Sandboxxx reports the release of a map illustrating the operations of the Russian and Chinese naval forces.
The Pentagon recently released a map showing the travel paths of Russian and Chinese naval vessels, alongside important undersea cables, as a part of its 2021 National Defense Authorization Act request, commonly referred to as the DoD’s budget. The map clearly shows the heavy traffic in both The Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with Russian subs encroaching on America’s eastern seaboard and Chinese submarines creeping up in the west.
The Russian Navy operations, including those just outside US territorial waters on the East Coast, are discussed in the post.
What I also see in the map, is a great deal of Chinese activity around Guam, significant activity around Hawaii, some activity extending to the Americas, and a surprising amount of Chinese activity in the Arctic, North of Siberia, that presumably passed through the Bering Strait. There is also Chinese activity near the Aleutians.
The Philippines, India, and Australia must also find this map interesting.
The map looks looks like more reason to consider providing cutters with an Anti-Submarine Warfare capability.
If we ever do have a “near peer” conflict with Russia and/or China, there is a good possibility, when we go to rescue the crews of torpedoed ships, cutters may find, they themselves have become targets. An ASW capability may be necessary just to allow the cutters to operate in a threat environment that could reach up to the US coast line.
If cutters were given an ASW capability, I would think their wartime role would be to escort logistics shipping from outload ports in the lower 48 to rear staging areas and return. Air and Surface threat levels would not be non-existent, but they would be low.
While when we think of naval warfare in the modern age I know we always think of it of “over there”, but is that realistic?
Remember in WWII the Germans (and to a much lessor extent the Japanese) cause much problems in our coastal shipping lanes. I am sure that the subs of today are much more than capable of WWII Type VIICs and Type IXs that the Germans used.
Even to this day, a large part of petroleum and other interstate commerce is on the coastal shipping lanes. As well, the ports that ships would have to leave to go “other there” still are vulnerable.
Add to that many types of current merchant ships can be converted to be used as covert minelayers (imagine how easily a foreign container ship could lay delayed time activated mines covertly in a number of important ports/shipping lanes and then escape before they activate), missile launchers, and support vessels for subs, etc.
I think that really needs to be looked at.
And while it is great to say we will fit ships “for, but not with”, will the systems be available when needed? How long to install them? How long to train crews on them?
ASW against modern submarines is a serous issue these days. Unless a ship is designed for ASW from the start the value of fitting much more than torpedo warning and decoys, would be limited. The base question is ‘what has been built into Coast Guard ships to minimize radiated noise.’
A better solution may be to invest in several sqn of SH-60R’s which could be deployed from any available flight deck.
The cutters could provide more flight decks for the MH-60Rs. The helicopter will still need to be cued. Using towed arrays, even a noisier ship can have very significant detection range. Some degree of quieting was included in the specifications if for no other reason than improved habitability.
I have to agree with Philip and Chuck. While installing ASW weapons on Cutters could act as a deterrent and prove semi-effective with the onboard systems, it is indeed better than nothing and should help in adding some form of offensive and defensive firepower. Even escorting convoys, armed with lightweight torpedoes, gives the enemy subs something to worry about even if the Cutters aren’t dampened for sound and equipped with sonars. In Distributed Lethality and Distributed Maritime Operations, doing this is another “Shooter” that helps, even if the armament comes in a Shipping Container.
The USCGCs should at least experiment and be trained to act with heavier modular armaments despite their peaceful roles.
The latest towed arrays also include an active element because diesel electric subs are so hard to hear. This makes self noise less significant.