Attack on LNG Terminal, Yemen

There has been a report that Yemen’s navy destroyed a boat attempting to attack Yemen’s LNG export terminal.

Yemen’s coast guard is largely equipped with equipment from the USCG’s Foreign Military Sales program, including two 87ft Marine Protector WPBs and twelve 25 ft Defender class patrol boats. Would not be surprised if they were involved.

Getting Outflanked along the California Coast

FierceHomelandSecurity is reporting the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection are admitting that Pangas smuggling north from Mexico are going around existing patrols. Shouldn’t surprise anyone, there is a lot of money in it. In addition to drugs they could be  smuggling terrorist just as easily.

Perhaps we need a few of those Webber Class WPCs in the Pacific. Reportedly the administration is taking another look at border security. Its time to make our case that the water side is way too porous.

International Maritime Partnerships

Thought some of you might be interested in this short explanation of the standing Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Task Forces 150, 151 and 152, that include Coast Guard members in addition to naval forces of 26 nations. These task force are intended to counter terrorism (150) and piracy (151) and to provide security in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf (152).


Maritime Suicide Attack Plan Thwarted

Algerian authorities have arrested three alleged la-Qaeda terrorists who were reportedly planning on using a vessel loaded with explosive to attack American or European shipping in the Mediterranean.

This follows the pattern of an earlier attack on the Japanese tanker M. Star on July 28, 2010 and the attacks on the French tanker Limburg in 2002 and the Destroyer USS Cole in 2000.



There have been lots of accounts of impressions from the day of the attack. My own feeling was that our enemies had made a serious miscalculation. Despite comparisons to Pearl Harbor, they had done no damage to our military potential, but this was sure going to piss us off.

The Coast Guard Compass has a whole series including a special issue of the Coast Guard Magazine and comments by both the Commandant and then Commandant James Loy.

I particularly liked this tribute to the mariners, both professional and amateur who aided in the evacuation of people from lower Manhattan.



Combating Transnational Organized Crime (TOC)

The Administration has recently published its “Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime” (TOC).

There is commentary from Stewart M. Patrick at Council on Foreign Relations here and from Chris Rawley at Informationdissemination here.

This is certainly a topic that deserves some attention, particularly with the emergence of apparent links between terrorists, criminals, and hostile state actors.

The “strategy” is fairly long and general. It includes 56 “priority actions,” so once again we have decided to do everything everywhere–When you have 56 priorities, you have no priorities.

There is only one specific reference to the Coast Guard. In the section “Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Strengthen Interdiction, Investigations, and Prosecutions,” the Coast Guard does not get a mention, although ICE, CBP, and Secret Service do.  It does include the following, as one of ten priority actions in this subsection, “Strengthen efforts to interdict illicit trafficking in the air and maritime domains.” for what that is worth. The section “Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Disrupt Drug Trafficking and Its Facilitation of Other Transnational Threats” includes the following reference to the CG, “We must attack these organizations as close to the source as we can by forward deploying our law enforcement and intelligence assets. All-source intelligence is used by U.S. Coast Guard assets in the transit zone to extend our borders by interdicting and apprehending traffickers.” I’m not sure why that was in a strategy, but there seem to be examples of “good work” agencies are doing throughout the document that suggest this is more PR than an actionable plan.

The Section “Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Start at Home: Taking Shared Responsibility for Transnational Organized Crime” which talks about efforts to stem the flow of guns south from the US to Mexico does raise the question in my own mind, Is the Coast Guard attempting to stop the shipment of weapons out of the US by sea?

The document has some interesting material. If it had a different title, I might have been less critical, but unfortunately this is not a strategy, which would have identified objectives, forces allocated, actions to be taken, and milestones to be achieved. There is no attempt to identify the enemy’s Center of Gravity or “Schwerpunkt.” This is just a series of laundry lists–of threats, programs that have had some success, things we hope to accomplish, and conferences to be held, without any application of judgment or priority.


Libya, Innovations in Maritime Terrorism

There have been some developments in Libya that might be of interest to the Coast Guard. Pro-Qaddafi forces have been trying to cut off aid arriving through the port of Misrata. April 29 loyalists attempted to lay mines in a novel way and on May 16 they attempted to use what has been described as a “Vessel Borne Improvised Explosive Device.”

Mines have been laid by ships, airplanes, and submarines. In this case, the Libyans attempted to lay mines by transporting them to them on inflatable boats and then sinking the boats with the mines still aboard.

In their latest attempt they deployed two RHIBs, one was rigged with approximately a metric ton of explosives and mannequins while the second RHIB operated in support.

What they intended to do with boat was not clear. I can’t see it being effective against an alert warship underway. This looks a bit like the attack on the Cole, but it was not a suicide attempt. The briefing suggests that the plan might have been to lure a curious NATO warship alongside on the pretext that it was in distress, but looking at the picture of the boat with a very large makeshift box containing the explosive,  forward of the conning station makes that appear unlikely. Attacking a civilian craft, either in a channel or in port, seems more likely. Sinking an aid ship or a ferry loaded with refugees might have been the objective.

Eaglespeak has the story, pictures, and a link to the NATO briefing (scroll up, the link takes you to the foot of the post).