Vice Commandant testifies before Congressional hearing focused on Arctic

USCGC Healy and CCGC Louis S St.Laurent (Photo by Jessica Robertson, US Geological Survey)

From the MyCG web site.

Vice Commandant testifies before Congressional hearing focused on Arctic

Watch live Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, as Vice Commandant, Adm. Charles Ray testifies before a Congressional Hearing focused on the Arctic.

The details and an internet link to a live-webcast of the hearing are contained below:

Date/Time:         Tuesday – September 22, 2020 (Time: 2:30 p.m. E.D.T.)
Hearing Title:    “U.S. Coast Guard Capabilities for Safeguarding National Interests and Promoting Economic Security in the Arctic”
Before the:         Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation – Security Subcommittee (S.CST-S)

Coast Guard
              Admiral Charles Ray, Vice Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

If you wish to view this Congressional Hearing via “Live-Webcast” a video-feed will be available shortly before the hearing begins (approx. 2:25 p.m. E.D.T.) at this website:

Please e-mail Mr. Joseph Bowes at if you have any questions regarding this information.

“US, Guyana to Launch Joint Maritime Patrols Near Venezuela” –Marine Link

Disputed Guayana Esequiba in light green with the rest of Guyana in dark green; Venezuela shown in orange. Illustration by Aquintero82 from Wikipedia.

Marine Link reports,

“The United States and Guyana will begin joint maritime patrols aimed at drug interdiction near the South American country’s disputed border with crisis-stricken Venezuela, the U.S. secretary of state and Guyana’s new president said on Friday.”

I presume this is going to involve the US Coast Guard, given that it is about drug enforcement and cutters still comprise the majority of 4th Fleet ships.

Venezuela and Guyana have a long standing territorial dispute, with Venezuela claiming about two thirds of Guyana. This, of course, extends into the offshore waters in regard to EEZ.

Venezuela’s armed forces are about 50 times more powerful than those of Guyana. Guyana has no combat aircraft and no navy. They do have a very small coast guard. Venezuela has a respectable navy including two submarines, three frigates and six well armed OPVs.

Discovery of oil in the disputed offshore areas is also an issue. The USCG has had a hand in this dispute already. Venezuela may still be mad at us because of this apparent misunderstanding. When the President announced a surge in counter drug ops back in April, Venezuela was specifically mentioned. In June the Navy did a Freedom of Navigation operation off Venezuela because Venezuela is claiming a 15 mile territorial sea.

Hopefully things will not get too interesting down there.

“U.S. Coast Guard’s VADM Linda Fagan (Pacific Command) answers why the Large Coast Guard Cutters Do Not Up-Arm” by Peter Ong

We have a guest author, Peter Ong. He reports on the response to a question he asked during the Surface Navy Association 2020 virtual meeting. Peter forwarded a draft copy of this to PACAREA to confirm that they had no issues with the post and received an affirmative response. 

PACIFIC OCEAN (May 3, 2020) U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, James (WSML 754), front, fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO 203), middle, and U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91) transit the Pacific Ocean during a vertical replenishment-at-sea May 3, 2020. James, Laramie and Pinckney are deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Aaron Malek)

In recent years, up-arming suggestions about changing and upgrading the weapons’ fit aboard United States Coast Guard Cutters (USCGC) have been increasing on certain naval, Coast Guard, and Defense blogs and websites, including Chuck Hill’s Coast Guard Blog.  Posters and public commentators suggest that the 57mm Bofors cannons on the National Security Cutters and Offshore Patrol Cutters should be swapped out with a 76mm cannon and that lightweight torpedoes, Longbow Hellfire missiles, and long-range Anti-Ship missiles be installed to increase the range and firepower of the Cutters’ armaments.  Since the USCG Cutters use U.S. Navy weapons, these up-arming ideas seem very plausible.

At the Surface Navy Association 2020 held virtually on August 27th due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Vice Admiral Linda Fagan, USCG, Pacific Command Theater, answered my question as to why the U.S. Coast Guard does not up-arm its large Cutters with guided smart missiles, torpedoes, missiles, larger caliber guns, and other more powerful and lethal weapons to counter peer nations and future threats.

“The Navy…they forward deploy; they Force Project; this is about lethality and National Defense,” VADM Fagan said over the screen. “The Coast Guard’s role as a Law Enforcement, regulatory, Maritime security agency is different. There is no intention to turn the Coast Guard into the [U.S.] Navy with that same lethality because there is that differentiation.  The White-Hull, [the red] racing stripe, the Humanitarian ability to help nations increase [and to] protect their own sovereignty and enforce their own laws is the place where the Coast Guard brings the most value at and provides the most benefit.  I think that the reaction might be different if the Coast Guard were to sort of look like the Navy combatant.”1

VADAM Fagan goes on to say that it is important for the USCG Cutters to seamlessly integrate with the U.S. Navy, RIMPAC, and NATO ships to share the same systems, communications, and sensors to maintain and generate a level of integration, Readiness, and interoperability as part of the U.S. National Fleet strategy.  Ensuring that the White-Hull with red stripe is a symbol of the Humanitarian Mission is critical to the United States Coast Guard and complements with the U.S. Navy’s peers in the region.

Often, a USCG National Security Cutter that is deployed far overseas is escorted by a well-armed U.S. Navy AEGIS destroyer armed with long-range Anti-Ship, Anti-Air, and Anti-Submarine missiles and torpedoes through International Waters of contention.  An example would be the USCGC Bertholf’s (WMSL-750) deployment to the Indo-Pacific region where the Bertholf linked with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54), based in Yokosuka, Japan.  Together, the two ships transited the roughly 110-mile wide Taiwan Strait in March 24-25, 2019 with the Curtis Wilbur riding armed shotgun.2

Is the weapons fit onboard these National Security Cutters (NSCs) and Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs) ironclad for the foreseeable future?  For the present time, the U.S. Coast Guard is satisfied with keeping the current “gun and no missiles” weapons fit the same and exercising the White-Hull Humanitarian symbol of Search and Rescue and Maritime Law Enforcement wherever and whenever the large Coast Guard Cutters sail into far off seas.


1 Surface Navy Association 2020. Thursday, August 27th, 2020.  10:35 A.M. – 11:35 A.M. VADM Linda Fagan, USCG, Pacific Command. Virtual Streaming of Keynote Address.

2 Werner, Ben. USNI News. March 25, 2019. Referred from:

“MQ-9B SeaGuardian Maritime UAV: Which Missions ? Which Customers ?” –Naval News

MQ-9B Seaguardian during the maritime capabilities demonstration flight over Southern California waters in September 2020. GA-ASI picture.

NavalNews reports on the Maritime version of the Predator UAV, the MQ-9B Seaguardian, including its sensors and market success.

In addition to different sensors, this model is different from the MQ-9s that the Coast Guard has flown with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in that they are intended to operate in civilian airspace. CBP has been operating MQ-9 UAVs for 15 years.

Congress seems not only willing to support Coast Guard operation of land based medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAVs like the Seaguardian. They are actually pushing the Coast Guard. They can not seem to understand why we have not done it already.

In addition to the possibilities of use in the drug transit zones, these long range, long endurance aircraft could be especially useful in detecting IUU activity in the Western Pacific where there normally are no Coast Guard air assets.

“Court martial concludes following death of Coast Guard member in Alaska” –News Release

Just passing this along. No comments please.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
Contact: Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs
Sept. 18, 2020
(510) 816-1700
Pacific Area online newsroom

Court martial concludes following death of Coast Guard member in Alaska

ALAMEDA, Calif. — A general court martial concluded Thursday for a Coast Guard member accused of violating various articles under the Uniform Code of Military Justice related to the death of a Coast Guard member in Alaska in January 2019.

The court martial of Seaman Ethan Tucker, convened by the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, commenced Sept. 8.  A military judge found Tucker not guilty of Article 119, involuntary manslaughter, and Article 134, negligent homicide. The judge found Tucker guilty of: one specification of Article 107, false official statement; one specification of Article 128, assault consummated by a battery; one specification of Article 92, violation of a general order for consuming alcohol underage; and one specification of Article 134 for doing or failing to do certain acts that contributed to a Coast Guard member’s death which was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the Armed Forces. 

Tucker was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, reduction to paygrade E-1, and 14 months confinement.

“Arktika Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Completes Sea Trials” –Naval News

The lead nuclear icebreaker “Arktika”, project 22220 (LK-60Ya), built at Baltic Shipyard JSC (part of United Shipbuilding Corporation JSC) for Atomflot FSUE, is entering the first stage of sea trials. St. Petersburg, 12.12.2019 (c) JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation

Naval News reports that the world’s largest icebreaker, “Arkika,” has completed sea trials. This is the first of five Project 22220 nuclear powered icebreakers.

This class is quite remarked for its number of ships, their size, their speed, their power, and for their small crew size.

These are dual displacement icebreakers designed to operate in rivers as well as the Arctic Ocean, using huge amounts of ballast water.


  • Displacement:33,530 t (33,000 long tons) (dwl) 25,540 t (25,140 long tons) (min)
  • Length: 173.3 m (569 ft) (overall), 160.0 m (525 ft) waterline
  • Beam: 34 m (112 ft) (maximum), 33 m (108 ft) waterline
  • Draft: 10.5 m (34 ft) (dwl) 8.65 m (28 ft) (minimum; operational)
  • Propulsion: three shafts, total 60 MW (80,461 HP)
  • Speed: 22 knots.
  • Crew: 75

Even larger Project 101510 ships, capable of breaking up to 4-metre-thick (13 ft) ice, are under construction. They will be 209 metres (686 ft) in length, with a beam of 47.7 metres (156 ft) with four shafts providing 120 megawatts (161,000 hp).


The Deputy Commandant for Operations (DCO) has released the “Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Strategic Outlook.” You can see the 40 page strategy document here. There is a short summary here.

The strategy promotes three “lines of effort.”

  • Promote Targeted, Effective, Intelligence-Driven Enforcement Operations.
  • Counter Predatory and Irresponsible State Behavior.
  • Expand Multilateral Fisheries Enforcement Cooperation.

A press release is quoted below. Make no mistake, this is a very big deal, and it is pointed directly at China’s predatory practices that are impoverishing coastal states dependent on fisheries.

united states coast guard

R 171209 SEP 20
UNCLAS //N16000//
ALCOAST 347/20
1. Today the Commandant promulgated the Coast Guard’s Illegal, Unreported,
and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Strategic Outlook, which emphasizes IUU fishing as a
pervasive security threat to U.S. national interests. IUU fishing, if left unchecked,
will result in deterioration of fragile coastal States and increased tension among
foreign-fishing nations threatening geo-political stability around the world.
Tackling IUU fishing requires experienced, capable, and trusted leadership. The U.S.
Coast Guard is a well-respected global leader in maritime safety and security; able to
lead a unified force to cement positive change and promote enhanced maritime governance.
This Strategic Outlook outlines the Service’s vision to strengthen global maritime
security, regional stability, and economic prosperity with the following Lines of Effort:
   a. LOE 1 Promote Targeted, Effective, Intelligence-Driven Enforcement Operations.
The U.S. Coast Guard will lead global efforts to detect and deter IUU fishing on the high
seas and in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of partner nations. Through the innovative
use of intelligence, technology, data analysis, and information sharing, we will identify,
target, and interdict illicit actors in the maritime domain in order to disrupt corrupt
cycles of influence that enable illegal operations.
   b. LOE 2 Counter Predatory and Irresponsible State Behavior. The U.S. Coast Guard will
prioritize operations and engagement in areas where our efforts are most critical to
demonstrate U.S. commitment and model responsible behavior. The U.S. Coast Guard will
shine a light on the activities of those who violate international rules-based order,
exposing and holding accountable the most egregious predatory actors.
   c. LOE 3 Expand Multilateral Fisheries Enforcement Cooperation. The U.S. Coast Guard
will build and maintain lasting cooperation with key partners to empower regional resource
conservation and management. Working with U.S. and international partners, the U.S. Coast
Guard will assist at-risk coastal States and like-minded nations to develop and maintain
their own robust counter-IUU fishing capacity, bolstering their governance and enforcement
systems and affirming the United States as a preferred partner. Through targeted, persistent,
and collaborative efforts, we will sustain and strengthen connections with partner nations
supporting international oceans governance.
2. Each line of effort depends on Unity of Effort, Partnership, Investment in the Future,
and Innovation to succeed.
3. Under this IUU Fishing Strategic Outlook, the U.S. Coast Guard will apply our broad
authorities, capabilities, capacities, and partnerships to be a global leader in the fight
against IUU fishing. Working with partners in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), the Department of State (DOS), the Department of Defense (DOD),
and others, the U.S. Coast Guard will uphold a whole-of-government effort to advance
national interests in the maritime domain and promote economic prosperity. Through enhanced
engagement with like-minded nations and key maritime stakeholders, the U.S. Coast Guard
is ready to spearhead the global fight against IUU fishing.
4. More information and copies of the strategy can be found at:
5. POCs: CDR James Binniker at (202) 372-2187 or
6. VADM Scott A. Buschman, Deputy Commandant for Operations, sends.
7. Internet release is authorized.


“When COVID-19 sidelined 18 members of a Coast Guard cutter crew, cadets stepped in” –Task and Purpose

An MH-60S Knight Hawk Helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 conducts ‘touch and go’ drills aboard U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class cutter USCGC Munro (WMSL-755) during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020 on Aug. 25, 2020. US Navy Photo

Task and Purpose reports on an unexpected summer cruise for CG Academy third class brought on when USCGC Munro crewmembers came down with COVID19. A little ALPAT and RIMPC 2020.

IUU Enforcement

As if to prove the new emphasis on IUU is not just a paper exercise, we have a report of a National Security Cutter and a C-130 involved in a multi-national fisheries enforcement operation in the Western Pacific.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific
Contact: 14th District Public Affairs
Office: (808) 535-3230
After Hours:
14th District online newsroom

Coast Guard cutter returns to Hawaii after completing multi-country operation targeting illegal fishing in the South Pacific Ocean

Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Air Station Barbers Point HC-130

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download a high-resolution version.

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball (WMSL 756) returned to Honolulu Sunday following its nearly two month patrol supporting the multi-country maritime Operation Nasse throughout Oceania.

Operation Nasse is an annual Pacific Quadrilateral Defense Coordination Group operation consisting of assets from the United States, Australia, France, New Zealand, and Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency which completed August 23.

“This is the first time the Coast Guard has sent a surface asset to participate during the Pacific Quadrilateral Defense Coordination Group’s operation,” said Lt. j.g. Joseph Fox, an assistant combat systems officer aboard the Kimball. “Service members from the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and an Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 aircrew conducted joint missions with their multi-national counterparts to achieve the common goal of preventing illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the Pacific.”

The purpose of this year’s operation was to investigate the effect COVID-19 had on fishing activities on the high seas and to identify fishing vessels not complying with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) conditions. Illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing undermines a nation’s sovereignty, threatens its economic security, and weakens global rules-based order.

Each participating country provided assets to support the operation including flights by RNZAF P3K Orions based out of Auckland, Australian Maritime Border Command Dash 8s based out of Brisbane, and French Guardians from Noumea.

The partner’s cooperation provided a significant reach in surveillance which allowed the French patrol boat “La Glorieuse” and the Kimball to hone in on specific vessels identified as possibly being of interest to confirm their activities were within regulations.

Air and sea surveillance, and maritime intelligence sharing provided an opportunity for the participants to work collaboratively to detect, deter, suppress, and report potential IUU fishing activity.

In addition to Operation Nasse, the crew of the Kimball also conducted a high seas patrol off American Samoa and Fiji.

Working closely with their Fijian counterparts, the crew supported U.S.-Fiji bilateral agreements and enforced partner nations respective Exclusive Economic Zones while promoting legal, sustainable fisheries.

In the Pacific, annual Tuna catch is estimated at over $5 billion and provides a significant percentage of the income of many of the South Pacific Nations. Ensuring that vessels operating on the high seas are complying with WCPFC regulations to protect fish stocks and other marine life resulting in these valuable resources remaining sustainable for future generations.

All asset crews were working to national rules regarding COVID-19 which were implemented to keep all personnel as safe as possible while still being able to achieve many of the operational goals.