Tag Archives: China

Maritime Janus

As_janus_rostrum_okretu_ciach

 

January is named for the Roman God Janus, the two-faced deity of the doorway or the threshold.  With one face looking toward the future, and the other contemplating the past, Janus inspires the annual reviews of naval affairs  as well as the predictions for the future that we see in the naval blogosphere.  New Years 2013 in the maritime world is no different than in years past.

Over at Information Dissemination our favorite China shipyard-watcher Feng has a great post summarizing where the People’s Liberation Army Navy has been in the past year.  Two things caught our eye in reading through Feng’s summary.  First, seeing it all laid out in one place really emphasizes the capacity that is being developed by Chinese shipyards.  For all the discussion of a dwindling industrial base in the United States, it is interesting to watch the pace of work in the Chinese shipbuilding industry.  Second, we shouldn’t miss the massive construction underway for the maritime policing and Coast Guard equivalents in the People’s Republic.  USCG cutters routinely deploy globally, sailing with USN ships in the Arabian Gulf and Pacific as well as the regular patrol of our backyard in the Caribbean.  As China continues to build cutters and grows the size of their maritime security forces, we should expect them to develop interoperability with the PLAN in the same way the USCG and USN have developed their concept of The National Fleet.  This melding of law enforcement patrol with military operations (based on a model provided by the Americans) in the South and East China Seas will continue to complicate the issues there.

Also at ID, CDR Bryan McGrath gives us a quick look at some highlights for I&W to watch for in 2013.  We were glad to see him place the Blue/Green Team as his top item to keep an eye on.  The Marines need to get over their fears of another Guadalcanal and return to their historic roots as an integrated part of naval forces.  The Navy needs to overcome their self-consciousness about their comparative lack of recent combat experience and learn to look to the Marines for ideas and help in developing new concepts.  It is time that both forces genuinely came together as an integrated, hybrid force rather than a pair of brothers constantly arm wrestling over who side is “supported” and who is “supporting.”  We also note that discussions about the future of the Air Wing are on CDR McGrath’s list.  That’s easy for a former SWO to say, but he’s right.  The Naval Aviators amongst us are going to have to realize that there need to be some serious changes.  Hard thinking, innovative ideas, and practical experimentation and testing will be required…humming “Highway to the Danger Zone” and quoting Goose and Slider will only give our adversaries more time to realize our weaknesses and take advantage of them.  Maverick told us that you don’t have time to think up there…unfortunately today’s challenges require us to have people who are practiced and capable thinkers.

Elsewhere online the sometimes genial, sometimes grumpy, CDR Salamander takes a broader view toward the future at his blog.  Strategy is the matching of ends, ways, and means.  Sal points out that the United States must figure out the last part, with an honest and genuine assessment of the national financial status.  Without it, developing “the ends” of national policy, and “the ways” of a sound Naval policy and shipbuilding plan, is impossible.  That honest assessment…it isn’t going to be pretty.  It has some very serious ramifications for the Department of the Navy, but also for every single part of American society.

We encourage you to follow the links and read the posts.  There is some serious thinking here, some deep analysis, and some quick ideas that can help us frame the coming year – all worth your time.  Janus is the namesake of the first month of the year and serves as a symbol of our New Year’s passion for self-assessment.  He also serves as a fantastic symbol for naval analysts in general as we attempt to clarify the lessons of the past to illuminate our way into the future.  If you’re still feeling a need for speed though, check this out to get your 2013 off to the right start.

The Firm of Maynard, Cushing, & Ellis does not represent the opinions of anyone that matters.  Formed by Lieutenant Robert Maynard RN, Lieutenant William Cushing USN, and Captain Pete Ellis USMC, the firm doesn’t speak for the US Government, the Department of Defense, The Foreign Office, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the Department of Silly Walks.

Swarms at Sea and Out-swarming the Swarms?

The Swarming Synchronized Speedboats of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy Revue

This week Foreign Policy posted a new article by Navy Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla, in which he discusses the how “swarm” tactics employed by the Russians caused the failure of Napoleon’s 1812 invasion.

Arquilla is a prolific author who regularly writes about swarms and “net-centric” operations.  In the above piece he cites successful maritime employment of swarm tactics such as German submarine “wolf-packs” in the Second World War and the Sri Lankan Navy’s fight against maritime elements of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or “Tamil Tigers”) earlier this decade.

It is unclear how Arquilla’s example of the Russian defeat of Napoleon is applicable to a broad range of operations at sea, however.  When swarms are discussed in terms of maritime operations, it is generally in the context of an asymmetric fight within a constrained body of water, such as Iranian plans to use swarms of small boats or the Chinese Type 22 Houbei fast attack craft.  Napoleon’s Grand Armee was vulnerable to Russian swarm attacks on the march back from Moscow because of its extended supply lines.  In contrast, one of the primary advantages of sea power is that it provides the space for strategic maneuver and the ability to avoid such exposure to swarms.  Swarms and Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) weapons and tactics could still threaten naval forces within specific areas in which the ability to maneuver is restricted, or are within the range of weapons on land, but they do not take away one of the main advantages of sea power, the ability for a state to choose where to best deploy its forces.

Lieutenant Commander Mark Munson is a Naval Intelligence Officer and currently serves on the OPNAV staff. He has previously served at Naval Special Warfare Group FOUR, the Office of Naval Intelligence and onboard USS ESSEX (LHD 2). The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official viewpoints or policies of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

9th Season of “Deadliest Catch” to Film in South China Sea

International Maritime Satire Week Warning: The following is a piece of fiction intended to elicit insight through the use of satire and written by those who do not make a living being funny – so it’s not serious and very well might not be funny – but apparently producer Todd Stanley thought so (see comments below).

 

SILVER SPRING, MD—Following a loss in ratings to NBC’s Stars Earn Stripes, the Discovery Channel has decided to change the setting of its award-winning reality fishing show Deadliest Catch to the South China Sea. 

 

Sources indicate that Discovery intended to cancel the series until Deadliest Catch producer Thom Beers presented the idea of moving the setting to either the Strait of Hormuz or the South China Sea.  With the annual ratings boost from Shark Week a year away, Discovery elected to keep the show and film the next season in the hotly contested Southeast Asian waters.

 

When asked about the drastic change, Beers said, “The South China Sea is a great move for the series and the hardy American fishing crews viewers have come to love – Wizard, Time Bandit, Northwestern, Cornelia Marie, they’ll all be there.  It’s home to a competitive fishing environment and surrounded by countries that have a passion for the sea.  You’ve got Chinese, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Malaysians, and Indonesians out there sailing together.  Now we’re throwing Americans right into the middle of this great, dynamic environment.”

 

Beers explained that the region’s depleted fishing stocks will actually enhance the show’s intensity because it raises the stakes for the competing fishing vessels.  “These guys will be fighting each other for every single fish—literally,” said Beers said with a grin. 

 

Sig Hansen, Captain of the fishing vessel Northwestern, also expressed confidence in adapting to the new environment.  “If there’s one thing that we need to master right away, it’s persistence.  We can’t turn around no matter what or who is in front of us.”  Hansen also talked about the safety situation.  “In the Bering Sea, we didn’t always have the Coast Guard backing us up because of the conditions.  However, we’re told that in the South China Sea all these different nations send in their Coast Guard and military vessels to patrol the area.  It’s a lot safer in my opinion.”

 

The crews of Deadliest Catch will face many exciting new challenges in the 9th Season.

The lack of an American port does not deter Beers from basing the show in the region.  His team plans to set up their base on one of the sea’s many islands.  Producer Todd Stanley, Beers’ partner, said “Look, a lot of these islands, like the Spratly’s, don’t have any residents.  We’re thinking, why not go in take one for ourselves?  Of course, we would do the proper legal thing and make sure to hoist an American flag to keep everyone calm.” 

 

Stanley revealed that the ships could just anchor at the Scarborough Shoal if they cannot find an island.   “We’ll just follow the Chinese model, if necessary, and show up with an old-looking map with some lines drawn around things.  I’ve got an old place-mat from my childhood.  Do these dashes around Australia mean I own it? Who knows, they could just be spaghetti stains – the important point is it would take the UN years to sort through our claim.”

 

When asked for a statement, the Association of Southeast Asians (ASEAN) could not respond with an official comment.  Deputy Press Secretary Naoko Saiki believes that the story is a hoax.  “It’s hard to believe America is home to a television series about crab fishing…this is probably fabricated by one of the nationalist groups in the region.  Everyone knows that Americans only watch Jack Baur.”

 

Discovery announced that they are also moving Sons of Guns to Iraq and American Loggers to the forests in Colombia. Production on Season 9 starts in October and will premiere on the Discovery Channel in early April.

Senkaku Islands Shuffle

                                            ….or Diaoyus Disco, Tiaoyutai Tango…

As tensions between China and Japan began to ease this week over competing claims to the Senkakus/Diaoyus, Taiwan dispatched a dozen coast guard vessels to escort its own approximately 40-ship fishing fleet to the disputed islands, which it also claims as the Tiaoyutai. Upon arrival, some of the ships entered the islands’ territorial waters and engaged in a water-soaked confrontation with Japan’s coast guard. Taiwan has reportedly withdrawn its coast guard vessels from the area, having made its point.

More interesting photos from the maritime ballet can be found here and here.

h/t: Galrahn

                                               “I see your water cannon is as big as mine.”