Indian Coast Guard Continues Upgrades–Vessels and Maritime Domain Awarness

The Times of India reports the Indian Coast Guard is both continuing expansion of its chain of radar stations used to maintain Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and building new patrol vessels at a relatively high rate.

The central government has approved the setting up of 38 radar stations across the country in the second phase under Coastal Surveillance Network, said defence secretary R K Mathur, adding that the first phase of the network comprising 46 radar stations was expected to be completed by October.

India’s EEZ is less than a fifth that of the US, but since the terrorist attack on Mumbai, 26 November, 2008, which came by sea, they have been working steadily on upgrading the quality and size of their Coast Guard.


India Builds an OPV (OPC)

India recently commissioned INS Saryu, the first of a new class of Offshore Patrol Vessels (five photos), that are in many respects similar to the planned Offshore Patrol Cutters. I don’t think anyone is considering these as contenders for the OPC contract, but with similar mission profiles, they do show what the OPC might look like. From the Wikipedia Description:

Displacement: 2300tons
Length: 105 metres (344 ft)
Beam: 12.9 metres (42 ft)
Draught: 3.6 metres (12 ft)
Propulsion: 2 x 7790 kW engines
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h)
Range: 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) at 16 knots (30 km/h)
Complement: 8 Officers and 102 Sailors
Armament: 1 x 76 mm Oto melara gun with FCS
2 x 30 mm CIWS
Aircraft carried: 1x medium helicopter

The 2,300 ton displacement is probably the light displacement. Full load is probably more. The beam is essentially the same as the 378s, so the helicopter facilities look reasonable, although I hate to see them all the way aft, where they are most effected my pitching.

I’m hoping for a more sophisticated hybrid or integrated diesel electric powerplant on the OPC, but the two diesels on Saryu providing almost 21,000 SHP are certainly adequate, meeting the OPC’s objective speed of 25 knots.

Crew size is very similar, with a total of 110 compared with the OPCs’ projected Manpower Estimate of 104 total (15 officers, 9 E-7 and above, and 80 E-6 and below) plus up to 12 attached personnel. (Another source indicates Saryu will have a crew of 16 officers and 102 enlisted.)

Range is a little less at 6,000 nmi compared with 7,500 minimum for the OPC, but it is measured at a higher speed–16 vice 14 for the OPC. It is likely the Saryu would also have a longer range at lower speeds.

The armament is also similar, only a bit heavy on the Indian vessel compared to the 57mm Mk 110, single 25mm Mk38mod2 and two remotely controlled .50 cal projected for the OPC.

A little surprising, that these ships are being built for the Indian Navy, instead of the Coast Guard, which in India is part of the Navy, but there is also, reportedly, an outstanding contract for six similar ships for the Indian Coast Guard.

Buoy Tender with a very Different Look

UT755S Buoy tenderThe Marine Log is reporting India has contracted for a new large buoy tender, and the resulting ship looks very different from what we are accustom to.

“The 71.2 m x 16.0 m vessel will be equipped with a 35 t crane and will have a 16 m diameter helicopter deck. It will be powered by two 2,000 kW diesels driving two C.P. propellers and will have two bow thrusters and one stern thruster, each rated at 590 kW.”


(Thanks to Lee for the lead)

Piracy Update, 21 December, 2011

Somalia/Gulf of Aden/Indian Ocean:

Since the last update on November 20, NATO Reports there have been four attacks and at least seven other apparently pirate related incidents of suspicious behavior or approach, but no successful pirate seizures in the Indian Ocean.

The Shiuh Fu No.1 fishing boat, pirated Christmas Day 2010; the whereabouts of the crew of 13 Chinese, 12 Vietnamese and 1 Taiwanese mariners is unknownThe Shiuh Fu No.1 fishing boat, pirated Christmas Day 2010; the whereabouts of the crew of 13 Chinese, 12 Vietnamese and 1 Taiwanese mariners is unknown.
The European Naval Forces (Operation Atalanta) have issued a press release reminding everyone of the approximately 200 hostages still held by Somali pirates.


“Since the start of the EU NAVFOR counter-piracy mission in December 2008, a total of 2317 merchant seamen have been held hostage for an average of nearly 5 months. The longest period in captivity is 19 months for the 24 crew members of the M/V ICEBERG 1, who are still being held.

“It is estimated that at least 60 merchant seamen have died as a result of their captivity in the hands of the pirates and many more have suffered torture and abuse. 49 of the 200 hostages are held without the collateral of a ship, following the ship sinking or being abandoned which means that their future is less clear as their value is seen as less than that of a ship. Additionally, a recent tactic of the criminal gangs has been to agree to the ransom payment for the return of ship and crew and then hold-back some of the crew when the ship is released to use to negotiate for the release of convicted Somali pirates from the home country of the detained crew members. Currently 4 South Korean and 7 Indian crew members from the M/V GEMINI and the ASPHALT VENTURE are held following the release of the ships.”

The Seychelles, whose economy has been damaged by the threat of piracy, has offered China their territory as a base from which to patrol against the pirates. (Don’t expect this to become a full fledged naval base, just somewhere to refuel.) There is already a small US drone operation on the islands.

European union reports they face a warship shortage for the Somali piracy mission, at least partly due to operations off Libya.

The British are using dogs to determine if suspected pirates have residual evidence of explosives as an aid to prosecution.

A couple of US warships DDG USS Carney and frigate USS De Wert have been proactive in disrupting pirate operations before they happen.

In something of a first, the flagship of the European Naval Force, Spanish oiler/replenishment ship SPS Patino (A-14), has escorted three humanitarian aid ships into Somalia. The operation is noteworthy for two reasons. First shipments are normally made using only one ship, but the situation has become so dire that multiple ships are now required, and second because the escort ship was not a “warship” rather it was an underway replenishment ship. The use of auxiliaries to counter pirates seems to be a mini-trend. The Patino, 17,045 tons full load, has an adequate speed at 21 knots, space for up to three helicopters, long endurance, and even its minimal armament is enough to deal with pirates. She even refueled a NATO warship, in passing, while conducting the escort.

Nigeria/Gulf of Guinea

There are encouraging signs the countries of the region are learning to cooperate in their counter-piracy efforts. (More here). NNS Thunder (the former USCGC Chase) should be arriving soon having departed Alameda a month ago.

Meanwhile the House Committee on Homeland Security’s subcommittee on Counter Terrorism and Intelligence has found that there is an emerging Islamic fundamentalist group in Nigeria that threatens the US.


Some information on the hijacking of a small ferry that took place in Turkey on 11 November.

Armed Security Guards:

Somewhat surprisingly the Greek seafaring unions have rejected the idea of having armed security teams on board as suggested by the Greek Coast Guard. This sounds more like bruised egos than a decision based on unbiased analysis.

India, on the other hand, has joined the growing number of countries that allow or encourage the use of armed security guards.


Piracy Update, 20 November, 2011

Somalia/Gulf of Aden/Indian Ocean:

NATO Reports show at least three attacks and at least three incidents of vessels being approached in a suspicious manner by skiffs that appeared to be pirates, but there were no successful attacks reported. Suvarna, sister ship of INS Sukanya. Photo: INS SuvarnaM. Mazumdar/ Bharat-Rakshak. Original uploader was Mittal.fdk at en.wikipedia. Permission: CC-BY-SA-3.0.

India continues to deal aggressively with pirates. “The Hindu” reports the actions of the INS Sukanya (1,890 tons full load, 331′ loa) when five skiffs approached vessels in the five ship convoy she was escorting,

“While two of them managed to escape, INS Sukanya successfully intercepted the remaining three boats and…nabbed 26 Somali pirates with six AK 47 rifles, 12 magazines and about 300 rounds of ammunition.

“This is the fifth successful anti-piracy operation conducted by INS Sukanya in the course of her ongoing patrol mission in the Gulf of Aden that commenced in September, the Navy said.”

The uncertainty introduced by the Kenyan invasion of Southern Somalia is having an effect on the ransom pirates are demanding for the ships and crews they currently hold. Ransom demands have been cut as the pirates hope to “close the deal.

There are reports that Ethiopia has also moved troops into Somalia to support the Kenyan invasion.

While Kenya and Ethiopia move against Al Shabaab rebels in the South, there is a report the locals in Puntland are moving against pirates enclaves in the Northeast.

Nigeria/Gulf of Guinea

gCaptain reports three people were kidnapped after eight armed men boarded an offshore supply vessel, the MV C-Endeavour, belonging to Edison Chouest Offshore, off the coast of Nigeria. The report came by email from Kurt Glaubitz, a spokesman for Chevron.

Mekong River:

The attack that left 13 Chinese dead, reported in the last update, has resulted in China dispatching up to 1,000 armed police to work in the territory of Burma, Thailand, and Laos, to protect its trade on the Mekong.

Armed Security Guards:

The Marine Log reports H.R. 2838, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011, that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives, “…strengthens existing authorities against piracy, as well as improves an existing training program to instruct mariners on acceptable use of force against pirates.  It authorizes armed security on vessels carrying government impelled cargo through high risk waters, and includes a report on ways to improve U.S. efforts to track ransom payments and the movement of money through Somali piracy networks.

“‘Somali pirates have vastly expanded the range of their attacks on merchant vessels.  But even more alarming, the pirates have dramatically increased the number and viciousness of their attacks in recent months,’ said LoBiondo (Coast Guard Subcommittee Chairman Frank A. LoBiondo (R-NJ). ‘To protect American seafarers, this legislation will strengthen an existing training program on use of force against pirates.  Additionally, it will provide authority for government agencies to reimburse shippers for armed security aboard vessels carrying U.S. aid to the region.‘”

The Maritime Executive reports there is a growing consensus in the US, that failure to provide armed security may open up ship owners to legal liability for failure to provide seaman with a safe working environment and a seaworthy vessel.

Elsewhere authorities remain unconvinced. The Netherlands is telling its ship owners that, if they use private armed security guards, they could be subject to criminal prosecution.

“Jumbo Shipping from Rotterdam and Vroon Shipping based in Breskens have both said they will carry armed guards while sailing under the Dutch flag.

“The ministry of defence has set up special teams to help combat the threat of piracy but the shipping firms say this is not a solution. ‘You have to order them six weeks in advance and we cannot work like that,’ the Jumbo spokesman said.

“Denmark, Spain, Norway and Britain do allow shipping firms to use private security guards while travelling close to the Somali coast.”

Piracy, Indian Navy and Coast Guard Score Again

For the forth time this year, the Indian Navy and Coast Guard has taken down a pirate mother-ship. Responding to an attack in progress on the merchant ship MV Maersk Kensington, they not only foiled the attack, they went on to capture 16 pirates and free the 16 crewmen being held as hostages on the mother-ship, a previously pirated Iranian trawler. Eaglespeak has the details and pictures. The Indians seem to have an effective ROE.

Previous incidents were reported here, here, and here. Just an impression, but I suspect the Indians have figured out if you target the fuel drums on the mother ships, everyone will quickly abandon ship.

Changing Naval Balance

For background:

Numbers of course, are not the whole story. The US fleet is, by tonnage, far in excess of any competitor. The relatively strong allied fleets of Japan and South Korea are not included. The US still far outspends most of the rest of the world and most of the top ten navies of the world are our allies.

Still the decline of the Russian (Soviet) Navy and the continued growth of the Chinese Navy are clear. China’s rapidly improving quality including ships comparable to Aegis destroyers is not.

Source: Combat Fleets of the World here.

Indian Navy/CG Take Down Another Pirate Ship

More evidence the Indian Coast Guard and Navy is aggressively taking on pirates in the Eastern Indian Ocean. The cadet training ship INS Tir and the cutter CGS Samar have retaken a Thai fishing vessel, the Prantalay-11, being used as a mother-ship by Somali pirates, capturing 28 pirates and freeing 24 crewman.  This comes only a week after the Indian Navy and Coast Guard sank her sistership, the Prantalay-14. Three tuna fishing vessels Prantalay 11, Prantalay 12, Prantalay 14 were pirated on April 18 2010 in Indian ocean, some 1200 nm off Somali coast, with 77 crews on board, vessels were actively used by pirates as mother-ships after their owners refused to pay ransom.

Thanks to Eaglespeak for the heads up. He is still the go-to-guy for news on piracy. Continue reading

Piracy Update, 2/2/11

Three Indian vessels, two Navy and one Coast Guard sank a pirate mothership, killing some of the pirates, taking 15 prisoner, and freeing 20 hostages after a 12 hour “battle” here and here. The Indian Navy vessels were Car Nicobar class fast attack craft, about the size of the Webber class Fast Response Cutter, a bit faster, with much larger crews. Reportedly they have eleven machine guns on board. That may include the 30 mm main armament. The Coast Guard Ship, CGS Sankalp, sounds a lot like an OPC, 2,300 tons, helicopter deck and hanger, 25 knots and a crew of 106. Interestingly all three vessels were relatively new. All were delivered in the last three years. Continue reading