What Does It Take to Sink a Ship, Illustrated

A little over a year ago, I published a post entitled “What Does It Take to Sink a Ship.” It has proven perhaps my most widely read post. The recent sinking of the Japanese fishing vessel Ryou-Un Maru beautifully illustrates the point that ships can be very hard to sink by gun fire.

120405-G-ZZ999-The sinking of the Japanese fishing vessel Ryou-un Maru

  • Title: GULF OF ALASKA – The Japanese fishing vessel, Ryou-Un Maru
  • Summary: GULF OF ALASKA – The Japanese fishing vessel, Ryou-Un Maru, shows significant signs of damage after the Coast Guard Cutter Anancapa fired explosive ammunition into it 180 miles west of the Southeast Alaskan coast April 5, 2012.

Reportedly the USCGC Anacapa began the operation at 13:00 and the Ryou-Un Maru sank at 18:15. It appears that the F/V may have been hit 100 times by explosive 25mm projectiles. With no crew aboard to do damage control and probably with no real measures taken to ensure water tight doors were closed, it stayed afloat for over five hours and ultimately the Anacapa resorted to pumping water into the vessel to sink it.

120405-G-RS249-005-USCG responds to Japanese vessel in Gulf of Alaska

  • Title: 120405-G-RS249-005-USCG responds to Japanese vessel in Gulf of Alaska
  • Summary: GULF OF ALASKA – The Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa crew douses the adrift Japanese vessel with water after a gunnery exercise 180 miles west of the Southeast Alaskan coast April 5, 2012. The crew was successful and sank the vessel at 6:15 p.m. in 6,000 feet

This was a very small ship, probably less than 500 tons, the implications for our ability to stop a medium to large vessel with a determined crew on board, bent on using the vessel for a terrorist act in an American port should be obvious. With even crude and unsophisticated measures to protect vital machinery and control functions, a ship can resist a great deal of gunfire and continue to its objective.

Late Addition–Video of the sinking added 25 Dec. 2012

What Might Coast Guard Cutters do in Wartime? Part 2, Coast Guard Roles

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/USCGC_Spencer_WPG-36.jpg

This is the second of two parts. The first part focusing on what I believe are the current shortfalls in the US Navy force structure is here.

Since part one, additional cuts to the Navy’s plans have been announce. Attack submarines which have an important ASW role are now expected to decline from a current 55 to 40 in 2030 and all SSGNs will be removed from service. Additionally the Navy will prematurely retire seven cruisers and two amphibious warfare ships. The planned five year building program is going from 57 ships to 41.

Now we will look more closely at what Coast Guard Cutters may be called upon to do in future conflicts, what changes to our existing force might be prudent, and desirable characteristics for future cutters. Continue reading