September 25, 2007

Water Wars : Warm and Cold

Apropos this earlier post, Canada is building a fleet of 8 armed icebreakers (more here)to patrol its rapidly thawing northern frontier and protect its territorial claims from things such as the recent Russian announcement that the Polar sea belongs to them (which Eaglespeak looks at in depth here). The Canadian vessels are reported to be license built derivatives of Norway's excellent Svalbard class icebreaking patrol vessels.

Note that these are not full fledged icebreakers like the Russian Arktika the USCG's Polar class or even the new but less capable Healy, but they are ice strengthened and can deal with moderate ice. The Norweigian vessels are moderately armed but are fitted for rapid installation of a near frigate level armament suite. They are slow but so are most icebreakers, as they require torque rather than speed and hullforms that don't lend themselves to great speed.

The other nations challenged by this Denmark has ice strengthened frigates with similar weapons potential  (Thetis class)  and the USCG has the 3 polar rollers. 2 are rather old (though quite powerful icebreakers) and none are armed with anything larger than crew served weapons (though the old Polar class is designed to carry an armament suite in wartime). This makes sense in their current role as science ships particularly given treaty restrictions applicable to Antarctica, but  IMHO their successors should  be  designed at least with something like the Danish Stanflex system in mind....and for that matter...designed period. It might behoove us to reorder the remainder of the National Security cutters as icebreakers.  The new medium endurance cutters (at least 25 planed !) should be adequate for our non-ice-breaking big ship needs, epecially if we get more patrol boats and perhaps a know....airships

In related news......
On the other end of the world the UK Guardian breathlessly reports that the UK is asserting its sovereignty over its EEZ around The Falklands, Ascencion Island and Rockall. With Regards to the South Atlantic claim one should pay close attention to this paragraph.....

".... earlier this year Buenos Aires scrapped a 1995 agreement with the UK to share any oil found in the adjacent waters - the first formal application from the UK is likely to centre on Ascension."

Perhaps an ill thought out policy on the Argies part...

The north Atlantic negotioations between the UK Ireland, Iceland and Denmark are unlikely to be terribly acrimonious but the south Atlantic saw spilled blood between the involved parties about 25 years ago.

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