Category Archives: littoral

Walking the Beat, USS Charleston

Great visuals here. Ensign, Naval Strike Missiles, force protection detail, deck gun, South Pacific clime, submarine tender in the distance. Naval heritage carried over from generations past.

APRA HARBOR, Guam (Dec. 16, 2021) Mineman 3rd Class Daniel Kern, from Harrison, Ohio, stands topside rover watch on the flight deck aboard the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18) during a port visit to Apra Harbor, Guam. Charleston, part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, is on a rotational deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan M. Breeden) 211216-N-PH222-1687

Insert “too bad it’s on a ‘little crappy ship'” comments, here.

So long, Tyr, King of the Cod Wars

The mighty Landhelgisgæslan (Icelandic Coast Guard) cutter Tyr, with a bone in her teeth. She was the bane of many British Tars in the frigate force in the 1970s.

Named for the Norse god “concerned with the formalities of war—especially treaties—and also, appropriately, of justice,” the modified Icelandic Coast Guard Ægir-class offshore patrol vessel Tyr was built at Aarhus Flydedok A/S in Denmark in 1974-75, at a time when the smallest (by population) member of NATO was fighting some of the strongest members of the Alliance, over fish.

The two-vessel Ægir-class were humble little gunboats, some 233-feet overall on a reinforced ice-strengthened steel hull. Weighing in at a slight 1,500-tons (at their largest), their West German-made diesel suite sipped gas and gave them an impressive 9,000nm range at 17 knots, enabling their 22-man crew to stay at sea virtually as long as the groceries held out.

Their sensors were commercial. Their original armament was an old 57mm low-angle Hotchkiss-style gun built under license at the Royal Danish Arsenal in Kopenhagen in the 1890s. The shells for the guns were pre-WWII dated. They had helicopter decks that could accommodate the country’s three small helicopters, a commercial Sikorsky S-62A variant (TF-GNA) and two U.S. surplus Bell 47Gs (TF-HUG and TF-MUN, named after Odin’s two ravens)

Tyr was more robust than her half-sister Ægir, and was the largest vessel in the ICG until 2011, carrying the fleet’s flagship position for most of her career.

The reason Iceland, which had no official military, needed such vessels was to chase off interloping European trawlers inside the country’s 50-mile limit, reaping the bounty of Icelands cod fisheries. The ICG, in turn, fought off the West Germans (1972-75) and, much more spectacularly, the British in what was termed the First (1958-59) Second (1972-1973) and Third (1975-76) “Cod Wars.”

The Icelanders got aggressive with the British anglers, cutting their nets with specially-made devices.

This brought in the support of the RN, and the ICG and a host of British frigates spent most of the early 70s trying to ram and avoid ramming each other.

The UK frigate HMS Mermaid collides with the Icelandic Coast Guard Vessel Thor in March 1976, in one of the incidents in the Cod Wars between the two countries.

The principal RN frigates sent to fight in the Second and Third Cod Wars

 

Ægir specifically cracked hulls with HMS Scylla (7 June 1973) and HMS Lincoln (22 September 1973) while the late-arriving Tyr counted coup on HMS Salisbury and HMS Tartar (1 April 1976) as well as HMS Falmouth (6 May 1976).

Icelandic patrol boat Ægir circles around for a run at HMS Scylla

 

Tyr and Salisbury

HMS Falmouth rams Icelandic Coast Guard Tyr May 6, 1976, almost rolling the smaller gunboat, taken from the Tribal Class Frigate HMS Tartar (F133)

In time, Iceland and the UK patched things up and most of the ICG’s older vessels were retired but Tyr and her sister Ægir continued in service for another 40 years, participating in NATO maritime operations, being very active in EOD removal along Iceland’s coastline, and helping old “mother” Denmark police and secure the sovereignty of the Faeroes and Greenland.

She also had run-ins with the whale hippies over Iceland’s traditional harvest.

Tyr rammed by Greenpeace.

They were given extensive modernizations in 1997 and 2005 that upgraded the ships, replaced the old 57mm hood ornament with a more modern 1960s 40mm Bofors, and other improvements.

Once the Cold War thawed, there were other missions, and the class was sent to the Med to help in the EU’s counter-migrant operations there, with Tyr saving over 400 souls in one 2015 incident alone off the South East Coast of Italy.

Icelandic Coast Guard Tyr on EU fisheries duty in the Med

Class leader Ægir was retired in 2012, after a new construction OPV, Thor, was commissioned.

Now, with the South Korean-built Freyja joining the Icelandic fleet late last year, Tyr has recently hung it up as well.

Icelandic Coast Guard Tyr, 2021

Perhaps she will be saved as a museum. One could only hope.

Used Corvettes on the Pacific Rim Second Hand Market

The Republic of Korea Navy closed out 2021 by decommissioning nine warships vessels from active service.

ROKN Fleet Command closed the books on three Pohang-class Patrol Combat Corvettes (PCC) and five Chamsuri-class patrol boats (PKM) while the Incheon Naval Sector Defense Command decommissioned one Chamsuri-class patrol boat.

The three decommissioned PCCs are the ROKS Wonju (PCC-769), ROKS Seongnam (PCC-775), and ROKS Jecheon (PCC-776), all of which are Flight-IV PCCs.

This leaves just seven Pohangs in service with the ROKN as they are being quickly replaced by new, much more capable, Incheon-class guided-missile frigates.

Cranked out in the mid-1980s to early 1990s, two dozen of these hardy little 1,200-ton, 289-foot corvettes were constructed. Powered by a CODOG suite that included a single LM2500 turbine to hit 32+ knots and two fuel-sipping MTU diesels for an economical 15 knot cruising speed for patrol work, they mount a couple of 76mm OTOs along with some smaller mounts as well as ASW torpedo tubes and a four-pack of Harpoon ASMs.

ROKS Bucheon PCC 773 and ROKS Sokcho PCC 778, Batch IV and V Pohangs. Note the twin 76mm OTO Meleras and twin Breda DARDO 40 mm/70 CIWS mounts. They can also carry Blue Shark ASW torpedos and Harpoons.

These three most recently retired 25-year-old corvettes will likely be donated to Southeast Asian and/or Latin American countries as military aid. Last year, two corvettes were donated to Colombia and Peru while the Philippines already has one, and Vietnam has two.

The Peruvian Navy just received its second donated Pohang, ROKS Suncheon (PCC-767), from South Korea recently. The vessel had been decommissioned in 2019 and will become BAP Guise (CM-28). Like its sister ship BAP Ferre (CM-27), the Guise will be outfitted with Peru’s indigenously-developed VARAYOC combat management system and the Mage QHAWAX electronic support-measure system. 

My bet is that the PI will get one or two of these Pohangs as South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries is already making (and supporting) a pair of 2,600-ton Jose Rizal-class light frigates for the country to a modified version of the shipbuilder’s HDF-2600 design. Two new Rizals and three scratch-and-dent Pohangs, along with three Del Pilar class offshore patrol vessels (ex USCG 378-foot Hamilton-class cutters), make the PI more a player in the South China Sea against increasingly muscular ChiCom moves in the area. Such a fleet is a quantum leap from the PI’s circa 2015 fleet, which was made up of WWII-built minesweepers, LSTs, and PCEs, often of third-hand lineage. 

The recycled Pohangs are a logical counter to China’s recent moves to upgrade relations with Indo-Pacific countries via the export of Ming (Type 035, redesigned Romeo) and Yuan-class (Type 039A) diesel submarines. 

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022: Royal Dutch Shelling

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022: Royal Dutch Shelling

Here we see a sentry of the Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger (KNIL), the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army, overlooking the lengthy coastline of what is today Indonesia, in January 1941. While this is a warship blog, and we’ll cover an ill-fated class of minesweepers of the Imperial Japanese Navy in it, the KNIL holds a special place in this week’s post, now 80 years after the fact.

But we’ll get to the Dutch colonial forces in a minute.

First, let’s talk about the Japanese No.13 class minesweepers.

Built at three domestic yards– Fujinagata, Mitsui Bussan, and Hitachi– the four original Project number I3A/No. 13s were small vessels, hitting the 533-ton mark on a 242-foot long hull. Capable of 20 knots on a pair of coal-fired Kampon boilers and triple expansion reciprocating engines, they could either sweep mines via traditional mechanical minesweeping gear (i.e., paravanes) or lay mines, capable of carrying 40 of the latter.

Outfitted as light escorts and sub chasers, they mounted a pair of 4.7″/45 3-Shiki light guns, a pair of heavy machine guns, and three dozen depth charges between racks and throwers.

 

The four units of the class all carried sequential numbers rather than names: W-13 (13-go), W-14 (14-go), W-15 (15-go), and W-16 (16-go).

W-13 scanned from Maru Special, V. 50, via Combined Fleets.

Completed in 1933 and 1934, all four gave quiet peacetime service in Japanese home waters. By June 1941, the quartet was collectively assigned to MineSweepDiv 11 in RADM (later VADM) Hirose Sueto’s 2nd Base Force in VADM Takahashi Ibo’s Third Fleet.

Sent to the Pescadores Islands in early December 1941, they were part of Operation “M,” the Japanese attack on the Philippines where they swept mines, escorted troopships and supported the landings around Luzon and the Lingayen Gulf.

After the New Year, with another invasion convoy loading up for operations further South, the four No. 13s made ready for a rendezvous with history.

Tarakan!

The island port city of Tarakan, on the Northeast corner of Borneo, today is home to more than a quarter-million inhabitants in Indonesia. Dating back over a thousand years to the old Tidong kingdom, the Dutch moved in in the 1860s and, noticing oil, by 1905 had formed Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij— later dubbed Royal Dutch Shell– making Tarakan one of its primary fields.

By the 1920s, Tarakan was producing something like five million barrels of light sour crude oil a year. Something like 13 percent of Japan’s pre-WWII oil imports came from the port alone.

Boortorens op Tarakan, vermoedelijk van de N.V. Tarakan Petroleum Maatschappij, 1930s.

Olietanks van de Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij te Tarakan, 1930s.

Protecting all this was the KNIL.

The late 1930s recruiting posters for the KNIL, showing the pre-1938 uniform and the early WWII uniform, with the latter including a version of the M1936 helmet, complete with leather neck guard.

Formed in 1814, by 1929, the KNIL– a separate organization from the European-based Dutch military– numbered some 38,568 men, with Europeans accounting for about a fifth of that while native troops, heavily recruited from Christian Manadonese and Ambonese minorities, made up the balance.

The banner of the KNIL’s 7th Infantry Battalion (7e bataljon infanterie) that defended the island of Tarakan near Borneo against the Japanese in 1942. Note the M37 uniform with leather equipment, Hembrug Geweer M. 95 6.5mm “Dutch Mannlicher” carbines and distinctive klewang cutlasses that doubled as jungle machetes. The banner of the 7th was decorated in 1849 with the Military William Order. NIMH 2155_022352

As noted by Marc Lohnstein in his Royal Netherlands East Indies Army 1936-1942, besides oil, “The Dutch colony was a global exporter of strategic materials, providing 29 percent of the world’s rubber, 20 percent of its tin, and 97 percent of the anti-malarial drug quinine.”

With Japanese eyes on the colony, it was decided to ramp up the KNIL both in terms of men and equipment. By early 1942, after the fall of European Holland to the Germans, the force stood at some 122,600 men, evenly split between Europeans and Indonesians, with about a third of those being regulars and the remainder more recently joining the colors.

With klewangs and Mannlichers at the ready, KNIL in a hedgehog position in the field, so they can not be surprised from behind, Dutch East Indies (August 1, 1939) The force wore brown bamboo hats, turned up on the side, from 1912-33 when they switched to a more jungle friendly green color that they entered the war with in 1942.

Getting equipment was another challenge.

As the regular Dutch Army was howitzer-poor, the Navy saved the day and provided new (to them) coastal guns for the KNIL. With the disarmament/disposal of a half-dozen assorted “pantserdekschepen” protected cruisers built around the turn of the century, the Dutch Navy gifted the KNIL a stockpile of Krupp-made 5.9″/37cal, 4.7″/37cal, and 3″/40cal guns for use in shore-based coastal artillery (kustartillerie) emplacements. Low angled and slow to reload, they were simple to use, and shells were readily available. Further, as we shall see, they could still be effective.

Practice with a 7.5 cm gun. Probably aboard the minelayer Hr.Ms. Medusa (1911-1964) or Hr.Ms. Hydra (1900-1921). Image dated 1916. NIMH 2204-005-005

7.5 cm naval gun emplaced on Tarakan, early 1942. Note the overhanging tree cover, which made highly effective camouflage. 2158_037834

Rear of 12 Lang 37 kustgeschutdeck (12 cm L37, or 4.7″/37cal) gun, No. 1, aboard the protected cruiser (pantser-dekschip) Hr.Ms. Holland (1898-1920). NIMH 2158_040898

Dutch Army (Koninklijke Landmacht) coast artillery back in the Netherlands with a recycled 4.7″/37cal (12 cm Krupp) naval mount, around 1930. These were also used by the KNIL in the Dutch East Indies. NIMH 2155_007214

An old Krupp 15 Lang 40 kustgeschut (5.9″/37cal) naval mount in KNIL use, circa 1930s. These guns were often extensively camouflaged and emplaced in concrete batteries.

Native soldier of the Coastal and Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army in field uniform. (Inlandse soldaat van het Korps Kust- en Luchtdoelartillerie van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger in veldtenue.) 1938. NIMH 2155_082314b

Now, with the stage set, let us talk about the…

Battle of Tarakan island

Japan declared war on the Netherlands East Indies on 10 January 1942; and the Japanese invasion force was on the horizon, planning to hit the beaches at numerous places, assisted by parachute landings at strategic points.

The Dutch East Indies campaign, early 1942, with Tarakan, circled.

At Tarakan, KNIL Lt. Col. Simon de Waal had the 7th Battalion augmented by four coastal artillery batteries– two of ex-naval 3″/40s and two of 4.7″/37s. His only air power was a quartet of recently arrived Brewster Buffalos. The Dutch Navy was also on hand with a minelayer, the 1,300-ton Hr.Ms. Prins van Oranje and a few lumbering Dornier Do 24 flying boats. All told, the Dutch had about 1,200 men at Tarakan, not counting the sailors.

Heading their way was Maj. Gen. Shizuo Sakaguchi’s reinforced brigade that had previously taken Mindanao in the Philippines, standing about 6,000-strong– including a battalion of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Special Naval Landing Forces. Escorting the Sakaguchi force (loaded in 14 transports) was RADM Shoji Nishimura’s covering force including the Sendai-class light cruiser Naka, 10 destroyers, a dozen patrol craft/minesweepers (including all four No. 13s), and two large seaplane tenders. The operation was under the overall command of RADM Sueto Hirose, fresh off the success of the invasion of Batan and the Camiguin Islands in the Philippines.

Just after the Japanese declaration of war, a Dutch flying boat spotted the incoming task force over the horizon and De Waal ordered his engineers to set the oil fields alight. This, naturally, put Hirose, Nishimura, and Sakaguchi in a foul mood even before they started sending troops ashore in the predawn hours on 11 January under the illumination of thousands of tons of oil flickering in the red-black sky.

The ground combat was never in real doubt, with the inexperienced Dutch outnumbered 5:1 by better-equipped, combat-tested foot soldiers of the Empire. By noon on 12 January, De Waal had ordered his troops to lay down their arms after 36 hours of maneuvering and artillery duels across beaches, oil fields, and jungles. Sakaguchi only lost seven soldiers. Meanwhile, Prins van Oranje, attempting to withdraw during the night of the 11th, was caught by a patrolling Japanese destroyer and gunboat and sent to the bottom, with heavy casualties.

However…

CDR Yamazumi Wakito’s MineSweepDiv 11’s W-13, W-14, W-15, W-16, along with CDR Kanaoka Kunizo’s MineSweepDiv 30’s W-17 and W-18 (near sisters of the No. 13s) were sent to clear the Mengacu Channel between the island of Tarakan and the coast of Borneo.

What Wakito and Kunizo did not know was that there were still batteries of 3- and 4.7-inch guns on the tip of the island that hadn’t gotten the word that the fight was over, due to cut telegraph lines.

Three of De Waal’s four coastal artillery batteries were located at Peningki and Karoengan on the South West coast of Tarakan Island with Peningki mounting two three-gun 3-inch batteries under CAPT J.W. Storm van Leeuwen while Karoengan had four 4.7-inch guns. It was the latter, under reserve LT Josephus Petrus Aloysius– a South African Boer from Adrichem who volunteered for military service at the Dutch counsel in Pretoria in 1940– who caused the most havoc.

As detailed on Combined Fleets:

Rear Admiral Hirose’s forces are warned that the Dutch coastal artillery battery at the south end of the island may not be aware of the Dutch offer to surrender. Hirose’s force is cautioned that “it would be dangerous to proceed to the Tarakan pier”, but the warning is ignored. Six minesweepers enter the bay and are fired on by the Dutch battery. LT Miyake Tadayoshi’s W-13 and LT Yoshimoto Yoshikuni’s W-14 are hit by 4.7 inch shells and sink with most of their crews.

Besides the two minesweepers sunk, at least one landing craft was also hit by a Dutch shell, killing a total of 156 Japanese sailors in the action– by far the bulk of the losses in the battle for Tarakan.

Sea Battle of Tarakan Island, Japanese propaganda painting by Minoru Tanabe, 1942.

In reprisal for the engagement between the Japanese mine craft and the ancient Dutch batteries, after the final surrender the next day, the deadly accurate crews were executed on 19 January. The body count and story of the condemned men varies widely. 

As detailed by one source:

The Japanese naval commander promised amnesty for the gun crews and based on this promise the Dutch Island Commander managed to persuade the gun crews to surrender. The Japanese Army Commander on the other hand was too brutal to have the prisoners turned over to him. So, he ordered to tie the men into small groups of three. Sometime later they were thrown into the water where all 219 Dutch soldiers drowned.

Another report is more graphic but has a lower body count, closely akin to the number of Japanese killed on the minesweepers:

Not long hereafter a Japanese interpreter and lieutenant Colonel Simon de Waal announced to the troops assembled at the Kampong Baru barracks, that the Japanese Army needed approximately 150 men of the POW’s to be transported to the Island of Java where they would be deployed in navigation operations and assisting in the transport of military arms and equipment. Every single POW assembled at the barrack had clearly heard this announcement. Alas, the truth turned out differently which came to light two days later.

After the Dutch officer and the interpreter had finished their announcement, about 150 men of the POW’s (which officially was determined as 168 men later) were horded into Japanese Army trucks, without any registration or identification, and taken to the harbor area. Here they were ordered onto a Japanese naval vessel. This vessel was then directed to the first light buoy, where on the same morning the two Japanese Destroyers [minesweepers] were sunk by the Dutch artillery.

The Japanese then stopped the engine and ordered the POWs to line up at the railing of the vessel. They were then all blindfolded and had both hands tied behind their backs. Subsequently every POW was killed by bayonet and thrust into the sea….

Donald Kehn, in his work, In the Highest Degree Tragic: The Sacrifice of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet in the East Indies during World War II, covers Tarakan in detail and holds that the men of the KNIL selected for reprisal were cast from the deck of the cruiser Naka, Nishimura’s flagship

Naka went on to be sunk west of Truk by three waves of SB2C Helldivers and TBF Avengers from the carrier USS Bunker Hill and TBFs of VT-25 of the carrier Cowpens, 18 February 1944.

While the local Indonesian troops were eventually paroled in an olive branch towards Tokyo’s imperialist Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere which would replace European colonies with those controlled by Japan, the Europeans captured in the Dutch East Indies would spend the rest of the war in a series of internments and mass executions.

Of the 42,000 European POWs taken by the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies in 1942, almost one in five (8,200) would die before liberation. The locals weren’t much better off under their new Emperor with an estimated 2.5 million Indonesians perishing during the war from famine while 200,000 romusha forced laborers were exported out of the colony, with many of those simply disappearing in the process.

Meanwhile, the sinking of W-13 and W-14 was a big boost to the Allies back home, with the New York Times on 14 January running on the center of the front page: 

Tarakan, off Northeastern Borneo, has fallen to a Japanese assault of overwhelming power, but the one prize for which the invader has paid so heavily in ships, planes, and men — the island’s oil -is still many a month out of his grasp, it was announced tonight.

Epilogue

Besides the 4 million barrels of fuel oil and aviation gasoline found in abandoned Allied storage tanks scattered throughout the region, Dutch East Indies crude oil became crucial to the Japanese war effort. According to Robert Goralski and Russell W. Freeburg in their excellent work, Oil & War: How the Deadly Struggle for Fuel in WWII meant Victory or Defeat, “In all, the captured fields could produce 116,000 barrels a day, enough to make Japan self-sufficient in oil.”

In addition to shipping oil to Singapore for use locally by the IJN throughout the Coral Sea and Guadalcanal campaigns, much was sent back to Japan directly, keeping the country in the war. Even as late as the summer of 1943, with the fields under constant air attack from B-24s, mines being sown off the terminals by RAAF PBY Catalina flying boats out of Darwin, and the tankers being sent to the bottom by Allied submarines at an unsustainable rate, Goralski notes that “Despite the shipping difficulties, about 90 percent of the oil consumed in Japan itself, by then 74,000 barrels a day, was coming from Borneo’s fields and refineries.”

Finally, once the vice had constricted this flow to a trickle, Goralski observed that “The crucial campaigns of 1944 were lost by the Japanese primarily because of no fuel.”

Even though the oil was no longer getting out, the Dutch East Indies were still under Japanese occupation. The Borneo Campaign in 1945 led to the eventual liberation of Tarakan. Operation Oboe One saw the Australian 9th Division’s 26th Brigade group– along with the “Free Dutch” the Ambonese 3e Compagnie, Technisch Bataljon, KNIL– totaling a combined 12,000 men, hit the beaches at Tarakan on 1 May 1945. The opposing Japanese force, just 2,200-strong, was outnumbered over 5:1, a familiar ratio to 1942, only reversed. Within three weeks, the principal fighting was over and only 250 Japanese were captured, the rest killed, missing, or gone underground.

The NIMH holdings have some 300+ images relating to “Tarakan” in their files, with most coming from the liberation and its immediate aftermath.

This one is my favorite:

“KNIL troops have been dropped off on the landing beach of Lingkas with some vessels of the invasion fleet and are going inland,” Tarakan, East Borneo, Dutch East Indies, May 1945. NIMH 2155_019811

Meanwhile, the old batteries were captured relatively intact by Australian commandos, still with pre-1940 shells in the ready mag.

“Tarakan Island, 1945-05-27. One of Two 7.5cm Krupp Essen Dutch coastal defense guns made 1913 taken by a patrol comprising members of 8th Section and C Troop Hq, 2/4th Commando Squadron (attached to the Australian 9th Division), which penetrated to the Cape Djoeata Area.” 2/4th CS saw extensive service during the liberation of Tarakan, suffering heavy casualties with 56 men being killed or wounded in the operation– more than half its ranks. AWM photos.

The Japanese also found a use for some of the old 5.9-inch shells.

“Tarakan Island, 1945-05-22. A Japanese booby trap made from a captured 5-inch Dutch naval shell set at the edge of the path on the Elbow Feature. If exploded, it would cause a landslide of a large section of the road.” AWM 108083.

Of the two remaining No. 13s, W-16 was blown apart by a mine at Celebes in 1943 while the last of the class, W-15, caught a torpedo at Kyushu in 1945 from the Balao-class submarine USS Tilefish (SS-307) and never sailed again.

Of the three Japanese officers in primary command at Tarakan, RADM Sueto Hirose ended the war as a vice admiral in charge of the base force at Sabang, surrendered his sword to the British at Malaya, and died in 1968, having escaped war crimes scrutiny. Likewise, the Army commander, Sakaguchi, survived the war as well, and “It is unclear whether Sakaguchi was ever brought to account for this atrocity. The third senior commander at Tarakan in 1942, RADM Nishimura, head of the covering force, was killed in the Surigao Strait in October 1944 when his flagship, the battleship Yamashiro, was sunk after being hit multiple times from the U.S. battleships.

Meanwhile, De Waal emerged from a Japanese POW camp to become known as “The Hero of Tarakan” and became a key figure in the war between the Netherlands and Indonesia that lasted between 1945 and 1949, rising to the rank of major general. When the KNIL was disbanded in 1950, he retired. De Waal was knighted and received the Militaire Willemsorde, the highest Dutch award for valor, for Tarakan. He died in 1970 at the age of 74. 

The Loenen Memorial Cemetery in the Netherlands, formed in 1949, has a monument to 215 men of the KNIL thrown from the Japanese cruiser Naka. The names of the known are listed while 125 unknowns, mostly Indonesians, are lost to history.

The monument was dedicated by the Tarakan Remembrance Association in 2012

In 2019, the Dutch Defense Ministry presented posthumous Mobilization War Crosses to the families of seven who had been identified in recent years.

Finally, while it is very likely the Japanese wrecks were long ago stolen by scrap iron pirates notorious in the region, the Dutch guns of the Tarakan battery, marked “1902 Fried. Krupp” on the breech, are still standing guard, 80 years later.


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A Peek Inside that Rusty Philippine LST Reef Outpost

We’ve talked about the old BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57) several times in the past few years, you know, the Philippine Navy’s reefed landing ship that is used as a desolate outpost against the Chinese military might pushing into the PI’s EEZ. Well, PI SECDEF Delfin Lorenzana posted some images of a special airlift of Christmas dinner to the garrison last week.

While most of us celebrated Christmas with our families, there are others who did not have that chance to do so, like our soldiers who are manning our islands in the West Philippine Sea. So that they may have something to celebrate with, the Philippine Navy airdropped foodstuffs, including lechon [roasted baby pig], for their noche buena.

What can be seen in a light platoon (24~) men worth of Marines and supporting Navy common/corpsmen in the ship’s topside jury-rigged tin and wood structure.

On the bright side, it looks like the ship is intact after Super Typhoon Rai/Typhoon Odette, which claimed more than 400 lives in the archipelago earlier this month. Further, it shows that the vessel is in helicopter range of the PI Navy’s five short-legged AW109E light helicopters, aircraft capable fo carrying FN-made rocket and machine gun pods, especially important because the Chinese have been making it hard to accomplish seaborne resupply.

The PI last May acquired two Leonardo AW159 Lynx Wildcat ASW-capable helicopters, which could prove further use to the fleet.

Of NOAA’s Gliders (Not That Kind)

With the end of the 2021 hurricane season– a busy one that produced 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), including seven hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater) of which four were major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater)– NOAA released a by the numbers graphic to show the nuts and bolts of their response.

Interestingly, the nation’s seventh uniformed service (in terms of commissioned officers) detailed they had 66 underwater glider (USV/UUV) deployments to study hurricanes, amounting to a serious 2,309 days underway. The agency uses Slocum gliders– the same as the Navy’s O office— among others. 

An ocean glider is an autonomous, unmanned underwater vehicle used for ocean science. Since gliders require little or no human assistance while traveling, these little robots are uniquely suited for collecting data in remote locations, safely and at relatively low cost.

More on the NOAA Glider Project, which has been around since 2014, here.

Cockleshell Heroes on Tour

Men of “L” Squadron SBS (Special Boat Squadron) investigate the ruins of the Acropolis in Athens, 13-14 October 1944. Note that three of the operators carry M1 Carbines while the fourth seems to have a more British BREN gun.

Offical caption, “Once inside the Acropolis, the troops take time off to examine these famous ruins of a former civilization. Photo by Johnson, Sergeant, No. 2 Army Film and Photo Section, Army Film and Photographic Unit. IWM Photo NA 19483.

When it comes to the fact that the Marines above are using American carbines, other British elite units in Greece at the time did the same thing, as referenced by this image of Paras from 5th (Scots) Parachute Battalion, 2nd Parachute Brigade, taking cover on a street corner in Athens during operations against members of ELAS, 6 December 1944.

IWM NA 20515

A good primer on the SBS in Greece, as well as other such units in the Med during WWII, is Brook Richard’s excellent “Secret Flotillas Vol II: Clandestine Sea Operations in the Western Mediterranean, North African & the Adriatic 1940-1944.” 

Warship Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021: Sir Walter

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021: Sir Walter

City of Vancouver Archives, Photo Credit W.J. Moore

Here we see, some 100 years ago this month, the fine early Royal Navy heavy cruiser and “commerce raider hunter” of the Hawkins class, HMS Raleigh, visiting Vancouver, British Columbia. As a scholar of naval history– or else, why would you ever be on this page– you’d think you would have heard and seen much more of this beautiful warship before this post. Well, there is a good reason for that as Raleigh would have a short career indeed.

The five cruisers of the Hawkins class were large for any era, pushing over 12,500 tons (full) on a 605-foot long hull with a 65-foot beam, giving them a slender 1:9.3 length-to-beam ratio. Generating 60,000 shp on four geared steam turbines fed by 10 coal-fired/oil-boosted boilers, they were rated for 30 knots, still a respectable speed these days. Their armor scheme was light, running just 3-inches at its thickest, while their armament was fairly impressive, made up of seven BL 7.5-inch Mk VI singles and a battery of torpedo tubes along with secondary and supporting guns.

Intended for anti-merchant cruiser and trade protection roles, they were ordered in 1915, at a time when the Royal Navy was still smarting after chasing down wily German vessels like the light cruisers SMS Emden and SMS Königsberg and commerce-raiding converted freighters such as SMS Möwe and SMS Meteor. The light armor, fast speed, and long legs of the Hawkins class made sense against such a foe. After all, they were a good eight knots faster than the comparatively-sized armored cruisers SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau— the most heavily armed ships the Royal Navy fought in the Great War outside of European waters– which had a much better armor scheme than Hawkins and slightly heavier guns (21 cm SK L/40s) albeit with a shorter range (10.1 mi at +30° for the German guns vs 12 mi on the British guns at the same elevation).

While four of the five were completed just after the end of the Great War, in a period where German surface raiders were extinct, the class was still an influencer on future cruiser design.

As noted by Richard Worth in his Fleets of World War II:

The construction of these ships had far-reaching repercussions. They were the direct cause of Britain’s endorsing the 10,000-ton, 8-inch treaty cruiser, a new type of warship that ultimately proved something of a failure. The Hawkins provided the basis for the “County” classes and thus gave the British a head start in the development of the heavy cruiser.

The ships of the class are sometimes called the “Elizabethans” as they were named for famed English naval commanders, courtiers, privateers, and explorers of that period (Sir John Hawkins, Sir William Cavendish, Lord Howard of Effingham, Sir Martin Frobisher, and Sir Walter Raleigh) whose names were often better remembered in the New World than the old. Speaking of which, the first warship named after Raleigh, the first to attempt the establishment of an English settlement in North America, was actually American: a 131-foot 32-gun fifth-rate that was one of the original 13 fighting ships authorized by the Continental Congress on 13 December 1775.

Sail Plan of the Frigate Raleigh built at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1776. Copyright 1929 by C.G. Davis. Copied from drawing in book “Ships of the Past.” NH 2020

Commanded during the Revolutionary War by the famed John Barry, an Irishman who was No. 7 on the first list of captains begun by Congress, Raleigh was engaged in a nine-hour running fight with three Royal Navy ships in 1778 and, abandoned by her crew after she was run ashore, was refloated by the British and commissioned as HMS Raleigh, serving up the curious twist of being the first ship with that name in the Royal Navy. Of further curiosity, the colonial frigate endures on the flag and seal of the state of New Hampshire.

The second HMS Raleigh was an 18-gun Cruizer-class brig-sloop active from 1806 to 1839 while the third was a 50-gun fourth-rate that had her short career ended in 1857 when she was reefed.

The new 50-gun fourth-rate HMS Raleigh, circa 1850 off Portsmouth, by artist Robert Strickland Thomas (1787–1853). The old hulk of Britannia is visible inside the harbor. Photo credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London http://www.artuk.org/artworks/hms-raleigh-175747

The fourth HMS Raliegh was never completed while the fifth, a “sheathed” iron-hulled screw frigate with a hermaphrodite sailing rig and gave lots of detached colonial service in the last quarter of the 19th century. Here, her figurehead with Sir Walter depicted, via the collection of the RMG.

This leaves our HMS Raleigh as the sixth such vessel in the Royal Navy.

Meet the cruiser Raleigh

Laid down in Scotland at William Beardmore & Company, Dalmuir on 4 October 1916, as the flower of Britain’s youth was drowning in the Somme, HMSRaleigh‘s construction was slow-rolled, only launching in 1919 and commissioned in July 1921.

Built to a modified design, Raleigh carried 12 boilers rather than 10 and Brown-Curtis turbines rather than the Parsons installed on Hawkins, boosting her shp from 60K to 70K, making her capable of clocking 31 knots.

The spanking new cruiser was soon designated the flagship of VADM Sir William Christopher Pakenham, head of North America and West Indies Station. Commander of the 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron at Jutland, ironically his great-great-uncle was Edward Pakenham, the highest-ranking British officer ever killed in military service in North America, felled at the Battle of New Orleans.

With that, HMS Raleigh was off to her first duty station, making extensive visits throughout the Americas in late 1921 through most of 1922. Her first landfall in the Americas was on 11 August 1921, in Bermuda.

HMS Raleigh, likely along the Canadian coast, 1921

December 1921, at Vancouver. According to her logs, she was at the Canadian port from 27 December 1921- 9 January 1922. City of Vancouver Archives, Photo Credit W.J. Moore

Operation of Panama Canal HMS Raleigh in Upper West Chamber, Gatun Locks Feb 18, 1922. “In both number of ships and amount of tolls collected,” a record was set in the Canal by Raleigh that day, with the cruiser and 18 merchant vessels clearing with tolls of $79,808.50 paid. Panama Canal Company photo via the National Archives. National Archives Identifier: 100996554

Raleigh at the Washington Navy Yard, Note the detail on her 7.5-inch turrets, Carley floats, and her gunnery clock on the mast. Harris & Ewing, photographer, taken 29 May 1922. According to her log, she hosted the British Ambassador, Lord Geddes, and President Harding during her visit to D.C. Of interest, Geddes was a primary negotiator of the Washington Navy Limits Treaty that was signed that year. LOC LC-DIG-hec-31715

Same photographer, day as the above, LC-DIG-hec-42320

Rowing crew of the battleship USS Delaware racing a crew from HMS Raleigh, Washington Navy Yard, 3 June 1922. Via LOC.

On 8 August 1922, Raleigh, in heavy fog, ran aground at L’Anse Amour, Newfoundland, with the high winds pushing her into the rocks and eventually tearing a 260-foot gash in her hull.

Her last log entries:

3.24pm: Altered course 360º. Ran into fog. Commenced sounding
3.37pm: Land ahead & on Port bow. Reduced to eight knots
3.38pm: Sighted breakers on Starboard bow. Full speed astern. Hard a-starboard. Sounded Collision Stations
3.39pm: Grounded
3.40pm: Stopped engines. Ship bumping heavily
3.41pm: Hard a port. Ship’s stern swinging to Eastward. Full astern starboard
3.43pm: Stop Starboard Full ahead Port. Engines as requisite to prevent stern swinging on rocks
3.49pm: Finally stopped engines. Position 262º – 4.8 cables from Amour Point Light. Heading 292º. Hard aground on starboard bilge and bumping heavily
4.07pm: Let go Port anchor. Cutter & crew washed ashore on rocks
4.15pm: Two lines ashore by Coston gun. Commenced abandoning ship by lines & Carley Floats
8.00pm: Ship abandoned

Sadly, during the evacuation of her crew to shore, 11 Tars perished in the cold water.

BASHFORD, Herbert, Stoker 1c, SS 123275
EFFARD, Edward P, Stoker Petty Officer, 303078
FIELD, Silas, Stoker 1c, K 59500
FISHER, George, Stoker 1c, SS 120369
LLOYD, John E, Stoker Petty Officer, 306551
PETTET, Pat, Able Seaman, J 42323
SOWDEN, William J, Leading Stoker, K 20564
THORNHILL, George M, Stoker 1c, SS 122759
TRIPP, Sydney G, Leading Stoker, K 14053
TYLER, Reuben, Leading Stoker, K 18030
WEAVER, James, Able Seaman, 213937
WHITTON, William R, Able Seaman, J 34371

Her career had lasted just 13 months and she never fired a shot in anger.

HMS Raleigh aground at Point Amour Labrador, August 1922

Wreck of H.M.S. Raleigh, Forteau, Labrador. Donald Baxter MacMillan collection via the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum Accession Number: 3000.3.274

H.M.S. Raleigh on Rocks, Forteau, Labrador. Donald Baxter MacMillan collection via the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum Accession Number: 3000.33.2652

Epilogue

Embarrassed by the still very recognizable hulk of a brand new cruiser hard aground on the rocks with a hull too shattered to refloat, the Royal Navy was ordered to salvage what they could from Raleigh and break apart the vessel with depth charges in September 1922.

After helping wreck their once-proud ship, the crew of HMS Raleigh arrived at Liverpool on the liner SS Montrose.

As for her skipper and navigator, their career was over. Via The Dreadnought Project: 

On 3 October Commander Arthur Bromley left Quebec for Britain on the liner Empress of France. Commander Leslie C Bott, O.B.E., his second-in-command, was tried by Court-martial on 26 October and severely reprimanded and dismissed H.M.S. Victory. Bromley was tried on the following day by a Court presided over by Rear-Admiral Hugh F. P. Sinclair, charged with negligently or by default stranding and losing his ship. In his defense Bromley argued that had the charts he had been supplied with been accurate then his ship would not have stranded. The Court found the charge proved, and he was severely reprimanded and dismissed his ship. He was placed on the Retired List, at his own request, dated 7 November.

Aboard Raleigh as a midshipman cadet on that fateful day off Newfoundland and Labrador was the future VADM Sir Stephen Hope Carlill, who went on to command a series of destroyers during WWII and serve as the last British Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy. In 1982, an extensive diary entry from the wreck was published in the Naval Review (Vol 70, pgs. 165-173) which makes interesting reading. 

Much of the vessel remains and the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) has conducted extensive recovery operations on the wreck over the past two decades to recover live UXO from her bones although there is still as much as 80 tons of unstable explosives aboard. 

Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) Port Inspection diver LS Dan Babich enters the water to place C4 explosives on unexploded ammunition at L’Anse-Amour on 25 May 2017 during Operation RALEIGH to remove unexploded ordnance in the area of the shipwreck of HMS RALEIGH that ran aground and sank in 1922. Photo: Master Seaman Peter Reed, Formation Imaging Services Halifax

Shells destroyed in place by RCN clearance divers. Photo by Jeffery Gallant, RCN, via the Diving Almanac.

As for Raleigh‘s sisterships, only one, Cavendish, was completed during the Great War, albeit as one of the Royal Navy’s first aircraft carriers, HMS Vindictive.

Ex-Cavendish as circa 1918 carrier HMS Vindictive, capable of carrying about a dozen light aircraft. Reconverted back into a cruiser after the war, she was demilitarized per the terms of the London Naval Treaty and converted to a training ship in 1936. She spent WWII as a repair ship and was paid off in 1945. IWM SP 669

Jane’s 1946 entry for the class, with Hawkins and Frobisher being the last ones standing. The entry was the final one for the class as well as the last entry under “British Cruisers” in the 1946 edition.

The other three ships of the class, Hawkins (D86), Frobisher (D81/C81), and Effingham (D98) had uneventful interwar service and, like Vindictive, landed their guns in the mid-1930s. They then were rearmed and clocked in for WWII with Effingham wrecked in May 1940 during the Norway campaign. Hawkins, along with Frobisher, won battle honors at Normandy. Both were disposed of soon after VE Day.

Interestingly, just 44 BL 7.5-inch Mk VI naval guns were manufactured– exclusively for the Hawkins class– and, as they were landed in the 1930s and few remounted, at least 17 were recycled into coast defense batteries during WWII. As noted by Tony DiGiulain at Navweaps:

Three were at South Shields between July 1941 to August 1943, seven went to the Dutch West Indies, three to Canada, and five to Mozambique. However, two of the guns intended for Mozambique were lost in transit in 1943. These were replaced by transferring two guns from South Shields.

Dutch 7.5s in their distinctive turrets. Via Lago Colony As Raleigh’s guns were recovered from the stricken cruiser, some of these could have come from her.

Rather than name a seventh ship to continue the name in the Royal Navy, the Admiralty bestowed the moniker HMS Raleigh to a shore establishment on the River Lynher at Torpoint on 9 January 1940. Authorized under the Military Training Act of 1938, during WWII some 300 new enlistees arrived at the base each week for 11 weeks of training and the base in 1944 became a major D-Day embarkation center for U.S. forces headed to Utah and Omaha beaches.

The site became a new entry training establishment for all types of Ratings in 1959 and continues its role to this day as the home of the Royal Navy School of Seamanship with an average of 2,200 personnel on-site on any given day.

Specs: 

Displacement:
9,750 long tons (9,910 t) (standard)
12,190 long tons (12,390 t) (deep load)
Length: 605 ft (o/a)
Beam: 65 ft
Draught: 19 ft 3 in (deep load)
Installed power
12 × Yarrow boilers 70,000 shp, 4 × Brown-Curtis geared steam turbines, 4 shafts
Speed: 31 knots
Range 5,640 nmi at 10 knots with 1480 tons oil and 860 tons of coal
Complement: 690 (712 counting flag staff)
Armor
Belt: 1.5–3 in
Deck: 1–1.5 in
Gun shields: 1 in
Armament
7 × single 190/45 BL Mk VI
4 × single 76/45 20cwt QF Mk I AA guns
2 × single 2-pdr 40/39 QF Mk II AA guns
6 × 21-inch torpedo tubes on the beam


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Little Groups of Marines with Switchblades

One of the most inspiring, and telling in my opinion, modern battles was the morning-long scrap between LT Keith Mills and 22 of his Royal Marines against an Argentine force on remote South Georgia Island. Ordered to give the Argies a “bloody nose,” on 3rd April 1982 his sub-platoon-sized unit did better than that.

Mills’ Marauders

Outfitted only with small arms and man-portable anti-tank weapons (an 84mm Carl G recoilless rifle and 66mm LAWs), they downed an Argentine helicopter and mauled ARA Guerrico, a corvette that came in to the harbor to support the invasion of the British territory.

ARA Guerrico, showing one of her two 84mm holes at her waterline. The other destroyed her Exocet launcher whilst a 66mm round wrecked the elevation mechanism on her main gun. She also had been raked by over 1,200 rounds of 7.62mm. Only the Carl Gustav misfiring prevented more hits.

A great, and lengthy, interview with Mills was filmed earlier this year, as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Falklands Islands War. :

Let’s talk about Loitering Munitions

U.S. Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, launch a [AeroVironment Switchblade] lethal miniature aerial missile system during an exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Sept. 2, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Forti)

Rapidly deployable loitering missile systems, designed as a “kamikaze” being able to crash into its target with an explosive warhead, are the “hot new thing.” However, as witnessed in the recent five-week Nagorno-Karabakh war, between Azerbaijan– supported by Syrian mercenaries and Turkey — and the so-called Republic of Artsakh together with Armenia (who had the low-key support of Moscow), they are a 21st Century game changer. In a nutshell, the Azerbaijanis claim to have smoked almost 400 high-value military vehicles– ranging from main battle tanks to SAM batteries– with such munitions, for zero lives traded.

The U.S. Army, Marines, and Naval Special Warfare Command have been experimenting with such systems over the past decade, such as the Switchblade shown above. The small (6-pound) Switchblade 300 and the larger 50-pound Switchblade 600 both use the same Ground Control Station (GCS) as other small UAVs in the military’s arsenal such as the Wasp, RQ-11 Raven, and RQ-20 Puma. Quiet, due to their electric motors, and capable of hitting a target with extreme accuracy out to 50 nm with a 100-knot closing speed in the case of the larger munition, they could easily target ship’s bridges or soft points with lots of flammable things such as hangars and small boat decks.

So where is this going?

As perfectly described by a panel consisting of CAPT Walker D. Mills, USMC, along with U.S. Navy LT Lieutenant Joseph Hanacek and LCDR Dylan Phillips-Levine in this month’s USNI Proceedings, possibly to a Pacific atoll near you. In short, while it is nice that the Marines are looking at long-range NMESIS coastal defense cruise missile (CDCM) systems, smaller munitions like Switchblade could prove an important tool when it comes to area denial in a littoral.

Introducing loitering munitions that the Marine Corps can use to strike warships creates combined-arms opportunities—a flight of loitering munitions autonomously launched from a small rocky outcropping could knock some of an enemy ship’s self-defense weapons offline, sending that ship home for repairs or setting conditions for a strike by larger CDCMs that deliver the coup de grace. Loitering munitions also can strike ships at close range—inside the minimum-engagement range for larger missiles. With smaller, cheaper, and more mobile loitering munitions, small units and teams operating as “stand-in forces” can contribute to sea denial and expand the threats the Marines pose to an enemy. The case for employing these weapons goes beyond speculation—loitering munitions have already been used with great effect in recent history and have proved their worth on the future battlefield.

More here.

7,000 Miles on a 154-foot Patrol Boat

The Coast Guard Cutter William Hart participates in the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru off American Samoa, Oct. 29, 2021. Operation Kurukuru is an annual coordinated maritime surveillance operation with the goal of combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart/Released)

The Coast Guard is really stretching the legs on their new Sentinel (Webber)-class Fast Response Cutters, especially in parts of the Pacific that may become very interesting in the coming years. Just 154-feet long overall and powered by an economical diesel suite, these vessels are a hair smaller than the Navy’s Cyclone-class PCs which are typically just assigned to coastal ops in the Persian Gulf region (a role the USCG is likely to take over once the Cyclones are retired).

One FRC just clocked 7K miles in a 39-day patrol. Sure, sure, it wasn’t an unbroken 39 days underway, but still, that’s some decent mileage on a small hull, especially on an operational cruise. Further, the patrol targeted IUU fishing, a big bone of contention with China and a legitimate cause of international heartburn in the Pacific with Bejing seen as a bully by many small Oceanic countries in the region, especially when you take the “Little Blue Men” of China’s Maritime Militia into account. 

Via the USCG PAO:

HONOLULU — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart completed its 39 day patrol over 7,000 nautical miles in Oceania in support of the Coast Guard’s Operation Blue Pacific, last week.

Operation Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission Coast Guard endeavor promoting security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while strengthening relationships between our partners in the region.

“This patrol had multiple goals which really displayed the adaptability of our crew,” said Lt. Cmdr. Cynthia Travers, the commanding officer of the William Hart. “While we continued to support international efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the region, we’ve also worked with our partners including New Zealand’s National Maritime Coordination Centre (NMCC), the nation of Samoa, the National Park Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on a number of joint endeavors.”

In November the crew of the William Hart, one of the Coast Guard’s new Fast Response Cutters, participated in the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru, an annual coordinated maritime surveillance operation with the goal of combating IUU fishing.

IUU fishing presents a direct threat to the efforts of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) to conserve fish stocks, an important renewable resource in the region.

Following the successful conclusion of Operation Kurukuru, the William Hart’s crew continued to patrol the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of the United States, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Fiji to prevent illicit maritime activity.

Upon request from NOAA, the crew visited Fagatele Bay in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, using the cutter’s small boat to ensure there was no fishing or activity which would damage the coral within the United States’ largest national marine sanctuary.

The crew of the William Hart also supported a National Park Service boat during a transit between Tutuila Island and the Manu’a Islands, providing search and rescue coverage.

The cutter’s crew then departed for Fiji’s EEZ, where they supported New Zealand’s NMCC by locating an adrift Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) buoy and reporting the buoy’s condition to Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand and other stakeholders.

DART buoys are real-time monitoring systems strategically deployed throughout the Pacific to provide important tsunami forecasting data to researchers.

“These expeditionary patrols are important to the continued stability and prosperity of Oceania,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jessica Conway, a Coast Guard 14th District operations planner. “Partnerships are key to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific. Operation Blue Pacific allows us to coordinate with regional partners and most effectively employ our assets towards shared goals.”

Birddogging Chinese AGS 

 
In related news from the West Pac, the Coast Guard responded to a request from the Republic of Palau pursuant to the U.S.-Palau bilateral law enforcement agreement– one of 11 bilateral law enforcement agreements with Pacific Island Countries and Territories throughout Oceania– to assist with locating the Chinese-flagged research vessel Da Yang Hao (IMO: 9861342, MMSI 413212230) and observe its activity.
 
Owned by the China Ocean Mineral Resources R&D Association, the ship’s main purpose is prospecting for mineral resources, but it has the equipment useful in making the kind of accurate seabed charts needed by submarines to operate safely in the area of seamounts. Of note, Palau is important for vital maritime prepositioning assets of the MSC, which would be a ripe target in the opening 24 hours of a China-US conflict. 
 
The 4,600-ton vessel entered Palau’s EEZ on Nov. 29. On Nov. 30, the Coast Guard’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Honolulu received a notification from the Palau Division of Maritime Security that the Da Yang Hao was observed north of Kayangel State within Palau’s EEZ without proper authorization. 
 

Via Naval News 

 
JRCC Honolulu deployed a Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircraft to locate the research vessel and confirm the vessel was not in distress given its varying course and minimal speed while operating in the Palauan EEZ.
 
The USCG Herky bird arrived on scene and located the research vessel approximately 100 nm WNW of the main Palauan island of Babeldaob transiting at slow speeds eastbound.
 
The Da Yang Hao communicated to the Hercules aircrew via radio that they were conducting storm avoidance. A subsequent overflight the following day relocated the research vessel transiting slowly north approximately 190 nautical miles northwest of the islands, approaching the limits of Palau’s EEZ.
 
This is where we should point out that the 14th Coast Guard District recently welcomed their first new HC-130J Super Hercules long-range surveillance aircraft this summer. The older HC-130Hs at the station are being replaced with the more capable Super Hercules aircraft; the current schedule has a fleet of four HC-130Js in Barbers Point by the end of summer 2022. These Herks have a new 360-degree, belly-mounted, multimode surface search radar and other bonuses not seen on the older aircraft.
 

The HC-130J features more advanced engines and propellers, which provide a 20% increase in speed and altitude and a 40% increase in range over the HC-130H Hercules. Another notable difference is the liquid oxygen system, which allows crews to fly at higher altitudes, providing a better vantage point for many missions. These aircraft have a modernized glass cockpit, the capability to execute GPS approaches, and are outfitted with the Minotaur Mission System Suite, which provides increased capabilities for use of the sensors, radar and intelligence-gathering equipment.

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