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

NationalDefenseMagazine.org 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.

New Chinese Cutters–How Many?–Sorry, I’ve Lost Count

The China Defense Blog has three new posts with several photos of new Chinese Coast Guard Cutters.

The first is news of the award of a contract for four new 5,000 ton cutters. and while the text says they will be similar to an earlier 5,000 ton cutter (CMS01), the illustration that accompanies the story shows a very different ship, in many ways similar to the National Security Cutter. It appears there is a medium caliber gun on the bow. (This would be a significant but not unexpected change for the Chinese Coast Guard.) There is a frame over what appears to be a stern ramp not unlike that on the NSC. The hull shape also appears similar to the NSC.

The second post reports the commissioning of the second of two 4,000 cutters commissioned this month.

A third post asks, “What would a 12,000 ton Coast Guard Cutter Look Like?” reports as was reported here earlier, China’s intention to build the world’s largest Offshore Patrol Vessel. They don’t have any illustration of the new ship, but they do say it will have a 76mm gun, two 30mm, facilities to support two Z-8 helicopters, and a top speed of 25 knots.The size of the helicopters is notable. The Z-8 is a large, three engine, 13,000 kg helicopter based on the Aérospatiale SA 321 Super Frelon. The transport version of this helicopter can transport 38 equipped troops. The same airframe is also used for SAR, ASW, and vertical replenishment. The post also says it shows photos of new 3,000 ton cutters, but all the photos except those of hull number 3306 were referred to elsewhere as 4,000 ton cutters.

New hull numbers seen in this series of posts are 1401, 2401, 3401, 3306, and MSA-01). Unlike most earlier Chinese cutters, all of these ships have helicopter decks.

This is the fruition of their earlier stated ambition to build 36 cutters in three years for the Chinese Maritime Surveillance Agency (CMS, only one of four agencies that combined to form their Coast Guard).

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.”

Taiwan Coast Guard Adds Two New Ships

The Taiwan Coast Guard, has just accepted two new major ships, the “Tainan” a 2,462 tons “frigate” and “Patrol Boat No. 7,” 1,845 tons. Both appear similar in configuration and capability to Japanese and Chinese Cutters–they appear to be made to merchant standards, and their armament is modest.

The Taiwanese President, Ma Ying-jeou, presided over the commissioning of the larger vessel. The “feel good” statements are here. A more forthright statement of their purpose is here.

The Taiwan (Republic of China) Coast Guard is a relatively recent addition, having been formed in 2000. They seems to have followed the USCG model in many respects.

The Taiwanese Coast Guard is charged with policing a total area of 540,000 square kilometers, which is 15 times larger than the island of Taiwan.

Taiwan is the third party in the dispute with China and Japan over the islands variously known as Senkaku, Diaoyu, Diaoyutai, or the Pinnacle Islands.

(This photo, found on the first link, shows a Taiwan Coast Guard ship that looks an awful lot like a 270.)

Chinese Claim the entire South China Sea as Sovereign Territory.

As noted earlier, there doesn’t seem to be universal agreement on what the “Law of the Sea” (UNCLOS) means. The Washington Post is reporting that Senior Col. Geng Yansheng, a Ministry of Defense spokesman, has claimed that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea but would continue to allow others to freely navigate the 1.3 million-square-mile waterway.

On July 23 Secretary Clinton crossed the Chinese by suggesting an multilateral approach to resolution of competing claims. Competing claims involve Japan, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines. Claims to the Spratley Islands group seem to be particularly contentious. There is an outline of competing claims here. China has used force in the past, seizing the Paracel Islands from Vietnam in 1976. Dai Bingguo, China’s state councilor in charge of foreign policy, had told Secretary Clinton in May during a tense exchange on the region that China viewed its claims to the sea as a “core national interest.” In addition they seem to have thrown down the gauntlet to the US over exercises in the Yellow Sea.

To complicate matters, the Chinese have a new weapon system, and anti-ship ballistic missile, to enforce their claims, that makes the Navy’s traditional response to Chinese aggressiveness appear much more dangerous.