“First Images Of New Inlay Class Warship For Myanmar Navy” –Covert Shores

Myanmar UMS Inlay (54), 12 March 2018, Indian Navy Photo

Covert Shores reports sighting of a second Inlay class, a locally built offshore patrol vessel. This prompted a look at this class and the Myanmar Navy, which turns out to be surprisingly strong, with an apparently capable domestic shipbuilding capability.

Myanmar seems to have been in the news a lot lately, and it has not been “good news.” Like many other nations in Asia, particularly SE Asia, they have been building Offshore Patrol Vessels. Reportedly the Myanmar Coast Guard was established only months ago, in Oct. 2021, but it appears these OPVs will serve with their Navy. Myanmar Coast Guard floating units appear to be limited to four very old patrol boats.

Reportedly these Inlay class Offshore Patrol Vessels displace 1500 tons, but I suspect that is not their full load displacement. They are similar in size to the 1.800 ton 270 foot WMECs, slightly shorter, 265’9′ (81 meters vs 82.3) and a bit broader of beam (41′ vs 38’/12.5 vs 11.6 meters). Speed is essentially the same at 20 knots. The bridge does seem surprisingly large.

Reportedly the Myanmar vessels can hangar a Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, that is essential the same as an H-65. Also, reportedly there is a launch ramp for a RIB in the stern. There might be a boat davit on the starboard side, but I have not seen a good photo of the starboard side. There is a large opening on the starboard side superstructure aft, that mirrors the one visible on the port side.

Apparently, the weapon forward of the bridge is a Soviet era twin 57mm. The weapon might be ancient, but it is probably still very effective at short ranges.

The Myanmar Navy is more impressive than I would have expected, and many of their ships are built locally. As noted in the headline post, they just got their second submarine, one Russian built via India and now one from China. They have a 12,400 ton S. Korean built LPD. They are building their fourth domestically built frigate, to add to two overage Chinese built frigates. They have three domestically built 1,100 ton corvettes. They have twenty vessels similar in size to the Webber class but much more heavily armed, including five armed with Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles, and two slightly larger, 500 ton Fast Attack Craft also armed with ASCMs. These are in addition to six older Chinese built Houxin class missile boats.

All total, they appear to have 21 surface combatants armed with Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles, primarily the Chinese made C-802, which is roughly equivalent to the US made Harpoon.

Myanmar has also begun to build 600 ton, 63 meter, high speed “sub chasers” to replace eight, now overage, Chinese built Hainan class. The new ships are equipped with the same twin 57mm mount that also equips the new OPVs.

 

“US Navy Seizes Weapons from Fishing Vessel in the Arabian Sea” –DVIDS

U.S. Navy Seizes 1,400 Assault Rifles During Illicit Weapons Interdiction

NORTH ARABIAN SEA (Dec. 20, 2021) U.S. service members from patrol coastal ship USS Typhoon (PC 5) interdict a stateless fishing vessel carrying illicit weapons while transiting international waters in the North Arabian Sea, Dec. 20. (U.S. Navy photo)

Below is a press release from Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS). The boarding team was apparently Coast Guard. It’s likely the Webber class WPCs assigned to PATFORSWA will be doing this sort of work since the Navy PCs are being decommissioned.


U.S. 5th Fleet ships seized approximately 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and 226,600 rounds of ammunition from a stateless fishing vessel during a flag verification boarding in accordance with customary international law in the North Arabian Sea, Dec. 20.

U.S. Navy patrol coastal ships USS Tempest (PC 2) and USS Typhoon (PC 5) found the weapons during a search conducted by embarked U.S. Coast Guard personnel. The illicit weapons and ammunition were later transported to guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77) where they await final disposition.

The stateless vessel was assessed to have originated in Iran and transited international waters along a route historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully to the Houthis in Yemen. The direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates U.N. Security Council Resolutions and U.S. sanctions.

The vessel’s five crew members identified themselves as Yemeni nationals and will be returned to Yemen.

After removing the crew and illicit cargo, U.S. naval forces determined the stateless vessel was a hazard to navigation for commercial shipping and sank it.

U.S. naval forces regularly perform maritime security operations in the Middle East to ensure the free flow of legitimate trade and to disrupt the transport of illicit cargo that often funds terrorism and other unlawful activity. U.S. Navy warships operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet region have seized approximately 8,700 illicit weapons in 2021.

Guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) seized dozens of advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles, thousands of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, and hundreds of PKM machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from a stateless vessel transiting the North Arabian Sea in May.

In February, guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) seized a cache of weapons off the coast of Somalia, including thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, light machine guns, heavy sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and crew served weapons. The inventory also included barrels, stocks, optical scopes and weapon systems.

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al Mandeb.

U.S. Navy Seizes 1,400 Assault Rifles During Illicit Weapons Interdiction

NORTH ARABIAN SEA (Dec. 21, 2021) Illicit weapons seized from a stateless fishing vessel in the North Arabian Sea are arranged for inventory aboard guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane’s (DDG 77) flight deck, Dec. 21. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Elisha Smith)

“Time to Revise the Japan Coast Guard Act?” –The Diplomat

Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel PL82 Nagura at the Port of Ishigaki. Photo from Wikipedia Commons, by Yasu

The Diplomat reports that Japan is considering changes to their laws governing the Japan Coast Guard.

One proposal seeks to add “maintenance of  territorial sea integrity” and “security of territorial sea” to the Act’s mission, while another seeks to moderate the prerequisites allowing harm through use of weapons by Coast Guard officers. All of these proposals seek to give the JCG more muscle.

I don’t have a feel for what the actual proposed changes are, but I do know the Japan Coast Guard does not have the same close relationships with the Japanese Navy (Maritime Defense Force) that the USCG enjoys with the USN. It is not a military service. They don’t share equip or even use the same fuel. You can bet they don’t share the same communications systems. This means that the organization is not as useful as it might be in wartime, and, of more immediate concern, it means coordination in crisis is far more difficult.

Currently none of the Japan Coast Guard vessels have weapons larger than 40mm, and very few have an air search radar or any kind of AAW firecontrol system. If Japanese Self Defense Forces are not immediately available as backup, it might be hard not to feel intimidated by better armed China Coast Guard vessels, particularly if supported by aircraft.

This Chinese coast guard ship is equipped with weapons believed to be 76-millimeter guns. © Kyodo

Up-Gunning the China Coast Guard–Add 22 New Type 056 Corvettes

Type 056 corvette, credit 樱井千一

We have a report from Defence.PK, that 22 PLAN Type 056 corvettes are being transferred to the China Coast Guard. These ships are the early models that were completed without the more sophisticated anti-submarine warfare capabilities of the Type 056A. Rather than upgrade them, the Chinese Navy will build 22 additional Type 054A Frigates.

Reportedly they are adding a LED billboard and the missiles are being removed. Probably the torpedoes as well. But that still leaves a 120 round/minute 76 mm gun and a pair of 4,000 round/minute 30mm Gatling Guns.

The China Coast Guard already has more large cutters than the US Coast Guard, despite of the fact that their EEZ is less than 20% that of the US, even if all their outrageous claims were accepted. But most of these cutters have no guns of 20mm or larger. 22 AK-176 76mm guns and 44 AK-630 30mm Gatling Guns will substantially increase the China Coast Guard’s firepower.

These 1500 ton 25 knot ships are a handy size for an area like the South China Sea.

Unlike the US Coast Guard, the China Coast Guard tends to operate their cutters in groups. Three of these, snuggled up to you, at close range, could be very intimidating even to a DDG like those the US Navy uses for Freedom of Navigation Exercises. For relatively unarmed Asian Coast Guard cutters, it would be much more so.

Chinese Naval Forces don’t have a lot of naval victories in their past so the Battle of Paracel Islands, where they defeated the Vietnamese by opening fire at very close range, must assume outsized importance in their imagination.

Image

I note, the cutters China used when they recently turned back a Philippine resupply effort in the South China Sea, included at least one armed with a 76mm gun.

In case you missed it, below is a statement from the US Ambassador to the Philippines (and to China).

“VESSEL REVIEW | KOLACHI – NEW LARGE PATROL VESSEL FOR PAKISTAN MARITIME SECURITY AGENCY” –Baird Maritime

Photo: PMSA

Baird Maritime reports delivery of a Chinese designed Offshore Patrol Vessel to the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), the maritime safety and law enforcement arm of the Pakistan Navy. This second ship was reportedly built in Pakistan while the first was produced in China.

This ship may look a bit familiar. It appears to be a variant of the Type 056 corvette. 72 of the corvettes were inducted into the Chinese PLA Navy between 2013 and 2019. Variants of the class also serve with the Bangladeshi and Nigerian Navies and the China Coast Guard.

There is a Pakistani Coast Guards distinct from the PMSA, but it falls under the authority of the Pakistani Army and functions more like Customs and Border Protection and its Air and Marine Unit, being limited to operations on shore and within the 12 mile limit.

“Coast Guard cutter returns home following Western Pacific deployment” –News Release

Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) crewmember Petty Officer 2nd Class Kurt Chlebek, a boatswains mate, is greeted by his dog after Munro returned to their homeport in Alameda, California, Oct. 20, 2021, following a 102-day, 22,000 nautical mile multi-mission deployment. Munro’s crew departed Alameda in July for a Western Pacific patrol and operated in support of United States Indo-Pacific Command, which oversees military operations in the region. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Matt Masaschi.

Wrap-up of USCGC Munro’s recent deployment to the Western Pacific.

united states coast guard

News Release

Oct. 20, 2021
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

Coast Guard cutter returns home following Western Pacific deployment

Photo of U.S. and Japan Coast Guard vessels
Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew returns home following 102-day, 22,000 nautical mile multi-mission Western Pacific deployment Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew returns home following 102-day, 22,000 nautical mile multi-mission Western Pacific deployment

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

Alameda, Calif. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) and crew returned to their Alameda homeport Wednesday following a 102-day, 22,000-nautical-mile deployment to the Western Pacific.

Munro departed Alameda in July to the Western Pacific to operate under the tactical control of U.S. Navy 7th Fleet to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“Munro’s deployment demonstrated the Coast Guard’s unique authorities in support of the Indo-Pacific command,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Joint operations help strengthen our partnerships through search and rescue, law enforcement, marine environmental response and other areas of mutual interest which preserve a stable and secure global maritime environment.”

Munro’s crew executed numerous cooperative engagements, professional exchanges and capacity building efforts with naval allies and partners, including the Japan Coast Guard, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic ResourcesRoyal Australian Navy, and Indonesia Maritime Security Agency.

“Our relationships in the Western Pacific are stronger today, and our partners are unified in their commitment to security,” said Capt. Blake Novak, commanding officer of Munro. “It was an incredible opportunity for our crew to participate alongside allies, sharing search and rescue and law enforcement concepts to promote peace, prosperity, and the sovereign rights of all nations.”

As both a federal law enforcement agency and an armed force, the U.S. Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to conduct defense operations in support of 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.

Munro is one of four 418-foot national security cutters homeported in Alameda. National security cutters like Munro feature advanced command and control capabilities, aviation support facilities, stern cutter boat launch, and increased endurance for long-range patrols, enabling the crews to disrupt threats to national security further offshore.

Photos from the Munro’s deployment are available here.

“U.S. Coast Guard cutter trains with Indonesia’s Maritime Security Agency” –News Release

Members onboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro man the rails during a maritime engagement with the Indonesia Maritime Safety Agency in the Singapore Straight, Sept. 20, 2021. Coast Guard Cutter Munro is currently deployed to the Western Pacific to strengthen alliances and partnerships, and improve maritime governance and security in the region. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin G. Rivas)

Below is a Pacific Area News release, more of USCGC Munro’s adventures in the Western Pacific. You can also see the four accompanying photos here.

Indonesia has a unique organization that includes two coast guard like institutions,

The relationship between the two agencies seems to have been in flux. The Indonesian Navy also has a number of patrol boats that would correspond to US Coast Guard patrol boats. The Indonesian Navy is also constructing Offshore Patrol Vessels comparable to large Coast Guard Cutters.

The Indonesian ship seen in the photographs is KN Dana (323), a 80 meter Offshore Patrol Vessel, one of a class of three Damen designed vessels of the Bakamla. There is also a larger 110 meter OPV, all are relatively new.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
September 21, 2021
Contact: Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs
Office: (510) 437-3375
D11-DG-M-PACAREA-PA@uscg.mil
Pacific Area online newsroom

U.S. Coast Guard cutter trains with Indonesia’s Maritime Security Agency

U.S. Coast Guard and Indonesian Coast Guard U.S. Coast Guard Captain Novak waves to Indonesian Coast Guard vessel U.S. Coast Guard and Indonesian Coast Guard

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

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) conducted operations and exercises with the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency and coast guard, the Badan Keamanan Laut (known as BAKAMLA), September 20, in the Singapore Strait.

 Together, the crews participated in ship-to-ship communications drills, multi-unit maneuvering and maritime domain awareness while at sea.

 “These maritime exercises with our Indonesian partners forge a stronger relationship, allowing our respective crews to work together and build on each others’ strengths,” said Munro’s Commanding Officer Capt. Blake Novak. “Strengthening our alliances and partnerships fosters our unified commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and promotes peace, security, prosperity and the sovereign rights of all nations.”

 The U.S. Coast Guard partnership with Indonesia continues to grow stronger. In 2019, the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton conducted engagements with BAKAMLA as part of the Western Pacific deployment, including a port call in Batam and an exercise in the Riau Islands Province. The Stratton also participated in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training with the Indonesian Navy in 2019.

Munro, a 418-foot national security cutter, departed its home port of Alameda, California, in July for a months-long deployment to the Western Pacific. Operating under the tactical control of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, the cutter and crew are engaging in professional exchanges and capacity-building exercises with partner nations and patrolling and conducting operations as directed. National security cutters like Munro feature advanced command and control capabilities, aviation support facilities, stern cutter boat launch, and increased endurance for long-range patrols, enabling the crews to disrupt threats to national security further offshore.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is proud to operate with the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency and coast guard to enhance capabilities, strengthen maritime governance, security and promote rules-based international order,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Strengthening partnerships contributes to the region’s maritime common good in search and rescue, law enforcement, marine environmental response and other areas of mutual interest.” 

As both a federal law enforcement agency and an armed force, the USCG is uniquely positioned to conduct defense operations in support of 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.

More photos from Munro’s Western Pacific deployment are available here. Subscribe here to receive notifications when new photos are added.

                                

“Smugglers Fake Ship Identities to Evade North Korea Sanctions” –MarineLink

This photo provided by Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force shows an apparent ship-to-ship transfer involving a North Korean tanker in the East China Sea.

MarineLink reports on a study that found that,

“Smugglers suspected of evading sanctions on North Korea have turned to schemes to create fraudulent identities for sanctioned ships…the group’s case studies of two ships allegedly involved in evading North Korea sanctions show how the IMO registration process can be hijacked to issue a registered identity to a non-existent vessel, which in turn can be used to disguise the identity of other ships, the report said.”

Bangladesh OPVs and a New USV, Worth the Read

A couple of stories brought to my attention by readers,

Bangladesh Navy , BNS Bijoy, armed with 1 x H/PJ-26 76 mm main gun, 4 × C-704 AShM, and 2 × Oerlikon 20 mm auto cannons

First a look at how Bangladesh has been using a couple of second hand British built Castle class OPVs. (Bangladesh now has two former USCG WHECs, so its good to see they take care of their ships. Thanks to Sven for bringing this to my attention.)

USV sighted in San Diego

Second, a report of a new unmanned surface vessel operating in San Diego. Looks like a test mule rather than a final product. (Thanks to CaptnMike for sending me the link.)

Royal Navy Deploys Two OPVs for Five Years to No Base in Particular

We have deployed cutters to the Western Pacific for months at a time, and PATFORSWA kept its 110s operating out of Bahrain for years, but the Royal Navy seems to be doing something different and I believe remarkable.

Naval News reports they are sending a pair of River Batch II class ships, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, well beyond the Suez. It sounds all very 18th Century Star Trek, “Our Five Year Mission, Proceed into the Indian and Pacific Oceans and act in the Queen’s Interests.” (No, not a real quote.)

If these ships were in the US Coast Guard we would see them as MECs. They are slightly larger and faster than the 270s, but are not as well equipped in some respects. They are armed only with a 30mm gun and no helicopter hangar. I don’t believe they have any ESM/ECM. Their crew is also considerably smaller, smaller in fact than that of a 210. (I have seen various numbers for the crew size, 34 in the infographic above, 58 in Wikipedia, 46 as reported below, but all well below the 75 common on a 210 or the 100 typical of a 270.)

“Each ship is crewed by 46 sailors, with half the crew trading places with shipmates from the UK every few weeks.”

The Royal Navy actually has considerable experience keeping OPVs deployed for long periods with austere support.

We might even see one of these helping with drug interdiction in the Eastern Pacific, more likely they will be countering piracy and drug or arms trafficing in the Indian Ocean or capacity building in East Africa or SE Asia. Maybe we could make a multi-national Freedom of Navigation transit of the Taiwan Strait.