Two Articles on Coast Guard/Navy Cooperation/Coordination –CIMSEC and USNI

The Philippine Navy’s BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS 17), USS Germantown (LSD-42), USCGC Stratton (WMSL 752) and USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) break formation after steaming together this week in the Sulu Sea as part of Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama.

Two recently published articles suggest greater cooperation and coordination between the Navy and Coast Guard. Both were written by a Marine, Captain Walker D. Mills, USMC, an infantry officer currently serving as an exchange officer in Cartagena, Colombia.

The Proceedings article talks about ways the Coast Guard could contribute to a rules-based international order in the Western Pacific but points out that the Coast Guard is underfunded and points to this as a reason given for not assuming a greater role in the Western Pacific. I don’t think he is saying these arguments absolutely preclude a greater Coast Guard role in the Western Pacific, but he does present the argument.

The CIMSEC post, points out that the Chief of Naval Operations’ recent FRAGO (shortened form of fragmentary order. An abbreviated form of an operation order) directing increased coordination between the Navy and Marine Corps missed an opportunity to highlight the reality of continuing cooperation between the Navy and Coast Guard.

“Some observers have raised objections to including the Coast Guard in the U.S. response to Chinese belligerence and encroachment in the South China Sea – it has repeatedly been a focus of commentary without generating a consensus. Generally, these objections are based on the small size and meager funding that the Coast Guard has and how the Coast Guard would be unprepared if a shooting conflict broke out in the region. Both of these are reasons why the CNO needs to plan for and mention the inclusion of the Coast Guard in his guidance to the force and make them a part of the larger conversation. Ignoring the Coast Guard, minimizing their potential contribution, or leaving them out of the discussion entirely would only serve to exacerbate these two issues.”


Conclusion

The CNO dedicated part of his FRAGO to guidance on building “alliances and partnerships” internationally – but it is just as if not more important to build partnerships and interoperability between sister services and other U.S. agencies. The CNO’s FRAGO is a far cry from the level of Coast Guard inclusion that permeated the 2015 Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower. While CNO Gilday obviously does not have the statutory authorities to direct his FRAGO at the Coast Guard – he can make it clear to his sailors that he views the Coast Guard as playing a critical role in the Navy-Marine Corps-Coast Guard team. That would be moving toward a truly integrated national maritime architecture and force structure. This direction will be critical for preserving U.S. primacy at sea and enforcing rule of law in the global commons.

For the Warship Geeks in the Group–China’s Type 055

Image Analysis of photo of Chinese shipyard showing multiple warships at various stages of … [+]H I Sutton, with permission from @Loongnaval

The US Naval War College Digital Commons has made available an evaluation of China’s new 12,000 ton cruiser, the type 055, and its place in the PLAN based primarily on Chinese sources. It looks to be balanced and talks about both the ships and the systems on board.

They are building a lot of these.

 

New Thai Patrol Craft

Graphical rendering of the new patrol craft for the Royal Thai Navy (Image from Marsun)

MarineLog reports that the Thai Navy has chosen MAN 16V175D-MM, IMO Tier II engines, each rated at 2,960 kWm at 1,900 rpm, to power a new class of two Patrol Craft. With two engines for each vessel that is just under 8,000 HP.

This new class is only the latest in a string of patrol craft, indigenously built by Marsun. This class appear to be closely related to the T995 and T996 patrol gun boats. if so it should have a speed of about 27 knots.

It appears to be equipped with a small RHIB, but the boat handling equipment does not appear as convenient as a dedicated davit or stern ramp.

Recently, the Thais seem to have been providing more powerful weapons for their patrol vessels than do most other countries. They recently equipped an Offshore Patrol Vessel with Harpoon Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles in addition to a 76mm gun. The choice of gun for this class appears to be a departure from the weapons that equipped previous patrol craft. The caliber, 30mm, is the same, but the rate of fire and the origin of the weapon are different.

The gun appears to be a Russian 30mm AK-306 barrel rotary cannon, a lighter version of the ubiquitous AK630. Maximum rate of fire is 1,000 rounds per minute. It should be quite effective as a short range anti-surface weapon.

AK-306 rotary cannon, Zbroya ta Bezpeka military fair, Kyiv 2017, Photo from VoidWanderer via Wikipedia Commons

 

“The Chinese Navy Is Building An Incredible Number Of Warships” –Forbes

Image Analysis of photo of Chinese shipyard showing multiple warships at various stages of … [+]H I Sutton, with permission from @Loongnaval, (This is not a naval base just one of several shipyards-Chuck)

Forbes provides a reminder of the rate at which the Chinese Navy is overtaking the US Navy.

We did discuss this earlier, “Comparison, the Chinese Navy of 2030 and USN.”

The Chinese have begun building large surface combatants (destroyers and/or cruisers) at rate faster than that of the US (The US generally commissions two per year). The number the Chinese are expected to have commissioned in 2019 and 2020, as many as twelve, is staggering. Their first very large aircraft carrier equipped with catapults and arresting gear is expected to be commissioned in 2022, only three years after their first (smaller) domestically built aircraft carrier (The US builds one every five years). They seem to have begun building large amphibious warfare landing ships at about the same rate as the US. In addition they have built types with no counterpart in the US Navy including 60 Type 022 missile armed fast attack craft and Type 056 corvettes, 64 ordered to date, with about 8 built per year. They also have about 60 conventionally powered submarines and about 54 frigates while the US has neither type currently. 

If you would like to look into this in more detail. I would suggest the following Congressional Research Service Report.
“Table I, Numbers of Certain Types of Ships Since 2005,” on page 20 is particularly illustrative. You can see the trend with total number of Chinese vessels growing while the number of USN ships has remained relatively stable. It notes that the number of Chinese ships does not include auxiliary and support ships while the USN figure does not include patrol craft (the number given for 2015 actually does include the 13 Cyclone class patrol craft). If we counted the USN ships in the same way the Chinese ships are counted, by subtracting auxiliaries and support ships, and adding in the 13 Cyclone class Patrol Craft, the numbers for 2019 would be China 335, USN approximately 239. It is also worth noting that the Chinese fleet is younger than the US Navy fleet.
The US Navy is still larger in terms of both personnel and tonnage and has an overwhelming advantage in aircraft. The USN still has far more carriers (11 of which 5 are more than 30 years old), nuclear submarines, and destroyers and cruisers. But here, as elsewhere, the trend is against the US. (The number of USN nuclear submarines is actually expected to decline, but should exceed those of the Chinese Navy for the foreseeable future.)
Thus far the Chinese have succeeded in creating a situation where the USN operating inside the “First Island Chain” during hostilities would be exceedingly difficult. They clearly intend to have a local superiority. It the imbalance in ship construction continues they may achieve an absolute superiority.
They have now begun creating a Blue Water Navy with the capability to intervene virtually anywhere, following the USN model. This will give them the option of insuring that all those preditory loans they have been making are repaid or the collateral handed over.
China ultimately plans to bring Taiwan back into the fold, by force if necessary, but ferrying the necessary number of troops would be a herculean task, not unlike the Normandy invasion. The force of 38 large amphibious warfare ships that has, for many years, been the US Marine Corps stated objective, would have lifted only two brigades, not the multiple divisions that would likely be required to take Taiwan. Their large Coast Guard (248 ships according to the CRS report and growing) and maritime militia is as likely to be as instrumental in any invasion as the large amphibs they are currently building.

 

“USCG’s Schultz on Halifax Forum, Budget, Pacific, Arctic” –Defense and Aerospace Report

Above is a Defense and Aerospace report interview with the Commandant, Adm. Karl Schultz. It is worth a look.

There is a lot here about what is going on in the Western Pacific and our response to China’s changing behavior. There is a lot of discussion about the Philippine Coast Guard which is apparently growing at a tremendous rate. There is also some discussion about other coast guards in South East Asia and the USCG’s place with “The Quad” (US, Australia, New Zealand, and France).

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

Japan Fisheries Enforcement Vessel Encounters, Collides With, Sinks N. Korean F/V

Recently a drama played out between a Japanese fisheries agency ship and a North Korean fishing vessel and its crew. According to the text accompanying the YouTube,

“On October 7, a North Korean fishing boat sank after colliding with a Fisheries Agency patrol boat in the favorable fishing grounds near the Yamatotai area of Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Sea of Japan.

“On October 18, the Fisheries Agency released the video recorded on the patrol boat, finally showing the sequence of events prior to and after the accident.

“The accident took place about 350 kilometers northwest of Ishikawa Prefecture’s Noto Peninsula in Japan’s EEZ. Judging the fishing boat to be operating illegally, the patrol boat began to issue warnings for the fishing vessel to leave the area at around 8:50 A.M. on October 7. When the vessel did not leave, the patrol boat started spraying the vessel with water cannons at 9:04 A.M.

“The vessel made a sudden sharp turn, and at 9:07 A.M. collided with the patrol boat. The patrol boat had taken up position on the left side of the fishing boat and had been issuing audio warnings from a distance of about 200 meters.”

The fishing vessel subsequently sank. The crew took to the water. The Japanese vessel had its boat tow liferafts over to the people in the water. Ultimately another North Korean came over and picked up the people in the water.

Since the Coast Guard is now operating in these waters, the actions of the N. Korean fishing vessel, that to our eyes are irrational, are of more than academic interest.

We can’t really know what was going through the mind of the master of the N. Korean vessel.

  • Has propaganda infused so much hate for the Japanese that the N. Koreans would strike out at them in any way they can?
  • Did they think the Japanese vessel would back down?
  • Do they even know about the concept of an Exclusive Economic Zone?
  • Or, did the helmsman just slip on the wet deck and spin the wheel left in an attempt to regain his balance?

The Japanese behavior also suggests they are wary of the N. Koreans.

  • They did not attempt to board
  • While they provided liferafts, they did not attempt to pick up survivors