NATIONAL 5-YEAR STRATEGY FOR COMBATING ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED, AND UNREGULATED FISHING (2022-2026) / and the Missing Air Element

Under NOAA auspices, the U. S. Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing has issued a five year strategy to address IUU fishing.

There are three identified objectives:

  • Promote Sustainable Fisheries Management and Governance
  • Enhance the Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance of Marine Fishing Operations
  • Ensure Only Legal, Sustainable, and Responsibly Harvested Seafood Enters
    Trade

Five nations have been identified as priorities for development of self sufficiency in the prevention of IUU fishing: Ecuador, Panama, Senegal, Taiwan, and Vietnam. These “Priority States” were selected because their “…vessels: “actively engage in, knowingly profit from, or are complicit in IUU fishing” and, at the same time, the priority flag state “is willing, but lacks the capacity, to monitor or take effective enforcement action against its fleet.”

090808-G-3885B-136
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2009) The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Legare (WMEC 912), left, patrols along side the Senegalese Navy vessel, Poponquine, during joint operations as part of the Africa Partnership Station. The Legare is deployed off the west and central coast of Africa for the six-day joint U.S/Senegalese operation, during which several Senegalese naval vessel boarding team members embarked aboard the Legare and participated in joint boarding and training exercises. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas M. Blue/ Released)

It is likely the Coast Guard will be spending time helping these states build capacity in their navies, coast guards, or maritime police.

The Missing Air Element  

One of the great strengths of the US Coast Guard is its fleet of fixed wing aircraft. They provide an essential detection capability. An air search capability allows the patrol vessels to do less searching and more boardings. Most smaller nations’ maritime law enforcement agencies have only limited, or in many cases, no comparable organic air search capability. Frequently, if they are to have an air search, they require cooperation of another service.

What I have seen of our capacity building efforts, seem to have been focused on surface operations and boarding team work.

Recognizing fishing vessels is not in the skill set of most air force crews. Frequently communications between surface vessels and air units are not compatible. In many air forces their aircraft virtually never go out over blue water.

The US Coast Guard could certainly help build capacity on the air side, as well as the surface side of the IUU fishing problem.

Land based Unmanned Air Systems now appear to be a way maritime law enforcement agencies might have an organic fixed wing air search capability at a lower cost. Unfortunately the US Coast Guard still is not particularly experienced in this area. The Japanese Coast Guard might be able to provide valuable advice to at least Taiwan and Vietnam in the use of UAS, as they gain experience with their newly acquired MQ-9Bs.

“Taiwan’s Coast Guard Tests Its Ability To Turn Cutters Into Ship Killers” –The Drive

Taiwan Coast Guard Vessel Anping firing missile

The Drive/The War-Zone reports,

During the test conducted on May 23, officials said that the HF-2 missiles were launched from the cutter off the coast of the Jiupeng Base and successfully hit a target ship that was located 62 miles off the coast of Lanyu, near Orchid Island. According to Taiwan’s Liberty Times Net reporter Zheng Jingyi, “this live ammunition firing specifically verifies the integration of the naval forces and sea cruisers under the ‘peace-to-war conversion.’”

This was a test and the missile launch equipment was removed immediately after the test. The launch and control was conducted by Taiwanese Navy personnel, temporarily assigned for the test.

Since the cutters are a version of a missile equipped Taiwanese Navy corvette, there would seem little reason to believe the test would not have been successful.

Reportedly twelve corvettes and twelve cutters are planned, but the prototype Navy corvette was commissioned in 2014, the second not until 2021, and none since. On the other hand four of the cutters have entered service beginning 2020 with two more under construction.

The normal armament of these and other Taiwanese cutters includes an unusual 42 round, remote controlled, “Zhenhai” 70mm/2.75″ rocket launcher. It is unclear if these rockets have a guidance system like APKWS. Photos below from Wikipedia.

Taiwan Anping-class offshore patrol vessel onboard multi-barrel Zhenhai rocket system

Anping-class offshore patrol vessel onboard 42-barrel Zhenhai rocket system, looking forward

China, Ready to Pick the Low Hanging Fruit?

Taiwan Coast Guard cutter KAOSHIUNG

BairdMaritime has a column suggesting China is training for an  “…invasion of Pratas Reef (Dongsha), a Taiwanese-garrisoned outcrop, situated some 170 nautical miles southeast of Hong Kong.” Possibly “…followed by an attack upon another Taiwan-manned islet, namely Taiping (Itu Abu), the largest and most habitable of the Spratly islands in the SCS. The two Taiwanese outposts, which are manned by Taiwan Coast Guard Administration (TCGA), retain some strategic value, particularly as both feature airfields, but the main advantage to be reaped by the PRC by their seizure would probably be political.”

That they feel the US will not intervene because, “the US Congress’ Taiwan Relations Act requires the US to come to the aid of Taipei in the event of a PRC attack on Formosa, or the Pescadores (Penghu), situated in the Taiwan Straits, but excludes Taiwan’s more distant territories.” 

Certainly any such attack, if successful, and unopposed by the US would seriously undermine American credibility as an ally, regardless of the specifics of US formal obligations to Taiwan.

“Launch of 600-ton catamaran-hull patrol vessel Anping CG601 for Taiwanese Coast Guard” –Navy Recognition

New patrol vessel Anping CG601 for the Taiwanese Coast Guard launched. (Picture source Jong Shyn Shipbuilding Group)

NavyRecognition reports that,

“…on April 28, 2020, the first 600-ton catamaran-hull patrol vessel, Anping (CG601) for the Taiwanese Coast Guard was launched in the southern port city of Kaohsiung.”

This is the first of twelve ordered for the Taiwanese Coast Guard. The design is based on the Tuo Chiang-class stealth missile corvette in service with the Republic of China Navy.

An earlier post, from 2014, talked about these cutters and included a video of the Navy version of the design underway.

I am a bit surprised this program is not moving more rapidly. According to Wikipedia, work did not begin on these cutters until 2019. It appears the Taiwanese Navy still only has one of the 12 Corvettes planned. They may have had some problems.

Model of Tuo Chiang-class corvette armed with 76mm gun, Palanx CIWS, 8 × Hsiung Feng II and 8 × Hsiung Feng III, and 2 × Mark 32 triple torpedo launchers . Photo credit: Solomon203

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.