CG Maritime Force Protection Units

Just a short note to highlight the existence of a couple of unusual units that may not be familiar. They have an important, if largely unrecognized mission. These are the Coast Guard’s Maritime Force Protection Units Bangor, WA and Kings Bay, GA.

The units are perhaps unique in that they have only a single mission, and they are funded by the Navy. They protect Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines while they transit on the surface, to and from their homeports. The possibility of a USS Cole style attack motivated their creation. Each unit consist of approximately 200 Coasties and is commanded by an O-5. Having CG crews and carrying CG colors and markings allows them to enforce a security zone around the subs. Both units stood up in July 2007.

They have some unique equipment too, including four 87 footers that were purchased with Navy funds. They are recognizable because of the stabilized remotely controlled machine guns mounted high on the bow.

  • SEA DRAGON    WPB 87367    Delivered NOV 2007   Kings Bay, GA
  • SEA DEVIL          WPB 87368    Delivered Feb 2008    Bangor, WA
  • SEA DOG            WPB 87373    Delivered April 2009   Kings Bay, GA
  • SEA FOX             WPB 87374    Delivered May 2009    Bangor, WA
File:US Navy 090818-N-1325N-003 U. S. Coast Guardsmen man the rails as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sea Fox (WPB 87374) is brought to life at Naval Base Kitsap.jpg
Photo Credit: KEYPORT, Wash. (Aug. 18, 2009) U. S. Coast Guardsmen man the rails as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sea Fox (WPB 87374) is brought to life at Naval Base Kitsap. (U.S. Navy photo Ray Narimatsu/Released)

The names chosen for these Navy purchased vessels all reprise submarines that fought in WWII. A contemporary report on the arrival of Sea Devil indicates these 87 footers are manned differently as well,

“To carry out its new mission, the Sea Devil carries more crew than most 87-footers, who require more training than most, and it packs more firepower.

“Instead of 11 “racks,” or beds, and a crew of 10, the Sea Devil will carry 12 racks and a crew of 15 because of the extra hours and training anticipated for the unique mission.

“Along with two .50-caliber automatic weapons mounted on each side of the vessel, a third is mounted near the bridge.”

They have a lot of other boats as well, including some non-standard types, like the one in which the Chairman of the Joint Chief took a ride.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pilots a 64-foot Special Purpose Craft in Puget Sound, Oct. 04, 2012, as part of a familiarization tour of Coast Guard units in the Pacific Northwest. The special purpose craft is based at the Marine Force Protection Unit in Silverdale, Wash. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan W. Bradshaw.

Photo Credit: Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pilots a 64-foot Special Purpose Craft in Puget Sound, Oct. 04, 2012, as part of a familiarization tour of Coast Guard units in the Pacific Northwest. The special purpose craft is based at the Marine Force Protection Unit in Silverdale, Wash. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan W. Bradshaw.

Thanks to Tim Colton and Lee Walher for help preparing this.

14 thoughts on “CG Maritime Force Protection Units

  1. ““Instead of 11 “racks,” or beds, and a crew of 10, the Sea Devil will carry 12 racks and a crew of 15 because of the extra hours and training anticipated for the unique mission.

    “Along with two .50-caliber automatic weapons mounted on each side of the vessel, a third is mounted near the bridge.”

    The Vietnam 82s had, originally, eight “racks” and was far heavier armed as well as having many more hours of patrol duty. I suppose the mission was not unique enough for the Coast Guard.

    Sometimes I have to wonder about people who write comments without a historical knowledge. Port security of high interest vessels is not new or unique.

    • The uniqueness here is that they are dedicated exclusively to this mission and that the Navy is funding both the equipment and the operating costs.

      Of course the Navy also funded a lot of the 110s and I think they paid to replace the 82s that were sent to Vietnam as well.

      • Chuck, the Navy Department paid for the naval equipments for the Vietnam 82s. The Coast Guard unique items were funded by the Coast Guard. The Congress added an appropriation to replace the twenty-six 82-footers after it became apparent they were not coming back. One of the reasons the Coast Guard wanted out of Vietnam was it was costing them too much out of the operating budget and, although it received supplemental increases to support Vietnam activities, it did not like going to the Congress for this. There were still questions why the Coast Guard was in Vietnam; especially after Tet 1968. I’ve been asking why the 110s are still in the Persian Gulf.

  2. Here’s my question, if the US Navy is financing those Coastal Patrol boats, how come then the US Navy won’t finance the NSC and quite possibly the Future OPC.

    • The Navy funds those particular WPB’s because they are performing a Naval mission – protection of FBM subs. They aren’t going to be chasing after drug traffickers in the Caribbean.

      I doubt the Navy has much interest in funding a multi-mission Coast Guard cutter.

      • I am just wondering because if the US Navy is funding those WPB’s to protech the FBM. Why then won’t the US Navy fund the OPC and NSC. My thinking is that wouldn’t the OPC and NSC have a National defense role that the US Navy can fund and use from the USCG such as Open Ocean escort, Merchant escort & Anti Piracy operations. I am thinking, if the US Navy can fund the WPB’s for FBM, why not get the US Navy to fund the OPC & NSC for Open Ocean escort, Merchant escort & Anti Piracy operations.

      • Nicky, you are pipe dreaming. If the Navy could afford to buy OPC or NSC why would it not just buy its own ship. You missed the point completely here. They funded WPB’s because they perform a mission the navy is not allowed to perform (i.e. enforce security zones in U.S. waters). The navy gets money from the same place as us.

      • Nicky, as usual, you aren’t listening. The only mission these WPB’s are performing is the force protection mission for the US Navy. They aren’t performing traditional CG missions. That is why the Navy funded these particular CG cutters. As Patrick noted, if the Navy wanted an NSC-like ship, they’d just purchase more LCS hulls.

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