“U.N. campaign targets illicit fishing” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

A picture taken on November 16, 2011 from a South Korean helicopter shows Chinese fishermen wielding sticks to stop an attack by South Korean coastguard commandoes armed with clubs aboard rubber boats during a crackdown on alleged illegal fishing in South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea off the southwestern coast county of Buan. South Korea’s coastguard mobilised 12 ships, four helicopters and commandoes for a special three-day crackdown on illegal fishing by Chinese boats this week. REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT AFP PHOTO / DONG-A ILBO (Photo credit should read DONG-A ILBO/AFP/Getty Images)

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum reports that today is the United Nations’ “International Day for the Fight Against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.”

The humanitarian and economic fallout of illicit fishing is significant in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere. Each year it deprives the world’s oceans of 11 million to 26 million metric tons of fish and other seafood worth an estimated U.S. $10 billion to $23 billion.

IUU fishing accounts for 1 in 5 fish caught worldwide, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports.

The short report provides an overview of the problem, identifies the Chinese fishing fleet and the most agrediuous perpetrator, and discusses what is being done to address the problem.

One of the recent steps taken is the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) discussed here. Perhaps an additional step could be something like my proposal for a Combined Maritime Security Task Force.

“US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation” –PAC AREA News Release / “Royal Navy and US Coast Guard to Forge Closer Bonds”

Ships from the U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard conducted exercises near the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, Feb. 21, 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Japan Coast Guard Ship Akitsushima, two of the respective services’ newest and most capable vessels, operated alongside helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles to practice interdicting foreign vessels operating illegally inside Japanese waters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball/Released)

The Coast Guard has been busy increasing its international visibility. Below is a news release concerning increased cooperation with the Japanese Coast Guard that came out yesterday. Today, I see a SeaWaves report, also dated yesterday that,

“The Royal Navy and US Coast Guard have vowed to work more closely to fight crime and protect the planet. The two services already combine to stop drugs traffickers in the Caribbean and Middle East, assist each other with operations in the polar regions, run exchange programs for sailors and frequently work and train side-by-side around the globe.”

The new relationship with the Royal Navy includes expanded personnel postings that began back in 2014.

There are also plans to build on already successful exchange programs, which allows USCG engineers to work with the Royal Navy but will soon also allow pilots and aircrew to do the same. (emphasis applied–Chuck)

Perhaps we are not too far from exercising something like my proposed “Combined Maritime Security Task Force Pacific” with a US Coast Guard Cutter, a Japanese Coast Guard Cutter, and a Royal Navy River Class OPV working with navies and coast guards of SE Asia to protect their EEZ. Perhaps the Indian Coast Guard will join as well.

News Release

May 19, 2022
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation

US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation

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

TOKYO — The United States and Japan coast guards formally expanded cooperative agreements and established a new perpetual operation during a ceremony Wednesday in Tokyo.

Vice Adm. Michael McAllister, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, and Vice Adm. Yoshio Seguchi, Japan Coast Guard vice commandant for operations, represented their respective services during the historic document signing ceremony and celebration at Japan Coast Guard Headquarters.

Although a memorandum of cooperation between the sea services has existed since 2010, strengthened relationships, increasing bilateral engagements and continued focus on maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific necessitated expansion of the memorandum.

The new operation’s name, SAPPHIRE, is an acronym for Solid Alliance for Peace and Prosperity with Humanity and Integrity on the Rule of law based Engagement, and it honors the gem regarded as an emblem of integrity and affection found throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Operation Sapphire encompasses all the annual interactions between the Japan and U.S. coast guards, with the goal of increasing interactions over time.

To formalize the expanded cooperation, annexes were added to the existing memorandum of cooperation outlining Operation Sapphire to include standard operating procedures for combined operations, training and capacity building, and information sharing.

“We rely on our partners, allies, and like-minded nations to achieve our shared missions,” said McAllister. “As evidenced by this agreement, our relationship with the Japan Coast Guard is stronger than ever, and I am looking forward to many more decades of partnership and collaborative operations in the Indo-Pacific.”

“We will conduct smooth cooperation in the fields of joint operation, capacity building and information sharing by this agreement” said Seguchi. “Sapphire embodies the rule-of-law based engagement between the coast guards, and we will expand the principle of Free and Open Indo-Pacific to other nations.”

 

“Obangame Express 2022 Promotes Cooperation To Fight Sea Crime” –ADF Magazine

Members of the U.S. Navy share critical care techniques with the Senegalese Navy during Obangame Express 2022. U.S. NAVY

I got a reminder that the Obangame Exercise 2022 had concluded (Brazil sent an OPV), so I went looking for some information about possible Coast Guard participation. I found none, although I feel sure at least some special teams were involved.

This report from AFRICOM’s African Defense Forum does include an interesting note,

One important element of the exercise is practicing the use of SeaVision, a maritime domain awareness tool that helps professionals in the operations center track vessels at sea. Created in 2012 by the U.S., this tool is used by about 25 African countries to monitor their waters.

Is this system system something the Coast Guard uses? Is it used by our friends in Latin America? SE Asia? Sounds interesting.

“U.S. forges maritime technology collaborations to improve domain awareness” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum brings us news of a Navy sponsored Maritime Domain Awareness program that may be very useful to the Coast Guard.

Recent successes include the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL’s) new program, called Proteus, to identify, query and filter maritime vessels based on user-defined criteria and the Defense Innovation Unit’s (DIU’s) international competition, known as xView3, to create machine learning models to locate and distinguish maritime vessels with synthetic aperture radar.

“Artificial intelligence combined with satellite imagery provides a new capability to detect suspected IUU fishing vessels that may otherwise elude U.S. and partner nations fisheries enforcement agencies. This increased maritime domain awareness can be shared with like-minded partner nations to enable them to protect their sovereignty.”

The NRL’s Proteus software, pictured, monitors sea vessels so stakeholders can “collaboratively discover and investigate suspicious and illegal maritime activity throughout the world in ways never before possible,” said Cameron Naron, the U.S. Maritime Administration’s maritime security director.

A description here by the US Naval Research Laboratory.

“PROTEUS is an exciting new U.S. government Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) system providing a powerful array of MDA information and analysis tools,” said Cameron Naron, Director of Maritime Security, US Maritime Administration. “This system enables MDA stakeholders to collaboratively discover and investigate suspicious and illegal maritime activity throughout the world in ways never before possible.”

  • Additional actions supported by PROTEUS include: Counter Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF)
  • Maritime Protected Areas (MPAs)
  • Search and Rescue (SAR)
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Environmental Protection & Response
  • Maritime Law Enforcement
  • Counter smuggling (drugs, weapons, money, people)

This could be of assistance to any nation attempting to counter Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing, including the island nations of the Western Pacific, who are desperately short on resources to monitor their ocean assets.

“Predicting illegal fishing activity is tip of the iceberg for mature AI technology” –BAE

BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams.

Below is a company press release, but it is an interesting one, with relevance to Coast Guard missions. The Obangame Express Exercise is one the Coast Guard has participated in, in the past. More info on the exercise here and here.


BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams.

The old “finding a needle in a haystack” analogy doesn’t begin to articulate the challenge associated with illegal fishing detection and identification. While a ship may be larger than a needle, the ocean is certainly larger than your biggest haystack. Add the need to not only find the ship, but determine its recent activities, anticipate future movements, and compare them with all other ships in the area — and do it in near real-time using open source data feeds.

At the Obangame Express event, which is the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western Africa, BAE Systems’ Multi-INT Analytics for Pattern Learning and Exploitation (MAPLE) as a Service, MaaS for short, was integrated with SeaVision, the U.S. Navy’s premier tool for unclassified interagency and coalition maritime data sharing. SeaVision is a maritime situational awareness tool that ingests maritime vessel position data from various government and commercial sources and simultaneously displays them on the same screen in a web browser.

“Military organizations use illegal fishing as a model application due to the unclassified nature of the available data,” said Neil Bomberger, chief scientist at BAE Systems’ FAST LabsTM research and development organization. “Successful detection of illegal fishing activity helps address a serious challenge and highlights another use case for our mature artificial intelligence technology.”

Giving depth to data

While manual analysis of individual vessel tracks is possible, it gets exponentially more challenging and time-consuming for large numbers of vessels. BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams. This enables analysts to quickly answer time-sensitive questions, prioritize manual data analysis activities, identify higher-level trends, and focus on decision-making instead of manual data analysis.

During the event, BAE Systems’ MaaS technology processed streaming data and automatically detected vessel behavior events that SeaVision displayed as an additional data layer to support user-friendly and timely analysis. The technology provides full visibility into the data to allow the users to check whether the detected behavior warrants further investigation. This helps build trust in the automation and supports additional analysis.

Decades in the making

BAE Systems’ FAST Labs maritime sensemaking capabilities are rooted in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Backed by nearly two decades of development, their behavior recognition and pattern analysis capabilities continue to show significant utility in real-world environments.

The cloud-based artificial intelligence technology was matured via work on the Geospatial Cloud Analytics (GCA) program. In the months since the successful event, the FAST Labs organization has continued to develop and mature its autonomy portfolio. Elements of its autonomy technology have proven successful in multiple domains including air, land, and sea.

“This successful event delivers on the promise of mature artificial intelligence technology – easy to integrate, incorporating trust, and providing fast and actionable information in a real-world scenario,” continued Bomberger. “The event showcased how our artificial intelligence technology can be deployed in a cloud environment, integrated with a government tool, and used to address relevant maritime activities.”

“U.S. upgrades Bahamas’ maritime security” –The Watch

Source: CIA, The World Factbook, 2004.

NORTHCOM’s on-line magazine, “The Watch,” reports,

“The United States recently bolstered maritime security in the Bahamas by delivering a radar system to its partner in the Caribbean region.

“The U.S. $2.4 million-dollar MSS (Maritime Surveillance System–Chuck) is part of a commitment of more than $10 million to empower the Bahamas to better ensure the safety and security of its vast archipelago, the news release said. The radar is the second MSS installed with funding from USNORTHCOM, the first having become operational on the island of Great Inagua in 2019. Third and fourth systems have been proposed for Ragged Island and Great Exuma.”

There is more of course.

Now, do we have comparable systems on Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands?

Sea Fighter Analysis, U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center, 2007

“Sea Fighter” in Coast Guard colors

Thought perhaps this study might be of interest, and did not want to loose the link to the study. Some of the conclusions seem to bear on any discussion of the important characteristics of Coast Guard cutters, particularly as our Maritime Domain Awareness improves.

Characteristics such as speed, crew size, deployable surface and air assets, and requirements for a reconfigurable mission bay would influence the design of any possible future Cutter X. In terms of deployable air assets, it is likely a helicopter/UAS combination would be preferable to the two helicopters considered here, and would make it easier to provide hangar space.

Any requirement for extremely high speed requires careful consideration of the attendant consequences, as we have seen in the LCS program, but we have known how to reliably get speeds up to 33 knots for decades.

I have provided the Executive Summary below.

(Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.)


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Introduction/Objective

The U.S. Coast Guard (CG) Research and Development Center (R&DC) evaluated the U.S. Navy’s Sea Fighter vessel for potential applicability to CG missions. When compared to other CG cutters, Sea Fighter has four unique capabilities/characteristics that could significantly impact CG mission effectiveness:

  • High-speed (50 kts)
  • Multiple deployable surface and air assets (three 11m Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) (Cutter Boats Over-The-Horizon (CB-OTH)) or five 7m RHIBs (Short Range Prosecutors (SRP)), two HH-60s or two HH-65s, and multiple Vertical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (VUAVs))
  • Small crew size (26 persons)
  • Reconfigurable Mission bay (accommodates 12 mission modules)

Methodology

This project evaluated Sea Fighter’s unique capabilities through a combination of engagement modeling and simulation, human systems integration modeling, and Sea Fighter crew and shiprider insights (following multiple R&DC operational test and evaluation exercises).

Results

High-speed and multiple deployable assets were evaluated using engagement modeling. Scenarios were developed to simulate fishing-like vessels (lower speed with higher density) and drug smuggling-like vessels (higher speed with lower density). The results of the analysis showed that by themselves high-speed and multiple deployable assets made little improvement in mission effectiveness. However, as Sea Fighter’s sensor detection range and/or its off-board detection capability (a vital contributor to maritime domain awareness (MDA)) improved, highspeed and multiple deployable assets did lead to significant improvements in mission effectiveness. In the simulated scenarios, improving components of MDA (off-board detection capability) was the critical performance driver, followed closely by increasing intercept speed (from 30 to 50 kts) and increasing the number of deployable assets from two to four (particularly increasing the number of deployable helicopters). These improvements result in an almost 30 percent increase in the number of high-speed targets that can be boarded.

Crew size, required functions, and fatigue associated with a typical CG patrol were evaluated through human system integration (HSI) modeling. With Sea Fighter’s highly automated bridge and engine room, a 26-person crew can sustain many of the required functions. For a typical 14-day patrol, Sea Fighter’s crew could sustain normal Condition-3 watches, multiple boardings (some simultaneously), and multiple VUAV launches. However, HSI modeling showed that Sea Fighter’s crew could not sustain regularly scheduled helicopter flight operations.

To account for these deficiencies, the crew was optimized by adding two boatswain mates and a six-person detachment—Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET), Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST), or Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT). This 28+6 optimal crew was able to sustain all required functions. In a typical 14-day patrol scenario, the 28+6 optimal crew averaged three boardings, two helicopter sorties, and three VUAV sorties each day without exceeding acceptable fatigue levels.

Finally, crew and shipriders provided firsthand observations and insights relative to Sea Fighter’s unique capabilities. Some key insights are:

  • High-speed capability is a distinct advantage in a vessel accomplishing any law enforcement mission and is especially effective at intercepting fast, evasive, and uncooperative targets.
  • Sea Fighter’s ride quality at low speed (less than 15 kts) is very poor and can adversely affect operations or activities; however, ride quality significantly improves at higher speeds (20+kts). The trade off is largely due to hull design consideration made during Sea Fighter’s planning phase.
  • RHIB launch and recovery is limited to 5 kts due to the poorly designed stern ramp and vessel movements at low (less than 15 kts) speeds.
  • A crew of 26 is too small for typical CG operations.
  • Overall, ship layout and configuration are excellent. Bridge layout affords excellent visibility, internal communications, and improved situational awareness with all underway watchstanders located on the bridge. Flight deck lighting, configuration, and manning are exceptional from both a crew and pilot perspective.
  • Sea Fighter’s mission bay can provide remarkable mission flexibility, especially for deployable teams such as MSRTs or MSSTs. However, spaces for 12 mission modules seem a bit excessive for CG needs. In addition, the design of the X-Y crane prohibits moving payloads (including extra 11m or 7m RHIBs) while underway.

Conclusion

A 50-kt Sea Fighter-like vessel with four deployable assets (two 11m OTH RHIBs and two HH60 helicopters) can provide significant performance improvement compared to a traditional 30-kt CG vessel (CG High-Endurance Cutter (WHEC) or CG Patrol Boat (WPB)).

A highly automated Sea Fighter-like vessel, with the crew size of a patrol boat, provides more mission capability than a WHEC. The ModCAT hullform and large mission bay provide excellent flexibility for emerging CG missions and demands. Sea Fighter’s speed and multiple deployable asset capability offer outstanding performance improvement potential for the CG; however, a critical enabler is improving detection capabilities – an element of maritime domain awareness. As MDA improves, a 50-kt patrol vessel capable of deploying four assets could provide a tremendous improvement over current and future 30-kt vessels.

Recommendations

The CG needs to continue to evaluate non-standard hull forms such as ModCAT-type vessels for both speed and modularity purposes. High-speed vessels normally have endurance problems based on their fuel consumption rates. This has been one of the perceived shortcomings of this hullform type. However, the ModCAT hullform (i.e. Sea Fighter) provides very good fuel economy and, given the typical patrol profile (12 kt patrol speed, 20 kt transit speed, and 50 kt intercept speed), the vessel is capable of remaining within the patrol area for an entire patrol period. Opportunities exist for the CG to further evaluate other Navy/DOD high-speed vessels (HSV) such as the M88 Stiletto for MSRT type missions and the HSV platforms, HSV Swift and HSV Joint Venture, for extended duration missions.

Additionally, the CG should look at ways to optimize the number and type of deployable and off-board assets through a more detailed M&S analysis. A 50 kt Sea Fighter-like cutter with four deployable assets (e.g., two 11 m OTH RHIBs and two HH-60 helicopters) can provide significant mission performance improvement compared to a standard 30 kt cutter. To maximize the benefit from embarking four deployable assets (two 11 m OTH RHIBs and two HH-60s), a revised approach to boardings would need to be established. Currently, boardings are to be conducted within two hours from the WHEC (at the WHEC’s maximum speed). Under the MSRT CONOPs, the boarding teams would need to be trained similar to MSRTs which are able to defend themselves while conducting a boarding at greater distances from the patrol vessel.

The CG needs to continue to incorporate more automated systems on-board cutters, but have contingency plans (both personnel and equipment) in place for changes in operational requirements or causalities. In order to derive optimal mission effectiveness, the patrol cutter must be able to safely navigate and operate deployable assets in varying sea states and at a reasonable speed. Sea Fighter’s automated systems allow for these evolutions to be conducted with fewer crew members and with an acceptable margin for safety.

Defending the Homeland

Air Force Magazine talks about how decisions are made when it comes to defending the “Homeland”. It is pretty unwieldy now, but there is hope that it can be streamlined.

The Coast Guard needs to be part of this, both as Maritime Domain Awareness sensors, and as potential response assets.

As new systems are designed, we need to make sure the Coast Guard is included.