Rewrite of Seapower 21 Coming–Opportunity for More Clarity?

As noted by Brian McGrath, over at Informationdissemination, the CNO has issued a “Position Report.” (pdf) It’s only three pages and updates his “Navigation Plan.”

This quote caught my eye, “With the other sea services we will revise our maritime strategy, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower”, to address the challenges and threats facing us in the near future.”

While there may be commitments in a war plan. Most Coasties don’t seem to have an idea what their war time roles would be. Perhaps this is an opportunity to address the apparent ambiguity. As discussed recently, a more explicit explanation of wartime roles for the Coast Guard could go a long way toward informing choices in the procurement of platforms and equipment, particularly the Offshore Patrol Cutter.

A second line, while addressed specifically at the Navy’s close formal relationship with the Marine Corps, suggest there will be an effort to  minimize duplication of effort, “We will develop concepts to guide future amphibious operations, building on the ongoing “Single Naval Battle” effort with the Marine Corps.”

Where might we eliminated duplication of tasks and platforms between the Navy and Coast Guard?

As a side note one of the items addressed as a “fundamental responsibility” under the principle “Warfighting First.”

”” We deployed (and will keep) in the Arabian Gulf new mine hunting and neutralizing equipment, improved torpedoes; advance electromagnetic sensors, “up-gunned” patrol craft (emphasis applied–Chuck), and USS PONCE as an afloat forward staging base.

The reference to patrol craft may be exclusively to the Navy’s Cyclone Class, but some of the patrol craft in the vicinity are USCG. I haven’t seen anything indicating that their armament has been changed. Also have not seen any indication the Coasties are coming home. Could this become a long term standing commitment? Will the 110s be replaced by Webber class Fast Response Cutters?

9 thoughts on “Rewrite of Seapower 21 Coming–Opportunity for More Clarity?

  1. I’ve heard this “up-gunned” patrol craft “line” before. A I know that he is referring to the Cyclone PCs and B I am NOT buying it~~~
    The Cyclones will be getting a annother Mk 38 mount and some Griffin missiles on both. Ok that all good and well, BUT those ships are old, their hulls have been “fixed” with doublers. And they weren’t that good to begin with.
    IMHOI The USN needs a NEW construction FAC(M) to replace the Cyclones. Said it before in other places. Get a real gum/missile boat. It would not be hard to take the Ambassador III being built at VY Halter Marine and turn it into a small warship for USN.

    • The Navy has improved the weapons on the Cyclone PCs, but as you note, it is a short term fix, because they are old and have a limited life remaining.

      The Undersecretary, Bob Work, has stated he does not think the navy needs to build any more PCs. the LCS will replace the existing PCs. The only other craft that is close are the new patrol boats.

      That will leave a huge gulf, between 85 foot force protection patrol boats (which I’m guessing are under 70 tons) and LCSs that are all over 378 foot long and more than 2700 tons.

      Meanwhile the Coast Guard will operate over 130 vessels sized between these extremes. Perhaps the rewrite could have some recognition of the CG’s national defense role as operator of vessels in this class.

      I don’t see the USN needing missile boats armed with heavy anti-ship missiles like the typical FAC(M), but I do see a need for boats armed with missiles optimized against swarming smaller vessels up to and including the typical FAC(M) to be employed defensively screening both higher value warships and merchant vessels in restricted waters (eg Straits of Hormuz). Such vessel may not need extreme high speed, but it does imply a large number of smaller missiles.

      The other requirement is for numbers of vessels to do Maritime Interdiction Ops (MIO). These would require a ship stopping weapon effective against even large ships.

      These two types of vessels, MIO platforms and FAC destroyers, might be combined in a single design. The Webber Class WPCs, properly equipped, might be useful in these roles.

  2. Chuck I was with you until you concluded with the FRC. I do not think that hulll is big.heavy enough for a coastal combatant.
    On the other end of the spectrum, you are right that the Mk VI Patrol BOAT is too small. There are plenty of ships in between BUT senior naval officials see NO need for a coastal combatant. To which I strongly DISAGREE.

    • The FRC is the same size as the Navy’s PCs and about 6 times as large as the new Navy Mk VI patrol boats, the CG 82 foot patrol boats that did MIO off Vietnam, or the PT boats of WWII.

      Perhaps a larger vessel would be individually “better” but it is a trade-off of quality vs quantity.

      • The PT boat was not for patrol work. It had little endurance and was primarily a “scoot and shoot.” This is why they were not selected from the 1964 Navy study. The USN did use them in Vietnam, but to run special ops for the SEALs. They had a separate base in Da Nang when I was there. The PCFs were not that good either.

  3. While the FRC isn’t as long as the Navy Patrol Coastal, there is plenty of research into how big makes a difference.. Overly simplifed, but the data suggests about 140 feet and above makes a meaningful difference in Patrol Boat/Craft capability. This was a primary driver in hull designation of FRC as a WPC vs WPB.

    • Compared to the Navy PC, which as I note are the same size (displacement), the Webber class traded a little length and speed for more beam and better seaworthiness and endurance. That seems to have been a good trade at least for the patrol mission.

      The Webber class are also very similar in size to the original LCS(L) MkIIIs (Landing Craft Support, Large) that were used as coastal gun boats during WWII:

      They are also very similar in size to the subchasers of WWII and four times as large as the subchasers of WWI.

      • Thanks Chuck,
        We can’t approach the FRC as simply a 110 replacement. What MEC activites would the FRC be capable of.

      • I don’t think we will have a choice. They will probably be pressed into doing counter drug patrols in the South East. They seem to be homeporting the first ones on the assumption that that is what they will do.

        Based on the DHS study, it seems half of all Patrol Cutter mission presence is devoted to the South East (11.0 of 20.25 ship years) but apparently that also includes the Eastern Pacific.

        I would not be surprised if the Coast Guard experimented with putting some in the Eastern Pacific with some sort of mothership, either an NSC, an amphib, or a T-AKE.

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