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Offshore platform

WASHINGTON – The prospect that countries such as China and Iran soon will have submarines trolling in waters in the Gulf of Mexico and up and down the East and West coasts of the United States is resurrecting concern over the security of oil and natural gas pipeline platforms in those areas, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Also, drug cartels have begun to use submarines to carry their cargo into the United States. Given the cartels’ flourishing relationships with terrorists with various goals, the subs could be used to destroy important platforms, according to Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Krepinevich said that a considerable amount of capital investment has gone into increasing the undersea energy infrastructure off U.S. coasts, including oil platforms that not only extract and temporarily store oil and natural gas but have the gas wellheads and pipelines and pumps needed to transfer the oil and gas to shore.

“This vast infrastructure was built with the assumption that while it would have to weather natural disasters, it would not be a target in war,” Krepinevich said. “In military parlance, much of the infrastructure comprises ‘soft’ targets that would not require much in the way of explosives to cause significant, and perhaps catastrophic, damage. Fortunately, many of these targets have not been easy to reach, until now.”

Krepinevich cited the “proliferation” of unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs, which at one time were operated exclusively by Western militaries.

While many now are used for commercial and scientific purposes, UUVs have capabilities beyond those of manned submarines, possibly carrying mines and other explosives, as well as cameras and electronic sensors, he said.

Such capabilities not only could affect pipelines on the ocean floor but could make undersea communications cables vulnerable to virtually unstoppable sabotage.

In addition to the small manned submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles, Krepinevich pointed to the development of naval mines now being manufactured in more than 30 countries.

The mines have sensors, target-recognition systems, stealthy coatings and self-propulsion systems that enable them to move about virtually undetected.

“But mines don’t need to be sophisticated to be effective, especially against the thousands of soft targets populating the continental shelf,” he said.

He also called on the U.S. diplomatically to work with countries such as Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Norway and the United Kingdom, which have similar offshore platforms, to coordinate defensive efforts against any potential attack.

“Given the stakes involved, just as the U.S. and its allies developed the forces, capabilities and methods needed to defend their economic assets at sea during the Battle of the Atlantic (during World War II against German submarines), a similar effort is needed now with respect to America’s undersea economic interests,” Krepinevich warned.

“The alternative is hope for the best – and hope is not a strategy.”

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