Coast Guard Personnel as Ship Riders in the South China Sea? has a surprising proposal for dealing with the Chinese non-military aggressiveness in the South China Sea. He proposes putting US personnel (he specifically mentions US Coast Guard personnel among other possibilities) on the vessels of friendly nations, specifically mentioning the Philippines, but this might be extended to other nations facing similar attempted intimidation.

The intended effect of emplacing U.S. personnel aboard allied vessels ideally should be twofold. First, help our allies by lowering their risk of operations (such as resupplying isolated garrisons) and assuring them that the U.S. is a stalwart friend. Second, negate Chinese escalation dominance by forcing them to confront Americans in order to achieve their ends. This would force them into a choice between moving to higher level rungs on the escalation ladder and therefore incurring a greater risk of conflict with the U.S., or backing off. Whatever course they chose, their incremental approach would be dealt a setback.

The comments also note that having a US rep on board would also insure that incidents are accurately reported keeping allies as well as the Chinese honest and lending the reports greater credibility.

Philippine CG to Get an “MEC” and Four “PBs” from France


Janes360 is reporting that the Philippine Coast Guard has inked a 90M Euro ($113M) deal for the purchase of five vessels. One is to be an 82/83 meter (270 foot) aluminum hulled patrol vessel and the other four are 24 meter (79 foot) patrol boats.

NavyRecognition, reporting on OCEA participatin in the EuroNaval trade show, has some details on the OPV 270.

“OPV 270 is a 83 m (270 ft) long marine aluminum made ship. It carries 44 crew members and can take 3 to 6 VIP passengers on board, in addition to 20 ordinary passengers. 35 survivors can also be taken on board. It can travel over 4.500 to 8.000 km at 15 knots and its maximum speed, which depends of the load, can reach 26 knots. its endurance is from 30 to 45 days.”

This earlier report by DefenseStudies includes some photographs of the 24 meter patrol boat in service with the Nigerian Navy, and a short discussion of how they are expected to be used. (Incidentally the “West Philippine Sea” is the Philippine name for the South China Sea.)

A Feast of Cabbage and Salami: Part I – The Vocabulary of Asian Maritime Disputes–CIMSEC

CIMSEC has posted an interesting article, “A Feast of Cabbage and Salami: Part I – The Vocabulary of Asian Maritime Disputes” for anyone interested in the current maritime disputes in East Asia, and, in fact, for anyone interested in international maritime law. It is apparently the first of a series and includes a wealth of links for further study.

“We Need More Coast Guard” says 7th Fleet

Waesche Carat 2012 has a piece that reports the Seventh Fleet advocating for the Coast Guard.

There is an apparent error in that Capt. David Adams is identified as “Commander of the Navy’s 7th Fleet.” I assume they mean he is a spokesman for ComSeventhFleet. Nevertheless, the good news is that someone in 7th Fleet is advocating for the Coast Guard. The bad news is that the Coast Guard may not be, being recognized for what it is already doing.

The implied desire in the article that the Coast Guard send ships to the South China Sea to confront the Chinese Coast Guard,

“We have no white hulls in the Pacific, hardly,” Adams said. “We are going to have to fund the Coast Guard, not to do their conventional missions, but to come and help with the white-hull problem out in the Pacific.”

is probably a non-starter, both because of a shortage of Coast Guard assets and because the Coast Guard has no authority in the waters in question, but that may not have been what the Captain was really saying, although taking Philippine and Vietnamese fisheries enforcement officers aboard a National Security Cutter and using it for fisheries enforcement under their authority in the South China Sea could be interesting.

Dean Cheng, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian studies center suggested,

“‘The Coast Guard is a civilian entity, and there is little reason to my mind that [it] should not exercise in conjunction with the coast guards and civilian law enforcement entities of American allies’ in the Asia-Pacific region, he said”

Mr. Cheng, must have missed USCGC Waesche’s participation in CARAT 2012, the transfer of two 378s to the Philippines and boats to Vietnam and really for the 1000th time, the Coast Guard is a military service.

(Actually very few of the China Coast Guard ships are repainted navy ships and most of their cutters are not as well armed as their USCG counterparts.)

What more can the Coast Guard do? We could certainly sell (or the State Department could give) cutters, boats, and aircraft to SE Asian countries and help train their coast guards. Foreign Military Sales of Offshore Patrol Cutters, Webber class WPCs, and HC-144s with subsequent training might be an instrument of foreign policy. There used to be a something called “seconding” whereby officers of one country filled billets in the armed services of another, but the USCG is not going to be enforcing their laws.

If the nations of Southeast Asia do as Bob Marley sang and “Stand-up, stand-up for your right,” and the Chinese gray hulls “over the horizon” are indeed tempted to intercede, I hope some haze gray 7th Fleet ships are near by to dissuade them from doing anything foolish. Coast Guard cutters will not.

Note, I changed this post after realizing I had misread parts of the referenced post.

Chinese to Build World’s Largest Cutter

File:JapanCoastGuard Shikishima.jpg
Japanese Coast Guard Cutter Shikishima, this class of two are currently the largest offshore patrol vessels in the world. Photo from Japanese Wikipedia; ja:ファイル:JapanCoastGuard Shikishima.jpg

German Navy blog “Marine Forum” reports (21 January) that the

China Ship-building Industry Corporation has been contracted with developing and building a 10,000-ton and another 4,000-ton surveillance ship.
(rmks: for paramilitary China Coast Guard or China Marine Surveillance)

Meanwhile, in a move designed to bolster their claims in the South China Sea, they also report,

With Vietnam: China will expand paramilitary infrastructure at Sansha City (Paracel Archipelago) in the South China Sea … permanently base a 5,000-ts patrol ship (rmks: prob. China Marine Surveillance – CMS) and begin regular patrols.

Don’t expect China’s new 10,000 ton cutter to look like a US Coast Guard Cutter. The Chinese seem to measure their Coast Guard primarily in comparison to the Japanese Coast Guard which has until now operated the largest cutters in the world, two 9,350 full load, Shikishima class high endurance helicopter carrying cutters. Like their Japanese counterparts, they are likely to be built to merchant standards, will be only lightly armed, but will have excellent aviation facilities. The additional tonnage is likely to give them an advantage if they get in a “shoving match” with opposing coast guards, and they are likely to have a secondary military transport role. With a relatively large number of boats, they could probably land a fair number of personnel in a relatively short time. By way of comparison the National Security Cutters are 4,500 tons full load.

Two More WHECs, if You Please–Philippines?

File:PF-15 and SARV-002 CARAT 2013.jpg

Photo Credit: United States Navy with the ID 130629-N-YU572-530, by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh, PHILIPPINE SEA (June 29, 2013) The Philippine Coast Guard vessel Edsa (SARV 002), left, and the Philippine Navy frigate Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) steam in formation during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2013.

Global Post is reporting the Philippines is looking for two more “frigates” from the U. S. It is not clear they are referring to Hamilton Class Cutters, but it seems likely. Referring to the two WHECs they already have, the article states,

“The Philippines has already acquired two refurbished American frigates in the past two years, and they now lead patrols in the South China Sea.”

The request might conceivably refer to retiring Perry Class navy frigates, but that would introduce an additional set of systems to the Philippine Navy and the gas turbine powered FFG-7s are not as economical to operate as the normally diesel powered Hamiltons with their combined diesel or gas turbine (CODOG) power plant. The redundancy offered by the cutters’ four engine, two shaft power plant may also be seen as an advantage over the FFG-7’s two engine, single shaft propulsion.

More Chinese Misbehavior in the South China Sea

China imposes fishing curbs: New regulations imposed Jan. 1 limit all foreign vessels from fishing in a zone covering two-thirds of the South China Sea.

Credit for Chart: “China Orders Foreign Fishing Vessels Out of Most of the South China Sea,” The Washington Free Beacon

China is again pushing for a “new norm” that would make the South China Sea essentially Chinese sovereign territory. In clear violation of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, the Province of Hainan has declared that, as of Jan. 1, all foreign vessels must get their permission to fish in approximately two thirds of the South China Sea including waters that are clearly within the Exclusive Economic Zones of the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia, an area reportedly five times the size of the state of Texas.

In addition to the report credited below the illustration, here is a Wall Street Journal Report and Reuters reports the diplomatic sparing between the US and China.

Their likely instrument in this push is the newly organized Chinese Coast Guard. Naval War College professor James R. Holmes, offers some thoughts on “The Return of China’s Small Stick Diplomacy in South China Sea.”