Budget According to American Society of Naval Engineers

An interesting Power Point (pdf)https://www.navalengineers.org/…/Documen…/Carnevale_2014.pdf about how the Federal Budget and Geopolitics influence Naval Shipbuilding from the American Society of Naval Engineers. Of course most of it is about Navy shipbuilding, but they do touch on Coast Guard programs and there are a couple of items worthy of note.

First on page 8, “Total Federal Spending, Who’s Spending the Money” one entry notes that over the three years between 2010 and 2013 the Dept. of Homeland Security spending has gone up 36%. While I seem to recall, Coast Guard spending has actually declined.

On page 33 is “FY15 USCG Vessels Appropriations Status.” It show the differences between the Administration request, and the House and Senate mark-ups. Most significantly, while the Administration asked for only two Webber class WPCs ($110M), the House included four ($205M), and the Senate six ($318M). In-service Vessel Sustainment was also bumped up. The Administration requested $24.5M, the House included $34.5M and the Senate $49M. There was another bump, Senate added $8M for Polar Icebreaker Preservation, which I presume was for the Polar Sea. The House cut the OPC program $10M and zeroed the Icebreaker program (-$6M).

The last thing of interest to me on this page was that while the Administration asked for $803M for Coast Guard vessels, the House requested a bit over $83M more ($884.347M), and the Senate $240.5M more ($1,043.5M). The FY2014 continuing resolution was $999M

US Coast Guard Retiree FEMA Reservist Initiative


I’m passing this along at the request of Retired Master Chief of the Coast Guard, Skip Bowen.

 US Coast Guard Retiree FEMA Reservist Initiative

Below you will find the Master Chief’s forwarding note and an extract from the “All Hands Coast Guard” Blog, written by him, that was published earlier this month (with some minor formatting changes).

Fellow CG Retirees, This is just a reminder that this is still an ongoing initiative. Our Retiree population has stepped up to the plate and we have about a hundred strong resumes in the system. However, the need is much greater and I hope that every CG Retiree fully or partially retired from their civilian occupation considers this opportunity. Besides serving your country in an active capacity again the FEMA Reservists are also paid for their time and travel while deployed. Deployments can either be for training or to a disaster. Please read the below and get in contact with FEMA if you have questions.

Yours in service,
Skip Bowen

As the co-chairs of the Commandant of the Coast Guard National Retiree Council, Retired Rear Adm. John Acton and I have been working with FEMA on an exciting opportunity for Coast Guard retirees.

Throughout my Coast Guard career, I took pride in the fact that the organization that I was a part of was a humanitarian service. Rescue and emergency response are the missions that initially attracted me to the Coast Guard and they are largely why I stayed with the Coast Guard for an entire career. Now I am retired and I am still interested in service to my fellow citizens. I believe that most of my fellow retirees are also. With that in mind we have worked with FEMA to create a unique and exciting opportunity for retirees called the U.S. Coast Guard Retiree to FEMA Reservist Initiative. you are semi-retired or fully retired and have a flexible schedule this part time opportunity may be for you.

FEMA Reserves serve as the bulk of the FEMA Response workforce during a disaster. FEMA Reserves are trained and qualified to perform a myriad of tasks during a disaster response. When deployed FEMA Reserves are reimbursed for travel and paid as intermittent FEMA employees. Currently FEMA is experiencing a critical shortage within its Reserve Program. Over 2,700 FEMA Reserve positions are vacant. Reservist positions are managed through FEMA Cadres and the skills needed to serve in most of them are generally equivalent to many Coast Guard ratings and officer specialties. CG retirees may already have experience in disaster response, rescue, first aid, ICS, hazardous material handling, survivor support, recovery ops and many other areas of expertise needed in the aftermath of a disaster.

Within the Coast Guard retiree population I believe that many former Coast Guard men and women will have the time, aptitude for volunteerism, and the skills necessary to become FEMA Reservists. This is an opportunity for retirees to still be of service, but on a flexible, part time basis.

Reaching out to Coast Guard retirees will serve as Phase 1 and “proof of concept” for a larger initiative targeting all military veterans. During Phase 2, FEMA with the help of CG Retire Council co-chairs will reach out to all retirees of the other four Armed Services. Phase 3 will entail a targeted effort toward all military veterans in general and wounded warriors in particular. For the Phase 1 effort, FEMA will work with the co-chairs of the Coast Guard Retiree Council to continue mapping out equivalent CG rating and officer specialties versus FEMA Cadre specialties.

FEMA has modified their website to include a section dedicated to the recruitment of Coast Guard retirees for this exciting program. The section includes CG retiree specific content, information on the application process, forms, and resumes.

To learn more, contact the FEMA Call Center at 855-377-FEMA (3362) or email the Incident Workforce Management Division (WMDFrontOffice@Fema.dhs.gov).

Maybe, it would not hurt to infuse FEMA with a bit more Coast Guard Spirit–Chuck

Taiwan builds a Very Different Cutter X

Always nice to see what others are doing.

We have talked about a cutter X before, that is, a cutter larger than the Webber class, but smaller than the Offshore Patrol Cutter, that would allow more days cruising at a distance from their home ports than is possible for the Webber class.

Focus Taiwan is reporting (it is their video above) Taiwan is building ships in this class but in a very different form, for a very different purpose. It measures 60.4 meters in length and 14 meters in width, with a crew of 41. It is fast at 38 knots and has a range of 2,000 nautical miles. (This is actually less than the range of the Webber class, but if this is quoted for a higher cruise speed, the range could actually be greater than that of the Webber class at the same lower speed.) The great beam is the give away, the hull is something unusual.

Janes.com has pictures of the hull out of the water. A separate Janes report lists the armament as eight Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) and eight ramjet-powered Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) anti-ship missiles, an “Otobreda 76 mm gun, four 12.7 mm machine guns for close-range ship defence and a Mk 15 Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) to defeat incoming projectiles and hostile aircraft.”

We have seen a similar hull form before.

Random Thoughts on CG Aircraft Missions

Hall PH-2
Photo: Coast Guard Hall PH-3 loads depth charges

This started as a response to a comment by JohnnieZ!, but it got to be too long, and perhaps too important a discussion to not to address more fully. The discussion revolved around:

  • The Textron Scorpion, a light two seat jet marketed to the Coast Guard among others as an ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) asset (really sort of a manned drone) but with the capability to carry light weapons.
  • Manned alternatives to the Coast Guards land-based UAV requirements.
  • The Coast Guard’s air intercept mission over Washington DC, now being done by H-65s.
  • The use of fixed wing aircraft with an Airborne Use of Force capability in support of Webber class as a substitute for larger cutters with embarked AUF helicopters.
  • The possibility of arming CG fixed wing aircraft in general.
Textron Scorpion

Textron Scorpion

As in many important discussions, there is no simple, obvious answer. I am sure Bill Wells will tell us the roots of this discussion go back to the formation of the Coast Guard’s first aviation unit. The Coast Guard has had a cultural divide between the surface ship side and the aviation side. While surface ships are commonly armed, the aviation side has been traditionally averse to weapons. This has changed somewhat since the advent of the airborne use of force mission, but for some Coast Guard aviators, weapons are still anathema. To some extent this is understandable. Weapons bring additional costs, security concerns, training and maintenance requirements, and a change of self-image.

We will talk about using fixed-wing aircraft, including the three types currently in service or planned (C-130s, C-144s, and C-27Js) as well as the Scorpion and the MC-12/KingAir 350 (an aircraft already in the Customs and Border Protection fleet) in four missions areas,

  • ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance),
  • the DC intercept of general aviation aircraft,
  • airborne use of force for law enforcement, and
  • stopping a terrorist attack.


Photo: JGSDF LR-2, A Beechcraft 350, Super KingAir,  Military designation C-12 Huron

ISR: Incorporating land based UAVs into the Coast Guard’s Maritime Domain Awareness system has proven a bit problematic, due to the requirement to sense and avoid regular air traffic, and the fact that they seem to crash more frequently than expected, making them perhaps more expensive than anticipated. We can of course do this mission with C130s, C-144s, or C-27s, but operating cost is relatively high. There may be a place for manned aircraft with relatively low operating costs, like the Scorpion or MC-12 to replace the unmanned systems. The problem with the Scorpion is, there is no head. It is faster than other Coast Guard aircraft, and if equipped with the right sensors, it could cover a lot of ocean relatively quickly, so  perhaps bladder endurance may not be a problem, but I can’t help but think that the King Air’s crew endurance, probably cruising at a lower altitude, is better. I don’t see the Coast Guard even considering the Scorpion unless it wins the competition for the Air Force’s new trainer, which would guarantee its supportability. None of these manned fixed wing aircraft have the potential of an MQ-4C. But then, if the US Navy is actually going to maintain surveillance of US waters, the Coast Guard many not need to do Maritime Domain Awareness ISR, just tap into Navy data.

The DC intercept: The problems with the current use of H-65s for intercepting general aviation aircraft that violate the standing airspace restrictions over the capital is that: (1) Many general aviation aircraft have a higher maximum air speed than the helicopter. (2) Even if the target is slower, the relatively slow speed of the helicopter may make achieving an intercept problematic. (3) If the aircraft is in fact hostile, the helicopter has to hand over the task of destroying it to an interceptor aircraft or missile battery introducing the possibilities of delays and misdirection.

The first questions that come to mind is, why is the Coast Guard doing this rather than the Marines, Army, or Air National Guard? And why only over DC? The Marines, Army, and, I believe, the National Guard have attack helicopters that appear more appropriate than an H-65. The Textron Scorpion might be even better, but there are other alternatives that are already in the US inventory. Other candidates include


  • The  Beechcraft T-6A Texan II which is already in service with both the Air Force and the Navy as a trainer aircraft and has been modified as a light attack aircraft. It has a 100 knot speed advantage on the H-65.
  • The similar, perhaps even more capable, Embraer A-29 Super Tucano now being  built in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • Even the MC-12 Super King Air looks like it would work better than the H-65 if equipped with an air to air weapon.
  • The H-144, if appropriately armed, would be capable, but probably is more expensive to operate.


Photo credit: Brazilian Air Force. Super Tucano, the type can handles more than 130 weapon configurations, including 70mm rocket launchers, air-to-air missiles and laser-guided bombs, totally integrated into the aircraft’s mission system, with a laser designator

As far as I know, Coast Guard helicopters are not prepared for air to air combat. Even if we used the existing airborne use of force package, while the .50 caliber sniper rifle might be useful, we certainly don’t want a Coast Guard aircraft shooting a manually aimed machine gun at another aircraft over heavily populated areas.

Airborne use of force for law enforcement: In the Webber class cutters, the Coast Guard has an asset that can perform many of the missions normally expected of a medium endurance cutter, including drug and migrant interdiction, but they do not enjoy the advantage of organic aviation assets. There is no helicopter to augment their search, to chase down high speed contacts, or to use force to compel them to stop. When boardings are performed, they have neither a second boat nor an armed helicopter to provide over-watch as their boarding team approaches a suspected trafficer.

Certainly, shore based aircraft can be used to augment their search, but when it is time to compel a high speed contact to stop what are the options? We could almost certainly mount a heavy machine gun system controlled by an electro-optic device. There are gunship versions of all the aircraft the Coast Guard expects to operate that include electro-optic targeting and roll-on/roll-off palletized gun systems (Harvest Hawk (C-130), MC-27J Praetorian, and AC-235 (CN-235/HC-144)). But would it be accurate enough to do disabling fire as is done by helicopter airborne use of force units? Even if not, the armed over-watch function might be worth doing. Would we have lost BMC Terrell Horne III if the smuggler had known an armed aircraft was supporting Chief Horne’s RHIB? We could probably use a lighter .50 cal. rather than a 25 to 40mm gun, but we might want to have the option of the larger weapon for other reasons.

Stopping a terrorist attack: It is a fair question to ask why the Coast Guard should do this rather than the Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force? After all, the Army maintained coastal defense fortifications from the founding of the republic until the end of WWII. Until recently the Navy had bases all along the coast with forces organized into Naval Districts (1903-1980) and during WWII they organized the Naval Districts into operational commands called “Sea Frontiers” (1941-1970s) that provided maritime security. The Air Force and Marines certainly also have assets that are capable of performing the mission.

In 1984 the Maritime Defense Zones were established with Coast Guard Area Commanders as third echelon Navy commands. They were primarily intended to counter Soviet forces, but realistically, their concern was always unconventional attacks. When the Soviet Union broke up, the commands appeared to have lost their rational and they were inactivated. But as we found out 9/11, the threat of unconventional attacks remained, and in fact may be increasing. My personal feeling is that the MARDEZ commands should be active at all times.

While the Coast Guard may not have the “Coast Defense” mission in law, the way the Army does, Ports, Waterways and Coastal Security (PWCS), is one of the eleven statutory missions called out in the Homeland Security Act of 2002. If for no other reason than the fact the service is called the Coast Guard, there is some expectation that the Coast Guard will actually guard the coast, at least against unconventional attack.

In some ways the Coast Guard is well positioned to do this. DOD forces concentrate on being forward deployed. When they come back to the US, they stand down, train, and reorganize. Generally they do not have ready crews and ships, boats, or aircraft on standby 24/7. Additionally repeated base closures have resulted in concentration of forces in only a few locations, leaving many ports far from military installations. The Coast Guard on the other hand, has assets and crews that are widely distributed geographically and are either on patrol of on standby ready to react.

As far as I can tell the Coast Guard has relied on its boats, equipped with machine guns to deter or respond to terrorists attacks by small craft, and relies on intelligence and its large cutters and perhaps assistance from other services to deal with threats employing larger vessels.

Should we have the option of arming our fixed wing aircraft? The Coast Guard never used to arm its helicopters or boarding parties, but a need was seen, and it is now routine. Flying armed all the time cuts into the aircraft’s performance reducing speed and range and increasing fuel consumption. Arming aircraft takes time. Weapons require additional training, maintenance, and personnel, and as the weapons become more sophisticated their security raises increasing concern. Still there may be times when it would be desirable to have an armed response, to support units that are inadequately armed, or to respond in cases where surface units are unable to reach the scene in a timely fashion. Guns fired from aircraft also have the advantage of firing down on their target, which is less likely to result in collateral damage than shots fired horizontally from surface units.

Capabilities: We might say, there are five levels of capability we could consider.

  1. Fire warning shots.
  2. Disable small vessels (e.g., the ability to destroy an outboard motor).
  3. Deadly force against exposed individuals.
  4. Stop or sink small vessels
  5. Stop or sink medium to large vessels

The first three levels of force are resident in our airborne use of force helicopters now, and if we wanted to replicate the capability in fixed wing aircraft supporting Webber class cutters, it may be possible to do so with a single gun system, perhaps no larger than .50 cal. This modification might also satisfy the need for a system to intercept general aviation aircraft that might prove hostile after violating airspace over DC.

While the fifth capability, the ability to forcibly stop or sink a medium or large vessel, is probably beyond any reasonable adaptation of the Coast Guard’s existing aircraft, there is at least one adaptation that might allow it to deal with small vessel (up to perhaps 100 tons) with a high degree of confidence, and larger vessels with at least some possibility of success (think “Hail Mary”) with minimum impact on the aircrafts’ structure or other capabilities.

The Marines’ Harvest Hawk modification to their C-130 tankers now includes a modification called the Derringer Door, that allows the aircraft to launch precision guided weapons like the unpowered, gravity-dropped, 33 pound, 43 inch long, Griffin A, from inside the aircraft without depressurizing.  Use of this system against a moving target would require laser designation provided either by the aircraft or perhaps a unit on the surface.


Photo: Interior of Marine Corps KC-130J , with the Derringer Door modification. In the foreground is a rack for up to ten precision guided munitions. On the left is the modified Paratroop door with two tubes that allow these munitions to be dropped from the aircraft without depressurizing.

“Infrastructure protection, resource competition among Arctic warming concerns, says State’s Papp”

FierceHomelandSecurity is reporting testimony by former Commandant, Admiral Papp in his new role as U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic at the State Department.

The melting of the permafrost that Adm. Papp mentions, is one reason the Coast Guard will not be establishing much in the way of permanent, shore-based infrastructure in the Arctic.

UAS for the Webber Class?

Coast Guard Compass is reporting that the R&D Center has conducted tests of an unmanned aerial surveillance system from the Webber class WPC Richard Etheridge.

The experiment is being done on the cheap, using surplus Marine Corp WASP III UAS.

This particular aircraft is very small (less than a pound), with a maximum speed of about 40 knots, an endurance of about 45 minutes, and a nominal range of 5 km, so it is not going to get very far from the launch platform. Sensors are limited to color and IR video, so it is still like “looking through a staw” in terms of its ability to search, but it might be useful for taking a closer look at targets, without the necessity of moving the CG vessel to intercept, particularly at night; for documenting a drug bust; or for keeping an eye on the disengaged side of a potentially hostile target during a boarding. The recovery method used was to land in the water, but we could certainly do better.

I can’t say I am particularly impressed with what I have seen of the system so far, since I can pick up something similar at the local hobby shop (google “First Person Video”). I have a friend who flies one, including the ability to use GPS to fly way-points and automatically return to the launch point and land, all for less than $1,000, but it is a start and at least it is a recognition of a need and an opportunity.

Still think we could fly Scan Eagle from the WPCs.