts that and changes, or they simply keep shrinking the fleet. “All nuclear” does us no good if we don’t have sufficient hulls.

  21. MatR permalink
    April 30, 2010 8:39 pm

    Merlins with Harpoons? Heck, yes!

    You know what I’d really like? Some kind of 6 to 10 k ton ship with a big, broad helo deck running along half of it or more, and a ‘full tool box’ of multiple helos, uavs and missiles. Something not flash or fancy – maybe an Absalon or Largs Bay -like capacity with a whopper of a flight deck. Flex deck, versatile, cheap. Built with lots of empty room, so that as threats change over the years, more equipment and weapons can be added – small boats for anti-piracy tours; MLRS for shore bombardment; helos for anti-sub. Dual role missiles that can take on air to air and air to surface targets/ surface ships and land attack. The tech exists already (such as Starstreak and RBs 15). *Pauses to salivate*

  22. MatR permalink
    April 30, 2010 7:53 pm

    Think Defence – Hello. I like your site, btw. One minor criticism – you never run with my favourite idea of atomic dirigibles ;o)

    I do see where you’re coming from, but given the ever lower number of hulls in the RN, I think a smidgen of flexibility counts. In a world with a low likelihood of tackling major ‘peer’ competitors in a shooting war, I’d say that goes moreso – you need a ‘swiss army knife’ like Absalon or DDG 51 to respond to a crisis, as you never know what you might face (IMHO.) Come to think of it, in a really murderous conflict against a ‘peer’ navy, having a few extra ‘tools in the box’ would be beneficial if they took up a limited amount of space – as so many do. RBS 15, for example, is positively tiny, and dual-role anti-ship and land attack.

    (As I see it) if we knew we’d definitely get more vessels in the UK, it’d be great – they could go ‘thoroughbred’ and focus on land attack, sub hunting, air defence etc. For Type 45 as it is now, however, Harpoon and Tomahawk (or RBs 15, or Scalp Naval or whatsoever you’d choose) would add a bit more weight, and cost, and require integration – but would add a huge amount more capability. I think of it as distributing capabilities, if only in a small way. Maybe that’s a conceptual bias on my part – spreading out assets and increasing flexibility. I accept some people won’t go for that, maybe with good reasons. It’s my ‘feel’ for where things should head, based on budgets and technology trends.

    I suspect that we won’t get many more hulls in the RN over the next decade, and I wonder about the sense of a big ship like T45 that can’t really ‘self-escort’ (I know, that’s a clunky phrase, sorry) against enemy surface ships with powerful anti-ship missiles. Helos with missiles are nice, and the RN has made good use of them (viz Sea Eagle) but they’re not as good as also having the option of firing a 200 km range, 500 mph anti-ship missile (well, in my opinion).

    As to cat and trap being cheaper – well, as I mentioned, I’m primarily thinking of the cost of F18s vs F35s. Maybe $50 or $60 mil for an F18, $75 if you strike a bad deal. Creeping up to $200 mil for an F35 (yeah, it’ll get there ;o) ). I’ve read a few books on carrier warfare, and a lot of them – well, all of them (I’ve got ‘Aircraft Carriers of the World’ open right now) normally come down solidly on the side of cat and trap for being lower cost because you get more choice of aircraft to operate from them, longer range, etc. I could accept that this might be a lazy generality on the part of authors and commentators – a false ‘obvious truth’ – but F35 is still terribly expensive, VSTOL or not. Go VSTOL and you can carry F35, helos and the Osprey, and maybe some UAVs. (Not a bad deal if your carrier is 20,000 tons, but for 60,000 it’s disappointing).

    Got to stop now so I can pause to take breath ;o)

  23. Joe permalink
    April 30, 2010 7:45 pm

    The article Heretic’s post refers to about the Ohio replacements had an interesting quote at the very bottom. It comes from Rep Joe Courtney, D-Conn, (whose district produces the Virginias). He says, The solution obviously is to figure out a way to increase the shipbuilding budget or put funding for that program in its own national security account.

    Given the Nuclear Posture Review’s stance on maintaining a sea-based deterrent, one wonders if that might elevate the Ohio replacements out of the normal naval budget process. I don’t know if I would support that move, but I can see why it’d be proposed.

    Anyone else’s thoughts???

  24. April 30, 2010 6:51 pm

    T45 primarily for AAW? Probably yes. But that is an awful big flight deck back aft’; what’s that for then apart from give Clubs somewhere to torture the crew? The T45 is an “escort”. Just thinking of it in terms of AAW is a bit short sighted. A T45 + (improved) Merlin would be a better a bet than T45 for AAW, T26 for ASW. A Merlin that was capable of carrying Harpoon would be even better……

  25. April 30, 2010 5:56 pm


    I agree about the impact on the wider RN that CVF is and already has had but you are wrong if you think cats and traps are a cheaper option. The slight reduction is capital costs are soon gobbled up and surpassed by through life costs, these costs are probably the main driver for F35B for the JCA requirement.

    It would be nice to have Harpoon or Tomahawk on a Type 45 but it’s no more than that. As you say they are an anti air platform, if there is any money I would rather it went on making them better at their primary role.

  26. MatR permalink
    April 30, 2010 4:19 pm

    Re: Future of the Royal Navy

    Darn it, the more I learn about the Queen Elizabeth carrier(s) and the disposition they’re forcing onto the Royal Navy, the more I hate them. It would make sense to pursue a cat and trap conversion that meant we could get them and operate cheaper planes if needed – F18s, uavs or turboprop aircraft, perhaps. But sticking with STOVL and F35B in the current financial crisis? It turns the carrier into a one-trick pony. And if it means we lose SSBNs, SSNs, minesweepers, patrol ships, frigates, helicopters and everything else? That’s losing high-end lethality, sea control capability, anti-sub, airlift, and ‘constabulary’ presence all at the same time.

    We don’t even have Harpoons or Tomahawks on the much-vaunted Type 45 air warfare destroyer, designed in no small measure to protect the CVF(s) – meaning that if we don’t see ourselves facing attack by a technological peer seeking to lob missiles at London or a UK fleet, the Type 45 – as it currently stands – looks a bit one dimensional. And if we’re plowing on with CVF, we probably won’t get the money to ‘trick out’ the Type 45s and make the an ‘Arleigh Burke light’.

    Mind you, maybe we could try to find the receipt for the Eurofighter, and see if we can wring some cash out of a refund. Lots of money then for military assets that can actually travel further than 800 nautical miles before they have to go home. If only…

  27. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 30, 2010 1:45 pm

    Here’s an editorial article regarding the future of the RN at Combat Fleet Of The World. Note that the author Mike Colombaro is French and he is seriously lamenting what he fears is about to happen to the RN.

    Apr 30, 2010
    Future of the Royal Navy: THE DAY BEFORE : or toward the end of hypocrisy ?
    My 1st editorial

  28. Heretic permalink
    April 30, 2010 12:24 pm

    Key point(s) from the US Trident Replacement Dilemma:

    Ohio-class SSBNs carry 24 Trident II D-5 missiles, each of which has 5 MIRV warheads for a total of 120 warheads per boat.

    The NEW START arms reduction treaty is going to reduce the US Arsenal by approximately one-third.

    In the volume challenged world of SSBNs, having multiple warheads per missile is a LOT less costly than having a lot of missiles with one warhead each. Any “replacement” to Trident is NOT going to be going to single warhead SLBMs! And, I have to wonder if Mike’s link to Navy Tests Advanced Sub-Missile Launcher might not be involved in any design of a Trident Follow On SLBM system to increase reliability and reduce the “cost” to the SSBN launcher (ie. sub) in terms of required volume of systems and so on.

    What might ultimately result is a smaller “Boomer” carrying 16 Trident missiles armed with 5 warheads each, for a total of 80 warheads per boat … a 1/3rd reduction from the Ohio-class SSBNs. This would then allow for a 1:1 replacement of boats, allowing for a maintenance of patrol rotation schedules, while at the same time quite possibly delivering boats designed with a sea life of 40 years which do not need to be refueled … which in and of itself would represent a tremendous advance and savings. It would essentially be an evolution of the Virginia-class boats we’re already building, rather than a wholesale redesign effort … possibly.

  29. Bill permalink
    April 30, 2010 12:16 pm

    “More, more I say!” Mike, you apprently completely missed my point. Ferries are built every day with similar capacities for 10 million and less. I know that I’ve been involved personally in building well over a hundred such..and I don’t care if they built 100 exact copies of that E-craft thing, they are not going to reduce the cost from 70 million to 10 million. Flat impossible to reduce it by anything close to half even.

    Found a good and usefull home for an ex-ONR demonstrator? Fine with me; beats adding to their ghost fleet in San Diego. But that article tries to blow some major smoke up my arse about ‘commercializing R&D investment’ that is wildly untrue and flat not the case. That was the part I took issue with.

  30. Mike Burleson permalink*
    April 30, 2010 10:54 am

    Bill, as I am often reminded about other expensive and experimental programs, the first in a series always cost more, and a one-off even more. I would expect follow on’s to be cheaper, if there are any. Just nice to see something costing in the tens of millions in contrast to hundreds of millions and billions that normally emanate from the government. More, more I say!

  31. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 30, 2010 10:49 am

    GvG and Marcase have provided video links and interpretations of recent Dutch Navy actions against Somali pirates. The video of Dutch Marines taking back the MV Taipan from pirates is especially good, as it has live firing and the actual capture of pirates (via a helmetcam on one of the Marines). The two videos and two interpretations are available at Information Dissemination, EagleSpeak, and SNAFU!, in varying combinations…

  32. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 30, 2010 10:12 am

    The french frigate FS Nivose has captured another Somali PAG. They’ve destroyed the mothership and the two skiffs found with it. Eleven Somali pirates are now in custody aboard Nivose.

    Pirate ‘mother ship’ off Somalia destroyed
    Apr 30, 2010 10:50 AM | By Sapa-AFP

    A French warship destroyed a pirate ‘mother ship’ and 11 Somalis were seized in an anti-piracy operation off the Somali coast, says the EU naval force Navfor.

    The surveillance frigate Nivose found, “stopped and searched a mother skiff and two supporting skiffs, some 480 nautical miles east of the Somali coast” on Thursday, Navfor said in a statement.

    The French sailors boarded and searched the vessels and discovered “pirate paraphernalia.”

    The 11 Somali crew were taken off the three apprehended boats which were then sunk.

  33. Bill permalink
    April 30, 2010 8:43 am

    “Susitna’s normal service speed is 17 knots carrying 130 passengers and 20 vehicles. ”

    Somebody explain how a ferry that cost 8 to 10 times what any other ferry design with similar capacity and speed would cost..explain how that is in any way shape or form going to be viable economically?

    Rapid ‘commercialization’ of research investments my arse…


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