Naval Technology, 19 March 2015
NATO’s Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) is conducting Exercise Trident Jewel, an 11-day full operational capability certification exercise designed to test MARCOM’s ability to manage a joint multinational response to a non-Article V crisis in a fictitious non-NATO nation. MARCOM will practice taking command of land, air, special forces and logistics, as well as traditional maritime assets. Trident Jewel comes as the organization is completing its merger of the two NATO maritime headquarters, which began in 2013, with MARCOM now home to over 300 staff and commanded by British Vice-Admiral Peter Hudson.
Local, 19 March 2015
The Swedish government announced plans this week to invest in the expansion of the Royal Swedish Navy’s submarine fleet. The government has set aside USD $945 million for the purchase of two new generation A26 submarines to be produced by Swedish arms group Saab and delivered by 2022. The Navy currently operates five submarines and the new order is aimed at ensuring Sweden’s underwater capacity beyond 2030. The procurement announcement follows increased reports of underwater activity in the Baltic Sea, most notably reports from last October that a foreign submarine had been operating illegally in Swedish waters. Analysts note that domestic industrial decisions were also likely a significant factor for the government in terms of the announced submarine procurement plan. Following Saab’s exclusion from the evaluation process in Australia’s current submarine tender, the Swedish Defense Material Administration has been keen to demonstrate that Sweden maintains full capacity to design and build submarines both for Sweden and for export.
Yonhap News, 19 March 2015
South Korean prosecutors have requested a warrant for the arrest of retired Admiral Hwang Ki-chul, the former head of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN), on allegations that Adm. Hwang played a role in corruption that contributed to significant problems with South Korea’s first indigenous rescue-and-recovery ship, ROKS Tongyeong. In 2009, Adm. Hwang was in charge of Tongyeong‘s construction while at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), when DAPA officials were allegedly bribed to win a bidding process, and a quality assurance document for the ship’s sonar system was allegedly forged. The Tongyeong project was initiated in the wake of the 2010 sinking of Cheonan, so that the ROKN might have a better salvage capability, and Tongyeong became embroiled in the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking fiasco when it was unable to participate in the rescue effort due to performance problems.
South Korea / United States: “S. Korea, U.S. Marines hold large-scale joint drill”
Yonhap News, 19 March 2015
South Korean and American Marines are conducting a large-scale command post exercise on the Korean peninsula from Wednesday to Sunday, to be followed by a joint amphibious landing drill in Pohang from March 28th to April 1st. The command post drill, the second of its kind, will test new standard operating procedures for the Combined Marine Component Command in a “variety” of scenarios, while the end-March amphibious exercise will practice high-intensity shore landings, with three American amphibious landing ships participating. As of the time of writing, North Korea had not indicated its displeasure at the exercises, as it did at the beginning of the joint Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises earlier this month by firing missiles into the Sea of Japan.
Stars and Stripes, 16 March 2015
The US Navy, Marines and Coast Guard collectively released their overarching maritime strategy last Friday, the “Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower”. The strategy, an update from the 2007 edition, is more assertive in its 2014 incarnation as it emphasizes greater forward basing of assets to reduce rotational costs and increase in-theatre presence; for example, the number of ships forward based in the Middle East will be increased from 30 to 40 by 2020. Furthermore, the strategy introduces a new concept, “all domain access”, which is described as the ability to project military force in a contested theatre at will in all domains (land, air, sea, space, cyber and the newly-identified electromagnetic warfare [EMW] domain), a response to growing anti-access/area denial capabilities worldwide. All domain access is further broken down into a need for full battlespace awareness, including of opponents’ capabilities, and the development of cross-service kinetic and non-kinetic options for commanders.
The full Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower can be accessed here.
Mediterranean: “Turkish coastguard opens fire on refugee ship”
Al-Jazeera, 13 March 2015
The Turkish Coast Guard opened fire on a cargo ship suspected of carrying illegal migrants last week after the vessel failed to heed to calls to stop or respond to warning shots. The 59-metre Dogan Kartal was eventually halted as it headed through the Dardanelles Straits in northwest Turkey after authorities shot the vessel’s engines; traffic in the Dardanelles Straits, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, was temporarily halted during the operation. Over 330 migrants were recovered from the vessel, and two crew members and three suspected foreign organizers were arrested in connection with the incident.
Barents Observer, 16 March 2015 & CBC News, 16 March 2015
The Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet was called to full alert on Monday for snap combat readiness drills in the Barents Sea. The five-day Arctic exercise, which involves 38,000 servicemen, more than 50 surface ships and submarines and 110 aircraft, are reportedly intended to check the readiness of Russia’s Northern Fleet and the military’s ability to deploy additional forces from central Russia. A Kremlin spokesman described the Northern Fleet inspection as routine practice aimed at improving military capabilities, however, observers question the timing of the exercises. Last week, Norway began its largest military drills in decades, in its northern Finnmark region near the Russian border, and the Northern Fleet exercise coincides with Russian military manoeuvres elsewhere in the country as Russia marks the one-year anniversary of its annexation of Crimea.
Naval Technology, 17 March 2015
Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan publicly announced in an inauguration ceremony on Saturday that Iran is mass producing the Ghadir long-range anti-ship cruise missile. The Ghadir missiles achieved initial operational capability in August 2014 and were then delivered in unspecified numbers to the naval wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The anti-ship missiles are guided by a 3D phased array radar, have a range of 300 kilometres, and have on-board anti-jamming and anti-electronic warfare systems.
Reuters, 17 March 2015
The Vanuatu archipelago was hit by Category Five Cyclone Pam on Friday and Saturday, leaving 11 people dead and many areas destroyed, including more than 70 percent of buildings affected in some areas. Aid workers have arrived in-country and are working to set up shelters and stable supplies of food, clean water and electricity, but the extensive damage is hampering efforts. To date, military assistance has been comprised of airlifts from Australia and New Zealand, but most of Vanuatu’s islands only have small airstrips, thus limiting the extent of large-scale air supply. As such, the Royal Australian Navy is prepping its Landing Ship Heavy, HMAS Tobruk, to deploy to Vanuatu, while a French navy ship is en route from New Caledonia. Vanuatu is highly dependent on tourism revenue – it accounts for around 40 percent of the economy – which will make rebuilding efforts that much more difficult, as the main port in Port Vila is closed to cruise ships.