As economies across the globe continue to contract, navies, armies, and air forces are being told, if not, “do more with less” to at least “do the same with less.” Proceedings thus asked sea-service commanders around the world: What innovative efficiencies and economies are you implementing, or considering implementing, to improve force readiness?
Rear Admiral Ante Urlic
The Croatian Navy faces a growing number of increasingly complex maritime tasks, as well as reduced financial resources. The prolonged financial austerity, augmented by the change of political and social priorities in the postwar years, have threatened to jeopardize and postpone the badly needed modernization and further development of the navy.
Despite relatively modest plans for conventional shipbuilding or naval system procurement (five coastal patrol ships, the new mine countermeasure (MCM) systems for mine hunters, an autonomous underwater vehicle, equipment for MCM divers, new communication equipment, and such), the Navy has been forced to adopt and implement a series of organizational and technical innovations. Using popular phrases from the NATO and the EU environment, we could say that—even within national boundaries—we are trying to apply the principles of “smart defense.”
In Croatia the navy is just one of the players responsible and accountable for maritime-security issues. So, in performing regular defense tasks at sea, it must cooperate and sometimes compete with the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, and with local government agencies and institutions in the maritime-security domain. Although it sometimes seems that it is easier to cooperate with international institutions rather than within our national boundaries, increased multiyear efforts have produced visible improvements and tangible results in strengthening national synergy at sea.
Faced with reduced resources, the navy has had to streamline the network of naval bases and installations. But, given the numerous tasks of maritime security and our relatively long coastline, there is still the need for periodic but frequent forward-basing at sea. Thus we are exploring the options of leasing some installations to private enterprises—with a guarantee of assured access and basic logistical services.
Further, with a relatively modest investment in the modernization of the existing surveillance radar systems (with a primary goal of their automation and networking), we plan to reduce significantly the number of personnel needed to operate the systems. In addition, a future comprehensive network of radars and other sensors at sea will be built in cooperation with other agencies, which will include shared responsibility at sea (and shared costs).
One particular strand of work in that regard is our SEVID project, a Web-based information system that allows the creation of a near-real-time radar modernization that will include monitoring of ships, their identification, and data distribution. The key objective is to improve maritime domain awareness, with information being integrated and processed in a central Web server. Developed by the navy, it currently is in the testing phase.