“Turkish Dearsan Lays Keel Of First Of Two OPVs For Nigeria” –Naval News

Rendering of HE OPV-76 vessels (Screenshot from Dearsan video–via Naval News)

Naval News reports,

Turkish Dearsan Shipyard laid the keel of the first of two high-endurance offshore patrol vessels (HE OPV 76) for the Nigerian Navy during a ceremony held at Dearsan’s facilities in Istanbul on September 16, 2022.

Turkey is becoming an increasingly capable and respected arms supplier and shipbuilder.

With a population of over 218 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the sixth most populous in the world.

The Nigerian Navy and Coast Guard has an eclectic fleet sourced from the US, Europe, China, and Israel, along with some locally built small craft. They currently operates two of the former USCG 378 foot high endurance cutters which are their largest fully operational ships. Reportedly they also have four former USCG 180 foot buoy tenders and 15 USCG type “Defender class” Response Boat, Small.

Gulf of Guinea, from Wikipedia

Nigeria’s territorial sea and EEZ is relatiely small, less than 2% that of the US, but their marine environment is complex with a history of piracy and smuggling, with many countries in and around the Gulf of Guinea complicating jurisdiction.

The New OPVs:

We talked about these ships earlier.

There have been some, mostly minor changes in the specs:

The reported displacement is likely to be light displacement since, these ships are considerably larger than the 1,127 ton full load Reliance class and nearly as large as the 1,800 ton Bear class. Given their range, they don’t carry a lot of fuel, so I would expect about 1,500 tons full load.

The armament is lighter than initially reported (earlier reports indicated 76mm + 40mm +  MBDA Simbad RC systems for Mistral short range surface to air missiles). The electronics also appear to have been simplified. This was probably a cost saving measure, but the ships remain better armed than most OPVs of comparable size, in that they have two medium caliber guns rather than just one, probably a good idea. The provision for at least three, probably four, electro optic devices mounted on the weapon stations mean they are particularly well provided for in this respect.

Back view of the HE OPV-76 rendering while conducting helo ops (Screenshot from Dearsan video–via Naval News)

We see an illustration of what the stern of the ship looks like. No hangar is provided.

There might be an issue with the boat handling arrangement. Boats are visible under the flight deck, but neither davits nor stern ramps are really visible. Looks like stanchions and the centerline support at the transom preclude a single centerline boat launch ramp like the NSCs have.

Twin launch ramps also appear unlikely. There no visible ramp doors, and the RHIBs we can see do not appear to be on an incline.

Arms might extend outward from under the flight deck to act as davits. If that is the case, with the boats so far aft of the center of pitch, there may be difficulties when the ship is pitching. That may require them to seek a heading that will minimize pitch, just as cutters with stern ramps do, when the boat returns to the cutter, but with the boats being suspended during launch and recovery, they would also want to minimize roll.

“USCGC Mohawk Arrives in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire” –SeaWaves

USCGC Mohawk (WMEC-913), Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC-1147), and John Scheuerman (WPC-1146)

SeaWaves report,

The Famous-class medium endurance cutter USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) arrived in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire for a scheduled port visit August 12.

The visit demonstrates the strengthening security cooperation relationship between the United States and Côte d’Ivoire. While in Abidjan, the Mohawk crew will exchange with Côte d’Ivoire maritime forces, including medical response treatment, close quarters combat and casualty care, illegal contraband collection and handling, and Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) demonstrations.


Mohawk is forward-deployed to the U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) area of operations, while employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet. Mohawk is on a West Africa patrol to demonstrate partnership with regional partners and conduct a routine presence patrol. Since July, the Mohawk has made port calls to Senegal, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone.

This is a continuation of a voyage that initially escorted the last two Webber class WPCs bound for Bahrain, where they replace 110 foot WPBs that have long served Patrol Forces South West Asia (PATFORSWA). Some previous reporting,

“USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) arrives in Lisbon, Portugal”–Navy.mil–and Two More FRCs for PATFORSWA, and “USCGC Mohawk arrives in Dakar, Senegal” –SeaWaves July, 2022

This is only the latest visit by a WMEC270 to Africa. Some previous reports:

Exercise Obangame Express 2019 –Capacity Building in West Africa, Mar. 2019 and “The U.S. Coast Guard’s Mission to Africa” –USNI, Apr. 2019, USCGC Thetis (WMEC-910)

“The Long Blue Line: Operation “Relevant Ursa”–Bear training in West Africa” –Coast Guard Compass, Oct. 2020, USCGC Bear (WMEC-901)

Thetis Escorts FRCs Transatlantic, and “U.S., Spain, Morocco collaborate to conduct rescue at sea” –LANT AREA News Release, Jan. 2022, USCGC Thetis (WMEC-910)

 

“New Drug Seizure By The French Navy In The Gulf Of Guinea” –Naval News

Naval News reports seizure of 1.7 tons of cocaine in an unusual place, the Gulf of Guinea, off the West coast of Africa. It was apparently incidental a normal French Navy deployment, not specifically a drug interdiction operation.

I found it a bit unusual that the cocaine did not appear to be well hidden. That might indicate how unlikely interception along this route may be.

Significantly this interception was conducted in cooperation with the Gulf of Guinea Interregional Network’s centers of the Yaoundé Process.

The “Landing Helicopter Dock” (LHD) Mistral, is certainly not the type vessel typically involved in drug interdiction.

The frigate involved, FS Courbet, is a Lafayette class frigate. This class always seemed similar in function to Coast Guard WHECs, because, as built, they had no ASW capability. Aside from the Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles they carried, in many respects their capabilities were similar, particularly after the WHECs were FRAMed. The French ships were built about aboout three decades after the Hamilton class. In some ways they apear to be as an intermediate design between the Hamilton class and the Bertholfs. FS Courbet is smaller (3600 tons full load), slower (25 knots), and has less range than the Bertholf class NSCs (7,000 nmi), but has been recently upgraded with a hull mounted sonar, improved point defense AAW systems, and later model Exocet ASCMs.

“Danish Navy Frigate Kills 4 Pirates in Gulf of Guinea Anti-Piracy Mission” –USNI

Gulf of Guinea, from Wikipedia

The US Naval Institute reports an incident off the West African Coast in which a Danish Frigate, the HDMS Esbern Snare (F342), while engaged in a counter piracy operation, observed a suspicious vessel and attempted to investigate. This led an exchange of gunfire.

“By the evening, Esbern Snare was close enough to launch rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) carrying Danish naval special forces personnel and called on the boat to halt and permit boarding, the news release said. When the boat refused to respond to the call, warning shots were fired, with the pirates responding by firing directly at the personnel in the RHIBs. A brief firefight then ensued, in which no Danish personnel were hit but five pirates were shot, with four of them killed and one wounded.”

The USCG cutter operate in this area periodically, doing “capacity building.” Its not impossible a cutter will find itself in a similar situation.

The imbalance of the results of the firefight, 5-0, which probably would have looked fairly even on paper, speaks volumes for the equipping and training of the Danish boat crew and boarding party.

A Cutter X for Nigeria Built in Turkey

Dearsan OPV 76 design

Naval News reports a contract has been reached for Turkish shipbuilder Dearsan to construct two offshore patrol vessels for the Nigerian Navy.

The OPV 76 is 78.6 meters long and 11 meters wide. The draft of the ship is 2.9 meters and the displacement is about 1200 tons. It can reach a top speed of 26 knots, and has a range of 3000 nautical miles with economical speed. The ship can be operated by a crew of 46.

These are pretty close to what I envisioned as Cutter X, but with more weapons.

They are attractive little ships, and better armed than most. You can see the 76mm gun on the bow. The 40mm gun is sited on the aft end of the superstructure. MBDA Simbad RC launch systems for Mistral short range surface to air missiles are positioned on the starboard aft and port forward corners of the superstructure. .50 caliber machine guns mounted in remote operating stations occupy the other two corners.

If my research is correct, the four diesel engines will provide at least 16,000 HP (12,000 kW).

I don’t see davits, so I presume it will have a stern ramp for launching boats. The flight deck appears to be raised enough to allow “garage” space for boats and perhaps other systems.

None of the photos provide a good view from aft looking forward, but it appears unlikely to include a hangar for an embarked helo. There might be room for a UAS hangar.

Within the context of Nigeria’s neighborhood, the Gulf of Guinea, these will be seen as relatively powerful warships. They will join two former USCG 378s and two Chinese built corvettes as the principle combatants of the Nigerian Navy. The area has had a history of piracy and maritime robbery, but Nigeria has been making progress in curbing the problem. Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, a nation with huge potential, and it has demonstrated regional leadership in participating in UN peacekeeping missions. The US Coast Guard has been making an effort to help, and it appears to paying off.

I see that the Nigerian Navy also operates four former USCG 180 foot buoy tenders.

a Gulf of Guinea, from Wikipedia

“Navy of Cameroon plans to purchase two Island-class American patrol boats” –NavyRecognition

The Coast Guard Cutter Naushon (WPB 1311) 110-foot Island-class patrol boat and crew conduct training in Kachemak Bay near Homer, Alaska, Feb. 16, 2018.(Picture source U.S. Defense Visual Information)

NavyRecognition is reporting that two of the 110 foot Island class cutters will be going to Cameroon.

Cameroon is one of several West African nations that share coast lines on the Gulf of Guinea. The area has been a hot spot for piracy and other forms of maritime criminal activity.

Exercise Obangame Express 2019 –Capacity Building in West Africa

Coast Guardsmen assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis (WMEC-910) approach a stranded fishing vessel to render assistance in the Gulf of Guinea, March 14, 2019. Thetis, homeported in Key West, Florida, is on its first patrol to support operations with U.S. Africa Command and U.S. 6th Fleet. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally/Released)

Coast Guardsmen assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis approach a stranded fishing vessel to render assistance in the Gulf of Guinea. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally)

USCGC Thetis (WMEC-910) has been participating in a capacity building exercise in the Gulf of Guinea. I would not have known that except that the cutter rescued a couple of fishermen already given up for dead.

Looking for news of the wrap up, Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, and commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, did recognize the cutter.

More than 220 U.S. military personnel participated in OE19, including the crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis (WMEC 910). Specifically, United States forces conducted training in visit, board, search and seizure, maritime interdiction operations, legal, and surface warfare.

This was a pretty big exercise.

“We brought 33 countries together, [including] 95 ships, 12 high-performance aircraft, 19 maritime operations centers, [all] tied together in Obangame Express, and seven national military command centers for over 80 scenarios and exercises in the last two weeks,” said Foggo.

https://www.stripes.com/news/us-partners-work-to-strengthen-sea-policing-as-piracy-off-west-africa-surges-1.573639

This is the ninth iteration of the exercise.

“Obangame Express has grown in scope from a communications exercise to become what it is now — a comprehensive maritime security event that exercises the full spectrum of activities from command and control, to maritime force responses, and ultimately the handing and transfer of evidence to bring criminals to justice,” said Rear Adm. Heidi Berg. “Today, we face serious challenges at sea such as illegal fishing, trafficking of weapons, narcotics, people, and the ongoing threat of piracy. This illicit activity undermines rule of law, food security, and economic development. Our efforts here will help make the region a safer place for maritime commerce and help increase prosperity throughout the region.”

The 33 nations scheduled to participate include Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, Turkey and the United States, as well as the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States.

One of the highlights of the event was the opening of a Maritime training school in Nigeria.

As part of the events to open the 2019 Obangame Express, Consul General Bray and Vice Admiral Ibas commissioned the Nigerian Navy’s Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Training School in Apapa. The training school was built by the Nigerian Navy and equipped by the United States Navy.

 

Gulf of Guinea, from Wikipedia

If you look at the Gulf of Guiana you can see that a fleeing pirate can quickly transit from one jurisdiction to another. They need cooperation between neighboring states.

Obangame Express is part of a comprehensive strategy by U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa to provide collaborative opportunities among African forces and international partners that address maritime security concerns. The Nigerian Navy is hosting the 2019 exercise from March 14 to 22.

The word ‘Obangame’ comes from the Fang language of southern Cameroon and other parts of Central Africa. It means “togetherness.”

This area still needs a lot of help. Five crew members were recently kidnapped off of an Offshore Support Vessel despite protection of an armed Nigerian Navy escort. One Nigerian Navy Guard was killed in the exchange of gun fire.

“According to the International Maritime Bureau, the number of piracy incidents reported in the Gulf of Guineas in 2018 in surged to 201 incidents, including six hijackings, marking a steep rise from 180 incidents in 2017 and 191 in 2016. Among the 201 incidents reported, there were 13 ships were fired upon, 130 hostages taken, and 78 seafarers kidnapped for ransom. To make matters worse, some experts estimate that some 40% of incidents in the region go unreported, so the number of actual incidents is likely much higher. “

They do seem to be making some progress in achieving greater coordination helped by these exercises.

COMMODORE OLISEMENOGOR: “… Within the last three months in Western Naval command areas, I think we have arrested over fifty-something vessels based on this collaboration with other nations.”

A Conversation with Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard–CSIS

CSIS and the United States Naval Institute (USNI) conduct an interview with Admiral Karl L. Schultz, the 26th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, conducted 1 August, 2018.

Below I will attempt to outline the conversation, noting the topics and in some cases providing a comment.

The first question is about immigration. Coast Guard is the “away game.” minimizing the factors that push immigration to the US.

The Commandant does not expect a substantial increase in help from the Navy, because they are already heavily tasked, but would welcome any additional help.

06:30 Talk about Inland fleet. Congressional support is evident. $25M provided so far.

9:20 House Appropriations Committee decision to divert $750M from the icebreaker program to fund “the Wall” in their markup of the FY2019 budget bill. The Commandant is “guardedly optimistic”

11:30 Human capital readiness? Operating account has been flat and effectively we have lost 10% in purchasing power. Want to increase leadership training.

16:30 Support for combatant commanders.

18:00 Capacity building and partnering. Detachments working on host nation platforms.

21:00 Defense Force planning–Not going back to the MARDEZ model.

22:30 Situation in Venezuela/Preparation for dealing with mass migration.

24:30 Arctic forums–Need to project our sovereignty

29:00 UNCLOS

30:00 Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)

32:30 Tracking cargo as an element of MDA

34:00 Cyber

36:15 High Latitude engagement/partnerships.

39:30 Perhaps the icebreaker should be the “Polar Security Cutter?”

40:00 International ice patrol, still an important mission.

41:00 CG role in response to Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea. In discussion with Indo-Pacific Command. Will see more CG presence there.

44:00 Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC)–on track

46:30 Border issue — passed on that

48:00 Small satellites–we are looking at them

49:00 African Capacity building/cooperation. May send an MEC.

51:30 Tech modernization. Looking at it more holistically.

Other Coverage:

This interview prompted a couple of notable posts.

SeaPower’s coverage of the discussion is here. They focused on the growth of demands on the Coast Guard.

Military.com reported on the possibility of a greater Coast Guard role in South East Asia and capacity building in Africa. It probably should be noted that the title, “Coast Guard Could Send Ship to Pacific to ‘Temper Chinese Influence’,”is a bit deceptive in that the Commandant’s remark about tempering Chinese Influence was in regard to Oceania, the islands of the Central and Western Pacific. The Commandant was quoted in the Seapower post, “In the Oceania region, there are places where helping them protect their interests, tempering that Chinese influence, is absolutely essential.”

Document Alert: World Wide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, 2/9/16

We have a statement for the record (pdf) from James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, dated February 9, 2016. Perhaps it is the nature of the beast, but there is no good news, and much that is bad.

Smuggling of every type appears to be on the rise including drugs and people. We can expect an increase in illegal immigration as a result of violence, poverty, and disorder in Latin America and particularly Cuba and Central America.

It is a relatively compact document. There are sections on Terrorism (pp 4-6), transnational organized crime (pp 11-12), Arctic (p 13), Environmental Risks and Climate Change (pp 13-14), health (including potential pandemics) (pp 14-15), and Global Displacement, “These 60 million consist of approximately 20 million refugees, 38 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), and approximately 2 million stateless persons, also according to UNHCR statistics.” (p.15)

There are also regional assessments including one on Latin America and the Caribbean (pp 28-29).

There is no regional assessment for the US. In terms of direct terrorist threats to the US, while there is a recognition of an aspiration on the part of various groups to attack the US, but the emphasis seems to be on “homegrown violent extremists” (HVEs) and there is nothing about the possibility of a maritime attack on the US. Is that because none exist?

OBANGAME EXPRESS 2015: Two steps forward. One step back.–CIMSEC

Very interesting and balanced assessment of an exercise in the Gulf of Guinea from a German observer describing the successes and failures in attempting coordination between nations with long held suspicions and distrust.

Former USCG 378 figures prominently in an accompanying photo.

This is an important, but difficult area to work in. Fractured politically, the exercise included 23 nations. This was a US sponsored exercise, but it had substantial European participation.

Nice to see an honest exercise report, that is more than all sweetness and light.