Interview with Commandant

Federal News Radio has an interview with the Commandant. There is a short written summary here or you can listen to it on their page or above. Some interesting developments with regard to drug interdiction in the Eastern Pacific. Sea story about actual employment of a sea based Unmanned Air System.

Interestingly he again refers to Russia arming Icebreakers so I think perhaps we may see some movement to arm or at least make provision for arming our new icebreakers.

Guided Weapons Made Easy

APKWS launcher to be produced by Arnold Defense. Expected ready for production 2018.

Army Times is reporting that Arnold Defense is showing a system developed to allow the mounting of up to four Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS II) 70mm laser guided rockets virtually anywhere there is a “universal gun mount,” including maritime applications. That sounds like the mounts for our .50 caliber machine guns.

APKWS is a kit that adds semi-active laser homing guidance to any Hydra rocket, a common unguided rocket normally used in large number for area suppression.

The launcher for up to four rockets, called Fletcher, is 6.5 feet long and has an empty weight of only 30 pounds. Each of the 2.75″ rockets when equipped with APKWS kits weighs about 32 pounds depending on warhead chosen, for an all up weight of about 158 pounds.

Range is at least 5,000 yards in surface to surface mode. The effect of a hit is similar to that of a 3″ (76.2 mm gun). This seems to be the weapon we need to quickly and reliably take out threats based on small, fast, highly maneuverable vessels with less likelihood of collateral damage than gun systems. It would probably deal effectively with larger vessels up to about 100 tons.

APKWS is in the Navy supply system. A contract in 2016 for the purchase of 5000 kits at a total cost of $133M yielded a unit cost of $26,600 and since then the unit price has reportedly deceased as production has increased. BAE is working up to a capacity of building 20,000 APKWS kits a year. They have already completed over 10,000. Arnold claims to have produced over 1.1 millilon rocket launchers since 1961.

The light weight offers several advantages. It would not have to be mounted all the time. It should be easy to remove and remount the launchers, or to move them between platforms. We would not necessarily need to load up all four tubes or have two launchers.

We would need to make sure the back blast points in a safe direction, perhaps mounting the launcher(s) on the stern. We would also need laser designators, but they readily available, and we probably should have them anyway, as a way of designating targets when we need to get help from our sister services.

Canada’s Coast Guard Construction Plans

Canada’s Next Generation Combat Vessels

The illustration above comes from the Canadian ship builder Seaspan. Under Canada’s new National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, their Vancouver shipyard will be building all of the Canadian government’s” non-combat vessels, including all their Coast Guard vessels.

There are details here I had not seen previously about their new icebreaker:

  • Length: 150.1 meter
  • Displacement: 23,700 metric tons

Their three new Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels:

Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel (interesting underwater body)

  • Length: 63.4 m
  • Displacement: 3,212 MT

An Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel:

  • Length: 85.9m
  • Displacement: 4,490 MT

and “…up to five new Medium Endurance Multi–Tasked Vessels and up to five Offshore Patrol Vessels…” I have seen no details on these ships since we first heard about them four years ago. (Anyone seen anything concrete?) Only the cost, $3.3B (Canadian) seems firm. Even the number is simply an upper limit. If there are specifications, they must be keeping them open and close to the vest. This follows the example of the Canadian Navies Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) where the price seemed to have been set and the numbers given as six to eight.  At least now we have a conceptual view in the illustration at the top. Its not clear if there will really be a difference between the OPVs and the MEMTVs. Obviously they will have a helo deck and probably a hangar. I will guess that these will be designed by either Vard or Damen and will be about 1800 tons full load and 80 to 90 meters in length. Like all Canadian Coast Guard Cutters they have no permanently installed weapons, but should they decide to change policy and arm these, and it has been discussed, it probably would not be to difficult to add a gun of up to 76mm

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.

USCGC Polar SeaThe US Naval Institute reports the Coast Guard has issued a draft Request for Proposals for a new Heavy Icebreaker with options for two more.

Certainly good news to see the process moving along, but it is also important to remember what it is not.

It is only a draft. “Responses to the draft RFP are due Dec. 11, and the Coast Guard and Navy will release a final RFP early next year, to support a Fiscal Year 2019 contract award.”

Like all of our contracts so far, there is no apparent consideration of a block buy that would lock Congress into funding the entire program–three ships in this case. Perhaps an astute shipbuilder will include that in their ultimate response, in case the Congress wants to commit for all three.

Unfortunately I can’t comment on the draft because of its limited distribution. Hopefully because,

“…Polar icebreakers enable the U.S. to maintain defense readiness in the Arctic and Antarctic regions; enforce treaties and other laws needed to safeguard both industry and the environment; provide ports, waterways and coastal security; and provide logistical support – including vessel escort – to facilitate the movement of goods and personnel necessary to support scientific research, commerce, national security activities and maritime safety.”

They will be provided with the means to be upgraded to allow them to exercise both self-defense and a modicum of offensive capability.


RRS Sir David Attenborough–the UK’s Access to Antarctica

RRS Sir David Attenborough. Proto from Rolls-Royce

Thought I had posted about this ship earlier, but when I went to add an update from MarineLink on installation of the engines, I found that was not the case. RRS Sir David Attenborough is perhaps most famous as the subject of a social media search for a ship name that resulted in the most votes going to Boaty McBoatface.

It is expected to provide logistics support to support a British presence in Antarctica as well as break ice to a thickness of 1.5 meters at a minimum speed of 3 knots.

  • Displacement: 15,000 Gross Tons (only a little smaller than USCGC Healy, a little larger than Polar Star)
  • Length: 128.9 meters (423 feet)
  • Beam: 24 m (79 ft).
  • Draft: 7 m (23 ft)
  • Integrated propulsion and ship service engines/generators:  two 3,600 kW (4,800 hp) 6-cylinder Bergen B33:45L6A and two 5,400 kW (7,200 hp) 9-cylinder Bergen B33:45L9A main diesel generators, a 885 kW (1,187 hp) harbor generator and two 2,500 kW battery systems.
  • Propulsion motors: four 2,750 kW (3,690 hp) for 11,000kW or 14,760 HP (about half that of USCGC Healy and less than 20% that of Polar Star on turbines)
  • Range: 19,000 nautical miles (35,000 km; 22,000 mi) at 13 knots
  • Accommodations for 90 with a crew of 28.
  • Facilities to land a helo, but I have seen no indication of a hangar.

The ship will be owned by the British Natural Environment Research Council, to be operated by the British Antarctic Survey. It is expected to enter service in 2019.


Fire aboard USCGC Brant (WPB-87348)–No Injuries

Fire damage, USCGC Brant (WPB-87348), Gulfport, MS, 18 Oct., 2017. Looking at the aft port corner of the superstructure.

The 87 foot WPB USCGC Brant (WPC-87348) has suffered a fire while berthed in Gulfport MS. Two were aboard, but there were no injuries.

This is the CCGD8 news release:

NEW ORLEANS – Members from Gulfport Fire Department and a Coast Guard member extinguished a fire aboard Coast Guard Cutter Brant, which was moored in Gulfport, Mississippi, Wednesday.

At approximately 5 a.m., two Coast Guard members who were aboard the cutter became aware of the fire, located on the port-aft area of the vessel, and took initial actions to put out the fire using an on board fire extinguisher.

Members from Gulfport Fire Department arrived on scene at 5:05 a.m. and extinguished the fire.

The two Coast Guard members on board the vessel were evaluated by emergency medical services and have been released.

“We are thankful no one was hurt in the fire,” said Cmdr. Zachary Ford, the head of the response department at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans. “Without the quick response and actions taken by the Gulfport Fire Department, this incident could have been much worse.”

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Below is a photo of a sister ship, USCGC Crocodile. I understand this started as an electrical fire in the engineroom.

USCGC Crocodile. the area of damage is clearly visible to the left of the ladder leading to the bridge. Damage seems to have been in a trunk leading down to the engine room. There may have been additional damage below deck.

Was Libya’s Sinking of a Tanker “Fake News?”

I have begun to suspect that the report of the Libyan Coast Guard sinking the Tanker GOEAST may have been more propaganda than reality.

Compare the Libyan video above with the video of USCGC ANACAPA sinking a much smaller derelict Japanese fishing vessel Ryou-Un Maru.

The Tanker was probably 20 times as large as the fishing vessel and had a crew on board and operating pumps to address flooding. USCGC ANACAPA began the operation at 13:00 and the RYOU-UN MARU sank at 18:15. It appears that the F/V may have been hit 100 times by 25mm projectiles, and at one point the ANACAPA used a hose to pour water into the fishing vessel.


On the video, the Libyan patrol boat fires no more than 20 rounds from its 30mm and I believe it was less than 15. At no time was there sustained fire directed at the tanker. The longest burst was perhaps four rounds.

At the end of the video, the tanker is pumping water, but it is also upright with no significant list and it appears to be making way. I am positive the tanker is underway at least as late as five minutes into the five minute 44 second video.

Perhaps things happened later, but if they recorded the opening shots, it seems they would have recorded the sinking.

This might have been an attempt at deception by the Libyans to discourage smuggling.

It might have been that the patrol boat skipper had been instructed to sink the tanker, and when he failed, he lied about the result of the attack.

It may be that a government information officer simply assumed that because they fired at the ship, that it was sunk. Capsized and sunk does make a much better story than shot at, was annoyed, and sailed away.

It is not impossible the entire thing was theater staged with the cooperation of the tanker, although I think that very unlikely.

Certainly the tanker’s owners may have reasons not to debunk the story.

  • They don’t want to confirm they were smuggling.
  • The report may discourage competing smuggling organizations.
  • They may even rename and reflag the tanker and file a bogus insurance claim.

Certainly, there was nothing in the video to indicate that this ship was sunk.

A final note. The patrol boat is seen firing into both sides of the tanker. If you want to sink a ship, it is usually better to concentrate as much damage as possible on one side. It is more likely to make the ship list and ultimately capsize. As the list increases holes initially made above water start to submerge and take on water.