dimecres, 29 d’abril de 2015

EL SUBMARÍ CIENTÍFIC ICTINEU3 FA AMB ÈXIT A FRANÇA LES PRIMERES IMMERSIONS*

El submarí català, gràcies al suport francès, ja pot operar amb normalitat

La setmana passada el submarí científic ICTINEU3 va iniciar les seves primeres proves i immersions al mar, al costat del Cap Ferrat. Les immersions continuaran aquesta setmana amb l'entrenament dels pilots i amb immersions científiques amb els investigadors de l’Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer (OOV).

Els dies 21, 22 i 23 d'abril es van realitzar 11 immersions, començant per 18m, continuant per 50m i se’n va arribar a fer una a 93 metres de profunditat. Aquestes immersions formen part del pla de certificació del submarí. Un cop acabades s'ha obtingut el permís de navegació en aigües franceses. D'aquesta manera l'ICTINEU3 inicia la seva activitat científica al servei de la ciència i de la humanitat.

Aquestes són les primeres d'una sèrie d'immersions que es pretenen realitzar més endavant al canó de Villefranche fins a 1.000 metres de profunditat, amb l'objectiu d'estudiar la profunditat a la qual es troben les meduses durant el dia. Alguns tipus de meduses són migratòries dia-nit; quan es fa fosc pugen fins a la superfície i de dia emigren a les profunditats.

Aquesta fita tant important ha estat possible gràcies a la col·laboració entre l’Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer (OOV) que depèn de la universitat Pierre et Marie Curie de França, la Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie Nice Côte d’Azur, concessionari del port de Villefranche-Darse, la societat DARK PELICAN i Ictineu Submarins SL.

De la mateixa manera volem destacar les aportacions rebudes durant la última campanya de mecenatge, oberta a la web de l’Ictineu per aconseguir l'equipament científic i de navegació necessari per portar a termer les primeres immersions científiques. Encara falta assolir el total de 60.000€ per acabar d’obtenir la qualificació fins als 1.000 metres de profunditat.

Podeu continuar fent les vostres aportacions a: http://www.ictineu.net/patrocini/donacions/

* Nota de premsa publicada per Ictineu Submarins. Malgrat que hagi de ser a França, celebren que el projecte Ictineu segueixi avançant. Felicitem el seu equip per la seva perseverança i talent.


dilluns, 27 d’abril de 2015

Israel's hidden depths*


Israel has quietly become a submarine superpower. The Navy's transition into a long-term strategic arm is currently taking place, making this branch of the armed forces of crucial importance to Israel's national security and deterrent capability, with its option to go further, deeper and more quietly, and for extended periods.


A few months ago, the Navy received its fourth submarine, INS Tanin (crocodile), a German-built Dolphin class submarine. And, if all goes well, the fifth submarine, INS Rahav, is expected to arrive in Israel in about six months.

According to German publication Der Spiegel, "Armed with nuclear weapons, the submarines are a signal to any enemy that the Jewish state itself would not be totally defenseless in the event of a nuclear attack, but could strike back with the ultimate weapon of retaliation."

The sixth submarine, as yet nameless, will be added to the fleet in 2019 at an estimated cost of some $500 million – Israel's most expensive ever tool of war. Only history will judge whether all six subs were necessary, coming at the expense of replacing the Navy's aging warships. But for now, at their home in Haifa port, the new operations base is already in use, the INS Tanin is becoming operational and awaits her two sisters from the new AIP series of Dolphin submarines.

The Navy talks in terms of a quantum leap, providing the most advanced capabilities in the fields of discovery, communication and combat. The new subs also possess greater ability to remain submerged, thanks to a system that is independent of the outside air, thereby eliminating the need to cruise at a lesser depth, which may expose them. This expansion allows the Navy to operate in multiple arenas simultaneously.

"The new submarines know how to dive deeper, further, and for longer, and operate with greater power than we are used to," says the commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg. As one naval officer puts it, "They changed the rules of the game."

Israel revising its defense strategy, in light of the imminent nuclear agreement with Iran and a downturn in air strike capabilities due to Russia's sale to Iran of missile defense systems.

Increasing importance is being placed an enhanced maritime arm, which can operate in multiple arenas - and exercise Israel's alleged second strike capabilities if the country comes under nuclear attack.

The new submarines are reported to posses such advanced capabilities, and are armed with missiles manufactured by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, and adapted to Israeli needs at the planning stage in Germany.

"INS Tanin is not just a force multiplier, but a clear statement about Israel's intentions to tirelessly uphold, preserve and enhance its deterrent capability at sea," says Rothberg.

In this context, the defense establishment is currently holding an in-depth debate (although this is not the place to elaborate further), on striking a balance in the allocation of resources between Air Force jets that could attack Iran and the capabilities of the naval branch.

The final and most important consideration is a quality team. In an age when the army is fighting over every young genius, when the army increasingly depends on cyber intelligence units such as 8200, the task of recruiting soldiers to the Seventh Flotilla becomes more difficult.

This is exacerbated by the dearth of young soldiers eager to serve deep underwater, sometimes cut off from family and friends and the real world for weeks on end. In fact, the search for naval recruits is almost as complex the submarines they will operate.

*Notícia publicada a Ynet News. Publiquem aquesta peça periodística per donar una imatge general de l'arma submarina israeliana.


El Costa Magica arriba a Palamós amb 2.178 passatgers i marca una fita històrica*

El sector turístic és una peça clau per a la dinamització econòmica del conjunt del territori i l’activitat creuerística potencia els ports i les seves destinacions i contribueix a l’impuls del turisme. En aquest context, cada temporada hi ha noves navilieres que aposten per les instal·lacions portuàries de Palamós i Costa Cruceros és una companyia que s’ha estrenat avui amb el Costa Magica, un vaixell que farà tres escales al llarg de 2015.

Amb l’escala inaugural del Costa Magica Palamós ha rebut avui 2.178 passatgers, el major nombre de creueristes arribats fins avui en aquest port. A més, el Costa Magica té un arqueig brut de 102.587 tones i una eslora de 272 metres, característiques que el converteixen en el creuer més gran que ha visitat fins avui el port de Palamós.

L’estada d’aquest creuer s’estima que deixi un impacte econòmic de 115.000 euros al territori. Segons estudis del sector, cada passatger de creuer que visita un port escala es gasta una mitjana de 62 euros, calculant que desembarca un 75% del passatge. Les despeses d’aquests turistes de creuer inclouen excursions, restauració, compres, transports i prestacions de serveis al passatgers. També es calcula que en un port escala desembarca el 50% de la tripulació, amb una despesa mitjana de 21 euros per tripulant.

L’activitat creuerística del port de Palamós i la seva destinació turística es promou en els diferents fòrums del mercat de creuers a través de la marca Costa Brava Cruise Ports. Aquesta marca és el resultat de l’esforç conjunt que fa Ports de la Generalitat amb el Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava-Girona, l’Ajuntament de Palamós i la Cambra de comerç de Palamós. Aquest esforç institucional ha fet possible avui l’arribada de Costa Cruceros a Palamós.


Costa Magica portarà uns 7.000 passatgers

El Costa Magica és un vaixell de la companyia italiana Costa Cruceros que ha arribat avui per primer cop al port de Palamós amb 2.178 passatgers majoritàriament francesos, italians i suecs i un miler de tripulants. El vaixell ha arribat a las 07.00 h procedent de Gibraltar i preveu salpar a les 13.00 h cap al port francès de Marsella. Aquest creuer preveu fer tres escales a Palamós i es preveu que porti al voltant de 7.000 passatgers al llarg de la temporada.

El creuer té una eslora de 272 metres i un arqueig brut de 102.587 tones, dades que el fan el creuer més gran que ha visitat Palamós fins avui. A més, té una mànega de 35,5 metres i un calat de 8,3 metres.

El vaixell disposa de molts serveis a bord, quatre piscines, una de les quals és per a nens. Quatre restaurants, sis bars, dos salons, discoteca, sala de ball, teatre, casino, biblioteca, sales de reunions, una pista poliesportiva i un centre de salut i bellesa.

El vicepresident de Ports de la Generalitat, Pere Padrosa, acompanyat de diverses autoritats i representants institucionals ha lliurat al capità del Costa Magica la metopa commemorativa amb motiu de la seva primera escala al port de Palamós.

Costa Crociere té seu a Gènova (Itàlia) i aquí es promou amb la marca Costa Cruceros. De fet, Costa és l’operador europeu amb la flota més gran amb un total de 25 creuers, als qual se n'hi sumaran dos més l’any 2016. Costa Crociere forma part del grup Carnival Corporation, líder mundial del sector de creuers.

* Notícia publicada al web de la Generalitat. Celebrem aquesta notícia, no només per la vila de Palamós, sinó pel conjunt de Catalunya. Veient les dimensions de la nau (272 metres d'eslora i 8,3 de calat), algú es pregunta encara si els ports de Catalunya estan preparats per la nostra futura força naval? 


dilluns, 20 d’abril de 2015

Submarines With Wheels, Underwater Blimps, and a New Nuclear Arms Race*


Every two years, the super scientists at the US Navy's Office of Naval Research host a symposium. There, they talk about grant applications and small business partnerships — but they also discuss the bleeding-edge future of naval warfare.

Amid all the talk of lasers, railguns, and firefighting robots, Dr. Robert Ballard, the man whose accomplishments include finding the Titanic and discovering previously unknown lifeforms near seafloor geothermal vents, gave a talk. A talk in which he casually mentioned a mind-blowing new concept: "terrain-involved submarine warfare."

That means putting wheels on subs.

Generally speaking, submarines really, really hate interacting with the seafloor. In fact, they spend much of their time trying desperately to avoid it. Hitting a sharp rock could (Poseidon forbid!) tear a hole in the hull, and that's a pretty bad thing when the sea is putting a half ton of pressure on every single square inch of it. Subs generally don't have windows, so parking one on the sea floor — which has no shortage of sharp rocks — would be an adventure. Worse yet, subs don't exactly stop on a dime; they have incredible amounts of inertia. Parallel parking would be a nightmare.

Navy bigwigs and eggheads are well aware of these facts. And yet Ballard told an auditorium full of them that Navy subs should get up close and intimate with the seafloor. What made him do such a thing? Once upon a time, Ballard was in the employ of Army intelligence, analyzing maps to figure out if ridges, hills, valleys, and whatnot could, for instance, hide enemy tanks or mask troop movements. Ballard subsequently moved over to the Navy, and based on his Army experience, he started advocating for the embrace of undersea terrain rather than its avoidance.

In 1984, Ballard demonstrated the ability to operate on the ocean floor during a two-week exploration near Iceland's Reykjanes Ridge. He took the Navy's deep-sea research submarine, the NR-1, down 3,000 feet and drove it around volcanic peaks; he even hid in the occasional lava tube. At the time, the NR-1 was the Navy's largest deep-sea research submarine and its smallest nuclear sub. At a length of 150 feet and 400 tons, it could support a crew of 13 for up to a month. But most importantly, the NR-1 had retractable wheels and portals. The wheels allowed the NR-1 to roll along the seafloor. The portals allowed the sub drivers to see where the hell they were going.

In addition to the fact that it's kind of badass to drive a submarine around on the ocean floor like a 400-ton, nuclear-powered tank, there are some definite advantages to rolling around in the mud. Submarines (and the surface ships they fight) rely on sonar to search for stuff. This can mean quietly listening for telltale sounds, like engine noises — that's called passive sonar. Or, like bats, subs can emit sound pulses, which bounce off objects, creating echoes that are received by the sub, a technique called active sonar. But in a complex, jumbled terrain with rocks, mountains, and canyons, the sound waves get so jumbled up that it's impossible to make any sense of the sounds that come back.

Navies also use very sensitive magnetic detectors to locate the giant, metallic mass of the submarine as it moves underwater. But this method is less effective in some kinds of seafloor terrain. For example, near basaltic rocks, which interfere with even simple compasses and create downright havoc with sensitive magnetic sub-hunting gear.

Between the jumbled sonar and the magnetic interference of the ocean floor, it can be very hard to find something hiding in the seafloor terrain. Ballard illustrated this point clearly when he dared the Navy to find him while he was tooling around on the Reykjanes Ridge in the NR-1. Two weeks of searching later, the Navy had no clue where he was.

The Navy lost interest in Ballard's display when the Cold War ended, but there are plenty of reasons why it deserves to be revisited. For decades, subs have relied on stealth to protect them. But as a report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis notes, the old rules for subs may be changing. For starters, each incremental improvement in the technology that makes subs stealthier is getting exponentially more expensive, narrowing the performance gap between different submarines. In addition, there are a lot of sub-hunting techniques that circumvent traditional submarine stealth. Until now, those techniques required too much computational power to be practical. Soon, advances in computers may make these more exotic sensors a viable option.

That said, there's still one thing to keep in mind about Ballard's idea: how truly goddamn weird it is.

What he's proposing is a whole new war-fighting domain. Domain is wonkspeak for an environment in which fighting occurs, and up until 1,000 BCE or so, humanity fought in one domain: land. In the three millennia since, warfare has expanded into six — land, sea, undersea, air, space, and now cyberspace. For all practical purposes, the undersea domain today extends down a couple thousand feet or so (or to somewhere just above the seafloor if it's shallow enough). If you go deeper than that, it's aqua incognita for most subs; hulls collapse, death ensues, and nobody's happy.

But if you consider the undersea domain from the seafloor looking up rather than from the surface looking down, things start to change. Traditional submarines don't look like stealthy predators running invisible below the ocean waves — they look like big, fat, stupid blimps clumsily floating in the water above. New terrain-involved submarines become aquatic helicopters, landing and taking off from the seafloor. The most advanced seafloor mines, like the US Navy's CAPTOR — it's basically a torpedo that hides and listens for passing ships — become the seafloor equivalent of surface-to-air missile sites. Complex seafloor terrain is no longer a navigational hazard; it's a source of cover and concealment.

So really, this isn't about subs on wheels — it's about treating the ocean like the sky. And by doing that, everything anyone ever thought they knew about fighting in the sea and undersea domains is up for review.

None of this will happen anytime soon; current submarines don't go deep enough to interact with much of the sea floor. Smaller deep-submergence vessels capable of going several thousand feet down are slow, require a mothership, and generally can only operate for a few days at a time. But that will change; an explosion in ultra-deep sea oil drilling and the emerging field of seabed mining will continue to drive advances in Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). Terrain-involved submarines will be a reality.

And here's why all of this is truly creepy: Anything that makes subs easier to find and kill threatens nuclear missile subs. Nuclear ballistic missile submarines are considered the nuclear deterrent of last resort because they've historically been the most reliable and best protected part of the nuclear arsenal. Even if an attacker can hit every single square inch of a country in a surprise nuclear attack, the attacker would still be vulnerable to a devastating counterattack launched by nuclear subs hiding at sea. Because of this, the majority of the US nuclear arsenal is submarine-based. A guaranteed ability to counterattack goes a long way in preventing enemies from getting an itchy nuclear trigger finger.

But seafloor warfare could change that. Nations all around the world — including the US, Russia, and China — are signatories to the Seabed Arms Control Treaty that bans placing nukes on the seafloor (at least outside of the coastal zone that extends 12 miles from a country's shores). If a nation withdrew from the treaty to build a nuclear missile base on the seabed because it no longer felt its nuclear missile subs were secure, it could spark an arms race. Thus, seafloor warfare can threaten the stability of the nuclear deterrent. And if the idea of wheels on subs occurred to Ballard, it's no doubt occurred to other bright folks elsewhere in the world.

The thing about treaties is that they're not forever. Eventually, someone decides to quit or cheat, or technology advances so much that the treaty becomes a historical relic. The US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001 to pursue its missile defense program. In early March, Russia completed its de facto withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which limits the size of armies deployed to Europe. So there's no reason to believe the existing treaty on WMD on the ocean floor will last forever. So Ballard's mind-blowing concept of today could be a real headache of tomorrow.

Follow Ryan Faith on Twitter: @Operation_Ryan

*Article publicat a Vice News. Interessantíssima informació per totes aquelles persones interessades en les operacions submarines. Certament, el contacte amb el fons sempre ha estat una espasa de doble fulla: una amenaça seriosa per la integritat del casc, però un mantell difuminador davant possibles caçadors. Per pensar-hi.



dimarts, 14 d’abril de 2015

El tràfic de contenidors registra un increment del 2% fins al mes de febrer i el de SSS creix un 14%*

El tràfic de contenidors del Port de Barcelona fins al febrer ha acumulat un total de 285.808 TEU (un TEU equival a un contenidor de 20 peus), un 2% més que en els dos primers mesos de l’any 2014. L’evolució ha estat més positiva si es considera només el tràfic de comerç exterior, ja que el nombre de contenidors plens d’importació ha ascendit a 78.009 TEU, un 12% més que en el mateix període de l’any anterior, i els contenidors plens d’exportació han totalitzat 84.873 TEU (+3%).

D’altra banda, fins al mes de febrer les terminals especialitzades en tràfic de vehicles han gestionat un total de 118.824 vehicles nous, un 12% més que en el període gener-febrer de 2014, amb 66.741 unitats d’exportació (+5%) i 23.545 d’importació (+73%).

En conjunt, el tràfic total ha sumat 6,5 milions de tones manipulades, un 6% menys que l’acumulat el febrer de l’any anterior. Mentre que la càrrega general s’ha mantingut (4 milions de tones), en el descens global del tràfic han incidit la caiguda del 13% en els líquids a granel, que se situen en 1,8 milions de tones, i del 20% en els sòlids a granel, que han totalitzat 597.197 tones. En qualsevol cas, s’entén que les davallades i el comportament d’alguns tràfics es deuen a causes conjunturals i ocasionals, amb impacte en el curt termini, i les previsions dels operadors apunten que en el conjunt de l’any els volums gestionats es recuperaran.

Ha seguit a un bon ritme de creixement la mercaderia transportada per les autopistes del mar (línies que connecten la capital catalana amb diverses destinacions d’Itàlia i del nord d’Àfrica) i en els dos primers mesos de l’any s’han gestionat un total de 20.147 UTI (una unitat de càrrega rodada que equival a un camió, plataforma, remolc, etc.), un 14% més que en el període anterior. Aquest increment del volum de tràfic ha estat afavorit pel fet que algunes de les línies existents s’han reforçat amb més vaixells, és a dir, que han augmentat les freqüències d'alguns serveis.

Pel que fa al tràfic ferroviari, durant els mesos de gener i febrer d’enguany 23.000 TEU (+13,5%) i 35.152 vehicles nous (+5%) van entrar o sortir del Port en aquest mode de transport.

Per altra part, des de principis d’any han passat pel Port un total de 219.887 passatgers, un 2% menys que els mesos de gener i febrer de 2014. D’aquests, un total de 73.029 han estat usuaris dels ferris de línia regular (amb destinació a les Illes Balears, Itàlia i Àfrica del Nord), un 1,4% més que el 2014, mentre que s’han registrat 146.858 creueristes (-3%).

* Notícia publicada al web del Port de Barcelona. Compartim aquesta notícia per mantenir-vos al dia de l'activitat del Port de Barcelona.


The Rapid Expansion of China’s Navy in Five Charts*

With tensions mounting over China’s island-building in the South China Sea, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence has published its first report on the Chinese navy since 2009. The report, released late Thursday (pdf) predicts: “In the next decade, China will complete its transition from a coastal navy to a navy capable of multiple missions around the world.”

The report says that in 2014, China reclaimed hundreds of acres of land at the seven features it occupies in the disputed Spratly Islands and “appears to be building much larger facilities that could eventually support both maritime law enforcement and naval operations.” It also confirms that China’s newest destroyers have been fitted with a new kind of vertically launched supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, called the YJ-18, which could significantly enhance their capacity to threaten U.S. ships.

Here are five graphics that illustrate some its other key findings:

1) China’s coast guard and maritime law enforcement fleet is now bigger than those of Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines combined. The coast guard will add 50 ships to its fleet between 2012 and 2015, increasing its overall force by 25 percent.

2) China launched more naval ships than any other country in 2013 and 2014, and is expected to continue this trend through 2015-16.

3) The range of Chinese naval surface-to-air and anti-ship cruise missiles is increasing. China’s newest class of destroyer, the LUYANG III, is fitted with the new YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missile which Andrew Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College says in a blog post “could pose unprecedented challenges to the air defenses of U.S. and allied ships.”

4) China’s submarine force currently consists of five nuclear attack submarines, four nuclear ballistic missile submarines and 57 diesel attack submarines. By 2020, that force will likely grow to more than 70 submarines.

5) According to the report, China’s navy will soon assume a central role in the country’s nuclear deterrence, launching ballistic missile submarine patrols with intercontinental-range missiles. “As we look ahead to the coming decade, the introduction of aircraft carriers, ballistic missile submarines, and potentially a large-deck amphibious ship will fundamentally alter how the PLA(N) operates and is viewed by the world,”it says.
– Jeremy Page. Follow him on Twitter @JNBPage

* Notícia publicada al Wall Street Journal. Clar i concís resum de punts clau en l'expansió navla xinesa, que publiva l'ONI cada any. Per aquells qui vulguin accedir al document complet, cliqueu aquí.


dimecres, 8 d’abril de 2015

Un macrocontracte perdut per no tenir ample de via europeu*

El port de Tarragona s’ha quedat sense un macrocontracte perquè encara no disposa d’una connexió ferroviària amb ample de via europeu. La situació es va debatre en l’última reunió del consell d’administració de l’Autoritat Portuària de Tarragona, en la qual va quedar palès el malestar dels operadors pel retard en aquesta infraestructura.

De fet, l’ample de via europeu havia d’arribar al port de Tarragona l’any 2013, tot i que de manera provisional, amb una solució denominada com a tercer fil, que suposa incorporar un tercer rail a les vies actuals, que permet circular tant als trens d’ample ibèric com internacional.

El contracte a què optava el port tarragoní consistia en l’exportació de 200.000 cotxes anuals de Daimler -el fabricant de Mercedes i Smart- cap al Pròxim Orient. Un contracte que finalment s’han repartit el port italià de Savona i l’eslovè de Koper.

El president de l’Autoritat Portuària de Tarragona, Josep Andreu, en una entrevista a Catalunya Informació, va mostrar ahir la seva decepció i la “gran preocupació” per aquest cop. El port de Tarragona, va dir, té les infraestructures, molls, esplanades i calat per assumir un contracte d’aquest tipus: “Però vam quedar descartats perquè buscaven ports amb ample europeu per portar els cotxes des de les seves fàbriques”.

Josep Andreu va destacar que el port té les infraestructures internes que necessita per créixer, ja que es va executant el pla d’inversions sense problemes. Però va reclamar dues infraestructures externes que, al seu parer, són clau i no depenen de l’Autoritat Portuària, sinó del ministeri de Foment. Aquestes infraestructures són l’autovia A-27, que permetria potenciar l’ús del port per a la indústria agroalimentària, ja que ha d’unir Tarragona amb l’interior, en direcció a Lleida. L’altra infraestructura necessària és l’ample de via europeu. “És vital i pot permetre aspirar a noves activitats que puguin fer créixer el port”, va dir Andreu.

El president del port va recordar que perdre el contracte suposa una pèrdua de possibles ingressos per al port, però sobretot una pèrdua de llocs de treball a Tarragona. Per això va expressar la seva confiança que el ministeri de Foment elaborarà un calendari realista per construir aquesta infraestructura.

80% de capacitat

El president del port va indicar també que actualment la infraestructura té capacitat per créixer, ja que les instal·lacions estan entre el 70% i el 80% de la seva capacitat. L’any passat el tràfic de mercaderies al port de Tarragona va créixer en 31 milions de tones, cosa que suposa un 14% més. El sector químic continua sent el que porta més activitat al port. En aquest sentit, va recordar l’aposta per aquest sector, amb la posada en marxa del moll de la Química, que ha suposat una inversió de 70 milions d’euros.

Però a banda d’aquest sector, el port vol créixer en trànsit. Entre els objectius hi ha també incrementar el nombre de creuers. L’any passat van passar pel port de Tarragona només 10.000 creueristes, una xifra molt per sota d’altres competidors mediterranis, com Cartagena, que supera els 100.000.

* Notícia publicada al diari Ara. Creiem que la notícia s'explica per si mateixa i qualsevol comentari hi és sobrer.


dilluns, 6 d’abril de 2015

THE ROLES OF NAVIES IN THE YEMENI CONFLICT*




By Claude Berube, Stephanie Chenault, Louis M-v, Chris Rawley

Although the Saudi-led Operation RESOLUTE STORM (alternately translated as DECISIVE STORM) began with air strikes into Yemen on March 26 and continue as of this writing, the heightened level of regional activity also includes maritime operations. These national and multi-national operations highlight the importance of naval platforms and presence. Yemen is strategically located with the heavily-trafficked Red Sea to its west and the Gulf of Aden along its southern coast. Some twenty thousand ships transit the Gulf of Aden annually. Yemen’s ports have been largely closed to commercial traffic.


Evacuation of Citizens

Earlier this year, the US and other nations began pulling out of embassies and recommending their citizens leave Yemen at the earliest opportunity. Once RESOLUTE STORM began, airspace was restricted with limited flights out of the country. Consequently, several countries have been evacuating its citizens via comparatively safer ports such as Aden in the Gulf of Aden and Hodeida situated along the Red Sea. One Pakistan Navy ship got underway from Pakistan on Sunday while a second planned to depart the following day, both for the port of Hodeida where some 600 Pakistani citizenswere converging.

India sent five ships to evacuate approximately four thousand nationals from Hodeida. The passenger ships include the M/V Kavaratti and M/V Corals. The Indian Navy ships include the Delhi-class destroyer Mumbai, the Talwar-class frigate Tarkash, and the Saryu-class patrol vessel Sumitra.

China also interrupted the duties of its 19th anti-piracy flotilla off the Horn of Africa to evacuate citizens from Yemen. The PLA/N frigate Weifang was sent to Yemen and evacuated 449 Chinese citizens and others. Evacuations had taken place at both Aden and Hodeida. Chinese citizens were then taken to Djibouti.


Maritime Security

Several countries have some concern about the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, approximately 18-20 miles wide at its narrowest point“limiting tanker traffic to two 2-mile-wide channels for inbound and outbound shipments.” According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, approximately 3.8 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products transited the Bab el-Mandeb every day in 2013. Although the Iranian-backed Houthis leading the insurgency in Yemen have announced that they would not seek to impact transitthrough the strait, the more likely threat would be from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In 2013, for example, the Yemeni government reportedly disrupted one AQAP plot to attack ships in the Bab el-Mandeb.

According to Reuters, four ships from the Egyptian Navy transited the Suez Canal to secure the region on the first day of the air strikes.

Search and Rescue

The Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Sterrett (DDG 104)rescued two Saudi Arabian airmen from the Gulf of Aden after their two-seater F-15 fighter jet crashed on the first day of the air strikes.

Naval Gunfire Support

According to one source, Egyptian warships began shelling Houthis outside Aden on March 30. The Egyptian flotilla includes the U.S. produced Perry-class frigate Alexandria (F911), whose 76 mm OTO-Melara gun can bombard surface targets out to 16 km away.

Analysts’ Assessment

While the majority of Operation RESOLUTE STORM activities have been air strikes with the possibility of a future ground conflict, the domestic instability in Yemen and on-going military operations underscore the importance of naval platforms, presence, and the varied operations that can be conducted by navies. Naval activity in the region by regional and international actors can be expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Possible future naval missions could include patrols designed to prevent Iran’s resupply of Houthi forces from the sea. Previous attempts by the Iranians to smuggle modern weapons to Houthi forces, such as the Jeehan 1 in January 2013, were foiled by Yemeni government forces. It is doubtful such naval capability still exists in non-Houthi Yemeni elements so multi-national forces will need to take on the maritime interdiction role.

The operations also highlight the PLA/N’s increasing capability. China began sending anti-piracy flotillas off the Horn of Africa in 2008 at the height of Somali pirate activity. To date, the PLA/N has sent nineteen flotillas, each comprised of two warships and one supply ship. These uninterrupted operations have enabled the Chinese to become familiar with long-term operations, logistics, and the importance of presence. Without the PLA/N’s experience in the region, it is unknown how or if it could have extracted its citizens from Yemen in a timely fashion.

A new op-ed in a Chinese newspaper on March 30 points out that“China has evacuated hundreds of its nationals from war-torn Yemen by Monday, in demonstrating responsibility and humanistic care toward its citizens. In the era of globalization, coupled with China’s increasing presence in the world, more Chinese nationals are living and working overseas.” Another online commenter on China’s Sina Weibo stated:“The strength of the motherland is not about the visa-free agreements with other countries, but that it could bring you home from danger.” Put simply: The Navy protects you.

One might ask, given budget priorities, have Americans and Europeans forgotten this?

Claude Berube is a history instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy and author.

Stephanie Chenault is the Chief Operating Officer of Venio Inc. and a Policy & Strategy Consultant for the Department of Defense.

Louis Martin-Vézian is the co-president of the French chapter at CIMSEC.org, and the founder of CIGeography, where he post his maps and infographics on various security and defense topics. He is currently studying Geography and Political Science in Lyon, France.

Chris Rawley is an entrepreneur and reserve naval officer.

* Notícia publicada al CIMSEC. Compartim aquest article doncs resulta aclaridor sobre els moviments al Iemen.

diumenge, 5 d’abril de 2015

PLA has spent 10 years to build a blue-water navy: US expert*

Christopher Sharman, a former US assistant navy attache to Beijing and a student at National Defense University, discussed the five major steps China has taken to establish a global navy since 2004 in his new article written for the Washington-based National Interest magazine.

Between 2004 and 2006, the People's Liberation Army Navy kept itself within the region known as the First Island Chain in the Pacific, extending from Alaska to the Philippines, to avoid direct confrontation with the United States and its security partners. But the PLA Navy enhanced training in disciplines that enabled it to take steps toward conducting operations further from China's coast into the "blue water" of the open ocean, he wrote.

The PLA Navy then took its initial steps into the Western Pacific between 2007 and 2009, when it expanded its area of training operations into the Philippine Sea beyond the First Island Chain. Holding exercises in this region enhanced the PLA Navy's ability to operate in unfamiliar waters. At the same time, it also helped to develop the logistics and command and control systems necessary for operations further from home, Sharman said.

Next, the PLA Navy took steps to normalize its deployments in the Western Pacific between 2010 and 2012. Sharman said it increased the frequency, complexity and its confidence in executing blue-water operations in the region. While the exercises in the Philippine Sea between 2007 and 2009 appeared to be relatively one-dimensional with surface ship against surface ship, the exercises from 2010 through 2012 became multi-dimensional with the participation of aircraft, warships and submarines.

After that, the PLA Navy integrated land-based fixed wing aircraft into Philippine Sea exercises and executed the first Western Pacific exercise that involved all three naval fleets operating simultaneously between 2013 and 2014. Furthermore, PLA surface combat vessels were for the first time deployed to the Indian Ocean for counter-piracy operations around the Gulf of Aden, Sharman noted.

Sharman concluded by saying that the normalization of the PLA Navy's operations in the Western Pacific and the experience of counter-piracy missions has given China the requisite experience, confidence and proficiency to defend China through the operationalization of far seas defense capabilities. This will also allow China to eventually establish a navy with global power projection, he said.

*Notícia publicada a Want China Times. Una perspectiva concisa del procés d'aprenentatge que ha convertit la PLAN en una "Blue Water Navy".

PLA warships take part in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean on April 3, 2014, another example of how PLA vessels are being deployed in different types of operations further from home. (Photo/CNS)

dissabte, 4 d’abril de 2015

Confirmed: Pakistan Will Buy Eight Chinese Subs*

Details on the type of vessel as well as the new fleet’s price tag remain unknown.



Yesterday, the Pakistani government confirmed the purchase of eight new submarines from China. “The National Security Committee has approved, in principle, the acquisition of eight Chinese submarines,” Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Rear Admiral Mukhtar Khan, informed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence in Islamabad.

Details on the type of vessels or their price tag are murky. IHS Jane’s quotes an unnamed Pakistani Foreign Ministry official who said that, “in the recent past, there have been reports of discussions for the Type 041 submarines.”

According to IHS Jane’s Fighting Ships the Type 041 Yuan-class is,“a diesel electric attack submarine (SSK), potentially with Stirling air independent propulsion, that is armed with YJ-2 (YJ-82) anti-ship missiles and a combination of Yu-4 (SAET-50) passive homing and Yu-3 (SET-65E) active/passive homing torpedoes.” The export version of the vessel allegedly displaces about 2,300 tons, according to public sources.

However, as I noted here, the Wuhan-based China State Shipbuilding Industrial Corp (CSIC) supposedly had already signed a contract in April 2011 to deliver six Type 032 Qing-class conventional attack submarines by 2016/2017. Apparently, this deal must be off the table now.

Still other media sources report that Islamabad will build submarines under license based on the Qing-class vessels displacing 3,000 tons: “Pakistan will also build two types of submarines with Chinese assistance: the Project S-26 and Project S-30. The vessels are to be built at the Submarine Rebuild Complex (SRC) facility being developed at Ormara, west of Karachi.”

The procurement of a new fleet of submarines constitutes Islamabad’s most expensive arms deal by far. Estimated total costs range between $4-5 billion. IHS Jane’s quotes a former Pakistani defense official who said that it is “difficult to imagine a price of less than USD 500 million per submarine, if not more.”

He also said that he suspects China to extend a long-term loan, possibly at a low interest rate. Another Pakistani military expert told theFinancial Times that there are still many unknowns: “At this stage, we don’t know the exact financial terms and unless we know the financial terms we can’t be certain about the significance of this order,” he said. “Still, it’s an important contract for Pakistan.”

Ali Sarwar Naqvi, a former senior Pakistani diplomat, said about Beijing’s rationale behind the weapons deal: “China has its own strategic reasons to help Pakistan in this area. As India prepares to head in to the Pacific Ocean, the Chinese are looking to head in to the Indian Ocean.”

* Notícia publicada a The Diplomat. L'ampliació de l'arma submarina pakistanesa sembla consolidar-se. Si l'Índia no millora al mateix ritme les seves capacitats ASW, pot tenir problemes seriosos. Poca gent se'n recorda avui, però l'Índia ja va perdre un vaixell a mans d'un submarí pakistanès.