Robust defense against small boat attacks
Lucas, Thomas W.
Kline, Jeffrey E.
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Nearly a decade after the small boat attacks against the USS Cole (in 2000) and M/V Limburg (in 2002) in Yemen, small vessels continue to pose a security threat. In part, this is due to the ease of camouflage and the high frequency of small vessels operating in proximity to important maritime infrastructure, such as bridges and petrochemical plants, and to passenger and military ships. In this study, small boat effectiveness in the interception of attacking speedboats is analyzed using the stochastic, time-stepped, agent-based simulation tool MANA. Three alternative defender tactics of scramble from base, barrier patrol, and random patrol are explored against two possible attacker modus operandi of saturation attack and diversionary attack. The probability of at least one attacker reaching the defended asset is the primary measure of effectiveness. A full factorial experiment was designed and executed for defenders tasked to protect the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Hong Kong. The findings indicate that the defenders are highly susceptible to diversionary attacks regardless of tactics employed, but their effectiveness can be improved by retaining sufficient defensive assets in preparation for a potential follow on attack. The study highlights the limits on patrol boat effectiveness to intercept small high speed vessels which lead to the nullification of any numerical advantage the defender may have when faced with a saturation attack. Anticipating the heading of the attacker is a critical factor for a successful engagement.
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