Russian Coast Guard Involved in Dispute with Japanese.

Another island territorial dispute, and as usual, a coast guard is in the middle of it.

The Russian Coast Guard denied Japanese media reports on Wednesday that it had opened fire on a Japanese fishing vessel off the disputed South Kuril islands. (The Russian Coast Guard did shoot into a Japanese fishing vessel about a year ago.) Continue reading

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.

Russian SAR in Trouble?

The US Coast Guard apparently isn’t the only SAR organization whose ships have been run down. Sounds like the Russians may be considering a reorganization.

Seventy per cent of Russian Navy’s search-and-rescue vessels are in need of repair, said Vice Premier Sergei Ivanov.

“‘Vessels of different search-and-rescue (SR) services are in critical condition; lifetime of 80 per cent SR ships have been expired, seventy per cent of them need either yard repair or modernization’, said Ivanov appearing at the session of maritime committee at Russian government.

“According to him, there are still segmented “departmental” approaches in the area of search-and-rescue at sea which lead to duplication of functions, scattering of funds, and dilution of responsibility.”

Russians Have a Better Idea?–Bullet Proof Lifejackets

Seems the Russians have an innovation we might want to look into. “” reports, “The Russian naval infantry is to be equipped with bulletproof life vests…(the vest)…provides full ballistic protection against light weapon threats in addition to being a floatation device. Delivery of the life vests will begin in 2011.”

Considering the drowning of ME3 Shaun Lin, Oct. 13th, during an exercise, perhaps we need to take another look at how we are equipping our boarding officers, to make sure that their flotation devices can in fact keep them afloat, even when wearing full boarding equipment.

Combining ballistic protection with the flotation device would, if nothing else, simplify preparation for boardings. It also looks like a good idea for our exposed gun crews on crew served weapons.

Passages North

56 years ago, on 4 September 1954, the icebreakers USCGC Northwind and USS Burton Island completed the first transit of the Northwest passage through McClure Strait.

There has been a lot more activity in the North lately (more here and here), with the promise that if the melting continues, passages from Northern Europe to Asia may be cut by up to half (link includes a nice comparisons of the routes). The Russians expect to make some money on fees for passage and the use of their icebreakers.

There is even talk that it may substantially hurt business at the Suez Canal and allow ships to avoid pirates off Somalia. Looks like that is still a few years off since the season is very limited and only ice strengthened vessels can use the route now.

Still other people are planning ahead. China is building their second polar icebreaker and positioning itself to exploit the Arctic. Maybe a little healthy competition is the wake up call we need.