Below is a press release reproduced in its entirety. This operation seems to represent a significant change in Coast Guard operations. This is the first reference to a Coast Guard “Arctic Patrol” I have seen other than WWII historical references. Significantly this is on the Atlantic side. When I have seen the Coast Guard participate in this exercise in the past, it was with a buoy tender. Here we have participation by two 270 foot WMECs. We talked about this exercise earlier here. It seems to mark a change for the US Navy as well as the Coast Guard with a Navy destroyer participating as well.
U.S. Coast Guard carries out support of joint Arctic missions
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KITTERY, Maine — The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Campbell (WMEC 909) will relieve the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) on Arctic patrol, Sunday near Greenland.
In mid-July, Tahoma began operations for the overall two-month patrol to the Arctic in support of joint operations Nanook and Argus, to secure the maritime domain, protect resources and strengthen partnerships.
“I’ve been doing this for more than 33 years and thought I’d seen everything until I saw how positively this crew responded. There’s nothing more humbling than being surrounded by such a great crew. Their families and friends should all be proud of them; that they accomplished something important and accomplished it with style. They represented themselves, their families, their Service, and their country as well as could ever be expected. The finest traditions of the Coast Guard are alive and well within the Tahoma crew,” said Cmdr. Eric Johnson, commanding officer, Tahoma.
As the Nation’s primary maritime presence in the Polar Regions, the Coast Guard advances our national interests through a unique blend of polar operational capability, regulatory authority and international leadership across the full spectrum of maritime governance.
“The Coast Guard has been in the Arctic for over 150 years,” said Capt. Thomas Crane, commanding officer, Campbell. “This signature exercise began in 2007. We are committed to enhancing our multinational capability to operate effectively in the dynamic Arctic domain, strengthening the rules-based order through the presence and joint efforts, and adapting to promote regional resilience and prosperity. We are proud to bring USCGC Campbell back to Greenland as the previous Campbell (W32) supported Coastal Operations in and around Greenland during World War II.”
These exercises evaluate interoperability and build relationships between responders to identify shortfalls in communication and coordination of efforts. Each agency holds individual capabilities that complement each other’s efforts and bolsters the overall success of the regional defense and SAR system. The purpose is to continue building and improving operational cohesion between different agencies and the Coast Guard.
Tahoma participated in patrols and mutual exchanges with partners as part of Operation Nanook. Inuit for polar bears, Nanook is an annual joint exercise and the Canadian armed forces’ signature northern operation, which comprises a series of comprehensive, joint, interagency, and multinational activities designed to exercise regional defense and secure our polar regions. The Coast Guard is primarily supporting Nanook-Tuugalik, a defense readiness and security exercise, with multiple foreign partners off Northern Canada involving U.S. Navy 2nd Fleet, Royal Canadian navy and coast guard, the Danish navy, French navy, Royal Canadian air force, and multiple Canadian federal, state, local, and tribal agencies. This year crowns a decade of Operation Nanook.
Both Tahoma and Campbell participated in Operation Argus, a three-day search and rescue exercise in Greenland’s coastal search area with the Danish navy, French navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and Air Greenland. Campbell will also conduct exchanges, fisheries boardings to safeguard resources and protect domestic fisheries and serve as a platform for research and innovation.
“We continue to work with our allies and partners to ensure a safe, secure, and cooperative Arctic, even as our aspiring near-peer competitors maneuver for strategic advantage in the area,” said Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area. “We are leaning forward, and our persistent presence continues to counter those entities’ efforts as the strategic value, economic, and scientific importance of the Arctic grows.”
Tahoma and Campbell’s home port is the historic Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Both cutters have a crew of roughly 100 who regularly patrol the Atlantic from Canada to the Caribbean. Like the other Famous-class cutters, they are designed and built for multi-mission operations, including law enforcement, search and rescue, marine environmental protection, and defense readiness.
Due to COVID-19, the service is taking extensive precautions and closely monitoring all operations. As needed, unit schedules adapted to ensure missions occur as planned. Any port calls or personnel exchanges are evaluated for risk and conducted in close coordination with the host nation and relevant agencies.
Lovely picture of the Triton. The Thetis class is one of my favourites. I wish the Royal Navy had some of them.
Actually I thought the Thetis class might have made a good model for the OPC.
Yes. Fantastic hull shape. Ice strengthened. Good range. Good systems. Everything you could want.
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Having a USCG presence in the Arctic from a medium to large cutter makes sense, especially with helicopter support for SAR and ISR. The Sentinel FRCs, while new, lack the aviation facilities and long-range firepower to enforce maritime laws. In the future, even the 57mm Bofors on the OPC and NSC could be adequate.
With NATO SH-60s, the ISR, SAR, and SW, and ASW on USCG cutters could be increased by arming the helicopter.
The USCG Cutter presence shows a visible maritime positioning that the USA has vested interests in the Arctic more than just a buoy tender, drones, or P-8 aircraft. Best of all, medium and large Cutters have the space to allow crews to confiscate, jail, seize, and conduct VBSS compared to small USCG boats. Hopefully this will be the norm compared to just SSNs lurking under the ice.
This is on the Atlantic side. We would not normally have a reason to be there.
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