Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Navy to issue Rs 50,000 crore submarine tender this year

NEW DELHI: The Navy will issue a global tender for procuring six next generation submarines worth over Rs 50,000 crore by the end of this year. 

"The government has cleared Project-75 India which is the next lot of six submarines... At the moment we are going with the Request for Information (RFI) process, I hope within this year we would be able to push off the tender," Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told reporters on the sidelines of a submarine seminar. 

Project-75 India is a follow on of the Scorpene submarine project, six of which are being built by the Mazgaon Dockyards Limited (MDL) under a Rs 20,000 crore deal with French company DCNS. 

With a depleted submarine strength, the Navy is planning to induct over 12 submarines in the next 10-12 years. The plans have also suffered a setback in view of the delays in the construction of the Scorpenes in Mumbai. 
Talking about the capabilities of future submarines, the Navy chief said, "It will be a different boat in the sense that we are revising its Qualitative Requirements. Along with better sensors it will also have better hiding capability, improved detection range and combat management system." 

He said the Navy would go for the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems for the submarines, which would enhance their capability of remaining submerged in water for a longer time period. 

On the weapon systems to be put on the next line of under water vessels, Verma said Navy was planning to use a mix of indigenous torpedoes along with the missiles which are being deployed on the Scorpene submarines. 

To a question on safety of Indian fishermen being targeted by the Sri Lankan Navy, he said, "The issue was highlighted during the visit of the Sri Lankan President also. The joint working group on fisheries is supposed to address these issues and that is the way to resolve it." 

He denied knowledge of any apprehensions expressed by China on India's forthcoming exercises with the navies of the US and Japan. "You have to bear in mind that it is not the first time these exercises are happening. I am not aware of any such apprehension," he said. 

On the annual exercise TROPEX, the Admiral said that besides elements from army and air force, the navy would also include its amphibious elements for the first time in the exercise. 

"TROPEX in terms of involved expenses and platforms is the largest exercise we have. This time we have huge amphibious elements including the participation from army and the air force," he said. 

Indian Navy inducted its first amphibious warship INS Jalashwa from US in 2007.
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HMS Clyde honours the men of '82

SALUTING their fallen forebears, four sailors from HMS Clyde honour the crew of HMS Coventry after restoring their memorial.
The ship’s company of today’s Falklands guardian have spent the past few weeks tidying up monuments and memorials peppered around the archipelago as their vessel patrolled the islands.
Either Clyde or the RN’s South Atlantic Patrol Ship regularly maintain some of the outlying memorials – most recently HMS Portland’s sailors smartened up the Coventry on Pebble Island monument last summer.
Just a few months later, however, the ferocity of the South Atlantic weather meant a return to Pebble Island was in order, so the men of Clyde duly obliged.
The sailors have also tackled three other memorials during their recent patrols of the Falklands: 2 Para’s monument at Goose Green, 42 Commando’s on Mount Harriet, half a dozen miles outside Stanley – and the scene of bitter fighting in the final days of the 1982 conflict – and the HMS Sheffield cenotaph.

The latter stands on Sealion Island, overlooking the point several miles away where the Type 42 destroyer was fatally hit by an Argentine Exocet missile.
Elsewhere a bit of Brasso and some good old elbow grease sufficed to spruce up memorials, but on the exposed Bull Hill where the Sheffield cross and cairn are located, the elements had taken their toll.
The Clydes found the stone wall surrounding the monument had been damaged by storms the previous work. It was returned to its normal state before a formal salute to Shiny Sheff’s 20 dead.
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Mendi testing LRAD?

The Department of Defence remains mum on the deployment of the Valour-class frigate SAS Mendi to Durban for operational training in reported anticipation of an anti-pirate patrol in the Mozambique Channel. Sources in the city say the ship spent the day at sea yesterday, conducting training and tests. 

Sources elsewhere say the ship has been fitted with a Long Range Acoustic Device. The Armscor Bulletin System shows a device was acquired “for evaluation” from LRAD Corporation of San Diego in the US at a cost of R202 778.63 in September last year. 

The wikipedia explains the LRAD is a crowd control and hailing device developed by LRAD Corporation. According to the manufacturer's specifications, the device has a mass of 20kg and a diameter of 83cm. It can emit sound in a 30° beam at high frequency. The maximum usable design range is aid to be 300 metres, where the warning tone (measured) is less than 90dB. 
The device was originally intended to be used by American warships to warn incoming vessels approaching without permission, and some reports claim that it is now regarded as a "non-lethal weapon". Its output up to 155db, focused at a distance, is sufficient to produce permanent ear damage and temporarily disrupt vision, the wikipedia says. It may also be used simply as a very effective megaphone prior to any use as a weapon. Although mildly disorienting, LRADs are tactically ineffective against deaf individuals. It is not yet clear how the SA Navy plans to employ the LRAD. 

The device has also been used against pirates. Tthe luxury cruise ship Seabourn Spirit employed an LRAD while repelling pirates off Somalia in November 2005. The wikipedia writers say the effectiveness of this device during the attack is not completely clear, but the pirates did not succeed in boarding the vessel and eventually fled. But in November 2008 pirates did seize a ship, the Liberian MV Biscaglia despite the use of a LRAD. A security detachment aboard the ship used the LRAD to deter armed attackers. “Following a one-sided shootout, the ship was seized and the unarmed security contractors forced to abandon ship or be killed. The incident caused the usefulness of LRADs to be called into question by Lloyd's List.”

LRAD has also been used by the Japanese whaling fleet operating in Antarctic waters to ward off the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The activists have since reportedly acquired their own device. 

The Afrikaans daily Beeld earlier this month reported the deployment of the Mendi into the Mozambique Channel was being held up by the absence of a signed Memorandum of Understanding setting out rules of engagement. Minister of Defence and Military Veterans last year July told a small group of journalists, including defenceWeb, that her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, had that month attended a Southern African Development Community (SADC) conference in the Seychelles. There “we did commit ourselves to protecting the waters around SADC from piracy.” She added: “We are ready to deploy in SADC waters because it is part of our responsibility.”

Business Day also reported this month the SADC meeting was followed by a ministerial antipiracy conference in Mauritius in October last year. South Africa’s delegation was led by the ambassador to Mauritius, Madumane Matabane. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its annual report last month said pirates murdered eight seafarers and seized a record 1181 hostages as well 53 ships last year, a new lowpoint. According to the IMB, the number of pirate attacks on ships around the world has risen every year for the past four years, with 445 incidents in 2010, which is an increase of 10% over 2009. 1050 crewmembers were taken hostage in 2009 compared with just 188 crew in 2006. 293 incidents were reported in 2008 compared to 263 in 2007. The 2010 attacks included two confirmed cases of piracy in the Mozambique Channel between Africa and Madagascar near the Comoros in late December and two failed attempts some 200 kilometres east of Quelimane, capital of the central Mozambican province of Zambezia. The city is about halfway up the Mozambican coast and some 300km north of Beira. 

Institute of Security Studies military analyst Henri Boshoff told the Pretoria News the response was not only South African but also “part of a larger SADC military response” to piracy. “The government is keeping a tight lid on how it is going to respond to these latest attacks.” Boshoff said while South Africa’s navy had conducted operations in the Mozambican Channel area and off the country’s East Coast, the latest attacks had triggered a strong response from South Africa. 
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International Maritime Organisation warns that ships are disregarding piracy threat

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) warns that an “unacceptably high proportion of ships transiting the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean” are not taking the threat of piracy seriously by heeding warnings or taking measures to protect their ships.

In a circular letter to IMO members, the United Nations, intergovernmental, non-governmental and other organizations, the IMO said that naval forces off the coast of Somalia have observed many ships in area that are not registered with the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa; are not reporting to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) Dubai; show no piracy deterrents and are not acting on warnings of pirate activity. At least 25% of commercial ships passing through the Gulf of Aden ignore safety precautions, AllBusiness reported in January. 
The IMO noted that as of February 14, 685 crew on board 30 ships are being held for ransom along the Somali coast, which reflects a worsening situation as pirates are expanding their reach into the Indian Ocean, especially through the increasing use of mother ships. The organisation also says that pirate attacks are becoming more violent and that pirates are using captured crew as human shields.

Failure to implement fully the IMO guidance, including the industry-developed best management practices, significantly increases the risk of successful pirate attacks, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said. Some of the best management guidelines include maintaining a high cruising speed (travelling at 18 knots or more makes it almost impossible for pirates to board), erecting physical barriers and using hoses and foam to deter pirates.

“Regrettably, there is disturbing evidence to show that, in too many cases, this advice has either not reached shipping companies or their ships or has not been acted upon,” the circular letter says. The IMO goes on to urge “all those concerned, particularly Administrations, industry representative bodies, seafarer associations, shipowners and companies to take action to ensure that ships’ masters receive updated information unfailingly and that all the recommended preventive, evasive and defensive measures are fully and effectively implemented”.

The announcement follows the launch on February 3 of the IMO’s anti-piracy action plan, in support of the 2011 World Maritime Day theme: “Piracy: orchestrating the response”. The action plan was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said the escalation of piracy off the Somali coast is “completely unacceptable” and requires urgent action. He welcomed the decision of the IMO to pay special attention to this serious threat during the year ahead.

Also present at the launch was Colonel Richard Spencer, who criticised the shipping industry for in many cases failing to take adequate self-protection measures or assist the co-ordinating naval bodies, even when they had advised authorities they were in the high risk zone. “NATO has taken to phoning up ships within 50 miles of a mothership sighting to warn them of the risk because ships are not reading the warnings they put out. They are sailing blind,” he said. “There is a reason why some flags consistently have the highest number of ships taken. I’m speechless as to why some flag states are not doing more.” He said naval forces had “observed non-compliance” on the ships of the top four flag states, Liberia, Panama, Marshall Islands and Bahamas.

As a result of the continuing piracy scourge, the IMO is encourages governments to provide extra naval and aerial surveillance in piracy affected areas and provide security forces with information on ship movements.

The IMO added that an information distribution facility (IDF) has been created to help security forces operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean to build a better picture of where ships are, in order to provide warnings of pirate activity and to facilitate more effective repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships through the more effective deployment of the limited available naval and military resources.

Through the anti-piracy action plan, the IMO aims to strengthen its anti-piracy abilities and expand its reach to create a broader, global effort. The plan has six main goals for 2011 and beyond. These are:
to increase political pressure to secure the release of hostages;
to review and improve IMO guidelines and promote compliance with best
management practices and the recommended preventive, evasive and defensive
measures ships should follow;
to improve support from and co-ordination with navies;
to promote anti-piracy co-operation between states and the industry;
to deter, interdict and bring to justice pirates;
and to provide care, during the post-traumatic period, for those attacked or hijacked
by pirates.
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Somali pirate threat diverting grains shipments

Grains shipments are being diverted around Africa as Somali pirate gangs strike deeper at sea increasing journey times and potentially lifting insurance costs at a time of unrest over food prices.

Pirates operating off the Horn of Africa are threatening traffic aiming for the vital Gulf of Aden trade route, either from Asia towards Europe and the Middle East Gulf or from the United States and Europe heading towards Asia.

While wheat shipments from Australia, one of the world's biggest exporters, were expected to accelerate shortly as the new export drive gathers pace, a trade source said sellers could find it harder to find vessels willing to make the journey through the Gulf of Aden to Middle Eastern buyers. A wheat cargo from Australia to Saudi Arabia this month cost an additional $10,000 a day due to the higher risk, Reuters reports.
"You have to find an owner who is willing to put his ship at risk for which there will probably be an insurance premium and higher costs," the source said. "If freight costs spike, it could hurt."

The source said Australian canola shipments to European markets were being diverted around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, which was adding 10-12 days extra journey time.


Responding to the growing threat, London's marine insurance market last month expanded the stretch of waterways deemed high risk from seaborne raiders to include the Gulf of Oman and a wider stretch of the Indian Ocean.

Pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms and despite successful efforts to quell attacks in the Gulf of Aden, international naval forces have struggled to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean owing to the vast distances involved.

"Many crews are having to run the gauntlet of small arms attacks that are endangering their lives and the safe passage of world trade," said Peter Hinchliffe, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, which represents about 80 percent of the global industry.

Trade sources said grains shipments from European and US exporters to key buyers in the Middle East were also being re-routed around the Cape rather than run the risk of passing through the Gulf of Aden via the Suez Canal. 

"There is obviously extra voyage time involved but the lower freight costs are cushioning the impact. The dangers of having a ship hijacked are very large," a major European exporter said.

Grains markets are increasingly sensitive to potential disruptions as adverse weather patterns have raised concern over global supplies at a time of growing unrest over food inflation.
Food price protests sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East reached Jordan on Friday, following disorder in Algeria and Tunisia which has had many countries in the region moving to cut food prices and food taxes.

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index .BADI, which tracks rates to ship dry commodities, has tumbled to its lowest in nearly two years hit by a glut of vessels seeking employment.

The cost of hiring a panamax vessel, especially used to transport grains, on a 4 to 6 month time charter contract was estimated at US$14,500 to US$15,500 a day, around US$4,000 a day lower than a year ago. Nevertheless, some shippers were resigned to having to stump up higher costs due to a lack of any solution at present.

One of Australia's largest grain shippers CBH Group said it was still shipping through the risk area. "Premiums are being factored in. So it's just one of those things that has to be taken account of," a spokeswoman said.


Security analysts said the move by underwriters to widen the piracy risk zone was set to have a bigger impact on shipping, although any premium rises would depend on what risk mitigation procedures were in place such as crew training and watch rotas.

"The extension should be seen as an official warning for the business community that piracy is spreading very far eastwards," said John Drake, senior risk consultant with AKE Ltd.

"By using 'motherships' the pirates are able to travel much further out to sea because they can transport larger supplies of fuel, food and water." 

Maritime piracy costs the global economy between $7 and $12 billion a year with Somali piracy in particular driving up the cost of shipping through the Indian Ocean, researchers say. Frustration is also mounting among seafarers who have found themselves in the firing line, with more than 600 mariners held hostage by pirate gangs in Somalia. 

"Members are expressing profound fears about their vulnerability and the scale of the risk level now," said Andrew Linington, with seafarers' union Nautilus International.
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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has drawn down its forces providing support to the Queensland emergency services-led response and recovery operations in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Yasi.
The members of Joint Task Force 664 are now returning to their home units as the cleanup and reconstruction situation in North Queensland moves into its next phase.
The rapid nationwide response following Cyclone Yasi saw approximately 1500 ADF personnel working to assist affected communities and the state emergency services. Personnel and equipment from the Navy, Army and Air Force provided manpower and specialist capabilities in response to the needs of the people of North Queensland.
The Commander of the Joint Task Force 664 leading the ADF’s Operation YASI ASSIST, Brigadier Stuart Smith, said that Australian Defence Force personnel had successfully completed the tasks requested of them by civilian authorities, including providing specialist support to emergency services personnel.
“Emergency services and public utilities have future restoration tasks well in hand for those areas hardest hit by the cyclone,” Brigadier Smith said.
Troops from Townsville are returning to their base to regroup for rapid response readiness, and some will be preparing for deployment to Afghanistan later this year.
Brigadier Smith said their families would welcome their return.
“Many personnel deployed to assist as the winds abated, and haven’t been home since the cyclone struck – they’ve really earned some time at home with their loved ones,” he said.
Brigadier Smith expressed his admiration for the tenacity of the North Queenslanders affected by the cyclone.
“The people of the region face a challenging time ahead, but as a community they will rebuild their homes, their communities and their lives. The resilience of the local people is outstanding – I greatly admire their spirit.”
The decision to draw down the ADF assistance came after close consultation with Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ), state authorities and local officials in the affected areas. EMQ continues to provide assistance to the communities devastated by the cyclone, and ADF specialist support will remain at local bases to assist emergency services if required.
A supporting factsheet can be found at:
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