Category Archives: Merchant Marine

Coast Guard Strategy Calls for Greater Arctic Emphasis

Coast Guard Strategy Calls for Greater Arctic Emphasis

Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Robert Papp, in front of a map of Barrow, Alaska during a recent trip. US Coast Guard Photo

Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Robert Papp, in front of a map of Barrow, Alaska during a recent trip. US Coast Guard Photo

The U.S. Coast Guard has unveiled its new strategy for the Arctic outlines a ten-year roadmap for patrolling the last great maritime frontier, in a Tuesday presentation by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp in Washington, D.C.

“The Arctic Ocean is rapidly changing from a solid expanse of inaccessible ice fields into a growing navigable sea, attracting increased human activity and unlocking access to vast economic potential and energy resources,” Papp said in a speech in conjunction with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Read More

Navy to Decommission Two Oilers in Cost Saving Scheme

Navy to Decommission Two Oilers in Cost Saving Scheme

USNS Bridge resupplies USS John C Stennis in April. Bridge and USNS Rainer will be decommissioned in a Navy cost saving move. US Navy Photo

USNS Bridge resupplies USS John C Stennis in April. Bridge and USNS Rainier will be decommissioned in a Navy cost saving move. US Navy Photo

The Navy will decommission two of Military Sealift Command’s youngest refueling and Fleet support ships in a bid to save $251 million as part of the Department of the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget, Navy officials told USNI News on Monday. Read More

Updated: NASSCO Could Layoff 730 Due to DoD Budget Cuts

Updated: NASSCO Could Layoff 730 Due to DoD Budget Cuts

Two Oliver Hazard Perry-class (FFG-7) frigates undergo maintenance at NASSCO's San Diego shipyard. NASSCO Photo

Two Oliver Hazard Perry-class (FFG-7) frigates undergo maintenance at NASSCO’s San Diego shipyard. NASSCO Photo

This story was updated from a previous version to include a statement from NASSCO. 

Shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO could lay off as many as 730 at its San Diego, Calif. shipyard and maintenance facility in Mayport, Fla. by late April due to pending Department of Defense budget cuts, read a NASSCO statement provided to USNI News on Thursday. Read More

Guardian Salvage Continues

Guardian Salvage Continues

Salvage operations of the USS Guardian in the Sulu Sea, Feb. 26, U.S. Navy Photo

Salvage operations of the USS Guardian in the Sulu Sea, Feb. 26, U.S. Navy Photo

The U.S. Navy has begun the dismantling process for a minesweeper caught on the Tubbataha Reef off the coast of the Philippines Jan. 17, 2013. Read More

China's Rise: WEST Day Three

China’s Rise: WEST Day Three

The Chinese navy intrudes on the maritime rights of its neighbors, bullies other nations and is determined to build a force strong enough to counter the U.S. Pacific Fleet, a U.S. Navy intelligence officer told an audience at the WEST 2013 convention in San Diego on Thursday.

China’s navy, said Capt. Jim Fannell, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and operations at the U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii, is a force that “is focused on war at sea.”

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USCG's Adm. Papp on Arctic Operations and Caribbean Drug Runners

USCG’s Adm. Papp on Arctic Operations and Caribbean Drug Runners

Even as the Coast Guard gets a grip on the Arctic, drug smugglers in the eastern Pacific are slipping through its fingers, Commandant Adm. Robert Papp acknowledged Thursday.

At the Surface Naval Association Symposium, Papp told reporters he has been forced to give some things up as demands on the Coast Guard increase in the warming Arctic. As he has sent the service’s new National Security Cutters into the frozen north, it has been at the expense of man- and ship-hours for other missions, including drug interdiction in the eastern Pacific.

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf sails in the Arctic Ocean near Barrow, Alaska, Aug. 28, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf sails in the Arctic Ocean near Barrow, Alaska, Aug. 28, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

“We don’t have enough ships out there to interdict all the known tracks that we’re aware of,” he said. “We intercept as many as we can.”

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The Royal Navy's Pacific Strike Force

The Royal Navy’s Pacific Strike Force

Naval History Magazine, January 2013
After more than five exhausting years of global conflict, the British Commonwealth organized a powerful modern fleet that fought as equal partners with the U.S. Navy in the late stages of the Pacific war.

For the Royal Navy, the end seemed to come quickly in the Pacific war. Less than three days after the conflict’s outbreak, Japanese aircraft attacked and sank the most powerful British warships in Far Eastern waters, the modern battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse . Their loss, followed within a couple of months by the capture of the naval bases in Hong Kong and Singapore, effectively drove the British navy out of the Pacific.

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But the Royal Navy—in the form of the British Pacific Fleet (BPF)—returned to make a major contribution in 1945 to the defeat of Japan. The BPF, its vital bases, and logistical support organization did not exist until late 1944, but eight months later, the fleet had become the most powerful deployed force in the history of the Royal Navy.

The BPF did not begin to come into focus until the August 1943 Quadrant Conference of Allied leaders in Quebec. Agreement was reached that greater priority should be given to the Pacific war, while retaining the “Germany first” principle. But for much of 1944, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the British Chiefs of Staff argued over how best to implement the decisions.

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Combat Fleets: Final Lewis and Clark Launched

Combat Fleets: Final Lewis and Clark Launched

Proceedings, Jan. 2013
The U.S. Navy’s 14th and final Lewis and Clark –class dry-cargo/ammunition ship was delivered on 24 October. Built by General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, the USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14), pictured here while still under construction, was launched on 5 May.

NASSCO Photo

NASSCO Photo

Named for the Mexican-American activist, the 689-foot ship has a beam of 105.6 feet and a draft of 30 feet and is operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. The 14 ships of the class are tasked primarily with transporting and delivery of logistics supplies to include ammunition, food, fuel, repair parts, and ship-store items to U.S. and allied vessels at sea. The Cesar Chavez and her sisters each displace roughly 41,000 tons and can carry more than 10,000 tons of cargo. The Lewis and Clark class forms a sizable percentage of the 34 ships that make up Military Sealift Command’s Combat Logistics Force.

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Appointment With Destiny in the North Atlantic

Appointment With Destiny in the North Atlantic

Naval History Magazine December, 2012
In 1943, the author’s uncle boarded his Liberty ship in Nova Scotia with a strong sense of foreboding.

When U-610 sank the Liberty ship William Pierce Frye on 29 March 1943, among those on board was a 24-year-old fireman from Central Falls, Rhode Island, named William Joseph McHale, my Uncle Billy. The night before reporting for duty, he said goodbye to his older brother John’s girlfriend, Mary Gannon. “Be sure to marry my brother!” When Mary replied that she looked forward to all of them reuniting after the war, Billy looked straight at her and revealed a searing premonition: “No, I don’t think I’ll be coming back.” Earlier that day he’d said something similar to his sister Rita, who remembers, “It was weird when he said, ‘I thought you’d like to see me one more time.’” True to his vision, on his first voyage at sea Billy went down with the ship. When the news of his death arrived at the tenement house on Hunt Street, my grandparents were consumed by the immeasurable grief reserved for those who lose a child. My uncle Raymond, their oldest son, called it “a dark time.”

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The events that sealed Uncle Billy’s fate were set in motion in the early morning hours of 8 March 1943, when U-610 eased from her mooring at the submarine pens of St. Nazaire, France. She set out to rendezvous with wolf pack Dränger (Pusher). Ten days later the William Pierce Frye departed on her maiden voyage from Halifax, Nova Scotia, as part of convoy HX 230 en route to Liverpool, England.

Built in just three months by New England Shipbuilding of Portland, Maine, and launched on 11 February 1943, she was owned by the Mystic Steamship Company of Boston. The Liberty ship carried a complement of 8 officers, 32 Merchant Marines, and 24 Armed Guards. She was laden with 7,500 tons of military stores, including 750 tons of explosives, wheat, and a deck cargo of five landing craft, tank (LCTs).

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China's 700 Ship Navy

China’s 700 Ship Navy

China is building tandem maritime forces, blurring the line between military and civilian maritime missions.

The new People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) aircraft carrier, Liaoning, further expansion of the nuclear submarine force, and new warships such as the 052D Luyang III-class destroyer, are all indicators of China’s emphasis on maritime modernization. However, China’s maritime strategy consists of more than just PLAN modernization efforts: It’s building two maritime forces with more than 700 surface ships by 2020. China’s Maritime Surveillance (CMS) agency, under direction from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), serves a critical role in further developing China’s maritime strategy.

The CMS is unlike any civilian government entity in the United States. CMS falls under the SOA for resource allocations and management purposes. If compared with the United States, the SOA would probably be similar to combining the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and a host of intelligence agencies. While the U.S. equivalents are controlled by three different cabinet level positions (Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence); SOA is controlled by only one cabinet-level equivalent, the Ministry of Land and Resources.

Adm. Wu Shengli, PLAN Commander (Left) and Liu Cigui, SOA Director (Right) in Feburary, SOA photo

Adm. Wu Shengli, PLAN Commander (Left) and Liu Cigui, SOA Director (Right) in Feburary, SOA photo

Though the SOA has several missions and controls more than 20 different agencies, it has two primary functions: protection of national sovereignty and as political component of the Party. CMS over the past several years has been tasked with the protection of national sovereignty issues throughout the South China and East China Seas. There are several examples of that including the 2009 USNS Impeccable incident, the planting of a Chinese flag on the seabed floor by a submersible in 2010, CMS ships cutting the cables of Vietnamese ships conducting exploration and seismic surveys in 2011, and the recent dispute in the Scarborough Shoals between China and Vietnam. In addition, CMS ships also have the primary role in patrolling the waters near the Senkaku or Daioyu Islands. These activities suggest China has developed a “first use policy” where CMS ships serve as the front line of protection and the PLAN may serve as the defender of national sovereignty.

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