PM confirms Thai Navy to get three Chinese submarines

Nation – It’s finally Chinese submarines for Thailand. But the government would pay for only two as the third one was “a free gift”, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha revealed at his weekly press briefing yesterday.

Second of MSDF’s largest warship comes into service

Asahi Shimbun – The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Kaga helicopter carrier, its joint-largest warship, was commissioned here on March 22.

Stephen Biddle on Future Warfare in the Western Pacific

CIMSEC – A conversation examining the competition between A2/AD technology and the Air-Sea Battle concept in the Western Pacific.

Taiwan President Announces Start of Domestic Submarine Program

USNI News – The president of Taiwan announced the start of a domestic submarine program. Taiwan estimates the process will take ten years for the first attack boat to be ready – four for design, four for construction and two additional years of testing.

For Want of a Broadside: Why the Marines Need More Naval Fire Support

CIMSEC – According to the 2016 Marine Corps Operating Concept (MOC), the greatest risk to the Marine Corps is that it becomes unbalanced in its development as a force that is at once naval, expeditionary, agile, and lethal.1 Four decades of institutional neglect of naval surface fire support (NSFS) has led to precisely that: the Corps is over-reliant on aviation and cruise missiles to provide fires in a non-permissive maritime domain. Without investment in NSFS solutions that balance capability and capacity, the Marine Corps will be constrained in its ability to maneuver at sea, leaving Marines ill-equipped to fight and win in the future operating environments the MOC predicts.

French carrier to lead joint amphibious Pacific drill in show of force aimed at China

Reuters – In a display of military power aimed at China, France will dispatch one of its powerful Mistral amphibious carriers to lead drills on and around Tinian island in the western Pacific, with Japanese and U.S. personnel and two troop-carrying helicopters sent by Britain.

China’s Navy Gets a New Helmsman (Part 2): Remaining Uncertainties

China Brief – Part 1 of this series discussed Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong’s background, meteoric rise, and recent promotion to PLAN Commander. However, his appointment raises a number of questions about his role in the PLA Navy’s modernization, his promotion’s implication for China’s promotion system, and about his predecessor’s continued presence on the Central Military Commission. Part 2 will explore these important factors in depth and suggest possible conclusions and implications.

Missing from Trump’s grand Navy plan: skilled workers to build the fleet

Reuters – U.S. President Donald Trump says he wants to build dozens of new warships in one of the biggest peace-time expansions of the U.S. Navy. But interviews with ship-builders, unions and a review of public and internal documents show major obstacles to that plan.

Russia’s Most Powerful Nuclear Attack Submarine Ever Is Almost Ready for Sea

National Interest – Russia is set to launch its second Yasen-class nuclear-powered attack submarine on March 30. Called Kazan, the new vessel is an upgraded Project 885M design that is in many ways much more capable than the lead ship of the class, K-560 Severodvinsk.

China’s Navy Gets a New Helmsman (Part 1): Spotlight on Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong

China Brief – A new leader has just taken the helm of the world’s largest navy. Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong (沈金龙) reportedly replaced Admiral Wu Shengli (吴胜利) as PLAN Commander on January 17, 2017. Authoritative state media reports have offered few details on Shen, making it important to analyze a broad array of Chinese-language sources to distill what his elevation may mean for China as a maritime power.

Triton and Shaping the 21st Century Fleet Approach to Distributed Lethality

Second Line of Defense – The USN is approaching the P-8/Triton combat partnership, which is the integration of manned, and unmanned systems, or what are now commonly called “remotes”. The Navy looked at the USAF experience and intentionally decided to not build a Triton “remote” operational combat team that is stovepiped away from their P-8 Squadrons. The teams at Navy Jax and Pax River are building a common Maritime Domain Awareness and Maritime Combat Culture and treats the platforms as partner applications of the evolving combat theory.

China begins new work on disputed South China Sea island

Reuters – China has started fresh construction work in the disputed South China Sea, new satellite images show, a sign that Beijing is continuing to strengthen its military reach across the vital trade waterway.

Is Somali Piracy Back?

CIMSEC – Late Monday, crew on the Emirati-owned oil tanker Aris13 activated a distress call indicating they were being pursued by pirates off the coast of Somalia. The subsequent hijacking, once confirmed, would mark the first successful Somali act of piracy since 2012. This of course begs the question: Is Somali piracy back?

German, Japanese Forces to Evaluate Tanker Hijacked by Somali Pirates

USNI News – International forces are set to assess the situation of an oil tanker allegedly seized by Somali pirates.

US Navy submarine program loses some of its shine

Defense News – The luster is off a bit for the Virginia-class submarine building program, long considered a model US Navy construction effort that routinely brings down the building time and cost for each successive sub. One submarine has just missed its contract delivery date — pushed back even more when sea trials were halted to return to port — and shipbuilders are working harder to keep construction on schedule.

Russia Reported to Start Syrian Naval Base Expansion this Spring

USNI News – Russia will start construction on a planned five-year expansion of its naval base in Syria this spring, officials said in Russian state media.

Wary of China, Duterte tells navy to build ‘structures’ east of Philippines

Reuters – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the navy to put up “structures” to assert sovereignty over a stretch of water east of the country, where Manila has reported a Chinese survey ship was casing the area last year.

Somali pirates suspected of first ship hijacking since 2012

BBC – An oil tanker has been hijacked by suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia, the first such hijacking in the region in five years.

Aircraft Carrier: The Nation’s Trump Card Reborne

Breaking Defense – The usefulness of the aircraft carrier, long the centerpiece of American naval power in the world, was in serious question, one year ago. Chronic underfunding, poor strategic assumptions and bad acquisition decisions had left the carrier defensively unprotected and offensively underpowered as its airwing both shrank in size and striking range. President Trump’s election and his public commitment to a 350-ship Navy as well as his explicit call for a twelfth carrier, effectively truncates these concerns, bringing the promise of additional capabilities that will ensure the safety and effectiveness of the carrier.

Japan plans to send largest warship to South China Sea

Reuters – Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship, the helicopter carrier Izumo, on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.

Chinese survey ships entering Philippine territory

AFP – Chinese survey ships have been entering waters recognised by the United Nations as Philippine territory, Manila’s defence secretary said Thursday, in a move he described as “very concerning”.

Marines with 11th MEU Join the Ground Fight in Syria

USNI News – An undisclosed number of Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived in Syria recently to join U.S. forces and local forces poised to push Islamic State militants out of the city of Raqqa.

After Viraat, Navy to bid adieu to Albatross patrol aircraft

Times of India – Another iconic naval platform is now set for retirement after aircraft carrier INS Viraat. The Soviet-origin Tupolev-142M aircraft, which helped the force keep a hawk-eye on enemy warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for almost 30 years, will be decommissioned later this month.

The Navy’s Getting a Big, Secretive Special Operations ‘Mothership’

War is Boring – The U.S. Navy is quietly converting a 633-foot-long cargo ship into a secretive helicopter carrier with facilities for supporting a large contingent of Special Operations Forces and all their gear, including jet skis.

Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War

New Yorker – What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—and what lies ahead? A look at information warfare, Russian-style.