Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How is that Global Maritime Partnership working for you?

International naval forces will never be able to completely secure the vast area of ocean where Somali pirates are hijacking ships off East Africa, the commander of the EU Naval Force's counter-piracy efforts said Tuesday.
The naval commander said the Maran Centaurus was traveling east of an area that the EU Naval Force advises tankers to steer clear of, so that it wouldn't necessarily have expected to have been attacked. Pirates now hold 11 ships and 264 crew members off the coast of Somalia, said Rear Adm. Peter Hudson.

"The news of a few days ago of a 300,000-ton tanker being seized is illustrative of the problems in protecting and policing an area of the world's oceans that amounts to an area of about 1 million square miles," said Hudson, the commander of the EU Naval Force's counter-piracy operations.

Hudson also said the fact that pirates are now attacking ships as far as 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) off the Somali coast presents a large challenge and that the EU force will never fully secure such a large area. The EU Naval Force's strategy in the smaller Gulf of Aden is to lengthen the amount of time it takes pirates to get on board so that a warship or helicopter can be dispatched to the scene.

"The difficulties in an area as large as it is in the Indian Ocean with the short number of assets that we have is that ... the pirate can keep going and keep going and keep going until it's successful in getting on board, because there's nothing there to stop it," he said.
Poor excuse. What weak cheese.

That being said, what did you expect from the EU?

Clearing waters of pirates was done over 200 years ago using wooden sailing ships with limited ISR ... it can be done today. All it takes is will.

Having worked with the EU military structures in Strasbourg .... I can tell you that you won't find the will there.

Not that it means other less supine organizations can't try.

One of the good guys, SACEUR (nee Admiral Stavridis) is
passing the hat.
Adm. Jim Stavridis, new Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), said here Dec. 7 that "more ships would be helpful" to counter piracy off Somalia but that "what I'm really after is maritime patrol aircraft, NATO AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System] and satellite images."

A big, fat, slow Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance aircraft is about as nonthreatening as you can get. Even the EU shouldn't have trouble getting the vapors from using them. We won't even make them carry weapons.

So, what is ADM Stavridis asking for? First of all, outside some "special" UAS out of The Seychelles - let's go ahead and acknowledge that all the UAS are off doing AFG business. Let's stick with manned aircraft - and cheat by using Wikipedia for our J2.

So, you want a NATO anti-piracy ISR "surge?" How would you do it?

Sticking to large, fixed-wing, long range Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance aircraft for planning purposes, let's see what we can do. Well, the French have about 22 Atlantique II/III. The Italians I think retired their antique Atlantiques - I can't find an up to date reference - so I guess the Italians can go get a coffee then. The Germans bought the Dutch P-3s and have about 16. Portugal has five, and Spain a half dozen or so P-3s. The Brits have a dozen Nimrods that are still limping around, and even the Norwegians have a half dozen P-3s left.

Expand the scope, and you might even get an Aussie or Kiwi P-3 to help out. In a perfect world, the Japanese would bring theirs out ... but I doubt it.

Enough to choose from. Now, where do they go?

Between Mombasa, Masirah, Dodge, Seychelles, and "Da-bootie" there are plenty of places to park them if you can get the host nations to buy in .... from there all it takes is the Europeans finding the OPTAR. Good luck with that. Everyone is short of money, and one thing MPR aren't are cheap.

The French could take Da-bootie, the Germans have a good history flying out of Kenya - and of course we and the Brits know Masirah like the back of our hands. Ditto Dodge and The Seychelles.

AW1 & MTH, help me out here in case I am totally out of order. What do you need now days to make two missions a day? Three to make two?

OK, I'm digging deep in my brain here - so don't be too picky.

I've had a little fun with GoogleEarth. There are ADM Stavridis's basing options. Only Dodge belongs to a NATO nation - but Da Bootie should be a shoe in via the French and our history with them. From there, in decreasing likelihood of getting an OK; Kenya, Seychelles, and Oman.

From each base I have put a roughly 1,000 arch (in P-3 pink) as the plane flies (yes, you can cover more our of Masirah - don't be so picky I am a one man shop and was in a hurry). The yellow area is a roughly 1,000nm range from the coast of Somalia; pirate country. Here is the map (larger one here.)

Again, AW1 & MTH - help me out. Let's rough out an average of 9-hrs per mission. It would take what, 3 hrs to get to a 1,000 mile onstation point (let's work realistic worst case missions - though some will be much closer to base)? Assume that you don't enter and exit at max distance even for the long runs. Round trip 5 hours. That gives you 4 hours on-station time a mission, minimum (as some missions would be much closer - and with modern EO/radar you don't need to fly by everyone). You guys tell me how much area you could cover in the IO with 4-hrs in 2009. I'll keep moving.

If each base could cover two missions a day - that would be 8-hrs onsta per base. If "3 makes 2" and you have 5 bases operating, that would be 15 P-3s to make 10 missions a day giving the anti-piracy commander (if they could ever get unity of command, which they don't right now) 40 hours a day of MPR onstation time.

We are dealing with NATO here - so best case you get 7 non-USA MPR aircraft flying from two locations giving you 3 missions a day. To fill the gap, you would need a full USN P-3 squadron flying out of two other to do the rest - and even then - you won't get the balance of missions. You might get 4 to 5 from USA. That is 3+5=8 missions, 32 hours a day of MPR onstation time best case. That is one big body of water. When you add it all together - figure a 1,700nm x 1,200nm area for planning purposes. To compare - the Caribbean is about 800nm x 1,400nm

NATO gets Da Bootie and Kenya. USA gets Dodge and Masirah - we'll leave The Seychelles to the snake eaters. That would leave a triangle shaped gap in coverage about 400NM north of The Seychelles - but the surface ships and helos could over that.

So, what 'cha think for a few minutes of pondering? Did I earn a per diem check?

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