Below is a press release marking the end of an unusual patrol. We have seen several earlier press releases.
- “U.S. Coast Guard participating in Operation Island Chief, Operation Blue Pacific 2022” –News Release, 14 Aug.
- “Solomon Islands doesn’t answer US Coast Guard’s request for port visit, US says” –CNN/Reuters, 26 Aug.
- “U.S. Coast Guard arrives for planned port visit in Cairns, Australia” –Adventures in Paradise with the Webber Class, 1 Sept.
- “U.S. Coast Guard conducts port visit in Federated States of Micronesia” –CG Forces Micronesia, 17 Sept.
This press release gives us a bit more insight into what it took to make the patrol possible.
Everything I had seen earlier indicated Webber class had a crew of 24, but we have this,
“,,,with a crew of 25 and a lieutenant commanding officer”
The crew was also augmented.
“Guam’s Maintenance Assistance Team/Asset Material Manager leveraged current personnel to fill billet gaps….The Oliver Henry, which has no intrinsic medical personnel, also brought several folks aboard, including a corpsman from the U.S. Navy and a linguist from the U.S. Marine Corps…”We had HS2 Edge from HSWL Juneau and HM3 Hardnett from Naval Hospital Guam, who provided a higher level of care on board as we transited over 8,000 nautical miles down Australia. We also brought Lance Cpl. Mabrie from Hawaii, our Korean linguist aboard…We also brought MK2 Blas and YN2 Blas from Guam, who provided extra help for maintenance, photography, and administration while we were underway.”
Support: It did require something beyond routine parts supply.
“Working with U.S. Coast Guard Base Honolulu ensured the short notice delivery of $100,000 in mission-critical parts to the ship while deployed.”
This patrol once again demonstrated that the Webber class are exceeding our expectations, but the lessons may be more generally applicable.
It demonstrated that a ship with a crew of less than 30, much less than half that of our smallest WMECs (75 for the Reliance class), can usefully deploy and perform almost anywhere on earth, limited only by the seaworthiness of the cutter. That is not to say that a larger crew does not provide greater resiliance and opportunities to train junior personnel, but it does provide a proven minimum crew for a similarly equipped cutter, regardless of size. To this size crew we can consider the benefits of adding additional personnel for increased redundancy, self-sufficiency, resilience, damage control, training of junior personnel and additional capabilities like operating helicopters, underway replenishment, additional sensors, boats, or weapons, etc.
I think it argues for a class of cutter sized between the Webber class and the Offshore Patrol Cutters that could increase the number of more seaworthy large cutters beyond the 36 planned. Cutters with greater endurance, two boats, a flight deck, and a hangar for helicopter and/or UAS. I think we could do all that, with a crew of 50 or less, Cutter X.
U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam
USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) concludes Operation Blue Pacific expeditionary patrol
Editor’s Note: Click on the images above to view or download more including b-roll video.
SANTA RITA, Guam — The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) arrived at homeport in Guam, Sept. 19, following a patrol across Oceania.
“The crew of Oliver Henry just completed a 43-day historic patrol across Oceania, where we patrolled and visited ports in the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. We also patrolled the exclusive economic zones of those countries and Solomon Islands during our time,” said Lt. Freddy Hofschneider, commanding officer of Oliver Henry. “Our trip was significant in that we validated the capability of the fast response cutters homeported here in Apra Harbor, Guam, showing what we can do to promote regional stability in terms of fisheries and continue to build a better relationship with our regional partners.
The crew conducted training, fisheries observations, community and key leader engagements, and a multilateral sail. They covered more than 16,000 nautical miles from Guam to Cairns, Queensland, Australia, and returned with several stops in Papua New Guinea and one in the Federated States of Micronesia.
“The fact that we can take these 154-foot ships with a crew of 25 and a lieutenant commanding officer and push them so far over the horizon, even as far as Australia — which is what Oliver Henry just did — is an incredible capability for the region,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. “I’m proud of the work the Oliver Henry did, the resiliency of the crew deployed for 43 days, and they pulled off a variety of firsts – like first-time port calls in a couple of places like Papua New Guinea and Australia. Even more than that, I am proud of the resilience of the families. Not just the families of Oliver Henry but all the families here to support them and our local community here in Guam.”
In Papua New Guinea, the crew spent time on Manus Island and Port Moresby. They visited HMPNGS Tarangau School, spent time in the community, and engaged with Papua New Guinea Defence Force and local officials.
In Cairns, they conducted engagements with Australian Defence and Home Affairs partners, the mayor of Cairns, and Cairns Regional Council representatives. They also took time to engage with the International Marine College. Upon departure, they participated in a multilateral formation sail with crews from Australia and Fiji as the other ships departed for Exercise Kakadu off Darwin.
During their stop in Pohnpei, Oliver Henry’s crew hosted the U.S. Embassy team and an FSM National Oceanic Resource Management Authority – Fisheries Compliance Division representative to cover patrol highlights and future opportunities. The Oliver Henry commanding officer visited the FSM National Police Maritime Wing headquarters to discuss multilateral efforts. Finally, members of the cutter’s engineering team conducted a subject matter expert exchange with the crew of FSS Palikir, the last active Pacific-class patrol boat, on shipboard repairs and preventative maintenance.
While not the most extended transit for these cutters, this patrol does emphasize the Service’s capability and willingness to project into the far reaches of Oceania. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains strong partnerships with the maritime forces in the region through extensive training and subject matter expert exchanges. The U.S. Coast Guard conducts routine deployments in Oceania as part of Operation Blue Pacific, working alongside Allies, building maritime domain awareness, and sharing best practices with partner nation navies and coast guards. Op Blue Pacific seeks to strengthen partnerships and execute a mission to support maritime governance and the rule of law in the region.
This patrol was possible thanks to vital shoreside support for logistics and an augmented crew. Guam’s Maintenance Assistance Team/Asset Material Manager leveraged current personnel to fill billet gaps. Working with U.S. Coast Guard Base Honolulu ensured the short notice delivery of $100,000 in mission-critical parts to the ship while deployed. The Oliver Henry, which has no intrinsic medical personnel, also brought several folks aboard, including a corpsman from the U.S. Navy and a linguist from the U.S. Marine Corps.
“We had HS2 Edge from HSWL Juneau and HM3 Hardnett from Naval Hospital Guam, who provided a higher level of care on board as we transited over 8,000 nautical miles down Australia. We also brought Lance Cpl. Mabrie from Hawaii, our Korean linguist aboard, doing sighting reports inside of other countries’ EEZs and high seas pockets,” said Lt. j.g. Marissa Marsh, executive officer on Oliver Henry. “We also brought MK2 Blas and YN2 Blas from Guam, who provided extra help for maintenance, photography, and administration while we were underway. It felt like they’d been here since day one, and the crew enjoyed the extra help; they had a good time sailing with us.”
The Oliver Henry is the 40th Sentinel-class fast response cutter. The ship was commissioned along with its sister ships, Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) and Frederick Hatch (1143), in Guam in July 2021. These cutters are a vital part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s enduring regional presence serving the people of the Pacific by conducting 10 of the Service’s 11 statutory missions with a focus on search and rescue, defense readiness, living marine resources protection, and ensuring commerce through marine safety and ports, waterways, and coastal security.