Russia confirms submarine Rostov-on-Don fired cruise missiles at Raqqa

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on December 8 that Russia had for the first time struck Islamic State targets in Syria with missiles fired from a submarine in the Mediterranean.

"The targets were two large terrorist positions in the territory of Raqqa," Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin in a televised meeting, adding that the Calibre missiles had been fired from the submarine Rostov-on-Don.
November 19 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.


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.


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.


Hercules Offshore files for voluntary bankruptcy

Hercules Offshore files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to navigate weak crude oil market.Hercules said its net operating days in the United States declined by more than half year-on-year and the average day rate to lease a rig declined from $108,237 during second quarter 2014 to $92,538.

[July 27 2013 Hercules 265: fire out - natural gas leak, then fire]

The natural gas well blowout and fire earlier in the week that spread to a jackup, causing part it to collapse, has gone out. The chain of events began July 23 when Walter Oil & Gas’ A-3 natural gas well in South Timbalier 220, off the coast of Louisiana, suffered a gas leak, resulting in a blowout. That brought about the safe evacuation of 44 rig workers, James Noe, a vice-president with Hercules Offshore, owner of the rig, told Rigzone. The gas that continued to leak from the well ignited around 10:50 p.m. local time Tuesday and the fire spread to the rig, the Hercules 265 (250’ MC) jackup. Several hours later, the rig derrick collapsed and continued to burn, and Walter Oil & Gas began officials thought about drilling a relief well. Before the well owner had to make that decision, the natural flow of sand and sediment into the well bore plugged the well in a process known as “bridging over”. With the flow of natural gas cut off, the well fire soon burned out, and the fire on the rig was contained to the portion of the rig that had collapsed. That fire has since burned itself out, as well.  A portion of the Hercules 265 (250’ MC) jackup has collapsed after catching fire .

“Two firefighting vessels were in the area and re-located a safe distance from the fire. A third vessel equipped with fire-fighting capability and improved monitoring system is enroute and expected to arrive late morning. The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Pomano is standing by to assess the situation and enforce the security zone. The Coast Guard Cutter Cypress is enroute and will arrive at approximately noon,” the BSEE said in a press statement.There was no fire as of evening at the site, about 55 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico, but natural gas was spewing from the Hercules 265 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, Tuesday, July 23, 2013. No injuries were reported in the midmorning blowout.   The fire started around 10:50 p.m. Tuesday evening, when natural gas leaking from the A-3 natural gas well at South Timbalier Block 220 ignited off the coast of Louisiana. The fire then spread to the Hercules jackup.   Hercules 265 is a 250′ mat-supported cantilevered jackup unit.


Egyptian Gunboat hit by a modified anti-tank missile

State of Sinai,  ISIS-affiliated militant group ,used a "guided missile" to target the ship near Rafah, on the border with Gaza.   It  could have used a modified anti-tank missile to strike the ship, which in the photographs of the attack does not appear to be far from the shore.


Greek shipowners not threatened by crisis

Peter Livanos, with a fortune estimated close to 3 billion Euros

The leading Greek shipping magnates are John Angelicoussis, George Prokopiou, Peter Livanos and George Economou. Between them, they own almost 400 vessels.
Shipping is a source of pride and jobs for Greeks. It is the one area in which they unquestionably lead the world: their country’s merchant fleet is the biggest on Earth. Directly and indirectly, it is reckoned to give work to almost 200,000 people.
But the shipping business also provokes resentment. Greece’s 1967 constitution stipulates that the industry should pay no tax on the international earnings it brings into the country. And it has little to fear from either the debt crisis or an exit from the euro.
It’s not really affecting us because we’re not Greek companies: we’re based abroad,” said a tanker owner who requested anonymity in view of the sensitivity of the situation. “The law allows us to have a ship registered in Liberia or Panama and an office in Greece. If everything collapses, we can leave the next day and establish in Cyprus or wherever.

Our business is done in US dollars and shipping companies don’t just have one account in one country,” he said. So, the current financial problems there will not have any impact on Greece’s ship owners.

[February 9 2011  Irene SL: Nikolas Lemos VLCC hijacked]

9285823 IRENE SL SVXS Crude Oil Tanker 319247 2004 Greece First Navigation Special Maritime Enterprises
350 nautical miles South East of Muscat with 266,000 tons of crude
Enesel S.A. is a ship-management company based in Athens, Greece, operating a diverse fleet of ultra-modern high specification tankers and bulk carriers.

Enesel S.A.’s history can be directly traced back over 150 years to c.1848, when Georgios C. Lemos (“Papa-Lemos”) acquired a small share in a sailing ship. Since then, The Group has had an active and strong presence in the shipping industry. Until the early 20th century its vessels were managed in Greece, with S.G. Livanos as their London representatives. In 1937 Lemos & Pateras Ltd. was set up in London. Nearly fifty years later, in 1983, N.S. Lemos & Co. Ltd., a continuation of Lemos & Pateras Ltd., was established by Captain Nikolas S. Lemos, to act as Agent for Avra Shipmanagement S.A. which was founded in the late 1950s, and subsequently for Sealuck Shipping Corporation, founded in 1993. Avra Shipmanagement S.A. and Sealuck Shipping Corporation were merged to create Enesel S.A. in 2003. During its long history, The Group has operated almost all types of dry cargo vessels, as well as container ships, multipurpose ships and OBOs, and has had a significant presence in most large crude carrier segments.

Enesel S.A. currently manages a modern and diverse fleet of five tankers - three VLCC and two aframax - and three supramax bulk carriers and also has three suezmax tankers on order. The average age of the current fleet is 3.75 years. All existing vessels, as well as ships on order, are constructed to the highest international standards in first-class shipyards. The entire fleet is chartered to high profile charterers and operators on both a voyage and time-charter basis.


Mistral: anybody want a LHA?

France may sell the Mistrals,  two helicopter carriers built for Russia, to another country. Canada and Singapore have been mooted, as has Egypt which has just bought French fighter jets and naval frigates.
Russia says they cannot be sold on because the carriers were built to specific Russian navy requirements and therefore it was a "matter of state security."   At present the delivery of the ships remains indefinitely suspended rather than formally canceled, part of the sanctions for the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.   France currently operates 3 Mistral Class LHDs, after buying a 3rd using economic stimulus funds. Unlike other LHD designs, the Mistral Class can’t operate fixed wing aircraft, and some classify it as an LHA.

[February 7 French sale to Moscow of two "Mistral" class warships:conditions "aren't right"]
French officials announced February 4 that France would not deliver the Mistral-class ship, part of a $1.7 billion weapons deal, saying that the conditions "aren't right," despite a possible cease-fire in Ukraine.

[July 30 2014 EU sanctions to allow French sale to Moscow of two "Mistral" class warships]

Majed and Randy
In a rare five-way teleconference on Monday evening, the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy and the US discussed some key principles, such as only targeting future contracts. This would allow existing deals, like the French sale to Moscow of two "Mistral" class warships or the hundreds of existing British delivery permits, to go ahead.   
 Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera met with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Tokyo and “expressed strong concern” about France’s continued plan to sell helicopter carriers to Russia, given the potential impact it could have on East Asian security. Onodera used almost uncharacteristically strong language, saying “‘Strong concern’, in a sense, means we want them to stop the deal,” and that “the world is highly concerned about Ukraine and we are worried about the recent military buildup in Russia’s Far East. If the ship is deployed to its namesake, that would be something that makes the whole world concerned.”
Onodera is concerned about the helicopter carrier being “deployed to its namesake” in Vladivostok. Japan is also possibly worried about a strategic shift on the part of Russia to East Asia. This type of hardware in the eastern theater would at least indicate a shift in Russian tactical capability, as well as signal its intent to focus on East Asia, where it finds itself less encumbered by hostile neighbors and more readily able to do business with countries like North Korea, which is looking to balance against its over dependence on China, or China, which has no strategic interest in seeing the U.S. emboldened in East Asia by an isolated Russia. While both Japan and the U.S. have substantial military assets, a strategic shift east by Russia could potentially change the regional power balance, especially if ties with China continue to warm.
Details of further European sanctions were scheduled to be published in full on Wednesday. 

[ July 25 EU drafting stepped up sanctions against defense trade]
European Union ambassadors reached a preliminary deal July 25 on stepped-up sanctions against Russia,trade in the defense sector, dual-use goods and sensitive technologies.

Official Journal of the European Union

L 183/9


of 23 June 2014

concerning restrictions on the import into the Union of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol, in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 215 thereof,
Having regard to Council Decision 2014/386/CFSP (1) concerning restrictions on goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol, in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol,
Having regard to the joint proposal of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and of the European Commission,
At its meeting of 20-21 March 2014, the European Council strongly condemned the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (‘Crimea’) and the city of Sevastopol (‘Sevastopol’) to the Russian Federation and emphasised that it will not recognise the annexation. The European Council asked the Commission to evaluate the legal consequences of that annexation and to propose economic, trade and financial restrictions regarding Crimea for rapid implementation.
In its Resolution of 27 March 2014, the United Nations General Assembly affirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, underscoring the invalidity of the referendum held in Crimea on 16 March, and called upon all States not to recognise any alterations in the status of Crimea and of Sevastopol.
On 23 June 2014, the Council adopted Decision 2014/386/CFSP concerning restrictions on goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol and on the provision, directly or indirectly, of financing or financial assistance, as well as insurance and reinsurance, related to the import of such goods, in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. In order to minimise the effect of such restrictive measures on economic operators, exceptions and transitional periods should be provided for in respect of trade in goods and related services for which transactions are required by a trade contract or ancillary contract, subject to a notification procedure.
These measures fall within the scope of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and, therefore, notably with a view to ensuring their uniform application in all Member States, regulatory action at the level of the Union is necessary in order to implement them.
In order to ensure that the measures provided for in this Regulation are effective, it should enter into force on the day following that of its publication,
Article 1

For the purposes of this Regulation, the following definitions apply:
‘claim’ means any claim, whether asserted by legal proceedings or not, made before or after 25 June 2014, under or in connection with a contract or transaction, and includes in particular:
a claim for performance of any obligation arising under or in connection with a contract or transaction;
a claim for extension or payment of a bond, financial guarantee or indemnity of whatever form;
a claim for compensation in respect of a contract or transaction;
a counterclaim;
a claim for the recognition or enforcement, including by the procedure of exequatur, of a judgment, an arbitration award or an equivalent decision, wherever made or given;
‘contract or transaction’ means any transaction of whatever form, whatever the applicable law, and whether comprising one or more contracts or similar obligations made between the same or different parties; for this purpose ‘contract’ includes a bond, guarantee or indemnity, particularly a financial guarantee or financial indemnity, and credit, whether legally independent or not, as well as any related provision arising under, or in connection with, the transaction;
‘goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol’ means goods which are wholly obtained in Crimea or in Sevastopol or which have undergone their last substantial transformation there, in accordance, mutatis mutandis, with Articles 23 and 24 of Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 of 12 October 1992 establishing the Community Customs Code (2);
‘territory of the Union’ means the territories of the Member States to which the Treaty is applicable, under the conditions laid down in the Treaty, including their airspace.
‘competent authorities’ means the competent authorities of the Member States as identified on the websites listed in the Annex.
Article 2

It shall be prohibited:
to import into the European Union goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol;
to provide, directly or indirectly, financing or financial assistance as well as insurance and reinsurance related to the import of the goods referred to in point (a).
Article 3

The prohibitions in Article 2 shall not apply in respect of:
the execution until 26 September 2014, of trade contracts concluded before 25 June 2014, or of ancillary contracts necessary for the execution of such contracts, provided that the natural or legal persons, entity or body seeking to perform the contract have notified, at least 10 working days in advance, the activity or transaction to the competent authority of the Member State in which they are established.
goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol which have been made available to the Ukrainian authorities for examination, for which compliance with the conditions conferring entitlement to preferential origin has been verified in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 and Regulation (EU) No 374/2014 (3) or in accordance with the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
Article 4

It shall be prohibited to participate, knowingly and intentionally, in activities the object or effect of which is to circumvent the prohibitions laid down in Article 2.
Article 5

Actions by natural or legal persons, entities or bodies shall not give rise to any liability of any kind on their part if they did not know, and had no reasonable cause to suspect, that their actions would infringe the measures set out in this Regulation.
Article 6

1.   No claims in connection with any contract or transaction the performance of which has been affected, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, by the measures imposed under this Regulation, including claims for indemnity or any other claim of this type, such as a claim for compensation or a claim under a guarantee, particularly a claim for extension or payment of a bond, guarantee or indemnity, particularly a financial guarantee or financial indemnity, of whatever form, shall be satisfied, if they are made by:
designated natural or legal persons, entities or bodies listed in Annex I to Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014;
any natural or legal person, entity or body acting through or on behalf of one of the persons, entities or bodies referred to in point (a);
any natural or legal person, entity or body which has been found by an arbitral, judicial or administrative decision to have infringed the prohibitions set out in this Regulation;
any natural or legal person, entity or body, if the claim relates to goods the import of which is prohibited under Article 2.
2.   In any proceedings for the enforcement of a claim, the onus of proving that satisfying the claim is not prohibited by paragraph 1 shall be on the natural or legal person, entity or body seeking the enforcement of that claim.
3.   This Article is without prejudice to the right of natural or legal persons, entities or bodies referred to in paragraph 1 to judicial review of the legality of the non-performance of contractual obligations in accordance with this Regulation.
Article 7

1.   The Commission and the Member States shall inform each other of the measures taken under this Regulation and share any other relevant information at their disposal in connection with this Regulation, in particular information in respect of violation and enforcement problems and judgments handed down by national courts.
2.   The Member States shall immediately inform each other and the Commission of any other relevant information at their disposal which might affect the effective implementation of this Regulation.
Article 8

1.   Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the provisions of this Regulation and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties provided for must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.
2.   Member States shall notify the rules referred to in paragraph 1 to the Commission without delay after the entry into force of this Regulation and shall notify it of any subsequent amendment.
Article 9

1.   Member States shall designate the competent authorities referred to in this Regulation and identify them on the websites listed in the Annex. Member States shall notify the Commission of any changes in the addresses of their websites listed in the Annex.
2.   Member States shall notify the Commission of their competent authorities, including the contact details of those competent authorities, without delay after the entry into force of this Regulation, and shall notify it of any subsequent amendment.
3.   Where this Regulation sets out a requirement to notify, inform or otherwise communicate with the Commission, the address and other contact details to be used for such communication shall be those indicated in the Annex.
Article 10

This Regulation shall apply:
within the territory of the Union, including its airspace;
on board any aircraft or any vessel under the jurisdiction of a Member State;
to any person inside or outside the territory of the Union who is a national of a Member State;
to any legal person, entity or body, inside or outside the territory of the Union, which is incorporated or constituted under the law of a Member State;
to any legal person, entity or body in respect of any business done in whole or in part within the Union.
Article 11

This Regulation shall enter into force on the day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.
Done at Luxembourg, 23 June 2014.
For the Council
The President
On 4 July 2014, the EU published an amendment, adding the wording underlined below to Article 3(b) of Regulation 692/2014, thereby clarifying the scope of this exception:

"The prohibitions…shall not apply in respect of:… goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol which have been made available to the Ukrainian authorities for examination, for which compliance with the conditions conferring entitlement to preferential origin has been verified and for which a certificate of origin has been issued in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 and Regulation (EU) No 374/2014 (2) or in accordance with the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement."

UKBIS has clarified that this means that goods from Crimea/ Sevastopol which are accompanied by a valid certificate of origin from a Ukrainian authority may be imported into the EU. There is no separate requirement that the goods be presented to the Ukrainian authorities for inspection.

EUR1 and GSP certificates issued by the Crimean Chamber of Commerce or its branches, or the Sevastopol Chamber of Commerce will not meet the requirements of Art 3(b).

February 3 2012

Chariot: SVG-flag arms ship heading to Levant?
Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said an embargo on arms supplies to Syria is out of the question – along with any resolution that could threaten to aggravate conflict in the country.

Churkin, speaking to journalists via video link, spoke out strongly against a possible arms embargo on Syria, citing some countries' refusal to condemn the armed groups operating there, and the continued risk of weapons supplies reaching these groups despite any ban.

THE Syrian port of Tartus is Russia’s only military base outside the old Soviet Union.Russia's dilemma is that too much support for Mr Assad risks a future regime booting it out of Tartus, which is valued by Russian spooks and electronic snoopers. But too little may mean defeat for an old ally.

The Iranian embassy in Ankara denied on January 12 that four trucks seized by Turkish customs were carrying military equipment from Iran to Syria. The trucks were confiscated on January 10 in Turkey's southeast province of Kilis at the Öncüpınar border crossing into Syria.

EU legislation
In response to the violent repression by Syrian government forces, the EU orignally imposed sanctions on Syria which came into force with immediate effect on 10 May 2011. The sanctions were originally detailed in Council Decision 2011/273/CFSP (published in the Official Journal of the European Union L121, 10.4.2011, p11) and Council Regulation (EU) No 442/2011 (published in the Official Journal of the European Union, L121, 10.4.2011, p1), now repealed.

These sanctions have since been consolidated and updated by new restrictive measures announced in Council Decision 2011/782/CFSP (published in the Official Journal of the European Union L319, 2.12.2011, p56). This Decision came into force on 1 December 2011. The EU have also subsequently published implementing legislation in Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. This Regulation specifies items that are prohibited in relevant annexes.

The measures include an arms embargo, an asset freeze and a travel ban against specified individuals. They also include a prohibition on internet and telephone communications items and oil and gas goods and technology. Chariot earlier


Five Arab gunboats shell, sink ship at Hodeida. Houthi aligned port

Polnocny-C Indian Navy

 "Five gunboats shelled the administrative buildings of the base," the official told Reuters by telephone from Hodeida.   Arab warplanes and ships also hammered Yemen's largest military port in the Red Sea city of Hodeida at dawn May 27,."The naval base was bombed by aircraft and ships. Large parts of it were destroyed and two warships were hit, and one of them, named the Bilqis, was destroyed and sank onto its side, and five gunboats shelled the administrative buildings of the base," the official said by telephone from Hodeida.

Poland sold a medium landing craft for the Yemeni navy. It is equipped with a bow ramp that allows beach landings.   The NS-722-class landing craft is the last of four and meant to transport tanks and marines.

The first vessel, a 1,383-ton vessel called Bilqis, was built by
Poland's Naval Shipyard Gdynia. The landing craft can transport five T-72
main battle tanks and 111 combatants.  
 NS-722 class (1 built in 2002)
Displacement: 1,410 tons full load
Length: 88.7 m
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h)
Aircraft facility: One helicopter platform
Hodeida and its military bases are aligned with the Houthis, the most powerful force in Yemen's complex conflict, which also involves southern secessionist militia, local tribal forces and Islamist militants such as Al-Qaeda's regional wing.

[May 25 MS Iran Shahed:unloaded / Undeclared voyages between Iran and Yemeni ports controlled by the Huthis ]
United Nations officials in the port of Djibouti say they have taken charge of aid cargo carried by  Iran Shahed .   The vessel  was carrying 2,500 tons of food aid for Yemen that will now be distributed by the UN World Food Program.
At least four large cargo ships made a "series of highly unusual and undeclared trips between Iran and Yemeni ports controlled by the Huthis in the first few months of the year," based on a search of maritime records.
While it is not known what cargo the Iranian ships were carrying, they "changed their ensigns, turned off their tracking devices at key points during their voyages, registered false information in international shipping logs, and met unidentified craft mid-ocean,"after the Huthi rebellion broke out in Yemen. The rebels since then have dislodged the government and taken over large swaths of the country, including the capital, Sanaa, and biggest port, Aden.

[May 17 docked at Djibouti
Just before 10 p.m. local time (8 p.m. GMT), the Iran Shahed moved into the port of Djibouti and docked. After undergoing inspection by U.N. or Red Cross officials in Djibouti, the Iran Shahed would be able to dock at a Yemeni port and deliver its aid cargo without being intercepted, stopped or boarded by Saudi or U.S. naval forces. The Saudis, for their part, will not have to choose between intercepting the vessel and maintaining the legitimacy of their naval blockade on Yemen, since the Iran Shahed will have been inspected by a neutral party.

If an official organization like the U.N or the International Committee of the Red Cross is willing to give the shipments on board the Iran Shahed the seal of approval, this will almost certainly deflate the controversy surrounding the ship. As the naval blockade continues, however, it is still unclear whether Iran will send more aid ships and whether they will also be willing to submit to inspection to avoid conflict.

[May 17  due in Hodeida May 21]
Aboard ms Iran Shahed

Tasnim, a news agency associated with Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard reported that the vessel had left Omani waters and was in the Gulf of Aden.   The vessel’s captain, Masoud Qazi Mir-Saeed, said that if weather remained fair it should dock in rebel-controlled Hodeida on May 21
It was under escort by a frigate, the reporter said, but that vessel was a foreign ship that is part of international antipiracy efforts, the Fars news agency said.   A Pentagon spokesman had said on May 12 that the United States was tracking the Iran Shahed, after an Iranian naval commander told state media that warships might escort it to Yemen. [May 17, 2015 Updated: May 17, 2015 06:40 PM]

[May 13 ]
MS Iran Shahed, which Tehran says is carrying humanitarian supplies. left on May 11 for the Yemeni port Hodaida, which is held by Iran-allied Houthi fighters.

"If the Iranians follow U.N. protocol, move the ship to a port in Djibouti, allow the humanitarian cargo they claim is on the ship to be distributed through U.N. channels, then they will have done the right thing in this case," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.   Iranian warships will accompany the self-discharger.

General Cargo  
IMO:  9184691
MMSI:  422517000
Call Sign:  9BHI
Flag:  Iran (IR)
AIS Type:  Cargo
Gross Tonnage:  2615
Deadweight:  3340 t
Length × Breadth:  92.85m × 15.85m
Year Built:  1999

[April 23 Iranian flotilla now sailing NE past Oman]

Iranian nine-ship convoy is south of Salalah, Oman, and now headed northeast in the Arabian Sea in the direction of home. The ships, which include seven freighters and two frigates, had sailed southwest along the coast of Yemen heading in the direction of Aden and the entrance to the Red Sea. They appeared to drop anchor in the north Arabian Sea.    Warships from Saudi Arabia and Egypt are positioned to the southwest of the convoy, forming a blockade of the Gulf of Aden and the port city of Aden.

[April 21 ]
 The Iranian ships are moving very slowly, about five knots, off the coast of Yemen.   Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States did not know what the Iranian cargo ships were carrying and declined to say whether the U.S. warships would stop and board Iranian vessels if they attempted to enter Yemeni territorial waters.   "I'm not going to telegraph anything," Warren said.
 “It is hard to believe that Mukalla could be controlled this quickly by Al Qaeda, amidst the complete absence of the security forces,” The relative ease with which the militants captured large parts of the city raised fears of a broader expansion by the Sunni extremists, who have proved adept in the past at exploiting turmoil in Yemen to capture territory.

Koosha 3  Info Received:  2015-03-09 20:50, Area:  Oman Gulf
ARDAVAN Info Received:  2015-04-20 11:15  Area:  Persian Gulf

Eight Iranian ships are heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis.   What's unusual about the new deployment is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it.    Instead, they appear to be trying to "communicate it" to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.  Navy officials said there are about nine U.S. warships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.   The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was moving through the Arabian Sea off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen.   The U.S. Navy generally conducts consensual boardings of ships.  

Alvand-class frigate

Iran's Bushehr logistic vessel and Alborz frigater, left Iran’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas on  April 8  bound for waters off Yemen.
Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said tthe ships would be part of an antipiracy campaign aimed at "safeguarding naval routes for vessels in the region."
Alborz  (F-72)
Class and type: Alvand-class frigate
Displacement: 1,100 tons (1,540 tons full load)
Length: 94.5 m (310 ft)
Beam: 11.07 m (36 ft)
Draught: 3.25 m (10.5 ft)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 Paxman Ventura cruising diesels, 3,800 bhp, 17 knots (31 km/h)
2 Rolls Royce Olympus TM2 boost gas turbines, 46,000 shp, 39 knots (72 km/h)
Speed: 39 knots (72 km/h) max
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 125-146
Armament: 4 x C-802 anti-ship missiles
1 × 4.5 inch (114 mm) Mark 8 gun
1 x twin 35 mm AAA, 2 x single 20 mm AAA
2 × 81 mm mortars
2 × 0.50cal machine guns
1 x Limbo ASW mortar
2 x triple 12.75 in torpedo tubes

[February 8 2014 Iran's frigate Sabalan,Kharg bound for U.S. waters ]

Sabalan (in Persian سبلان) is a British-made Vosper Mark V-class (or Alvand-class) frigate in the Iranian Navy.
Commissioned in June 1972 as part of a four-ship order, 

Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad announced on January 8. The admiral, who is also the commander of the Iranian Army's 4th Naval Zone said, "Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message."
With task of securing shipping routes as well as training new personnel, Iran's Sabalan frigate and Kharg logistic helicopter carrier left for the Atlantic Ocean from the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on a three-month voyage. "The Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa," he said. The Associated Press says Iranian officials acknowledged last month that the fleet consisted of a destroyer and a logistic helicopter carrier.   

March 04, 2013 - CHINA - The Iranian Navy’s 24th fleet of warships has docked in the Chinese port of Zhanjiang, which is located in southwest China, the deputy commander of the Navy announced on March 4, 2013.
“The (Navy’s) 24th fleet of warships, comprised of the Kharg helicopter carrier and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Sabalan frigate docked in  Zhanjiang Port  after sailing 13,000 kilometers in 40 days,”    

On the morning of April 18, 1988, the oil platforms were knocked out. The U.S. forces then turned to look for Iranian frigates in the Strait of Hormuz,... Another group of A-6 Intruders was sent to the reported location of the Sabalan in the strait, where, the frigate fired at the A-6s at 6.17 p.m. (Gulf time). At 6.18 p.m., an A-6 dropped a Mk-82 500 pound laser-guided bomb, which left the Sabalan paralyzed and on fire. At The Pentagon, Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., and U.S. Central Command head Gen. George B. Crist monitored the situation. After discussion, the men decided to spare the moribund Sabalan, perhaps to prevent further escalation.
Iranian forces towed the damaged ship to the port of Bandar-Abbas, and it was eventually repaired and returned to service.   The Moudge class frigate is a modified Iranian-built version of the Alvand, with five either in service or building.

The U.S. Navy's 5th fleet is based in Bahrain — across the gulf from Iran.

[November 11, 2012]

Admiral Naghdi, DE 91

IS Kharg
Shahid, Kharg enter Mediterranean after crossing the Suez Canal on November 10

 [October 31]Two Iranian warships docked in Port Sudan have left the Sudanese port after a visit coinciding with Khartoum's denial that Iran is involved in making weapons in Sudan.   .Small Sudanese craft escorted the Kharg out of the harbour, after the departure of another Iranian warship, the corvette Admiral Naghdi. The Naghdi's crew stood in orange life jackets as the gunboat departed.

[October 29]An Iranian naval task force docked in Sudan on October 29 includes IS  Shahid Naqdi, a corvette-class vessel, and IS Kharg, a supply vessel that can carry three helicopters.   Sudan is often thought a waypoint for arms smuggled to Hamas.

[February 22,2011]After two days of violent street protests in one week, Iran's opposition Green Movement said Feb 21 it was pondering its next move and considering a continuation of street protests, according to opposition websites.
A new date hasn't been announced for antigovernment protests although supporters posted on the opposition's Facebook page that this Tuesday or Wednesday are possible.
Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi have been under house arrest for over a week with little communication with the outside world.

IS Alvand, DE 71, passed through the Suez canal at Ismailia, Egypt, Tuesday, Feb.22, 2011, together with IS Kharg, replenishment ship 431.
The Iranian ships are headed for Latkia in Syria on a training mission.
The ships paid about $300,000 in fees for the passage, according to a Maritime agent.