Thursday, July 19, 2012


PLAN Maashan 171 on anti-piracy duties

The PRC PLAN has achieved the release of the crew of a Chinese fishing vessel.  The 26 person crew had been held for 18 months by pirates off the coast of Somalia.  The 26 were 13 Chinese, 12 Vietnamese and one Taiwanese.  The PLAN did not say how the release was obtained however they have a naval detachment escorting Chinese vessel through the recoginized pirate areas.

Clearly this is a feather in the cap of the PLAN and shows that they are becoming more and more capable.  Unfortunately however this also builds the confidence of the PRC to continue ignore the claims of other nations regarding EEC areas in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


The following M-Notices have been published and are available at or if you have any difficulties call 023 8032 9391.

MIN 435 (M+F) Clarification of Dyslexia Policy: Examination and Assessment Procedures.

MIN 436 (M+F) MARPOL - Forthcoming Amendments to MARPOL Annex IV - Sewage and MARPOL Annex V Garbage.

MGN 452 (M) ELECTRICAL - Potential Hazards of Arc Flash Associated with High and Low Voltage Equipment.

MGN 453 (M) FIRE PROTECTION - Fire Retardent Treatment for Floor Coverings, Suspended Textile Materials, Upholstery Materials and Bedding Components for use Onboard Vessels Certified Under the MCA Large Commercial Yacht Code.

Good Watch.


ANS La Soumman 937

The Algerian training ship ANS La Soumman 937 made a recent port call in New York. NAUTICAL LOG was struck by its similarity to the PLAN Zheng He 81 and a little research showed that it had been built in the PRC for Algeria.

It also struck NAUTICAL LOG that the Officers and Cadets looked rather uncomfortable, surly and rather untidy with one Officers white cap cover unbuttoned at the back of his cap while some of the Cadets looked as if it was the first time some of them had ever worn a uniform cap. 

The Algerian Navy uses army rank titles so it seems that the vessel is commanded by a Colonel, all very strange to a seafarer.  Well one supposes that things have too start somewhere but this lot have a long way to go.

It is worth noting that the PRC makes contact and agreements with all these smaller nations who dream of moving up the ranks of nations from the third world to the first.  With such agreements both diplomatic and military the PRC is building up a world girding collection of contracted nations all with ethnic Chinese living in them.

Good Watch.


PLAN Zheng He 81 berthed at Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Continuing its "Harmonious Mission" (love those names) the PRC PLAN training ship PLAN Zheng He arrived in Ecuador berthing at the Port of Guayaquil on July 13, 2012 according to "Peoples Daily Online".  The usual welcoming military honours were conducted by the Naval Academy of Ecuador.

Ethnic Chinese living in Ecuador also greeted the training hip on arrival.  Ecuador will be the only South American country visited by PLAN Zheng He on this worldwide voyage.  It is understood by NAUTICAL LOG that some other South American nations for various reasons declined to have the training ship make a port call in their nation.

Good Watch.

Monday, July 16, 2012


A variety of data comes across the NAUTICAL LOG desk each day from many different sources. Some is used in writing the Posts while much is filed away for future use or just filed away!!

Our Summer reading programme this year is re-reading the Tom Clancy novels which now go back over two decades starting with "The Hunt for RED OCTOBER" in 1994.  Of course there are his other books on personalities and equipment of the United States military. 

It is remarkable in reading the older novels how the same adversaries and problems are still with us in 2012 together with the shifting alliances of the United States such as the Republic of China (ROC), Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  The adversaries remain the former USSR now Russia once again under an "elected" Czar rather than the Romanov's, The Peoples Republic of China (PRC), Islamic Republic of Iran, and Iraq.  Together with other troublesome areas such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and the Arab nations of the Middle East and North Africa.  NAUTICAL LOG has over the years visited all these countries so has seen the peoples and cultures at firsthand.

The issues today are quite similar to those Clancy wrote about fifteen years ago, all told a very astute, well informed and prophetic writer.

Currently, as we have been writing about ourselves, the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) sensing a weak U.S. Administration is flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and sailing close to the wind.  Also sailing a little to close to the islands it is forcing its claim on by grounding one of its frigates in the Spratly Islands last week.  Such things can happen all too easily when nations get over confident and their military gets cocky - a simple incident can become warfighting. 

Clancy has a cast of characters that move through life and their careers from novel to novel.  The various persons of the various Administrations over the years are cleverly brought into the stories and it does not take to much effort to identify whom is based on whom in real United States politics.

Therefore it might just be that the current U.S. Administration could benefit from reading the Tom Clancy novels themselves because it has become fairly clear over the last three and a half years that members of this Administration are not grasping the big international picture at all.  Our current SecState is send - one must presume by the White House - to stamp out all the firestorms in the Middle East and Asia with little success.  Instead of a clear message of what is expected of these nations there are just weak remarks on behalf of what sounds like a confused and defeated Administration - most particularly to those being spoken too.  This apparent weakness is of greater danger to the United States than the current aims of certain Middle East and Asian nations which remarkably match those of a Tom Clancy novel written over fifteen years ago.  The actions of one of its participants are taking place in the South China Sea and East China Sea in real life of 2012.

Good Watch.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Well when you navigate in shoal waters it can happen all too easily. A PRC PLAN frigate grounded while prowling around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Half Moon Shoal.  This is one of the disputed islands with the Philippines which claims they are part of its territorial waters but is unable to enforce their claim.  This news came in this morning from BBC Asia to the NAUTICAL LOG Press Folder.

Of interest is the fact that when the PLAN frigate went aground their were six PLAN vessels nearby that could render assistance (actually more vessels than the entire Philippine Navy) and refloat the ship.  Thus the incident could be controlled before there was yet another international incident over the South China Sea territorial claims.

According to the PRC MOD the PLAN frigate is returning home under its own power with relatively minor damage - no doubt with an end to the Commanding Officers career along with the Bridge Watch team.

Good Watch.

Friday, July 13, 2012


As usual with the PRC -PLAN this announcement comes two days after the event.  After transiting the Panama Canal and refuelling at the Pacific side the PRC PLAN training ship PLAN Zheng He headed off towards it home port of Dalian, China - or did it ?  The announcement says that the PLAN Zheng He crossed the equator at a speed of 17 knots at 1736 July 11, 2012 from the Northern Hemisphere  to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time.

The vessel has sailed to Southeast Asia, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea a voyage so far of some 17,000 nautical miles.  NAUTICAL LOG is quite sure they know how to navigate excellently and also that China is to the north from the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal.  So where are they going ? Well that is the question as the Press Release gave no further information about the destination or destinations in the Southern Hemisphere. 

To quote from history "the world wonders".  As usual the PRC -PLAN is not giving any advance notice of its intentions though any planned Port-of-call must be aware of the vessels arrival.  It might be an idea to refuse entry to this PLAN training ship as a reminder to PRC to watch its international nautical manners.

At the present time the PRC is not too popular with the seafaring world due to its aggressive and under International Laws illegal behaviour in the South China Sea and the East China Sea which despite their names are International Waterways with full right of innocent passage to any vessel which should not be subjected to being closely followed, harassed, questioned or boarded by any Agency of the PRC particularly the China Maritime Surveillance (CMS) armed vessels.

Good Watch.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Area Chart

It seems the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) are determined to cause international problems by making territorial claims with their neighbors.  One really has to wonder why this is being done as one would think the PRC has its hands full trying to handle what is still really a third world nation - even though they now consider themselves a first world power.  With its vast territory, multiple nationalities, languages, religious believes and in many cases hatred of the Beijing Government it has many, many internal problems.

Having recently set the cat amongst the pigeons in the South China Sea they are now provoking tensions or worse with the Japanese over the Senkaku Islands, known in the PRC as Diaoyu Islands.  Situated west-south-west of Okinawa, north-east of Taiwan, therefore well east of the PRC, in the East China Sea the Senkaku Islands have been historically administered by Japan and were regarded as Japanese territory before and since World War 2.

The islands are uninhabited and it is now realised are resource rich so, as in the South China Sea, are of great interest to the Chinese both PRC and Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan. Tensions have risen to the degree that Japan's Foreign Ministry called in the PRC Ambassador to Japan in to protest against action taken by PRC patrol boats in the East China Sea islands.

The incident protested against was the incursion of three PRC fishery patrol boats on Wednesday, on being told to leave the sea zone by Japan Coastguard they initially refused.  Later having stated through Xinhua News Agency the official PRC news source that they were carrying out a "fishery protection mission in the area" they did depart from the Japanese sea zone.

This is of course the same procedure used by the PRC in the South China Sea to claim islands there.  One can now expect that the PRC Agency China Marine Surveillance (CMS) will send their armed patrol vessels on a regular basis near Senkaku.  By 2016 CMS will have an armed fleet of 360 vessels and some 20 aircraft available for these patrols no doubt we can therefore expect tensions to continue to rise in the East China Sea as in the South China Sea.

On another point the PRC Ministry of Defence has been strangely quiet about the position and progress of the training ship PLAN Zheng He on its round-the-world voyage.  About two days or so after it arrives somewhere there is an announcement in their MOD website.  This week the PLAN Zheng He transited the Panama Canal refuelled and resupplied ready to cross the Pacific Ocean home to China (PRC). 

One can only suppose the reporting time delay is due to security concerns which in fact are largely meaningless as the vessel is tracked by intelligence satellites every meter of its voyage.  The PRC has been making statements both in MOD Press Releases and by its Press Officers that appear to indicate a strong conflict mentality in the PRC-MOD thinking.  Generally the PRC seems to be currently operating on an "attack is the best defence" concept.

Good Watch.


It is with some degree of amazment that NAUTICAL LOG reached the 80,000 visitor mark just as we went on line this morning.  As regular readers know we do not use Twitter®, Facebook®, RSS® and so we are found by search engines only.

Interestingly the 80,000th. visitor is marked by sitemeter® as "unknown" and the language used was Hebrew - we wonder who that was.

We shall continue writing on issues of interest to seafarers, activist work in the maritime world, marine consulting, and our concern about seafarers held as hostages by pirates - even though we no longer write a comment on that subject after each Post.

Good Watch.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Courtesy of United States Navy (USN)

The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has issued the following WARNING to Mariners:

"The following is a maritime warning for mariners operating in the Gulf of Oman, South Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions.  Be advised , elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of potential maritime attacks being conducted by extremists.  Vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speed should especially be at heightened states of awareness for any suspicious  activity.  Report the presence of any craft behaving in a suspicious manner towards vessels - to include loitering, photographing and conducting unauthorized approaches - to the proper authorities."

Mariners should also be further aware that quietly in the last month the USN fleet has been increased in the Region and a Press Release has now been issued.  The number of minesweepers has been doubled in the Strait of Hormuz approaches.  On shore various attack aircraft have been based at the Regions military bases.

Good Watch.