Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Where High Speed Vessels are Really Needed


"Pirates seize Philippines ship near Somalia" India Bureau Report

Nov 11: "A maritime official says pirates have hijacked a Philippines chemical tanker with 23 crew members near Somalia.

Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau says the ship was heading to Asia when it was seized Monday in the Gulf of Aden by pirates armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The bureau has issued an urgent warning to ships to take extra measures to deter pirates. No further details were immediately available.

This brought the number of attacks this year in the African waters to 83, with 33 ships hijacked. Choong says 12 remain in the hands of pirates along with more than 200 crew members.

The attack comes despite increased international cooperation to crack down on pirates in the Gulf of Aden."

Related Story:

Indian Navy foils Somalian pirate attack on Indian, Saudi ships India Bureau Report

New Delhi, Nov 11: "In the first operation in the Gulf of Aden since its deployment three weeks back, Indian Navy today foiled an attempt by heavily-armed pirates to capture two merchant vessels, including an Indian flag carrier, off the notorious Somalia coast. Indian commandos flew out in helicopters and attacked the pirates.

In a swift action, warship INS Tabar intervened to thwart two near-simultaneous attacks by pirates on an Indian cargo vessel MV Jag Arnav and a Saudi flag carrier MV NCC Thihama within 25 nautical miles of each other this morning.

The Indian warship, which was deployed in the region on October 23 in the wake of rising attacks by pirates on merchant vessels, received an SOS from the Saudi ship at around 1000 hours after a group of pirates surrounded it.

Marine commandos on board INS Tabar flew out in an armed helicopter and launched an assault on the attackers, who were in five speed boats, forcing them to flee into the Somali waters.

Even as this operation was on, the warship received a panic call from MV Jag Arnav, a merchant vessel owned by Mumbai-based Great Eastern Shipping Company, with about 20 crew members on board.

Arnav, a 38,265-tonne bulk carrier, was also ambushed by heavily-armed pirates in speed boats soon after it crossed Suez Canal and was eastward bound, the Indian Navy said here.

The pirates were firing at the vessel and making attempt to board it.

The Indian warship, after securing the Saudi ship and escorting it to safety, rushed marine commandos on a helicopter. The commandos engaged the pirates, forcing them to flee into the Somalian waters..."

Aloha, Brad


shannon said...

November 13, 2008
Superferry Builder Austal Receives $1.6 Billion Navy Contract to Build Ten More Ships Like the Superferry

When will people listen to me?

I’ve been saying for 2-3 years now, that the superferry(s) were just a prototype for future military ships. Now Austal has confirmed my suspicions:

Austal USA has won a $1.6 billion contract to build up to 10 high-speed transport ships for the U.S. military, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, announced Wednesday.

Neither Austal nor the U.S. Navy would confirm Wednesday’s announcement, but a staff member in another congressional office, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the contract is going to Austal…

…Maritime industry analyst Tim Colton, of Florida consulting firm Maritime Business Strategies LLC, said that if Austal is indeed the winner, it is likely that the company’s experience and ability to tackle the work made its bid superior. Australian parent Austal Ltd. is an expert at building high-speed fast ferries, and the U.S. shipyard is now putting finishing touches on the second of two such vessels for Hawaii Superferry Inc…

More Here

I’m not real good at math… but if my numbers are correct, this would make each one of those ships worth about $160 Million dollars each.

If Hawaii sold the two Superferries we currently will have to the military for say $150 Million each, then that $300 Million could be put to the losses that we have already incurred as well as pay off any debt that we might have towards the superferry at this point.

Especially if the thing isn’t going to work out in the long run.

I’m amazed the Unofficial Hisuperferry Blog hasn’t picked up on this.

MauiBrad said...

Well there are so many things to blog. It's hard to blog it all instantly, but you make an interesting point:

"Austal USA has won a $1.6 billion contract to build up to 10 high-speed transport ships for the U.S. military, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, announced Wednesday. Neither Austal nor the U.S. Navy would confirm Wednesday’s announcement..."

"I’m not real good at math… but if my numbers are correct, this would make each one of those ships worth about $160 Million dollars each."

"If Hawaii sold the two Superferries we currently will have to the military for say $150 Million each, then that $300 Million could be put to the losses already incurred as well as pay off any debt..."

Very interesting point, Shannon. The $1.6 Billion seems way too high for the past budget projections of the JHSV program.

This program is expected to build 1 ship per year, maybe they are figuring on a lot of inflation on the US Dollar to eventually get it up to more than $160 million for each ship later in the program.

But you are correct, Shannon, right now, $160 million is almost twice what each of these first two finished ships cost to build. If some of the difference could be realized between the reported JHSV contract price and what the first two ships (A615 and A616) cost to build, then that could cover all debts and losses, and this whole thing would start to make a lot more sense for the investors, if not the State. Except that at $1.6 Billion for only 10 ships, the Federal Government would be paying almost twice (that's 2 times) what these ships are really worth.

Wonder why the Navy still has not made any announcement on this?

Aloha, Brad

MauiBrad said...

Galrahn over at has some more breaking news on British response to the Somalia pirates after the Indian example from the day before:

Thursday, November 13, 2008
"Royal Navy Shoots Up Pirate Mothership"

"I thought it was very interesting yesterday when the Indian Navy became the first nation other than France this year to open fire on pirates. I never imagined this could become a pattern, but today the Royal Navy engaged pirates with lethal force, and it was lethal for a pair of unfortunate, "non compliant" pirates.

Pirates caught redhanded by one of Her Majesty’s warships after trying to hijack a cargo ship off Somalia made the grave mistake of opening fire on two Royal Navy assault craft packed with commandos armed with machineguns and SA80 rifles.

In the ensuing gunfight, two Somali pirates in a Yemeni-registered fishing dhow were killed, and a third pirate, believed to be a Yemeni, suffered injuries and subsequently died. It was the first time the Royal Navy had been engaged in a fatal shoot-out on the high seas in living memory.

Are we seeing something new or is this simply the byproduct of successful ISR capabilities being deployed to the region to fight piracy? It is difficult to tell at this point. The Times article does a very good job of covering the entire incident, including this paragraph regarding the Rules of Engagement that the Royal Navy is operating under.

Under rules of engagement which allows the Royal Navy to intervene when pirates are positively identified, the commandos were dispatched from the frigate in rigid-raider craft and sped towards the pirates’ dhow. The Ministry of Defence said the Marines circled the pirates’ boat to try and persuade them to stop.

As they approached, however, several of the pirates, a mixed crew of Somalis and Yemenis, swung their assault rifles in their direction and opened fire. The MoD said the Royal Marines returned fire “in self defence”, and then boarded the dhow — a stolen Yemeni-registered fishing vessel.

The commandos found guns and other “paraphernalia” on board the dhow and a handful of terrified pirates. The MoD said it was unclear whether the Yemeni who died had been shot by the Marines or was wounded from a previous incident involving the pirates.
Previous engagement? That makes it sound like the Indian Navy may have had more success than the original news reporting from yesterday indicated. Are we dealing with the same pirates the Indian Navy engaged? There is a lot of confusion, but the signs point towards a more aggressive international approach.

The Times article highlights this. It begins by contrasting this incident with the incident last year in the northern Persian Gulf when the boarding party was captured by Iranians. Clearly the ghost of Nelson was being channeled through Royal Navy spokesman Captain Mike Davis-Marks when he said this today, because we haven't seen this kind of logical thinking from a Royal Navy officer in the media in awhile.

“This is bound to have an impact on pirates who for the last two years have been getting away with seizing vessels and receiving large ransoms. Now suddenly there’s the threat of death and this may force them to think again, but they are determined people, so we’ll have to see.”
Another interesting twist, the Russians claimed they were part of it while the Royal Navy is saying they had no idea Russia was helping. So much for cooperation, maybe they shot the Yemeni guy the Royal Navy was unsure about and not the Indians? Fog of war, either way I tend to agree with “Captain Mike Davis-Marks, once pirates have to weigh black and white options like "life and death" the deterrence the international community is attempting to establish becomes more effective." Posted by Galrahn at 12:30 AM