Indonesian Maritime Security Agency vessel KN Tanjung Datu, left, sails alongside U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton during joint exercises in the Singapore Strait in August 2019. IMAGE CREDIT: PO1 LEVI READ/USCG

CIMSEC has an opinion piece written by Bryan Clark and Craig Hooper, both influential defense journalists, that advocates,

The Congress and DoD leadership should embrace the Navy’s focus on high-end warfare by shifting security and training missions to ships operated by other services, specifically the Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command. Congressional leaders have expressed interest in adding defense-related spending to the White House FY2023 budget proposal, which could build more of the existing ships the Coast Guard and MSC would use. And to operate them, the up to $2 billion in annual LCS sustainment, basing costs, and manpower funding could be moved to these new mission owners. If the Navy sheds the small boat mission, the costs should be taken out of the Navy’s budget.

We have seen that, to some extent, this has already taken place, but without the movement of money to the new providers.

The Navy hopes to save money by retiring LCS, so they can put money in other Navy programs, not so that they can hand it over to another agency (although, yes, MSC is really part of the Navy).

Navy seamanship training has had a lot problems recently, and I think a lot of that can be traced to the lack of smaller vessels with smaller wardrooms, where junior officers can get more experience in shiphandling. The Navy does not allow their surface warfare officers to specialize on their first tour. They are supposed to learn about complex engineering and weapons as well as seamanship and deck watch standing while serving on ships that may have many times the number of JOs that are on CG ships. The Navy is eight times the size of the Coast Guard, but the Coast Guard has almost as many wardrooms as the Navy. The Coast Guard has roughly 250 coastal and ocean-going cutters, patrol ships, buoy tenders, tugs, and icebreakers; as well as nearly 2,000 small boats and specialized craft. The US Navy has about 296 ships and a number of those are manned by civilian mariners of the MSC. On top of that, Navy ships are generally underway a smaller percentage of the time than Coast Guard ships, and Coast Guard vessels operate more frequently in high traffic coastal areas. It should not be surprising that Navy officers in general have less seamanship experience than their Coast Guard and merchant marine counterparts.  Unless the Navy develops a cadre of ship driving specialists, shedding their smaller ships will only exacerbate the problem.


  1. This also nails it. No early chance to command. The Navy is killing itself by neglecting the human element. The ship and the crew are one. Opportunities are what make a better crew and captain. It is immediately evident upon visiting either service’s ships. Coast Guard crews are always eager to talk and know their ship top to bottom. The only Navy ship I could say that of was an MCM.

    • Herman Wouk said, “The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots.” What we have now seems to be designed by idots that requires geniuses to execute. I think the Navy’s expectations are unrealistic. A first tour should be successful if you can do your assigned jobs and learn a skill–not every skill. You should not be expected to be qualified to command a DDG after the first tour. If you are trying to learn every officer on boards’ job you are not learning your own. Your experience is a mile wide and an inch deep. Too many students and too few mentors. Both are under pressure to succeed can, I suspect, lead to gun decking and/or favoritism.

      We have seen that this has resulted in poor performance by deck watch officers because the results are very public. Performance in other areas are less obvious, but may be just as serious. Certainly honest attempts to meet all the qualifications contributes to lack of sleep which leads to poor job performance.

      The British have been doing this a long time and they start their first tour as specialists. As I recall they are navigation, deck, weapons, and engineering. My Coast Guard experience is long out of date, but back then, on much simpler ships, first tour officers were either deck or engineering. I think it is still the same.

    • “The ship and the crew are one.”

      It’s always a sure sign that a person you are talking knows nothing about ships and navies if they don’t take that as a given.
      It’s a fundamental. It’s a given.

  2. I know I hate and despise the LCS, but if they properly fix them as low end corvettes and give them to low end SWO officers such as LT’s to ENS, it would give them a shot at command later down the road and it would be a good tool for the US Navy to evaluate SWO officers for future command of a DDG, CG and ultimately an Amphibious assault ship.

    • Turn some kids loose with a credit card and see if they can Ukraine big navy with them in some no holds barred exercises.

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