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Sea Links

July 2, 2010

The Gathering-Ships from 14 nations are in port at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the 2010 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

US Navy

Navy deals with modern anti-ship missiles.

Navy blimp helps out in oil spill.

BP Oil Spill:Bring in the Navy.

Navy: Widespread faults caused LPD 17 woes.

Future of the US Carrier’s & Gator’s Fleet.

Future of the US Heavy Surface Combatant Ships.

Lawmakers ask Navy to stop Mayport move.


Warships of the World

Russian Carrier-Killer Visits San Francisco.

Photos from RIMPAC exercises.

Italy To Get New Amphibious Ships.

Daring Destroyers get their missile fix.

Royal Navy Amphibious Task Group Arrives in Norfolk.

China to stage live-fire military exercises.

China to Test Carrier Killing Missile On Fourth of July?

India launches two water jet-propelled fast attack craft.

Saab to design Sweden’s next generation submarine.

Queen Marks Canadian Navy’s 100th Birthday.


New Wars at Sea

China’s PLA Navy Sends Largest Surface Combatant to Gulf of Aden. More.

Dutch LPD-ship Johann De Witt Force multiplier for EU NAVFOR.

Dutch Submarine Outsmarts Somali Pirates. More. More.

India seizes Pakistani-bound arms ship.

Drug cartels take to the sea in ‘narco subs’.

G8 nations condemn North Korean sinking of a South Korean warship.

Pirates no match for Royal Navy gunboat as it rescues hijacked ship.


From the Navy Vaults

Ships of the Crusade Era Part I. Part 2. (Cog and Galley)

The Invasion of Norway 1940. (War and Game)

BB Richelieu. (War and Game)

Supremacy at sea: finance, aggression and national commitment. (War and Game)

Battleship New Jersey played key role in Korea. (South Jersey Courier Post)

Canada’s shipyards played key role in war effort. (Times Colonist)

The man who saved Canada’s navy. (CBC News)

The Great Guns: Weaponry in Aubrey’s Royal Navy. (The Dear Surprise)

Pirates of Cyprus. (Paulines Pirates & Privateers)

USS Peacock vs. British East India Company Brig Nautilus. (Naval History Blog)

The untold Battle of Trafalgar. (Daly History Blog)


Russian Sailors man the rails as Russian navy missile-cruiser Varyag departs San Francisco Bay.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. B.Smitty permalink
    July 6, 2010 3:10 pm

    Scott B said, “LCS may finally get a decent VDS

    Towed at flank speed? Is it going to be useful at 40+kts?

  2. Scott B. permalink
    July 6, 2010 12:59 pm

    And here is something else people might find interesting in the context of past discussions on how to deal with the allmighty Iranian speedboats and/or missiles :

    Next to last firing trials of the STRALES system on board Nave Foscari

    During the second week of June, Oto Melara, a Finmeccanica company, together with the Italian Navy, successfully performed very important firing trials with the Strales system on board the Foscari ship (a naval unit belonging to the Comandanti Class); the trials took place in the open sea in front of the Poligono Interforze Salto di Quirra (PISQ), an Italian inter service firing range located in Sardinia.

    The Strales, developed under the funding of the Italian Navy, is an anti-air, anti short range missile and anti FIACs system based on the installation on the 76 Super Rapid (SR) gun of a Radio Frequency (RF) guidance beam capable to steer a burst of sub-calibre DART projectiles against subsonic and supersonic targets with excellent manoeuvre capability and high lateral acceleration.

    This capacity can be extended to all the 76/62 Super Rapid guns in service through the installation of the proper kit which also includes the possibility of a feeding magazine capable to automatically select different ammunition according to the role that the gun is requested to perform.

    On board Nave Foscari the Strales system is integrated with the NA25 Firing Control System produced by Selex Sistemi Integrati.

    The trials were carried out against radio-controlled, high velocity aerial targets against which DART projectiles were fired in four different engagements at intercept distances of more than 4 Km.

    Thanks to special IR, high resolution video cameras installed on the gun for diagnostic purposes, it has been possible to record the images of the DART burst in the exact instant in which it intercepted the target.

    The burst, activated by the proximity fuse of the projectile, took place according to the foreseen modalities and timing, showing the complete success of the launching phase, manoeuvring capabilities and intercept accuracy of the DART.

    These firing trials have represented the last verification activity of Oto Melara on the development level reached by the complete system in an environment that reproduced the same characteristics of a typical operative mission at sea.

    In October 2010 another firing campaign will be carried out in order to deliberate the configuration of the Dart ammunition and that will therefore represent the beginning of the industrialization phase the first batch of which will be dedicated to the qualification activities.

  3. Scott B. permalink
    July 6, 2010 12:56 pm

    On a somewhat related matter, LCS may finally get a decent VDS :

    From, July 2, 2010 :

    DRS Sonar Systems, LLC in Gaithersburg, MD received a $9.7 million firm-fixed-price contract to develop a high search rate variable depth sonar (VDS) for installation on the littoral combat ship. This contract includes options which would bring its cumulative value to $12.7 million.

    The VDS will include a rugged specialized handling system with an articulating arm and capture mechanism, that can handle a towed body the size and weight of a small car. The the towed active subsystem consists of a hydro-dynamically stable tow body, a tow cable, handling and stowage equipment, and acoustic transmit assemblies. The sonar must be able to survive high sea states, work in deep water while being towed at flank speed, and possess enough power to detect submerged submarines.

    Work will be performed in Gaithersburg, MD (10%); Panama City, FL (20%); and Stockport, UK (70%), and is expected to be complete by September 2011. This contract was competitively procured, with 3 offers received by the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division in Newport, RI (N66604-10-C-0675).

  4. Scott B. permalink
    July 6, 2010 8:26 am

    Mike Burleson said : “Scott, the incredible shrinking submarine fleet is a problem.”

    Sure it is a problem, and I was the first to denounce this situation on the blog if memory serves.

    That said, your favorite AIP SSKs is NOT the solution to THIS specific problem, as was discussed at length not so long ago.

    Once again, you start with your preconceived solution, and try to walk your way back to the problem. That’s not the way to go…

  5. Scott B. permalink
    July 6, 2010 8:21 am

    Mike Burleson said : “Armament? They could use ASW torps, but even old fashioned depth charges might be enough to get them to surface, or do we still have ASW rockets like the Hedgehog?”

    ASW torps to sink a narcosub. Talk about massive overkill…

    Once a narcosub is detected, placing a few shots at the snorkel or dropping a handful of depth grenades (and not charges) would be more then plenty enough to force the narcosub back to the surface.

    You would then be able to arrest the bad guys and confiscate the dope.

  6. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 6, 2010 8:20 am

    ” your SSK proposal is typical of a solution looking for a problem.”

    Scott, the incredible shrinking submarine fleet is a problem. We had a hundred 2 decades ago. We’re now down to half and 2/3 of that are the LA class from that era.

  7. Scott B. permalink
    July 6, 2010 8:16 am

    DER said : “Plus, who’s to know what happened when a narco-sub fails to reach its planned destination (due to an unforeseen encounter with an unseen & unacknowledged SSK).”

    Don’t you have the vague feeling that what you’re suggesting here is ILLEGAL ? Is this your vision of how America should deal with this kind of problems ?

  8. Scott B. permalink
    July 6, 2010 8:14 am

    DER said : “I’m not arguing with you. Call it an open discussion.”

    Couple of quick comments :

    1) these narcosubs is a CG problem, not a Navy problem.

    2) rebuilding some ASW expertise in the USCG will produce tangible results much faster than injecting a whole bunch of AIP SSKs into a Navy that DOESN’T want any of these anyway.

    Again, your SSK proposal is typical of a solution looking for a problem.

  9. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 6, 2010 5:49 am

    The only reason the drug subs are a problem is our lack of presence. As D.E. pointed to :

    “They are going to be loud, sound-emitting boats that are going to stand out against any background noise. ”

    Our refusal to even consider spartan patrol boats means they pretty much have the run of the Caribbean. It takes us nearly a decade to get one “low cost ship” in service.

    As Scott said, the SSK seems an expensive solution to the problem, though perhaps they could be used like the Dutch Walrus to support other platforms. Some USCG boats come to mind, but now the Coasties like to have their exquisite platforms too so there just isn’t enough of them. We need craft like the sub-chasers of WW 2, cheap, off the shelf.

    Long range patrol planes are vital, just as back when. Maybe the UAVs will help, but they like the new P-8s are very expensive. How about some civil type planes equipped with radar and sonar buoys?

    Armament? They could use ASW torps, but even old fashioned depth charges might be enough to get them to surface, or do we still have ASW rockets like the Hedgehog? Old fashioned tactics to fight an old fashioned foe.

  10. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 5, 2010 11:59 pm


    I’m not arguing with you. Call it an open discussion.

    If SSKs are not needed, then fine. Surface and aerial ASW resources should be able to handle the problem. Only, there is still that problem of what ASW resources are to be used. Most USN ASW capability has been whittled away since the disintegration of the USSR back in 1991. What force is to be trained and deployed, beginning in 2010/11/12?

    Back to those SSKs. I was simply arguing that utilizing off-the-shelf and known solutions (even old tech) might prove to be satisfactory in dealing with those low-tech narco-subs. Plus, who’s to know what happened when a narco-sub fails to reach its planned destination (due to an unforeseen encounter with an unseen & unacknowledged SSK).

  11. Scott B. permalink
    July 5, 2010 10:55 pm

    DER said : “Someone at either Information Dissemination or more likely Cdr. Salamander’s blog did bring up the question of just how the narco sub would be unloaded and then replenished.”

    This is not exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

    My starting point is that these narcosubs apparently have a diesel-electric propulsion and a retractable snorkel.

    1) The electric propulsion means that these narcosubs might be able to complete a small portion of their trip fully submerged. My guess is that they would operate fully submerged (thus maximalizing their stealth) when leaving their coastline and then when approaching ours.

    2) Because of their limited endurance on electric propulsion and oxygen, they would have to perform most of the transit under diesel and snorkelling. This is where it gets us into something that might very well look like traditional Blue Water ASW against narcosubs with significant noise signatures and significant heat signatures as well when operating at periscope depth.

    It’s exactly when they become the typical prey for the surface fleet and air assets. Though the USCG seems to have abandonned the fine art of ASW, it might be a wise move to reinject some gears and skills in the institution.

    On the gear side of the equation, SIMRAD of Norway offers a couple of easy to fit retractable sonars like Simrad SX92 and SX93 Hull Units or the new Simrad SX95 Hull Unit.

    These were recently chosen by the Turkish Navy to equip some of her New Patrol Boats.

    The contract value was 30 MNOK for 16 boats, i.e. $291,545 per boat. Not exactly a deal breaker.

    A more sophisticated approach would consist in fitting a VDS like the LFATS VDS-100 from L3 Com, which is actually a derivative of their HELRAS helicopter DS-100 dipping sonar. With Easy installation, removal and handling from ships of various sizes, readily cross-deckable, this would give you an extended detection range capability in excess of 30 NM, capable of operating at depths between 15 and 300 meters.

    The chances of a narcosub escaping the VDS-100 while operating with diesel is pretty slim given the noise that the narcosub is likely to generate (unless of course it’s been equipped with some highly sophistiquated silencing, but I find it unlikely).

    Because of their significant heat signature (especially when snorkelling), the narcosubs would be much of a problem for infrared thermal imaging that’s becoming so coming on MPAs, helicopters and UAVs.

    So what’s the benefit that you would expect from an SSK, which would represent a very expensive solution to this problem ? Personally I don’t see any. Neither do the smart people writing for Proceedings BTW :

    The latest Proceedings offered a couple of interesting articles on the subject : one by my excellent friend Norman Friedman suggesting that reinjecting back some the USCG’s ASW roots is an idea worth looking into. The second by Troy Bentz suggested adding an off-the-shelf dipping sonar to USCG vessels.

  12. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 5, 2010 8:56 pm


    Someone at either Information Dissemination or more likely Cdr. Salamander’s blog did bring up the question of just how the narco sub would be unloaded and then replenished.

    To put it simply, beats me… But, the smuggling cartel must have some sort of plan. Perhaps they own a whole fleet of fishing vessels working off the west coast of Mexico. That would allow for the transfer of goods while still at sea and also provide fuel and provisions for a return trip south for the submarine and its crew.

  13. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 5, 2010 8:50 pm


    My impression of the best practices amongst ASW practitioners when going after small, coastal or littoral submarines is to do so with hunter-killer submarines (i.e., SSKs).

    Now, think about this for a moment. These narco-trafficker subs ain’t exactly greased lightning or top-of-the-run, smooth-cruising sh1t. They are being built with off-the-shelf commercial components and locally-crafted hulls and other parts built in their rainforest (jungle) shipyards. They are going to be loud, sound-emitting boats that are going to stand out against any background noise. Thus, they are the natural prey of SSKs.

    So, why not use SSKs? They should be able to easily detect, track, and destroy clandestine narco-smuggling subs. Why should we need to capture and detain them? They are non-state actors whose defense is meaningless and thus whose loss to aggressive actions is totally meaningful.

    Sink ’em and learn how to do the same to those mini-subs being so loudly acclaimed by the Iranians and apparently utilized by the Norks.

    Not just thinking of the present, and really trying to think ahead (in as limited a fashion as I may be capable of doing such).

  14. Scott B. permalink
    July 5, 2010 8:30 pm

    Regarding this narcosub story, I’m surprised to see that nobody on the blogosphere so far seems to have tried to figure out how the bad guys would operate the thingy on a typical transit to the final destination.

    I’ll post some quick thoughts on the subject whenever time permits, and try to demonstrate why SSKs in this particular case, is yet again a solution looking for a problem…

  15. Scott B. permalink
    July 5, 2010 8:12 pm

    DER said : “Such boats might be an effective way to deal with these stealthy, non-state, narco-trafficker submarines.”

    What makes you think an SSK would be such an effective way of dealing with narcosubs, let alone a cost-effective option ?

  16. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 5, 2010 3:03 pm

    Here’s a short video clip of that narco-sub from the BBC.

    Drug submarine seized by police in Ecuador

  17. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 4, 2010 7:36 pm

    I think some midget subs would be excellent for scouting out some of these bayous and river outlets, waiting for the drug subs to come out. Call in the surface fleet as soon as they are spotted.

  18. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 4, 2010 7:22 pm


    Just right now those six decommissioning Type 206A 500 ton SSKs of the German Navy suddenly appear really, really attractive as shallow & littoral waters forces operating out of either end of the Panama Canal. I wonder if we could buy or lease them on the cheap (along with some training and service support, of course)…

    Otherwise, we may need to buy some modern SSKs from Deutschland, Nederlands, or Sverige (Sweden) to patrol Pacific and Caribbean coastal waters. The USN has leased / operated a Swedish Gotland class AIP SSK (HMS Gotland, actually) in the recent past. Such boats might be an effective way to deal with these stealthy, non-state, narco-trafficker submarines.

    Gotland class submarine

  19. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 4, 2010 7:00 pm

    D.E., which is why we need to get off our billion-dollar warships fix, since now we are facing warfare off the shelf. And ships which take a decade to procure, and this in ever fewer numbers, won’t be able to keep up, no matter how good they are. Looking at the LCS and LPD-17, we aren’t getting very much for our high investment. Neither can we compete in an arms race with the Third World.

  20. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 4, 2010 6:48 pm

    I hope that this is the last time that I find something ‘new’ about this narco-sub story. Use the following link and then right click on it to save a picture file. You’ll have a 1204 by 903 JPEG collage image of the submarine and that map of its launching site. I find it simply amazing that something this large and potentially effective could have been built in a mangrove swamp or riverine jungle environment.

  21. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 4, 2010 6:06 pm

    Following up on my previous posting, here’s a page with a composite collage of pictures of the narco-trafficker submarine found in Ecuador. Click on the Fullscreen link just above the image. Notice that the central image in the collage provides a view of the ‘shipyard’ in which the submarine was constructed. Otherwise, it displays four images of the sub along with a map of the area in which it was found.

    Houston Chronicle: Real narco sub seized in Ecuador

  22. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 4, 2010 1:35 pm

    I placed two news items in Breaking News regarding the newly found and seized 30-meter diesel-electric narco-sub. Here’s some more information about it.

    Narco sub is no rumor, authorities discover
    Find in jungle of Ecuador called a game-changer in the war on drugs
    July 4, 2010

    It has long been the stuff of drug-trafficking legend, but federal authorities announced on Saturday that they have helped seize the first known and fully operational submarine built by drug traffickers to smuggle tons of cocaine from South America toward the United States.

    The diesel-electric powered submarine was captured in an Ecuadorian jungle waterway leading to the Pacific Ocean, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    The sub, which is about 100 feet long and equipped with a periscope, was seized before its maiden voyage by Ecuadorian authorities armed with DEA intelligence.

    The discovery is seen by authorities as a game-changer in terms of the challenge it poses not only to fighting drugs but to national security as well.

    “The submarine’s nautical range, payload capacity, and quantum leap in stealth have raised the stakes for the counter-drug forces and the national security community alike,” said DEA Andean Regional Director Jay Bergman.

    It is unclear how far the camouflage-painted submarine could have traveled, but it is believed to be sophisticated enough to cover thousands of miles — and certainly to make it to the North American coast.

    “There is a sense of urgency for naval engineers and submariners to take a look at this thing and dissect it and take it apart and figure out what its real capabilities were,” Bergman said. “The police have seized this structure, but the people that need to get on there are naval engineers.”

    Bergman noted that traffickers have used speed boats, sail boats, fishing boats and specialized craft that float low in the water, but this is the first true submarine discovered.

    “Now that the Loch Ness Monster has been found, the interdiction community is going to retool their search patterns and how they conduct business,” he said.

    More excellent pictures of the submarine and its construction site can be viewed in the following article. Note that is has an Albacore (AGSS-569) or teardrop hullform of modern USN submarine designs.

    Extraordinary 100ft submarine used by Colombian drug-runners discovered in remote jungle

    By James White
    Last updated at 2:35 PM on 4th July 2010

    USS Albacore (AGSS-569)

  23. Hudson permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:55 pm


    I think the ROK should be proud of King Sejong. It’s their big capital ship unless you want to count their latest LPH. The S. Koreans have an ambitious building program, seem to build good products, and seem to get their categories right. Although because of recent events in their waters, they must be pondering how a pawn can tip over a rook or a king.

    I don’t fault the USN for designing LCS and the other (X) class destroyers and cruisers, only less than a handful of which will be built. I don’t fault the Navy for dreaming big. I fault the Navy for its open-budget process and dim-witted assessment in waking hours of how much of that dream can be manifest as hulls in the water today and tomorrow.

    I’m proud of the people who dreamed up the Zumwalt destroyer, the first true 21st Century major surface vessel. It looks different. It looks like something Jules Verne might have invented, a saurean rising from the deep, crackling with electrical power.

    What we are calculating now is which stylish Eruofrigate is needed to replace the fragmented dream of LCS. These odd jobs must be done, of course, and done well. Today we are dreaming smaller.

  24. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:33 pm


    I was just thinking about the stark contrast between the latest classes commissioned in the two navies. South Korea has introduced the most powerfully armed surface combatant of the 21st century (so far). Whereas, the USN has introduced as its newest, latest, and greatest 21st century ‘combatant’ warship class a vessel of 3,000 tons that is more weakly armed than many FACs of less than 500 tons.

    It is simply a matter of contrast. So far, South Korea appears to have gotten the design and construction of very capable ‘battleship’ DDGs just about right, if not perfect. But the USN has ‘crafted’ a FFG replacement that isn’t much more than a carrier for a two helo detachment.

    The South Korean Navy seems to know it goals and achieves them with its limited shipbuilding program. The USN, on the other hand…

  25. Hudson permalink
    July 2, 2010 2:25 pm


    As little as I like LCS, why compare King Kong with a chimp? Wouldn’t it make more sense to compare the mighty Sejong with a Burke flight IIa or flight III?

  26. D. E. Reddick permalink
    July 2, 2010 12:33 pm

    The photo depicting the ships docked at Pearl Harbor for RIMPAC 2010 provides for quite a striking contrast in capabilities between the two ships nearest the photographer.

    To the left (moored forward of two USN Aegis CGs) is ROKNS King Sejong the Great (DDG 991), the world’s most powerfully armed destroyer.

    To the right is USS Freedom (LCS-1), the world’s most under-armed frigate-sized vessel.

    That’s quite a contrast in new naval construction and the thinking that led to their creation.

  27. B.Smitty permalink
    July 2, 2010 10:53 am

    Anything over 3000 tons? I guess I don’t understand what you mean. I thought the term “gunboat” referred to a small vessel specifically designed to carry guns. Like the US Ashville class PGs.

    A 5300 ton Type 22 with Sea Wolf, Harpoon, and twin helos doesn’t seem to fit that description.

    Or are you talking about so-called “gunboat diplomacy”?

  28. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 2, 2010 10:26 am

    Matter of opinion, to the Cadillac navy, anything over 3000 tons is a gunboat. I recall them being considerably less smaller!

  29. B.Smitty permalink
    July 2, 2010 7:02 am

    Pirates no match for Royal Navy gunboat as it rescues hijacked ship.

    Isn’t HMS Chatham a Type 22 frigate?

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