“SEA To Provide KRAITSENSE ASW System For A South-Asian Navy’s OPV Program” –Naval News

KRAITSENSE ASW System. Photo credit: SEA

Naval News reports,

“UK-based anti-submarine warfare (ASW) solutions provider SEA has been awarded a contract to supply two of its innovative ASW systems, KraitSense, to a South-East Asian Navy for a new offshore patrol vessel (OPV) programme.”

I found another photo, below, in an earlier report.

KraitSense low profile passive sonar system. SEA picture.

It these systems perform reasonably well; they would be an attractive mobilization option for giving OPVs an ASW role. Even if not equipped with ASW weapons, adding sensors that can be coordinated with other surface and air weapons carriers would be helpful.

The SE Asian Customer?

Artist impression of the future Philippine Navy OPV to be constructed by HHI. HHI image.

Who is the SE Asian country with, “With a vast coastline and high number of islands within their jurisdiction…” Think the Philippines may be most likely.

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) is building six offshore patrol vessels (OPV) for the Philippine Navy (not their Coast Guard). At about 2400 tons, 94.4 meters (309 ft 9 in) in length, with a speed of 22 knots, they are pretty typical medium sized OPVs, except for one thing, Wikipedia reports that their armament, in addition to 76 and 30 mm guns, includes two sets of triple lightweight anti-submarine torpedo tubes. There is no indication of an ASW sensors. It is reported to have spaces for Multi-Mission Containerized Modules. The flight deck and hangar are sufficient for support of an ASW helicopter and/or UAS.

“Philippine, US, Japanese coast guards carry out anti-terror drill in disputed waters” –Radio Free Asia

GlobalSecurity.Org has a report on a tri-lateral Counter-Terrorism exercise conducted by the US, Japan, and Philippine Coast Guards. This was part of an exercise discussed earlier. The USCGC Stratton was the USCG contingent. The photo above was taken a bit earlier and shows Stratton exercising with vessels from Indonesia and Singapore.

“NATO, partners promote rules-based Arctic, free and open sea lines of communication” –The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

This map shows the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) within the Arctic: Canada (purple), Greenland (orange), Iceland (green), Norway (turquoise), Russia (light blue), and USA (dark blue).
Credit: DeRepentigny et al., 2020

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum has a post which somewhat surprisingly talks about NATO concerns about the Arctic. I presume this is as a result of the recently concluded Shangri-La Dialog at which both the UK and Germany discussed future naval deployments to the Pacific. Canada pledged to increase its naval presence in the Pacific. Japan and S. Korea said they would put aside their differences and work more closely together. China also told “others” they should mind their own business and stay out of China’s backyard, defending their harassment of Western miliary units in the South China Sea.

We live in an interconnected world, and it appears the Arctic Ocean will become an important new connection between Europe and Asia. China, Russia, and Europe are particularly concerned about shaping the connection to their advantage and what that will mean in the long run is not yet clear.

An Arctic route could provide the US with an alternative to the Panama Canal for movement between the Atlantic and Pacific, but the US probably will not benefit as much from the opening of the Arctic Ocean as the Asians and Europeans. On the other hand, any traffic using the Arctic to pass between the Atlantic and Pacific will have to pass within about 32 nautical miles of the US at the Bering Strait and within less than 300 nautical miles of a US Aleutian Island. This puts the US in a good position to regulate any traffic using the Arctic for passage between the Atlantic and Pacific should we choose to do so.

The Indo-Pacific Forum post does not say much we have not heard before, but it did mention that the Chinese have, “…plans to build the world’s biggest icebreaker vessel.” Given the size of existing Russian nuclear powered icebreakers, that is going to be a very large ship.

There is a good possibility that Russian and Chinese aims in the Arctic may be in conflict. The Chinese are likely to want to transit the Arctic free of charge. The Russians will want them to pay for the privilege. The Chinese will want access to the resources of the Arctic while the Russians consider most of the Arctic to be Russian EEZ or continental shelf.

We have gotten along with the Russians pretty well in the Arctic, but we may be seeing an end to the Arctic as a zone of peace. Still, I don’t think the conflict will be between the US and Russia.

We should not forget that we may see that very large Chinese icebreaker in Antarctica.

“Indo-Pacific partners lead global fight against IUU fishing” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

Catch is readied for inspection during a boarding by USCGC Frederick Hatch crew members and a local maritime officer in Micronesia’s EEZ. IMAGE CREDIT: PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS BRANDON CHAPLEA/U.S. COAST GUARD

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum has a nice piece about cooperative efforts to curb Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing. USCG gets a lot of credit.

“U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visits Singapore during Indo-Pacific deployment”

Passing along this news release. (More photos available through the link.)

May 31, 2023

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visits Singapore during Indo-Pacific deployment

SINGAPORE – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) departed Singapore, May 22, following a scheduled port visit while deployed to the Indo-Pacific.

While in Singapore, Stratton’s commanding officer and crew strengthened trusted partnerships with local leaders, maritime safety and security stakeholders, and the community.

“The United States Coast Guard is committed to upholding a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. Stratton is here to support our allies and partners in making sure the Indo-Pacific region remains free and open to all,” said Capt. Brian Krautler, Stratton’s commanding officer. “The crew is looking forward to operating with our partners in the region. The crew of Stratton is ‘always ready’ to operate alongside like-minded nations as a trusted partner.”

While in port, the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, the Honorable Jonathan Kaplan, toured the Stratton discussing interoperability in the region. The cutter’s crew volunteered with the Genesis school, a school for special needs children, and served at a food bank that feeds up to 7,000 people.  Additionally, the Stratton’s crew played friendly matches of ultimate Frisbee against the Republic of Singapore Navy sailors.

Stratton is deployed in the Indo-Pacific to engage with ally and partner nations and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific. The Stratton crew is conducting operations to share best practices and expertise in search-and-rescue, law enforcement and maritime governance. U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy forward-deployed forces remain ready to respond to crises as a combined maritime force. Singapore is Stratton’s fourth port visit since departing her homeport of Alameda, California.

Stratton is operating as part of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 71, U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force. CTF-71 is responsible for the readiness, tactical and administrative responsibilities for forward-deployed assets andsurface units conducting operations in the region.

Stratton is a 418-foot national security cutter capable of extended, global deployment in support of humanitarian missions, and defense missions. National security cutters routinely conduct operations throughout the Pacific, where the range, speed and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary for the U.S. Coast Guard to serve as a unique strategic contributor in the region.

The namesake of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton is Capt. Dorothy Stratton, who led the service’s all-female reserve force during World War II. Capt. Stratton was the first female commissioned officer in the Coast Guard and commanded more than 10,000 personnel. The ship’s motto is “We can’t afford not to.”

U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area is responsible for U. S. Coast Guard operations spanning across six of the seven continents, 71 countries and more than 74 million square miles of ocean. It reaches from the shores of the West Coast of the United States to the Indo-Pacific, Eastern Pacific, Arctic and Antarctic. Pacific Area strives to integrate capabilities with partners to ensure collaboration and unity of effort throughout the Pacific.

“US, PH, Japan coast guards hold maritime law enforcement training” –The Manila Times

More than 30 participants from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam joined the Multinational Vessel Boarding Officer Course funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on May 15-26, 2023. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Manila Times reports on a US sponsored, Philippines hosted, boarding officer course that was also extended to officers from other ASEAN partners.

“Through this course, 33 participants from the PCG, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency, Thailand’s Maritime Enforcement Command Center, and Vietnam’s Department of Fisheries enhanced their knowledge of the law of the sea and policy on the use of force.”

Thanks to Paul for bring this to my attention. 

“Philippine Coast Guard Will Hold First-Ever Trilateral Exercise with U.S., Japan” –USNI

BRP Teresa Magbanua, sister ship of BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702), during sea trials off Japan (Photo: Philippine Coast Guard)

The US Naval Institute News Service reports, beginning 1 June,

“BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702), BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), BRP Boracay (FPB-2401) and one 44-meter multi-role response vessel will conduct the exercise with National Security Cutter USGCC Stratton (WMSL-752) and Japanese patrol vessel Akitsushima (PLH-32).”

I will just provide some photos with links to the Wikipedia description of the vessels. Note none of the Philippine Coast Guard vessels have any permanently mounted weapons.

JCG_Akitsushima(PLH-32), 9,300 tons (full load), Port of Kobe, July 9, 2017. Photo credit: Hunini, via Wikipedia.

USCGC Stratton moored in San Diego, California. Photo by BryanGoff

BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) as it sails home to the Philippines. 3 May 2021. Photo: Philippine CG.

44-meter multi-role response vessel BRP Tubbataha during its delivery to the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine CG PAO photo

BRP Boracay (FPB-2401), 23 October 2018, Philippine CG photo.

China’s PLAN Surface and Sub Order of Battle

Earlier I published “Chinese Navy Submarine and Major Surface Ship Order of Battle,” that included three infographics prepared by Dr. Sarah Kirchberger that I found on the CIMSEC Internal Discussions Facebook page. At the time I noted that they did not include Chinese aircraft carriers, amphibs, and numerous frigates, corvettes, and other small combatants.

Dr. Kirchberger recently emailed me additional and updated infographics that provide a more complete picture of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s rapid growth. I have included them all below, including updated versions of the three previously published.

Another resource available is the “Office of Naval Intelligence’s Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, Coast Guard, Ship Identification Guide.”

From a Coast Guard perspective, the most interesting development sighted below was the transfer of 22 Type 056 corvettes {photo above) from the Navy to the China Coast Guard. This follows the earlier transfer of four type 053H2G frigates (NATO designation Jiangwei I). In both cases heavier weapons were removed but significant gun armament remained. These added significantly to the China Coast Guard’s close in firepower. When the new China Coast Guard was formed in 2013, very few of their ships were armed with anything larger than 14.5mm machine guns.

Chinese H/PJ-17 30mm

That has changed, particularly since the China Coast Guard was absorbed into the country’s Central Military Commission (CMC), effective July 2018. The standard fit now seems to be a 76m gun and one or two 30mm H/PJ-17.

Undated photo of carrier Shandong. PLA Photo

Type 055 Destroyer (Cruiser) SeaWave.com image

PLAN Type 054A Huanggang (FFG-577), Japanese Self Defense Force photo.

Type 056 corvette, credit 樱井千一

Image: Creative Commons.

CSR Report RL33153 China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress by Ronald O’Rourke dated February 28, 2014. Page 8 – Figure 1. Jin (Type 094) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Source: Photograph provided to CRS by Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, December 2010.

“Australia Considering Modular C-Dome For Arafura OPVs” –Naval News

Australia Considering Modular C-Dome For Arafura OPVs
Illustration of Arafura-class OPV fitted with C-DOME

Naval News reports,

“The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is in talks to procure a containerised variant of Rafael’s C-Dome in an effort to increase the firepower of its future Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV).”

Arafura class OPVs:

The Arafura-class is based on the Lürssen-designed Darussalam-class, operated by the Royal Brunei Navy. This is expected to be a class of 14, 12 off shore patrol vessels and two dedicated to mine counter-measures. They are expected to displace 1640 tons, be 80 meters (262 ft) long and 13 meters  (43 ft) of beam with a draft of four meters (13 ft) with a speed of 22 knots.

C-DOME Missile System:

C-Dome is the naval version of the Israeli Iron Dome missile system which was developed with considerable US support. There has been considerable US interest in the Iron Dome system (here, here, and here). Systems are coproduced by Rafael and Raytheon. Complete systems are built in the US.

The new Israeli Sa’ar 6 corvettes are expected to have forty vertical launch cells for C-Dome in addition to 40 Barrak 8.

From Wikipedia specifications for the Iron Dome interceptor:

  • Weight: 90 kg (200 lb)
  • Length: 3 m (9.8 ft)
  • Diameter: 160 mm (6.3 in)
  • Proximity fuse

By comparison, the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile weighs 620 pounds, is 12 feet in length, and has a diameter of 10 inches. It can be quad packed in the Mk41 vertical launch cells.

The RIM-116, Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), weighs 162 pounds, is 9’2″ long, and has a diameter of 5″ so smaller than the Israeli system, but it has yet to be deployed in a vertical launcher so it apparently needs two launch systems to provide 360 degree coverage.

“U.S. Looks To Transfer 4 Patrol Boats To The Philippines” –Naval News

Ukrainian Navy Island-class patrol boats, formerly of the U.S. Coast Guard, conduct maritime security operations in the Black Sea off the coast of Odesa, Ukraine. UKRAINIAN NAVY

Naval News reports,

“On Monday, the U.S. announced its intention to transfer four patrol boats to the Philippine Navy. The transfer intends to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization plan, specifically the Philippine Navy’s maritime capabilities.”

Note these are to go to the Philippine Navy, not their Coast Guard.

They will be getting two 110 foot (33.5 m) Island class and two 87 foot (26.5 m) Marine Protector class patrol boats.

This may just be the first such transfer. There are still quite a few Island class that may be available for transfer. The Coast Guard 2023 “Asset” poster indicates there were nine Island class cutters still in service when the poster was created. There are probably others that have been decommissioned but have not yet been transferred or otherwise disposed of.

The Marine Protector class now 14 to 25 years old. There is no direct replacement planned for this class but several have been decommissioned as their role has been taken by the 45 foot Response Boat, Medium and the 154 foot Webber WPCs. 

Since these boats are going into the Philippine Navy rather than the Philippine Coast Guard, there is a possibility they may be armed with something larger than .50 cal. (12.7mm) machine guns. The Island class, in US Coast Guard service, were armed with crew served manual early models of the 25mm Mk38 gun mount. It is not clear if the boats will be transferred with their guns in place. When the 378 foot WHECs were transferred to the Philippine Navy, their 25mm Mk38 gun mounts were removed before transfer. The Philippine Navy has 25mm Mk38s of several marks including the remote weapon stations. They also have 20, 30, and 40mm guns that might equip the cutters.

These cutters will have a significant speed advantage over most China Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels. Maximum speeds are 25 knots for the 87 footers and 29 knots for the 110 foot cutters. The Island class also has sufficient range (2,900 nmi (5,400 km) to go anywhere in the South China Sea.