MFP: Navies for Archipelago Nations

The following is a guest post inspired by the questions in our Maritime Futures ProjectFor more information on the contributors, click here. Note: The opinions and views expressed in these posts are those of the authors alone and are presented in their personal capacity.  They do not necessarily represent the views of their parent institution U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, any other agency, or any other foreign government.

Maritime Futures Project, Question 8: What advice would you give to a smaller nation on the maritime investments it should pursue, and why? 

Coming from the archipelagic nation of the Philippines with a 36,000 nautical mile coastline, 7,107 islands and islets, and a large population that depends on the sea as their lifeline, our maritime environment is a vital part of our strategic interests.

The Croation Mobilni Obalni Lanser system is an appropriate mobile ASM option for defending a multitude of coastlines.
The Croation Mobilni Obalni Lanser system is an appropriate mobile ASM option for defending a multitude of coastlines.

As a result, air, surface, and subsurface assets are of prime importance. Guided-missile frigates and corvettes for offshore control, and a large number of fast-missile and patrol gunboats for the littorals would be appropriate. Long-range maritime patrol aircraft, ship-based multi-purpose helicopters, and naval light-attack aircraft along with a system of land-based radars in central chokepoints would also be an indispensable investment in the protection of an archipelagic nation’s maritime domain. Adding a flotilla of submarines (of the shallow-water attack type) and forming coastal anti-ship missile batteries would further extend a nation’s strategy of defense in depth. This could all be supported by pooling and developing manpower resources and skills.

For island nations with smaller EEZs, development may be limited to capable patrol gunboats and multi-purpose ships for its Coast Guard, supported by rotary, fixed wing, and amphibious aircraft.  The creation and training of coast-watchers from shore based villages would also be a positive development.

LCDR Mark Condeno is a member of the Philippines Naval Auxiliaries.

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