Comments on an earlier post here, “Updated: “U.S. Coast Guard Provides Information On The Offshore Patrol Cutter” –Naval News” prompted friend and journalist Peter Ong, author of the referenced Naval News story, to enquire further. Results below:
The comments posted on Chuck Hill’s CG Blog in response to my story published 13 January 2022 on Naval News about the U.S. Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) had a running discussion as to the maximum speed of the OPCs and how many .50 caliber M2HB heavy machine gun mounts the OPCs will be outfitted with.
Some commentators believe that the OPCs can sail faster than 22.5 knots, which according to specifications is the sustained speed of the OPCs. Furthermore, the number of .50 caliber (12.7mm) M2HB mounts is relatively unknown with some believing that the mounts will be a mixture of remote weapons stations and handheld crew-served pedestal mounts. (The OPCs are armed with a Mark 110 57mm turret cannon at the bow and a Mark 38 MOD 3 with 7.62mm coaxial chaingun over the hangar).
I inquired to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Public Affairs Department seeking more information on the maximum OPC’s speed and the quantity of small caliber weapon mounts. Brian Olexy, Communications Manager with the U.S. Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate, replied via email at the end of January 2022.
Question: Some believe that the OPC’s maximum sprint speed, or emergency Flank Speed, is more than 22.5 knots as rated by the specifications. Can the USCG settle this dispute and provide the maximum “all engines at 100% or more” speed that the OPCs can safely sail at?
Brian: “The contract requires the [Offshore Patrol] cutter to be capable of maintaining a sustained speed through the water of 22 knots in full load condition at delivery. Sustained speed is not “flank speed,” but rather the speed that the cutter can maintain in trial conditions. While the cutter design is required to meet the capability requirement of 22 knot sustained speed, the Coast Guard expects to obtain greater clarity on the actual speed range of the vessel during pre-acceptance sea trials.”
Question: How many 7.62mm M240 or 12.7mm M2HB mounts will the OPCs have in total?
Brian: “Final armament of the cutter will not be determined until the Coast Guard takes delivery, but the cutter has been designed with six different small caliber weapon mounts.”
Thanks to Peter for the follow-up.
M240 is an infantry weapon. It is useless as a shipboard defense or offense weapon. They should ask the old timers about the M60 used in Vietnam.
Only mention of the M240 was in the author’s question. I have not seen any indication the Coast Guard would be using it on anything other than small boats.
Ok, so 22 knots sustained would imply that a sprint speed would be higher. I’m hoping so.
Regarding the gun armament, frankly it’s relatively easy to position .50 cal or 7.62mm mounts around the ship, none of which I would imagine would be stabilized remote weapons stations. I’m more interested in what seems like the limited arc of the 25mm Mk38 mounted over the hangar. Why the single mount instead of a P/S arrangement, leaving the hangar position for a possible CIWS: SeaRAM or Phalanx.
Clearly the positioning of communications equipment got priority over the 25mm’s field of fire. I expect if priorities changed and SeaRAM replaced the Mk38 it would be better positioned.
I do expect a couple of machine gun positions to be occupied by Remote Weapon Stations, probably the two forward of the bridge, one deck up and behind the 57mm mount.