Law of the Sea–Why not?

Ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty always seemed like a good thing. Both the Commandant and the CNO support it.

I can’t claim to have a full understanding of the treaty, but I have begun to get inklings of why others have reservations about it. As in all things legal, it is subject to interpretation, and the interpretation of others do not necessarily match our own.

In the interest of having a balance view, you might want to spend a few minutes reading what Peter Brookes, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, has to say about why its not a good idea.

The right of innocent passage seems to be one of the things that is subject to interpretation, and it is not just China and developing countries that see things differently. So do the Canadians. (More here, here, and here.)

Icebreaker Envy

Ryan Erickson has published the Arctic SAR boundaries on the Naval Institute Blog. Looking at this chart got me thinking about ice capable ships. That of course lead to looking for similar information on Antarctica, so this is going to be a survey of What nations are interested in the Polar regions? and What do their ice capable fleets look like?

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UNITAS Photo/Exercise

Nice photo of Escanaba in formation with Argentine and Brazilian frigates as part of UNITAS (Thanks Lee).

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110504-N-ZI300-376 ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 4, 2011) The U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Escanaba (WMEC 907), Brazlian navy ship BNS Bosisio (F 48) and Argentinian navy ship ANS Almirante Brown (F 10) move into formation for a photo exercise during the Atlantic phase of UNITAS 52. The formation included a total of ten ships from the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. UNITAS Atlantic is a multinational exercise as part of Southern Seas 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steve Smith)

(Click the links above for info on the other ships in the photo.)

Here is a report of a live firing exercise against a drone, conducted as part of the larger exercise.

Denial of innocent passage–could this be a trend?

In a move to isolate the British on the Falklands (Malvinas), the Argentines are requiring vessels bound to or from the Falklands through their EEZ to obtain prior approval. Recently a Spanish vessel was denied the right of innocent passage from the waters off the Falklands to Uruguay, because they had not formally requested permission a week ahead as required by Argentina’s “decree 256.” Argentine restrictions are hurting businesses in both Uruguay and Chile (as well as Argentina).

As noted earlier, this is not the first incidence of a coastal state requiring notice of transit. The Canadians want vessels to ask permission to transit the North West Passage. The Chinese are claiming sovereignty over virtually all of the South China Sea, talking as if it were territorial sea. The Coast Guard initiated the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) and it is only useful if it covers ships transiting the EEZ as well as those going to US ports.

Perhaps it is inevitable that when a state assumes the authority to demand notification of passage though the EEZ, it will also occasionally exercise the “right” to deny passage, but this is the first time I have heard of it happening.

(In a related move, as a sign of solidarity with Argentina, Uruguay rescinded permission for a Montevideo port visit by a Royal Navy Destroyer en route to the Falklands only hours before its scheduled arrival.)