CIMSEC has a new post that is worth the read, “Against the Growing Anti-ship Missile Threat, Are We Truly Semper Paratus?” It is the first of two parts.

Pointing toward the increasing ubiquity of anti-ship missiles, it suggests that we install the SeaRAM system in place of the Phalanx on the Bertholf class National Security Cutters (NSC), and that we also install the system on the Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) and the new icebreakers.

With the Commandant’s proposal,  that the new administration send cutters to the Western Pacific to counter Chinese aggressiveness, better self-defense systems make more sense than ever.

Fitting the system to at least a couple of West Coast NSCs that might be available for WestPAC deployment should be relatively straight forward since the systems have much in common with the Phalanx system it would replace. SeaRAM would have the additional benefit of increasing the ships anti-surface capability as well.


    • I agree. Seems like a reasonable proposal which adds real capability with out increasing complexity.

      Now just replace the 57mm with a 5″ gun….

  1. SeaRAM does have less PMS maintenance man-hours than CIWS with its 20mm gun system. However, it only has a total of 11 RAM missiles. Since the WMSL’s are already so well equipped with SPQ-9B, TRS-3D, SLQ-32 ESM, then choosing SeaRAM is unnecessary. Just replace the existing CIWS gun system with the normal 21 cell RAM launcher, which has even less maintenance requirements than both the SeaRAM as well as the CIWS. And your cutter will deploy with 21 missiles vs. 11 rounds.

  2. WMSL frigates already possess a decent initial ASCM defense: they presently come equipped with a US Navy Fleet standard ESM suite (SLQ-32), as well as the same ASCM horizon search radar that is carried onboard all CVN, LHD, LHA, LPD, and is being installed onboard some AEGIS cruisers and destroyers now: SPQ-9B horizon search radar. So, right now, USCG NSC’s can at least detect an incoming ASCM better than either LCS even class, or LCS odd class (which both have poor performing ESM configurations, which are planned to be replaced in the future by SLQ-32). Also, each NSC presently can detect a closing ASCM better than LCS even or odd classes which are not equipped with SPQ-9B radars nor are they planned to have anything equivalent to this USN fleet standard horizon search radar.

    Therefore, as WMSL’s are commissioned today, they can deploy overseas and detect threatening ASCM’s passively using SLQ-32 and /or actively using SPQ-9B radars, which were specifically designed for horizon searching, tracking of anti-ship cruise missiles. Even with CIWS weapons, the NSC’s are not defenseless vs. an ASCM. Unlike the Navy’s LCS classes which do not carry any active ASCM decoys, the Coast Guard’s SLQ-32 system can properly fire up to 4 sophisticated NULKA decoys. Possibly not needing to engage with CIWS at all. Food for thought.

    LCS are planning on installing some SLQ-32 equipments in future years, but no NULKA decoys for ASCM.

  3. Ultimately I would like to see all Phalanx replaced by SeaRAM. Gun based systems are just not as good at countering a multiple missile attack as fire and forget missile systems.

    I do like the stand alone, automatic capability of the SeaRAM compared to the older 21 round RAM launcher. Eleven rounds should be enough for most engagements.

    I am a bit concerned that if the threat comes in on the bow, a SeaRAM mounted aft might not recognize the threat or be able to engage. That is why I put a second SeaRAM forward on my proposed wartime weapons fit for the OPC.

  4. Raytheon reports they are testing a new version of the Phalanx 20mm gun that “replaces a pneumatic motor, compressor and storage tanks, reducing the system’s weight by 180 pounds. These changes also increase reliability and reduce operating costs.” Would also allow more selectable rate of fire and a larger magazine.
    If we are stuck with the Phalanx this is of course a good thing, but would much rather see the SeaRAM replace all Phalanx.

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