Category Archives: Announcements

On the High Seas: CIMSEC’s Top 10 of 2020

By Dmitry Filipoff

While 2020 was a turbulent year for a multitude of reasons, thankfully it was a year where CIMSEC achieved new heights. Last year was our highest-trafficked year to date, with increasingly growing and more sustained interest from new readers. 

Our success primarily comes from the excellent authors who wish to engage with CIMSEC to share their ideas and writing. To commemorate the beginning of the new year and to share our thanks with contributors, we have assembled CIMSEC’s top 10 most-read pieces of 2020.

Read on to see our biggest hits of last year, and may 2021 be another year of growing interest in international maritime security.


1.”Evolution of the Fleet: A Closer Look at the Chinese Fishing Vessels off the Galapagos,” by Dr. Tabitha Mallory and Dr. Ian Ralby

“A flurry of news stories in late July 2020 reported on the ‘discovery’ of a ‘massive’ fleet of Chinese fishing vessels in the waters off the Galapagos, which fluctuated to over 350 before the fleet finally left by mid-October to fish farther south. Yet the presence of the Chinese distant water fishing fleet in the area has been expanding for several years…Using data and insight from Windward, a predictive maritime intelligence platform, our analysis examines how this fishing phenomenon has evolved over time and who is behind this increasingly intensive fishing effort.”

2. “Lifting the Veil on the Lightly Manned Surface Combatant,” by Ben DiDonato

“As the U.S. Navy moves into the unmanned age and implements Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), there is a need for small, lightly manned warships to streamline that transition and fill roles which require a human crew. Congress has expressed concerns about unmanned vessels on a number of fronts and highlighted the need for a class of ships to bridge the gap. The Naval Postgraduate School’s Lightly Manned Autonomous Combat Capability program (LMACC) has designed a warship to meet this need.”

3. “Down to the Sea in USVs,” by Norman Polmar and Scott C. Truver

“A family of large, medium, and small USVs will take advantage of new technologies – some only dimly perceived in early 2020 – to provide increased capabilities to the Fleet with reduced construction, maintenance, and manpower. Getting there from today’s fiscal environment is critically important, and there is still much work to do to increase trust and develop CONOPs, but the potential for these unmanned vehicles to transform the future Navy is astounding.”

4. “Why Military Sealift Command Needs Merchant Mariners at the Helm,” by Dr. Salvatore R. Mercogliano

“…despite this vital role, they lack representation within the command structure of the U.S. Navy. They are taken for granted by the Department of Defense and the public in general. They are overlooked in most strategic studies of American military policy and posture. And yet it is not clear whether in a future war the nation will be able to count on the U.S. merchant marine as it has in past conflicts.”

5. “The Advent of Naval Dazzle Camouflage,” by Mark Wood

“It was not until 1917 that a Royal Navy officer wrote to the admiralty in London with what he considered might be a possible solution. Norman Wilkinson was a successful painter of maritime seascapes, and an artist for the Illustrated London News, who had set his career aside in 1915 to join the Royal Navy, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. After submarine service in the Mediterranean, he was transferred to mine-sweeping duties in home waters and it was at this point that his idea for a radical form of effective camouflage began to take shape.”

6. “Put the Commander back in Commander’s Intent,” by Capt. Bill Shafley

“Commanders today are disadvantaged in many ways. We have large staffs and refined processes. Our communications methods create opportunities for over-communicating and are bereft of the right information at the right time for the right decision. Doubling down on putting the commanders back in intent, providing them with the skills necessary to create time and space for thinking and reflection, and deepening our investment in their development will help lay the foundation for successful mission command.”

7. “Marines and Mercenaries: Beware the Irregular Threat in the Littoral,” by Walker Mills

“The Marine Corps needs to be fully cognizant of not just the potential for high-end, major combat operations in the littorals, but also of the irregular threats it may be called to address at any time. The Marine Corps needs to make sure that as it shifts its focus to major combat operations against a peer or near-peer adversary it maintains the capability to counter irregular and asymmetric threats against U.S. interests and allied in the littorals.”

8. “How China has Overtaken Japan in Naval Power and Why It Matters,” by Toshi Yoshihara

“A major reversal of fortunes at sea has gone largely unnoticed. Over the past decade, the Chinese Navy sped past the Japanese maritime service across key measures of material prowess. The trendlines suggest that China will soon permanently displace Japan as the leading regional naval power in Asia. This historic power transition will have repercussions across the Indo-Pacific in the years to come. It behooves policymakers to pay attention to this overlooked but consequential shift in the naval balance between two great seafaring nations.”

9. “The Navy’s Perpetual Racism Problem and How to Fix It,” by LCDR Reuben Keith Green, USN (ret.)

“The Chief of Naval Operations has acknowledged that there is racism in the Navy. He needs to go one natural – but painful – step further and acknowledge that you can’t have racism without racists. You can’t have rape without rapists. You can’t have sexual harassment without harassers. You can’t have discrimination without actions, both individual and institutional, that discriminate. You can’t have failed leadership without failed leaders.”

10. “At the Commissioning of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Aircraft Carrier Baekdusan,” by JD Work

“The cheers of the crowd were deafening as the sharp prow of the Baekdusan fast carrier (CVL) slid into the dark waters of the protected basin at Sinpo. The adulation may have even carried some genuine enthusiasm by those caught up in the sight of North Korea’s first aircraft carrier officially launching, mixed in of course with mandatory nationalism under compulsion for fear of “encouragement” by watchful political commissars…The oddities of the unusual, algorithmically-derived dark blue pattern were perhaps a fitting metaphor for the long, strange journey that brought this hull to North Korean shores. Bringing a new light carrier into service would be an impressive feat for any naval enterprise, let alone the Korean People’s Navy.”

Dmitry Filipoff is CIMSEC’s Director of Online Content. Contact him at

Featured Image: INDIAN OCEAN (Jan. 6, 2021)
The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) steams in the Indian Ocean, Jan. 6, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Drace Wilson)

Diversity, Inclusion, and Maritime Security

By Jimmy Drennan

We at CIMSEC believe strongly in the value of seeking the widest possible set of perspectives to foster the discussion on securing the seas. Diversity and inclusion are woven into our identity. International maritime security is not within the purview of any one nation or group of people. All countries around the world, regardless of geography, have individual interests, and a shared interest, in a secure maritime domain. To that end, our goal is to present the most diverse array of ideas possible. In fact, we recently published a topic week featuring articles on regional maritime strategies to offer less-discussed nations and powers an opportunity to feature more prominently in our discourse.

We recognize that not all of the world’s problems can be solved with discussion, but without thoughtful discourse, solutions tend to be messy, wasteful, and sometimes tragic. Other issues facing the world today seem to be fueled by a lack of rational conversation.

Recently, we published two articles on American social issues that are a bit different than the subject matter typically seen on CIMSEC. Nevertheless, we decided to proceed because we believe the ideas can be applicable to all nations, and they represent a step forward in much needed thoughtful discourse. The fact is when the world’s premier naval service stands up a task force to combat discrimination, the topic inherently becomes a sea service issue.

Reuben Green’s “The Navy’s Perpetual Racism Problem and How to Fix It” and Bill Bray’s “Military Officers: Read Black Writers” both produced an expectedly vibrant reaction. CIMSEC will continue to seek diverse contributors to engage in conversations about race, racial inequities, and racial dynamics in the naval community. We will continue to review and publish responses to our articles, so long as they do not constitute personal attacks, hate speech, and meet basic editorial standards.

We value diversity and inclusion, and to codify that stance, we have adopted the following statement on our organizational beliefs. Of course, like everyone, we have our own opinions, but we strive to maintain a neutral tone and allow the discussion on securing the seas to take place through our community. I myself am unapologetically American, and since I believe in the virtues of the American system of government, I do not fear or loathe opinions to the contrary. I try to listen to all perspectives, and develop an informed opinion of my own. I hope our community will do the same. We will continue to publish the most diverse range of perspectives possible, so we urge our readers to move from the comment boards to the submission page.

CIMSEC Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

The ‘I’ is for International.

CIMSEC has no physical location. There is no office or headquarters, just dedicated volunteers from many backgrounds. If you are writing, speaking on or listening to one of our podcasts, attending one of our events, or  reading our articles, CIMSEC is YOU.

The “I” in CIMSEC stands for International, which can imply many things, but to us it indicates our passion for creating an inclusive platform for discussion and exchange which celebrates diverse identities, perspectives, views, voices, languages, backgrounds, and experiences. It implies our shared dependence on and responsibility for the maritime domain. Diversity and inclusion are the core principles shaping the way we build our teams, work together, and create a global and multicultural forum to foster the discussion on securing the seas.

Jimmy Drennan is the President of CIMSEC. Contact him at

Featured Image: EAST CHINA SEA (July 31, 2020) Master Chief Damage Controlman Lavoskia Torain, from Memphis, Tenn., left, puts a petty officer first class rank insignia on Damage Controlman 1st Class Shamar Melton, from Greensboro, N.C., as she is promoted during an advancement ceremony on board the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Taylor DiMartino)

Vote in CIMSEC’s 2020-2021 Officer Elections

Notice: Voting has been closed

CIMSEC’s officer elections are here! Please vote on the next round of volunteers who will continue advancing CIMSEC’s priorities of shaping the discourse on maritime security and building a community of engaged thinkers. 

See the voting form and candidate bios below. Elections will close on Friday, August 21.

Jimmy Drennan

Lieutenant Commander Jimmy Drennan is a surface warfare officer and has served as president of the Center for International Maritime Security since early 2019.

Chris  O’Connor

Chris O’Connor is a U.S. Naval Officer. He has 15 years of experience as a Supply Corps Officer, with four deployments on a variety of platforms. He is a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School, and an alumnus of the CNO Strategic Studies Group and the CNO Rapid Innovation Cell. His work has been featured by CIMSEC, Small Wars Journal, and the Atlantic Council.

Dmitry Filipoff

Dmitry Filipoff graduated from the University of California, Merced in 2013 with a B.A. in Political Science. He has served as CIMSEC’s Director of Online Content since June 2015. 

Steph Umbert

Steph Umbert recently completed his Master of International Affairs (MIA) program at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York, where he Concentrated in International Security Policy and Specialized in East Asian Studies and International Conflict Resolution. His graduate studies at SIPA built on academic foundations in Economics and Political Science, in which he holds a double major Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, and Legal Studies, in which he holds a Diploma, laid prior in DC and Florida where he studied at George Washington University, the University of Miami, and American Heritage School. He also has experience in legislative politics, track-two diplomacy, and political analysis gained on Capitol Hill and on Manhattan. From his earliest days he has held and pursued, among other things, an intense interest in history, including military history, and in the broad spectrum of military affairs, from the development of technological capabilities and doctrines to the deterioration of veteran relations and regimes. He is a native of Florida born to naturalized immigrant parents and he has traveled extensively across both the Western Hemisphere and Eurasia.

Mark Jbeily 

Lieutenant (j.g.) Mark Jbeily is  currently in the naval aviation training pipeline in Kingsville, Texas. Prior to flight school, he graduated from the University of Texas and subsequently the University of Oxford with a masters in international relations. He has written for the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings and his article entitled “An Ace For All Seasons” won first prize in the 2017 Emerging and Disruptive Technologies essay contest.

Eugene Yang

Captain Eugene Yang is an active duty Marine Infantry Officer currently stationed at Fort Meade serving as a Defensive Cyber Operations Officer. He has deployed to the East-Asia Pacific as a platoon commander with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, and served in temporary assignments with the Department of State both in Washington D.C. and abroad in China. He holds the additional military occupational specialty of China Foreign Area Officer and speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, and from the University of Oxford with a dual Master of Science in Computer Science and a Master of Business Administration in 2016. He has two publications on Natural Language Processing on the analysis of political sentiment using Twitter data. His parents immigrated to America from Taiwan in the 80s, and he was born and raised in the Bay Area of California.