Below is a Commandant Note published in full. Normally I would not publish these, but there is a good summary of the status of the cutter recapitalization effort in paragraph 3. Have to say I am still a bit uncomfortable with “completely paperless navigation.” I have had too many computer problems for mind not to revolt over the idea of total dependency on electrons.

united states coast guard

R 191425 SEP 19
UNCLAS //N01710// ;
ALCOAST 298/19
1. The Coast Guard Office of Cutter Forces (CG-751), the Heart of the Service, is
sponsoring a Sea Service Celebration centered around 18 October 2019 that honors
the sacrifices of the men and women serving aboard Coast Guard cutters, and
highlights the hard work of the thousands of shoreside administrative, training,
and engineering personnel who enable our fleet to operate. On 18 October 1974,
the Office of Personnel promulgated the Coast Guard Cutterman Insignia program,
to “recognize the contributions and qualifications of our personnel.”
2. This year, we celebrate more than 229 years of our sea-going traditions,
currently upheld by over 8,000 active duty personnel aboard our 255 cutters. The
theme of this year’s Celebration is “Cutter Art.” There are countless examples of
artistic creations by Cuttermen who take pride in their work and we want to
recognize their abilities and the time they dedicated to creating this wide array
of art.
3. These are exciting times to be a Cutterman – The 7th and 8th National Security
Cutters (NSC) were commissioned in August, NSC #9-11 are under construction and 25
Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) are planned. There are 33 commissioned Fast Response
Cutters (FRC) of the 56 planned for the domestic program of record. An additional
six are scheduled for commissioning in FY 2020 alone; we are also preparing to
transition FRCs to PATFORSWA, with the first two tentatively arriving in 2020.
The Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) received funding for expedited development of
plans for a replacement of the WLIC/WLI/WLR cutters. The Polar Security Cutter
(PSC) contract was awarded with funding approved for PSC #1 and long lead time
materials for PSC #2. To outfit our cutters, the new Cutter Boat Large 210/225
(CB-L) is in production and OTH-V and LRI-III are in initial acquisition stages.
All boats and cutters are scheduled to be furnished or retro-fitted with SINS-II
systems as we continue on our trackline to completely paperless navigation.
These substantial national investments are clear evidence of the great value
American leadership places in the hard work of our professional mariners and
support personnel fleetwide.
4. As part of this year’s Sea Service Celebration, COMDT (CG-751) is hosting a
Cutter Art contest and encourages participation by all current, past and aspiring
future professional mariners. Digital submissions of Cutter Art are due by 15
October 2019 and should follow the below guidelines:
    a. Potential artworks and examples of Cutter Art include, but are not limited
to; unofficial cutter seals or logos, pictures of artfully painted equipment, images
of fancy work, pictures of unit murals, and digital renderings of hand drawn images.
    b. Submissions will be judged on creativity, quality and ability to inspire
esprit de corps. Entries are limited to 5MB, formats that can be viewed and opened
on a standard CG workstation, and three submissions per unit. Photographers and
artists retain ownership and copyright of their submitted images. In consideration
of the contest, artists and photographers grant the use of their submissions to the
Coast Guard for use in various media starting from submission for a duration of one
    c. All submissions should be of good taste, professional in nature, and with due
regard to what is considered acceptable in 2019 versus historic examples of
military art containing what is now widely held as inappropriate.
    d. Chain of command approved contest submissions should be sent via email to the
two POCs listed below. The top three winning entries will be posted on the COMDT
(CG-751) portal page and social media platforms, and shared with Surface Naval
Association Presidents, Rating Force Master Chiefs, and Operational Commanders
for distribution within the cutter community.
5. COMDT (CG-751) further encourages all Cuttermen and operational commanders to
participate in the following events:
    a. Cutter Public Affairs Officers (PAO) are encouraged to utilize their Official
Facebook pages to post CO/OIC-approved photos and media under the hashtag #CutterArt
throughout the year.
    b. Local events: All commands are encouraged to host appropriate functions that
celebrate sea service traditions during the month of October, particularly on 18 October.
Suggestions include: local Cuttermen’s Calls, Dining-Ins, or cutter round-ups with
friendly competitions (DC Olympics, shiphandling challenge, etc.).
    c. For a concurrent annual Surface Naval Association (SNA) competition, submit photos
and videos by 01 October 2019 at: http://navysna.org/awards/komorowski-photo/ and at:
http://navysna.org/awards/video-competition.html (Won by USCGC BAILEY BARCO in 2018).
6. POCs: LT Keith Blevins at Keith.A.Blevins@uscg.mil and LT Micah Howell at
7. RDML Matthew W. Sibley, Assistant Commandant for Capability, sends.
8. Internet release is authorized.

“North Korean Vessel Attacks Russian Patrol Boat, Wounding Three” –Maritime-Executive

Russian Maritime Border Guard patrol vessel. Photo: Alex (Florstein) Fedorov

Maritime Executive passes along a TASS report of the latest round of conflicts over fisheries between Russia and North Korea. A bit more information on an earlier incident referred to in the Maritime Executive report here.

I have to think, the three Russian Coast Guardsmen were injured in a North Korean attempt to thwart a boarding.

We really have no confirmation that the vessel pictured above and in the Maritime Executive article, was the cutter or even the type involved. We do know at least one of the class is in the Pacific, and probably more. If it was this class the North Korean action was certainly foolhardy.

The Russians are planning on building 30 of these though 2020, and the program is now more than half complete. We did discuss these back in 2011 and updates were included in the comments. They are about the size of a 210, but much faster and better armed, and in some respects better equipped. Speed is reported to be 30 knots using four diesels totaling 15,440HP. They have an AK630 six barreled 30 mm gatling gun with radar and optronic fire control They also can handle a helicopter and a Russian version of the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 UAV. More on these impressive little ships here.

Rubin-class patrol boat (Project 22460) Korall of the Russian Coast Guard

In any case this is a reminder that when we go into the Western Pacific, this is a very rough neighborhood, and that they take their fishing very seriously.


“U.S. Coast Guard, UMass Boston sign Memorandum of Agreement” –News Release

Just passing along this news release for any that might be interested.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 1st District Northeast
Contact: 1st District Public Affairs
Office: (617) 223-8515
After Hours: (617) 717-9609
1st District online newsroom

U.S. Coast Guard, UMass Boston sign Memorandum of Agreement

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and UMass Boston gather at the Integrated Sciences Complex after signing a memorandum of agreement between the two groups. U.S. Coast Guard, UMass Boston celebrate memorandum of agreement with cake

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.

BOSTON — Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and officials from University of Massachusetts Boston signed a Memorandum of Agreement, Wednesday at the Integrated Sciences Complex at UMass Boston.

This agreement is designed to optimize outreach, increase engagement efforts, and promote synergy between the Coast Guard’s overall civilian and military officer recruiting effort.

It will also assist UMASS Boston by providing additional tuition saving choices for students and academic solutions for faculty and professors. 

Central to the agreement, the Coast Guard offers scholarship and loan forgiveness programs, such as the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI), which provides selected students with full tuition for up to two academic years and Coast Guard active-duty benefits and pay (up to $3,600 monthly) during their junior and senior years of college.

It also provides students with valuable leadership, management, law enforcement, navigation and marine science skills and training.

College seniors who enlist in the Coast Guard could also have up to $60,000 in student loan debt forgiven through the CSPI StudentLoan Repayment Program.

Rear Adm. Andrew J. Tiongson, Commander, First Coast Guard District, and Katherine S. Newman, Interim Chancellor of University of Massachusetts Boston, signed the memorandum during a ceremony attended by members of the Coast Guard as well as administrative staff & students from the university.

More information about the Coast Guard Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program can be accessed here: Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Partnership Program

Surface Navy Association Awards


The National Cuttermen Chapter is part of the Surface Navy Association, so Coast Guard members/units can compete for these two awards. The second in particular seems appropriate. Deadlines are short. 



Deadline Date: 1 October 2019

This photography award was initiated to showcase the professional activities and lives of the Surface Warfare Community.  These images represent their contribution in the following areas: naval warfare; archival material; and educating the citizens of the United States regarding surface warfare department and its achievements. 

Category winners will receive $100 and the Grand Prize winner will receive an additional $500 and an invitation to SNA’s Annual Symposium.  Photographers are only eligible to win one award unless awarded the Grand Prize.

For award submission criteria and information go to:  http://navysna.org/awards/komorowski-photo/


Deadline Date: 1 October 2019

To creatively promote the values of the Surface Navy Association and to actively engage the Surface fleet and SNA members to choreograph and produce a Surface Warfare ‘spirit spot’ video, showcasing Sailor’s lives in the Surface Navy and Coast Guard (at sea and ashore) or supporting surface warfare in industry.

A montery award will be given to the command’s MWR fund or to the industry individual or group.  Cash prices will be 1st place – $600, 2nd place – $300 and 3rd place – $200.  First place winner (1 only) will also be invited to the SNA Annual Symposium for recognition.

For award submission criteria and information go to:  http://navysna.org/awards/video-competition.html

Award Coordinator
6564 Loisdale Court, Suite 318
Springfield, VA 22150
Phone: 703-960-6800

“The United States Needs a Deep-water Arctic Port” –USNI

Nome, Alaska location. Adapted from Wikipedia’s AK borough maps by en:User:Seth Ilys.

The US Naval Institute Proceedings for Sept has a short article by By Captain Lawson Brigham, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired) advocating development of a deep-water port in Nome, Alaska.

Interest in a deep draft port in northern Alaska has been expressed in Congress, by the Secretary of the Navy, and the Commandant of the Coast Guard. Earlier we talked about the possibility of locating this facility at Port Clarence.

Port Clarence actually seems the larger natural harbor and has some infrastructure, including a runway, left over from when there was a Coast Guard LORAN station there. Nome (terminus for the Iditarod dog sled race) has a much larger population (about 3800 vs 24) and would require less supporting infrastructure development.

Aerial view from the West of Nome, Alaska, in July 2006, by ra64

In any case it seems likely that the ability to control the Bering Strait will become strategically important some time in the future. Both are within 160 miles of the Russian side of the Strait, with Port Clarence being about 50 miles closer.

Alaska and the Bering Strait

Until that time, it seems likely that the Coast Guard may establish a seasonal air station.

Full disclosure, Captain Brigham and I attended the same Naval War College class. 

“U.S. Coast Guard cutters support Oceania partners during month-long Operation Aiga in South Pacific” –Press Release

Samoa. Photo Credit: TUBS, This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this: Polynesian triangle.svg (by Gringer).

Below is a press release in full. I don’t normally report routine operations, but this seems a bit out of the ordinary, and part of a renewed interest in the Central and Western Pacific. It is also another demonstration of the capability of the 154 foot Webber Class cutters (“traveling between Honolulu and American Samoa, 2,300 miles in nine days, without refueling en route”). It also demonstrates the multi-mission capability of the large buoy tenders.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific
Contact: 14th District Public Affairs
Office: (808) 535-3230
After Hours: (808) 265-7748
14th District online newsroom

 Imagery Available: U.S. Coast Guard cutters support Oceania partners during month-long Operation Aiga in South Pacific 

USCGC Joseph Gerczak American Samoa boardings  USCGC Walnut gives tours in Samoa US Embassy and USCGC Walnut aboard HMNZS Otago

Editors’ Note: Click on images to see more, view video, or download a high-resolution version.
You can also visit our Operation Aiga feature page on DVIDS here.

HONOLULU — The crews of two Coast Guard cutters, the Walnut (WLB 205) and Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126), returned to Honolulu at the end of August following a successful deployment to Samoa and the U.S. territory of American Samoa, where they conducted operations to counter illegal fishing and strengthen relations with allies and partner nations. 

“Our Coast Guard crews demonstrated superior performance during intense operations over the past month in support of the Government of Samoa and within the U.S. territory of American Samoa,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, commander, U.S. Coast Guard 14th District. “Working with Australia and New Zealand, we supported the Government of Samoa by embarking Samoan law enforcement shipriders on a Coast Guard cutter to patrol their exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and ensure Samoan sovereignty. We also patrolled the U.S. EEZ around American Samoa to protect U.S. sovereignty. Our crews’ local engagements in Samoa and American Samoa reinforced our enduring shared values and Polynesian heritage, and advanced U.S. strategic interests in Oceania.” 

The operation, named ‘Aiga,’ the Samoan word for family, was first announced by U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz in a July interview describing the Coast Guard expansion of its permanent presence and effectiveness in the region through expeditionary capabilities, doubling down in Oceania.

The U.S. employs 11 bilateral shiprider agreements with Pacific Island Forum (PIF) nations throughout Oceania to help them counter illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing within their 200 nautical mile EEZ. Again, this operation was undertaken in coordination with Australia and New Zealand as Samoa awaits the delivery of its new, highly capable patrol boats from Australia later this year.

During the busy month-long deployment, the Walnut crew conducted numerous fishing vessel boardings with officers from the Samoan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Samoan EEZ. The Walnut also carried Australian Fisheries Management Authority officers and a Chinese linguist from the U.S. Marine Corps. They further conducted maritime exercises with the Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Otago (P148) and Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Choules (L100). 

“It was a pleasure to assist the government of Samoa, as part of a bilateral shiprider agreement, in enforcing their maritime sovereignty and resource security to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing within their exclusive economic zone,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Jasnoch, commanding officer, Walnut. “We also had the privilege to strengthen our partnerships with New Zealand and Australia and proved our inter-operability by conducting at-sea maneuvers with Otago and Choules.” 

The Walnut crew engendered goodwill by hosting a reception with the U.S. Embassy for the acting prime minister of Samoa and senior Samoan government officials. The Walnut team also visited, read to, and played games with students at the Lufilufi Primary School in Apia. During a second port call, crews from Walnut and Joseph Gerczak attended sports practices with the Samoan Junior National Golf Team and American Gridiron football club. Both ships complement also hosted shipboard tours for dignitaries, a maritime academy, and the public. 

“The crew felt extremely rewarded to have these opportunities, and we look forward to returning to Samoa and American Samoa, hopefully soon,” said Jasnoch.

In support of strong maritime commerce and maritime transportation system, the Walnut crew installed a new Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmitter in American Samoa designed to notify mariners of the location of navigational hazards within the harbor if the physical aid marking the hazard is damaged or not working properly. The crew also recovered a sunken buoy in Pago Pago and replaced it with a new one to ensure safe navigation for mariners transiting in and out of the U.S. strategic deepwater port. 
The Joseph Gerczak set a new mark for the expeditionary deployment of the 154-foot fast response cutters by traveling between Honolulu and American Samoa, 2,300 miles in nine days, without refueling en route.  

During the deployment, the Joseph Gerczak crew also conducted professional exchanges with the New Zealand navy crew of Otago.

“The exchange with the Otago crew was a great opportunity to share best practices and hear their knowledge of this area including Samoa and the high-seas pocket that we do not frequently patrol,” said Lt. James Provost, commanding officer, Joseph Gerczak. “It was a great experience to see how another nation’s navy operates and the similarities and differences between us.”

The Joseph Gerczak crew conducted joint boardings in the U.S. EEZ around American Samoa with U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration enforcement officers and the American Samoa Marine Police. Later, the Joseph Gerczak joined up with Walnut in Apia, Samoa to participate in community relations events on behalf of the U.S. Embassy. The Joseph Gerczak also assisted local responders with search and rescue efforts for two teenagers swept out from shore by high swells off the main island of Tutuila. Despite the best search efforts by all involved, the teens remain missing. All of these efforts had a profound impact on the crew.

“It’s been a long patrol, but getting out to Samoa, meeting some of the locals and getting to take part in operations was well worth the trip,” said Joseph Gerczak Fireman Ty Kamiyama. “It’s good to know that we have laid a foundation to continue building strong relations with the Samoan community.”

“This patrol was an amazing experience to see firsthand just what our asset is capable of,” said Joseph Gerczak Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Sabatini. “I thought getting to see the culture in Samoa was amazing. I got to go out with several other crewmembers to teach local youth about American football. It was such an enriching and rewarding time for all of us.”

The U.S. and its allies are trusted partners in Oceania. Operation Aiga is one of several operations conducted by the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and France as part of the Pacific Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (Pacific QUAD) in support of PIF countries. The Pacific QUAD has historically supported PIF countries in their efforts to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing in their exclusive economic zones. This year, the Pacific QUAD expanded the scope of its activities to encompass the broad range of maritime security concerns expressed by the PIF in the 2018 Boe Declaration.

The Walnut is a 225-foot Juniper-Class seagoing buoy tender responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, performing maritime law enforcement, port, and coastal security, search and rescue and environmental protection. Designed to patrol coastal regions, the Joseph Gerczak is a 154-foot Sentinel-Class fast response cutter and one of the newest patrol boats in the fleet to replace the 1980s-era 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. Both vessels call Honolulu their homeport.

Coast Guard Day in the South Pacific. The command from USCGC Walnut (WLB 205) conduct an exchange with peers on HMNZS Otago (P148) discussing mission, challenges and comparing shipboard life in the region while off Samoa Aug. 4, 2019. The Walnut and Otago crews are in the region combating illegal fishing, a part of promoting maritime governance and a rules based international order that is essential to a free and open Indo-Pacific. (Photo courtesy HMNZ Navy Lt. Samuel Murray/Released)

A Conversation With General John Kelly

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, discusses the latest developments in his command’s efforts to stem the flow of drugs from South and Central America while briefing reporters at the Pentagon, March 13, 2014.

As part of The U.S. Coast Guard Academy 2019–2020 Leadership Lecture Series, General and former administration Chief of Staff John F. Kelly addressed an audience of future officers at the Academy with former Commandant Admiral Thad Allen moderating. You can watch it here, but skip ahead. It does not really start until time 31:30. The actual discussion is about an hour.