Gulf of Aden anti piracy convoy schedules June and JJuly 2015

Government of Japan convoy schedule for June and July 2015. To apply for JMSDF escort, visit http://www.mlit.go.jp/en/maritime/maritime_fr2_000000.html, please contact directly the Anti-Piracy Contact and Coordination Office, Maritime Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MILT), Japan: Tel: +81-3-5253-8932 Fax: +81-3-5253-1643 Email: INFO-PIRACY@mlit.go.jp.

Korean Navy convoy schedule for June and July 2015. All merchant vessels wishing to join the convoy group must submit their application forms directly to the ROK naval warship carrying out the mission. The ROK MTG can be reached directly at INMARSAT: 00-870-773-110-374, Email: cheonghaeetg@navy.mil.kr.

Chinese Navy convoy schedule for June and July 2015. For further information, please email planavy@navy.mil.cn, or call Tel: 86 10 652 92218/96, Fax: 86 10 652 92245.

Indian Navy convoy escort schedule for June and July 2015. To register, email dgcommcentre-dgs@nic.in or visit www.dgshipping.com. Telephone numbers for contact are: 91-22-22614646 or fax at 91-22-22613636.

Russian Navy convoy escort schedule for June and July 2015. For further information email smb@msecurity.ru, isps@msecurity.ru or fax +7 (499) 642-83-29.

Royal Navy helicopter lowering winchman onto suspected pirate vessel in Gulf of Oman

A winchman is lowered to the deck of a suspected pirate vessel with a stretcher from HMS Monmouth’s Lynx helicopter, after a reported injury to a crew member. Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth was patrolling on counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Oman at the time. LA(Phot) Stuart Hill.

HMAS Melbourne apprehends pirates, destroys skiffs

HMAS Melbourne (FFG 05) is an Adelaide-class frigate commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1992. She is currently deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations as part of Operation Slipper, Australia’s contribution to maritime security operations in the region.

HMAS Melbourne apprehends alleged pirates

HMAS Melbourne’s boarding party intercepts a suspected pirate boat.

Royal Australian Navy ship, HMAS Melbourne, has intercepted suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia as part of maritime security patrols in Middle Eastern waters for Operation SLIPPER.

The suspected pirates were intercepted on 15 October 2013 after the Combined Maritime Forces received two reports of attempted acts of piracy against two separate merchant vessels during the previous four days.

Under the direction of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), HMAS Melbourne was appointed as on-scene commander for a multi-national search operation, involving ships and aircraft from the Combined Maritime Forces and European Union Naval Forces to locate and intercept the suspected pirates.

With the assistance of other CTF 151 assets, HMAS Melbourne successfully located the suspected pirate vessels.

HMAS Melbourne closes on a suspected pirate vessel in the Arabian Sea.

HMAS Melbourne‘s highly trained boarding team made the final approach to board and search the skiffs successfully apprehending the nine pirates.

Commander Brian Schlegel, Commanding Officer HMAS Melbourne said that the Ship’s Company knew what to do and was well trained to ensure a positive outcome.

“Melbourne’s success in disrupting piracy activity in the region re-affirms the importance of Australia’s ongoing commitment to Combined Maritime Forces,” Commander Schlegel said.

“Melbourne’s Ship’s Company have worked tirelessly to contribute to a successful outcome for both Combined Maritime Forces and for the wider Maritime Community.”

HMAS Melbourne’s boarding party provided information about various items located onboard the two vessels that could be used in piracy attacks.

In accordance with the Combined Maritime Forces direction, the pirates were embarked in HMAS Melbourne and the skiffs and associated pirate equipment was destroyed.

HMAS Melbourne is currently returning the suspected pirates to Somalia.

The quick, co-ordinated and decisive response to threats in the maritime environment highlights the importance of the continued presence of multi-national forces in the Middle East region.

HMAS Melbourne is the 56th rotation to the Middle East Area of Operations since the 1991 Gulf War and the 32nd rotation since 2001.

She is employed by the Combined Maritime Forces under the Tactical Control of CTF151 who is responsible for counter piracy operations within the Middle East Area of Operations.

http://news.navy.gov.au/en/Oct2013/Operations/543#.UmG_bBCWObg

What lessons can we learn about counter-piracy and naval irregular warfare?

For those of you getting your Captain Phillips fix over popcorn, here’s an article from BJ Armstrong back in 2011 that qualifies as “must read” for those interested in the partnership forged by the US Navy and the Royal Navy in the fight against piracy.

Rotorheads and the Royal Navy in Maritime Security Operations

On August 11t h, 2011 the M/V Caravos Horizon was attacked by “sea bandits” in the Red Sea, just north of the Straits of Bab al Mendib. The distress call was picked up by Combined Task Force 151 and Expeditionary Strike Group 5, and they determined that there were two naval assets capable of responding in the vicinity. HMS MONMOUTH, a British Frigate, and USS BATAAN, an American amphibious assault ship, both swung into action. The crew of the Caravos Horizon secured themselves inside a “citadel” as six “sea bandits” boarded and took control of the bridge of the ship.

Bay Raider 45, an armed MH-60S Knighthawk from HSC-28 Detachment TWO, was airborne flying regularly scheduled Search and Rescue duty with the BATAAN Amphibious Ready Group at the time of the attack. The Knighthawk was brought back to the flight deck to top off the fuel. Expeditionary Strike Group 5 ordered the BATAAN ARG to send a helicopter toward the scene of the attack to provide intelligence, survelliance, and reconnisance (ISR) and to report information back to BATAAN. Bay Raider launched and headed south to provide assistance to the mariners in distress.

The purpose of this post isn’t to re-tell the story of the event. Both HMS MONMOUTH and USS BATAAN released reports of the incident which can be found in the open press. The PAO’s put hard work into these articles, read them for the story of a successful boarding to retake control of the M/V Caravos Horizon. Instead of rehashing the story, here at the USNI blog we’ll look at the larger picture…what lessons can we learn about counter-piracy and naval irregular warfare?

In October of 2010 I was lucky to be invited to speak as a panelist at the Naval Institute’s History Conference “Pirates on the High Seas” during a discussion of the history of piracy and counter-piracy titled “Blackbeard to the Barbary.” In my opening remarks I highlighted three things that stuck out from the 200+ year history of the USN’s counter piracy missions: Platforms, People, and Partnerships. Specifically, having the right “low end/high end” mix of hardware to do the job, having professional and aggressive junior officers to lead operations, and having competent and —allies to work with in the region. The combined Anglo-American response to the attack on M/V Caravos Horizon reinforces that these principles are as important in the twenty-first century as they were when Decatur, Porter, and Downes sailed in the nineteenth.

PLATFORMS

When it comes to the hardware involved in this successful operation, a key takeaway is the vital importance of rotary-wing aviation. Irregular operations rarely require the expensive, fast, sexy, high altitude TACAIR jets that you’ll find in Hollywood movies. They need the quiet professionals of the often overlooked naval rotary-wing community. Helicopters embarked on the ships that conduct counter-piracy operations are a force multiplier that provide the ability to respond rapidly, develop critical ISR, and finally to provide overwatch and maritime air support for boarding operations. Sending a ship on counter-piracy or irregular warfare missions without an embarked helicopter significantly degrades the unit’s capability.

The rapid response by the RN Lynx to the scene allowed for the development of early situational awareness which became a key factor for success. The follow on arrival of Bay Raider allowed the ISR net to be cast further away from the attacked vessel. It was able to find two skiffs, which they believed were the suspected “sea bandits.” Our Knighthawk remained overhead briefly as a visible deterrent, and the skiffs turned away from the shipping lanes and headed off at high speed. The two aircraft together could cover hundreds of square miles and help develop situational awareness far beyond the capability of a single surface combatant. When time came for the boarding, the ability to have Bay Raider provide armed overwatch and ISR while the Lynx conducted the insertion was an important element of protecting the boarding party and helping to ensure their success.

The MH-60S Block III Armed Helo’s that now deploy with amphibious assault ships like BATAAN come in the gunship variant. These aircraft have a wide range of armament options that make it a highly capable platform. You can buy nearly a squadron of them for the cost of one Joint Strike Fighter. The crews that fly them like LT Lee Sherman, LT Chris Schneider, AWS2 Joey Faircloth, and AWS3 Josh Teague, are trained in a number of mission areas that lend themselves to maritime security operations and irregular warfare. While the traditional mission of running the racetrack in the “Starboard D” holding pattern as the “SAR Bird” is still a central part of their job (after all, its where Bay Raider 45 started the day), the Armed Helo provides a widely expanded set of capabilities for Amphibious Ready Groups and is an ideal platform for naval irregular warfare.

PEOPLE

The Knighthawk pilots and aicrewmen of the Helicopter Sea Combat community are trained for a wide range of missions and skills which lend themselves to successful naval irregular warfare. These include anti-surface warfare and special operations support, as well as the traditional rotary-wing missions of search and rescue and logisitics support.

It is important to note that the “deckplate” leaders of the operations were all junior officers that had been extensively trained and prepared to make combat decisions. Lt Harry Lane RM, commander of the Royal Marines boarding team, Lt Chris Easterling RN, aircraft commander of the Lynx, LT Chris “Texas Pete” Schneider USN, of Bay Raider, are three individuals quoted and identified in the press releases. That wasn’t simply because they were the ones that the PAO could find because they weren’t on watch. These junior officers, along with LT Lee “Chunk” Sherman who was the aircraft commander of Bay Raider 45, demonstrated that when tactical level leaders are given the ability to make decisions and to temper their aggressive nature with solid tactical risk management, operational level success is around the corner.

PARTNERSHIP

The partnership element to this operation is obvious. The USN and RN have been working together since nearly our service’s founding to combat piracy and threats to maritime security across the globe. During the First Barbary War the British bases in the Mediterranean were opened to American ships in support of our fight against the Corsairs. In the West Indies in the 1820’s and 1830’s American squadrons teamed with the Royal Navy to help fight the piracy from Cuba. At the end of the 19th century we supported one another in the rivers and coastal waters of China. Sharing the same battlefields over the past decade has helped bring tactics, techniques, and procdures closer together across the range of military operations.

What struck me was the quote from LT Schneider in the BATAAN article about the seamless nature of the combined operation. It mirrored a comment made by LT Sherman during debrief after the mission. He said that working together with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, “was like we had done it all together before.” Seamless was a word used by both pilots. Our two ships have never seen one another, we never spoke before the moment that Bay Raider checked in with the Lynx over the radio, yet common procedures and decades of experience in combined operations allowed the junior leaders to adapt and flex for a rapid and effective operation.

There are other partnership elements of the mission that are also worth considering. The coastal states of the region are relatively quick to give permission for operations within their territorial waters when it is counter-piracy. This is a commonly overlooked element, during the 1820’s when the Spanish weren’t as cooperative off Cuba it made the work of the USN’s West Indies squadron much more difficult. The ability of the myriad of staffs and command organizations working in the region to work together is also vital. In today’s world of networked battlefields it can be easy for the networks to get overlayed on top of one another, and potentially tangled. With American and multi-national staffs all working the same geography and sea space, the ability to keep it straight and to respond efficiently in order to make decisions between the staffs is vital.

So Others May Live…Or Die.

The operation to secure the M/V Caravos Horizon demonstrates the critical role of the amphibious fleet and rotary-wing aviation to maritime security and American policy around the world. It also reinforces the idea that the right platforms, purposely trained and led people, and strong global partnerships are central to success in naval irregular warfare and in the hybrid maritime conflicts that the United States Navy may face in the coming decades. It must be said that for each aircraft and pilot there are dozens of maintenance professionals and supporting personnel that make our Navy’s global reach possible. Maintainers are the bedrock of the rotary-wing team that successfully completed this mission.

The motto of HSC-28 Detachment TWO is “So Others May Live…Or Die.” Whether as a search and rescue aircraft or a helicopter gunship, DET 2 is a best friend to mariners in distress, worst enemy to those who aim to disrupt maritime security in the regions where we operate. The pride that I feel in being associated with DET 2’s maintenance team, naval aircrewmen, and our pilots is endless. After four and a half months supporting maritime security and contingency operations off the coast of Libya, we have moved southeast, and for the foreseeable future we remain on station…

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, or any other department, unit, or agency.

Lieutenant Commander Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong, USN, is an active duty MH-60S helicopter pilot who is currently serving as a squadron maintenance officer in Norfolk, VA. He is a frequent contributor to Small Wars Journal, Proceedings and Naval History. He holds a masters degree in military history from Norwich University and was a panelist at the 2010 USNI History Conference “Piracy on the High Seas.”

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/rotorheads-and-the-royal-navy-in-maritime-security-operations

Captain Phillips, review

I finally got around to watching ‘Captain Phillips’ today.

I’d give it a solid 7 out of 10. Likely an 8, but I’ll need to watch it again and catch details that I’m sure to have missed.

The US Navy was presented very professionally. There was none of the ‘all-singing-all-dancing elite ninja bullshit’ that Hollywood normally goes in for. Just low-lit ops rooms and all emotion kept in check. Just as it should be.

The USS Truxtun (DDG 103) stood in as a filming location for fellow Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), but the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Halyburton (FFG 40) played herself in the movie.

Aerial surveillance photo of the USS Bainbridge while apprehending Somali pirates, via ScanEagle UAV.

The Maersk Alabama was portrayed in the film by her sister-ship the Alexander Maersk and the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean (shout out to Malta!) stood-in for the pirate-infested waters of the Horn of Africa.

At anchor at Mombasa,Kenya during FBI investigation after the hijacking. Via shipspotting.com.

Tom Hanks delivered a tight performance as Captain Rich Phillips. That restraint is what made the emotion at the end of the film very believable. He’s got two Academy Awards. This could earn him a third.

Solid performances from the actors portraying the Alabama’s crew. No gung-ho Chuck Norris b/s and chants of “USA! USA!” which would have made the flick unbearable. Just a solid portrayal of sober professionals and a frank portrayal of the true threat that pirates present. That merchant mariners take these risks every day is remarkable. And frightening. And should make you thankful that they do.

Which brings me to the pirates, and particularly to Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the hijack leader. (1) Showing us Somalia early-on as an utter toilet was a piece of genius. Yes, they’re pirates, but now we know how and why. (2) If Barkhad Abdi doesn’t win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor then there is no justice in Hollywood. His performance was incredible. He brings pathos to a character that could otherwise be a two-dimensional cartoon “bad guy.” Muse is doomed from the outset. And he is aware of his doom. Which is utterly tragic. As is, of course, Somalia.

Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, Somali hijacker leader.

Go and see it. Definitely recommended.

Naval escorts for merchant vessels in Gulf of Aden

Japan, South Korea, China and India all providing naval escorts through Pirate Alley during August and September.

PLAN and GULF OF ADEN: Government of Japan convoy schedule for August and September 2013. Merchant vessels that wish to apply for JMSDF escort operation should visit http://www.mlit.go.jp/en/maritime/maritime_fr2_000000.html, please contact directly the Anti-Piracy Contact and Coordination Office, Maritime Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MILT), Japan: Tel: +81-3-5253-8932 Fax: +81-3-5253-1643 Email: INFO-PIRACY@mlit.go.jp (MSCHOA)

GULF OF ADEN: Korean Navy convoy schedule for August and September 2013. All merchant vessels wishing to join the convoy group must submit their application forms directly to the ROK naval warship carrying out the mission. The ROK MTG can be reached directly at (INMARSAT: 870-773-110-374), (Email: rokcheonghae@gmail.com) (MSCHOA)

GULF OF ADEN: Chinese Navy convoy schedule for August and September 2013. For further information, please e-mail cnmrcc@msa.gov.cn, cnmrcc@mot.gov.cn, or call Tel: 86-10-652-92221 Fax: 86-10-652-92245 (MSCHOA)

GULF OF ADEN: Indian Navy convoy escort schedule for August and September 2013. To register, email antipiracyescort@dgshipping.com or dgcommcentre@satyammail.net, or visit http://www.dgshipping.com. Telephone numbers for contact are: 91-22-22614646 or fax at 91-22-22613636 (MSCHOA)

Cross-deck visits between HMAS Newcastle and RFA Fort Victoria

RFA Fort Victoria is a Fort-class oiler replenishment ship (AOR) commissioned into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 1994. HMAS Newcastle is an Adelaide-class frigate commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1993.

A view from the other side

While operating together in the Gulf of Aden, HMAS Newcastle and the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) replenishment ship Fort Victoria, conducted a cross-deck for the day for six lucky sailors.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria’s fueling hose is connected to HMAS Newcastle during a Replenishment at Sea in the Gulf of Aden. ABBM Troy Bennett.

While the ships conducted a replenishment at sea (RAS) the sailors got to see their ships from a different angle.

Taking a break from the fuelling, Assistant Marine Engineering Officer Lieutenant Gareth Giles was fortunate to be cross-decked to Fort Victoria for the day and said it was good to see the RAS from a different point of view.

“What’s interesting are the differences between how the RAN and RFA operate. The amount of space they have is amazing. I was taken on a detailed tour and it was difficult to come back to Newcastle after seeing the single cabins with ensuites and the living conditions experienced on a RFA vessel!”

Visiting Fort Victoria with LEUT Gareth Giles was Leading Seaman Marine Technician Mathew Bland, Able Seaman Electronics Technician Jerrad Comber, Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Adam O’Brien, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics – Personnel sailor Laura Johnson and Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Troy Bennett.

HMAS Newcastle’s Lieutenant Gareth Giles, Leading Seaman Marine Technician Ethan Boland and Able Seaman Adam O’Brien ready for a helicopter transfer to Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria to experience life on a British ship. POEW Ben White.

LSMT Bland said it was a great to be able to see the RAS from the other side. He was taken on a tour of the Junior Sailors’ dining and living areas as well as the engineering spaces.

“It was such an amazing day and something I will never forget. It was so interesting to see how other sailors live and how their ship operates. The helicopter ride over there was also a first for me.”

Newcastle, in turn, also hosted several officers and sailors from the large replenishment ship, including Fort Victoria’s Medical Officer, Lieutenant Louise McMenemy.

Newcastle’s Medical Officer Lieutenant Natalie Boulton hosted LEUT McMenemy for a tour of the ship, and they watched a boarding operation from the Bridge before taking part in the sickbay afternoon tea session.

“The visit gave both Doctors the opportunity to share professional experiences and foster an understanding of how both could assist each other if the unforeseeable need should arise,” LEUT Boulton said.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria’s Medical Officer Lieutenant McMenemy receives a tour of HMAS Newcastle’s medical facilities from Medical Officer Lieutenant Natalie Boultan. LCDR Ludovic Miller.

Boarding Officer and Officer of the Watch (OOW) Lieutenant Alec Fieldsend hosted two RFA Maritime Warfare Officer Cadets.

“They were interested in talking about the cricket, funnily enough. I took them up showed them what a Warship’s Bridge looked like. They both enjoyed the experience, the opportunity to see how we do business on an Australian warship and observe a RAS from the customer’s point of view,” LEUT Fieldsend said.

Royal Fort Auxiliary (RFA) Cadet Pescodd, Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Alec Fieldsend and RFA Cadet Rowe watch HMAS Newcastle conduct a Replenishment at Sea with RFA Fort Victoria. POEW Ben White

Newcastle is deployed to the MEAO as part of Operation SLIPPER, the Australian Defence Force contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, smuggling and piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and for enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.

Her current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.

(L-R) Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator James Maybury shows SG1 Mark Adams, RFA Fort Victoria around HMAS Newcastle. POEW Ben White.

HMAS Newcastle’s S70B-2 Helicopter lands on RFA Fort Victoria’s deck to collect members of Newcastle’s ships company. ABBM Troy Bennett.


http://news.navy.gov.au/en/Sep2013/Operations/363/A-view-from-the-other-side.htm#.UiW2uD-WObg