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.

Could This be Bollinger’s OPC Candidate?

During Vietship 2014 Nava Exhibition in Vietnam, Dutch shipyard Damen unveiled for the first time the design of the Sigma 9814 Corvette ordered by Vietnam. It was announced in October 2011 that Damen shipyard in Vlissingen, Netherlands will build four Sigma corvettes for the Vietnamese Navy. The first two ships will be built in Vlissingen (Netherlands), and the last two (options) will be built in Vietnam, under Dutch supervision.

Navy Recognition is showing a photo of a model of a new corvette being built by Bollinger’s partner Damen for the Vietnamese Navy. The ships is the right size, 98 meters long and 14 meters of beam (321 ft x 46 ft).

We already discussed the fact that Damen had built an OPC sized ship for the Vietnamese counterpart of the USCG.

The photo even looks a little like the ships in this earlier illustration from Bollinger. The reported dimensions of the new Vietnamese vessel also correspond to the dimensions given for Damen’s 2600 ton OPV.

An interesting feature is how well armed this Vietnamese Corvette will apparently be. This bodes well for potential upgrades to the OPC. Quoting Navy Recognition:

the new SIGMA 9814 class will be fitted with:
8x MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 3
12x MBDA MICA VL surface-to-air missiles (in VLS)
1x Oto Melara 76mm main gun
2x Oto Melara MARLIN-WS 30mm gun mounts
The corvette will acomodate one anti-submarine helicopters Ka-28. The corvettes are set to receive the latest generation of electronics and sensors from Thales including TACTICOS combat management system,SMART-S Mk 2 radar and STING EO Mk 2 electro-optical fire control system.

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.”

US to Buy boats for Vietnam Coast Guard–Sec State

There has been a report that the US will be providing assistance in the form of maritime enforcement assets to some ASEAN nations, notably those in conflict with China.

“On his first visit to Vietnam as America’s top diplomat, Kerry pledged an additional $32.5 million for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to protect their territorial waters and navigational freedom in the South China Sea, where four states have competing claims with China. Included in the new aid is up to $18 million for Vietnam alone that will include five fast patrol-boats for its Coast Guard. With the new contribution, U.S. maritime security assistance to the region will exceed $156 million over the next two years, he said.”

This isn’t really a lot of additional capability when a Webber class cost on the order of $50M. Five vessels totaling $18M, and that will certainly include training, spares, etc. so less than $3.6M each. They could be talking about Response Boat, Mediums. The last contract was $89M for 40, roughly $2.4M each. Add the miscellaneous additional expenses and it might come to to $18M.
At any rate, it is likely the Coast Guard will be tasked with doing some of the training. It’s also possible the Coast Guard’s Foreign Military Sales effort will be a bit busier.

Vietnam Builds a Damen OPC (OPV)

BairdMaritime provides information on a new Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) built in Vietnam for the Vietnam Marine Police (soon to be Vietnam Coast Guard) to a Damen design, that looks a whole lot like an Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). There is also information in the article about their developing relationship with the USCG.

She is reported to be 2500 tons, 90 meters (295′) in length, 14 meters (46′) of beam, 21 knots, with a crew of 70.

I think the Bollinger candidate for the OPC may be similar. This is apparently based on the Damen OPV2400. The OPC candidate is probably based on the slightly larger OPV2600 since it will probably need additional volume for fuel to provide the range the USCG requires, a couple of hundred tons heavier, 8 meters (26′) longer, and two or three knots faster because of its greater length (same horsepower).

More information about Damen designs for OPVs can be seen via the link below:


Vietnamese Coast Guard Damen 9014 Offshore Patrol Vessel. Photo: lancercell.com Photo added 2022.

Shades of Douglas Munro–22 Jan., 1969

The Cutterman website and coastguardchannel.com are sharing a link to a story with many elements of Douglas Munro‘s rescue of Marines from a beach on Guadalcanal.

Troops were trapped, having been ambushed and surrounded, their backs to the sea. Unless rescued by boat, death seemed certain.

This time the troops were nine South Vietnamese soldiers; the enemy, an estimated two Viet Cong platoons (about 60 men); the boat that came to their rescue, the Point Banks’ small boat, a 13’4″ Boston Whaler armed with a single M-60 machine gun. The Coast Guardsmen were Gunner’s Mate First Class Willis J. Goff and Engineman Second Class Larry D. Villarreal. They made the trip twice, overloading the boat each time. Both were awarded the Silver Star for their actions. GMCM Bill Wells tells the story:


Sounds like two more potential Fast Response Cutter names.

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.

Memorial Service for Pt Welcome hero and survivor, BMC Patterson

The Coast Guard Compass reports a memorial service for Chief Boatswains Mate Richard Patterson on June 16.

Frequent Contributor Bill Welles has a good article recounting the incident if you would like to know a bit more.

Sounds like BMC Patterson might be a good namesake for a Webber class cutter.