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Dangers Posed By Bulk Transport High Seas Terrorism

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posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 05:08 AM
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It occurs to me that we have been arguing such things as the risks of Dubai handling our intra-port security as a function of import of WMD to our shores but not that of what happens when the ports themselves become targets.

After Texas City, Pearl Harbor (II), Port Chicago, Naples, Halifax and Black Tom, it would seem that the potential of this threat should be 'historically' understood but after watching a program on the evolution of the Super Tanker, some things stood out to me:

1. We have FIAC type light pursuit systems to counter inshore raiding but nothing which can legitimately track and attack ships at or beyond the territorial limit. Indeed, nothing large enough to make a difference is _home ported_ in major cities which could form the most viable terrorist targets (so even if you detect early, it may literally be a race to get a tangential intercept from a 'real Navy' base, elsewhere).

2. It takes some of the VLCC/ULCC type ships upwards of a half hour and 8 miles to _intentionally_ stop from an average of 16 knots. Even the much smaller categories of bulk container ships and LNG vessels are still twice the size of WWII equivalents and beyond the ability of a majority of our AShM, whether sea or coastal based, to perform an immediate mobility kill upon. Aircraft with heavy weight PGM of various sorts could adequately be guaranteed of sinking a ship but their reaction times are nortoriously long (over 20 minutes from Otis to NYC _at subsonic_ speeds) and their warloads almost entirely optimized to the Counter Air mission.

3. There seems to be increasing use of 'flag of convenience' foreign registry vessels for all kinds of hazardous materials transport without regard to specific qualification by vetting by crew or owner. Save for existing hazmat regs there is no peer guarantee as there is with most direct shippers.

4. While many of the deep draft super tankers are not able to enter our ports, America's appetite for oil in particular has led to a lot of lightering with multiple ships potentially in-harbor or 'stacked' just outside it at once. In theory, this could be used to generate secondary kill mechanisms by direct attack (boarding and accompaniment kill-magnification) or secondary spillage.

5. It would seem that the easiest way to 'guarantee safety' would be to use GPS tags and restricted (non-urbanized) Hazmat ports for things like Type A and B fertilizer class vessels. Yet this implies a passive defense against negligence or accident as much as active terrorism. What happens when you are looking at a specific class of ships (which must meet European and U.S. EFMA and HMR) and are listed on business databases? EVEN WITH 'prequalified' shipping agents, the potential for underway hijack exists. Particularly if these ships must also post sailing and arrival dates to establish a given window of expectation before a threat level search commences, how _discretely_ can their travels remain when exposed through such as a harbormaster's exit log? If you know a ships basic course and route, you can intercept it with nothing more than a private aircraft directing a visual intercept by small craft and a mothership (OTH). And even a keyed transponder tag can be transfered -before- proximity activation within range of coastal interrogation.

The MOAB destroyes upwards of 9-10 city blocks worth of terrain scape in a munition weight of less than 21,000lbs. Yet carriage of up to 3,000 TONS of AN based fertilizers is allowed with basically no more than dry-hull/no-heat sealed compartment specs.

In the Texas City disaster; we saw 7,700tons detonate with an explosive force that threw 14 MILLION pounds of the (shredded) S.S. Grandcamp upwards of 10,000ft into the air. People 16 MILES away were driven to their knees by the blast.

Overlay the damage graphs on a city like Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle or NYC, especialy at peak hours, and the disaster starts to look almost nuclear, including the poisonous toxins and secondary flash fires that would almost certainly also be associated.

It has all the hallmarks to me of a major potential disaster because it gives Terror Groups like AQ what they want: Higher and Higher death counts. Small unit/low cost operational freedoms. Plausible Deniability if World Opinion turns against the act (absent physical proof if not by location-as-intent). Simplistic access to near-border area targets and UNSTOPPABILITY within a given terminal radius of target.

QUESTIONS:
A. Can satellites track and ID vessels from MASINT type specific signature ID or are they dependent on specific transponder tags? MODIS can track nitrates in the ocean surface for instance, does it see fertilizer ships as specific 'hot spots'? What about other HM transports?

B. How would you institute a predispositional battle plan to quick-find a rogue explosives ship? P-3s at X. JDAMs at Y. JSTARS or E-3B at Z. SSN's?

C. What materials onboard would you expect a terrorist to have to use to saturate a high DWT volume of AN with sufficient deflagratory or decomposition effect to gain predetonation conditions and how long would this process take? Could preemplaced incendiaries as were rumored to be used by partisan dockworkers and longshoreman to sabotage U.S. ships heading to Europe in WWI be used with sufficient density as to achieve a time delay detonation /reliably/?

D. How would you execute a quick attack to attempt to retake the vessel in question and at what distance would you expect such an effort to be abandoned in trade for a disablement or direct attack? Is it a mobility kill on the engines? Is it a bridge storm or steerage spaces attack to regain navigational control? Do you attack the holds themselves to disable the material threat itself and if so, what means (lethal gas, mines/flooding) are within bounds to assure immediate loss of whatever explosive reaction 'chemistry' is inherent to the material in question?

E. Closer in, how would you ID and stop a 10-20,000ton ship which had decided to 'snowplow' breach a given Territorial Limit (12nm for the U.S.) holding zone and what kinds of direct-action comms would you expect a Coast Guard or Harbor Service to have to give threat warning in time for a command chain decision to lead to a properly reactive attack? Given that 'anything but the harbor bay itself' is a better defense than nothing, as an alternative or backup to direct interdiction, would you consider- Block Ships? Ram Ships? Channelization Dredging? Entry Control Booms? Mines? High Resolution ISAR radar on a buoy or guide ship?

F. Are there classification standards for detonation/flooding/gas release hazardous cargos on various tonnage-X class vessels that can be applied to both disaster mapping and specific ID/interval period cataloguing for a given cargo (i.e. a likelihood system for attack based on damage yields leading to a specific ID and reporting system when 'part of the net' carrying specific, high lethality, substances)?

mod edit: Caps lock is not your friend...

ABOUT ATS: General ATS discussion etiquette (review link)
4) Most of all, do not use ALL CAPS in posts and thread titles.



[edit on 8-6-2006 by UK Wizard]




posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 05:08 AM
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G. If the worst came to worst, what types of Disaster Relief Planning would be required to respond quickly to a disaster area where traditional (fireboat and harbor road access) means of combatting a massive fire and potential chemical threat were blocked? Army aviation batallion? Field Hospital? What are the triage and full treatment windows for burn, crush and toxin injuries (historical case records from Texas City?). Do these support extra-area evacuation or are you looking at immediate local treatment 'or else' as a function of spikes in the kill graphs? Are specific trauma capabilities (drugs, pressure chambers, surgical capacities) required and how do these overlay 'traditional' attacks such as air and subway delivered WMD (for cross-stocking)?


KPL.


Some LINKS-
Rules and Regs
www.epa.gov...
www.efma.be...
www.ausveg.com.au...

Publically Listed Shipping Companies
www.thezoomlist.com...

The Disasters We Know...
en.wikipedia.org...
members.tripod.com...
www.history.navy.mil...
www.uscg.mil...
www.njcu.edu...

Floating Bombs
www.mua.org.au...



posted on Jun, 8 2006 @ 07:27 PM
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I'm no expert on this stuff, but I'll take a piece of this.

QUESTIONS:
"A. Can satellites track and ID vessels from MASINT type specific signature ID or are they dependent on specific transponder tags? MODIS can track nitrates in the ocean surface for instance, does it see fertilizer ships as specific 'hot spots'? What about other HM transports?"

So far as I know, MASINT tracks on RFID and other tags, only. Recent upgrades to the system make real-time Ident query possible. This includes crew rosters and cargo manifests. All of which can be forged. MODIS tracks vapor and particulate emissions, with atmospheric spectrum analysis. think of it as a space-based optical varient of USAF's Rivet-Joint. A variety of system now track ships purely by what they look like. If a ship changes shape or color, automated programs will detect this after processing digital camera images taken at sea or in port from a variety of sources.


"B. How would you institute a predispositional battle plan to quick-find a rogue explosives ship? P-3s at X. JDAMs at Y. JSTARS or E-3B at Z. SSN's?"

New formulations of what constitutes battlespace, and improved data processing, will make it possible to view progessively larger areas in real-time. As this happens, the challenge will be to increase the speed of target query. This will involve a new generation of voluntary and involuntary intrusive queries being made of suspect vessels while they are at sea. Those vessels not in compliance with remote investigation requirements will be flagged as a higher threat priority. All of this will be accomplished with a mixture of manned and unmanned platforms at seas, each with a variety of intrusive capabilities. Air, land, and seaborne assets wil have to work in coordination at all times.


"C. What materials onboard would you expect a terrorist to have to use to saturate a high DWT volume of AN with sufficient deflagratory or decomposition effect to gain predetonation conditions and how long would this process take? Could preemplaced incendiaries as were rumored to be used by partisan dockworkers and longshoreman to sabotage U.S. ships heading to Europe in WWI be used with sufficient density as to achieve a time delay detonation /reliably/?"

A great many cargos can be rendered volatile, or useless, by simple exposure to sea water. In this event, a deliberate scuttle or use of timed military charges could be enough to get the job done. Efficient use of charges would require detailed engineering knowledge. In the case of certain bulk commodities, a properly placed incendiary device could start a fire hot enough to compromise the ship. In this instance, some effort would have to be made to handicap the onboard capability to put out the fire.


"D. How would you execute a quick attack to attempt to retake the vessel in question and at what distance would you expect such an effort to be abandoned in trade for a disablement or direct attack? Is it a mobility kill on the engines? Is it a bridge storm or steerage spaces attack to regain navigational control? Do you attack the holds themselves to disable the material threat itself and if so, what means (lethal gas, mines/flooding) are within bounds to assure immediate loss of whatever explosive reaction 'chemistry' is inherent to the material in question?"

Assuming that you could confirm that a ship was in distress, specifically under threat of hijack or sabotage, reaction would take hours. Even if you had many ships at sea, the distances involved would require lengthy travel times. Use of air assets to stop or slow doan the vessel in question are pheasible. Composite nets can be air dropped to fowl propellers. Broadcast microwave or EMP can be used ot disable ship instruments. If the vessel is "internet capable," some form of hack may be possible. Close-range attack by submarine with specialized munitions may also be an option. Things get much more complicated when you talk about boarding. Suffice to say that prosecutorial boarding is an option.


"E. Closer in, how would you ID and stop a 10-20,000ton ship which had decided to 'snowplow' breach a given Territorial Limit (12nm for the U.S.) holding zone and what kinds of direct-action comms would you expect a Coast Guard or Harbor Service to have to give threat warning in time for a command chain decision to lead to a properly reactive attack? Given that 'anything but the harbor bay itself' is a better defense than nothing, as an alternative or backup to direct interdiction, would you consider- Block Ships? Ram Ships? Channelization Dredging? Entry Control Booms? Mines? High Resolution ISAR radar on a buoy or guide ship?"

I think you just answered your own question.


"F. Are there classification standards for detonation/flooding/gas release hazardous cargos on various tonnage-X class vessels that can be applied to both disaster mapping and specific ID/interval period cataloguing for a given cargo (i.e. a likelihood system for attack based on damage yields leading to a specific ID and reporting system when 'part of the net' carrying specific, high lethality, substances)?"

All of these questions sound like they come from somebody's take-home exam.



posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 06:55 AM
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Justin Oldham,

Thanks for your reply.

>>
So far as I know, MASINT tracks on RFID and other tags, only. Recent upgrades to the system make real-time Ident query possible. This includes crew rosters and cargo manifests. All of which can be forged. MODIS tracks vapor and particulate emissions, with atmospheric spectrum analysis. think of it as a space-based optical varient of USAF's Rivet-Joint. A variety of system now track ships purely by what they look like. If a ship changes shape or color, automated programs will detect this after processing digital camera images taken at sea or in port from a variety of sources.
>>

Rivet Joint is a SIGINT/ELINT platform or so I thought. MASINT is a Mesures And Signature INTel method that I was hoping could exploit specific radiometry data using Lacrosse or an equivalent to make long slant key signature crossection images of various ships in transit and confirm that they did or did not have the requisite silouhette values, in combination with mass or wake speculars, to confirm that they were 'Who they said they were, where their sailing plan established they should be'. If you can keep them in the loop, then the number of dangerous-to-be-close-to areas that they can reach between coverage intervals is smaller and you can launch intercepts preemptively if they stray.

Of course, if you think back to the Orion/Penguin/Atlantis commerce raider efforts, it would seem that there was a real ability to alter decklines and what not, in near real time, with simple sheet panels, paint and spot welding or deckhinges.

At least if you have physical PLUS secondary encrypted data, you are doubling the bar height for accurate mimicry so that a ship could not be simulacrum'd at the same time as it was de-keyed to a networked HM transport system (at least not without being suspiciously 'in same frame' to whatever pirate craft did the hijack under a constellation designed specifically to monitor inshore maritime traffic).

>>
New formulations of what constitutes battlespace, and improved data processing, will make it possible to view progessively larger areas in real-time. As this happens, the challenge will be to increase the speed of target query. This will involve a new generation of voluntary and involuntary intrusive queries being made of suspect vessels while they are at sea. Those vessels not in compliance with remote investigation requirements will be flagged as a higher threat priority. All of this will be accomplished with a mixture of manned and unmanned platforms at seas, each with a variety of intrusive capabilities. Air, land, and seaborne assets wil have to work in coordination at all times.
>>

Well, the thing that seems least apt to be subject to mimicry to me would be acoustics. You've got decent range and the ability through SOSUS like systems to be cheaply autonomous which an SSN patrolling off Manhatten seems unlikely to represent. The problem, as you say, is to develop a system of systems whereby you KNOW that X has gone off the reservation in time to beat it's likely landfall. In a notification window that allows for the physical intercept to occur with a hostility determinace margin. And that's something that doesn't seem likely to be possible within an autonomous position-reporting system.

At the same time, if the ship disappears mid-ocean, WHO IS responsible? How many overseas deliveries of potential explosive or chemical HM materials do we rely on? Can these elements be purchased separately and 'installed' (say as premixed oil/AN drum pallets) on a ship with no HM related materials in it's manifest listings? Or do you have to steal it to avoid the paperwork?

>>
A great many cargos can be rendered volatile, or useless, by simple exposure to sea water. In this event, a deliberate scuttle or use of timed military charges could be enough to get the job done. Efficient use of charges would require detailed engineering knowledge. In the case of certain bulk commodities, a properly placed incendiary device could start a fire hot enough to compromise the ship. In this instance, some effort would have to be made to handicap the onboard capability to put out the fire.
>>

I'm sorry, what I meant to ask was whether the 'typical terrorist' can use say the ship's own bunkered fuel to form a predetonation mass _quickly_ enough to make a close-inshore attack viable (staging from our own shores and effecting the hijack before the reporting system could raise an alarm say). Or if the combination of transfer systems or activation period would require portage of large amounts of gear or chemicals (in ton-hours) beyond that which an amateur-leased piracy effort could make rewarding. It's the difference between a Wrecker type organization of 'somedays we're fishermen' and one of a dedicated (big-money visibility) privateer op as to where and when you take the vessel.

If it takes ten hours and a 20" hose pipe to flood a hold full of AN with marine diesel or if the process of doing so requires particular skill in the mixing or ballasting or subsequent charge setting standpoint, it suddenly creates another difficulty bar which the typical threat must clamber over.

>>
Assuming that you could confirm that a ship was in distress, specifically under threat of hijack or sabotage, reaction would take hours. Even if you had many ships at sea, the distances involved would require lengthy travel times. Use of air assets to stop or slow doan the vessel in question are feasible. Composite nets can be air dropped to fowl propellers. Broadcast microwave or EMP can be used ot disable ship instruments. If the vessel is "internet capable," some form of hack may be possible. Close-range attack by submarine with specialized munitions may also be an option. Things get much more complicated when you talk about boarding. Suffice to say that prosecutorial boarding is an option.
>>

My assumption was that if you have a close inshore threat, your first ascertainment of 'potential hostility' may come when said merchantmen refuses radio declaration and stacking procedures in whatever queue is inline for the harbor. And that IF you have the modern day equivalent to a light/guideship able to work 20 miles offshore, his is going to be both a high likelihood secondary target on the terrorists list and the first chance to confirm that a vessel (destined to port elsewhere) is in fact (by radar silouhette if not nameplate binoculars) an HM material carrier.

This declaratory process may be further hampered by the notion that you are working with an international crew who are having problems with a radio system that they cannot ask for repair guidance on. (not 'tramp merchant' but in that temporary-hire vein).

My last conditional modifier is what happens when you have a threat sophisticated enough to either transfer materials to secondary blockade runner/decoy vessels. Or one which uses the very boarding craft it employed in the initial hijack to act as a blocking force against any CG boarding party (imagine cigarette hulls vs. RIB based FIACs and envision the slaughter of a 70 knot HMG force vs. a 40 knot LMG equipped one).

If any of these delayed declaration or 'uncertain condition' or 'hard target escort' events occur, you no choice but to go full military in your response because only the military will have the trained operators and the forced insertion (aerial) means to get a team rapidly seaward and onto a hostile deck, even inshore. The CG may be good at running down drug runners but they just don't have the suppression options or numbered platforms to insert a boarding team under fire.



posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 06:56 AM
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Given any overt (attack first) policy, even through something as 'minor' as running gear fouling, might be equally inflammatory and uncertain in it's outcome (for what it did to put an innocent but still dangerous drift hazard into a cluttered sealane on it's way to a beaching/spill condition) a statistical model that specified the number of ships which enter harbor under abridged or ignored port rules conditions must be made just for each threatened port just to see how likely it is that a man-onboard check would avoid millions of dollars in damages and 'hurt feelings' to the flagging nation and insurer while avoiding pileups of shipping traffic behind sunken or stalled freighters.

There are other things to consider: A quick covert check with permanently stationed SOF personnel is going to be cheaper than specific heavy-asset stationing but they will still be hard to keep there and this problem will multiply with the cross-discipline requirements of deployment assets SEALs would need SBT or SOCOM air for instance if they were to even get to the inbound in time. ALL OF WHOM have their own operational tasking/training rotational issues.

Even if the nominally 'sponsoring' city picked up the tab for some basic (RIB) transport, the notion of clambering up a 30-70ft underway hullside with a major bowwave and suction issue is not going to be pleasant as a covert activity and may well be nearly impossible if contested without a heavy (PC or better) firesupport craft. If it's false positive, the inbound crew will be pissed. If it's not, you face an overwhelmingly good chance of losing the team or a large area of the target approaches to predetonation or spill by a jumpy terrorist.

Perhaps worst of all is the 45-50 knot vs. 16-20 knot closure factor on response. From a 12 mile condition, you are looking at 16 minutes to get there that's five miles closer inshore before you do a single thing to board.

While air delivery is the fastest, from a terminal warning condition; it is also much more expensive and may actually be worse for surprise. Even under the most favorable of conditions, you can't use paramodes, on ships with booms or two deckhouses. And for attacks farther at sea, a V-22 is both the only real solution and likely to pose nearly insurmountable rotorwash problems in a fastrope scenario. It seems to me, if you need to board, you have to do so at the waterline and fight up through dock door. Or, if covertness is an issue, you need an _air releasable_ UAV which can 'hand deliver' a Packbot or equivalent system direct-to-deck without overflight or rotor noise from the delivery asset.

All of which drives up the size of the air asset 'just to avoid damage or injury' during a hard target boarding (effectively you need a ramped aircraft with high or no tailrotor).

And once you confirm hostility, your asset takes another leap into the MH/CH category by virtue of dumping whatever boat you plan on using for the approach.

i.e. You're back to draglining and limpet charges as your only alternative to going with a JDAM and AMSTE to blowing out the bottom of the hull so quickly that the ship settles where it's at.

>>
I think you just answered your own question.
>>

If you selectively dredge, you create channelization which may effect current structures and further siltation in what is already a very complicated Bay environment, even if it is not a direct hazard or impediment to maritime traffic entering the port. If you mine (say the Verazano Narrows and the turn up past Governor's Island and the BB), even with bottom lay command detonation systems, you have the whole 'End Sweep' scenario whereby either a deliberate or accidental displacement/removal effort could be compromised and now you have the POTUS admitting that he has mined our own harbors. It would also have to be a fairly large device to ensure that the vessel broke up as an effective terminal defense and even if it worked, you would have the problem of a vented hazmat. While a truly large vessel would be hard pressed to make the corners into the Upper Bay, coming North; headed the opposite direction down Long Island Sound, the only thing you really have to worry about are the bridges. Again, the obvious answer seems to be to create multiple 'scuttle banks' and use tugs to push the vessel abeam and aground. But this implies a complicit terrorist who would rather spend his golden years in federal lockdown if not under the needle than taking out Port Authority tugboats.


>>
All of these questions sound like they come from somebody's take-home exam.
>>

Look at the Katrina response and say that again with a straight face. KNOWING what was coming we spend the better part of the last 18hrs bumper to bumper northbound traffic gridlocked while the southbound side of the sole highway access to the city lay COMPLETELY EMPTY. School busses that were allowed to sit in the yard, unused to transport the poor until flooded out. And the blessed Navy (and DOD) specifically instructed the Marine TF to _leave late_ because then they could make FEMA and HoSe look like idiots for not having a delegated asset on station in time.

Airports are now locked down and indeed airliners in general are probably one of the easiest threats to secure against further incident, simply by virtue of a covert cabin/cockpit monitor and PAC-3 quick-intercept capability 'out over suburbania'. But ports front about 6 out of ten of our largest cities and since 'nobody would think' to drive a 60-100K ton ship into a harbor at 20 knots with intent to ram, nobody else considers the power of a VBIED measured in /tons/ detonating once it happens.

Even as nobody considers how _very_ alone those vessels are at sea. Short of a convoy system and/or armed military detachments onboard, the only real option seems to be constant remote overwatch and that still doesn't change the nature of an inshore hijack and quick toodle up the coast.


KPl.



posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 12:12 PM
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Holy jeez, what is this, a Ph.d proposal or something!? I got most of what you were saying ch1466, but MAN, do you get technical! A load of those acronymns you use and terms you use, most people here haven't a clue as to what you are referring to. Not that there's anything wrong with great technical knowledge, but remember ATS is home to everything from 14 year-olds to 50 year-old people who have Ph.ds and have worked in some engineering field for many years, so not all of us know all this stuff to discuss it.

Are you an expert in some area of this or do you just study this military stuff as a quasi-profession? Anyhow, good job making some intelligent conversation, but when asking such questions, try to put things more in layman's terms. A couple of your sentences I had to re-read about twenty times before I understood what you actually meant.

IMO, good topic though, though maybe this should be more in the "War on Terrorism" forum, since it discusses combating a terrorist threat.



posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 01:33 PM
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A certain amount of this is very technical stuff. Any one of those questions asked by CH1466 should really be answered in a much longer format. As it turned out, I spent an hour typing the few answers I had. I probably shouldh ave limited myself to just one question in that hour.

To be fair, these are the questions asked by military professionals every day. Answers to these questions keep America safe. The only reason I know as little as I wrote about it because I am hip-deep in research for my next novel.

For what it's worth, any specialty can sound really complicated. In my offic,e Ihave a dry erase board. Some times, when I am framing a research question, I can use the whole board to write one long (ten part) question.



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