China building navy’s biggest amphibious assault vessel

South China Morning Post – Ships will strengthen navy as Beijing makes more assertive claims to disputed waters in South China Sea and increases sea patrols amid strained ties with Taiwan.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Buildup and Modernization

CIMSEC – Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s naval fleets have been severely neglected. Corruption, defense budget shortfalls, and higher military priorities are among the factors that have prevented the modernization and buildup of the Russian navy. Of the four separate naval fleets—the Baltic, Black Sea, Northern, and Pacific Fleets—Russia’s Black Sea Fleet remains one of the most neglected and obsolete. The 2008 Russo-Georgian war revealed to Russia the need to modernize and increase the size of its Black Sea Fleet, which was reinforced during the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea when NATO naval presence increased in the region.

The Case for a Constant NATO SCG Presence in the Mediterranean

CIMSEC – NATO should maintain a continuous Carrier Strike Group (CSG) presence in the Mediterranean. A CSG patrolling the Mediterranean, especially in the eastern Mediterranean near Tartus, would be an overt display to Russia that NATO has not forgotten about the Mediterranean.

US Navy on track for high-altitude P-8A weapon

FlightGlobal – A new torpedo upgrade that will fundamentally change the way US Navy airmen hunt submarines is on track to seek approval to begin low-rate initial production later this year.

How a Chinese fishing fleet creates facts on the water

Economist – Bad news for giant clams and for the other littoral states in the South China Sea.

Marines Upgrading Today’s Aircraft To Prepare For Tomorrow’s Distributed, High-End Fight

USNI News – The Marine Corps released its 2017 Marine Aviation Plan today, outlining its upcoming aircraft acquisition and upgrade plans and providing a glimpse of how those new capabilities will come together in various operational scenarios.

U.K., France and U.S. Agree to Increase Submarine Warfare, Aircraft Carrier Cooperation

USNI News – Naval leaders from the U.K., France and the U.S. have signed a trilateral cooperation agreement that will allow the three navies to work more closely together – especially in the realms of submarine warfare and carrier operations.

China Base Sparks ‘Very Significant Security Concerns’

Breaking Defense – For the first time, an important United States military base, one where a great deal of highly classified communications, intelligence and operations occur, sits within a few miles of a military competitor. Where? Djibouti.

Hainan’s Maritime Militia: China Builds a Standing Vanguard Part 1.

CIMSEC – The first of a three-part conclusion on the maritime militia of Hainan Province.

F-35C Tests Offer Proposed Fixes to Catapult Problem; Carrier Trials to Continue This Fall

USNI News – The Navy has completed testing on potential solutions to solve a ‘must fix’ catapult launch problem on the carrier version of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter,

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.