Somali piracy: EU forces in 1st mainland raid

EU NAVFOR news release EU Naval Force Delivers Blow Against Somali Pirates On Shoreline Earlier today, following the decision taken on 23 March 2012 by the Council of the European Union to allow the EU Naval Force to take disruption action against known pirate supplies on the shore, EU forces conducted an operation to destroy…


China Talks of “Open Seas Protection”

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-26 20:06:12

China outlined a defense strategy on Tuesday that aims to boost naval capability farther from its shores, saying it faced a grave and complex array of security threats including in the disputed South China Sea.

In a policy document issued by the State Council, the Communist-ruled country’s cabinet, it vowed to continue growing its “open seas protection” and criticized neighbors who take “provocative actions” on its reefs and islands.

“In line with the strategic requirement of offshore waters defense and open seas protection, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will gradually shift its focus from “offshore waters defense” to the combination of “offshore waters defense” with “open seas protection,” and build a combined, multi-functional and efficient marine combat force structure. The PLAN will enhance its capabilities for strategic deterrence and counterattack, maritime maneuvers, joint operations at sea, comprehensive defense and comprehensive support.”

Seas and oceans bear on the enduring peace, lasting stability and sustainable development of China, so the traditional mentality that land outweighs sea must be abandoned, says the paper. Great importance has to be attached to managing the seas and oceans and protecting maritime rights and interests.

Attack and Counterattack

In upholding the continued strategic concept of active defense, the document states: “We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked.”

It continues: “A holistic approach will be taken to balance war preparation and war prevention, rights protection and stability maintenance, deterrence and warfighting, and operations in wartime and employment of military forces in peacetime.”

Integrated combat forces will be employed to prevail in system-vs-system operations featuring information dominance, precision strikes and joint operations.

The document says China’s air force would shift its focus from territorial air defense to both offence and defense, and will build airspace defenses with stronger military capabilities.

The People’s Liberation Army’s nuclear force, known as the Second Artillery Corps, will also strengthen its capabilities for deterrence and nuclear counterattack as well as medium- and long-range precision strikes, the paper said.

A Message of Peace

The document also states China’s commitment to peace: “The Chinese people aspire to join hands with the rest of the world to maintain peace, pursue development and share prosperity.

“China’s destiny is vitally interrelated with that of the world as a whole. A prosperous and stable world would provide China with opportunities, while China’s peaceful development also offers an opportunity for the whole world. China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, pursue an independent foreign policy of peace and a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, oppose hegemonism and power politics in all forms, and will never seek hegemony or expansion. China’s armed forces will remain a staunch force in maintaining world peace.”

Russia and the U.S.

China’s armed forces will further their exchanges and cooperation with the Russian military within the framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia, and foster a comprehensive, diverse and sustainable framework to promote military relations in more fields and at more levels.

Additionally, China’s armed forces will continue to foster a new model of military relationship with the U.S. armed forces that conforms to the new model of major-country relations between the two countries. They will strengthen defense dialogues, exchanges and cooperation, and improve confidence-building measures through the notification of major military activities as well as the rules of behavior for safety of air and maritime encounters, so as to strengthen mutual trust, prevent risks and manage crises.

A Continued Focus on the South China Sea

The document comes as tensions rise over China’s increasingly assertive posture in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has engaged in land reclamation in the Spratly archipelago.

China, which claims most of the South China Sea, criticized Washington after a U.S. spy plane flew over areas near the reefs last week, with both sides accusing each other of stoking instability in the region.

Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said in a briefing on Tuesday China’s reclamation activities in the Spratly archipelago were comparable with construction of homes and roads on its mainland.

“From the perspective of sovereignty, there is absolutely no difference,” he said.

He said some countries with “ulterior motives” had unfairly characterized China’s military presence and sensationalized the issue. Surveillance activities in the region were increasingly common, and China would continue to take “necessary measures” to respond, Yang said.

“Some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs; a tiny few maintain constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China,” the strategy paper said in a thinly veiled reference to the United States.

The paper indicates that the PLAN will continue to organize and perform regular combat readiness patrols and maintain a military presence in relevant sea areas.

The report can be found here.


Politicians Push Importance of Merchant Mariner Bill

By MarEx 2015-05-26 11:14:45

Two U.S. representatives, Janice Hahn (D- Calif.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), emphasized the importance of a House bill to recognize U.S. Merchant Mariners over 70 years after their service in World War II during National Maritime Day Speeches on the East and West Coast.

The Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015 was introduced earlier this year by Hahn and Hunter and seeks to award a $25,000 one-time payment to merchant mariners of World War II. Currently, only about five thousand Merchant Mariners who served in the war are still alive.

Duncan Hunter, speaking at a Maritime Day event in Washington DC stated that, “the legislation would provide “well-deserved recognition for these heroic mariners who fought so valiantly for our country.”

Similarly, Hahn speaking to an audience at the San Pedro Merchant Mariners Veterans Memorial said “The first Maritime Day honoring our merchant mariners was held in 1970. Before that, despite their courage and service, and despite suffering higher casualty rates during World War II than other branches of our military, merchant mariners were excluded from celebrations of Veterans Day and Memorial Day.”

During World War II over 200,000 Americans served in the Merchant Marine. The Merchant Marine also had higher casualty rates than any branch of the armed service with the exception of the Marines. However, merchant mariners were denied any veteran benefits or status until 1988 when a federal court mandated recognition for the U.S. seamen.

Hahn has introduced HR 563, “Honoring Our World War II Merchant Mariners Act of 2015,” to provide the payment to surviving World War II merchant mariners. More than 6,000 merchant mariners died in service during World War II and time is running out to commemorate the accomplishments of the remaining Merchant Marine veterans.


225 Years of Service: Ice Operations

By MarEx 2015-05-26 23:07:35

by David Rosen, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area Historian

On April 14, 1912, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic, resulting in the loss of 1,517 lives.

In response to the disaster, the first Safety of Life at Sea Convention was held in London the following year. In March 1913, Coast Guard Cutter Seneca was assigned to the first International Ice Patrol, or IIP.

Each year since, a patrol has been maintained. No further vessels have been sunk by icebergs in the area, a tribute to the diligence of the IIP watchstanders.

Captain-Commandant Ellsworth Bertholf was keen to assume this responsibility to forestall a proposed dissolution of the Revenue Service as part of a budget cutback. He re-defined the service by adding the Ice Patrol.

In 1915, Bertholf and Sumner Kimball merged the military Revenue Service with the civilian Lifesaving Service into the modern-day Coast Guard. Bertholf stressed the unique combination of peacetime functions and war preparedness of the Coast Guard, convincing both Congress and the White House of its critical role.

By the early 1920s, it became apparent that Coast Guard officers with professional training were needed to perform ice patrol duties. The Coast Guard therefore established an oceanographic unit at Harvard University to conduct research for the IIP from 1923 to 1931, it was headed by Edward “Iceberg” Smith, who regularized the ice patrol’s tracking of the movements of icebergs. He also initiated a method of iceberg forecasting the number of bergs annually drifting south of Newfoundland.

During the summer of 1928, Smith assumed command of the Coast Guard Cutter Marion, a 125-foot vessel built for offshore-patrol duty. He went to western Greenland to apply his surveying methods to the birthplace of icebergs.

The Marion Expedition was one of the most comprehensive oceanographic studies made by the United States. It departed Boston for Davis Strait and Baffin Bay in July. The 73-day cruise to the Arctic covered 8,100 miles, during which Smith and his team of scientists surveyed an area of nearly half a million square miles between Greenland and Canada. The crew made more than 1,900 recordings of water temperature and salinity at 190 observation stations.

Throughout the 1950’s, IIP gained more confidence in the aerial reconnaissance and the surface patrols became limited to the severe years. While the aircraft began to bear the load of the reconnaissance operations, the ships focused on obtaining ocean and current data.

Today, the IIP monitors the iceberg danger area by physically patrolling the area with Coast Guard aircraft and by receiving reports from commercial aircraft and vessels. All iceberg observations are fed into a computer, which produces a drift and deterioration model using weather and current data. Watchstanders use the model to produce a daily iceberg warning chart which is broadcasted twice daily to the maritime community outlining the iceberg warning area.

Domestic Icebreaking Operations

For the Revenue Cutter Service, ice breaking primarily began as a means to support traditional missions that were impossible in the winter without preparations for ice.

With the advent of steam propulsion in the 1830s and the purchase of Alaska in 1867, ice breaking became a seasonal mission of the Revenue Cutter Service. Early vessels, including Cutters Thetis and Bear, had reinforced hulls which made them ice resistant, but it was not until the early 1900s that cutters were built primarily for ice breaking operations.

By the 1920s, the Coast Guard had become fully committed to ice breaking operations with the original intent of the Revenue Cutter Service – to utilize ice breaking primarily in Alaska and in support of other traditional missions.

On December 21, 1936, domestic ice breaking became a major mission for the service. The Coast Guard was given the first statutory authorization for icebreaking operations – signifying the importance of keeping ports and waterways open for vital economic resources along the Great Lakes and New England coast. Icebreaking operations have evolved from a means to complete primary missions to one of the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions.

From 1936 to 1941, the Coast Guard initiated an intensive, comprehensive study into icebreaker technology. Rear Admiral Edward Thiele spearheaded the research, studying the Swedish icebreaker Ymer – commonly considered one of the best icebreakers of the time.

Over the next few decades, the Coast Guard introduced many more classes of cutters with icebreaking characteristics – the 180-foot Balsam Class buoy tenders followed by the 110-foot Appalache class cutters.

Eventually came the commissioning of 15 65-foot icebreaking harbor tugs in the 1960’s and nine 140-foot Bay Class cutters in the 1980’s, many of which still serve the U.S. nation.

Today, the Coast Guard conducts icebreaking operations during the winter months in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions. Operation Renewable Energy for Northeast Winters, is a region-wide effort to ensure Northeast communities have the security, supplies, energy, and emergency resources (i.e. home heating oil) they need throughout the winter.

The operation utilizes 225-foot Juniper class buoy tenders, 140-foot Bay class icebreakers and 65-foot harbor tugs to ensure the safe navigation of commercial vessels supplying goods to ports throughout the Northeast. During the 2013 to 2014 icebreaking season, U.S. icebreakers facilitated the safe passage of 20 billion barrels of petro chemical, valued at $3.3 billion.

In the Great Lakes, the Coast Guard conducts ice operations jointly with Canada.

Using a system approach, both U.S. and Canadian-flagged icebreakers facilitate commerce through ice impeded waterways to support both inter-lake and intra-lake trade to both U.S. and Canadian ports. Operation’s Taconite and Coal Shovel assist commercial vessel transits in the connecting waterways of the Great Lakes by utilizing one 240-foot Icebreaking buoy tender, six 140-foot Bay class icebreakers and the Canadian Coast Guard ships Samuel Risley and Griffon.

Both the U.S and Canadians work jointly to facilitate nearly 200 commercial vessel transits with an estimated $4.5 billion worth of cargo each winter season.


Human Heart Inspires New Wave Power Device

By MarEx 2015-05-27 00:29:09

The Swedish Energy Agency has granted the company Corpower Ocean two million EUR to conduct tests of its innovative concept for wave power. The project is part of a larger collaboration with KIC InnoEnergy, the Spanish energy company Iberdrola and the Portuguese Research Institute WavEC Offshore Renewables.

Corpower will build a new prototype wave power plant and install it in the sea off Scotland. The wave power plant is inspired by the pumping principles of the human heart. CorPower founder Stig Lundbäck, MD, spent most of his life studying the pumping principles of the human heart. He invented the Dynamic Adaptive Piston Pump Technology (DAPPT) in 1984, and used his comprehensive knowledge to imagine and construct a wave power plant based on similar principles. The wave power plant has in recent years been supplemented with advanced control technology developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

“The Swedish Energy Agency’s commitment is crucial to our continued development of commercially viable wave power. Our goal is to test the wave power plants in the sea off the coast of Scotland and show the same performance as in the previous scale trials in Portugal and France. If the project reaches the set goals, it will mark a major step forward for wave power,” says Patrik Möller, CEO of Corpower Ocean.

Although wave power is a significant energy resource with an appealing capacity, reliability problems and high costs have been a major obstacle to a large-scale deployment. Corpower’s compact and robust wave power plant enables five times higher annual energy output per ton compared to conventional wave devices. Installing and testing a wave energy plant in the tough environment of the Atlantic is key step in the verification of Corpower’s concept.

“The decision is part of the Swedish Energy Agency’s investment in marine energy. Sweden has strong research and new innovative companies, which opens up opportunities for the Swedish export industry in this area,” says Rémy Kollesar, head of the Research and Innovation Department at the Swedish Energy Agency.

Among several other influential bodies, the World Energy Council has estimated the potential global output to about 2000 TWh per year, if only a robust and efficient design can be found. At this level, wave power would be on par with today’s global output of hydropower.

How it Works

The resonant wave energy converters developed by CorPower have a heaving buoy on the surface absorbing energy from the combined surge and heave motion of the waves. This is connected to the seabed using a taut mooring line. The system has a pneumatic pre-tension module between the mooring line and the buoy to enable a lightweight system with high natural frequency of oscillation.

Corpower says it uses a new phase control method, so that the system’s wave energy converters always oscillate in resonance with the incoming waves, strongly amplifying their motion and power capture. Phase controlled oscillation offers an exceptionally high energy density, five times higher than conventional wave energy converters without phase control. The technology allows a large amount of energy to be harvested using a small device, says the company.