OPSEC in the Gulf

A few days ago, we featured this lovely pic as the Pic O’ the Day.

Flashes of lighting are seen over the horizon as the aircraft carrier the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower operates in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, Nov. 19, 2012. The Dwight D. Eisenhower is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Greg Linderman

Now comes news that the photographer left the GPS metadata embedded in the picture before releasing it to the public.

Michael Yon, the Excitable Andi of the Milblog world, is an a panic that Operational Security has been breached (safe link to Stormbringer), advertising the location of the USS Eisenhower.

What Yon doesn’t seem to realize is, in most of the 5th Fleet AOR, the Navy’s problem isn’t hiding, but being seen. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility includes the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf and the Arabian Sea. These are some of the most heavily trafficked waters of the globe. The risk of collision is real. Indeed, I can think of two instances in just the past couple years involving US Navy ships. To mitigate the potential for collisions, ships at sea use a system called AIS.  This broadcasts the location of the ship via VHF radio. Other ships with AIS, when in range, pick up this signal, and receive position and track data. Modern ship control systems automatically plot not just the location, but the track of other vessels, and alert the crew to any potential collisions. Further, US Navy shipping in the Gulf routinely communicates via voice VHF with other shipping, loudly proclaiming their US Navy status, and warning other vessels to stay clear.

When the US Navy puts a 1000 foot long, 90,000 ton carrier in the Gulf, it will be visible to air traffic, fishing vessels, cargo shipping and tankers virtually 24/7.  Iranian maritime patrol aircraft can track a carrier’s movements in the entirety of the Gulf without ever leaving Iranian airspace.  Hiding a carrier in the Gulf for any extended period of time is just not feasible.

Now, when the Navy does want to make a carrier disappear, if they’re in the Arabian Sea, or other open waters, that’s a bit more doable. By shutting off AIS, turning off all other electronic emissions, and careful movement of the ship, even a massive carrier can be very stealthy. 

But that’s not what is going on with this picture. And Yon, as usual, is finding a crisis where none exists. He’s certain, I’m sure, that only he is smart enough to realize just how incompetent the professional sailors of the US Navy are, in spite of his not having a minute of maritime background.


10 thoughts on “OPSEC in the Gulf”

  1. Drama Queen? Nope – Yon’s a dumbass and a pretender. He used to be fairly useful but he went stupid awhile back. His rants over red crosses on helicopters and assertions that only he knows what’s going on have put him on a black list with people he should be kissing up to. The Quiet Professional bloggers outed him awhile back – interesting reading and highly recommended.

    1. Heh heh heh… QM said “ferry.” Heh heh heh…
      Sorry. Got Beavis & Butthead going through my skull right now. :-/
      That, and Yawn’s Thai adventures…

  2. Got to play “Hide the Carrier” a couple of times in the West Pacific. It seemed pretty rediculous, they were talking about confiscating PS3 and Xbox controllers. I’m pretty sure if you’re close enough to pick up a Bluetooth signal through a couple feet of steel you’re close enough to see the damn thing. A CVN is a lot of things, but subtle isn’t one of them. Kind of like me.

  3. “Oh God, for They sea is vast, and my ship is very small”
    Breton Fisherman’s prayer.
    Brad is right, when you get out into Blue Water, there is a lot of sea to vanish into.

  4. I will give Yon this, the red cross on the Medivac choppers is a target. That’s why the AF dropped them and armed their Medivac choppers. I think the Army should the same.

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