Canada’s Coast Guard Construction Plans

Canada’s Next Generation Combat Vessels

The illustration above comes from the Canadian ship builder Seaspan. Under Canada’s new National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, their Vancouver shipyard will be building all of the Canadian government’s” non-combat vessels, including all their Coast Guard vessels.

There are details here I had not seen previously about their new icebreaker:

  • Length: 150.1 meter
  • Displacement: 23,700 metric tons

Their three new Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels:

Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel (interesting underwater body)

  • Length: 63.4 m
  • Displacement: 3,212 MT

An Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel:

  • Length: 85.9m
  • Displacement: 4,490 MT

and “…up to five new Medium Endurance Multi–Tasked Vessels and up to five Offshore Patrol Vessels…” I have seen no details on these ships since we first heard about them four years ago. (Anyone seen anything concrete?) Only the cost, $3.3B (Canadian) seems firm. Even the number is simply an upper limit. If there are specifications, they must be keeping them open and close to the vest. This follows the example of the Canadian Navies Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) where the price seemed to have been set and the numbers given as six to eight.  At least now we have a conceptual view in the illustration at the top. Its not clear if there will really be a difference between the OPVs and the MEMTVs. Obviously they will have a helo deck and probably a hangar. I will guess that these will be designed by either Vard or Damen and will be about 1800 tons full load and 80 to 90 meters in length. Like all Canadian Coast Guard Cutters they have no permanently installed weapons, but should they decide to change policy and arm these, and it has been discussed, it probably would not be to difficult to add a gun of up to 76mm

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.

USCGC Polar SeaThe US Naval Institute reports the Coast Guard has issued a draft Request for Proposals for a new Heavy Icebreaker with options for two more.

Certainly good news to see the process moving along, but it is also important to remember what it is not.

It is only a draft. “Responses to the draft RFP are due Dec. 11, and the Coast Guard and Navy will release a final RFP early next year, to support a Fiscal Year 2019 contract award.”

Like all of our contracts so far, there is no apparent consideration of a block buy that would lock Congress into funding the entire program–three ships in this case. Perhaps an astute shipbuilder will include that in their ultimate response, in case the Congress wants to commit for all three.

Unfortunately I can’t comment on the draft because of its limited distribution. Hopefully because,

“…Polar icebreakers enable the U.S. to maintain defense readiness in the Arctic and Antarctic regions; enforce treaties and other laws needed to safeguard both industry and the environment; provide ports, waterways and coastal security; and provide logistical support – including vessel escort – to facilitate the movement of goods and personnel necessary to support scientific research, commerce, national security activities and maritime safety.”

They will be provided with the means to be upgraded to allow them to exercise both self-defense and a modicum of offensive capability.

 

RRS Sir David Attenborough–the UK’s Access to Antarctica

RRS Sir David Attenborough. Proto from Rolls-Royce

Thought I had posted about this ship earlier, but when I went to add an update from MarineLink on installation of the engines, I found that was not the case. RRS Sir David Attenborough is perhaps most famous as the subject of a social media search for a ship name that resulted in the most votes going to Boaty McBoatface.

It is expected to provide logistics support to support a British presence in Antarctica as well as break ice to a thickness of 1.5 meters at a minimum speed of 3 knots.

  • Displacement: 15,000 Gross Tons (only a little smaller than USCGC Healy, a little larger than Polar Star)
  • Length: 128.9 meters (423 feet)
  • Beam: 24 m (79 ft).
  • Draft: 7 m (23 ft)
  • Integrated propulsion and ship service engines/generators:  two 3,600 kW (4,800 hp) 6-cylinder Bergen B33:45L6A and two 5,400 kW (7,200 hp) 9-cylinder Bergen B33:45L9A main diesel generators, a 885 kW (1,187 hp) harbor generator and two 2,500 kW battery systems.
  • Propulsion motors: four 2,750 kW (3,690 hp) for 11,000kW or 14,760 HP (about half that of USCGC Healy and less than 20% that of Polar Star on turbines)
  • Range: 19,000 nautical miles (35,000 km; 22,000 mi) at 13 knots
  • Accommodations for 90 with a crew of 28.
  • Facilities to land a helo, but I have seen no indication of a hangar.

The ship will be owned by the British Natural Environment Research Council, to be operated by the British Antarctic Survey. It is expected to enter service in 2019.

 

Fire aboard USCGC Brant (WPB-87348)–No Injuries

Fire damage, USCGC Brant (WPB-87348), Gulfport, MS, 18 Oct., 2017. Looking at the aft port corner of the superstructure.

The 87 foot WPB USCGC Brant (WPC-87348) has suffered a fire while berthed in Gulfport MS. Two were aboard, but there were no injuries.

This is the CCGD8 news release:

NEW ORLEANS – Members from Gulfport Fire Department and a Coast Guard member extinguished a fire aboard Coast Guard Cutter Brant, which was moored in Gulfport, Mississippi, Wednesday.

At approximately 5 a.m., two Coast Guard members who were aboard the cutter became aware of the fire, located on the port-aft area of the vessel, and took initial actions to put out the fire using an on board fire extinguisher.

Members from Gulfport Fire Department arrived on scene at 5:05 a.m. and extinguished the fire.

The two Coast Guard members on board the vessel were evaluated by emergency medical services and have been released.

“We are thankful no one was hurt in the fire,” said Cmdr. Zachary Ford, the head of the response department at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans. “Without the quick response and actions taken by the Gulfport Fire Department, this incident could have been much worse.”

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Below is a photo of a sister ship, USCGC Crocodile. I understand this started as an electrical fire in the engineroom.

USCGC Crocodile. the area of damage is clearly visible to the left of the ladder leading to the bridge. Damage seems to have been in a trunk leading down to the engine room. There may have been additional damage below deck.

Was Libya’s Sinking of a Tanker “Fake News?”

I have begun to suspect that the report of the Libyan Coast Guard sinking the Tanker GOEAST may have been more propaganda than reality.

Compare the Libyan video above with the video of USCGC ANACAPA sinking a much smaller derelict Japanese fishing vessel Ryou-Un Maru.

The Tanker was probably 20 times as large as the fishing vessel and had a crew on board and operating pumps to address flooding. USCGC ANACAPA began the operation at 13:00 and the RYOU-UN MARU sank at 18:15. It appears that the F/V may have been hit 100 times by 25mm projectiles, and at one point the ANACAPA used a hose to pour water into the fishing vessel.

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On the video, the Libyan patrol boat fires no more than 20 rounds from its 30mm and I believe it was less than 15. At no time was there sustained fire directed at the tanker. The longest burst was perhaps four rounds.

At the end of the video, the tanker is pumping water, but it is also upright with no significant list and it appears to be making way. I am positive the tanker is underway at least as late as five minutes into the five minute 44 second video.

Perhaps things happened later, but if they recorded the opening shots, it seems they would have recorded the sinking.

This might have been an attempt at deception by the Libyans to discourage smuggling.

It might have been that the patrol boat skipper had been instructed to sink the tanker, and when he failed, he lied about the result of the attack.

It may be that a government information officer simply assumed that because they fired at the ship, that it was sunk. Capsized and sunk does make a much better story than shot at, was annoyed, and sailed away.

It is not impossible the entire thing was theater staged with the cooperation of the tanker, although I think that very unlikely.

Certainly the tanker’s owners may have reasons not to debunk the story.

  • They don’t want to confirm they were smuggling.
  • The report may discourage competing smuggling organizations.
  • They may even rename and reflag the tanker and file a bogus insurance claim.

Certainly, there was nothing in the video to indicate that this ship was sunk.

A final note. The patrol boat is seen firing into both sides of the tanker. If you want to sink a ship, it is usually better to concentrate as much damage as possible on one side. It is more likely to make the ship list and ultimately capsize. As the list increases holes initially made above water start to submerge and take on water.

Libyan Coast Guard Sinks Tanker

We have reports from NavalToday and Maritime-Executive that the Libyan Coast Guard, using a 30mm auto-cannon, opened fire on and sank a Russian owned, Comoros-flagged oil products tanker, the GOEAST, believed to have been smuggling Libyan oil.

It is not the first time the Libyan Coast Guard has used deadly force, and apparently not the first time the GOEAST’s parent company has been accused of smuggling.

I found this particularly interesting because it seemed to contradict my long held belief that the Coast Guard is unlikely to be able to forcibly stop, much less sink, a medium to large merchant ship in a timely manner with gun fire if it were employed in a terrorist attack. There are many questions about the sinking for which I have not seen answers. What might this incident say about our own ability to stop a terrorist attack using a merchant ship?

The GOEAST was a small and elderly tanker. Admittedly a terrorist organization is more likely to have control of a ship like this, than a larger and more modern vessel. It displaced 9700 tons and was built forty years ago in 1977. It would have been considered relatively large in WWII, but not now. We don’t know its state of maintenance, but it was probably poor. We don’t know how it was loaded, incomplete or asymmetrical loading, and the resulting free surface effect may have contributed to its loss. We don’t know how long it took to sink or how long it could steer and make way. Even after being damaged, could it have completed a terrorist mission before sinking?

The actions of the Libyan Coast Guard were probably an excessive use of force. We have no information about what happened to the crew of the amount of pollution that resulted. Whatever the justification for the attack on the GOEAST, it is good to see a degree of success in using a relatively small gun to stop a sink a ship, but there are reasons why we may not be able to take much comfort in this example.

The Libyan Coast Guard vessel appears to have been a former Italian Bigliani II  class patrol boat equipped with a twin Oto Melara-Mauser 30mm gun.

The Bigliani IIs are not big ships. They are 84.7 tons full load and 27 meters (88.6 feet) in length, 6.95 m (22.8 feet) of beam, with a draft of 1.26 m (4.13 feet). That is actually  slightly smaller than our 91 ton full load 87 foot Marine Protector class WPBs. This illustrates that even our small patrol boats could carry much heavier weapons.

The 30mm gun, visible in the video has a relatively high rate of fire, but that is largely irrelevant for our purposes (unless we are being shot at) since even our 180 round per minute chain guns can exhaust their ammunition in only a few minutes.

The 30mm gun fires common NATO rounds which include the armor piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS-T) round that A-10 Warhogs use against tanks. Compared to our 25mm gun’s corresponding APDS-T round, the 30mm has a higher muzzle velocity and weighs 71.6% more. This long rod tungsten penetrator is more likely to be able to disable a ship than even our 57mm rounds, which may penetrate the hull but will likely explode before reaching the engine.

The tanker was not returning fire, which could have kept the patrol boat at a distance, and radially reduced the accuracy of fire.

I still have doubts about the ability of a gun to reliably stop a medium to large merchant ship with a determined crew. There are other alternatives, but an upgrade to a 30mm gun on our patrol boats and larger vessels would certainly increase our chances of success.