Gulf of Aden: Japan Maritime Self Defense Force convoy schedule for May and June 2014. 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
Japanese anti-piracy convoy schedule for Gulf of Aden, November 2013:
GULF OF ADEN: Government of Japan convoy schedule for October and November 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).
Source: US Navy, Office of Naval Intelligence
A look at Canada’s capabilities. In essence, the same as every navy smaller than the USN… augmenting the American force with the key focus on interoperability.
The Royal Canadian Navy in the Pacific – a look at capabilities
By David McDonough
Canada could benefit from expanding its military presence in the Asia-Pacific. As I described in a previous Strategist post, the government faces certain budgetary constraints likely to limit the size of its future naval presence and capacity for maritime diplomacy. Yet such a challenge isn’t insurmountable. To ensure sufficient fleet funding, Canada has the option of placing greater priority on the capital portion of the defence budget—even if it comes at the expense of personnel and operations/maintenance spending.
Such a move would offer Ottawa some leverage to join the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus. More importantly, Canada would have a means to help augment America’s naval power in the region, which is expected to be under increasing strain as a result of defence cutbacks—at a time when China is expanding its own naval fleet and showing greater assertiveness in its maritime disputes with its neighbours.
Other like-minded countries have already begun to focus on their own maritime forces. For example, Japan has strengthened its naval fleet with advanced (e.g. air-independent propulsion) submarines, helicopter destroyers, and plans for helicopter carriers, with a keen eye for possible amphibious operations to protect its vulnerable south-western approaches. Australia has also been eager to deploy a more formidable naval presence with its planned acquisition of Aegis destroyers and replacements for its Collins-class submarines. Both platforms are expected to have the high-end command, control, communications, and weapon systems necessary to ensure operational interoperability with the US Pacific Fleet.
Like the Australian navy, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) also has a strong tradition of interoperability with its American counterparts, to the point where Canadian warships can also be seamlessly integrated into US naval task forces (PDF). It would serve the RCN well to ensure that its future naval platforms can continue to be integrated with the US and other regional navies. Much depends on the capabilities offered by these naval platforms, which should be designed to complement America’s efforts at maintaining operational access to the Western Pacific.
The RCN needs to maintain some of its high end maritime war fighting capabilities. Of particular relevance is area air defence (AAD), a capability that should be retained and upgraded on its destroyer replacements—much as Australia has done with upgrades to its Anzac frigates and the Aegis equipped destroyers. Indeed, the United States, Japan, and other allies have become increasingly wary of China’s advanced anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities, from shore-based aircraft and missiles to an undersea and surface fleet heavily armed with anti-ship cruise missiles—a concern reportedly also shared by the RCN, at least according to drafts of its unreleased Horizon 2050 naval strategy.
For the RCN to maintain interoperability with its key regional partners, Canada should also ensure that some of its next-generation Canadian Surface Combatants incorporate the Aegis combat system—joining other regional powers including Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the US Navy. Importantly, Aegis can also be upgraded to provide a mid-course and terminal ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability. Both the United States and Japan have proven eager to expand their BMD fleet, due to China’s development of a much feared anti-ship ballistic missile. Other countries may soon follow suit.
An anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability would also be highly valued in a region where many countries are expanding their submarine inventories. Much of the concern is on China’s undersea fleet, as a possible ‘assassin’s mace‘ capable of challenging American and allied sea control in this maritime theatre. For this reason, the US Navy has already been increasing its ASW assets in the region, with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) operating a formidable fleet that specializes in undersea and surface ASW.
The RCN already has a long history of ASW operations. Indeed, with its fleet of Victoria-class submarines, the RCN would be better placed for these missions than in the past, when it largely relied on surface ASW and escort duties. It also provides the natural locus for cooperation with regional navies, like the JMSDF. Of course, ASW isn’t necessarily cheap. Canada would eventually need to replace its fleet of Aurora maritime patrol aircraft and Victoria submarines. But, given the growing demand for ASW, we shouldn’t underplay the benefits that could be accrued by returning to this specialisation.
With such capabilities, the RCN would be well placed to support American and allied efforts to ensure sea control in the Western Pacific. If required, Canada would also be able to join in defensive missions envisioned in the US Air-Sea Battle concept, while avoiding its more offensive plans to disrupt and destroy A2/AD systems at their source.
Yet it would all be for naught if Canada lacks the logistics for sustained operations in the Pacific, therefore raising the issue of operational sustainment. Sadly, little attention has been paid to the future of the RCN’s auxiliary oiler replenishment fleet. Indeed, it’ll now have to settle for the acquisition of only two Joint Supply Ships, thereby increasing the chances that Canadian warships will be unable to be deployed for sustained operations abroad—unless an ally provides at-sea replenishment, which can no longer be guaranteed given the growing demand for such logistics ships.
In such a situation, the RCN might find its emphasis on Pacific operations curtailed, even if it otherwise enjoys high-end capabilities well-suited to that region. But, more importantly, it could also find its historic role as a blue-water fleet possibly endangered. Such an outcome would be doubly unfortunate, and is an important reminder not to ignore the logistical tail.
David S. McDonough is a SSHRC post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Political Science, University of British Colombia and a research fellow in the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University. Image courtesy of Flickr user U.S. Pacific Command.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org) (MSCHOA)
GULF OF ADEN: Chinese Navy convoy schedule for August and September 2013. For further information, please e-mail email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.dgshipping.com. Telephone numbers for contact are: 91-22-22614646 or fax at 91-22-22613636 (MSCHOA)
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force (a Navy by any other name) will continue its presence in the Indian Ocean off the Horn of Africa for at least another year.
Japanese naval vessels currently provide escorts to merchant shipping off the coast of Somalia.
MSDF to take on bigger antipiracy burden
The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s antipiracy escort operation off Somalia has been extended by one more year, with one destroyer set to join a combined naval task force with the United States and other nations late this year. Currently, two MSDF destroyers have been deployed in the area along with P-3C maritime patrol aircraft.
Under the MSDF’s mission, which was extended for a fourth time Wednesday, one of the ships will also join the so-called CTF151 international naval task force to respond to piracy in shipping lanes near Somalia. Although piracy-related damage has been reduced, the MSDF’s burden has become heavier as the area covered by the operation is set to be expanded.
At this time of year, strong monsoons from the African continent blow into the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, where MSDF vessels and aircraft operate.
“Visibility is poor due to dust clouds, so we are fully attentive in monitoring suspicious vessels,” Tsutomu Iwasawa, commander of the MSDF’s sixth fleet escort division, told The Yomiuri Shimbun in a phone interview on Saturday.
Cap. Iwasawa, who commands the destroyers Hamagiri and Akebono, said the two ships escorted commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden under rough conditions on Saturday, with strong winds blowing at over 15 meters per second. He said it took about two days to pass through dangerous waters stretching about 900 kilometers, during which the ship’s crew used binoculars and radar to monitor the situation.
In the latest mission, the crew intercepted several emergency reports on international radio of other commercial vessels being chased by small pirate ships.
As the reports came from vessels sailing a few hundred kilometers away, naval ships from other nations handled the cases.
However, Iwasawa said, “If it [a commercial vessel being chased by pirates] was within easy reach, we’d have to fly a chopper into the area to confirm the situation there, making us tense.”
Key traffic zone
Sandwiched between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, the Gulf of Aden is a strategic zone for maritime traffic linking Europe and Asia through the Suez Canal.
Of vessels directly connected with Japan, about 2,000 ships sail through the gulf, transporting about 1.5 million cars, or about 20 percent of Japan’s auto exports.
As damage from Somalia-based pirates became more noticeable, countries concerned dispatched naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden and neighboring waters in response to a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in June 2008.
The Japanese government sent two MSDF destroyers in March 2009 in accordance with its order for maritime policing operations. In June that same year, the Diet enacted an antipiracy law authorizing Self-Defense Forces to protect any commercial ship from pirates, regardless of whether the ship has any connection with Japan.
The Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties opposed the law’s enactment, saying, “Pirates should be dealt with by the Japan Coast Guard.”
Thanks to such international dispatches, piracy-related damage has been on the decline, falling to 75 cases in 2012 from over 200 in 2009.
The MSDF has sent a combined total of 30 destroyers, 26 P-3C aircraft and about 8,000 personnel so far. The number of commercial escort operations totaled 471 as of the end of last month.
According to a government source, there were 45 cases in which a destroyer or P-3C aircraft spotted and intercepted a suspicious ship. A spokesperson of the Japanese Shipowners’ Association said, “We are thankful for the MSDF’s work.”
However, pirates are now targeting commercial vessels off the Arabian Peninsula instead of the Gulf of Aden, which has stricter antipiracy patrols. In response, the United States and Britain have teamed up with other countries to form the CTF151 to patrol a much wider area.
At the request of U.S. military forces, the MSDF will dispatch one destroyer operating there to the multilateral task force later this year.
As a result, the MSDF will only have one destroyer available to escort commercial vessels, thereby increasing their burden.
“The SDF’s international cooperation activities have so far been mainly in the rear-area logistic support, such as building roads. By joining the CTF, through which we can directly contribute to establishing safety, we can make a greater appeal to the international community about our contributions,” said a senior Defense Ministry official.
USN All Hands Update June 27, 2013.