An earlier post reported a plea by Representative Duncan Hunter, Chair of the Transportation Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, for the Coast Guard to provide an unfunded priority list to include six icebreakers and unmanned Air System.
Thought perhaps I would list my own “unfunded priorities.” These are not in any particular order.
Icebreakers: We have a documented requirement for three heavy and three medium icebreakers, certainly they should be on the list. Additionally they should be designed with the ability to be upgraded to wartime role. Specifically they should have provision for adding defensive systems similar to those on the LPD–a pair of SeaRAM and a pair of gun systems, either Mk46 mounts or Mk38 mod 2/3s. We might want the guns permanently installed on at least on the medium icebreakers for the law enforcement mission. Additionally they should have provision for supporting containerized mission modules like those developed for the LCS and lab/storage space identified that might be converted to magazine space to support armed helicopters.
Unmanned Air Systems (UAS): We seem to be making progress on deploying UAS for the Bertholf class NSCs which will logically be extended to the Offshore Patrol Cutters. So far we see very little progress on land based UAS. This may be because use of the Navy’s BAMS system is anticipated. At any rate, we will need a land based UAS or access to the information from one to provide Maritime Domain Awareness. We also need to start looking at putting UAS on the Webber class. They should be capable of handling ScanEagle sized UAS.
Photo: The Coast Guard Cutter Bluebell sits moored along the Willamette River waterfront in Portland, Ore., June 4, 2015. The Bluebell, which celebrated its 70th anniversary this year, is one of many ships participating in the 100th year of the Portland Rose Festival. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.)
Recapitalize the Inland Tender Fleet: This is long overdue. The program was supposed to begin in 2009, but so far, no tangible results. It seems to have been hanging fire for way too long.
Expand the Program of Record to the FMA-1 level: The Fleet Mix Study identified additional assets required to meet the Coast Guard’s statutory obligations identifying four asset levels above those planned in the program of record. Lets move at least to first increment.
Alternative Fleet Mix Asset Quantities
————–POR FMA-1 FMA-2 FMA-3 FMA-4
NSC 8 9 9 9 9
OPC 25 32 43 50 57
FRC 58 63 75 80 91
HC-130 22 32 35 44 44
HC-144A 36 37 38 40 65
H-60 42 80 86 99 106
H-65 102 140 159 188 223
4 19 21 21 22
42 15 19 19 19
At the very least, looks like we need to add some medium range search aircraft (C-27J or HC-144).
Increase Endurance of Webber Class Cutters: The Webber class could be more useful if the endurance were extended beyond five days (currently the same as the 87 cutters, which have only one-third the range). We needed to look into changes that would allow an endurance of ten days to two weeks. They already have the fuel for it.
MISSION EQUIPMENT SHORTFALLS
Ship Stopper (Light Weight Homing Torpedo): Develop a system to forcibly stop even the largest merchant ships by disabling their propulsion, that can be mounted on our patrol boats. A torpedo seems the most likely solution. Without such a system, there is a huge hole in our Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security mission.
Photo: SeaGriffin Launcher
Counter to Small High Speed Craft (Small Guided Weapon): Identify and fit weapons to WPB and larger vessels that are capable of reliably stopping or destroying small fast boats that may be used as fast inshore attack craft and suicide or remote-controlled unmanned explosive motor boats. These weapons must also limit the possibility of collateral damage. Small missiles like SeaGriffin or Hellfire appear likely solutions.
Improved Gun–Penetration, Range, and Accuracy: The .50 cal. and 25mm guns we have on our WPBs and WPCs have serious limitations in their ability to reach their targets from outside the range of weapons terrorist adversaries might improvise for use against the cutters. They have limited ability to reach the vitals of medium to large merchant vessels, and their accuracy increases the possibility of collateral damage and decreases their probability of success. 30, 35, and 40 mm replacements for the 25 mm in our Mk38 mod2 mounts are readily available.
Laser Designator: Provide each station, WPB, and WPC with a hand-held laser designator to allow them to designate targets for our DOD partners.
CONTINGENCY PLANNING SHORTFALLS
Vessel Wartime Upgrades: Develop plans for a range of options to upgrade Coast Guard assets for an extended conflict against a near peer.
Maybe we could focus on shoreside infrastructure, IT systems and applications that are from this century, and better underway connectivity. We never have anything to devote to that.
I am sure there is lots of shore side infrastructure that needs work, but I am too far removed to know where it is needed.
Maybe like a 30 year shipbuilding program, perhaps we need a shore facilities plan.
There has been some mention that we need more money for shore facilities, but we need to get specific about where it will be spent, so the Congressmen know what will help their district. The more it is spread around, the better.
To get the most out of any new deck gun, it needs to be gyro stabilized and EOIR directed, like the MK 38 Mod 2 or 3 mounts. They even have those for 50 cal M2s.
The US navy .50 cal. remote weapon station is designated the Mk49. It like the Mk 38 mod2 is made by the Israeli company Rafael. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Weapon_Station
Really think we need something bigger than 25 mm
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Duncan Hunter is advocating for us.
Starting to move toward shore based Unmanned Air Systems. https://www.defensetech.org/2017/03/31/coast-guard-eyes-drone-fleet/
USNI has an article on the draft shipboard UAS RFP, and linked to a now year old Navy Times article. In said linked article the Coast Guard reported a need for dedicated shore based UAS assets due to CBP UAS assets are overtaxed. CBP land border tasking takes priority and there aren’t enough resources to support maritime tasking. There is likely room for a Joint Command type structure for coordination, but it points out that the Coast Guard needs dedicated resources.
because its maritime surveillance, and no direct contact involved the USCG should pool their resources with the Navy and actually let the Navy handle it. Now if they were armed with hellfire’s etc to knock out a ships engines etc that would be another matter.
If the Navy actually does maintain Maritime Domain Awareness around the US, by all means let them do it and we can tap into their data base, of course they probably will not pay much attention to Alaska or the Eastern Pacific.
I was talking about letting the Navy Handle the land based UAV’s. But when it comes to Maritime Domain Awareness all the Maritime services are responsible. Navy, USCG, and US Merchant Marine. Think NORAD, but water based, and under the control of the USCG.
The Customs and Border Patrol predator program has been something of a debacle. For land based assets I kind of think the USCG might be better off with king airs.
A scan eagle/fire scout b class drone makes perfect sense for the large cutters and would offer additional capability. But for shore based I’m not sure the economics pencil out as opposed to turboprops.
I suspect you may be right about the King Airs.
I tend to agree that the CBP MQ-9 experience hasn’t been promising… Not unexpected as for all the amazing promises of UAS capabilities the history of the systems have been spotty. You mention Fire Scout which 17 years after first flight still hasn’t reached IOC. The armed Predator and Reaper roll out was not without its challenges, and only recently has the Air Force promoted it as a core capability with ANG units deployed. While Global Hawk and the hush, hush activity in Tonopah remain as quasi test beds. That being said I think the Coast Guard and DHS needs do more than buy the Air Force dedicated MQ platform… Fire Scout is basically a manned helicopter platform that was modified to add unmanned capabilities. The French are developing the Patroller which is a fixed-wing version of the same using a STEMME motorized sailplane. It would seem in a domestic non-contested environment this would represent a better cost option.
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Just for context, the Navy’s list is $4.8B http://www.defensenews.com/articles/us-navy-unfunded-requirement-list-totals-48-billion
The Air Forces unfunded priority list is $10.7B, more than twice as large as the Navy’s.
The Navy’s list is here: https://news.usni.org/2017/06/02/document-navys-fy-2018-unfunded-priorities-list?utm_source=USNI+News&utm_campaign=f0acf73ed0-USNI_NEWS_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0dd4a1450b-f0acf73ed0-230459137&mc_cid=f0acf73ed0&mc_eid=71cec7830c
#38 is the 57mm Mk110 gun for National Security Cutter (NSC) #10, cost $9M.
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