Alameda-based Coast Guard cutter and crew depart for Western Pacific patrol


Got a news release reporting the departure of Bertholf from Alameda California for a Patrol in the Western Pacific which I have quoted below. Normally I would leave reporting of ship deployments to other sites, but, I don’t think this is routine.

We have sent cutters into the Western Pacific (since Vietnam). Munro (WMSL-755) visited Fiji and the Solomon Islands in 2018 (Paying More Attention to the Western Pacific, Dec. 8, 2018). Waesche made the trip back in 2012 (Waesche Enroute to SE Asia Apr. 4, 2012).There could have been others, but I don’t think there were a lot more, but coming on the heels of Munro’s deployment this may be a trend.

There is also a video here. The Captain tells the crew, “We’re going to be doing a national security mission. When we get underway, we are going to be working for the United States Indo-Pacific Command, Combatant Commander. We’re going to be executing national security operation throughout the Pacific.”

What is the mission? Certainly they will be doing some capacity building, exercising with partner navies and coast guards. They will probably do some fisheries enforcement both, in the US EEZ and with shipriders to assist in the EEZs of friendly nations, certainly in Oceana and perhaps in SE Asia. We have a huge expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument wit  490,000 square statute miles or about 390,000 square nautical miles of Ocean to police (Huge New Marine Reserve, Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, Sep. 26, 2014). Plus there are the island nations of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau joined with the U.S. in “Compacts of Free Association.”

There have been calls for more US Coast Guard presence in the Pacific from New Zealand and from the 7th Fleet. Some, including the previous Commandant see the US Coast Guard as a counter weight to China Coast Guard in the South China Sea.

Maybe Bertholf will stop in at Guam and check it out as a possible future base for Offshore Patrol Cutters. We already have indication three Webber class FRCs will replace the two 110s currently there.) Will they operate in the South China Sea? Will they do Freedom of Navigation Ops? Taking Vietnamese ship riders aboard and doing fisheries enforcement in the Vietnam EEZ inside the Chinese claimed Nine Dash Line, could get exciting. Guess we will have to wait and see.

Will they have a UAS aboard? And If we have no budget or continuing resolution to pay our people, how are we paying for fuel?

The News Release

On a gray and foggy morning, tears intermingled with rain as family members braved the elements to say goodbye to the 170 crewmembers of Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL-750), a 418-foot national security cutter, which departed Alameda, California, Sunday for a patrol in the Western Pacific Ocean.

The U.S. Coast Guard has an enduring role in the Indo-Pacific going back over 150 years. The service’s ongoing deployment of resources to the region directly supports U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives in the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the National Security Strategy.

“The United States is a Pacific nation,” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander Coast Guard Pacific Area, who was present to see the cutter depart. “We have deep and long-standing ties with our partners in the region, and more importantly, we share a strong commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, governed by a rules-based international system that promotes peace, security, prosperity and sovereignty of all nations.”

Bertholf will be operating in support of United States Indo-Pacific Command, which oversees military operations in the region. As part of its planned operations, the cutter will engage in professional exchanges and capacity building with partner nations.

“Security abroad equals security at home,” said Fagan. “Enhancing our partners’ capabilities is a force multiplier in combating transnational criminal and terrorist organizations and deterring our adversaries.”

As both a federal law enforcement agency and an armed force, the Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to conduct defense operations in support of Combatant Commanders on all seven continents. The service routinely provides forces in joint military operations worldwide, including the deployment of cutters, boats, aircraft and deployable specialized forces.

“I’m excited to see Bertholf sail today to the Indo-Pacific region of operations,” said Fagan, who described the cutter as one of the most capable in the Coast Guard fleet.

“They will be serving alongside other DoD military forces, particularly the U.S. Navy, and I know they will contribute key capabilities to that mission set. This crew has worked incredibly hard to get ready for today’s sailing, and I can’t think of a better ship and crew to be sending to the Indo-Pacific.”

Commissioned in 2008, Bertholf is the first of the Coast Guard’s legend class national security cutters. These advanced ships are 418-feet long, 54-feet wide, and have a 4,600 long-ton displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can hold a crew of up to 170.

The cutter is named for Coast Guard legend Ellsworth P. Bertholf, who served as captain of the Revenue Cutter Bear during the famous Overland Relief Expedition, earning the Congressional Gold Medal. As the Coast Guard’s fourth commandant, Bertholf oversaw the transfer of the Coast Guard into the Department of the Navy during World War I and advocated for the successful postwar reconstitution of the service.

National security cutters feature advanced command and control capabilities, aviation support facilities, stern cutter boat launch and increased endurance for long-range patrols to disrupt threats to national security further offshore.

The Coast Guard is scheduled to commission its seventh national security cutter, the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball, in 2019. Kimball, along with the Midgett, which is currently under construction, will be homeported in Honolulu and will enhance the Coast Guard’s presence throughout the Indo-Pacific.

“The U.S. Coast Guard’s unique authorities, capabilities, and missions make us the maritime safety and security partner of choice for sea-going countries around the world,” said Capt. John Driscoll, Bertholf’s commanding officer. “Our increased presence throughout the Indo-Pacific will enhance regional stability and improve maritime governance and security.”

In an address to the families and crew before the cutter set sail, Driscoll emphasized how critical family support is to crew wellbeing and readiness.

“Support from our families, wherever they live, is vital to ensuring we are ready to sail and answer the demands of our nation,” Driscoll said. “We must ensure our families are ready to weather the storm at home. We operate in a dangerous and high-consequence environment, and your ability to focus on mission can become easily compromised if you are worried about family.”

Fagan acknowledged the current lapse in appropriations and government shutdown has added stress and feelings of uncertainty to the typical emotions that surround a cutter departure.

“I know it is hard for these crews to be leaving behind their dependents and spouses – it’s a thousand times more so when everyone is wondering when our next paycheck will be, and how they can support the family they are leaving behind,” Fagan said.

“There has been an incredible outpouring of support for the families here in the Alameda area, but the tension and the anxiety for the crew is real,” said Fagan. “We are standing by to help support those families who are left behind the same way that we are going to support the crew as they sail for the Western Pacific.”

Polar Star –Doing the Job, but with Difficulties

USCGC Polar Star. USCGC photo.

While we have this government shutdown, progress on the new Icebreaker (Polar Security Cutter) has certainly slowed, if not stopped entirely. Meanwhile the Polar Star and her crew soldier on. Naval Today reports:

During this year’s deployment, one of the ship’s electrical systems began to smoke, the Coast Guard said, causing damage to wiring in an electrical switchboard, and one of the ship’s two evaporators used to make drinkable water failed.

The ship also experienced a leak from the shaft that drives the ship’s propeller, which halted icebreaking operations in order to send scuba divers in the water to repair the seal around the shaft. A hyperbaric chamber on loan from the US Navy aboard the ship allows Coast Guard divers to make external emergency repairs and inspections of the ship’s hull.

The Polar Star also experienced ship-wide power outages while breaking ice. Crew members spent nine hours shutting down the ship’s power plant and rebooting the electrical system in order to remedy the outages.

No one knows how long the crew can keep her going, but there is a good chance we are going to see serious problems before the new ship is ready.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

 

“UPDATE TO EXPANDED CGMA LOAN LIMITS AND PROCESS”–ALCOAST 013/19

I am providing a copy of an ALCOAST found linked on Vince Patton’s Facebook page (Thanks Vince). 

ALCOAST 013/19 – JAN 2019 UPDATE TO EXPANDED CGMA LOAN LIMITS AND PROCESS

R 181702 JAN 19
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CG-1//
TO ALCOAST
UNCLAS //N07220//
ALCOAST 013/19
COMDTNOTE 7220
SUBJ:  UPDATE TO EXPANDED CGMA LOAN LIMITS AND PROCESS
A. ALCOAST 434/18 COAST GUARD MUTUAL ASSISTANCE (CGMA) AVAILABILITY DURING THE LAPSE
IN DHS APPROPRIATIONS
B. ALCOAST 012/19 EXPANDED LIMITS TO CGMA LOANS DURING LAPSE IN APPROPRIATIONS
1. This notice announces a further increase to Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) interest
free loans. As donations continue to pour in to CGMA, we will continue to evaluate the maximum
amount that a member may borrow. There is no limit to the number of loans that a member may
request from CGMA; only a total loan ceiling. 
2. Updated total limit for CGMA lapse assistance interest-free loans:
   a. Up to $1500 for personnel with dependents;
   b. Up to $1000 for personnel without dependents;
   c. An unchanged condition is that if individual circumstances dictate, any person may apply
for funds in excess of the established limits (a-b above). They must personally visit a local
CGMA representative to complete the full application process.
3. Procedures: Procedures for both requesting a loan and recoupment remain the same.
4. Current lapse in appropriations information can be found at: http://www.dcms.uscg.mil/budget,
this site contains authoritative documents, Frequently Asked Questions, an interactive mailbox,
a Resources Guide, a helpline, and other useful information. As always, CG SUPRT is available to
help (1-855-CG SUPRT (247-8778)) https://www.cgsuprt.com/.
5. For more information on how to receive assistance, please see your local CGMA representatives.
6. RDML Matthew Sibley, Acting Assistant Commandant for Human Resources, sends.
7. Internet release is authorized.

RAFNAR Hull –A New Kind of Hull For Reduced Slamming

gCaptain had a report on this new hull form, which a University of Iceland study found reduced slamming as much as 95% compared to a deep-v hull. It explains the development of the hull, I needed more information to understand how it worked.

The company website has many much clearer photographs as well as the video above.

Claimed advantages are:

  • Exceptionally smooth and comfortable due to limited slam on waves.
  • Significantly reduced slamming results in less mechanical and equipment fatigue, extending the lifetime of expensive electronic equipment on board.
  • Greater on-board safety from significantly reduced slamming means reduced risk of injury, lower crew & passenger fatigue and related costs
  • Precision performance without compromising cruising or top speed.
  • Immediate handling response with no sliding
  • No wake created behind vessel, resulting in less water disturbance
  • Exceptional stability and balance when idle and at speed
  • High payload capacity without compromising cruising or top speed

Could this concept be scaled up for a Motor Surf Boat? Apparently the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue is already looking into the possibility of a 15 meter (49 foot) MLB.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention

 

“Breaking Faith with America’s Coast Guard” –USNI

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft (right) meets with then-Southern Command chief Gen. John Kelly.

The US Naval Institute has published 25th Commandant, Admiral Zukunft’s, thoughts on the impact of the government shutdown on the Coast Guard.

He makes a good case, but one statement in particular really hit me.

“…yet on any given day, over one-third of our operational resources are deployed in support of the military geographic combatant commanders around the globe.”

I have been reading the USNI news feed, and every week they have a story titled “Fleet and Marine Tracker,” that talks about ongoing operations and includes a breakout of vessels deployed and vessels underway. I don’t actually have a definitive average, but it has been pretty consistent in showing one fourth of the fleet underway and one third deployed. If the statement above is correct, then, in addition to Coast Guard operations under Coast Guard operational control, We are also deploying in support of Combatant Commanders at essentially the same rate as the Navy.

You might also want to look at a report of 23rd Commandant, Thad Allen’s remarks.

You may not be aware but several bills have been introduced that would provide pay to either the Coast Guard or to all Federal employees. So far the Senate Majority leader has refused to allow a vote on any of them.