New Base at Port Clarence?

Bering Strait. Port Clarence bay is the large bight in the southeast.

Adapted from Wikipedia’s AK borough maps by Seth Ilys.

At the National Press Club Headliners Luncheon on Thursday, Dec. 6, the Commandant discussed the Coast Guard’s Arctic presence. We noted the Commandant’s remarks on the Polar Security Cutter earlier, that he was guardedly optimistic, but the US Naval Institute report on the same presentation, brings us more information about the possibility of a new port facility in Western Alaska.

Long-term, Schultz said it’s possible the Coast Guard would look to create a permanent presence in the Arctic. Most likely, Schultz said, the Coast Guard would look for a sea base, possibly in the far northern Port Clarence area. One option, Schultz said, is for the Coast Guard to install moorings to provide a safe haven. Port Clarence, Alaska, had a population of 24, according to the 2010 Census.

Port Clarence was at one time a LORAN Station, and it appears it may still have a substantial runway, so it might also develop into a seasonal air station.

The Secretary of the Navy has already expressed an interest in having a strategic port in Alaska. From the Navy’s point of view it is near the potentially strategically important Bering Strait.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz meets with Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer and Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan in Nome and Port Clarence, Alaska to discuss the construction of deep draft ports in western Alaska, Aug. 13, 2018. This would allow the Coast Guard and Navy to have a strong presence in the U.S. Arctic. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jetta Disco.

Paying More Attention to the Western Pacific

Fijian navy Sub-Lt. Opeti Enesi looks out from an Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules over the Fijian Islands, Dec. 8, 2018. The Hercules aircrew was providing support for a Fijian navy patrol boat during law enforcement operations. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

Was pleasantly surprised to see that the Coast Guard seems to be paying more attention to the Western Pacific, where the US has a huge part of its Exclusive Economic Zone. (More than the entire Atlantic and Gulf coasts.) Additionally it is an area where Illegal Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens to destabilize local economies, and where our frenemy China is attempting a neo-colonialism that could turn smaller Pacific nations into vassal states.

The cutter Munro visited Fiji and the Solomon Islands on its first operational patrol. A shiprider agreement was concluded on Nov. 12 during the visit to Suva, Fiji, and a Fijian naval officer flew aboard a Barber’s Point C-130 coordinating operations with a Fijian patrol boat.

This is after the USCGC Oliver F. Berry (WPC-1124) completed a mission to conduct operations in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, 2,200 miles from her homeport over the last summer.

“Coast Guard Seeks Information to Support Over The Horizon Cutter Boats” –CG-9

BM2 Dale Veverka, a boatswains mate, Seaman George Degener, and MK2 Joshua Post  conduct maneuvers on the Coast Guard Cutter Northland’s “over-the-horizon” small boat during transit to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, April 9, 2008. for UNITAS exercise. U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA2 Nathan Henise.

The following is a release from the Acquisition Directorate (CG-9)  Apparently they plan to procure a fifth generation over the horizon cutter boat.

The Coast Guard released a request for information (RFI) Dec. 7 to gather information in preparation for the Over the Horizon V cutter boat acquisition.

The planned vessel is a standard configuration boat up to 26 feet long, which is capable of performing missions that require projection of Coast Guard capabilities beyond the parent cutter. It will operate in day and night; in a spectrum of climates, weather conditions and sea states.

The anticipated scope of the contract is near 200 boats delivered over a 10-year-period.

The RFI is available here. The deadline to submit responses is Dec. 14 at 12 p.m. EST.

For more information: Cutter Boats program page   

This is probably the answer to a comment question on an earlier post about a new 7 meter RHIB, that ask what boat would be used on the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC).

From the RFI:

Approximate OTH-V Characteristics:
Length: 26 feet (maximum extreme dimensions)
Beam: 9.0 feet (maximum extreme dimensions)
Weight: ~7500 lbs (full fuel, no personnel)
Comms: HF, UHF, VHF, DSC, AIS
Navigation: Scalable Integrated Navigation System-2 with radar
Seating: Shock Mitigating for five, designated for eight additional
Stability: ISO 12217-1
Structure: ISO 12215-5
Propulsion: Diesel Engine with Waterjet propulsion
Top Speed: 40 knots
Range: 200 NM (with 10% fuel reserve)
Interface: Dual Point Davit, Single Point Davit with Sling, Stern Notch

“Investigation blames Air Force and Navy for systemic failures in fatal Marine Corps C-130 crash that killed 16” –Military Times

MilitaryTimes reports, 

“The horrific KC-130T plane crash that killed 15 Marines and a sailor last summer was caused by a deteriorating propeller blade that was corroded when it entered an Air Force maintenance depot in 2011, but workers there failed to fix it and sent it back to the fleet unrepaired.”

Reportedly this was not an isolated problem.

The investigation’s report and nearly 2,000 pages of supplementary records portray an endemic level of neglect by the Air Force, which maintains C-130 propeller blades for the Navy.

and I would presume possibly also for the Coast Guard which is still flying the C-130H.

The exact maintenance failures that took place at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex back in 2011, and who was responsible, will likely never be known.

Before the crash, it was Air Force policy to throw out such maintenance records after two years, according to the report.

The US Naval Institute News Service has the video above and the full text of the investigation (which I must admit, I did not read). This video has a bit more detail than the one accompanying the MilitaryTimes post.

“U.S. Coast Guard chief optimistic about icebreaker ship funding” –Reuters

USCGC Polar Sea

Reuters reports that the Commandant again used the phrase “guardedly optimistic” regarding FY2019 funding for the first new Polar Security Cutter when addressing a National Press Club event.

Perhaps key here is that the Congress will attempt to pass a budget before the Dec. 21 expiration of the continuing resolution.

December 7th, 1941/1968

It is of course the anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor that brought America into World War II. Last year Coast Guard Compass published this story of the Coast Guard’s actions on that day and the conflict that followed.

But the Coast Guard has another reason to remember December 7, the loss of the White Alder, along with 17 of her crew of 20. From the Coast Guard Compass, “The Long Blue Line: Buoy Tender White Alder—lost 50 years ago, but not forgotten”

Waterways Commerce Cutter

a music video dedicated to the men of USCGC BLUEBELL, a “hidden jewel” in the coast guard. the black hull sailors who got things done, “if we go unnoticed then it just simply means we’ve done our job right”.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the Acquisitions Directorate has some excellent graphics on the current and future inland and river tender fleet, or as the program is now known, the Waterways Commerce Cutter.

If you would like to take a look start here, and check out the “Resources” and “In the News” tabs at the bottom of the page.

USCGC Wyaconda stationed out of Dubuque, IA