Varshavyanka-class sub strikes at Raqqa with cruise missiles

19 2015 15:01
Cruise missiles were launched from the diesel-electric submarine «Rostov-on-don». However, the Kremlin denied these reports.
The Varshavyanka-class (Project 636), an improved version of the Kilo-class submarines, features advanced stealth technology, extended combat range and provides the ability to strike land, surface and underwater targets.   Designed for anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in relatively shallow waters, the submarines can cruise underwater at a speed of 20k and has a cruising range of 400 miles.
Capable of accommodating a crew of 52, the submarines can patrol for 45 days and are armed with 18 torpedoes and eight surface-to-air missiles.
«I think the mere presence of these forces in the Eastern Mediterranean will not only be sober adversary, but will also force ISIS to make serious conclusions. When they see what power they are opposed, they will realize that it is pointless to do what they are doing now», — said the former commander of Northern fleet Admiral Vyacheslav Popov

[November 17 Russia strikes at Raqqa with cruise missiles from Med

Russian missile cruiser Moskva is moored in the Crimean Black Sea port of Sevastopol on May 10, 2013,   A variety of ships, including the Moskva, were reported to have left from Russia's Sevastopol port in Crimea September 25, according to the independent Turkish ship-spotting blog Bosphorus Naval News.

Two U.S. defense officials say Russia has attacked Raqqa, the Islamic State group's self-declared capital in Syria, with cruise missiles and bombs on Tuesday.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss non-U.S. military operations. They provided no details on targets or the scale or outcome of the attacks.

One of the officials said the Russians gave the U.S. prior notification of the attacks by communicating with the U.S.-led coalition's air operations center at al-Udeid air base in Qatar. The official said this was in accordance with protocols worked out by U.S. and Russian officials in October
Grad Sviyazhsk and Uglich, are the first in the new Buyan-M class
[October 8 Russian Navy launches cruise missiles at Jaish al-Fatah, rather than on the Islamic State]
Moscow said it had fired 26 cruise missiles at Syrian targets from naval vessels in the Caspian Sea, 900 miles away, using a  Gepard-class frigate Dagestan and the Buyan-M-class corvettes Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich and Veliky Ustyug. They’re armed with Kalibr-NK launchers.

[September 23 2014] DDG launch of Tomahawk Land-Attack Missiles (TLAM) against ISIL targets]

Guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58)

Published on Sep 23, 2014
RED SEA (Sept 23, 2014) The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) launches Tomahawk Land-Attack Missiles (TLAM) against ISIL targets. Arleigh Burke is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Published on Sep 23, 2014
ARABIAN GULF (Sept. 23, 2014) The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) launches Tomahawk Land-Attack Missiles (TLAM) against ISIL targets. Philippine Sea is deployed as part of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Carrier Strike Group supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

More than a dozen airstrikes have hit Islamic State military targets and administrative buildings in Aleppo and Raqqa provinces in the north as well as al Qaeda's official arm in the country, al Nusra Front in the northwestern city of Idlib.

[March 20 2011 Trafalgar: class submarine fire RN Tomahawks]

The UK has launched guided Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) from a Trafalgar Class submarine as part of a co-ordinated coalition plan to enforce the UN resolution on Libya.
A UK submarine is understood to have been stationed in the Mediterranean for some time without being detected.


France.s only carrier to Eastern Med

Charles de Gaulle (R91) can hold up to 40 aircraft and support 100 flights a day. - The aircraft carrier has already been deployed against IS. The ship - France's only such vessel - was used as a base for French jets in the Gulf from February to April. The Charles de Gaulle carrier is usually accompanied by several frigates, a refuelling ship and an attack submarine
 French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91) has entered the Persian Gulf and could soon start strike missions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) France said on February 20.The ship entered crossed the Strait of Hormuz and entered the region on Feb. 15 after completing operations in the Gulf of Aden and is set to join USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in conducting airstrikes. [Mosul?]
“They’re in the [Persian] Gulf,” a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) ,
“They haven’t gone operational yet but they probably will soon.”   
French president François Hollande announced the mission on Jan. 14, a week after the attacks in Paris on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.   During his remarks in Toulon, Hollande said the attacks, “justifies the presence of our aircraft carrier.”
[January 12 

;Charles de Gaulle (R91) will deploy to the Persian Gulf to strengthen the French contingent already fighting ISIS in the region,   The aircraft carrier would operate in the Gulf on its way to India, where the French Navy’s flagship is scheduled to take part in drills in mid-April and the deployment is set to be announced by President Francois Hollande on Jan. 14, during the annual New Year’s speech to the armed forces.   . It is a CATOBAR-type carrier that uses two 75 m C13‑3 steam catapults of a shorter version of the catapult system installed on the U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, one catapult at the bow and one across the front of the landing area.   The addition of Charles de Gaulle would add up to another 30 aircraft to France's commitment to operations

[September 16 2014 USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77):: airstrikes against Sinjar and against SW of Baghdad]

F/A-18C Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Sept. 10. The strikes destroyed six ISIL vehicles near Sinjar and an ISIL fighting position southwest of Baghdad that was firing on ISF personnel. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

August 4:There are reports of significant displacement from Sinjar City and surrounding areas to Jebel Sinjar (Sinjar Mountain) and areas predominantly to the west and north of Sinjar, with some displacement to the east as well. The exact number of displaced people on Jebel Sinjar is unknown; however reports indicate that some 35-50,000 people displaced in nine locations, reportedly surrounded by ISIS armed elements.

“The airstrike southwest of Baghdad was the first strike taken as part of our expanded efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions to hit ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense."   The US air strike was against IS fighters in the Sadr al-Yusufiyah area, 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Baghdad, 


Tankers sail in figure eights

reported tanker locations

Not everyone associated with the oil industry is losing these days. As the enormous ships sail in figure eights around the globe, the tanker companies are reaping the rewards, making as much as $70,000 a day, if not more, for their services.
 Such is the state of the oil industry these days that there is sometimes nowhere to put the oil. Off the coast of Texas, a line of roughly 40 tankers has formed, waiting to unload their crude or, in some cases, for a willing buyer to come along. Similar scenes are playing out off the coasts of Singapore and China and in the Persian Gulf.

[June 5 floating storage: low crude steep contango]

50 million barrels of crude were added to floating storage globally since January,   According to Iranian officials, the country's approximate 50 million barrels stored at sea is mostly condensate and fuel oil, and not crude as some traders fear.   Ccondensate condenses out of the natural  gas if the temperature is reduced to below the hydrocarbon dew point temperature of the raw gas.   Due to the steep contango in the forward curve, the investors best positioned to execute on a long oil trade are those who have the capacity to buy a few thousand barrels of oil, store it in their backyard, and sell it in a few months.  For everyone else, be prepared to pay handsomely for that storage.

[June 5 The fading contango: tankers used for floating storage.freed up as oil unloaded]
Physical oil is coming under pressure as trade houses unwind a profitable storage play after several months that saw them holding millions of barrels on tankers at sea.  Charterers made fresh efforts to get rates below the psychological mark of w60 Worldscale rates for VLCCs on the Persian Gulf to East routes, The key PG-Japan rate was assessed unchanged at w59.. The market is very volatile and if there are one or two replacement or date sensitive cargoes, they push up the rates,


Freight rates for dirty tankers in the East of Suez market have gone up sharply to hit their highest level so far in 2015 lately, amid strong demand to move crude and fuel oil and spike in interest for floating storage.   The long waiting time in Basrah for ships to load and delays in discharging at South Korea and China due to logistics and weather issues also reduced tonnage supply, contributing to firming rates.

[May 13 ]
More VLCCss were being used for storage over the last four – six weeks.   A third of the vessels taken on time charter earlier in the year are now used for floating storage. Most of these are in the Arabian Gulf, but there also some in Singapore, West Africa and the Mediterranean.

[April 24 tankers for crude storage]
Invalid locations?
As much as 90 percent of global oil storage capacity is “captive,” or controlled by major producers such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc or Chevron Corp. That means only a small part of land-based oil storage is available for independent traders to lease to exploit the market contango, which has prevailed since July.

Some of the world’s largest oil traders have moved to secure floating storage in tankers to take advantage of the market contango. Vitol, Koch Industries Inc., Shell and Trafigura Beheer BV, have booked tankers that could be used to store crude at sea for one-year charters, The last time the oil market moved into a significant contango during the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, traders stored 100 million barrels at sea.

[December 12 2014 ]
Seaborne oil trade will rise by 3.5 percent in 2015, against no change in the fleet,  83 very large crude carriers were bound for Chinese ports, at about 8:30 a.m. December 12in London. The ships would transport 166 million barrels, assuming standard cargoes, the largest number in data starting in October 2011. The cost of hiring the vessels surged to the highest in almost five years.   Part of the tanker freight-rate rally may be because of rising shipments from West Africa. Traders booked 33 cargoes of crude on VLCCs from the region this month, 43 percent more than a year earlier.

[October 29  Phantom Ships in the Northwest Passage]
To hide their crimes on the high-seas, hundreds of ships broadcast false identities by using transmitters taken from scrapped vessels on the black market and by typing in made-up ID numbers and hoping they don't arouse suspicion.    Fifteen percent of all ships transmitting fake identities are tankers, typically carrying oil or oil products.    Vessels smuggling oil shipments or other raw materials can lead to significant gaps in intelligence on supply and demand.    large shipping companies seeking to maintain market opaqueness, oil tankers circumventing international sanctions, and large oil producers concealing oil via floating storage in order to affect global oil prices. This group will likely be followed by far more ships seeking to conceal their information in the future.

The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

[May 9 2010 Sitting Ducks for pirates: idling tankers]

At least 15 VLCC crude carriers are idling in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Suez. The tankers can store a combined 30 million barrels of oil.

Traders store oil hoping to benefit from a so-called contango structure in futures markets, in which prompt prices are lower than contracts for later delivery. Traders can make money when the difference in prices is greater than the cost to charter the ship.

The contango between the front-month crude contract traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the second-month contract to the highest level since Dec. 15. Dirty products usually include crude oil and may include fuel oil.

The VLCC rate was $43,876 a day as of April 23, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. The rate has more than doubled this year. VLCCs can carry about 2 million barrels of oil.

Iran, OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer, added three supertankers to its fleet of vessels storing crude, matching a similar program in 2008 that helped freight rates to triple, ship tracking data show.

Two years ago, Iran used as many as 15 tankers for storage, constricting vessel supply and helping to more than triple freight rates in less than three months.

Iran is likely storing oil because of weakening demand as refineries across Asia, accounting for almost two-thirds of global demand for supertankers, carry out maintenance. National Iranian Tanker Co., which operates the supertankers, also has a laden suezmax tanker idling off Iran, ship-tracking data show. A suezmax can hold about 1 million barrels of oil.


Liaoning: generally considered by military experts to be a training carrier

Oct 14, 2015    Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, when asked if China had or would send forces to Syria, told a daily news briefing that she had also noticed the reports.
"I can tell you that as for China's warships, for example the Liaoning, whether it has gone to join, for this issue, as far as I know, there is no such plan. At this time the Liaoning is in a phase of carrying out technical training and military exercises."   The Liaoning is generally considered by military experts to be a training carrier, while China builds its own carriers and works out how to operate them.

[February 2 
 The authority in Changzhou, in eastern Jiangshu province, boasted on social media on February 1 that a local firm had won a contract to supply electrical cabling for  China's second aircraft carrier.   It later deleted the post, but not before it had been widely circulated. 

[July 4 2013 Shi Lang Varyag: now  Liaoning, F-5 takes off]

Photo shows a J-15, China's first-generation multi-purpose carrier-borne fighter jet, taking off from the deck of the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, on June 29, 2013.   Jane's Fighting Ships had previously stated that the ship would be named Shi Lang and assigned pennant number 83 but at the commissioning ceremony, the carrier was officially named Liaoning.

[September 25 2012]
China's first aircraft carrier was delivered to the Chinese Navy at the port of Dalian on September 23, 2012. The carrier, built on former Ukrainian vessel Varyag, is capable of carrying around 30 fixed wing fighters and helicopters and a crew of about 2,000. And the hull number, "16," has been painted on the ship recently. [earlier]China has renovated the Varyag, an incomplete Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier purchased from Ukraine, and carried out the first trial navigation in August 2011. China seems to be advancing training of carrier-based aircraft pilots and development of the J-15, a carrier-based fighter. In addition, it has constructed a structure on land which replicates an aircraft carrier and is developing an airfield for take-off and landing training. Based on these facts, it is believed that China is now earnestly advancing research and development on technologies necessary for possession of aircraft carriers. 
In view of these developments in the modernization of the Chinese Navy, it is believed that China is trying to build capabilities to conduct operations in more distant areas. 

In recent years, when environment surrounding military has greatly been changing including advancement in military specialization and diversification of missions according to the modernization of military, some see that relations between the CCP leadership and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been getting complex and others see that the degree of military influence on foreign policy decisions has been changing13. The situation attracts attention as a risk management issue too. Japan, Defense White paper, July, 2012

[6/8/11]The carrier was constructed in the 1980s for the Soviet navy but was never completed. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the rusting hull of the Varyag sat in dockyards in Ukraine.
A small Hong Kong company called the Chong Lot Travel Agency Ltd.it said wanted to turn it into a floating casino in Macau and purchased it at auction for US$20 million. The total cost of acquiring the hulk was over $30 million USD: $25 million to the Ukrainian government for the hull, nearly $500,000 in transit fees, and some $5 million for the towing.
The head of China's General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has confirmed that China's first aircraft carrier is under construction.
In fact, China faces severe ocean threats, Qi Jianguo, Assistant Chief of General Staff, says, China is now in the oceans are facing the pressure of several directions, to see how the situation changes. You see, now that the sea, the island chain, the South China Sea issue, the Taiwan Strait issue, the East China Sea issue, the question the Yellow Sea, the world can there be a large country like China is facing such a complex marine problems?" Hong Kong Commercial Daily

Gen Chen Bingde refused to say when the carrier - a remodelled Soviet-era vessel, the Varyag - would be ready.


Noble Discoverer: The Hillary thing

Off Barrow Alaska

Royal Dutch Shell's abrupt announcement that it would cease all offshore drilling in the Arctic is surprising for several reasons. One is the unusual degree of confidence the company expressed as recently as mid-August that it had identified 15 billion barrels of oil beneath the well known as Burger J it's now abandoning. More significant than the immediate environmental activism is Shell's concern about who will oversee Arctic regulation come January 2017. In August, Hillary Clinton made her first major break with President Obama over the environment, announcing that she opposed Arctic drilling. "Given what we know, it's not worth the risk," Clinton said on Twitter. Despite the candidate's current struggle to shake off primary foe Senator Bernie Sanders, Shell may fear that a Clinton presidency would doom its chancy northern exploration.
it continues to hold 275 Outer Continental lease blocks. Indeed, Marvin Odum, director of Shell Upstream Americas, said in the written statement that the company "continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the U.S."

[September 2 Noble Discoverer disconnected in the Chukchi Sea
Noble Discoverer semisubmersible has been disconnected  from its anchors in the Chukchi Sea by Shell after weather temporary put a halt to its Arctic operations over the weekend.   Shell had received approval at the end of July to only drill into the top sections of the Burger J and Burger V wells,    Shell was prohibited from conducting simultaneous drilling activity at Burger J and Burger V. Shell must plug and abandon the top section of the first well before proceeding with any drilling activity at the second well site.   read   and   more

[August 20 Burger J: Fennica with capping stack to contain any potential spill, on site near Chukchi]
The drill rig Polar Pioneer has been at work at Burger J since July 30, but was prohibited from drilling to oil-bearing depths until the Fennica, a vessel carrying a capping stack to contain any potential spill, was on site, and it arrived at Burger J on Aug. 12.
Tug/Supply Vessel  Tug/Supply Vessel
  Create notifications for this Vessel   Add to Fleet
IMO:  9043615
MMSI:  230245000
Call Sign:  OJAD
Flag:  Finland (FI)
AIS Type:  Other
Gross Tonnage:  9392
Deadweight:  1650 t
Length × Breadth:  116m × 26m
Year Built:  1993
Status:  Active

[May 15 Polar Pioneer , Marshall Is-flag , High Specification Semi-Submersible rig, for Chukchi
Transocean Polar Pioneer
Polar Pioneer is one of two drill rigs that Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell petroleum plans to use as it moves ahead with plans to use leased space at the Port of Seattle to load drilling rigs and other vessels with supplies and personnel. It is preparing to explore for oil this summer in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast.

Activists expect a large turnout May 16, when a flotilla rally is scheduled against the Polar Pioneer’s presence in Seattle. Another big event is planned for May 18 near Terminal 5.   Kayaks May 14 threw an “unwelcome party”.The Port is leasing Terminal 5 to Foss under a two-year, $13 million agreement. Foss plans to load drilling equipment and supplies for the summer onto the Polar Pioneer and the Noble Discoverer, a 514-foot-long drill ship now docked in Everett.   "That rig is freaky big and scary,” a protester said.

[February 21 NOBLE DISCOVERER: Plans to drill in the Chukchi]
Shell has not given up on the Noble Discoverer or plans to drill in the Chukchi.
It has filed plans with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, calling for the Noble Discoverer and a second ship, Polar Pioneer, to drill as many as six wells.  The Noble Discoverer has been “ice strengthened,” claims the oil giant, with “state of the art drilling and well control equipment.”

Rig Name: Transocean Polar Pioneer
Rig Manager: Transocean Ltd.
Rig Owner: Transocean Ltd.
Competitive Rig: Yes
Rig Type: Semisub
Semisub Generation: 4
Rig Design: Hitachi Zosen Arctic
Rated Water Depth: 1,640 ft
Drilling Depth: 25,000 ft
rig photo
Operating Status: Drilling
Operator: Shell
Region: N. America - US Alaska
Country: US
Classification: DNV
Rig Design: Hitachi Zosen Arctic
Shipyard: Japan
Delivery Year: 1985
Flag: Panama

[March 2 2012]

Noble Discoverer

Shipyard for arctic modifications

At mid-afternoon April 1, Royal Dutch Shell Oil's drillship  entered Elliott Bay enroute to Vigor Shipyards, where it is scheduled to undergo cold-weather modifications before departing for the Arctic. The ship has been granted permission by the EPA to drill exploration wells in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas, beginning this summer. Additional approvals are required before drilling can begin.

[May 15

On February 26 Lucy Lawless, the actress who played Xena, [--b. 1968, 2011 Hunted: The Demon's Forge (Video Game) Seraphine (voice)] and six other Greenpeace activists illegally boarded a drilling ship leased to Shell Oil off New Zealand's western shore.
Lawless and the other activists have "occupied" the drillship to prevent it from departing on a "6,000 nautical mile journey from New Zealand to the remote Arctic to start an exploratory oil drilling program that threatens to devastate the Alaskan coastline,"
Length x Breadth: 156 m X 26 m
Gross Tonnage: 13485, DeadWeight: 15296 t
Speed recorded (Max / Average): 5.7 / 5.4 knots
Flag: Liberia [LR]
Call Sign: A8XM6
IMO: 6608608, MMSI: 636014934

Ex Names History
Vessel's Name Flag Call Sign Last Reported
NOBLE DISCOVERER Liberia A8XM6 2012-02-25 22:48
FRONTIER DISCOVERER Panama 3FUS2 2010-08-17 07:17
DISCOVERER 511 2001-08-29 00:00
OFFSTAR 1982-04-18 00:00
JESSICA 1973-12-31 00:00
MATSUSHIRO MARU 1971-12-31 00:00
Rig Data: Noble Discoverer
Rig Name: Noble Discoverer
Rig Manager: Noble Drilling
Rig Owner: Noble Drilling
Competitive Rig: Yes
Rig Type: Drillship
Drillship Type: Turret Moored
Rig Design: Sonat Discoverer Class Rated Water Depth: 2,500 ft
Drilling Depth: 20,000 ft


Chinese flotilla moving toward the Aleutian Islands, which are split between U.S. and Russian control

Type 071 amphibious transport dock ship Changbai Shan (989)

United States  have been tracking the movements in recent days of three Chinese combat ships, a replenishment vessel and an amphibious landing ship after observing them moving toward the Aleutian Islands, which are split between U.S. and Russian control. 

Type:Amphibious transport dock
Displacement:18,500 metric tons (18,200 long tons; 20,400 short tons)[1]
Length:210 m (689 ft 0 in)
Beam:28 m (91 ft 10 in)
Draft:7 m (23 ft 0 in)
4 × Shaanxi 16 PC2.6 V400 diesel engines, 47,200 hp (35,197 kW)
2 × shafts [1]
Speed:25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)[2]
Range:10,000 nmi (19,000 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)[3]
Boats and landing
craft carried:
• 4 × Type 726 Yuyi class LCAC
• 2 × landing craft on port/starboard davits
Capacity:15-20 armoured vehicles
Troops:500-800 troops
Sensors and
processing systems:
• 1 × Type 360 Radar Seagull S, E/F-band surface search radar
• 1 × Type 364 Radar, Seagull C, G-band air search radar aft
• 1 × Type 344 Radar, I band fire control radar
• 1 × navigational radar
Armament:• 1 × AK-176 76 mm (3.0 in) gun
• 4 × AK-630 30 mm (1.2 in) CIWS
• 4 × 18-tube Type 726-4 decoy/chafflauncher
• Possible installation of 2-4 heavy machine guns (Fitted for but not with)
Aircraft carried:Z-8 Super Frelon

December 5 2013  USS Nimitz has left South China Sea: Senkaku islands fall under the U.S.-Japan security alliance]

December 4 2013.   USS Nimitz, along with embarked Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, CVW- 11 and Destroyer Squadron 23 made the brief stop at Honolulu while headed home after an eight-and-a-half month deployment to the U.S. 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibilities (AORs).

 The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the South China Sea, which is part of its area of responsibility, Nov. 19, 2013.
December 2, 2013.   Japan and the United States held a joint sea maneuver over waters off Okinawa. November 29, China launched two fighter planes to investigate flights by a dozen U.S. and Japanese reconnaissance and military planes in its new ADIZ. Both sides are getting ready for saber rattling.   The United States sent two B-52 bombers to China's new ADIZ on Nov. 26. China didn't take action against the “intruding” planes, because the ADIZ restrictions apply only to civil aviation, not to military aircraft.

 U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reiterated November 30 that the Senkaku islands fall under the U.S.-Japan security alliance, which obligates the United States to defend the territory against any potential attempt to seize them. The islands were transferred from U.S. to Japanese possession in 1972, along with Okinawa. China does not recognize the legitimacy of the transfer and claims the islands should have been returned to them along with Taiwan following World War II. 

(Sept. 21, 2013)

 A landing craft air cushion (LCAC) from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4 leaves the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. 

GULF OF ADEN (Sept. 7, 2013) The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) conducts operations at sea. Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. 

The ARG includes the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17), which left the 5th Fleet AOR during summer, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), Assault Craft Unit 4, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC 28).

[October 6]

US military forces have conducted an operation in Somalia targeting a member of the rebel group al-Shabab.
On October 5, George Little, the press secretary for the US Department of Defence, confirmed the raid was carried out.

He said that the operation was aimed at capturing a "high value al-Shabab terrorist leader" and that no US personnel were injured or killed.

"US personnel took all necessary precautions to avoid civilians casualties in this operation and disengaged after inflicting some al-Shabab casualties. We are not in a position to identify those casualties," said Little.

Although the Shabab leader was believed to have been killed during the assault, the SEALs had to withdraw before they could confirm the kill.."The Baraawe raid was planned a week and a half ago,   It was prompted by the Westgate attack,"    A senior Somali government official told the newspaper that "the attack was carried out by the American forces and the Somali government was pre-informed about the attack."

[October 5]
A  U.S. official described the action in Barawe as a capture operation against a high-value target in a two-story beachside house. The official said a U.S. Navy SEAL team  engaged al-Shabab militants and sought to avoid civilian casualties. The U.S. forces disengaged target after inflicting some casualties on fighters.
The leader of the al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group al-Shabab, Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, also known as Ahmed Godane, claimed responsibility for the attack on the upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya, a four-day terrorist siege that began on Sept. 21 and killed at least 67 people. A Somali intelligence official said the al-Shabab leader was the target of Saturday's raid.

Al Arabiya
Somalia’s Islamist militia al-Shabaab said on October 5 that a dawn raid at its strongholds in the small town of Barawe in the south of the country was carried out by British and Turkish special forces. The commander of the British force, it said, was killed during the attack and four other SAS operatives were critically wounded. One Turkish soldier was also wounded, A British Defence Ministry spokeswoman said: "We are not aware of any British involvement in this at all." A Turkish Foreign Ministry official denied any Turkish part in such an action.

October 4:“The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is operating in the Red Sea as a prudent positioning of forces should the capabilities of the strike group be needed there, and it places that group in a position to conduct maritime security operations and exercises with our partners in that part of the region.”

CVN-75 Truman Carrier group 24Se-01Oct2013, North Arabian Sea

 USS Georgia (SSGN 729)  transited Suez Canal September 14.

"White soldiers" arrived by boat at the port of Barawe. Residents in Barawe, which is controlled by militants, say they were woken up by heavy fighting before dawn on October 5. "Gunfire broke out for about 10-15 minutes," No-one has admitted the attack. The targets of the raid were "high-profile" foreigners.

[March 24 2010]

Almezaan IMO: 7906710
owner: Shahmir Maritime,

Nov. 30, 2009

MOGADISHU //[Crew members spoke on board the ship, which is now docked in Mogadishu’s port.] The hijackers attacked in broad daylight. Just after noon, when the intense sun casts a harsh glare off the deep blue Indian Ocean, three small speedboats ferrying about 10 pirates each approached the MV al Mezaan.

Mohamed Bashir Baht, left, the Pakistani engineer of the ship, said the pirates told the crew they were going to shoot them.

“They started firing in the air and they shot a rocket launcher,” said Mohammed Shafi Noor, 70, the captain, who is from Mumbai. “They had powerful boats. They came on board and hassled us very badly. They told me to stop the vessel.”

The MV al Mezaan set sail from Ajman on October 25 destined for Mogadishu, Somalia’s war-racked capital. The vessel is operated by Biyat International, a Dubai shipping company, and is owned by Shahmir Maritime, a company based in the Caribbean nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines, maritime experts said. It is registered in Panama.

Sushil Kumar Verma, the second engineer on MV al Mezaan. He was aboard the vessel when it was previously hijacked twice this year.

One week into the voyage, on November 3, the 2,000-tonne, 50-metre vessel was seized in open waters and was rerouted to the town of Garacad, a notorious pirate lair in the northern Somali region of Puntland.

Some of the cargo may have been offloaded in Garacad, but the crew had no way of confirming this.

According to the captain of the Mezaan, the ship was carrying “general cargo” – sugar, cooking oil, building materials and used cars – to be sold in Mogadishu.

Last month’s seizure was not the first time the ship had been hijacked. The Mezaan, which is regularly chartered by Somali businessmen to ferry goods from Dubai to Mogadishu, was held by pirates for one week in May. The second engineer, Sushil Kumar Verma, an Indian, was on board during both hijackings.

“The second time was more difficult,” he said. “The first time was only six days and was easy. This time was two weeks.”

The next day, just as mysteriously as they had arrived, the pirates slipped back into their skiffs and motored away and the Mezaan was free to continue its journey to Mogadishu. The captain said he does not know if a ransom was paid.

The crew were in good spirits as they waited aboard the ship for instructions from the shipping company. Mr Noor said he is ready to go home, but would make the trip to Somalia again if called upon.

“We are ready to go home if they can send us,” he said. “We are seafarers. If they send us back [to Somalia], we don’t have a choice. Our stomachs have to be filled somehow.”

Another report:
This now clarifies that the vessel sea-jacked last Friday and now approaching the Somali coast is MV AL MEZAAN (IMO number: 7906710) a general cargo ship with a gross tonnage of 2086 built 1979 and sailing under the flag of convenience of Panama. The vessel sports as "registered owner" SHAHMIR MARITIME of St Vincent & The Grenadines while BIYAT INTERNATIONAL from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates serves as ship-manager. Only questions remaining: Are there armored vehicles on board as claimed by the pirates and will the Somali businessmen involved be able to get the crew and vessel free as soon as possible? "We decided to free the merchant ship" when it reaches the coast, Muse Salad, a pirate spokesman, said today by telephone to Bloomberg. "The ship carries foodstuffs like rice, flour, sugar and building materials". The vessel was under way from the United Arab Emirates to Mogadishu when it was seized, Ali Mohamed Siyad, a market traders’ chief at Bakara, Somalia, said by telephone. The crew is Asian, including Indians, and the cargo is owned by Somali businesspeople, he said.

Early on the morning of Tuesday 23 March, a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship, UAE owned, MV ALMEZAAN, en route to Mogadishu, was attacked by pirates off the Somali coast.

The ship was approximately 60 miles south of Haradere.
EU NAVFOR understands that the attack was successfully repulsed, the pirates broke off their attack and they have left the vicinity of the ALMEZAAN. All personnel onboard the ALMEZAAN are reported to be well. Early on the morning of Tuesday 23 March, an EU NAVFOR warship received a distress call from a merchant ship off the Somalia coast and proceeded at high speed to assist.

As previously reported, the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship, MV ALMEZAAN, en route to Mogadishu, was under attack from pirates. An armed private vessel protection detachment on board the ship returned fire, successfully repelling the first attack, but the pirates continued to pursue. A second attack was repelled and the pirates fled the area.

The EU NAVFOR frigate ESPS NAVARRA, from the Spanish Navy, was dispatched by the Force Commander, Rear Admiral Giovanni Gumiero of the Italian Navy, and raced to the scene of the incident. She launched her helicopter, quickly locating the ALMEZAAN and the pirates’ boats, known as skiffs. When the suspects failed to heed the helicopter’s instructions to stop, warning shots were fired by the aircraft, after which a team from NAVARRA boarded a skiff.

There were three boats, comprising one mother ship and two pirate skiffs. In the first skiff they found three suspected pirates and, in the second, three suspects and a fourth individual, who had died. The body has been transferred to NAVARRA, and an investigation indicated that the individual had died from small calibre gunshot wounds. The mother ship has now been destroyed and the remaining six suspects have been taken onboard the NAVARRA.


Freedom, Lockheed Martin Corp frigate to Saudi?

Saudi Arabia is in advanced discussions with the U.S. government about buying two frigates based on Freedom a coastal warship [LCS] that Lockheed Martin Corp is building for the U.S. Navy,

September 29 2014 Philippine Bilateral Exercises start near Scarborough Shoal, seized by Chinese]

Joint air and marine exercises "Philippine Bilateral Exercises," or Phiblex, of Philippines and U.S marine units began on Sepember 29 near disputed waters in the South China Sea, testing the readiness of the two oldest security allies in the southeast Asian region to respond to any emergency.

China has expanded its territory in the Gaven, Johnson South, Cuarteron and Chigua reefs in the Spratlys, reclaiming land to build islands to assert its claims.

The Philippines has monitored the presence of more than 120 Chinese warships and fishing boats in the Spratlys in the first half of 2014, establishing firm control over disputed areas.

China seized control of Scarborough Shoal, a rocky outcrop north of the Spratlys, in June 2012 after a three-month standoff with the Philippines, denying Filipino fishermen access to the rich fishing ground.

In the Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines has also reported the presence of an increasing number of ships, from 11 in the last quarter of 2013 to 34 in the first quarter this year.Two U.S. amphibious ships, USS Peleliu and USS Germantown, are participating in the exercises. Besides simulating boat raids and beach assaults, they will feature aerial live fire, mechanized armor maneuvers and parachute drops.

Annual war games are being held under the 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty (MDT), part of a web of security alliances the United States built in the Asia-Pacific region during the Cold War.

[April 5 2013 USS Freedom: LCS bound for Singapore, nothing to do with North Korea]

  The U.S.’ littoral combat ship USS Freedom is en-route to Singapore for temporary deployment as part of the country’s recent military shift toward Asia. Such a shift can further strain relations with China, which is in territorial dispute with its neighbors. A brand new class of ship the USS Freedom is one of just two littoral class combat ships of the U.S. Navy and it pulled into Guam's waters this morning to dock at the Apra harbor. The USS Freedom carries with it two smaller boats that it can launch from two doors in it's rear or aft. These boats carry special interdiction teams trained to board vessels. Commander Timothy Wilke says it's deployment has nothing to do with recent threats from North Korea.

Before it can do that however, the $670 million ship has to get there. The USS Freedom has suffered three blackouts so far in its transit between Hawaii and Guam. As reported by Aviation WeekThe most recent two this week — including one March 21 — brings the outage total to three, all during the ship’s transit from Pearl Harbor to Guam en route to Singapore, says U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Darryn James. The outage problems appear to be similar to those the ship suffered during a deployment in the Atlantic when the vessel was first pressed into Navy service, a source intimately familiar with Freedom operations says.
Other than not being able to keep the lights on, the guns on the USS Freedom are also reported not to work properly, and her helicopter is too small to perform mine-sweeping. Additionally  the Navy has admitted in a recent report that the “LCS is not expected to be survivable…” in combat. 

[March 4 2011]

Northrop Grumman-built MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV) flew its first test flights from the U.S. Navy's littoral combat ship, USS Freedom (LCS-1).
The U.S. Navy in the last week of 2010 awarded contracts to industry teams led by Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics to build one Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) with options for nine more over the next five years, as well as technical data packages and support services. Total value of the Lockheed Martin award is $491.9 million; the General Dynamics team contract is for $465.4 million. Saudi Arabia has expressed an interest in Freedom Class vessel, LCS-I
Suppression of enemy air defense for a no-fly zone is done with strike fighters or bombers. This means that any sort of no-fly-zone will have to be enforced by NATO allies, most likely England, France and Italy. There haven’t been any talks about increasing the number of ships near Libya but rather there have been discussions about repositioning naval assets already there. On March 8 that there were no plans to move the carrier Enterprise now in the Red Sea, around a day-long cruise from the Mediterranean. 

 [April 5 2013]U.S.Navy F/A-18 Warplanes have been sent To Philippines For Military Drills. "There will be table top exercises on how the militaries of the two countries would respond to a destructive typhoon as well as in the event of a major ship collision on the high seas," Garcia said, adding the combat aspect would showcase the capability of the U.S. Navy's multi-role fighters The F/A-18 Hornet, an all-weather aircraft, is used as an attack aircraft as well as a fighter. In its fighter mode, the F/A-18 is used primarily as a fighter escort and for fleet air defense; in its attack mode, it is used for force projection, interdiction and close and deep air support. The presence of the warplanes is not connected to tensions on the Korean peninsula, a Philippine army spokesman said.