“Indo-Pacific partners lead global fight against IUU fishing” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

Catch is readied for inspection during a boarding by USCGC Frederick Hatch crew members and a local maritime officer in Micronesia’s EEZ. IMAGE CREDIT: PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS BRANDON CHAPLEA/U.S. COAST GUARD

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum has a nice piece about cooperative efforts to curb Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing. USCG gets a lot of credit.

Netherlands Navy Talks about Replacing OPVs with Light Amphibious Warfare Ships

A Naval News report, “RNLN Looks At Low-Manned Platform To Augment Frigate Fire Power” talks about the possibility of adding weapons and sensors to lightly manned small vessels to act as extensions of a large warship’s weapons and sensors. Cooperative Engagement Capability probably makes this possible. (Incidentally the vessel shown in the leading illustration is a Damen design 50 meter in length with a beam of 9 meters. More here.)

But the post also discussed another program, a new class of smaller amphibious warships, expected to enter service from the early 2030s, that will also fill the role of Offshore Patrol Vessels.

Captain Van der Kamp also outlined the RNLN’s evolving thinking on a replacement amphibious shipping capability, dubbed LPX…these new ships are also expected to assume the patrol and surveillance tasks currently performed by the navy’s four Holland class patrol vessels…“We would combine these amphibious ships with the function of a patrol vessel to do Coastguard patrols in the Caribbean and counter-drugs operations in the Caribbean.”

The four Holland class OPVs were commissioned 2012 to 2013, so in the early 2030s they will be at the most 23 years old. These ships are similar in size, speed, capabilities, and mission to the OPCs. They have frequently conducted drug interaction missions in the Caribbean with US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments embarked and at least on one occasion using a USCG helicopter.

The other two ships being replaced, HNLMS Rotterdam and HNLMS Johan de Witt. are older, commissioned in 1998 and 2007. They have a combined capability to land about 1200 Marines. I presume the cumulative capability of the new ships will be similar. Each of them can also carry up to 32 tanks, but the Netherlands Marine Corps does not have any tanks, nor do they have organic heavy artillery. Their only armored vehicles are much smaller, so perhaps the replacement ships will not need the capability to handle tanks.

Why is the Netherlands Navy choosing to do this?

Going from six ships to perhaps only four is likely to decrease the total crew requirements.

It may be that the landing ships are considered better able to meet the disaster response component that has been one of the OPVs’ missions.

The Netherlands Navy may not see any wartime role for the OPVs, or at least no role the new LPX could not also do.

Nevertheless, it seems the changes is rooted in changes in the Marine Corps concept of operation.  “…leaner and smaller units that would unload further away from land.”

It may be significant that the new ships are referred to as LPX not LPDX. That may mean that they would not have a well deck. It might be thought they are paralleling US Marine Corp thinking that resulted in the Marines shedding their tanks and heavy artillery and the formation of a Littoral Regiment and a program to build relatively small Landing Ship, Mediums. On the other hand, given the way the Netherlands Marine Corps names their units, “Raiding Section,” “Raiding Troop,” and “Raiding Squadron,” they obviously see themselves as a raiding organization more akin to the British Royal Marine Commandos of WWII than to the US Marine Corps that seized and held islands in the Pacific. They do have a long and continuing association with the Royal Marines. In any case they are and probably will remain essentially light infantry.

If the new ships are to replace the four OPVs, then I would presume they would still need at least four ships. If they were following the USMC example, they may build a larger number of smaller ships, but I don’t think that will be the case. If they are to “…unload further away from land,” they are going to be very different from the beachable LSMs envisioned by the US Marines. The British developed LCVP Mk5c used by the Netherlands Marine Corps are big boats, 15.7 m (51 ft 6 in) in length and displacing 24 tons. If they are to be swung from davits, it will not be from a small ship.

I would not be surprised if the LPX program came out as four ships that look a lot like slightly larger Danish Absalon class (which can reportedly transport a company-sized landing force of some 200 soldiers with vehicles). Four ships that could each transport 300 Marines, each equipped with four LCVPs (or its replacement), a pair of FRISC” (Fast Raiding, Interception and Special forces Craft) RHIB, with hangar space for a couple of helicopters, could replicate the transport capacity of the two LPDs in a more flexible, distributed, and perhaps more survivable force package. The resulting ships would effectively be modern high-speed transports (APD/LPR).

“US Coast Guard Ready to Move New Anti-SASH Policy” (SASH=Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment) –Marine Link

Marine Link reports,

In May, the U.S. Coast Guard will start a strengthened and pointedly direct anti-SASH campaign that will extend across the maritime industry. SASH is an acronym for sexual assault/sexual harassment, and this new effort adds muscle to Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB Number: 1-23) “Reporting Sexual Misconduct on U.S. Vessels” released in February. The new bulletin supersedes a previous one from late 2021.

I don’t normally report on Marine Safety topics. Never really had any experience in that area, but this could affect every boarding officer.

“U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visits Singapore during Indo-Pacific deployment”

Passing along this news release. (More photos available through the link.)

May 31, 2023

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visits Singapore during Indo-Pacific deployment

SINGAPORE – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) departed Singapore, May 22, following a scheduled port visit while deployed to the Indo-Pacific.

While in Singapore, Stratton’s commanding officer and crew strengthened trusted partnerships with local leaders, maritime safety and security stakeholders, and the community.

“The United States Coast Guard is committed to upholding a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. Stratton is here to support our allies and partners in making sure the Indo-Pacific region remains free and open to all,” said Capt. Brian Krautler, Stratton’s commanding officer. “The crew is looking forward to operating with our partners in the region. The crew of Stratton is ‘always ready’ to operate alongside like-minded nations as a trusted partner.”

While in port, the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, the Honorable Jonathan Kaplan, toured the Stratton discussing interoperability in the region. The cutter’s crew volunteered with the Genesis school, a school for special needs children, and served at a food bank that feeds up to 7,000 people.  Additionally, the Stratton’s crew played friendly matches of ultimate Frisbee against the Republic of Singapore Navy sailors.

Stratton is deployed in the Indo-Pacific to engage with ally and partner nations and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific. The Stratton crew is conducting operations to share best practices and expertise in search-and-rescue, law enforcement and maritime governance. U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy forward-deployed forces remain ready to respond to crises as a combined maritime force. Singapore is Stratton’s fourth port visit since departing her homeport of Alameda, California.

Stratton is operating as part of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 71, U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force. CTF-71 is responsible for the readiness, tactical and administrative responsibilities for forward-deployed assets andsurface units conducting operations in the region.

Stratton is a 418-foot national security cutter capable of extended, global deployment in support of humanitarian missions, and defense missions. National security cutters routinely conduct operations throughout the Pacific, where the range, speed and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary for the U.S. Coast Guard to serve as a unique strategic contributor in the region.

The namesake of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton is Capt. Dorothy Stratton, who led the service’s all-female reserve force during World War II. Capt. Stratton was the first female commissioned officer in the Coast Guard and commanded more than 10,000 personnel. The ship’s motto is “We can’t afford not to.”

U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area is responsible for U. S. Coast Guard operations spanning across six of the seven continents, 71 countries and more than 74 million square miles of ocean. It reaches from the shores of the West Coast of the United States to the Indo-Pacific, Eastern Pacific, Arctic and Antarctic. Pacific Area strives to integrate capabilities with partners to ensure collaboration and unity of effort throughout the Pacific.

“Vard Unveils New ‘Vigilance’ OPV Design” for Canada –Naval News

Vigilance OPV design for Canada by VARD

Naval News reports,

Tailored to the needs of the Royal Canadian Navy’s future fleet, Vigilance strikes the balance between flexibility, adaptability, and size, while maintaining the life-cycle cost advantages VARD’s naval designs are known for.  The vessel has been conceived for high-tempo sovereignty missions and engineered for global deployment and forward basing abroad.

There is not really a lot of information here.

They are to replace the Kingston Class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, which have been used to do drug interdiction in the Caribbean with USCG Law Enforcement teams doing the boardings. It is a class of twelve ships so there may be that many replacements, but also possibly fewer.

USCGC Escanaba (WMEC 907) and USCGC Richard Snyder (WPC 1127) practice maneuvering with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Kingston Class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel HMCS Goose Bay (MM 707) in the Davis Strait on Aug. 13, 2021.  (Photo courtesy Royal Canadian Navy)

There is no indication of size but there is a clue in the identification of the rendering that accompanied the post, “VARD-7-075-Vigilance-Offshore-Patrol-Vessel-770×410.jpg”. Using VARD’s naming convention this is a “7 series” ship meaning “Naval and Security” that is about 75 meters (246 feet) long. Given the intention to employ them “forward basing abroad,” particularly as a Pacific nation, limiting the size to only 75 meters may be unwisely parsimonious. A larger ship would be both more capable in adverse weather conditions and more adaptable to future requirements. The Kingston class are only 55.31 m (181 ft 6 in) overall, so 75 meters would be an upgrade, but it is still a very small OPV, particularly if it is to operate helicopters. It would be similar in size to Malta’s P71 or the Danish Knud Rasmussen class.

If the ship is in fact 75 meters in length, then the flight deck seen in the fendering does appear relatively short for landing a helicopter, especially since Canada’s Navy and Air Force do not operate any small helicopters that might be operated from the ships. The logo that accompanies the post may suggest that the flight deck is for unmanned air systems rather than helicopters. The UAS in the logo appears to be the Swedish built UMS Skeldar V-200known as CU-176 Gargoyle in Canadian Service. This UAS is also in service with the Belgian, German, Netherlands, and Spanish Navies.

UAV SKELDAR V-200 in German service, tail marking 99+03, at ILA Berlin Airshow 2022. Photo credit: Boevaya mashina.

The gun seen in the rendering suggest a 30mm Mk38 Mod4. In view of the fact the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship is armed only with a 25mm Mk38 Mod2/3 that would to conform to past policies. The same gun is expected to be on the new Canadian frigate.

Looking at VARD’s design catalog, I see some resemblance to their 72 meter and 85 meter designs.

Video below added as late addition, thanks to Dave. 

“US, PH, Japan coast guards hold maritime law enforcement training” –The Manila Times

More than 30 participants from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam joined the Multinational Vessel Boarding Officer Course funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on May 15-26, 2023. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Manila Times reports on a US sponsored, Philippines hosted, boarding officer course that was also extended to officers from other ASEAN partners.

“Through this course, 33 participants from the PCG, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency, Thailand’s Maritime Enforcement Command Center, and Vietnam’s Department of Fisheries enhanced their knowledge of the law of the sea and policy on the use of force.”

Thanks to Paul for bring this to my attention. 

“Philippine Coast Guard Will Hold First-Ever Trilateral Exercise with U.S., Japan” –USNI

BRP Teresa Magbanua, sister ship of BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702), during sea trials off Japan (Photo: Philippine Coast Guard)

The US Naval Institute News Service reports, beginning 1 June,

“BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702), BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), BRP Boracay (FPB-2401) and one 44-meter multi-role response vessel will conduct the exercise with National Security Cutter USGCC Stratton (WMSL-752) and Japanese patrol vessel Akitsushima (PLH-32).”

I will just provide some photos with links to the Wikipedia description of the vessels. Note none of the Philippine Coast Guard vessels have any permanently mounted weapons.

JCG_Akitsushima(PLH-32), 9,300 tons (full load), Port of Kobe, July 9, 2017. Photo credit: Hunini, via Wikipedia.

USCGC Stratton moored in San Diego, California. Photo by BryanGoff

BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) as it sails home to the Philippines. 3 May 2021. Photo: Philippine CG.

44-meter multi-role response vessel BRP Tubbataha during its delivery to the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine CG PAO photo

BRP Boracay (FPB-2401), 23 October 2018, Philippine CG photo.

“Coast Guard awards contract for long range interceptor III cutter boats” –CG-9

Preliminary general arrangement drawing of the third generation of long range interceptor cutter boats to be made for the Coast Guard. Courtesy of MetalCraft Marine U.S. Inc.

Below is a May 30, 2023 Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) news release. 

The Coast Guard awarded an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract to MetalCraft Marine U.S. Inc. of Watertown, New York, May 23 for construction, testing, delivery and logistical support for the third generation of long range interceptor (LRI III) cutter boats. The contract has a total potential value of $31.3 million. The Coast Guard plans to acquire up to 17 LRI IIIs.

At just under 35 feet in length, the LRI is the larger of two types of cutter boats that are deployed from national security cutters (NSCs). The LRI III is a twin-engine, twin-waterjet driven boat, capable of speeds of 40 knots. The boats will be equipped with a robust navigation and communication system that allows each LRI III to deploy over the horizon, beyond the line of sight of the cutter. The LRI III has a semi-enclosed cabin for protection from weather with interior shock-mitigating seating for five and six additional shock-mitigating seats outside the cabin on the aft deck. The LRI III will replace the current fleet of LRI IIs as those boats approach the end of their service life.

The LRI cutter boat platform is designed to augment Coast Guard NSC mission effectiveness by projecting the parent cutter’s over-the-horizon capability in search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, living marine resources, defense readiness, and ports, waterway and coastal security missions.

For more information: Boat Acquisition Program page

“In focus: the 50 cal heavy machine gun in Royal Navy service” –Navy Lookout

British navy sailor fires burst using gun mounting system ASP (Agile, Small-deflection, Precision) armed with a .50 heavy machine gun. (Picture source British Royal Navy)

Navy Lookout has a post about .50 cal guns that goes into the history of the caliber in the Royal Navy, but the real news is that they have made the decision to completely replace the 7.62mm Mk44 (M134) mini gun, which as a rate of fire of 2,000 to 4,000 rounds per minute, with the .50 caliber effective March 2023.

The post makes reference to the 2021 tests of the “Agile, Small-deflection, Precision (ASP)” mounting on board HMS Argyll, but apparently there has been no decision regarding upgraded mounts for the gun.

USNI “Fleet and Marine Tracker: May 22, 2023” Includes Some Coast Guard. This a Good Thing?

The USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC-1140) crew gets underway from Guam on May 21, 2023, before Typhoon Mawar’s arrival. US Coast Guard Photo

For the first time in my memory, US Naval Institute’s weekly Fleet and Marine Tracker includes information about Coast Guard units. The post reports,

“USCGC’s Myrtle Hazard and USCGC Oliver Henry departed Guam to avoid Typhoon MAWAR, which continues to strengthen and head toward Guam. Storm conditions are expected to arrive near Guam sometime on Tuesday, May 23.

and includes the photo and caption above. It also reports,

“Six U.S. Coast Guard Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) are forward-deployed to the region under Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA). PATFORSWA deploys Coast Guard personnel and ships alongside U.S. and regional naval forces throughout the Middle East. Initially deployed in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, PATFORSWA is now a permanent presence based out of the Kingdom of Bahrain, providing capable littoral assets for maritime interdiction, theater security cooperation, and maritime domain awareness operations.”


“Coast Guard Cutter Eagle moored in Oslo, Norway on Friday as part of its summer training cruise for cadets from the United States Coast Guard Academy.”

along with the photo and caption below (I added the link).

Cadets and crew members aboard USCGC Eagle (WIX-327) render honors to the Oscarsborg Fortress, May 19, 2023, during the transit into Oslo, Norway. US Coast Guard Photo

I was happy to see this. The Coast Guard needs to be generally recognized as part of the National Fleet. That status is officially recognized, but not by the general public or, more importantly, by large parts of the Navy and Coast Guard.

My initial reaction was that I wanted to see the Coast Guard included in this report regularly. But as I worked through what I thought should be done, I changed my mind.

Still, I believe that the US Naval Institute should want to publish something similar for Coast Guard units and that Coast Guard public affairs should want to support the effort by providing information in an agreed upon format essentially ready to publish.

What do we want to emulate and what do we want to do differently?

The Fleet and Marine Tracker consists of three parts:

  • A world map where normally only carrier strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) are plotted.
  • A statistical breakdown including the total number of battleforce ships, how many are deployed, how many are underway (Including some differentiation of USS vs USNS), and how many of those deployed are assigned to each numbered fleet.
  • A narrative of operations broken down geographically.

While I don’t think the world map plot is appropriate, at least not on a weekly basis, a statistical breakdown of ships underway or deployed out of area followed by a narrative section including short outlines of unusual or interesting operations broken down geographically would be useful.

The statistical break down might be by broad vessel types and by Atlantic and Pacific Areas. A listing of assignments to numbered fleets is probably not necessary. I don’t think we want to specify how many ships are assigned to 4th Fleet operational control since they would virtually all be involved in drug interdiction. The few assignments to other Combatant Commanders could be handled in the geographic narrative section.