“Bollinger to acquire Halter Marine and STEHMO” –Marine Log/Polar Icebreaker Progam in Trouble?

Photo of a model of Halter Marine’s Polar Security Cutter seen at Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exhibition have surfaced. Photo credit Chris Cavas.

There are two closely related posts here that are significant for the Polar Security Cutter (heavy icebreaker) program. The first is an announcement that Bollinger is acqiring VT Halter and ST Engineering Halter Marine and Offshore, Inc from Singapore’s STE. The second article is from Forbes by industry observer Craig Hooper, published shortly before the announcement. It reports that, it appears VT Halter underbid the PSC contract and was headed for a disasterous loss. The schedule of delivery has slipped more than once. VT Halter has still not started cutting steel for the ship more than three years after the contract award.

I can’t say this is exactly good news, but solutions begin by recognizing you have a problem. We have had a series of warning signs and at least now there seems to be a change in management to a team with a proven track record.

“Indonesia spearheading regional cooperation in South China Sea” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

Indonesian Maritime Security Agency vessel KN Tanjung Datu, left, sails alongside U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton during joint exercises in the Singapore Strait in August 2019. IMAGE CREDIT: PO1 LEVI READ, USCG

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum reports,

Indonesia is reaching out to its South China Sea neighbors to foster harmony on maritime sovereignty issues and enhance cooperation among regional coast guards, analysts say. The nation engaged closely with Vietnam in late 2021 and plans to add five countries to the collaborative effort in 2022.

It appears Indonesia is working with its SE Asian neighbors to resolve their bilateral maritime territorial disputes based on UNCLOS and develop multi-lateral agreement.

This would allow the ASEAN nations to present a united front, to push back against China’s expansive claims. It might even lead to something like my proposed Combined Maritime Security Task Force.

“Republic Of Singapore Navy Stands Up New Maritime Security And Response Flotilla” –Naval News

Note the graphic may be distorted here, click on it for a better view. 

Naval News reports that the Singapore Navy has formed a new “Maritime Security and Response Flotilla.”

“As part of the restructured Maritime Security Command, the new MRSF is set up to better trackle evolving maritime threats that have grown in scale and complexity, particularly in the Singapore strait area. According to a recent French Navy report on worldwide maritime piracy and robbery, robbery is on the rise in South East Asia, particularly in the Straits of Singapore and Malacca.”

Aside from a pair of tugs, the primary assets of the new flotilla are four renovated and renamed Fearless Class patrol craft that will fill the function until a new class is completed (expected in 2026).

Perhaps most interesting, are the changes made to the vessels for their new role. These include enhanced communications equipment, a long range acoustic device and laser dazzler system, installation of a fender system, and modular ballistics protection–and a red racing stripe.

The Fearless Class patrol craft: Twelve vessels commissioned 1996-98. All out of service by the end of 2020, replaced by eight Littoral Missions Ships.

  • Displacement: 500 tons fl
  • Length: 55 m (180 ft)
  • Beam: 8.6 m (28.2 ft)
  • Draft: 2.2 m (7.2 ft)
  • Speed: 36 knots
  • Propulsion: 16,860 HP, two KaMeWa waterjets
  • Range 1,800@15 knots

Singapore also has a Police Coast Guard as part of its Police Force with patrol craft of up to 35 meters in length.