My Unfunded Priority List

An earlier post reported a plea by Representative Duncan Hunter, Chair of the Transportation Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, for the Coast Guard to provide an unfunded priority list to include six icebreakers and unmanned Air System.

Thought perhaps I would list my own “unfunded priorities.” These are not in any particular order.

PLATFORM SHORTFALLS

Icebreakers: We have a documented requirement for three heavy and three medium icebreakers, certainly they should be on the list. Additionally they should be designed with the ability to be upgraded to wartime role. Specifically they should have provision for adding defensive systems similar to those on the LPD–a pair of SeaRAM and a pair of gun systems, either Mk46 mounts or Mk38 mod 2/3s. We might want the guns permanently installed on at least on the medium icebreakers for the law enforcement mission. Additionally they should have provision for supporting containerized mission modules like those developed for the LCS and lab/storage space identified that might be converted to magazine space to support armed helicopters.

110225-N-RC734-011 PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 25, 2011) Guy Mcallister, from Insitu Group, performs maintenance on the Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45). Scan Eagle is a runway independent, long-endurance, UAV system designed to provide multiple surveillance, reconnaissance data, and battlefield damage assessment missions. Comstock is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, which is underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility during a western Pacific deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac/Released)

110225-N-RC734-011
PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 25, 2011) Guy Mcallister, from Insitu Group, performs maintenance on the Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45). Scan Eagle is a runway independent, long-endurance, UAV system designed to provide multiple surveillance, reconnaissance data, and battlefield damage assessment missions. Comstock is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, which is underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility during a western Pacific deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac/Released)

Unmanned Air Systems (UAS): We seem to be making progress on deploying UAS for the Bertholf class NSCs which will logically be extended to the Offshore Patrol Cutters. So far we see very little progress on land based UAS. This may be because use of the Navy’s BAMS system is anticipated. At any rate, we will need a land based UAS or access to the information from one to provide Maritime Domain Awareness. We also need to start looking at putting UAS on the Webber class. They should be capable of handling ScanEagle sized UAS.

File:USCGC Bluebell - 2015 Rose Festival Portland, OR.jpg

Photo: The Coast Guard Cutter Bluebell sits moored along the Willamette River waterfront in Portland, Ore., June 4, 2015. The Bluebell, which celebrated its 70th anniversary this year, is one of many ships participating in the 100th year of the Portland Rose Festival. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.)

Recapitalize the Inland Tender Fleet: This is long overdue. The program was supposed to begin in 2009, but so far, no tangible results. It seems to have been hanging fire for way too long.

Expand the Program of Record to the FMA-1 level: The Fleet Mix Study identified additional assets required to meet the Coast Guard’s statutory obligations identifying four asset levels above those planned in the program of record. Lets move at least to first increment.

Alternative Fleet Mix Asset Quantities

————–POR       FMA-1      FMA-2      FMA-3       FMA-4
NSC                8             9                 9                 9                  9
OPC              25           32               43                50               57
FRC              58           63               75                80               91
HC-130         22            32               35                44               44
HC-144A       36            37               38                40               65
H-60              42            80               86                99             106
H-65             102         140             159              188            223
UAS-LB           4            19                21                21              22
UAS-CB        42            15                19               19               19

At the very least, looks like we need to add some medium range search aircraft (C-27J or HC-144).

Increase Endurance of Webber Class Cutters: The Webber class could be more useful if the endurance were extended beyond five days (currently the same as the 87 cutters, which have only one-third the range). We needed to look into changes that would allow an endurance of ten days to two weeks. They already have the fuel for it.

MISSION EQUIPMENT SHORTFALLS

Seagull_torpedo_trial_1

Ship Stopper (Light Weight Homing Torpedo): Develop a system to forcibly stop even the largest merchant ships by disabling their propulsion, that can be mounted on our patrol boats. A torpedo seems the most likely solution. Without such a system, there is a huge hole in our Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security mission.

121211-N-HW977-692

Photo: SeaGriffin Launcher

Counter to Small High Speed Craft (Small Guided Weapon): Identify and fit weapons to WPB and larger vessels that are capable of reliably stopping or destroying small fast boats that may be used as fast inshore attack craft and suicide or remote-controlled unmanned explosive motor boats. These weapons must also limit the possibility of collateral damage. Small missiles like SeaGriffin or Hellfire appear likely solutions.

40 mm case telescoped gun (bottom) compared to conventional guns.

40 mm case telescoped gun (bottom) compared to conventional guns.

Improved Gun–Penetration, Range, and Accuracy: The .50 cal. and 25mm guns we have on our WPBs and WPCs have serious limitations in their ability to reach their targets from outside the range of weapons terrorist adversaries might improvise for use against the cutters. They have limited ability to reach the vitals of medium to large merchant vessels, and their accuracy increases the possibility of collateral damage and decreases their probability of success. 30, 35, and 40 mm replacements for the 25 mm in our Mk38 mod2 mounts are readily available.

Laser Designator: Provide each station, WPB, and WPC with a hand-held laser designator to allow them to designate targets for our DOD partners.

CONTINGENCY PLANNING SHORTFALLS

Vessel Wartime Upgrades: Develop plans for a range of options to upgrade Coast Guard assets for an extended conflict against a near peer.

 

Malaysia Builds 6 WPC w/sUAS, 3 Cutter X, and Gets 2 JCG cutters

Malaysia‘s counterpart of the USCG, the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), or APMM in Malay, was formed in 2005 and has approximately 7,000 members.

Malaysia has an EEZ of 334,671 sq km, or about 3% of that of the US. In addition they have a substantial continental shelf of about the same size. The country itself is in two main parts, one on the Malay Peninsula and one part on the island of Barneo. It borders the busiest waterway in the world, the Straits of Malacca.

They have recently begun to replace the vessels incorporated in the service when the agency was formed.

The first new class is the “New Generation Patrol Craft.”

Malaysia's New Generation Patrol Craft.

Malaysia’s New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC)

It is in many ways similar to the Webber class in size and function. It is a FASSMER design. It is a little smaller (44.5 meters or 146 feet) and a little slower at 24 knots, but it is a bit better armed, having a 30mm gun and it has one trick we do not. It will have a small Unmanned Air System and associated launch and recovery system.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency has selected to the Fulmar UAV to equip their NGPC. The Fulmar is similar in most respects to the ScanEagle.

Aerovision Fulmar UAV, 5 May 2008, by Txema1

Aerovision Fulmar UAV, 5 May 2008, by Txema1

MalaysianDefence reports they expect to build three Offshore Patrol Vessels, at least 80 meters in length.  The RM740 Million reported allocated equates to about $167M each .

Reportedly the new OPVs will be a version of the Damen 1800 (ton) design (similar to those being built for South Africa, but with a conventional bow) 83 meters (272 feet) in length and 22 knots from 4×2350 kW diesels providing 12,600 HP.

Damen 1800 OPV, from the rear.

Damen OPV 1800 Concept Illustration

As part of their effort to build capacity among their neighbors, the Japanese are transfering two Japan Coast Guard cutters to the MMEA. The first of these, Erimo (PL-02) is, by USCG standards, still young, having entered service in 1991. She is 91.4 meters in length over all, 2,006 tons full load and capable of 20 knots with a crew of 38. The second ship wll be of the same class.

Japan CG Cutter Erimo (PL-02)

Japan CG Cutter Erimo (PL-02)

References:

 

Technical Difficulties

The blog has encountered some techical difficulties recently. At least in some cases photos have overlapped the text.

I have informed tech support at WordPress and hopefully a fix is in the works.

As a bandaid solution, I am adding a few extra line spaces below any photo in hopes of showing all the text.

Navy Bases MQ-4C in Mayport–LE Role?


NavyRecognition reports that high flying, fast, long endurance Triton MQ-4C Navy intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data collection drones are being based at Mayport, FL.

Detachments will rotate to distant theaters, but they will of course fly missions out of Mayport if only to maintain proficiency. Hopefully we will see these used to support Coast Guard interdiction missions.

South Africa to Build Damen Design Offshore and Inshore Patrol Vessels

Damen 85 meter Offshore Patrol Vessel, 1800

Damen 85 meter Offshore Patrol Vessel, 1800

Naval today reports, 

On February 15, Armscor (the acquisition agency for the South African Department of Defence–Chuck) announced Damen Shipyards Cape Town as the preferred bidder for the construction of offshore and inshore patrol boats…”

Reportedly the project includes three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) and three Inshore Patrol Boats (IPBs) for the South African Navy.

The OPVs will be Damen’s Offshore Patrol Vessel 1800 Sea Axe, illustrated above, 85 meters in length, with a beam of 13.7 meters, and a speed of 26 knots.

The IPBs will be Damen’s FCS (STAN PATROL) 5009 design, illustrated below, which is also used by the Ecuadorian and Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guards. These are 50.2 meters (165 ft) in length, 9.32 meters (30.6 ft) of beam. The South African vessels are expected to make 30 knots. An unusual feature (aside from the bow) is the use of four propellers.

I talked to someone who has ridden on a 5009 patrol vessel and he reported that it did indeed significantly reduce pitching. The tradeoff was that it was very wet forward. This should not be surprising since the design minimizes the rise of the bow when it encounters a wave.  You can see that they have attempted to counter this tendency by making the bow high and providing high bulwarks.

On the second page of this description of the design you will see a diagram of the ship which indicates that it can be fitted with up to three boats and a twin 40mm mount.

The long and slender Sea Axe hull offers exceptionally low resistance, delivering excellent fuel efficiency at all speeds

 

UAE’s New, and very well Armed OPV

UAE offshore patrol vessel Arialah

UAE offshore patrol vessel Arialah (note the concept above is incorrect in that the gun is a BAE 57mm rather than the 76mm illustrated).

DefenseNews reports first impressions of a new Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) built for UAE’s Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Agency (CICPA) shown at the NAVDEX (naval) portion of the IDEX international Defense Exposition in Abu Dhabi.

The ships are 67 meters (220 feet) in length, 11 meters (36 feet) of beam, and 5.4 meters (18 feet) of draft, with a speed of 20+ knots provided by four MTU engines driving four propellers.

Most of the armament is typical OPV, a 57 mm gun and two 30mm auto-cannon in remote weapon stations. What really sets it apart, is the Mk49 Rolling Airframe Missile launcher.

On the other hand, the UAE is just across the Straits of Hormuz from Iran and their shore based anti-ship cruise missiles.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/RIM-116_Rolling_Airframe_Missile_Launcher_3.jpg

Photo: Mk49 guided missile launch system for Rolling Airframe Missile

An earlier post provides a bit more detail on the program but it appears to have a couple of errors regarding the weapon systems (indicates a 76mm as seen in the first illustration vice 57mm and says the Mk49 launcher has 11 cells rather than the actual 21). There are to be two of this class, both to be delivered this year.

“The ships themselves will be delivered from Damen’s Galati shipyard in Romania in 2017; they will then go to ADSB’s facility in Abu Dhabi’s Mussafah industrial area for combat systems installation and integration prior to delivery to the CICPA.”

This looks like a straight forward adaptation of one of Damen’s designs for Offshore Industry Support Vessels with boats, helo deck, ESM/ECM, weapons and sensors added.

According to this older source, the Coast Guard was involved in the development of the SEA AXE Bow.

“Damen … has developed the sea axe bow design in partnership with the University of Delft, Royal Netherlands Navy, US Coast Guard and the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands.”

An Appreciation of Merchant Fleets

Top ten nations in value of their shipping from www.vesselsvalue.com

Top ten nations in value of their shipping from http://www.vesselsvalue.com

Marine Link brings us the graphic above. It does not come with explanation, but I presume this is “owned” rather than “flagged.” Otherwise I don’t think the US would be #4.

There are a couple of take-aways here:

  1. The overall tonnage has grown immensely, and
  2. The individual ships are far larger than they used to be.

For comparison the size of Japan’s not inconsiderable merchant marine in 1941, at the beginning of WWII was about 6 million tons. The fleets of Japan and China (#2 and #3 in value) are about 25 times larger.

During World War II the average merchant ship was roughly 5,000 tons. 10,000 tons was a big ship. The average Japanese ship is about 35,000 tons and the average Chinese ship is about 32,000. That is the new medium size. The US average is only a little over 23,000 tons. The new large size is larger than a USN nuclear powered carrier.

Something that does not show is that the crews are now much smaller.

Lets talk about the implications.