Something for everyone in SecDef’s speech the other day at the Air War College, which can be read in its entirety here. Of course, I was interested in this section:

Finally, I concluded we need to shift away from the 99 percent “exquisite” service-centric platforms that are so costly and complex that they take forever to build and only then in very limited quantities. With the pace of technological and geopolitical change, and the range of possible contingencies, we must look more to the 80 percent multi-service solution that can be produced on time, on budget, and in significant numbers. As Stalin once said, “Quantity has a quality all of its own.”
This was a major consideration with shipbuilding and air superiority. I recommended accelerating the buy of the Littoral Combat Ship, which, despite its development problems, is a versatile vessel that can be produced in quantity and go to places that are either too shallow or too dangerous for the Navy’s big, blue water surface combatants. As we saw last week, you don’t necessarily need a billion-dollar ship to chase down a bunch of teenage pirates.

Well, you do if all you have are billion dollar ships and an unwillingness to break out of “Big Navy” thinking. His solution of the LCS at 1/4 of a billion dollars each doesn’t seem all that cost effective to me, especially since I would hope we would have the Somali pirate problem under better control by the time the LCS fleet is delivered in numbers sufficient to make a difference.

If it’s time to think out of the box, then it’s time to use ships that are available now or within 6 months to fight pirates. The solution doesn’t have to be elegant – there are a lot of options for rugged enough, fast enough ships to provide escorts for merchants in numbers (it does seem odd, doesn’t it, to have the Secretary of Defense quoting Stalin?) sufficient to make a nearly immediate impact.

I have made proposals before about less-than-elegant solutions – see Kludge the Pirates!, An Anti-Piracy Vessel and a Low Cost Anti-Pirate Helicopter Carrier. I even took the ideas to a bigger forum
Department of Crazy Ideas: How about a cheap inshore fleet?
at the US Naval Institute Blog. One of my posts was called How to Make the Navy Bigger, Sooner, Cheaper.

Now, the feedback was that the Oilfield Service Vessels I proposed using were not “ideal ” platforms. To which my response is, cleverly, “So?

We need lots of hulls in the water – tomorrow – not 3 years from now. I have proposed a plan that I think could put 40 – 50 satisfactory platforms at sea in 6 months given the right hard-charging officer in charge and a SecDef/SecNav knife to cut through red tape and bureaucratic nonsense. And my plan, flawed as it may be, won’t cost a billion dollars. We even have people trained to do this sort of work, like the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, U.S. Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard. Heck, lots of work for merchant mariners who want to go into harm’s way, too. Use large amphibs as “mother ships” and helicopter repair and readiness depots…

But do something. Now.

Got suggestions of your own? Let’s hear them…

UPDATE: At my home blog a comment suggests these. Shades of Market Time. I think you might need a larger crew…

Posted by Mark Tempest in Books, Navy, Soft Power

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  • Byron

    No, we don’t need 1 billion dollar ships…and we damn sure don’t need HALF billion dollar+ ships that are completely unproven and rely on technology that is also not proven. SECDEF, you are putting your money on the wrong horse, you need to re-think this one and ask someone else for input other than the contractors and their damn lobbyists. Your military advisors are also feeding you a line if you think LCS is the answer to your prayers.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    My ideas from another post comment string:

    A question in the comment string on the “war of tomorrow” post asked whether we could find a surface unit that would be effective across the spectrum. Anyway, here was my answer on the other blog. (Mentioned in context of a “new” Gearing)

    …”I would think that a modern Gearing is a 4500 ton (ish) 30+ knot platform with a 6,000-mile radius that carries a significant weapons suite. At least one 5″ or 6″ gun (as long as AGSS can fire good ol’ HE from time to time), VLS pod, and ADA systems that give some defense against cruise missiles and subsonic attack aircraft. Sturdy, survivable, not over-engineered.

    Probably not a 14,000-ton, $3 billion capital unit. And a full crew, perhaps 180-200. Not a “super crew” of 40 who can’t eat, sleep, or simultaneously repair damage and fight, should the ship find itself in action. Likely not carrying AEGIS, but able to link in to the wider network if required.”

    Sort of like the love child of an FFG-7 and Berthoff cutter?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    *Burma Shave*

    Hayball had mentioned a gray Berthoff cutter, something else that has gotten some vertical head nods on this blog….

  • Byron

    FFG-21? 🙂

  • Time, though, is the enemy. Unless you’ve got 30 or so Berhoffs on the ways . . .

  • Byron

    Berthing space is going to be an issue. Those offshore boats weren’t big to begin with, and if you had a MARDET/SPECOPSDET it’s gone from bad to worse. Mounting weapons, no big deal, magazines maybe so (or at least ease some BUORD restrictions). Speed will also be a problem, as the OSWBs aren’t very fast. You could slide a RHIB down the stern though.

  • lesser ajax

    We should also consider the risk of exposing a multi-billion dollar warship to combat risks in relation to the relatively low returns of even the most successful anti-piracy event (avoiding relatively modest ransom for ship and/or hostages). Let’s face it: Pirates with machine guns and RPGs can render a DDG OOC for several mission areas if they shoot from close range at the right places. Repairs would probably be time consuming, out of theater, and expensive. Given the diminishing fleet size and stressed maintenance budget, is the return worth this risk to the functionality of the combatant fleet? Maybe that alone justifies investing in low cost anti-piracy options.

  • Bill

    We’ve managed to do this before. When an urgent need was defined for increased drug interdiction that required ‘more ships and more ships NOW’, a batch of gulf-built crew boats were hastily assembled in to what proved to be a very operationally effective USCG squadron.

    Hardly a fluke…or was it?

  • I think the best way to fight these pirates is to use the frigates that we have NOW and assign them to piracy patrols. I am also in favor of sending US Coast Guard cutters to patrol those waters and put a stop and arrest these pirates.

    As for the long term solution, I think we need to start building these LCS ships and have the US Coast Guard chip in on the cost as well. I also think that we will eventually have to go back to Somalia and finish the job we left behind. I think we need to go in their and hunt them down on land and prop up with a stable Government with US minders to stay behind to make sure they stay stable.

    If we don’t, you know who and said terrorist can waltz right in and use that place as a base of operations like they did in Afghanistan. So we will eventually in the long run will have to think about going back to Somalia and root them out.

  • Byron

    Drones for OTH recon and tracking? Would be cheaper than using gobs of hours on helo engines and crews.

  • Wright

    A fast response and quick re-tooling was required during the Tanker Wars in the Persian Gulf against Iran, where there too, small fast boats were attacking ships. The solution then was two large barges obtained from an oil services company, they served as a floating command post / base for the small boats and helicopters (They even utilized the Army’s special helicopter team). This solution was not perfect, but it worked and was inexpensive. Plus, it was a non-permanent solution so after the conflict there was not a vast amount of equipment to maintain and operate.

    Incorporation of other departments and organizations will greatly help the transition. It may be in the Navy’s best interest not to incorporate a ship or equipment platform for this current task, but to design a task force or team that can rapidly acquire equipment from the DOD and off the shelf to create a temporary and specialized unit that can be dissolved once the mission has been accomplished. This would allow the Navy to address this task efficiently without handcuffing itself for the next.

  • Hayball

    NavSea has destroyed its own credibility in shipbuilding and design, at least on the surface side of the house, and credibility is all.

    In the short term the Navy needs small, well armed, austere general purpose warships in some numbers. Its bureaucracy can’t get such an ugly, servicable, tough, spartan and adaptable red headed stepson of a ship in the water ahead of schedule and under budget. That’s reality, regrettably.

    Sucks. Well, face it.

    There are plenty of proven good designs out there, in somebody else’s navy. Go look for two. Small and damn small. A frigate and a corvette.

    Pick them. Then build them under license in at least three american yards simultaneously. Watch all the yards like hawks, and make it clear the first one to screw up the job, quality, schedule, or budget, gets the ax for the rest of the production run. Then kill the volunteer who screws up. The other two will get competitive. Find a new hungry third, they’ll stay so.

    Then get a pressure washer, an industrial vac, a needle gun, and an exothermic torch. Pick a Rear Admiral, a smart, tough love kind of leader with technical chops, promote her, and order her to put on her blue dress and red petticoat and take the tools to NavSea shipbuilding and design and clean house. When she does, promote her again.

    Just sayin’, ’cause when my Momma had blood in her eye, we would say the Devil is coming in a blue dress and a red petticoat. Then me and my three scamp brothers would get real busy being real good.

    Credibility is all. Always has been.

    One old fart’s opinion. Just being colorful. Worth all you paid for it. Anybody got a better answer?

  • Byron

    Perfect agreement, one old fart to another.

  • VADM J. C. harvey, Jr USN

    For Wright, excellent ideas – as a rule, we need to get in the habit of looking for more workable solutions of the relatively “off-the-shelf” variety, as you propose, than focusing on going into a conceptualize-design-acquire-build mode for a custom-built response to a unique problem.
    I have in mind how Navy geared up for and executed Operation Market Time in Vietnam, a type of seaborne interdiction conducted in the littoral we hadn’t performed since the Civil War. I believe we rapidly adapted what we had (ex, modified LSTs moored in rivers as helo pads) instead of relying upon design-for-purpose platforms (PBRs excluded). Thanks, JCHjr

  • My opinion, we should go with off the shelf designs and that is well proven and very reliable. Using the latest and greatest in Frigate technology. We should be going with something that other navies around the world are designing and using

    Here’s my list of recommended Frigate designs the US Navy and the US Coast Guard should be looking at,
    Anzac class frigate
    Floréal class frigate
    La Fayette class frigate
    Sachsen class frigate
    De Zeven Provinciën class frigate
    Fridtjof Nansen class frigate
    Álvaro de Bazán class frigate
    Formidable class frigate
    Valour class frigate

    Now for a corvette design, I think the US Navy and the US Coast Guard should go with a proven design such as the
    Braunschweig class corvette
    Sigma class corvette

  • Byron

    VADM, one of the biggest problems standing in the way of a “snap kick” solution will be three fold: NAVSEA, the big MilCorps, and Congress. There will be a ton of “Not Invented Here!” screams, along with “Not in compliance with standards!”, as well as the usual “chickens sans head” crowd.

  • Spade

    Bryon, easy response to the “NIH” crowd.

    We did make ’em here! Ambassador MK III FACs for Egypt, Saar 5 boats for Israel etc etc! Big contractors involved in it all.

    US shipbuilders and system companies can and do make small fighting ships. Big grey hulks commanded by higher ranking guys are just cooler than little FACs and corvettes.

    Combine small heavily armed FACs and corvettes with some motherships with helicopter/light UAV capacity. Have your FACs out for a couple days and come back for resupply, helos for help, UAVs for recon.

  • Byron

    No argument, Spade, but just how loud will the whining and begging be when “new program” is announced. It’ll get staffed to death to start. Lot’s of shortcuts if we go Eagle1 and/or VADM Harveys route, and there’ll be gored oxen and broken rice bowls everywhere. You KNOW how DC works.

  • Wright, I concur with you in principle, but I don’t know how temporary the pirate issue will be. Many have said in this forum that until the governemnt inland of the high tide mark improves in Somalia, it will be hard to completely stem the pirate phenomenon.

    A small flotilla of off the shelf corvettes or small boats would not only be a cheap way to deal with piracy, but would go very far in improving another condition that has been remarked on frequently of late: shiphandling. Buy these vessels and pick a group of motivated LTs to command them (they’re out there, in hiding). The experience will measurably add to their judgement and command ability – before we risk one of our multi-billion dollar ships with them. Promote those who are successful, and promote them early. I’m throwing out a rough figure, but I estimate the PC/MCM command opportunity to be probably about 5% of a YG. If we increase that figure, it could go a long way in improving the aggregate knowledge of navigation and seamanship in the Surface Navy.

    Two birds with one stone is a good thing.

  • Byron

    Does anyone have a clue how these guys are getting their intel? For sure, they aren’t just drifting about in the “sea lanes”. What’s the chances of finding out how they’re doing it, and rolling them up from the back side?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “For sure, they aren’t just drifting about in the “sea lanes”.”

    Byron, it might be just that simple. The pirate-fisherman-pirate-intel source-fisherman network is probably quite extensive. Also, an astounding amount of ship and crew manifest info is public domain. (First seriously questioned in reference to port security)

    I would bet my bottom dollar, if it hadn’t gone to the IRS yesterday, that they are using the most reliable and secure sources known to man. Observation and word of mouth.

  • Byron

    URR: First, the sea, she be big. Unless they have a fairly sophisticated network of fishermen with satellite phones, how can they arrainge to be in FRONT of a potential victim? Second question: are most of the ships captured southbound out of the Suez? Because if they are….

    I just find it very hard to believe that they can get THIS lucky with so many ships, especially given that the ships masters are aware of the fact and are quite probably going out of their normal lanes by a reasonable margin. Keep in mind also, that the futher out to sea they go, the more area they have to cover in order to set up an attempt.

    Just my two cents worth, and worth about that much…

  • UltimaRatioReg


    You are indeed correct, but I would be willing to bet they (the pirates, the “edlers”, and other clansmen) talk to each other, crews of ships in nearby ports, even UN officials who (heaven forbid!) might be somewhat corrupt and understand the value of foodstuff and other items on the considerable black market.

    My sense is that they have a very, very good network, focused on a few pieces of critical info, and can glean what they need without popping their heads up into our radar.

    All you got is two cents, too? Funny how that happens every April.

  • Byron

    I’ll be your civ tech rep for hull repairs 😉

  • WTH

    regarding that group of motivated LTs. They’re not in hiding, they just haven’t been asked. Command at sea in an aggressive role; you’ll have people beating down the door.

    To quote Eagle1:
    “Don’t send a “clean hands” Lieutenant – send that guy who hates the bureaucracy and his buddy.
    The kind of LT who uses cans of coffee to smooth shipyard wheels- if you get my drift. (Here’s another hint – if he offers to do a Power Point presentation- he’s the wrong guy…)”

    I’ll raise my hand right now, I have a buddy too.

  • Chuck Hill

    Bet there are a lot of Tuna boats we could lease. They are reasonably fast, have long legs and good boat handling facilities, and most have a small helo deck.

  • Eagle1

    Chuck – but they smell like … tuna.

  • Byron

    Stay WAY the hell away from a pogie boat. Won’t tell you what it smells like, but it does make a shrimp boat smell like a flower cart.

  • Jay

    For a good book on modern piracy: Langewiesche, William (2004). The Outlaw Sea : A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime. New York: North Point Press. ISBN 0-86547-581-4.

    If I recall, pirates got info from those in the shipping business by bribes.

  • RickWilmes

    SecDef Gates says,

    ‘As Stalin once said, “Quantity has a quality all of its own.”’


    Great, as our government becomes more statist in nature, Stalin is used to justify the SecDef’s reasoning behind his decisions. How intellectually bankrupt have our leaders become?

    In what context did Stalin say “Quantiy has a quality all of its own?” I want a legimate source, not some fabrication or Bueller.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Stalin also said: “When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use.”

    and: “World dictatorship can be established only when the victory of socialism has been achieved in certain countries or groups of countries.”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “We need lots of hulls in the water – tomorrow – not 3 years from now. ”

    I would say something a tad different. We need lots of hulls in the water. Now AND three years from now. Expedient ideas now, with a goal of a platform capable of efficiently and affordably handling this and other low and mid-tech missions without the half billion plus pricetag.

  • RickWilmes


    Do you agree or disagree with the Stalin quotes?

    In what direction do you think this country is heading?

    Towards capitalism or towards socialism?

  • D. E. Reddick

    What about reincarnating a longer-legged version of a 78-ft Higgins Boat PT (MTB or MGB of WW-II) or the Asheville class of gunboats on a FAC or very small corvette hullform.

    Replace the WW-II era weaponry (abandoning the torpedoes and depth charges) of the PT / MTB / MGB:

    Single 40-mm Bofors;
    Single 37-mm cannon;
    Two 20-mm Oerlikon cannon;
    Two twin 50-cal. M2 or Ma-Deuce Browning machine-guns;


    Forward 25-mm chaingun;
    Two twin 50-cal. M2 Browning machine-gun mounts just forward of the pilot-house;
    Two twin 50-cal. M2 Browning machine-gun mounts just aft of the pilot-house and bridge;
    One automatic 40-mm grenade launcher further aft (amidships) of the pilot-house and bridge superstructure;
    One aft-mounted 25-mm chaingun, near the stern.

    If the hullform chosen is that of a small corvette, then maybe replace the forward 25-mm chaingun with a 57-mm main gun. Also, between the 40-mm grenade launcher and stern 25-mm place a SeaRAM launcher. And if the corvette is large enough, insert a flight deck and hanger for UAVs and un-manned helos (with the SeaRAM mounted atop the the hanger, aft of the 40-mm grenade launcher and forward of the stern-most 25-mm chaingun. Also, of course – the 25-mm chainguns could be replaced with the longer-ranged 30-mm chainguns.

    It should simply be a small warship that can take on any pirate force and overwhelm them. Also, it should be able to stand outside a foreign harbor and defend any docked USN or allied naval force against asymmetric attacks. The Israeli Navy has similarly armed FACs and corvettes. They work quite well, according to news reports (except for when a CIWS was down and a C-801 struck a corvette).

    Historial links:

    Or, what about modern designs – links:

    In terms of the USN, consider an armed Sea Fighter or an enlarged Stiletto with some armaments. We have the infrastructure to support such platforms with the fleet’s amphibs.

    Or, purchase the designs for the Swedish Visby and/or Norwegian Skjold classes and modify as needed to meet USN requirements.

    Let’s just get some fast shooters in place and make it unprofitable for pirates to try and ply their trade!

    D. E. Reddick

  • Eagle1

    Nothing like staying on topic…

  • RickWilmes


    My time is valuable, and I like to get right to the heart and soul of the matter. The Stalin quote is on topic because SecDef Gates used it and you included it in your post.

    The fundamental issue facing the state of our nation at this moment is what direction this country is heading. Towards statism or towards capitalism?

    Now is SecDef Gates making his decisions based on the reality of the current state of our nation or based on something Stalin supposedly said?

    Now, the reason why we are going to have a cheaper department of pirate fighting is because the U.S. Government no longer has the money to fund anything else.

    In otherwords, financial bankruptcy is also at play along with the intellectual bankruptcy.

    Eagle 1: what is the cause and what is the effect?

    The two choices are financial bankruptch and intellectual bankruptcy.

  • Eric

    This is a job for Coast Guard equipment. 87′ cutters and RHIBs (plus UAVs/helos?). You only need to be able to operate in the same conditions as the pirates can, and you don’t need much firepower to deter them. Adopt the mothership system they use and you’ll be able to protect large convoys of merchant vessels with one or two small cutters. (Heck I’ll go fight pirates in a restored PT boat if I can get the keys to one.)

    Question about Yemen: the pre-2009 piracy pattern involved a heavy concentration of attacks along the Yemeni shore. Now those pirate dhows don’t look fast, and the Gulf of Aden is 200nm wide. Is there any evidence that the pirates have been using the Yemeni shore as a home-away-from-home, to refuel, buy food and water and khat, rest, etc.?

  • Cdr Mark Condeno

    As I have posted on influence squadrons I beleived Patrol Boats would be the best asset or platform for this fight I hope we still remember the PT’s and MTB ‘s of the Pacific and the Med-42 knot speeds with MG’s and Torpedoes splashing on the target,but I guess MG’s or a Stinger type weapon on board would be a formidable type of weapon

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Eagle1 et al.,

    A lot of references to smaller (>100′) boats for this duty. Undoubtedly they can carry sufficient armament and have requisite speed, but how about sustained ops or weather effects?

    How would you keep these boats supplied and running for ops that stretch into years? And is such a force and its maint/logistics component a fairly manpower-intensive proposition?

  • UltimaRatioReg


    You sound a tad skeptical of the web of information the pirate warlords have access to. For the kind of money changing hands with ransom payments, you can bet that these warlords have an astonishingly complete picture of what ships and cargo move through those shipping lanes. That picture was compiled from a very wide variety of sources, some of whom I mentioned, and also Jay’s reference that palms are greased at shipping companies and cargo handling outfits.

    We sometimes forget that one doesn’t need gee-whiz gadgetry and high-tech signals equipment to do this. Their EEI list is a short one indeed, and they have a lot of people to draw from.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Rick W, you ask me if I agree with Stalin’s quotes?

    You betcha. The man knew about obtaining and holding power.

    As for the other question, regarding socialism v capitalism, I will abstain here. Otherwise I might be tagged a disgruntled returning Combat Vet extremist. 🙂

  • RickWilmes

    URR, your moral agnosticism suits you well. I rank Stalin along with Hitler and Kant as the three most evil ilk to walk this earth. Power corrupts and the United States is collapsing because of it.

  • Byron

    URR, I humbly submit that what you just described IS an intelligence network. I suspect they also have people reporting to them from Egypt to get information on ships transiting the SC.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Moral agnosticism? I didn’t say that Stalin’s ideas were anything but evil incarnate. But the man knew about the apparatus of totalitarian governmental terror. The West refused to take seriously this knowledge, and didn’t listen whatever to the words being spoken at the various COMINTERNs throughout the 20s and 30s. They also discounted a certain Austrian ex-Corporal and his treatise regarding Europe’s future.

    But to reinforce Eagle’s point, what in Sam Hill does this have to do with fighting piracy off Somalia?

  • RickWilmes

    It has everything to do with fighting a tribal culture. Philosophically speaking, two things are needed to win.

    1. Individual rights.
    2. Objective law.

    Do you know how to fight for and defend those two principles or are you only interested in gaining power and making pirates walk the plank?

  • Byron

    URR, it’s got everything to do with Ricks agenda. It’s the only sort of topic he can ever talk about, and as he has shown, he has no problem thread-jacking just to ramble on about it.

    Rick, your recording is getting old, how about putting another on one? Don’t bother replying, you’ll be typing to an empty screen.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Do you know how to fight for and defend those two principles…?”

    You GOTTA be kidding me. I may be a dumb Marine Cannon-cocker, but a stronger Constitutional Constructionist you will likely not find.

    However, I find no incompatibility between those ideals and killing pirates who threaten US freedom of the seas and kidnap or threaten US citizens. If Jefferson didn’t, I think I have solid case not to, either.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Perhaps ol’ Rick thinks the pirates are disciples of Kant or Schiller. Sure, they kidnap and kill, but to follow KANT?!?!?! We can’t let that go….

  • Byron

    Can you say, “INCOMING!” ? 🙂

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Yep. Just in time for me to get back to work.

  • Spade

    “A lot of references to smaller (>100′) boats for this duty. Undoubtedly they can carry sufficient armament and have requisite speed, but how about sustained ops or weather effects?”

    Well, for weather effects check Eagle1’s blog posts on weather and pirate activities. These guys are in small boats and can’t handle the weather. I THINK (and hopefully he’ll correct me) that if the wind is over 15 kts the pirates pack it in. So as long as our boats can operate in slightly worse environments than the bad guys, we’re okay.

    Sustained ops: seabase! Like we did against iran, or in Vietnam. Take a cargo ship or amphib, all that other stuff we’ve been working on for the concept. I’d love an old LHA for part of it (full chopper support right there). Don’t need anything fancy. Some place the crew can pull up near, get off the boat, resupply, act as C2, etc. Have a 51 class with that.

    Sufficent armarment is up for debate. So long as “sufficient” equals “lots”.

  • Byron

    Sufficient would be M-4s, shotguns, M-240, Ma Deuce, and 40mm grenade launchers. And lots of zip ties, gonna need them to. Personally, I’d stop every boat out there, ask them nicely to let me do an inspection, and if I find more than a shark gun, take the crew into custody, sink the boat and the arms, and drop them off on the beach. Tell them, “go out heavily armed, you lose your boat. Sucks to be you.”. Biggest asset will be some sort of aerial recon. Don’t think they’ll want to keep a satellite overhead, and God knows the P-3s have issues with longevity and wing cracks. Maybe bring back a short squadron of S-3s and shore base them somewhere near?

  • Hayball

    Small attack craft can successfully engage pirates. They have problems with escort.

    Issues include: Range, endurance (not the same thing, seakeeping, evaporators, AC – for the reliability of Cwhatever gear and Fire Control, sanitation, and a serious lack of reliability by duplication for weapons systems and ships systems, and reliability by on board tech maintenence). Boats are not as robust as ships and take a lot of detailed maintenence, most of which cannot be accomplished when at sea.

    It’s the old three in hand to keep one running problem, exacerbated by crew rest(for physical exhaustion after a few days in open ocean)and daily, weekly and monthly maintence which must be done in port, regularly, or you are towing one boat home with another. So the proportion for a 24 seven operation is closer to 4 to one or, intermittently, higher. Boats and crews wear out fast in the open ocean.

    Remember, the attacker picks his time and place, attacks, wins or loses, and dies or goes home for R & R. The defender stays with the escorted ship, in constant readiness. Unless the damn boat is OOC.

    Burning down every seacoast town in Somolia has counter productive stategic influences for the overall national security situation. If you don’t get that, well there is plenty of work for brave guys who love frontal assaults. Positions are always opening. The strategic and operational planning levels are just not your strong suit.

    The hunger for the quick fix is palpable. Secondary consequences from the execution of the quick fix make the long slog inevitable.
    We should have learned that from Iraq, if nothing else. Proper planning for a long campaign is almost always quicker and more efficacious. Or, if name dropping will help, Liddell-Hart: “The long way around is often the shortest way home.”

    The issue, my opinion, is how to bridge the gap between now and when sufficient appropriate assets can be mobilized using the fleet in being.

    Two paradigms must be broken. One is that it ain’t our job.
    The other is that we can’t mobilize 36 small ships from scratch in less than 7 to fifteen years.

    Both are widely accepted. Both are preposterous, unless you don’t know any history.

  • Hayball

    Make that
    “how to bridge the gap using the fleet in being until sufficient appropriate assets can be mobilized.”

    Dropped a comma.

  • Byron

    ROFL, Hayball! Summed it up very nicely. I really liked the “positions are opening”, just wonder if they can bring along their armchairs? 🙂

  • Hayball


    Telly Savalas as Kojak used to say “Pick up every pimp in New York”

    Byron: “Stop every boat out there”? I respectfully disagree.

    Too much ocean, too many boats, not enough patrol assets.

    This all got thrashed out in 1916, 1939-40, and 1942. The answer is c-o-n-v-o-y. Supplemented by r-a-i-d-s on bases.

    Nelson: “You will find this lack of frigates graven upon my heart”
    Too bad we threw all ours away, now we have to build them back up.

  • Hayball


    Now I really feel bad, picking a bone with you just when you were giving me such a nice compliment. No offense I hope (red face).

  • Byron

    Didn’t say every boat, did I? 🙂 Enough will spread the word though..can you say, “herding”?

  • PK

    you guys need to look and talk more about Eagle1’s home page a few months back.

    he proposed using heavy oil field boats as frigates. mounting an M1A1 on the back (for the stabilized gun, a really important feature for water work) putting containers fitted out for marines to live in on the back and maybe installing a landing pad for helicopters on the far rear of the hull.

    he did this several months ago.

    the proposal had a lot of real good points.

    there’s lots of those boats on the beach in the texas, louisananana and mississsississippi areas that are looking for work. (if someone wants to whine about contracts and such then copy the charter contracts for the half dozen that USN already has in service).

    we could have them leave CONUS and do the mods in the iraq or barain or … when they get there, use the steaming time for preparation.

    might i point out that they already have pretty good radar etc. for picking up small boats etc. as they are dodging shrimpers etc. all day long off of the texas oil coast.

    i made an off the wall statement at the time that they could do some kind of get and go deal and be passing the seabouy by sundown.

    the damdest thing is that he proposed it long enough ago that if someone had paid attention to him they could have been over there shooting at bumb boats THREE MONTHS AGO.



  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hayball and Byron hit the two salient issues. The units need to be capable of pursuing and engaging pirates, as well as escort of any convoy system developed.

    Wasn’t it Prien (U47) that said “A ship not in convoy is a target. A convoy without escort are targets conveniently gathered.”?

    “Too bad we threw all ours away, now we have to build them back up.”

    Indeedy. But we HAVE done it before.

    We built more than 60 destroyers from laying keel to commissioning
    between August 1944 and August 1945. A proven design, with proven technology, might be something to try again to heal the “lack of frigates graven upon” the US Navy.

  • PK

    nother proposal.

    we have these ships called LHD’s (BOXER). they are like the LHA’s but have at least one major difference in that the LHA’s had a partition down the middle of the well deck that ended about 80-100 feet from the stern. this only allowed them to carry internally ONE of those big hover craft craft the marines love so well. LHD’s do not have that partition and can carry TWO of those hovercraft. add some more guns to the hovercraft, maybe a bradly in the well so that if they run into someone thats nasty then drop the ramp and badda bing, badda bing, vava voom.

    what if we loaded two or three more of the hover craft on one of the upcomming deploying LHD’s flight deck as deck cargo, take the two normally carried in the well deck. and send her over there.

    this would give us galrahans mother ship and small boys with 55 knots speed. the LHD’s helicopters could provide scouting etc….

    the LHD has plenty of volume and facilities for the additional equipment plus one or two extra marines to haras the squids.

    ITS ALL ON HAND ASSETS. all they gotta do is cut orders.

    chop it up at your leisure.


  • PK


    you forget: the military is at war. america is at the mall.


  • UltimaRatioReg

    I don’t forget. I am reminded every day.

  • Hayball


    Biggest problem I see is shortage of assets. Long coast, whole lotta ocean. You need enough to escort two big convoys in oppposite directions, and not have the lobos take down any beeves on the edge of the herd.

    That’s hard on Lassie and Rin Tin Tin because they are going to be running all day and all night. That’s why you need big dogs and plenty of them.

    The LHD makes a nice boat house for hovercraft. The hovercraft skirts might be vulnerable to RPG fire and I don’t know much about their maintenence cycle, but I suspect they might need a lot of down time. Can they sally on short notice (less than two minutes) from the well, or do they have to have the LHA flood down? Sweet asset for reaching the ship that is already taken, but can it stay with it until the frigate gets there 12 hours later.

    Out on the edge of development, aren’t there some high speed SWATH’s and a big rigid sidewall hovercraft they were playing with?

    Blimps might work out well, too. Maritime air cover when the enemy has no AAW capability is REALLY effective. Too bad the P-3’s have their own crisis going. How bad is it for them? I don’t know. There is someone out there who can tell us, I’ll wager.

    Once in a while, somebody unglamorous shows up and can sing better than most pros. So I’m all for keeping an open mind and giving an ugly duckling their chance. But only an audition.

    Until we get enough frigates and corvettes and cutters working a systematic convoy plan, use anything you can lay your hands on.
    As a stop gap.

    But don’t kid yourself. This is going to take some serious shipbuilding under forced draft and a lot of patrolling, boarding, escorting from C to B to A and then from A to B to C.
    Then repeat, every day for five years, at best, 15 more likely.

    We threw away the easy button in the 90’s.

  • Hayball


    You dog you! Quoting Prien? Put her there!

    You are hot tonight!

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hah! Head full o’ useless stuff. Batting averages, torque ratings, muzzle velocities of three calibers of howitzer.

    Any chance of remembering birthdays of nieces and nephews? Nope.

    Actually I am not sure it was Prien that said that. Might have been Kretschmer or even Donitz. But it was one of the famous ones…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    *Burma Shave*

    But whomever said it, knew whatof they spoke.

  • Chuck Hill

    Let’s talk bases for a moment, because if we have any, we can work the problem with smaller vessels.

    Could the Seychelles fit into this. They seem to be at the south end of the danger area.

    Are there Somali islands with suitable harbors that the “central government” might authorize us to use that we could make secure relatively economically?

  • PK

    mr. Hayball

    with 5+ hovercraft per LHD all but two would have to be buzzing around being pestiferous while the two were in the well refueling and rearming. this would modify the two minute drill when getting underway.

    the LHD has strong enough air search and surface search gear to possibly do convoy duties from the center of the herd.(remember the mast on those things is tall enough to get quite a distance out of surface search radars simply by antenna placement).

    flooding down does take time but the boat can steam right along while they are doing it. they would scream and shout safety about entering and exiting the well while underway though.

    23 hour a day operating time probably would burn up the hover craft in pretty short order, but i think that this mess will be over in pretty short order if the grey hulls manage to get a good rapid response system going.

    what will work will be simple, easy and done in very little time with on hand assets. going through the procurement route will be a disaster.

    it might be as simple as high speed 15k+ convoys. (eagle speak says that very few ships operating below ~14k get grabbed, possibly because the small pirate boats can’t get up to that speed in rougher waters)

    also a classic search, find and sink fleet evoloution with the mother ships would probably solve the problem after about 10 successes.


  • Chuck Hill

    Eagle1’s proposal is about what to do before something else more appropriate is built.

    There has been a lot of discussion about what we should build for this particular mission, but if we are going to build something, wouldn’t it be better to build something we had already identified a continuing need for, something already planned for production in the US? This is really a law enforcement operation, so Coast Guard assets are appropriate.

    If we accelerate the Coast Guard’s current program and don’t decommision the existing ships faster than we now plan to, there will have a temporary increase in the number of ships available for this mission, and when the mission is over we will have ships we would have needed anyway.

  • PK

    using old coasties would probably mean a certain “yard period” before they would be ready for the trip as the coast guard is thrifty and if they are ready to decommission a hull that means it doesn’t have another mile left in it. literaly.


  • Byron

    Something that needs to be kept in mind when discussing this topic:Logistics, and what it will all cost during a period of tightened defense budget belts. That’s going to be your problem.

  • LCACs with either a Bradley or a LAV would be terrible for anti-piracy. There is virtually NO field of fire for a vehicle chained on the deck, and the operating environment is extremely uncomfortable. There’s a reason the vehicle crews have to ride in the passenger compartment when the LCACs are underway. I think a better idea would be to stash some PB MkIIIs or whatever the current standard is aboard an amphib. Better firepower, better seakeeping. Should you use an LHA/LHD or use an LPD or LSD? Dunno. I suspect either would work. The big deck gives you better aviation, but the small decks would seem to be the cheaper solution.

  • Chuck Hill

    “using old coasties would probably mean a certain “yard period” before they would be ready for the trip as the coast guard is thrifty and if they are ready to decommission a hull that means it doesn’t have another mile left in it. literaly.”

    Wasn’t saying to use old Coast Guard ships for anti-priracy, but rather to speed up production of replacement and use the additional ships, completed earlier than planned for anti-piracy.

    Earlier studies had suggested that speeding up Deepwater would save money in the long run, and this way we would be buying no more ships than originally planned, we might get a savings from buying in quantity, and we get ships appropriate to the mission too.

  • I would say to combat Piracy, they should use Frigates or Corvettes and use the following frigate and corvette designs
    De Zeven Provinciën class frigate
    Sachsen class frigate
    La Fayette class frigate
    Formidable class frigate
    Braunschweig class corvette

    I would use something that is off the shelf. Has a very proven design and that it can be adaptable to meet the needs of the US Navy, US Coast Guard. I would look at the European navies and look at their Frigates for design examples and see if we can buy the design and have our shipbuilders build it under license from them.

    I would also look at using an LHA and LHD as a mothership and base of operations.

  • Hayball

    Much as we all love to play with really big Tonka toy sets, and think about the really cool accessories the new model (name any vehicle), planning and execution of a series of mutually supporting military operations, using tailored packages of mutually supporting organizations and their organic equipment over a significant period of time, to decisively defeat an enemy conducting lethal operations against widespread civilian populations and ecomomic activities as well a one’s own military forces; in other words, conducting a military CAMPAIGN… will always involve one decisive factor independent of skill, elan, or superiority of numbers, or quality of equipment.

    What is that?


    Which takes preparation, planning, and prepurchase of essential

    Good logistics are expensive. About one tenth the price of bad logistics. Good logistics are an even better bargain in terms of blood spilt.

    The more Naval History you read, the clearer it becomes.

    Just like the price you pay to marry a really intellgent woman, which is not cheap. Just 1/100th the price of marrying a stupid one.

    The only thing dumber is paying ransom to save money and blood.

  • RickWilmes

    Hayball, cut to the chase. Paying ransom is pragmatism. Logistics requires fundamental principles.

  • Hayball

    Chuck Hill:

    The proven way to generate military power in expeditionary or naval campaigns is to sieze and hold (or rent)a defensible port and airport in close proximity to another, and within reach of the key geographic Area of Operations.

    You base Tenders (logistic, repair, medical, armory and C3 “mother” ships) in the port, and have a military engineering organization improve the piers, connecting roads and airport facilities as required.

    You then shuttle bulk supply ships to the port and time critical items via supply aircraft to the airport.

    This allows you to keep task groups for aviation, amphibious operations, patrol and interdiction/convoy, and supply (beans, bullets, fuel)conducting or supporting operations against the enemy continuously, until he is decisively defeated, because you have a BASE for maintenence and supply.

    Scale will vary based on the size of the AOR and the enemy forces.

    This can be done quite rapidly if you have tenders provisioned, trained and ready to deploy.

    Too bad we threw away almost all our tenders in the ’90’s

  • UltimaRatioReg


    You took the words out of my mouth regarding tenders and other auxiliaries. Sure would be nice to have ’em about now, for just about all the proposals mentioned here. We have very few left, and what is in Suisun Bay is hardly in a preservation status, apparently.

    We might wind up learning some more “peace dividend” lessons the hard way.

  • Hayball

    Paying ransom just makes hostage taking a growth industry, which leads to paying more and higher ransom, repeat.

    Dumb. Counterproductive. Antipragmatic, except for the craven and the weak, and then only if you immediately flee the area. Far from the area.

    Aggression met with appeasement begats worse agression. Read the newspaper much? 20th century history?

    Ditto bribery.

    “Once you surrender the Danegelt, you never get rid of the Dane”:

    SUCCESS requires fundamental PRINCIPLES, which you learn when you read and compare history across time.

    Fundamentals. Pointed out to raise the level of the discussion, and improve the practicality of the recommendations.

    Well, I can hope, can’t I?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “We never pay any one Dane-geld,
    No matter how trifling the cost,
    For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
    And the nation that plays it is lost”

    Jefferson understood. Will we?

  • Hayball

    So Chuck, given that you need a harbor, piers, POL facilities, a secure connecting road, a substantial airport and a defensible perimeter around the whole shebang, all within reach of the battlespace (convoy route & pirate bases), what does google maps come up with along this X000 miles of God forsaken wilderness coastline and adjoining archipelago?

    Just asking. No harm in that, right?

  • Hayball


    Let me see, we have two major regional campaigns in progress- one maybe winning, one maybe losing-, another moderate scale regional contingency heating up, smaller pots bubbling in about 3-6 other places I can think of, we’re flat broke, our industrial base is in free fall, in hock up to our eyeballs for about the next two generations, and the Best and the Brightest all say: “Cut the defense budget by 10% this year, and stand by for deeper cuts in the out years as you finish what you have on your plate now”.

    Because nothing will get worse, only better.

    Oh yeah, I forgot. Everything we have is rode hard and put up wet for the better part of a decade.

    What, me worry about no AS, AD, AR, ARS, ATF, AOE, AE, AOR, or super combo can’t shoot back civilian manned fleet train in one vessel ships that aren’t mothballed, transferred to Gillette to make super blue blades, or overtasked already?

    I mean, we got two LCS’s mostly built, and untouchable plans for 3 robo as long as the threat and the sea state are just so cruisers, don’t we? Not to mention a flag officer for just about every ship. And a positive military attitude. So we can make war, when we wage it, be tidy, efficient, safe, and inexpensive. And based in correct philosophical doctrine.

    What more do we need?

  • Hayball


    WRT to Deepwater Coasties (something odd there, never mind)
    “speed up replacement(s)and use the … ships, completed earlier than planned, for anti-piracy”.


    Then MOBILIZE multiple shipyards and build more, and faster, then take what the yards have learned and build more, and faster still.
    Each just like the last one.

    Then after you get piracy under control and rapidly becoming extinguished, make a plan to FRAM those little cans. Voila,
    a (sort of, better, anyway) balanced fleet in being. With a whole lot of little cans that make white water and black smoke and spit death in all directions out to long range (post FRAM with great sensors, good comms/connectivity, and multiple big(ger) guns, missiles and torpedoes.

    Be still my beating heart.

    And all we gotta due is SELL IT.

  • Hayball


    “this mess will be over in short order”

    Regretfully, I must disagree. I would be delighted to be wrong.

    Or anyway that’s how it looks through my trifocals from my rocking chair.

  • Hayball

    Make that “all we gotta do” vice “all we gotta due”

    Brain to typing fingers homonym cross-connect malfunction.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Thanks for the summation re: other efforts, defense spending, re-equipment, and loss of auxiliary vessels. I will cut and paste it straight into the upcoming QDR! 🙂

    We must be picking up each others’ sideband, because I used “Dane-Geld” to describe the piracy issue a couple of days ago.

  • Hayball


    Funny how well old Rudyard nailed down the basics a hundred years ago.

    Have you read “Captains Courageous”? Just a grand book.


  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hayball: Agreed!

    Ol’ RK called a LOT of things spot-on. I read “Captains” as a youth and should read again. On my ever-growing list. I usually have three going at any one time. “Kim” is RK’s entry in that group presently.

    And particularly a propo for this venue:

    “If you can bear to hear the truths you’ve spoken,
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,”

  • Byron

    Someone (not me!) needs to do an article on Kipling and how he resonates with all the people who have followed the profession of arms. One of my favorite authors, John Ringo, writes a lot of military sci-fi, and there’s Kipples sprinkled all through his writing. And here we have two war horses talking Kipling; imagine that!

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Byron, I’d love to do so if USNI would consider publishing. RK is one of my very favorites, and his story is enthralling. His works are brilliantly done in capturing the colonial British Army.

    What say, Admin? Were I to plunge into such missive, would you find a place for it?

  • Interesting thoughts about logistics.

    One could argue that the more COTS used, especially equipment found around oil field areas – diesel engines, etc, the less strain on developing a special s logistics train…

    Which get me back to my original point…
    sooner with a whole lot of less capable is better than late with ships we don’t have yet.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    I think the consensus is that we will need both. A “field expedient” will be required to tide us over until we produce platforms that perform these missions and tasks well and efficiently.

  • D. E. Reddick

    Logistical basing might best be achieved on the Yemeni Island of Socotra, which is located off the Somali coastline from the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden.

    It has an airport and several anchorages. It would be a start. It is certainly closer to the apparent areas of operational activity than Djibouti.

    D. E. Reddick

  • PK

    the business of goosing the shipyards to build a bunch of the modern coasties is a pretty good idea.

    one of the simpler facts is that once you have the torch set up then when the first plate is burned then its pretty quick to burn six or seven more. then mark those plates and store them for the next six or seven hulls.

    ablolutely it takes someone on the ball to store the stuff and retrieve it but the gain in speed of manufacture and assembly is terriffic.

    there is one thing.

    someone has got to stand fast against the idiots that want to modify the design in mid gallop because it just doesn’t look right or some black box salesman has a neat new gadget that they guys really want. get it right the first time and don’t waste a lot of time and money diddling around refining the design.

    for the brass, there will be some flaws in a solidified design, the original design fletchers had a terriffic vibration problem that disappeared with the long hulls and the different propellors, stuff lke that. lots of that kind of thing can be fixed with better design and if it comes from propellors or rudders or things like that then modified parts can be applied after commissioning.

    you guys of anybody should know about “flight mods”.


  • Hayball

    D.E. Reddick:

    RE: Socatra – The Yemeni government had to negotiate with UNESCO to build the first two roads because it is a world heritage ecology preservation site (not sure of the exact designation)and the cash economy is eco-tourism.

    The Brits had an airfield in WWII, which, presumably, is the airport. Wreck diving opportunities offshore.

    If I had a call to make I would keep looking. Political complications. Potential domestic USA political complications.

    Looked awfully good at first glance though.

  • Hayball


    Got my vote. I’m posted in the archives of the recent past saying the same.

    “stand fast against…that want to modify the design in mid gallop..”

    Yep, that’s why I say tell them to go plan the FRAM at the 10 year mark. Keep itchy fingers off the baseline and then use the lessons learned to get some reasonably multipurpose little cans for about 35 years. They do come in handy. Great training, wonderful places to cut your teeth as a JO or junior PO.

    Just make sure there is an air search radar, UNREP capablity and a day/night land, fuel ,and rearm capable cert for the helo deck on any frigate. The corvette should have UNREP and day/night VERTREP and emerg fuel the helo certs.

    Refuel and resupply at sea is utterly critical. The “stormy winds” (Typhoon, etc.) class gunboats that the Navy has loaned/given to the Coast Guard can’t take on fuel alongside, so you are back to 1925 drag the bouyed hose behing the oiler in calm seas at slow speed drill. Huge and pointless loss of operational flexibility due to failure of imagination.

    “Perfect is the enemy of good enough, on time.” attributed to ADM Sergei Gorshkov, Soviet Navy.

  • Hayball

    T. S. Eliot put out “A Choice of Kipling’s Verse Made by T.
    Eliot”, so URR, et al, and I aren’t the only ones who like their Kipling. The selection is way cool, if you can find it.

    “The Secret of the Machines” speaks to every one who ever served in the 20th or current century, Submariners particularly, but all other MM’s, BM’s, EM’s and ET’s as well, for sure:

    …”But remember please, the Law by which we live,
    We are not built to comprehend a lie,
    We can neither love nor pity nor forgive.
    If you make a slip in handling us, you die…”

    I love “McAndrew’s Hymn”. Plus now you know who first wrote of the Scots engineer that Roddenberry lifted for Star Trek.

    And everyone in the profession of arms should know:

    “The young recruit is silly-‘e thinks of suicide.
    ‘e’s lost ‘is gutter-devil; e’ hasn’t got ‘is pride,
    But day by day they kicks ‘im, which ‘elps ‘im on a bit…(all the way to)
    … but the backbone of the Army* is the Non-commissioned Man,
    Keep away from dirtiness – keep away from mess,
    Don’t get into doin’ things rather-more-or-less!.. ”

    (* And most particularly the USN, as well, Grasshopper)

    Been there, lived that. URR too, I’ll wager.


  • Chuck Hill

    “Hayball Says:
    So Chuck, given that you need a harbor, piers, POL facilities, a secure connecting road, a substantial airport and a defensible perimeter around the whole shebang, all within reach of the battlespace (convoy route & pirate bases), what does google maps come up with along this X000 miles of God forsaken wilderness coastline and adjoining archipelago?

    Just asking. No harm in that, right?”

    First I think that the proper response is to put Marines on the ships is the first order of business, but if we wanted to organize a convoy system and do it with minimal resources, then we should talk to the Seychelles about basing patrol boats there, convoying between Djibouti and the Seychelles. We have the Cyclone class PC, Coast Guard 110s, and when they become available the new Sentinal class Fast Responce Cutters (FRC). The Europeans and Indians have a slew of vessels of this type.

    The Seychelles has already asked India for help. The population is predominately French Criole and Catholic so there should be minimal cultural conflict.

    Escort groups start with their respective convoys from Djibouti and the Seychelles, they meet in the middle, exchange convoys and return with their charges to base. If the patrol boats’s legs won’t make it to the Mid-Ocean Meeting Point, then have frigates cover the middle of the transit.

  • Hayball

    Chuck Hill:

    Fair enough. Other nominations would make for more interesting discussion, but let’s start with this one.

    In broad and general terms I agree. CDR Salamander makes some salient points at his blog this morning (20 April).

    One key point is that we provide convoys for US Flag shippiing. I do not agree we are under any obligation to provide a free utility for every ship in the world.

    The Devil (as usual) will be in the details.

    Naval Armed Guard Dets are my preference for ship security. The Marines are busy. MA’s with a few GM’s for weapons maintenence should do fine.

    There already is a supply of experienced senior Petty Officers and an existing organization which is routinely used to provide Dets for MSC vessels when their route makes it appropriate.

    As I have stated before, in my opinion the Gurkas are as good as it gets as far as mercenaries go. Remember it takes an act of Congress to get one more US Navy sailor, so ship security forces in the (commercial ship) convoy may wind up being mercs.

    Patrol boats without UNREP capability, especially refueling at sea, may prove troublesome and of marginal utility in practice.

    Anything smaller than 150′ may well not have adequate seakeeping/endurance to keep up with a series of 14 knot convoys in the open sea. They may start out fine, the trick is keeping them on the line.

    Don’t forget a SIMA or a really capable Tender, because Patrol Boats on convoy duty will accumlate wear and damage at a far higher rate than coastal patrol and response duty. Boxer handlled some challenges which cropped up in her high speed transit to the scene last week, and she’s a big ship with a big engineering dept.
    Patrol Boats inherently have less depth on the bench.

    The mothball fleet may be an option to obtain a Tender, if you staff it up and fund it so it can bootstrap its own material condition. You have to reserve some capability for the tender to repair itself; otherwise the shoemaker may wind up the worst shod man in town.

    Tenders are easier, diplomatically, because they can keep a lower profile than a a few acres of enclosed waterfront real estate with guards, perimeters, signs, industrial work, and utilities. It’s best to keep the lightest possible footprint.

    Security on the water side of the patrol boat piers should be substantial, and well integrated with the local forces. It’s their harbor.

    How well you negotiate the Status of Forces Agreement, and a good working relationship with local security and military will be critical to succcess. Language training for the logistic base’s people pays big dividends, especially security, port services and supply’s expediting and pier operations folks.

    Boats aren’t the answer, just a stopgap. But they can help until enough ships are ready. Use the time well to prepare the base.

    Throw away capability in haste, regret at leisure, at great expense. Not that the “Political Masters” ever want to hear that.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “URR too, I’ll wager.” Have indeed, Mr Hayball. The ‘Eathen, a favorite.


    I am not sure with a 280-odd ship Navy, there is a convoy system that can be sustained for any length (180+ days) against a concerted effort on the part of the bad guys. Such activity is manpower and platform-intensive. The two very things we are short of.

  • Chuck Hill

    I also think a Naval Armed Guard is the most cost effective immediate answer, be it Marines, Navy or Coast Guard, but if we wanted to set up a convoy system, this is where the “thousand ship navy” comes in. In addtion to the NATO countries,Egypt, South Africa, Japan, and India, even the Chinese and Rusians, might offer to help.

    There would be a lot of things to work out, but it could work. The World War II convoy system involved lots of different navies and it worked. Ship riders from the Somali government could be helpful so that we could seize vessels under their authority. The Somali ship riders could ultimately morph into a Somali Coast Guard.

    We have to think about the end game. What are we working toward, and how will be get from here to there. Hopefully this will not become just one more of many commitments that drags on with no end in sight. So punish the pirates, but also help the Somali’s regain control of their fisheries resouce so that they can feed themselves.

    And yes this should not be exclusively our responsibility.

  • Hayball


    Re your answer to Chuck, “The Choir says: AMEN.”

    or turning to RK again, check “The Dutch in the Medway” (1164 -72)

    “The monies that should feed us
    You spend on your delight.
    How can you then have sailor-men
    To aid you in your fight?”

    Or the next one over the horizon.


  • Hayball

    Chuck Hill:

    Protecting US flag merchant shipping from pirates is a routine duty of the US Navy. Maintaining a navy that can do that and the other routine tasks of a navy is a Constitutional duty of the Congress. They need to repair decay and decline, now.

    Let other nations protect their shipping, and, should they so choose, cooperate with us when it is to our mutual advantage.
    The “1000 Ship Navy” in my opinion, does not and never will exist.
    As we see before our eyes off east Africa.

    Let flags of convenience be assisted and protected, at our convenience. Let the shipowners who fly them be charged a fee for service, a cost plus fee.

    The Somoli pirate situation can be corrected, in 10 or 15 years.
    Somolia’s situation? 10 or 15 decades.

    And count us OUT. Leave Tar Babies for Brer Fox and Brer Bear.

  • PK

    MR. Hayball:

    not being able to refuel at sea is inexcusable.

    they don’t need the six inch quick close fitting that does 4000gpm and doesn’t leak more than three quarts during a quick disconnect. they can do with the same gear the small boys use to quick fuel the helicopters.

    its the same stuff just ~three inches instead of six.

    what ever happened to the guys that saw a need, went over to the srf, sima, tender, yard, found somebody and did something.

    that technique actually works. (look up just how subroc was originally built).

    i kind of wondered when those little boats/ships would come up.


  • PK

    MR. H:

    actually the choir does not sing until several things happen.

    first, you sir, tap the podium twice with your baton, then point it at the fat lady. finally with a broad full extension of the right arm in a sweeping motion you start the song. the first three words being halilulia, halilulia, HAAALIIIILUUULIA.

    nuff said.


  • Chuck Hill

    I seem to remember refueling a patrol boat from a Hamilton class cutter while underway. The HIFR (helicopter in flight refueling) rig should work.

    I think the patrol boat was towed on a mooring line through a forward chock. A little rudder kept the patrol boat from contacting the side.

  • Chuck Hill

    To clearify (if I remember correctly) it was like the patrol boat was riding a sea painter like a ship’s boat.

  • Hayball

    Question: at what sea state does that mooring line as a sea painter trick (which sounds pretty clever, I must admit) become no longer an option? Got lucky in a synthetic line snap back deal once, it left me kind of paranoid about that sort of thing.

    An adequate solution, now, beats a perfect one, much later.
    Just make sure a marginal stop gap doesn’t become the final answer.

    “What happened to the guys that saw a need, went over to the sima, etc, etc.” About 20 years of promoting the perfect fitrep file and combing the other files for flaws to find nominees to meet the quota for making the Navy “right sized”.

    You know, the troublesome LT’s with dirty hands, scuffed boondockers and wrinkled greasy khakis, who push the boss for more help (petty officers, optar, tools, priority, top cover) to do the job right. The ones who expect their boss to stick up for them like they stick up for their troops. The ones who work an eighty hour week and then go home to their family, ignoring the wardroom with wives command performances. The ones who gulp down their meal, don’t make small talk, don’t PT, and get back to work so they make their daughter’s piano recital or their son’s baseball league. The ones whose wives don’t say 10 words to the Captain’s wife in a year, and are the La Maze coach for three 17 year old fireman’s wives in the same period, keeping it to themselves. Those guys. The pain in the ass guys.

    Because we need to cut end strength and we only have room for the “best fitted”. Not characters who swim upstream too much.

    Not that some of the “best fitted” aren’t really superstars.
    Or that diamonds in the rough don’t need polishing. Just that hard times are hard on the rough cut ones, who tend to be the best cumshaw artists.

  • Hayball


    Mr Hayball was my dad. I’m just Hayball. No offense meant and none taken. Thanks.

    I’ll try keep in closer compliance with COMNAVCHOIRRULE’s SOP.
    Thanks for the tip.

  • Hayball

    I lifted this from another blog which was mostly a polemic, but this piece lays out the size of the area, which will help illustrate why I maintain convoy with blue water escorts is the only realistic long term shipping protection option. I realize a lot of us know this quite well, but I get the impression some quite understand the distances involved.

    >> First though, let me orient you to familiarize you with the
    >> “terrain.”
    >> In Africa from Djibouti at the southern end of the Red Sea
    >> eastward through the Gulf of Aden to round Cape Guardafui at
    >> the easternmost tip of Africa (also known as “The Horn
    >> of Africa”) is about a 600 nm transit before you stand
    >> out into the Indian Ocean. That transit is comparable in
    >> distance to that from the mouth of the Mississippi at New
    >> Orleans to the tip of Florida at Key West– except that 600
    >> nm over there is infested with Somalia pirates.
    >> Ships turning southward at the Horn of Africa transit the
    >> SLOC (Sea Lane of Commerce) along the east coast of Somalia
    >> because of the prevailing southerly currents there.
    >> It’s about 1,500 nm on to Mombassa, which is just south
    >> of the equator in Kenya. Comparably, that’s about the
    >> transit distance from Portland Maine down the east coast of
    >> the US to Miami Florida. In other words, the ocean area
    >> being patrolled by our naval forces off the coast of Somalia
    >> is comparable to that in the Gulf of Mexico from the
    >> Mississippi River east to Miami then up the eastern seaboard
    >> to Maine.
    >> Unquote.

    Hope it helps.

  • carbon

    Why not have a Predator on the sea concept? An unmanned boat that can hunt for weeks at a time. Would cost about $5 million and dozens could be ready in a year. Base them out of a mothership or a nearby friendly port. 100 of them would be cheaper then a single LCS with Helicopter and crew…