Manned boats too–“Sealartec Demonstrates Autonomous Launch & Recovery System for USV” –Naval News

Boat operations, launching and recovering small boats from cutters, are one of the most frequent, and most dangerous, routine coast guard operations. Naval News reports successful sea trials of a system designed to allow fully autonomous launch and recovery of both manned and unmanned craft. It appears to include a cradle.

“Based on a patented technology in the fields of robotics and algorithmic, Sealartec has developed an innovative robotic system for the launch and recovery of unmanned vessels. The system is capable of recovering any manned or unmanned vessel up to sea state 6. It includes an innovative, hydrodynamic floating structure with robotic capture device and an autonomous processes control decision making algorithm. This combination allows safe recovery at severe sea conditions while in motion, with higher safety standard.”

New Addition to “Recommended Blogs” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) sales alongside the Indian coast guard ships Abheed and Shaurya (16) Aug. 23, 2019, while transiting in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Chennai, India. The Stratton is participating in a professional exchange with the Indian coast guard that includes operational exercises at sea and on shore. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Esterly)

I have made an addition to my “Recommended Blogs” page (which is also my daily reading list) that you may find interesting, the Indo-Pacific Defense Forum.

Below I have duplicated the self description from their “About Us” page. The page also includes contact information not duplicated here.

In addition to English, this site is also published in Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Korean, and Japanese.

Not all the content is Coast Guard related, but it seems much of it is.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.


About Us

IPDefenseForum.com is the online version of Indo Pacific Defense Forum magazine and is sponsored by the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM).

Our Mission

Indo-Pacific Defense Forum is a professional military magazine published quarterly by the Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command to provide an international forum for military personnel of the Indo-Pacific areas. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily represent the policies or points of view of this command or any other agency of the United States government. All articles are written by IPD Forum staff unless otherwise noted.

The site features articles from the IPD Forum magazine staff as well as news from across the region and analysis, interviews and commentary by paid IPDefenseForum.com correspondents and contributors.

The Secretary of Defense has determined that publication of this magazine is necessary for conducting public business as required of the Department of Defense by law.

Swedish Patrol Boat ASW System

Photo: Tapper-class Fast Patrol Boat, displacement of 62 tons, 22 meters (72′) in length (Credits: Swedish Armed Forces)

Naval News reports that the first of six Trapper class fast patrol boats has completed an upgrade that will allow these small vessels to hunt submarines. At 62 tons full load, these vessels are about 2/3s the size of the Coast Guard’s 87 foot Marine Protector class WPBs (91 tons). 

Sweden has a history of suspected or known intrusions by submarines, midget submarines, and/or swimmer delivery vehicles, presumably from the Soviet Union/Russia.

What they seem to have done here is to use technology similar to the Sono-buoys used by airborne ASW units. While surface units do not have the speed of aircraft in getting to the scene, they are potentially more persistent, and because the buoys themselves do not have to fit within ejection tubes, they can be made larger with batteries that provide longer life. 

Photo: Tapper-class enhanced ASW capabilities mainly rely on new sonobuoy integration (Credits: Swedish Armed Forces)

The post makes no mention of weapons or hull mounted sonars. When built in the 1990s, this class, originally of twelve vessels, based on a Swedish Coast Guard vessel design, had a searchlight sonar and small Anti-Submarine mortars that went by the designation RBS-12 or ASW600. The mortar projectiles were relatively small, only 100mm (3.95″) in diameter, weighing 4.2 kilograms (9 pounds 4 oz.), far smaller than the 65 pound (29.5 kilo) Hedgehog or Mousetrap weapons of WWII, but, unlike those systems, they did have a shaped charge. Apparently the weapon was removed at some point, but reportedly the weapon was reintroduced in 2018 on the Koster-class mine countermeasures vessels so it is possible it has been reintroduced here as well. 

Anti-submarine mortar system Elma LLS-920 (SAAB RBS12 ASW600) on the Swedish patrol boat HMS Hugin. Rearview with some mortars unattached. Photo by Dagjoh

While the post seems to emphasize passive detection, the last paragraph suggest there is an active component.

“The Kongsberg Maritime sonar selected for this upgrade is being used for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Mine and Obstacle detection and Navigation (emphasis applied–Chuck), and is designed for use in shallow water.”

“SEAOWL TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS completes sea trials of its IPD aboard La Confiance-class patrol vessel” –Naval News

We talked about this device earlier here and here. I have to believe these devices have more uses than just target designation including navigation and man-overboard recovery. It quickly, quietly, and accurately passes information to the bridge, CIC, or remote weapons operator.

Both the text and video talk about 3D designation. I have to assume that means range and elevation as well as bearing. They also claim to have solved the potential parallax problem (differences in target bearing when taken from different locations on own ship).

This could be particularly useful for the Webber class going to PATFORSWA where they might be confronted with the asymmetric threat of large numbers of fast inshore attack craft.

“National Security” –Proceedings of the Marine Safety and Security Council

USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752), left, and the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) maneuver in formation during Talisman Sabre 2019 on July 11, 2019. US Navy Photo

A new issue of the Proceedings of the Marine Safety and Security Council has been issued, and it is a bit unusual in that it is themed “National Security.” You can down load it here.

It is 80 pages, and I have just quickly glanced through it, but looks well worth some time.

France Allocates One Billion Euros to Build Ten Offshore Patrol Vessels

Marine Nationale photo, FS Lieutenant_de_vaisseau_Lavallée, one of seven 80 meter (263′) 1,270 ton D’Estienne d’Orves-class avisos or corvettes being used as Offshore Patrol Vessels that are to be replaced.

France has been building a lot of Coast Guard Cutter like vessels recently and it looks like they will be building more. Naval News reports:

Ten new generation OPVs will replace the A69 type (D’Estienne d’Orves-class) PHM (formerly Aviso / light frigates and then reclassified as patrol vessels) based in Brest (Atlantic Coast–Chuck) and Toulon (Mediterranean- Chuck) and the PSP patrol boats based in Cherbourg (English Channel-Chuck).

Cormoran (P677), one of three 23 knot, 54 meter (177′), 477 ton French navy PSP patrol boats. Brest, Finistère, Bretagne, France. Photo by Gary Houston (Notice the striping similar to that carried by USCG cutters)

The one billion Euro contract awarded to Naval Group (formerly DCNS) would mean a unit cost of approximately 100M Euros ($112M).

Rendering of the future “POM” OPV of the French Navy.

Apparently, based on price, they will be larger than the six recently contracted 70 meter, 22knot “POM” patrol vessels. (224 million euros, 37.3 Euros or about $42M each)

Not long ago Naval Group and ECA group was given a 2B Euro contract to produce twelve 2800 ton Mine Countermeasures ships for the Dutch and Belgium Navies. Given that ship yard prices for similarly complex ships tend to be proportional to their displacement, and that these ships are probably less complex than the MCM, I would suspect that the new OPVs will be about 1,680 tons. That would make them similar in size to the WMEC 270s. Given the ships they are replacing and the character of recent construction, they will probably a bit longer and faster than the 270s, probably about 90 meters long, at least 20 knots but probably more, with a flight deck for a medium helicopter like the NH90, a hangar for a smaller helicopter similar to the H-65 and probably the 700 kilo rotary wing unmanned aircraft planned for POM. There will probably be space for containers. The crew will be small by Coast Guard standards, maybe less than 50, but will likely have additional accommodations for about 30 in addition to the crew.

Weapons: It will almost certainly have the Nexter Narwhal 20 mm cannon and .50 caliber machine guns, but there is no indication if they will have anything larger. French Navy vessels that wear the “Coast Guard Stripe” apparently have no weapons larger than .50 cal. (12.7mm). The seven A69 corvettes to be replaced have 100mm guns, but these ships were not originally designed as law enforcement vessels, and once also had Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles, so a medium caliber gun may not be seen as a requirement. If they wanted to put a medium caliber gun on these at small cost, the French Navy almost certainly has numerous, surplus, still very effective 100mm guns, but their newer ships mount the Super Rapid 76mm, which weighs less than half as much. The quoted French Ministry of Armed Forces statement might suggest they see a need for stronger armament.

“In a context marked by the increase in maritime traffic and the toughening of threats at sea, patrol boats fulfill a very broad spectrum of missions: support for deterrence, presence in areas of sovereignty and interest, evacuation, protection, escort and intervention in the framework of State action at sea.”

The linked Naval News post mentions the European Patrol Corvette program as a possible basis for this program, but given their projected displacement of 3000 tons, they would be beyond the projected budget.

There is a good chance these ships will emerge as an upgraded version of the the 87 meter (285′), 1450 ton L’Adroit (above) which was sold to Argentina along with three similar ships. The Naval News post indicates that the projected cost of the new OPVs is almost twice the cost so of the L’Adroit class, but they were designed for export. Meeting Navy standards with better equipment and improved survivability can substantially increase cost. When the Royal Navy built their River Batch II OPVs it was based on OPVs originally ordered by Trinidad and Tobago. Modifying the design to meet Royal Navy standards caused a great increase in price. The three vessels were built for Trinidad and Tobago cost £150M pound (US$237.8 M). When the Royal Navy contracted for three ships that met their standards, the outwardly almost identical ships came in at a fixed price of £348 million–a few years later, but more than double the price.

Freedom of Navigation off Venezuela

Orthographic map of Venezuela centered on Caracas
Controlled territory in dark green.
Claimed territory in light green.
From Wikipedia, Author: Addicted04

Perhaps significantly for the Coast Guard’s drug interdiction efforts in the Caribbean, Navy Times is reporting that the Navy has been conducting Freedom of Navigation Operations off the Venezuelan coast in response to excessive claims not in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

A command official said the mission was undertaken “to challenge Venezuela’s excessive maritime claim of security jurisdiction from 12 to 15 nautical miles along its coastline and prior permission requirement for military operations within the Exclusive Economic Zone, which are contrary to international law.”

These are waters where Coast Guard cutters conduct law enforcement operations. If Venezuela wants to make a show of opposing US operations in these waters, it would be a lot easier for them to take on a 210 that a DDG or even an LCS.

Wintering Over in the Arctic

A large number of research teams conduct very different experiments

As you may know, there is currently an expedition underway utilizing the German Icebreaker Polarstern to winter over in the Arctic, drifting with the ice. A German friend and blogger, Sven, pointed me to a 19 Sept 2019 German language interview that provides background on the purpose of the expedition and how it was to be conducted. The original article has more pictures and links to additional information. Using Google Translate I have provided a rough English translation below. Hopefully Deutsche Welle will forgive me. 

MOSAiC: Great Arctic Expedition Launches
For a year, the research vessel Polarstern will drift frozen through the Arctic Ocean. Researchers want to better understand the influence of the Arctic on the climate, says tour manager Christian Haas in the DW interview.

Deutsche Welle: On 20 September, a large-scale expedition of the Alfred Wegener Institute will take off with the research vessel Polarstern to the Arctic. What is it going to be about?
Christian Haas: On the expedition, we want to better understand the processes and energy flows between the air, the ocean and the ice. For this purpose, we will be freezing in the Arctic for a whole year with our research icebreaker Polarstern.
The processes and conditions there change greatly over the course of the seasons. In winter, we examine the factors that affect the freezing and growing of the ice. In the summer, the situation reverses. Then the ice melts and the ice sheet breaks open to form ice floes.
As the ice is several years old, it is necessary to know the interplay between winter freezing and summer melting in order to be able to assess whether the ice is getting thicker or thinner.

The polar star will drift through the Arctic Ocean with the ice. How exactly does it work?
The sea ice of the Arctic becomes only a few meters thick. Because it is so thin, it can easily break and be driven away by winds and currents, so it is constantly moving. We use this movement, the so-called ice drift, to drift from Siberia over the North Pole to Greenland.
It also has a crucial advantage to drive with the same ice, because we can only judge how the ice is exposed to all the external influences and changes.

There have already been some expeditions to the Arctic. What makes MOSAiC so special?
The special thing about MOSAiC is that we are really there over the course of a year, i.e. throughout the freezing and melting season, and we can observe the processes in all their diversity. We are also a huge team of researchers from 19 nations. A total of 300 scientists are involved.
But everyone will only be on board for two months. We take turns and travel with Russian icebreakers to the POLARSTERN and away again. There are a total of six sections of the journey, each with 50 scientists on board. I myself will be there from December to February.

And what will be your task on the ground?
I am the tour leader of the expedition for my journey section. That means I take overall responsibility for the whole company during the two months. Our group deals with the properties of ice, with a focus on ice ceiling measurement.
In order to measure the thickness of the ice, it was necessary to drill holes earlier, which is very complex. We have developed a new procedure at the AWI. Using electromagnetic probes, we can measure the conductivity of the subsurface.
The ice is solid and therefore a bad electrical conductor while the salt water underneath is very good. This allows us to determine the distance between ice and water, i.e. the thickness of the ice, very precisely.
We will then compare the data with satellites, in particular the European CryoSat, which has been launched specifically for ice ceiling measurement. So we can then observe how the ice grows and becomes thinner.

You spoke of a variety of processes being investigated. What are the other groups exploring?
The main aim is to investigate why the thickness of the ice changes. This depends on a huge number of influences, such as the air temperature and humidity of the winds, solar radiation and also how much heat gets from the water to the ice.
All these factors are measured simultaneously in high temporal resolution – all with the question “How does this affect the thickness of the ice?”

Working at home and in the Arctic is certainly different. They have been there many times. What are the working conditions there?
Of course, there are risks that we do not have. You can get frostbite, break into the water or meet polar bears. I’ve met many polar bears. Everyone who moves in the Arctic carries a gun with them.
However, the Polarstern has never fired a shot at a polar bear. Because they are primarily curious and come because of it. Since they are also very anxious, they can easily be expelled with noise. So these are not risks that pose great dangers if you behave correctly.
The far bigger challenges are more in the extreme situation of being so far away from home, for so long. Especially in winter we work in complete darkness. In addition, we are constantly there with many other people, there is no more privacy.
In addition, all the means of communication that we are used to here, i.e. the Internet, satellite communications and telephone, are only possible to a very limited extent. Because there is only one satellite communication system that still works north of 75 degrees North.

Nevertheless, this expedition is very important – keyword: climate change?
The whole world is worried about climate change. The Arctic is the hotspot, or the epicenter of global climate change. Because in the Arctic we are seeing the most significant climate changes.
These are also particularly well observed due to the retreat of the ice. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world. That’s why you have to go to the Arctic to understand what’s happening there and to be able to make predictions for the world.
And how is sea ice doing at the moment?
The area of arctic ice in summer has decreased by more than 50 percent in the last 40 years. Now, in September, the ice retreats most every year before expanding again in autumn and winter.
This year we are seeing the second smallest sea ice extent ever observed in the Arctic. From this point of view, it is good that MOSAiC is starting this year. This means that the initial conditions are among the most extreme and we are just looking at how the Arctic has changed in recent years and what the state of the ‘new Arctic’ is.

Metal Shark 70 knot “Super Interceptor”

Metal Shark has announced that they are producing fifteen high speed interceptors for “overseas military and law enforcement interests.” (I would think somewhere in the Persian Gulf.)

I have reproduced their press release below.


June 18th, 2020: Metal Shark Introduces 52-Foot, 80 MPH Military “Super Interceptor” with Production Underway

Jeanerette, LA – June 18th, 2020: Shipbuilder Metal Shark has introduced the welded-aluminum “52 Fearless Super Interceptor,” an offshore-capable, ultra-high-performance military patrol vessel delivering 70-knot top speeds. Production has commenced at Metal Shark’s Jeanerette, Louisiana USA production facility, with fifteen vessels currently on order for overseas military and law enforcement interests.

Metal Shark developed the 52 Fearless Super Interceptor in response to growing demand among military operators for larger and faster interdiction craft with greater range and better sea keeping.

“Customers from around the world have asked for a blue water-capable interdiction vessel with 60+ knot capabilities,” explained Henry Irizarry, Metal Shark’s Vice President of International Business Development. “With the 52 Fearless Super Interceptor, we have exceeded that requirement by a significant margin, with a multi-mission high-performance vessel delivering unmatched speed, handling, and sea keeping while also leveraging over a decade of parent craft Fearless-class past performance.”

The new offering is a highly optimized version of Metal Shark’s 52-foot Fearless high-performance center console vessel, utilizing the proven Stepped Vee, Ventilated Tunnel (SVVT) running surface designed by naval architect Michael Peters. Metal Shark’s Fearless-class stepped bottom vessels are currently in service with the US Navy, NOAA, and multiple law enforcement agencies in the United States and Caribbean.

A custom-configurable platform designed for missions ranging from counter narcotics to the protection of exclusive economic zones and other related maritime enforcement activities, the new vessel is available with multiple pre-engineered configuration, propulsion, and equipment options.

The first fifteen Super Interceptors are being built in a center console configuration with seating for six crew in Shockwave shock-mitigating seats beneath an integrated aluminum hard top. The vessels will be powered by twin 1,650-horsepower MAN 12-cylinder diesel inboard engines mated to Arneson ASD14 surface drives via ZF transmissions. Thus equipped, the Super Interceptor will reach a projected top speed in the 70-knot range. The vessel’s flexible configuration allows for a maximum fuel capacity of 1,000 gallons, which results in an incredible 12.5 hours endurance at 50 knots.

With an overall length of nearly 58’ (17.5 m), a beam of over 11’ (3.5 m) and an operational displacement of up to eight tons, the vessel is large and imposing. To satisfy modern military visual-deterrent requirements, the Super Interceptor boasts chiseled and menacing lines, including the distinctive “faceted hull” initially developed by Metal Shark for the US Navy and now being widely incorporated across Metal Shark’s product portfolio.

“In terms of speed, size, endurance, and sheer awe factor, this vessel represents a radical leap forward,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “The Fearless Super Interceptor will be made available for our customers in a range of styles and sizes to meet various operational requirements. We look forward to showcasing the superlative performance of this next-generation military patrol platform and providing additional details in the months ahead.”

To see a gallery of images click here.

Metal Shark is a diversified shipbuilder specializing in the design and construction of welded aluminum and steel vessels from 16’ to over 300’ for defense, law enforcement, and commercial operators. Key customers include the United States Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, Army, foreign militaries, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, passenger vessel operators, pilot associations, towboat operators, and other clients worldwide. With three fully self-contained shipbuilding facilities in Alabama and Louisiana USA plus a dedicated engineering facility in Croatia, Metal Shark’s 500+ employees produce over 200 vessels per year with a proud and proven track record of high quality, on time deliveries.

“Navy of Cameroon plans to purchase two Island-class American patrol boats” –NavyRecognition

The Coast Guard Cutter Naushon (WPB 1311) 110-foot Island-class patrol boat and crew conduct training in Kachemak Bay near Homer, Alaska, Feb. 16, 2018.(Picture source U.S. Defense Visual Information)

NavyRecognition is reporting that two of the 110 foot Island class cutters will be going to Cameroon.

Cameroon is one of several West African nations that share coast lines on the Gulf of Guinea. The area has been a hot spot for piracy and other forms of maritime criminal activity.