USS Sir Robin

USS Sir Robin

To keep it short: STRATCOM epic fail.

Weak cheese – very weak cheese.

“The Chinese vessels surrounded USNS Impeccable, two of them closing to within 50 feet, waving Chinese flags and telling Impeccable to leave the area,” officials said in the statement.

“Because the vessels’ intentions were not known, Impeccable sprayed its fire hoses at one of the vessels in order to protect itself,” the Defense statement said. “The Chinese crew members disrobed to their underwear and continued closing to within 25 feet.”

Impeccable crew radioed to tell the Chinese ships that it was leaving the area and requested a safe path to navigate, the Pentagon said.

A weak horse impresses no one. At a minimum, you respond to a swarm of undies with pressed ham …. and/or stand your ground with a smile on your face and a wave of the hand.




Posted by CDRSalamander in Foreign Policy


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  • sid

    CDR Phibian and others here are much more versed in Clausewitz than I, but it sure seems a “Seam” just got exploited big time…

    What happens when a big contributor to your Network can no longer remain in a tenable position?

    Also, here is a study worth some review

    There are two international legal implications related to embarking civilians for duty on combatants. There is a substantial question as to whether civilians performing duty on combatants will change the character of a ship as a warship under international law. Second, civilian mariners that “directly participate in combat” could be considered “unlawful combatants” under international law, with exposure to criminal trial by a capturing belligerent.

  • b2

    The whole incident looks like a scene outta the “Sand Pebbles”. O’course I haven’t forgotten the buffoonisn midair takedown of our EP-3 a while back, either.

    You can bet that if they had been taken our response would have never be modeled on the Mayaguez Incident. Why?

    #1- we (USN) ain’t got the coverage we once had and
    #2- BHO admnistration ain’t got the cohones..

    b2

  • FOD Detector

    Ummm..I’m curious to understand why you think the Mayaguez response was successful. But given your obsession with genitalia…maybe not so much.

  • Byron

    Thanks for the relevancy lesson, FOD, don’t think we could have done it without you.

  • Jay

    Exactly what again, was our “response” to the EP-3 take-down?

    I seem to forget.

    Big Navy made the decision to put these missions into MSC (civilian manned ships) a long time ago. You can jaw about that decision all you want, but the cost savings have made Big Navy very happy.

    IMPECCABLE is USNS, not a combatant.

    From MSC’s website: http://www.msc.navy.mil:

    Special Mission Ships

    Military Sealift Command’s Special Mission Program has 25 ships that provide operating platforms and services for a wide variety of U.S. military and other U.S. government missions.

    Oceanographic and hydrographic surveys, underwater surveillance, missile tracking, acoustic surveys, command and control, and submarine and special warfare support are just a few of the specialized services provided to:

    U.S. Fleet Forces Command
    The Oceanographer of the Navy
    Commander, Undersea Surveillance
    The U.S. Air Force
    Naval Sea Systems Command
    Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs Office
    Naval Special Warfare Command
    Commander, Navy Installations Command
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Commander, Submarine Force

    Most special mission ships are operated by civilian mariners who work for private companies under contract to MSC. Only three ships, USS Emory S. Land, USS Mount Whitney and USNS Zeus, are crewed by MSC’s civil service mariners.

    One more submarine tender is transferring to MSC for civil service crewing in 2009. Technical work and communication support are conducted by embarked military personnel, as well as civilian technicians from other military commands and U.S. government agencies.

  • FOD Detector

    The Navy gets its money’s worth from MSC. That org is really a model for all the services in getting the most bang for the buck.

  • sid

    The Navy gets its money’s worth from MSC. That org is really a model for all the services in getting the most bang for the buck.

    Where is the “Bang for the Buck” FOD?

    The Impeccable was unable to deter some dented up, decrepit craft from denying her continued access to an effective scouting position crucial to network warfare.

    Just don’t see where we taxpayers got our money’s worth…Or will in tensions escalated beyond this very minimal level.

  • FOD Detector

    Sid: MSC ships aren’t warships.

    I suppose we could get one of the small boys to do hydrographic mapping but that comes with a pretty stiff price tag. Not to mention the cost of pulling a warship off other duties.

  • tl

    “Pressed ham?”, I much prefer the term “Pulling a mooner” as it is much less open to interpretation.

    As for mixed crews and being ‘unnarmed’, it doesn’t really matter. It was still spying and they are working for the military – one of the clues being amongst others ‘tracking of submarines’. So, no virgins there. It is clearly not a civilian vessel. This also has repercussions in international law with regards to status.

    As to why the vessel ‘turned and ran’, the clue is (as above) because it is not a purely military vessel. If those on board who are ‘civilian’ despite working in the cooperation with the military (nothing new there), then it is the duty of responsiblity for the military not to take risks with the lives of these civilians onboard. If it had purely been a military vessel/operation/whatever, then I’m sure it would have been more agressive. That’s what the USN gets for being cheap and ‘saving money’.

  • sid

    I suppose we could get one of the small boys to do hydrographic mapping

    Nobody buys that line…

    The whole world knows what those ships are for.

    The Chinese certainly know.

    Spare all the pablum FOD.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    TL,

    Some very good points. But more to the heart of the matter… this is not new. Why NOW for the PLAN? To what end was this done? (yes, a test, but in the larger context?) And is this the kind of navy with whom we want to partner for Maritime Cooperation and Global Partnerships?

  • FOD Detector

    Sid: Maybe the Port Royal was taking soundings using its hull. Whattya think?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Port Royal was equipped with the latest RRS technology. (Really, really shallow.)

  • sid

    Sid: MSC ships aren’t warships.

    Yeah. I know FOD.

    Nothing at all agains the fine crew, but what transpired with the Impeccable is emblematic of, an Affordable fleet that cannot AFFORD to fight.

    NO Bang for Big Bucks….

  • Byron

    “NO Bang for Big Bucks….” Sid, I was thinking more along the lines of what you call when you have the break playing 8 ball, and nothing goes in…

  • leesea

    There simply is no cost effective reason for the USN to return to using sailor crewed warship and auxiliaries to perform the highly specialized tasks of oceanographic survey and surviellance. In view of the fact that both of these missions have been performed by vessels placed in service with MSC for ohh about the last two decades, I would assume that USN leadership is comfortable with approach.
    What has not happened consistently over the years is the Navy stepping up to include escort and support service to ships THEY decided would be unarmed and civilian crewed.
    The fault lies with the USN not MSC, I think?

    The other part of the issue is that the Navy cannot support a larger SCN budget with warships doing non-warfighting missions. Sure these missions are essential to the overall effort of warfare, but that does not mean they are necessarily done by combatants.

    Did you notice who the customers are for SMS services performed by MSC ships?! How about NSWC? Now if MSC can support the pointed end folks with civilian ships (and I know they are happy) why not others?

  • sid

    Sure these missions are essential to the overall effort of warfare,

    How good is the ASW picture southof hainin today?

    leesea, times are a changin’ The creeping civilianization of the USN you have witnessed has occurred during the most peaceful period the oragnization has ever enjoyed.

    That won’t last, and its time to take a long hard look at the trend.

    This incident is proof positive it ain’t the ’80s any more, and the T-AGOS mission has no business whatsoever in the littorals.

  • tl

    UltimaRatioReg,

    The Pentagon brought this up NOW, not the PLAN as we have just learnt that it is not the first incident but ‘one in a string’ of incidents, so one should ask what did the Pentagon hope to achieve by publicizing this one and not the others, especially considering its coyness about the exact role of the Impeccable and that sooner rather than later it would out.

    For a number of years the US has been moaning about the ‘lack of transparency’ by the Chinese military which is somewhat disingenuous. The Chinese know they cannot go toe-to-toe with the US, so they practice asymmetrical warfare, or if you will, they prefer to be the guerilla army v. standing army. They want to keep the US guessing.

    As for the PLAN, as far as I can understand, it may well be the new chinese boomers are more or less ready for some serious outings/ocean shake downs. Paranoid or not, the Chinese still think there is something worth protecting as it is a major upgrading of China’s nuclear deterrent. They’re not much good if they can be tracked straight out of port like the old boomers (when they rarely did) could be. So no wonder the USN is interested.

    Throw in to that China wants to project its muscle into the disputed South China Sea where there are resource prizes afoot and thus the potential for conflict, not to mention better control of its eastern seaboard, protection of commerce/supply lines etc. and it is not that different from the West. Keep the shipping routes open and guarantee supplies. The PLAN is only going to get much bigger if it hopes to be effective at this.

    As for partners, China is already a major economic partner of the West and helpfully has bought a huge amount of US debt. Do we want China to help us combat pirates off Somalia? Do we want them to help keep the sea routes open? Massive military spending is unsustainable to replace one-for-one so China could lend a hand in protecting these routes. They could of course go on the rampage and take over the world as some would have us believe (B movies, coming soon) but their home economy is still no.1

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Massive military spending is unsustainable to replace one-for-one so China could lend a hand in protecting these routes. They could of course go on the rampage and take over the world as some would have us believe (B movies, coming soon) but their home economy is still no.1″

    China sees the US as a rival and potential adversary. Which, to China, is not mutually exclusive with even substantial partnership. But forget/dismiss the former at one’s own peril. As their navy grows, and ours shrinks, their ability to deny the USN access to areas critical to US vital national interests (oil, anyone?) goes from a remote possibility in 1999 to a probability in 2019.

    ‘Tis not the things of B movies, but rather that of a nation whose strategic vision exceeds the four year election cycle and next QRD, whose vision is measured in decades, with an “s”.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Umm, QDR.

  • R. M. Hayball

    Look, Impeccable did what she was supposed to do. Maybe not what the armchair firebreathers would like, but what her MSC force protection standing instructions required.

    In the future, she’ll need a covering presence capable of rapid response contingency escort. Nothing new here.

    While ad hoc, the enduring US Naval Strategy is Pax Oceana Americana. The US Navy respects everybody’s 12 mile limit and uses
    international waters as its interests dictate. Be polite, be proper and when somebody pushes a ship with an American flag,
    push back. Minimally, carefully, and without fail.

    This isn’t a littoral, it’s the high seas, blue water, 75 miles out. This littoral stuff is a misapplication of a geographic term
    in a capitol hill sales pitch for an inadequately designed corvette whose construction has been mismanaged.

    Iron Bottom Sound was an badly charted arm of the sea with limited sea room and interrupted radar and visual horizons all round the compass. Vessels of every size were employed in an implacable, unpredictable, lethal series of huge
    and decisive battles. Mahanian Sea Power to the death in support of a joint campaign with limited resources.

    Drop the term littoral. Its a fad, a snare, and makes muddled strategic thinking sound ever so sophisticated and up to date. IMHO. I could be wrong.

  • Jay

    ALCON,

    This from today’s Early Bird:

    “The Navy on Wednesday assigned a destroyer escort to the ship that narrowly missed colliding with the Chinese vessels Sunday.

    A defense official, speaking on background, confirmed Wednesday that the destroyer Chung-Hoon is keeping a close eye on the surveillance ship Impeccable, which continues to operate in the South China Sea.”

    Armchair Firebreathers can stand down.

  • Jay

    This from today’s Early Bird:

    “The Navy on Wednesday assigned a destroyer escort to the ship that narrowly missed colliding with the Chinese vessels Sunday.

    A defense official, speaking on background, confirmed Wednesday that the destroyer Chung-Hoon is keeping a close eye on the surveillance ship Impeccable, which continues to operate in the South China Sea.”

    Armchair Firebreathers can stand down.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Armchair my a**.

    Having to send DDG-93 to escort a USNS vessel in international waters to protect it from one of our “Global Maritime Partners” we have touted so highly of late brings into question once again our perceptions of China and her intentions, and absolutely drops the bottom out of the already-cracking “Thousand Ship Navy” concept.

    The USN and SECDEF would be wise acknowledge the warning shot.

  • R. M. Hayball

    On the other hand, I may be right. Or I may be crazy. Or I just may be the lunatic you are looking for…(exits, whistling).

    Nice touch on choice of vessel (snicker).

  • Byron

    Mr. Hayball: agree 100% on “littoral”; it’s been part and parcel of our operational playbook since Guadacanal. Best thing to do for LCS is give them to the Coast Guard, they’ll love ‘em.

    Also, I had the exact same thought when I saw the choice of ship; thumb, eye, rinse, repeat.

  • R. M. Hayball

    Pirates are the common enemy of all mankind and should be promptly pursued, captured, tried and hung by any vessel of any navy with the capability to do so.

    Nation states have no permanent allies, only permanent interests.

    The Brits are partners, the Chinese,,,not so much.

    If a couple of beat up spit kits from the Fisheries whatever are a shot across the bow, escort by USS Chung-Hoon is a broadside in ripost. Beat, Beat, Cut, Beat, Thrust, Touche er, sorry, my Walter Mitty side briefly got the better of me. No I’m fine, really. No, I don’t need a pillow, my armchair is fine…mumble, snore…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hayball,

    Agreed on the provocation and response. Nothing new under the sun.

    What IS new, however, is the idea of this “Thousand Ship Navy”, which seems to lump some rather questionable assumptions into a maritime defense plan that relies on a magic coalition of other nations to ally with us to maintain control of the SLOCs and vital regions.

    We might be able to cough up a DDG with a fleet of 287 ships, but would we be willing or able to cough up a DDG-1000 for the same mission with a 200-ship fleet? THAT’s the warning shot that needs heeding.

  • sid

    Armchair Firebreathers can stand down.

    As this event has proven yet again, help generally shows up AFTER the fun’s over

  • b2

    Sid,

    This is late but-“Exactly”.

    BTW, from what I read 7th Fleet or PACOM dispatched the “heavily armed destroyer” NOT the administration..just a small point.

    Jay-Fod (sorta like Jay-Lo),

    This “armchair firebreather” has more seatime and bluewater flight time than you got years. To y’all I may as well be Popeye! LOL. I hate a wisea$$ empty seabag!

    b2

  • Byron

    @B2: :)

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