“French Customs order OCEA FPB 100 MKII patrol boats” –Naval News

A CGI of the OCEA FPB 100 MKII patrol boat ordered by the French Customs (Credit : OCEA) Note UAV landing area aft port side. 

Naval News reports that French Customs has ordered a pair of new patrol boats in the WPB class. They have some interesting features.

These are slightly smaller than the Island class cutters at 32 meters or 105 feet. They are all Aluminum. This newest version includes a night vision device and a larger, faster, 7 meter 35 knot RHIB deployed, like on other OCEA designs, by davit . But most remarkably they are expected to host a rotary wing UAV. 

“Busting Smugglers & Breaking Codes” –Naval History Magazine

Unfortunately the source of this artwork was not available. 

The US Naval Institute’s Naval History Magazine, February 2020 edition, has an interesting article about the many changes that the Coast Guard went through as a result of Prohibition. You can read it online here.The section on code breaking is perhaps the most surprising.

During Prohibition, in its largest law enforcement mission ever, the Coast Guard made thousands of apprehensions. It also experienced its largest fleet expansion outside the world wars. And the service saw many firsts, including the first time Coast Guard crews manned Navy warships, and the permanent establishment of an aviation branch. It also saw extensive use of the radio and RDF and the founding of the Coast Guard Intelligence Office, one of the day’s leading federal intelligence branches. All these factors shaped the service into a force better prepared for its next great challenge—World War II.

A Coast Guard Sixbitter, 75 foot patrol boat.

“Coast Guard Expedites ScanEagle ISR Services for National Security Cutters” –SEAPOWER

A small unmanned aircraft system operator recovers an sUAS (Scan Eagle–Chuck) after a flight from Coast Guard Cutter Stratton in the South China Sea Sept. 16, 2019. The sUAS is capable of flying for more than 20 hours and has a maximum speed of about 60 mph. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nate Littlejohn.

The Navy Leagues Seapower web site is reporting that the Coast Guard will have Scan Eagle UAV systems installed on all currently operational National Security Cutters by the end of 2020, and in addition that the systems will be installed on the Offshore Patrol Cutters.

There is a lot of significant information in this report. 

Contractors still control the UAVs.

“Insitu installs the UAVs and their launch-and-recovery equipment and ground-control stations on board the ships, he said. Insitu sends four-person teams to deploy with each ship. They operate the entire system once on board. The teams are fully embedded with their ship’s crew.”

The sensor package.

“A standard pack-out for a deployment is three ScanEagle UAVs, he said. The sensor systems include and electro-optical/infrared camera, a laser pointer, a communication relay, an Automatic Identification System interrogator and Vidar (visual detection and ranging, a surface search capability).”

The increased search capability.

Currier said that before deployment of the ScanEagle the NSC had a scan of 35 miles either side of the ship with its organic sensors.

“With ScanEagle on board, for good parts of the day, you’re up to 75 miles either side of the ship as you’re moving through the sea space,” he said. “ScanEagle is a game-changer.”

“We’ve effectively doubled the search area of a national security cutter,” Tremain said. “We’re he only company flying with Vidar, and we’re surveilling up to 1,000 square miles of open ocean per flight hour, and we’re identifying greater than 90% of the targets.”

You might think these would not be much of an improvement over a ship based manned helicopter, but in fact the helicopter would probably not be air borne searching more than four hours a day, while three Scan Eagles could conceivably maintain a watch 24 hour a day. Additionally a helicopters sensors are probably not as effective as the VIDAR on the Scan Eagle.

Using these for search rather than the helicopter, also means less wear and tear on the helicopter, and that the helicopter is more likely to be available when it is really needed.

A New 30mm Round –Maybe a Reason to Upgrade the Mk38 Mounts

Military.com reports that Northrop Grumman is developing a proximity fuse for the 30mm gun that arms the San Antonio class LPDs and is part of the Surface Warfare module on the Littoral Combat Ship. The new round is being developed for use against drones, which are a difficult target to hit directly. It might also make the gun more effective against the small boat threat and should improve its chances against aircraft.

The Coast Guard also has an interest in being able to down drones, but this may also be of interest to the Coast Guard because it may provide the incentive needed to upgrade the guns used on Mk38 gun mounts, not just in the Coast Guard, but in the Navy as well. We have known for a long time that the 30mm round is much more effective than the 25mm round, but there has been no movement toward replacing the 25mm guns.

The Mk44 Bushmaster II, 30 mm chain gun is a derivative of the 25 mm M242 Bushmaster. They share a number of parts. All indications are that there would be no significant problem in replacing the M242 Bushmaster used in the Mk38 gun mounts with the more effective 30mm gun. The Mk38 gun mount is the primary armament of the 210 foot WMECs and Webber class Fast Response Cutters. It is expected to arm our Offshore Patrol Cutters and replace the 76mm on WMEC 270s that go through a planned Service Life Extension Program.

I really would rather see either the 50mm version of the Bushmaster III or the 40mm version of the Bushmaster II, but while none of these options are a complete answer to the Coast Guard’s need to be able to thwart a potential terrorist attack, any increase in projectile size allows both engagement at greater range and increases the probability of success against larger threats, while maintaining equal or better probability of success against smaller craft. The 30mm would be a significant improvement.

“Coast Guard MH-65 program moves into full rate production” –CG-9

This from the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9):

Coast Guard MH-65 program moves into full rate production


The Coast Guard MH-65 short range recovery helicopter program began full rate production of the MH-65E configuration in November 2019. CGNR 6522 was the first MH-65 to enter the composite shop phase in the program depot maintenance overhaul. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Coast Guard MH-65 short range recovery helicopter program began full rate production of the MH-65E configuration Nov. 21, 2019, with the transfer of CGNR 6522 to the Aviation Logistics Center (ALC) in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Two additional aircraft – CGNR 6514 and CGNR 6593– were transferred to the ALC production line in December 2019 and one – CGNR 6507 – was transferred in January 2020. The program is executing concurrent Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) work and avionics upgrades for the MH-65E conversion on the entire fleet.

Full rate production means that the ALC will transition to producing MH-65Es at a rate of 22 aircraft per year.

The avionics upgrades include reliability and capability improvements for the Automatic Flight Control System; installation of a digital cockpit display system and an upgraded digital weather/surface search radar; integration of a robust command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance suite; and modernization of the digital flight deck with Common Avionics Architecture System, common with the Coast Guard H-60 medium range recovery helicopter and similar Department of Defense aircraft. Once the upgrades are complete, the helicopter is redesignated an MH-65E.

At the same time, the Coast Guard is completing SLEP activities to replace five major structure components: the nine-degree frame, canopy, center console floor assembly, floorboards and side panels. These mission-critical improvements are designed to extend the service life of the helicopter by 10,000 flight hours.

The avionics upgrades and SLEP are being completed at the same time to achieve schedule and cost efficiencies.

The Coast Guard plans to convert all 98 aircraft to the MH-65E configuration by fiscal year 2024.

For more information: MH-65 program page

“Coast Guard is Refining FY 2021 Funding Pitch” –USNI

The Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice around the Russian-flagged tanker Renda 250 miles south of Nome Jan. 6, 2012. The Healy is the Coast Guard’s only currently operating polar icebreaker. The vessels are transiting through ice up to five-feet thick in this area. The 370-foot tanker Renda will have to go through more than 300 miles of sea ice to get to Nome, a city of about 3,500 people on the western Alaska coastline that did not get its last pre-winter fuel delivery because of a massive storm. If the delivery of diesel fuel and unleaded gasoline is not made, the city likely will run short of fuel supplies before another barge delivery can be made in spring. (AP Photo/US Coast Guard – Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis) NY112

The US Naval Institute news service based on comments by Vice Commandant Charles Ray, during the 2020 Surface Navy Association Symposium, reports that the Coast Guard is putting more emphasis on addressing long standing short falls in shore-side facilities. They are also attempting to improve communications with particular reference to communications in the Arctic.

The Arctic comms issue definitely caught the eye of commenters. Don’t overlook the comments.

China Maritime Safety Agency to Build 10,700 Ton Cutter

This is not the ship discussed here, but is similar in size.   Photo from http://defence-blog.com/news/photos-charge-of-the-10000-ton-china-coast-guard-cutter.html  

South China Morning Post reports that the China Maritime Safety Administration has started work on their largest cutter ever, 10,700 tons. That is more than twice the size of the National Security Cutters and if they are using light displacement as is frequently done in Asia, it may be three times as large.

At 165 metres (540 feet) long and 20.6 metres wide, the vessel will weigh in at 10,700 tonnes and be large enough to accommodate several types of helicopters. According to earlier reports it is expected to be completed by September next year.

China’s Maritime Safety Agency was the only one of five Chinese Maritime agencies that did coast guard type work, that was not incorporated into the China Coast Guard. Unlike the China Coast Guard, the Maritime Safety Agency is still a civilian agency. They have a fairly large fleet and their vessels are unarmed.

The Japanese and South Koreans also build large cutters, but not this large.