Friday, March 13, 2009

Japan fleet to combat pirate-infested waters

From "international peace cooperation activities" as
conducted in Cambodia or Africa in the 90's to near
war scenario and military operations today. Japan
stretches the Fundamental Law to fit military options.
One step to enforce the fundamental mission of the
JSDF means that for the first time in its history the
JSDF's core purpose necessarily involves missions
outside of Japan.

Japan's coast guard officials capture men playing a
role of pirates, kneeling down in front, during an
anti-piracy exercise off port of Kure, Hiroshima,
western Japan (February 2009)

Guarantee free SLOC & oil imports to Japan:

The JMSDF special units such as the SBU and Coast
Guards officers will be part of the forces sent to
combat pirates in the Horn of Africa by Japan. First
policing action abroad since World War II for Japan's
Self-Defense Forces
, with the dispatch of Maritime
Self-Defense Force destroyers on an anti-piracy mission
off the coast of Somalia, whose major missions
overseas have so far been largely rear-area support,
such as refueling, transportation and reconstruction

Pirates speed boats

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and
the Japanese government face legal problems on how to
handle attacks by pirates against ships that either
have Japanese personnel, cargo or are under foreign
control instead of being under Japanese control as
current Constitution Article 9 regulations would hamper
their actions when deployed to Somalia.

The Sazanami a Takanami class destroyer with a Mk-48
Vertical Launch System

On February 4, 2009, the JMSDF sent a fact-finding
mission led by Gen Nakatani to the horn of Africa
region prior to the deployment of the Murasame-class
destroyer JDS DD-106 Samidare and the Takanami-class
destroyer JDS DD-113 Sazanami to the coast of Somalia.
Both JMSDF vessels are units of the 8th Escort
Division of the 4th Escort Flotilla based in Kure,
Hiroshima Prefecture.

Order based on the law's Article 82, which stipulates
that the SDF may take necessary actions at sea to
safeguard Japanese lives and property in situations
that exceed the capacity of the Japan Coast Guard.
Simultaneously a bill will enable the deployment of
the SDF abroad as needed to deal with pirate attacks
on the high seas.

The Samidare carry Standard SM-2 missiles in its
amidships vertical launch cells.

Once the order is given, two destroyers, the 4,650-ton
Sazanami and 4,550-ton Samidare of the 8th Escort
Division of the 4th Escort Flotilla, are to leave
their base in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, on Saturday

A total of roughly 400 MSDF personnel and eight coast
guard officers will board the ships, each to carry
onboard two SH-60K patrol helicopters and two
speedboats, according to the Defense Ministry.
Members of the commando-style MSDF Special Boarding
Unit will also board the ships to deal with encounters
with Somali pirates, who are said to be armed with
such weapons as rockets and automatic rifles.

The fleet is expected to take two to three weeks to
arrive in the gulf, making it likely that the escort
mission will begin around early April. The destroyers
will escort Japan-linked ships, Japanese registered
ships, foreign ships with Japanese nationals or
shipments on board, and other ships operated by
Japanese shipping firms.

Coast guard officers will be at hand aboard the
destroyers to process judicial matters, including
collecting criminal evidence and handling crime
suspects, in case the destroyers run into pirates. In
such encounters, MSDF personnel may fire warning shots
to ward off pirates. But under the maritime policing
provision, they cannot harm the bandits except under
limited circumstances, such as for self- defense.
Japan also plans to deploy MSDF P-3C patrol aircraft
to the gulf in several months to watch over the vast

More than a dozen countries, including Russia, China,
the US and the European Union have deployed their
naval vessels to waters around the Horn of Africa on
anti-piracy missions under the authority of U.N.
Security Council resolutions. Piracy has been rampant
in the waters, accounting for 111 cases last year, or
more than double the cases reported a year earlier.
That accounted for roughly one-third of all pirate
incidents in the world.

And here is the JMSDF SBU badge, the Japanese forces secretive Special Boarding Unit.

The Special Boarding Unit is a special forces unit
established by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense
Forces on March 27, 2001 in response to a previous spy
ship incursion that occurred on the Noto Peninsula in
1999. The unit was created to perform similar roles to
those undertaken by French GIGN or American Navy SEALs
and the British SBS. Their field involves maritime
anti-terrorist duties, including operations where arms
are known to be involved. However, their duties and
responsibilities overlap with those of the Special
Security Team, the Japan Coast Guard's counter
terrorist unit. SBU is a special forces unit and
highly classified subject and opacity surrounds their
role in case of combat with pirates.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"In the Chinese Navy"... a new power player on high seas

Tension in China seas as Beijing sends warships.
(Quotes from FAS, IPCS and reporting)

"China’s long standing land based survival strategy is
likely to become history soon.
" 'The Chinese Navy’s
decision to send warships to the Somalia coast last
January, soon after UN Resolution 1851 on 16 December
2008, coincided with its first public confirmation, on
24 December 2008, that it was “seriously considering”
building an aircraft carrier.

Image above: Chinese submarines which normally stay
close to shore journeyed on 12 longer patrols last

These announcements reflect the Asian giant’s growing
interest in the maritime domain. Despite a coastline
stretching approximately 14,500km in length, China has
traditionally focused on inland security.

China’s recognition of its need to have a far-reaching
maritime sphere stems from its decision to protect its
interests as well as its desire to seek great power

For Beijing, (as for Tokyo) protecting the sea line of
communication (SLOC) is essential as China is the
world’s second-largest oil consumer and the
third-largest importer.

These announcements reflect the Asian giant’s growing
interest in the maritime domain. Despite a coastline
stretching approximately 14,500km in length, China has
traditionally focused on inland security.

Among the Asian Navies, the Chinese Navy has the most
powerful submarine-fleet. According to the Military
Balance 2008, China has about 70 submarines including
three ballistic-missile submarines (SSBN) which are
involved in conducting frequent patrols far from the


The intelligence naval battles intensifies in China
seas between China and the USA, as with Russia and
Japan, rising tension, implicating frequent hide and
seek dangerous naval games.

News media reported half a dozen incidents just within
the past week
in which U.S. surveillance vessels were
monitored in Asia waters including dozens of Chinese
Y-12 maritime surveillance aircraft and on Sunday the
US MoD (Pentagon) stated that five Chinese vessels had
blocked and surrounded the U.S. surveillance ship,
Impeccable, in Asia international waters. One of the
ships came within 25 feet of the U.S. boat
, according
to the Pentagon.

China criticized the United States on Tuesday, blaming
a U.S. Navy ship for violating international law
during a tense confrontation near a Chinese submarine

A Chinese sailor used a long grappling hook to try to
snag a cable that the Impeccable was using to tow an
underwater listening device known as a Surtass array

“The U.S. claims are gravely in contravention of the
facts and confuse black and white, and they are
totally unacceptable to China,” said Ma Zhaoxu, a
Foreign Ministry spokesman.

The latest incident allegedly occurred in the Asia
international waters only 75 miles south of a naval
base near Yulin on Hainan Island from where China has
started operating new nuclear attack and ballistic
missile submarines

US Impeccable

The U.S. Navy on its part is collecting data on the
Chinese submarines and seafloor to improve its ability
to detect the submarines in peacetime and more
efficiently hunt them in case of war.

Such case with the USNS Impeccable which is equipped
with the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System
(SURTASS), a passive linear underwater surveillance
array attached to a tow cable.

SURTASS was developed as a floating submarine
detection system for deep waters, and the Navy wants
to add an active Low Frequency Array (LFA) to improve
long-range detection of submarines in shallow waters.

Among Chinese submarines the USNS Impeccable was
monitoring is "probably the Shang-class (Type-093)
nuclear-powered attack submarine"
, a new class China
is building to replace the old Han-class, and which
has recently been seen at the Yulin base, according to
the FAS quotes.

A commercial satellite image taken September 15, 2008,
shows two Shang-class submarines present at the base,
the first time that two Shang-class SSNs have been
seen at the base at the same time, according to Fas.

The Impeccable incident came just a week after the two
countries resumed high-level talks between their
militaries. The dialogue had been broken off last
year by the Chinese over a $6.5 billion American arms
deal with Taiwan.

The dispute also comes in the wake of a recent visit
to China by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Her
recent visit in Beijing was part of a tour of the
Asia-Pacific region, including Japan and Indonesia in
her first overseas trip for President Obama’s

And just after Mrs. Clinton left China, the State
Department angered Beijing with a broad set of
criticisms of its human rights record in 2008.
Followed by criticism on trade issues between the US
and China...

I am heading soon to the strategic islands of Okinawa
to have a look at these dangerous naval games with an
"Umi no Kuni" viewpoint angle.

A suivre donc.