As you'll see when you read the responses of chiefs of navies from around the world, piracy ranks high among most of them as one of the top international nuisances they must confront. In his report filed from Mombasa, Kenya, Mr. Axe seems to be on to something: The way to stem the flow of pirates is to stanch it at its source. We bet few of our readers realize that many of the pirate operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean can be traced right to that Kenyan port city. Now, the Kenyan government seems to be on board in dealing with this menace. But the test will come sooner than we expected. As this issue went to press, the USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) captured several suspected pirates and were preparing to hand them over to legal authorities—in Kenya. We'll see what happens.
This month marks our annual International Navies issue. Since 1992, we have been asking the world's naval leaders to weigh in on a question that we compose around the editorial table. Since 2006, this yearly cat-herding expedition—including exchanges with naval attachés in Washington, translations from native languages, and editing those written by someone whose first language is obviously not English—has been steered by associate editor Jim Caiella. This year, Jim has outdone himself, having coaxed responses from a Proceedings record 37 international heads of navies, including first-timers United Arab Emirates, Nicaragua, Jordan, and Fiji.
As a companion to the commanders' responses, Combat Fleets of the World editor Eric Wertheim takes us on a maritime journey to all corners of the globe, reporting on what has happened over the past year in countries that field navies—who is building or buying what ships, and what ships have which capabilities. Some of his reports may startle you. In keeping with this issue's international flavor, we also feature intelligence analyst Dan McClure's look at how Nordic nations might strengthen their defenses by consolidating and cooperating with one another. Since specific countries have their own sweet spots when it comes to military operations, this concept might help them face potential contingencies as the polar cap recedes.
Commodore Lee Cordner of the Royal Australian Navy gives us an in-depth look at his service's efforts to upgrade its Adelaide -class frigates and extend the ships' active-duty lives well into the next decade. He explains that this measure was born of "indecisive defense policy and low levels of investment over decades" and cites "procrastination and cost overruns" as features of his nation's defense procurement process. Sound familiar? Are there lessons learned here for the U.S. Navy as it wrestles with the thorny questions of the Littoral Combat Ship and DDG-1000?
And instructors from the Naval War College and the U.S. Naval Academy team up for an analysis of what to make of China's involvement in antipiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. While some might regard the Chinese intentions with skepticism and suspicion, the authors applaud this development and believe the first major blue-water foray by the People's Liberation Army Navy could usher in a new era of maritime cooperation and security.