U.S. Defense Conducts Maritime Strike Ops

By Dennis L. Bryant
Friday, October 18, 2013
Pictured is a B-1B Lancer on a training mission. The US Air Force recently conducted a successful test of its ability to neutralize and eliminate the threat of small boats in acts of terror. During that testing period, a B-1B Lancer supersonic variable-sweep-wing bomber launched a GBU-10 laser-guided bomb to take out a remotely-controlled mobile surface vehicle. The GBU-10 has a published accuracy of 3.6 feet, making it a good weapon against a small target like a boat. Although its 945 pound wa

The looming threat of small boats to national security calls into play some innovative options.

Since the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 revealed a series of national security vulnerabilities, the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security have been exploring options to reduce these risks.  One vulnerability that has proven difficult to address is that of an attack on U.S. assets and interests by small boats.  The U.S. Air Force has recently conducted a successful test of its ability to neutralize and eliminate such a threat.
Small boats can carry a variety of weapons, including anti-ship missiles, unguided rockets, guns and suicide charges.  Because of their low costs, small boats can be employed in large or small numbers by any nation or by nongovernmental actors, including terrorists.  Small boats are difficult to locate and track and successful engagement in the marine environment in all weather conditions presents unique challenges.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) developed the Small Vessel Security Strategy (SVSS) in April 2008 to address, from its standpoint, the potential exploitation of small vessels by terrorists and smugglers of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics, illegal aliens and contraband.  Small vessels have also been employed by terrorists to deliver waterborne improvised explosive devices (basically the maritime version of a car bomb). The SVSS also recognizes the possible use of a small vessel as a waterborne platform for conducting a stand-off attack (e.g., Man-Portable Air-Defense System [MANPADS] attack). 
Following are some incidents that raise concern about future small boat attacks:

•    Late on the night of July 27 2010, as the supertanker M Star was transiting the Strait of Hormuz en route Japan, it was attacked by a small boat carrying a suicide bomber and explosives.  The explosives detonated sufficiently close to the starboard quarter of the tanker to create a large dent in the hull, but the crew suffered no injuries.  The al-Qaeda affiliated group Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.
•    On August 4, 2005, Turkish authorities arrested Louai Sakka, a senior al-Qaeda operative, when a one-ton bomb he designed detonated prematurely.  He had intended to place the bomb on a yacht and ram a cruise ship carrying U.S. military personnel stationed in Turkey on rest and recreation out of Antalya, Turkey.
•    On April 24, 2004, terrorists using two fishing dhows packed with explosives attacked the Iraqi Khor al-Amaya offshore terminal in the Arabian Gulf, killing one U.S. Coast Guardsman and two U.S. Navy sailors protecting the terminal after they stopped and were preparing to search one of the dhows.
•    On October 5, 2002, an explosive-laded small boat was rammed into the side of the French tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen.  The hull was penetrated, causing an oil spill and fire.  One crew member was killed and 12 were injured.  The terrorists were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
•    On October 12, 2000, al Qaeda terrorists rammed an explosive-laded small boat into the USS Cole (DDG-67) in the port of Aden, Yemen, causing the deaths of 17 U.S. Navy sailors, injuring another 39, and doing significant damage to the destroyer. 

While U.S. Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies are responsible for deterring small boat attacks by terrorists in the navigable waters of the United States, attacks against U.S. assets and interests on the high seas or overseas may call for a military response.  The U.S. Navy has a variety of capabilities for this possibility, but it can’t be everywhere.  Thus, the U.S. Air Force is also developing the capacity to conduct maritime strike operations against small boats.The test and evaluation phase of the development involves the use of multiple types of live munitions against small boat targets in waters of the Gulf of Mexico for various surface and depth scenarios, to a maximum depth of ten feet.  Management actions are taken to decrease the potential adverse effects on human safety and the environment, including use of safety boats, aircraft and high-definition video cameras to ensure the test area is clear. 
Tests are necessary because current weaponeering systems do not accurately model the impact of air-launched weapon detonations on or under water on small boats.  Damage effects of these conditions must be known in order to generate the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) for USAF strike aircraft to counter small maneuvering maritime targets.  The test objectives are to: (1) generate usable weaponeering data against small boats; (2) develop TTPs to engage small boats in all weather and (3) determine the impact of the TTPs on Combat Air Force (CAF) training.
Maritime strike testing has been identified as a high national defense priority.  The project has been categorized as a Joint Urgent Operational Need (JUON), meaning that, if not addressed immediately, it will seriously endanger personnel or pose a major threat to ongoing operations. 
The weapons being tested range from 20-mm and 30-mm machine guns to Hellfire and Maverick missiles to laser-guided Paveway bombs with an explosive weight of up to 945 pounds. 
During that testing period, a B-1B Lancer supersonic variable-sweep-wing bomber launched a GBU-10 laser-guided bomb to take out a remotely-controlled mobile surface vehicle.  The GBU-10 has a published accuracy (“circular error probable” in USAF-speak) of 3.6 feet, making it a good weapon against a small target like a boat, although its 945 pound warhead may be more than needed in this scenario.
The Paveway bombs are now available to the military in a GPS-guided version in addition to the laser-guided model, providing increased flexibility for combat commanders.
Like all military weapons systems, one hopes that they will never have to be used in combat, but it is good to know that they are available when and if needed.

 

(As published in the October 2013 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - www.marinelink.com)

  •  Dennis L. Bryant,  Maritime Regulatroy  Consulting, Gainsville, Fla. t: 352-692-5493 e: dennis.l.bryant@gmail.com

    Dennis L. Bryant, Maritime Regulatroy Consulting, Gainsville, Fla. t: 352-692-5493 e: dennis.l.bryant@gmail.com

Maritime Reporter July 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Navy

Japan Seeks Australian Submarine Contract

Japan will send a high-level delegation to Adelaide for talks on building Australia's next-generation fleet of submarines.   A former commander of the Japanese

BAE Systems Awards Software Contract to SENER

The Spanish company SENER, Ingeniería y Sistemas S.A has closed a contract with U.K.-based BAE Systems PLC for the integration between FORAN CAD/CAM System and

Voyager IP Wins Irish Navy Satellite Contract

Voyager IP, the Irish marine telecoms solutions specialist, has partnered with the Irish National Space Center to win a €500,000 contract to manage the entire satellite

Maritime Security

Japan Seeks Australian Submarine Contract

Japan will send a high-level delegation to Adelaide for talks on building Australia's next-generation fleet of submarines.   A former commander of the Japanese

Pirates Attack Fishing Vessel near Malacca Strait

Pirates attacked the fishing trawler Maju Jaya in Malacca Strait in Tamiang water in North Sumatra, Indonesia on July 26.   Another fishing boat closed Maju Jaya from portside,

Voyager IP Wins Irish Navy Satellite Contract

Voyager IP, the Irish marine telecoms solutions specialist, has partnered with the Irish National Space Center to win a €500,000 contract to manage the entire satellite

Coast Guard

M/V "Georgiana H" refused access to the Paris MoU region

On 17th July 2015 M/V “GEORGIANA H” with IMO number 8911413 was detained in Marina di Carrara (Italy). This is the third detention in the Paris MoU region within the last 24 months.

Pirates Attack Fishing Vessel near Malacca Strait

Pirates attacked the fishing trawler Maju Jaya in Malacca Strait in Tamiang water in North Sumatra, Indonesia on July 26.   Another fishing boat closed Maju Jaya from portside,

Diesel Spill in Houston Ship Channel

A small section of the Upper Houston Ship Channel was closed Tuesday morning after a report of 1,000 gallons of diesel entered Greens Bayou from a cement facility, the U.

Eye on the Navy

Japan Seeks Australian Submarine Contract

Japan will send a high-level delegation to Adelaide for talks on building Australia's next-generation fleet of submarines.   A former commander of the Japanese

Voyager IP Wins Irish Navy Satellite Contract

Voyager IP, the Irish marine telecoms solutions specialist, has partnered with the Irish National Space Center to win a €500,000 contract to manage the entire satellite

China's Navy Drills in South China Sea

China said it conducted air and sea drills in the South China Sea on Tuesday as it stakes an increasingly assertive claim to virtually the whole sea despite rival claims by neighbours.

Government Update

BSEE Updates Hurricane Reporting Requirements

BSEE is providing updated guidance for the current and future hurricane seasons through a Notice to Lessees (NTL) released July 27, 2015. NTL 2015-G02 clarifies

Singapore MPA Wants LNG Bunkering Options

Singapore's Maritime Port Authority is seeking proposals on liquefied natural gas bunker supplies as it shifts away from fossil fuels towards gas while trying to

China's Navy Drills in South China Sea

China said it conducted air and sea drills in the South China Sea on Tuesday as it stakes an increasingly assertive claim to virtually the whole sea despite rival claims by neighbours.

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1860 sec (5 req/sec)