16 thoughts on “USCG fires on Iran Vessel in the Gulf

  1. Firing one round isn’t worth getting the gun dirty. Firing warning shots was part of the Operation Market Time ROE. We used an M16 and tracers. According to the rules of the time, the M16 with tracers became a signalling device and not a weapon. I suppose this was a win for the Iranians.

  2. When I first became interested in maritime affairs I was surprised by how much went at sea between states. Whether it was ships coming into contact with each other or shots being fired. And oddly for me then but now how much allies watched each other out of sight of land. All sorts go on that on land would be major international incidents. The sea is different domain and those whose attention is firmly fixed on the land don’t appreciate the difference; many think what goes on at sea is little more of a subset.

  3. And now, the rest of the story…

    From Todays News Headline:

    AP: Iran confirms US Coast Guard fired at fishing boat
    TEHRAN, Iran – The chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard navy confirmed in remarks published Friday that a U.S. Coast Guard vessel fired on an Iranian fishing boat in the Persian Gulf this week but insisted the incident was not a “clash.”

    …The shot from the U.S. patrol boat was fired “in the air about three miles away” from the Iranian boat, Adm. Ali Fadavi was quoted as saying by the Tasnim News Agency.

    “It wasn’t a clash but a single shot in the air … there was no clash between Iranian and American forces,” Fadavi said, adding that “Americans feared and felt danger from a fishing dhow.”


    At three miles away (6000 yds), I wonder if they could even barely see each other at those low heights to the water, other than a distant silhouette.

    Firing into the air. Seriously?

    There are three sides to every story!

    • The Iranians lie badly but they keep practicing. At three miles, the two vessels would be able to see each other as between themselves and the horizon, but if a round were fired into the air three miles away, there is no way the Iranian vessel would know it had anything to do with them.

  4. Really this statement was probably more for internal consumption, and while they had to make a dig at the cowardly US, it appears the primary thrust here may have been to assure Iranian fishermen that the US was not going to shoot at them.

      • I like the brush off of USCG Squadron One operations with ” the Vietnam War, when it sent several 82-foot cutters to disrupt Viet Cong maritime supply lines.”

        The “several” cutters were twenty-six in number and all spread out over a thousands miles of active combat zones. These crews spent about 75% of their time on patrol. They performed their own maintenance and had no R & R apartments to recoup after patrols.

        I fail to understand how lessons may be learned when the past is so ignored. The Coast Guard has yet to analyze and discuss its operational and administrative participation in Vietnam or any where else. The few things learned in the AG will be equally lost to the future because the Coast Guard works on an “as-needed” scheme.

        The first USRCS officer attended the Naval War College in 1894. The purpose, as described by the insightful Captain Charles F. Shoemaker, was to ensure the RCS officers received training with the Navy so the RCS could be a successful adjunct when needed. Over time, the Coast Guard has continued this premise, but the time for a more assertive Coast Guard has arrived. If the Coast Guard expects to be a full partner in expeditionary warfare then it must train the Navy that the Coast Guard is more than an adjunct or naval auxiliary for these operations.

        Continuing my theme of lack of historical knowledge, the only way for the Coast Guard to stop being that auxiliary is to force its history down the throats of the Navy. How many times since 1798 has the navy called on the cutters to perform where it could not?

  5. The USN spent a fair amount of money to extend the service lives of the Cyclones into the 2020’s. So there obviously a need for a patrol boat.

    I think there is some logic to using the LCS as patrol boats. One of the arguments that has been made is that they wanted self deployable patrol boats, and the LCS could serve that function as well as others if it is built is enough numbers.

    LCS could do the role, but the question is will there be enough of them to do it. Look how many PC’s are being used in the Persian Gulf right now in order to police it, and LCS will be needed to fill other roles all over the globe.

    I think the Navy will eventually need to order a replacement for the PC’s, but it’s the kind of thing that will keep getting pushed to the backburner because they will rely on the USCG filling that role in a contingency like they always have in the past, and are still doing now.

    That would be fine too, if the USCG was adequately funded and ample numbers of FRC’s, and if crews were being trained to use missiles (like griffin and SeaRam). But that isn’t the case. So unfortunately it will likely be an ad hoc response to a need that arises. Which I think kind of goes to Bill’s point.

    • The Surface Navy will always contend, in peacetime, that it is their job, in hopes of getting the money and billets to do it. In wartime there are never enough vessels or trained crews, so they come to the Coast Guard.

      The Coast Guard might make common cause with other elements of the Navy, the air and submarine elements specifically, that this job is best handled by the Coast Guard. The air and submarine parts of the Navy might see it in their interest in hopes that they would get a bigger slice of the Navy budget, while the Coast Guard could argue that while the Coast Guard assets would be available for wartime tasking just as they would be in the Navy, they would also be used for peacetime missions as well more frequently than they would be if part of the Navy.

      Right now the Coast Guard has more personnel than the British Royal Navy. The Coast Guard’s patrol vessels 110 foot and above, very nearly equals the total number of cruisers, destroyers, frigates, LCS, and patrol craft in the USN. If you count 87 footers, we have more. If the US were to attempt to enforce a blockade somewhere, as we did in Vietnam, they would definitely require assistance from the Coast Guard.

      The article also did not mention Squadron Three, the larger cutters that were sent to Vietnam.

      • In WW2 the Coast Guard was needed for convoy protection. And to your point the Navy simply didn’t have enough ships or crews to do the job. I think in our time the wartime need for the Coast Guard is likely to be exactly like what we have seen the past 11 years. It is hard (though not impossible) to imagine a long conflict waged as total war between major powers like WW2. But the need for the USCG to fill gaps isn’t any less because there are so many people in the world now that policing ports and sealanes is much harder. Also, counterinsurgency and counterterrorism are manpower intensive by their very nature. The people of the Coast Guard are needed as much as their ships.

      • James WF, I could see a major conflict with the Chinese at some time in the next 30 years (resource planning horizon) that might put us back in the ASW business, but something less than near peer conflict is certainly more likely.

  6. Unfortunately I could too. But a major power war would look very different now than 70 years ago. My guess is that is would not be long war, or at least a long war fought at a high state to state level. But that is conjecture on my part because obviously none of us know what it would be like, all we know is that it won’t be how we expected or planned for.

    To be clear I’m not saying that ASW wouldn’t be an important asset for the USCG to have in case of a major power war or a proxy war, but I would prioritize maritime security and interdiction. There will never be enough of those assets in wartime.

  7. To Bill Well’s point about the Coast Guard not capturing it’s lessons-learned from Vietnam–I agree! There is very little to document that extraordinary expeditionary USCG operation. I fear the same hard-won knowledge from 12+ years of USCG OCO mission in the AG will also fade into obscurity unless there is an effort made to preserve it. The skillsets for MIP/MIO/SFA and operating in semi-permissive environments should not have to be reinvented every time they’re required.

    There are some organizational obstacles to internalizing the PATFORSWA lessons-learned though. One is that the mission is tied to OCO funding, which the USCG does not know whether it will get or not. (Every year the rumor is that the new P4 crew will be the ones to turn out the lights and lock up when the mission stands down.) Investing the effort/$ into making long-term organizational improvements in training, equipment, tactics, etc. when the future of the mission is so uncertain can be a tough sell. Second obstacle is the one-year tour length. Makes it difficult to gain the experience/knowledge required to interalize lessons-learned. By the time a P4 team adjusts to the battle rhythm and can start to see where improvements can be made, its already time to start preparing for handoff to their reliefs. Does the CG have 12 years of recent OCO experience or 1 year of experience repeated 12 times?

    Right now there are a few hundred PATFORSWA vets with recent first-hand knowledge of an important niche mission for the CG (and some at LANTAREA who have managed the program and know how its evolved over time.) So… are there lessons worth capturing to better prepare the CG to fulfill similar missions in the future? Have they been adequetely discussed and recorded? If not, how do we ensure that they are?

    One hopes that, ten years from now, we’re not trying to figure out how to do these kinds of missions all over again. My suggestion that the USCG and USN establish an expeditionary PC training facility was one idea for how we might keep the skills sharp in anticipation of their likely demand in the future.

  8. Pingback: PATFORSWA Lessons Learned, Expeditionary WPCs | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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