– Defense News – The U.S. Navy is taking a hard look at upgrading its future frigates to protect other ships from anti-air threats in addition to defending against undersea and surface enemies. The move would be a significant enhancement in the effort to develop a frigate from existing littoral combat ship designs.
– USNI News – A Russian Navy surface action group is headed to the Eastern Mediterranean departing shortly after a U.S. Tomahawk missile strike on a Syrian airfield.
– The Guardian – The Royal Marines will lose 200 posts as the Royal Navy seeks to reshuffle its staff before the arrival of a new generation of vessels.
– BBC – Nineteen crew members have been freed by the Chinese Navy from a ship captured by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
– BBC – The US military has ordered the USS Carl Vinson Strike Group to move towards the Korean peninsula, amid growing concerns about North Korea’s missile programme.
– Nikkei Asian Review – High stakes internal battle under way over direction of Philippine foreign policy.
– Breaking Defense – How much firepower can fit on the Navy’s smallest warship? With the Chinese and Russian navies on the rise, American admirals want more “distributed lethality” from everything in the fleet, especially the controversial Littoral Combat Ship.
– CNN – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he has ordered military personnel to occupy all Philippines-claimed islands in the disputed South China Sea.
– BBC – The US has carried out a missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town. Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two US Navy ships in the Mediterranean.
– CIMSEC – International attention has focused on the possibilities of an Iranian closure of the Straits of Hormuz, and the catastrophic effect a blockade would likely have on global energy supplies. Even a temporary closure or military disruption in the waterway would cause energy prices to soar and could politically destabilize the Persian Gulf region. Far less attention has been paid to Iranian activity in the Red Sea, however, despite the crucial importance of the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait to world oil shipments.
– StraitsTimes – Taiwan plans to build eight submarines to bolster its current fleet of four ageing vessels, its navy chief said yesterday.
– Breaking Defense – In their desperation to convince Congress that budget gridlock hurts military readiness, Navy officials made public some information that they shouldn’t have, Acting Secretary Sean Stackley told reporters here today. It’s this oversharing of readiness data, along with overly detailed talk about future capabilities, that prompted the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson, to issue a March 1 memorandum (below) urging all naval personnel “to ensure we are not giving away our competitive edge by sharing too much information publicly.”
– CIMSEC – For Russia to achieve its long-term strategic objectives, its supremacy in the Black Sea is a critically enabling factor. The unique geography of the region confers several geopolitical advantages to Russia in its confrontation with the West. As such, the Kremlin has sought measures to strengthen its hold over the region. Firstly, it has sought to weaken NATO’s ties to the regional states, working to drive wedges into these relationships, and using military force when necessary to stop the Alliance’s expansion. Secondly, it has been expanding its military capabilities in order to challenge NATO’s presence in the region and ultimately dominate the Black Sea.
– The Guardian – Chinese coastguard vessels maintain a near-constant presence around reefs claimed by Malaysia in the South China Sea, ship-tracking data shared with the Guardian has revealed.
– CIMSEC – On 14 February, the Brazilian Navy announced that it will suspend the modernization of carrier NAe Sao Paulo (A12) and commence its demobilization and subsequent decommissioning. Oddly, the news is simultaneously surprising and unsurprising at the same time. The Brazilian Navy regarded the extension of the carrier’s operational life as one of its priorities, however, ongoing technical difficulties and rising costs have made it more feasible to get rid of it than to extend its service life. As Brazil is the only Latin American country that possesses an aircraft carrier, its decommissioning must be properly discussed in terms of regional geopolitics.
– Defense News – Just about everybody in and around the U.S. Navy agrees there is a pressing need to build a bigger fleet. Just about nobody agrees on a way to get there.
– CIMSEC – The threat of Russian ground invasion has been the primary occupation of Baltic military establishments. All three countries nevertheless have significant coastlines on the Baltic Sea with the accompanying maritime security and defense concerns. These include search-and-rescue, exclusive economic zone security, combating smuggling, the threat of amphibious assault, and hostile submarines. The focus on land threats, expense of naval combat platforms, and limited resources have so far prevented the countries from acquiring or maintaining significant naval capabilities. What follows is an analysis of each Baltic State’s respective naval capabilities followed by trends in their combined missions and activities.
– CIMSEC – In Europe, France is distinctive in claiming that its boundaries actually extend outside Europe into the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, i.e. the ‘Indo-Pacific,’ through its overseas departments (département d’outre-mer), and overseas territories (territoire d’outre-mer), which are considered integral parts of France, and indeed thereby of the European Union. These Indo-Pacific possessions also have large Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). These give France important maritime interests to be maintained, and if need be defended, by the French Navy.
– CIMSEC – In the aftermath of the July 2016 ruling by the United Nation’s Permanent Court of Arbitration that broadly found China’s demarcation claims in the South China Sea to be without legal merit, it became apparent that legal decisions alone would do little to influence the status quo. Considering The Hague’s ruling against the strategic backdrop of power politics in the Asia Pacific, the need for a global maritime presence became clear. This presence connotes a significant maritime challenge for the European Union (EU), which remains a peripheral actor in the maritime security of the Asia-Pacific as several major powers oversee the geopolitical reordering of this critical region.
– CIMSEC – The governments and peoples of the Baltic States recognize that, following Russia’s takeover of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine, they are once again in the Kremlin’s sights facing the prospect of Russian destabilization and even outright invasion.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– Economist – Bad news for giant clams and for the other littoral states in the South China Sea.