Globe and Mail, 02 July 2012
Sikorsky International has announced yet another delay in the delivery of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter to the Canadian Forces, the first of which were supposed to arrive in June. Sikorsky was contracted to supply 28 helicopters at a cost of $5.7 billion CDN in 2004, which at the time appeared to have brought an end to a long, highly-politicized process of replacing the CF’s fleet of aging CH-124 Sea Kings. This was not the case, however, and the Canadian government granted Sikorsky a contract extension in 2008, stipulating that the first delivery would occur by June 2012. The government is now facing greater pressure to implement financial penalties against the company, though Sikorsky representatives have said that the delays will not result in a higher cost for the aircraft, and they remain committed to completing the project. Sources suggest technical difficulties on the part of the manufacturer in meeting the Department of National Defence’s power and endurance criteria, though an investigation by the Auditor General suggested that DND was over-optimistic in its delivery estimates for the helicopters; reports suggest that the government viewed the aircraft as an ‘off the shelf’ purchase, when in reality, the task of developing a militarized version of the helicopter was more technically complex than anticipated.
United States: “Frigate deploys with four Fire Scout UAVs”
Jane’s, 03 July 2012
The US Navy has embarked four Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on board the frigate USS Klakring, which is currently en route to the Arabian Sea. This is the first ship-borne deployment of the MQ-8B drone helicopters since they were grounded temporarily after two crashes in April. A unit known as Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 42 (HSL-42) will fly and maintain the UAVs, which are capable of operating for up to 12 hours per day, dramatically increasing the reconnaissance and situational awareness of the USN and allied ships operating off the Horn of Africa. Originally designed to be deployed aboard the navy’s future Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), it was announced that the Fire Scout would be put into service aboard other aviation capable ships ahead of the introduction of the LCS. In 2011, HSL-42 deployed with two Fire Scout UAVs on board another frigate, flying 438 hours and setting records for altitude, range and endurance for unmanned aircraft.
United States: “U.S. Navy Boosting LCS Core Crew Up to 50%”
Defense News, 02 July 2012??The US Navy (USN) will reportedly increase the number of sailors on littoral combat ships (LCSs) in time for next year’s 10-month deployment to Singapore. The LCSs were initially touted are requiring a very small crew to keep down operational costs, using on board automated computer systems to replace human operators. However, the USN has decided that an increase in personnel is necessary and it plans to install twenty additional berths on the first LCS, Freedom, before the end of July. It is noted that because the ships tend to have many senior officers on board, there is a particular need for junior sailors who can be used in anti-mine and boarding missions. The USN will be sending up to four LCSs on a rotational basis to Singapore next year in order to fulfill its commitment to increasing its naval presence in the region.
Latin American Herald Tribune, 27 June 2012
Ecuador’s navy reportedly discovered a semi-submersible vessel capable of carrying up to 15 tons of illicit cargo. The 15 meter semi-submersible was found under construction in the Gulf of Guayaquil last week, hidden in dense vegetation and covered with mud for camouflage. It is noted that the sub is similar to a vessel found off the coast of Ecuador in January, and to a semi-submersible seized by drug enforcement agents on the Colombian border; both subs were capable of carrying several tons of drugs and five or six crew members to Mexico. The semi-submersibles cannot dive like normal submarines, but they are equipped with a valve that quickly floods the vessel, causing it and any drugs on board to quickly sink so that the crew can avoid prosecution.
Naval Technology, 03 July 2012
The Brazilian Navy recently took delivery of the first of three ocean patrol vessels (OPVs) during a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base in Maine on Tuesday. The 90-metre, 2,200-ton vessel – capable of reaching speeds of up to 25 knots with of a crew of 120 – is part of the Navy’s USD $186 million fleet modernization program with BAE Systems. In addition to the OPVs – which were originally built for coast guards in Trinidad and Tobago to conduct emergency relief operations – the deal also includes an additional $20m for training and support by BAE, and an option to locally build five additional OPVs. The two other vessels will reportedly be delivered to the Brazilian Navy by December 2012 and 2013. Analysts note that the modernization is part of the Brazilian Navy’s efforts to expand its naval littoral and riverine capabilities to better protect jurisdictional waters and its vast offshore oil reserves.
Defence Web, 03 July 2012 & Washington Post, 03 July 2012
The Dutch naval vessel HNLMS Evertsen successfully captured seven pirates and freed the Turkish-flagged bulk carrier, MV Namrun, shortly after it was attacked off the coast of Socotra in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday. Evertsen, along with a Japanese maritime patrol craft, was reportedly dispatched shortly after NATO’s Task Force received distress calls from Namrun, which had several armed private security guards on board who were able to deter the pirates from boarding the tanker. Reports say that the hostages are safe and the suspected pirates are currently being detained on board Evertsen. In other news, China has reportedly joined an anti-piracy escort pact with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian Navy for patrols in the Indian Ocean this week. Many say the latest pact is a sign that Beijing is more willing to work with other nations in safeguarding global trade, and could reduce the chances of confrontation in waters closer to China where navies from Japan, the United States, and others operate in increasingly tight proximity. Analysts note that the move comes as China continues to expand the scope of its naval deployments, including sending a ship to provide security for Chinese civilians during the Libyan uprising last year, and recently dispatching a hospital ship for a tour of South America.
India / Russia: “Aviation trials of INS Vikramaditya to start in July”
Times of India, 29 June 2012
Aviation tests aboard the aircraft carrier now known as INS Vikramaditya will commence in July with Russian aircraft and aircrew. Indian defence officials and aviation personnel will observe the tests, which will be carried out in the Barents Sea. Overall trials of the ship – which was launched as the Russian carrier Admiral Gorshov and has been under refit for the past eight years – began in early June. At least five Russian aircraft will be involved in the aviation trials, including two MiG-35 and one MiG-29 fighters, and a helicopter. The tests are planned to last about three months, during which all flight-related equipment will be assessed, including launch and recovery systems. About 500 Indian Navy personnel are currently embarked on the ship ahead of its eventual turnover to Indian control later this year.
India Express, 01 July 2012 & The Australian, 04 July 2012
According to Indian officials, a China-based cyber spy network successfully penetrated computer systems in the headquarters of India’s Eastern Naval Command, and reportedly planted viruses that relayed confidential information to IP addresses in China. Reports say that the incident was discovered several months ago after a security team found several computers had been infected with a virus that secretly collected and transmitted confidential documents to computers located in China. Media reports suggest that the breach started after a USB drive – which are prohibited in naval offices – was inserted into multiple standalone computers, where it created a hidden folder and collected specific documents that it was programmed to detect based on certain words, and then sent to specific Chinese IP addresses. Observers have noted that the incident could be a serious security breach for the the command, which is one of India’s more strategically important naval establishments tasked with planning deployments into the hotly contested South China Sea. The command centre also harbors India’s indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant – slated to be inducted in the service next year – and the Russian-origin nuclear submarine INS Chakra. Though an IN spokesman has denied that any information relating to the Arihant was leaked, reports suggest that the extent of information loss is still being ascertained. In the meantime, however, the Indian Navy has launched an investigation into the incident and at least six officers have been indicted for procedural lapses that led to the security breach. Analysts note that this is the second cyber security breach for the IN this past year: in February four senior officers were indicted for allegedly leaking classified information on their personal computers through social networking sites.
Defense News, 02 July 2012 & Times of India, 03 July 2012 & Chicago Tribune, 01 July 2012
A Philippine presidential spokesman announced on Monday that his country may ask the US for surveillance planes to help monitor a disputed area in the South China Sea. When speaking to reporters, Ramon Carandang stated that the planes would be strictly for “monitoring and surveillance purposes” of the Scarborough Shoal, a series of very small islands being claimed by the Philippines, China, and Taiwan. Carandang said that the request for P-3C Orion aircraft should not be viewed by China as a form of aggression, and tried to downplay fears that tensions could re-ignite in the region. The statement came two weeks after Philippine President Benigno Aquino removed a coast guard ship and a fisheries bureau boat that had been engaged in a standoff with Chinese ships in the shoal; the move was welcomed by China, which reciprocated by removing its boats from the area. However, the request for surveillance planes will likely be viewed as provocative by China, potentially worsening the security situation in the region, though it appears unlikely that the US would agree to provide the capability in light of the diplomatic tension.
In related news, China sent four surveillance ships to the disputed Spratly Islands on Tuesday after spotting a foreign fishing vessel there. The Chinese ships reportedly broadcast a statement in Chinese, English, and Vietnamese to proclaim sovereignty of the Paracel and Spratly Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam. The islands have been at the centre of a territorial dispute between Beijing and Hanoi, who both claim the islands as part of their Exclusive Economic Zone. The incident came two days after hundreds of Vietnamese demonstrated in Hanoi against China’s moves to strengthen its claim to the disputed islands and its invitation to oil firms to bid for blocks in offshore areas that Vietnam claims as its territory. Although protests are rarely tolerated in Vietnam, police reportedly made no attempts to stop the demonstrators, indicating that the protest was likely staged with government support. Vietnam claims that some of the blocks up for bidding by China National Offshore Oil Corporation are part of its territory, raising fears of further escalation in the dispute.
Defense News, 01 July 2012
Officials in Taipei announced that 20 Seagull-class missile boats were decommissioned on Sunday as part of ongoing efforts to modernize its military. The Taiwanese navy first built the missile boats in the late 1970s, and later mass produced them in the early 1980s. The fleet was initially intended for use in “hit and run” missions in case of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait. The Seagull boats have now been replaced by 30, 171-ton missile boats equipped with Hsiungfeng II missiles. Tensions between Taipei and Beijing have eased since the 2008 election of the Kuomintang party, which has become more supportive of forging greater cooperative links with mainland China. China, however, still refuses to renounce using force against Taiwan in its long-standing attempts to reunite the two countries.
AFP, 02 July 2012 & Voice of America, 03 July 2012
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met in Darwin on Tuesday during the second annual Indonesia-Australia Leaders’ Meeting to discuss strengthening maritime cooperation following the deadly capsizing of two illegal migrant boats in the past two weeks. The meeting included discussions on increasing trade and security links, but reportedly focused on dealing with the problem of asylum seekers and the trafficking gangs that transport them by boat from Indonesia to Australia’s Christmas Island. Gillard announced that Canberra would work with Indonesia’s maritime search and rescue agency to help strengthen its communication abilities with vessels during sea disasters. More than 90 people died when two overly-crowded asylum-seeker boats sank off the coast of Christmas Island, a common destination for boats carrying asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka and other poor or war-ravaged countries.
Navy Recognition, 03 July 2012
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) took delivery of the ADV Ocean Shield, its newest amphibious vessel, last week. The 6,500 tonne vessel – sister ship to ADV Ocean Protector, which is operated by the Customs and Border Protection Service – will remain in RAN service until the introduction of the force’s new landing helicopter docks (LHDs) later this decade, at which point Ocean Shield will also revert to Customs and Border Protection command. The Australian Defence Force purchased the ship, which was under construction as an oil platform support vessel, to augment its amphibious and disaster response capabilities ahead of the introduction of the new LHDs.