“MAST Asia: Mitsui Unveils OPV Design Proposal for JMSDF OPV Requirement” –Naval News

At MAST Asia 2019, the defense exhibition and conference currently held near Tokyo, Japan, local shipbuilder Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (Mitsui E&S) unveiled its OPV design currently competing for a JMSDF requirement.

Naval News reports on a proposal to meet Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force requirement for Offshore Patrol Vessels

This looks like a pretty typical modern Offshore Patrol Vessel if a bit larger and faster than most, with its medium caliber gun, two remote weapon stations for heavy machine guns and helo deck. In fact it looks very much like an improved L’Adroit with it 360 degree vision bridge, integrated mast, and two boats launched from stern ramps .

The real surprise is the crew of 23, one less than the crew of a Webber class. This might not be quite representative of how the Coast Guard would figure the crew size since there is a possibility the law enforcement officers of the boarding party and the aviation support personnel that are part of a USCG crew, may be handled as visiting detachments rather than as crew by the Japanese. Still the crew is going to be less than half of that of a 270.

Since the crew is a large part of the life cycle cost of a ship, there is a natural desire to cut the size of the crew. In operating a ship, frequently there is no reason the size of the ship should be reflected in the size of the crew, if the tasks the crew performs are the same. Still, 23 hardly provides a decent damage control party. Can they operate the helicopter and both boats simultaneously? Having junior personnel aboard in an apprentice role has much to recommend it. The experience of the Navy in attempting to man the LCSs with a minimum crew looks like a cautionary tale. I just hope they are including some provisions for adding personnel.

Seattle to be Homeport for Polar Security Cutter

Not surprisingly the Coast Guard has announced that Seattle is the planned homeport for the new Polar Security Cutter (heavy polar icebreaker). Below is the press release. 

U.S. Coast Guard announces homeport of newest Polar Security Cutter

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Coast Guard today announced that Seattle, Wash. will be the home of the service’s new Polar Security Cutters.

“I am pleased to announce that Seattle, Washington will be the home of the Coast Guard’s new Polar Security Cutters,” said Admiral Karl L. Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.  “The Pacific Northwest has been the home of our icebreaking fleet since 1976, and I am confident that the Seattle area will continue to provide the support we need to carry out our critical operations in the polar regions.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is the nation’s lead agency responsible for providing assured surface access in the polar regions.  The addition of the Polar Security Cutters in Seattle will support the United States’ ability to conduct national missions, respond to critical events, and project American presence in the high latitudes.

The Coast Guard conducted a detailed analysis to identify locations that could accommodate the Polar Security Cutter. Based on operational and logistical needs, Seattle was determined to be the appropriate homeport for the first three Polar Security Cutters.

In April 2019, VT Halter Marine, Inc. of Pascagoula, Mississippi, was awarded a contract for the detail design and construction of the Coast Guard’s Polar Security Cutter class.

Attack on Tankers in Gulf of Oman

Image reportedly showing smoke coming from one of the tankers said to have been attacked, May 13, 2019 © AFP PHOTO / HO / IRIB

You have probably heard about the recent attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The State Department has concluded that Iran is responsible.

We are not privy to all their sources, but the US has been fooled before. Military Times discusses why responsibility may not be clear. Just the fact that the price of oil went up 4% would mean that fore knowledge of the attack could have been worth a fortune in the futures market. Any number of people could be beneficiaries. Lots of folks would like to see the US take Iran down a notch or two. Even if Iranians did it, they might not have been acting on behalf of the central government. The cargoes were destined for Taiwan, could that mean the Chinese did it?

The Middle East is never short of intrigue. It is a place made for conspiracy theories.

Eaglespeak, who does think the Iranians are behind the attack, has a good summary of the situation including information on a recent fire that destroyed or damaged several ships in an Iranian port that I had not heard about before.

I would not be surprised to see units for the Coast Guard’s PATFORSWA keeping an eye on this area.

Webber Class for the Navy?

The US Naval Institute News Service has a short post that discusses LCS funding, but there is also something there about the possibility of the Navy buying Webber class Fast Response Cutters as well.

“Meanwhile, the HASC approved a requirement for the Navy to study the prospect of buying a version of the Coast Guard’s Fast Response Cutter, submitted by Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.). chair of the tactical air and land forces subcommittee.

“The idea is for the Navy to consider basing these smaller patrol vessels in Bahrain where they would operate in the littoral waters of the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Coast Guard is already planning to base four fast response cutters in Bahrain, to replace the aging Island-class patrol boats the service currently has patrolling the Persian Gulf.”

Stratton Goes To 7th Fleet, Waesche Goes South, All Four Alameda NSCs Underway

The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton passes underneath San Francisco’s Bay Bridge as Stratton and the crew depart on a months-long deployment to the Western Pacific in support of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, June 12, 2019. Operating under the tactical control of the U.S. 7th Fleet commander, Stratton and crew are scheduled to engage in professional exchanges and capacity-building exercises with partner nations in the Western Pacific and to patrol and operate as directed. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

The following is a PACAREA press release 

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Coast Guard Cutters Stratton and Waesche set sail Wednesday for months-long deployments to opposite ends of the Pacific. With their departure, all four of the national security cutters homeported in Alameda are currently on patrol.

The crew aboard the Waesche departed for a months-long deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean to conduct counterdrug operations. Earlier this year, Waesche returned to Alameda following a 95-day counterdrug patrol where the crew had two at-sea interdictions, seizing more than 6,300 pounds of cocaine.

Stratton deployed to the Western Pacific Ocean where the Alameda-based Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf has been since departing the Bay Area in January. Stratton will operate in support of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which oversees military operations in the Western Pacific.

Operating under the tactical control of U.S. 7th Fleet, Stratton is scheduled to engage in professional exchanges and capacity-building exercises with partner nations and to patrol and operate as directed.

“The Coast Guard’s deployment of resources to the Indo-Pacific directly supports the United States’ goal to strengthen maritime governance, safety, and security across the region, and we do that by working with, and learning from, our many partners and partner nations in the region,” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, who oversees the cutter.

“The United States is a Pacific nation, and the Coast Guard has been operating in the pacific for over 150 years. We have developed long-standing partnerships with nations in the region, and 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 the sovereignty of all nations.”

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.

“We are a military service, we are also a law enforcement organization, a regulatory agency, a first response agency, and a member of the intelligence community,” said Fagan. “We are at all times a military force and at all times a law enforcement force. This duality of our authorities provides an incredible degree of flexibility and access and authority. The Coast Guard’s distinct authorities and missions means that we provide a mix of expertise and capabilities that no other U.S. agency can.”

Coast Guard Island in Alameda is the homeport to four Coast Guard legend class national security cutters. NSCs 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. These multi-mission cutters and crew are capable of operating from the Bering Sea to the Eastern Pacific Ocean to the South China Sea.

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

The Coast Guard is scheduled to commission its seventh and eighth national security cutters, the Coast Guard Cutters Kimball and Midgett, in August. Both cutters will be homeported in Honolulu and enhance the Coast Guard’s presence throughout the Indo-Pacific region.