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

Taiwan Building Four 4,000 ton Cutters

Photo: CSBC Corporation

BairdMaritime reports that Taiwan is building four 4,000 ton Coast Guard Cutters. Asian nations tend to use light displacement when reporting their ship size, so these may actually be larger than the Bertholf class National Security Cutters.

The first is expected to enter service in 2021 and all four to be delivered by 2027.

Taiwan has been beefing up their Coast Guard. A report on a previous class here. A report from 2011 here. An interesting note is that Taiwan actually has a pair of 270s built to a modified design.

Taiwanese cutters appear to be built to merchant standards and are lightly armed.

“Coast Guard Cutter conducts DPRK sanctions patrol” –News Release

A small unmanned aircraft system operator recovers an sUAS (Scan Eagle–Chuck) after a flight from Coast Guard Cutter Stratton in the South China Sea Sept. 16, 2019. The sUAS is capable of flying for more than 20 hours and has a maximum speed of about 60 mph. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nate Littlejohn.

Below is a news release regarding USCGC Stratton’s recent activities including those in support of UN sanctions against North Korea. For some time, I thought we might have a role in this. Apparently we still have not done an at sea boarding to enforce sanctions. Boardings have been authorized by the UN. That may be the next step. I have linked some previous posts for background.

In two of the photos below, the Stratton is being shadowed by China Coast Guard vessels. The one seen on the left, in the picture with Stratton’s 11 meter boat is one of the new Type 818 cutters are based on the Type 054 frigates, this class cutter is also discussed here. The China CG cutter seen in the photo right center is, I believe, one of their 12,000 ton cutters, the largest in the world. This class is discussed here, with updates in the comments. It appears to be missing the twin 76mm gun seen earlier on this class.

united states coast guard

News Release

Oct. 24, 2019
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
Contact: Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs
Office: (510) 437-3319
After Hours: (510) 333-6297
D11-DG-M-PACAREA-PA@uscg.mil
Pacific Area online newsroom

Coast Guard Cutter conducts DPRK sanctions patrol

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton arrives in Philippines after Yellow Sea UNSCR enforcement patrol
Coast Guard Cutter Stratton conducts Yellow Sea UNSCR enforcement patrol Coast Guard Cutter Stratton conducts Yellow Sea UNSCR enforcement patrol Coast Guard Cutter Stratton conducts Yellow Sea UNSCR enforcement patrol
Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew conducts operations in South China Sea Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew conducts operations in South China Sea Coast Guard Cutter Stratton conducts Yellow Sea UNSCR enforcement patrol
Coast Guard Cutter Stratton conducts Yellow Sea UNSCR enforcement patrol Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew conducts operations in South China Sea Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew conducts operations in South China Sea

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines —The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) pulled into Puerto Princesa October 14, for Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama following operations in the Yellow Sea where the crew supported United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) enforcement against illicit ship-to-ship transfers that violate sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The operations are a part of the United States’ ongoing contribution to international efforts in combatting DPRK’s maritime sanctions evasion activity. Ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and goods, like coal, going to and from DPRK are prohibited under the UNSCR.

Stratton personnel captured imagery of suspected illicit ship-to-ship transfers and conducted routine activities to detect, deter, and disrupt activities in violation of UNSCR.

Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama is a maritime exercise designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain, and strengthen maritime partnerships and enhance maritime interoperability. This is the first year the Japanese Maritime Defense Force will participate alongside U.S. and Philippine navy counterparts.

The exercise will consist of both shore-based and at-sea activities designed to allow participating navies to advance the complex maritime training utilizing diverse naval platforms and operating areas.

The U.S. Coast Guard has an enduring role in the Indo-Pacific, going back over 150 years. The service’s ongoing deployment of resources to the region directly supports U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives in the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the National Security Strategy.

As both a federal law enforcement agency and an armed force, the U.S. Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to support combatant commanders on all seven continents. The service routinely provides forces in joint military operations worldwide, including the deployment of cutters, boats, aircraft and deployable specialized forces.

“All of Stratton’s operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” said Capt. Bob Little, Stratton’s commanding officer. “That is as true in the South and East China Seas, as in other places around the globe. Our efforts in support of enforcing U.N. Security Council Resolutions in the Yellow Sea demonstrate that commitment.”

-USCG-

Philippines Awards Contract for Upgrade of Former WHECs

BRP Andrés Bonifacio (FF-17), the former USCGC Boutwell.

Updates added below

NavyRecognition is reporting that the Philippines has awarded a PHP1.5 billion ($28.6M) contract to a South Korean firm for upgrades to their Del Pilar Class Frigates. These are the former cutters Hamilton, Boutwell, and Dallas.

“The project has an approved budget of PHP1.5 billion which will be sourced from the Armed Forces of the Philippine Modernization Trust Fund. The upgrade seeks to enhance the ships’ combat management systems, electronic support and sonar capability to make it capable of operating with incoming and more modern naval assets like the two Jose Rizal-class missile frigates being completed by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea.”

The AN/SPS-40 air search radar, SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System, 25 mm Mk38 guns, and the Phalanx CIWS were removed before the vessels were transferred to the Philippines.

Presumably in addition to sonar, this upgrade will include torpedo tubes and Korean manufactured torpedoes (Update: apparently not–not included in this contract). The EW system will likely also include countermeasures. An air search capable radar like the Hensoldt TRS-3D Baseline D multi-mode phased array C-band radar being installed on the Jose Rizal-class frigates, to replace the AN/SPS-40 will almost certainly be included (Update: Sea Giraffe multi-role radar had been purchased from the US for this purpose, this is the same radar being purchased for the OPCs). Provision for anti-ship cruise missiles is a possibility, but at this point the full extent of modernization is not clear. I would assume the former WHECs will share some systems with the new frigates. 

“U.S. Coast Guard Eyes Expanded Operations in Western Pacific” –USNI

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL-752) pulls into Lumut Naval Base for a scheduled port visit as part of Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia 2019. US Navy Photo

The US Naval Institute News Service has a story based on statements by Pacific Area Commander, Vice Adm. Linda Fagan regarding Coast Guard plans for future operations in Western Pacific.

Included is more information about what the Stratton will be doing.

Stratton Participates in Talisman Sabre 2019

Lt. Wes Figaro, a pilot attached to Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, guides a Navy helicopter as it lands on the flight deck of Stratton in the Coral Sea July 11, 2019.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jasmine Mieszala)

Below is a press release regarding USCGC Stratton’s participation in Exercise Tallisman Sabre 2019 hosted by the Australian Navy. This is a large biannual exercise. For the first time, Japan’s newly formed amphibious brigade participated in the amphibious landings as well as two Japanese ships. 

“Exercise Talisman Sabre will involve more than 34,000 personnel from Australia and the United States.

“Forces from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom will be embedded alongside Australian Defence Force personnel, and delegations from India and the Republic of Korea will observe the exercise. Eighteen nations from across the Indo-Pacific region have also been invited to an international visitors program.”

—-

U.S. Coast Guard story and photos by:
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jasmine Mieszala

The U.S. Coast Guard participated in Talisman Sabre 2019 in July, a bilateral exercise held every two years between the U.S. and Australia, and this year’s exercise marked the first for the Coast Guard since the exercises first began in 2005. TS 19 was designed to train U.S. and Australian forces across high-end, mid-intensity warfighting scenarios and to improve combat training, readiness and interoperability. This exercise illustrated the U.S., Australian alliance and the strength of military-to-military relationships in the eighth iteration of the exercise.

 “We supported 7th Fleet amphibious operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Dunlevy, the operations officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Stratton. “We were part of an amphibious readiness group that conducted a combined exercise to move Marines and associated equipment ashore in a simulated hostile environment.”

One of the Coast Guard’s primary roles in TS 19 was to serve as a forward screening vessel. As the force moved north, Stratton was sent as an advanced unit to help identify possible landing areas for amphibious operations and to ensure the water north of the force was clear of threats before the force moved in behind Stratton. The crew of Stratton used air and surface assets to conduct searches as part of the forward screen.

“We’re learning about what it means to be a part of this exercise – where we’re falling short, where we have capabilities to add and where we don’t,” said Dunlevy.

Stratton is currently the only Coast Guard cutter that has small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) capabilities permanently attached the ship. The sUAS is capable of flying more than 16 hours, has a maximum speed of 60 knots and can provide real-time data to the ship to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

This capability allows the Coast Guard to provide real-time surveillance to battle staff and exercise planners, and it allows them to explore the skills and expertise the Coast Guard can bring to both exercises and real-world scenarios.

The Stratton is the Coast Guard’s third national security cutter (NSC) and is homeported in Alameda, California. National security cutters are the Coast Guard’s key interoperability platform in the afloat arena. NSCs are capable of executing challenging operations, including supporting maritime homeland security and defense missions, as well as operating in open ocean environments and supporting international partner agencies.

TS 19 included field training exercises, force preparation, logistic activities, amphibious landings, land force maneuvers, urban operations, air operations, maritime operations and special forces activities. The exercise provided an opportunity to conduct operations in a combined joint and interagency environment that increased both countries’ ability to plan and execute contingency responses, from combat missions to humanitarian assistance efforts.

“Talisman Sabre was key to the U.S. and to the Coast Guard because we were able to exercise relationships with our international partners, to conduct training necessary and to help maintain regional security, peace and stability,” said Dunlevy.

Though this is the Coast Guard’s first time participating in Talisman Sabre, the experience and knowledge gained from participating in the exercise is proving to be instrumental.

“We will provide an after-action report detailing how we were employed and how we think we could better add to the exercise next time,” said Dunlevy. “We hope the Coast Guard is invited back for the next Talisman Sabre. This has been a huge win for the Coast Guard.”

“Schultz: Coast Guard Expanding Western Pacific Operations” –USNI

USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750) crew members observe the stars from Bertholf’s flight deck as the cutter and crew patrol the South China Sea on April 21, 2019. US Coast Guard Photo

The US Naval Institute News Service is reporting,

KUALA LUMPUR – The U.S. Coast Guard will increase its presence and deployments to Asia – particularly around Oceania and U.S. Pacific territories – and test out a new operational deployment concept in the region, service head Adm. Karl Schultz told reporters on Thursday.

We have been seeing this happening. The Coast Guard has begun spending more time in and around the Western Pacific, particularly around US Western Pacific territories and Oceania.

The reference to use of a buoy tender as a mothership to support patrol craft operations looks like a test to see how useful the proposed basing of three Webber class cutters in Guam might be.

The Commandant suggested that the tender might partner with Australian, New Zealand, or Japanese vessels as well. He promised,

““In the face of coercive and antagonistic behavior, the United States Coast Guard offers transparent engagement and partnership,…”

There is no reason this should not work, hopefully it will lead to similar multi-unit operations in the Eastern Pacific drug transit areas where the Webber class could augment larger cutters.