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There has been a lot of talk on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows about the State of our Nation.  The complete lack of Leadership from the President, a Secretary of the Treasury with no treasure, a clearly dysfunctional Congress, the wildly exaggerated behaviour of the Secretary of Transportation over the FAA.  It turns out all he had to do to solve that problem was activate procedures already in place - did he actually know what to do or was it the usual politics of this Administration.  Now we have a world opinion about how we are really perceived by the financial world at large it is AA+ which is actually truthful for once.

Perhaps this S&P assessment of our ability to run our country will wake up Washington, DC persons to do the job they were hired, by us, to do.  Put financial packages together from monies the country actually has and proceed with projects actually needed. 

Certainly one of the areas needing close examination is the military budget in general and certain aspects of it in particular.  In various Blogs there have been discussions about the Navy LCS program.  The vessels are extremely costly, may be well above what is actually needed, not that well constructed, too large for many coastal Ports that they could be based in or use in operational situations.  They are the result of thinking which will have to change as the result of the new S&P rating of AA+.

The Chinese PLAN, coming from a perspective 180° from ours, also needed LCS patrol vessels which could launch missiles and have a rapid firing gun.  The result was the Houbei Type 022 designated a Fast Attack Craft Missile.  They have built over 80 of these craft and may well have a fleet of 100 as they are currently building 10 vessels a year in about four yards at Dalian, Huangpu, Jiangnan, and Quixin.  Of common design they are LOA 42.6 metres, Beam 12.2 metres, Draft 1.5 metres, Crew 12-14 persons, DWT 36 tonnes, Power 2x2560 kW, Speed 36 knots.  While the razzle-dazzle paint scheme may look like the SSCS RV Steve Irwin the craft are no doubt effective for the operational needs as planned.
Former CPS Ltd. passenger ship SS Montcalm was converted to a depot ship as HMS Wolfe

Small footnote on this name change which tends to indicate the British do not forget their history.  The Battle of Quebec 1759 was fought between French-Canadian forces led by Marquis de Montcalm and British-American forces led by Major General James Wolfe.  The British-American troops scaled the Heights of Abraham to achieve a tactical advantage.  Both Montcalm and Wolfe were killed in the Battle and the French-Canadian troops withdrew from the field of conflict.  Canada became a part of the British Empire.  However Quebec City and the Province of Quebec are still french speaking to this day.

With this size craft they can utilize all the Chinese coastal Ports to operate out of and as can be seen in the photographs operating with larger PLAN vessels cover the entire coast line of China.   In heavy weather they can therefore quickly shelter in any coastal Port, fully replenish the vessel, and be ready for action once conditions improve to within their operating parameters.  By having large sea-going depot ships with repair facilities, carrying fuel, supplies, armaments, relief crews, these small fast vessels could operate on far ranging patrols in the South China Sea and beyond.  With the addition of the aircraft carrier Shi Lang and the others  currently building the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is becoming formidable.  Remember China is rated AA- by S&P and holds lots of our U.S. financial paper.

Good Watch.

Please remember the 800 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia which is gripped now by famine in addition to civil war.


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The older vessels saw unbelievable service and value for money the first being commissioned in 1979 and continued through the '80's and 90's into the 21st. Century.  During those years in addition to patrolling the stormy seas around the rugged Irish coast they made passages across the Western Ocean to the United States and Canada, south to South America as far as Argentina, and east to Asia as far as Korea.  Such passages are really remarkable for such small vessels and show the competence of Irish seafarers who as Naval Officers and Merchant Marine Officers train together.

Good Watch.