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

As reported here earlier, PACAREA Commander VAdm Fagan expressed concern that the Coast Guard might be seen differently if its ships were better armed. “… the reaction might be different if the Coast Guard were to sort of look like the Navy combatant.”

I have a lot of respect for Adm. Fagan. PACAREA has taken some bold initiatives in law enforcement, operating Webber class far from home.

The Coast Guard is welcome in many places where the Navy is not, so this is a valid concern.

But (there is always the but) I will argue that the difference is because of the Coast Guard’s history and reputation, not because of how are ships are armed and add that, in fact, peacetime missions of law enforcement/counter terrorism, at least as much as military readiness, requires that our ships should be better armed. Meanwhile, the deteriorating international system indicates this is a time when the Coast Guard needs to prioritize its military capabilities.

A Personal Perspective: 

There are a few places, notably in Central America where the Coast Guard is welcome, but the US Navy is not. Several Central American countries have had history with the US military, that has left an unfavorable impression.

I am most familiar with the situation in Costa Rica, although my experience was long ago, when I visited there to arrange joint exercises. Since then I have seen information that Coast Guard cutters were allowed to visit and replenish in Costa Rican ports, but Navy ships were not.

Costa Rica’s distrust in of the US Navy is probably most firmly routed in their distrust of the military in general. In 1948, following a civil war, they abolished their military and the ban was included in their constitution in 1949. But, they do have a Coast Guard, last I heard, their uniforms were modelled after that of school children, but it is well provided with small arms. When I visited, long before there were regular drug interdiction operations in the Eastern Pacific, there was a US Coast Guard liaison officer there, as there had been for many years. That long relationship of mutual understanding is probably the most important reason of the current level of trust.

Perceptions: 

What is it that a foreign national sees when he or she sees a Coast Guard Cutter? Do they feel threatened? They know it is a warship because it has a gun on it. Most will not know how powerful the gun or other weapons might be. The color, white, rather than gray does look less menacing.

Would they recognize vertical launch tubes for Hellfire that can be painted white, are no more than about eight feet high and look like uptakes. Would they consider a towed array on the stern or torpedo tubes threatening? Would it make a difference to them?

Simply put, most people are not qualified to differentiate between a well armed warship and one not so well armed. When vertical launch tubes first appeared on ships, I remember people saying that they made the ships look less well armed. The people that are qualified to make the distinction know that even an up-armed cutter is not a ship that you would send to overthrow a government or subjugate even the smallest country. ASW equipment that might be appropriate to defend our ports and shipping, in particular, presents no danger to anyone on land.

We need more capability for counter terrorism:

Terrorism can come to the US from the sea. The weapon could be a jet ski or a giant LNG tanker. They might bring a weapon of mass destruction or simply a platoon of suicidal zealots armed with explosives and small arms. They might bring mines or launch cruise missiles from containers. We have seen the attack on the USS Cole, the attack on Mumbai, and attacks on shipping using remote controlled explosive motor boats in the Red Sea. Unmanned Air Vehicles (drones) present new challenges.

The US Navy is not positioned or prepared respond to such attacks They have surface warships in essential only five of the dozens of ports or port complexes in the US. They don’t patrol our coasts. DOD doesn’t have ships or any other weapons on standby ready to respond. 

The Coast Guard is well distributed to meet this Homeland Security threat, but is armed only with small arms, and 25mm, 57mm, and 76mm guns that are too small to deal with medium to large merchant ships and which present a danger of collateral damage if employed in or near a US port.

The ability to forcibly stop a vessel, regardless of size, is fundamental for a  maritime law enforcement agency. And we need to have that ability widely distributed, not just on the largest cutters that are unlikely to be available when the capability is needed. We do not have that ability.

We also need to be able to reliably stop small, fast, highly maneuverable boats. Crew served machine guns mounted in the bow of an RB-M don’t really qualify. They are inaccurate. They have the potential for inflicted collateral damage, and there is a good chance the intruder will be able to kill the gunner or coxswain before it can stop the intruder. Even a WPB armed with .50 cal. or a Webber class FRC with a 25mm may not be sufficient. Small guided weapons, like Hellfire, are a much more accurate and reliable, though still inadequate to stop the largest threats.

The vessels that really need to be up-armed are the WPBs and WPCs that protect our ports. Only relatively short range weapons are required. They should have no influence on the perception of the Coast Guard by other nations.  

Changes in the Geopolitical situation:

We know the “balance of maritime power could shift in the next 10 years”

The US is slowly loosing all of the areas that it used to be able to assume would be safe. Those area used to go almost to the shore of hostile countries but ship killer ballistic missiles, more nuclear submarines, and longer ranged aircraft carrying longer ranged missiles are shrinking our “safe space.” 

It is starting to look much more like the Cold War world before 1990 when Coast Guard cutters were routinely armed with 5″ guns and anti-submarine warfare equipment and even anti-ship cruise missiles.

Anti-Submarine Warfare:

The Chinese have about 60 conventionally powered submarines and about 19 nuclear powered subs, including six SSBNs and 13 SSNs. Apparently they are planning to increase the number of nuclear submarines. They are doubling their capacity for building nuclear submarines so it is likely they will ultimately double the size of their fleet of nuclear submarines. 

The Russian Navy includes 12 SSBNs, 9 SSGNs, 14 SSNs, and 22 conventionally powered attack boats, and six special purpose submarines, mostly nuclear powered including two or three capable of deploying the Poseidon, a huge 6200 mile range nuclear armed and powered torpedo sometimes called the “Status Six.” The increased aggressiveness has prompted a revival of the Atlantic Fleet as a separate command.  

Both the US Navy and US shipbuilding capacity has been in slow decline since the fall of the Soviet Union. So far our build rate is far below that of the Chinese. 

These systems present a serious challenge to US Navy capabilities. 

Cruise Missiles:

USCGC Mellon seen here launching a Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile in 1990.

In wartime, it is unlikely the Coast Guard would need long ranged anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM). Cutters are not likely to square off against Chinese surface warships although we are likely to have many interactions with Chinese flag or controlled merchant ships at the start of any conflict with the PRC.

On the other hand, they are one way we might be able to address the potential threat of terrorist controlled merchant ships. The Navy does want to put ASCMs on almost everything, “If it floats it fights.”

ASCMs are an addition that might cause unease in a small country, because in many cases they can be used against targets on shore. There is, however, a simple way to alleviate this anxiety if it proves to be a concern. Using deck mounted launchers, as would be the case on cutters, it can be clear whether missiles are actually on board or not. If our friends have misgivings about a cutter with ASCMs, then simply do no load them, if the cutter is going to be in an area where that is a concern.

Conclusion:

The system upgrades we need to counter terrorists are small and relatively innocuous (like Hellfire and very light weight torpedoes). They are really most needed by vessels that usually don’t venture into foreign waters.

The upgrades our large cutters need are primarily anti-submarine systems and present no threat to small nations.

Even if we did add the capability to have anti-ship cruise missiles, which I see as much less important, it would be easy enough to leave them ashore when going to destinations that might be sensitive to that capability. Empty missile launch cradles would be an obvious signal of lack of aggressive intent.

“Coast Guard conducts security operations for 2021 Presidential Inauguration” –Press Release

FYI, a D5 news release

Photos Available: Coast Guard conducts security operations for 2021 Presidential Inauguration

Photos Release

U.S. Coast Guard 5th District Public Affairs North
D5 Public Affairs North, Baltimore, Md
Office: (410) 576-2541
After Hours: (757) 513-3738
D5 Public Affairs North online newsroom

Photos Available: Coast Guard conducts security operations for 2021 Presidential Inauguration

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

Petty Officer Sean Tocci, a boatswain’s mate with Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91110, based in Cape Cod, Mass., stands bow gunner duty during a security patrol ahead of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration on the Anacostia River, Washington, Jan. 16, 2021. On Sept. 24, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security designated the Presidential Inauguration as a recurring National Special Security Event. Events may be designated NSSEs when they warrant the full protection, incident management and counterterrorism capabilities of the Federal Government. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy James/Released)

Petty Officer Sean Tocci, a boatswain’s mate with Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91110, based in Cape Cod, Mass., stands bow gunner duty during a security patrol ahead of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration on the Anacostia River, Washington, Jan. 16, 2021. On Sept. 24, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security designated the Presidential Inauguration as a recurring National Special Security Event. Events may be designated NSSEs when they warrant the full protection, incident management and counterterrorism capabilities of the Federal Government. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy James/Released)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Albert, a machinery technician with Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91112, based in New Orleans, stands bow gunner duty during a security patrol with the Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson, homeported in Cape May, N.J., ahead of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration on the Potomac River, Washington, Jan. 16, 2021. On Sept. 24, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security designated the Presidential Inauguration as a recurring National Special Security Event. Events may be designated NSSEs when they warrant the full protection, incident management and counterterrorism capabilities of the Federal Government. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Nick Haas/Released)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Albert, a machinery technician with Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91112, based in New Orleans, stands bow gunner duty during a security patrol with the Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson, homeported in Cape May, N.J., ahead of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration on the Potomac River, Washington, Jan. 16, 2021. On Sept. 24, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security designated the Presidential Inauguration as a recurring National Special Security Event. Events may be designated NSSEs when they warrant the full protection, incident management and counterterrorism capabilities of the Federal Government. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Nick Haas/Released)
 Petty Officer 3rd Class Maxwell Bradford, a machinery technician with Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91112, based in New Orleans, conduct boat checks prior to getting underway for a security patrol ahead of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, Washington, Jan. 16, 2021. On Sept. 24, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security designated the Presidential Inauguration as a recurring National Special Security Event. Events may be designated NSSEs when they warrant the full protection, incident management and counterterrorism capabilities of the Federal Government. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Nick Haas/Released)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Maxwell Bradford, a machinery technician with Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91112, based in New Orleans, conduct boat checks prior to getting underway for a security patrol ahead of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, Washington, Jan. 16, 2021. On Sept. 24, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security designated the Presidential Inauguration as a recurring National Special Security Event. Events may be designated NSSEs when they warrant the full protection, incident management and counterterrorism capabilities of the Federal Government. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Nick Haas/Released)

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91112, based in New Orleans, and the Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson, homeported in Cape May, N.J., conduct a patrol ahead on the Potomac River, Washington, ahead of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, Jan. 16, 2021. On Sept. 24, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security designated the Presidential Inauguration as a recurring National Special Security Event. Events may be designated NSSEs when they warrant the full protection, incident management and counterterrorism capabilities of the Federal Government. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Nick Haas/Released)

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91112, based in New Orleans, and the Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson, homeported in Cape May, N.J., conduct a patrol ahead on the Potomac River, Washington, ahead of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, Jan. 16, 2021. On Sept. 24, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security designated the Presidential Inauguration as a recurring National Special Security Event. Events may be designated NSSEs when they warrant the full protection, incident management and counterterrorism capabilities of the Federal Government. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Nick Haas/Released)

-USCG-

“Ice-Strengthened Ships For The U.S. Navy?” –Naval News

http://www.state.gov/e/oes/ocns/opa/arc/uschair/258202.htm . This map of the Arctic was created by State Department geographers as part of the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Naval News reports, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, answers the question, “..if any of the future-built U.S. Navy warships such as the Littoral Combat Ships, Arleigh Burke destroyers, or Littoral Combat Ships will have hardened and strengthened hulls for Arctic and icy-water Polar operations?”

And the answer was,

“I’m not there yet in terms of armored hulls or turning our [war]ships into icebreakers.”

I really don’t think anyone was suggesting we build DDGs on icebreaker hulls for the Navy, but if there is a need for an armed surface naval presence in the Arctic, it would be nice if Navy ships could at least survive there, if escorted by Coast Guard icebreakers. Certainly the icebreakers are to operate in the Arctic in wartime, they are going to need some protection.

The Navy is apparently still not convinced of the need. There are, of course, other assets the US has, that could take the fight into the Arctic, including aircraft and submarines. I still think the Fleet boundaries are poorly drawn to facilitate operations in the Arctic and the Bering Sea. Since it is still seen as primarily under the control of the Air Force (NorthCom), that may explain, to some extent, the lack of Navy interest.

“Coast Guard releases cutter videos, announces waterways commerce cutter webinar” –CG-9

USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315)

Below is an announcement about the Waterways Commerce Cutter program from the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9)


The Coast Guard waterways commerce cutter (WCC) program released two videos today showing layouts, operational footage and crew interviews from the river buoy and inland construction tenders in anticipation of the upcoming request for proposal (RFP) release.

The Coast Guard is recapitalizing its river, construction, and inland buoy tenders, which collectively average more than 55 years in age. The fleet is responsible for maintaining more than 28,200 marine aids throughout 12,000 miles of inland waterways, which move 630 million tons of cargo annually. Replacing the aging fleet is critical to sustaining the overall safety of the U.S. Marine Transportation System, which accounts for $5.4 trillion of economic activity annually and sustains approximately 30.7 million jobs.

The WCC program aims to inform industry members about the current inland tender fleet to help them better understand the mission need. This effort will help industry in creating better quality proposals for the upcoming RFP release for the river buoy and inland construction WCC variants. The RFP release is anticipated during spring 2021. The Coast Guard plans to acquire these two variants on a single contract, as these variants share significant commonalities except for their hull lengths and working deck layout and equipment.

The WCC program is inviting industry questions about these videos at wcc@uscg.mil. The program plans to address these questions and provide additional operational information in a 45-minute presentation during a virtual webinar held in cooperation with WorkBoat, scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern time Jan. 20, 2021. The final 15 minutes of the webinar will be reserved to answer any additional questions, with operations, engineering, logistics and contracting subject matter experts available to provide additional information.

Webinar registration is free and will be conducted through the WorkBoat site here. The presentation and question-and-answer information will be available on the WCC program webpage following the event.

For more information: Waterways Commerce Cutter program page. Additional resources and previous industry engagement materials can be located under the “Resources” tab at the bottom of the page.

“Coast Guard awards Polar Star service life extension contract” –CG-9

As with previous Dry Docks, the three pitch propellers were removed, overhauled, and reinstalled. Photo: Official USCG Polar Star Facebook

The Acquisitions Directorate published the announcement below. This will guarantee that the crew of Polar Star will continue to spend much of their inport time for the next five years, away from their homeport. Again, perhaps it is time to change her homeport. The SLEP will extend from 2021 to 2025 and the ship will likely be decommissioned by the end of 2027. 


The Coast Guard today awarded an indefinite quantity, indefinite delivery contract to Mare Island Dry Dock LLC of Vallejo, California, for the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star service life extension project (SLEP), as part of the In-Service Vessel Sustainment program. The project will recapitalize a number of major systems and extend the service life of the cutter by approximately four years, helping maintain the Coast Guard’s required heavy icebreaking capability while the service transitions heavy icebreaking operations to the new polar security cutter (PSC). The total potential value of all resulting orders is $119.6 million.

The Polar Star SLEP will address targeted systems such as propulsion, communication and machinery control systems for recapitalization and conduct major maintenance to extend the service life of Polar Star beyond the original design service life. By replacing obsolete, unsupportable or maintenance-intensive equipment, the Coast Guard will mitigate the risk of lost operational days due to unplanned maintenance or system failures. The contracted SLEP work items and recurring maintenance will take place within a five-year, annually phased production schedule running from 2021 through 2025. Each phase will be coordinated so that operational commitments such as Operation Deep Freeze will still be met.

Polar Star is the Coast Guard’s only active heavy icebreaker. The 399-foot cutter, commissioned in 1976, supports nine of the 11 Coast Guard statutory missions. The first PSC, currently under design, is on contract for delivery in 2024.

For more information: In-Service Vessel Sustainment program page and Polar Security Cutter program page

“Huge New Chinese Ships Are Made For Ramming” –Forbes

Forbes suggests that the Chinese are planning to use some of their new ships to shoulder US ships.

Those flat sides aren’t an aesthetic choice, according to Jerry Hendrix, an American naval expert and author of the new book To Provide and Maintain a Navy. They’re for what sailors calls “shouldering.” That is, muscling into a rival ship and forcing it to change course.

Given that the Coast Guard is sending ships into the Western Pacific and participating in Freedom of Navigation Exercises, this threat is significant for us.

I have a lot of respect for Jerry Hendrix. I bought his book. But first, of course, most ships incorporate flat sides over a significant length simply because it is the cheapest construction method. Our National Security Cutters may have stealth incorporated in their design, but look at the OPCs.

OPC “Placemat”

The article specifically calls out two classes of Chinese ships as likely to be used for shouldering, the Type 055, which is a cruiser or large destroyer, and the “Chinese coast guard’s patrol ship Haixun.”

I certainly would not dispute the Chinese’s propensity for employing shouldering or even ramming. They have employed these techniques in enforcing their claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea, as identified by their still ill defined “nine dash line,” but I think they have called out the wrong ships.

Artist impression of 10,000 tons class patrol vessel Haixun

Haixun is not part of China Coast Guard, it is a unit of the China Maritime Safety Administration which is their SAR agency. This agency has not been used for law enforcement.

The Type 055 is a very well equipped combatant and probably one of the most expensive units in the Chinese Navy. Her hull is not unusual and not a significant departure from that of the preceding Type 052D class. Their sides are not particularly flat. They are not units the Chinese would risk damaging.Zhaotou class cutter Haijing 2901. Photo from http://defence-blog.com/news/photos-charge-of-the-10000-ton-china-coast-guard-cutter.html

Any of the China Coast Guard units could be used for shouldering or even ramming, but their heavy weights are two ships of the Zhaotou class, Haijing 2901 and Haijing 3901. These are the world’s largest Cutters and probably over 12,000 tons full load–about three times the size of the National Security Cutters. They are also capable of 25 knots.

china-defense.blogspot.com

The post suggests that the Mumford Point class T-ESDs and ESBs, based on a double hull tanker design would be an appropriate counter, but while they are large (60,000 tons and 785 ft (239 m) long), they are also slow (15 knots), not very powerful for their size (24 MW or about 32,000 HP), and not very maneuverable.

If we had more icebreakers, we might want to send one of them. We know what can happen when a lightly built ship plays bumper boats with an ice class vessel.  On the other hand, the Chinese have started building icebreakers and ice strengthened merchant vessels, so we might want to keep that in mind.

Maybe the Navy has another reason to consider ice-strengthened ships.

“EVOLUTION OF THE FLEET: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CHINESE FISHING VESSELS OFF THE GALAPAGOS” –CIMSEC

Chinese fishing vessel fleet (Photo: The Maritime Executive)

Somehow I missed this post when it was published, 19 Oct. 2020, but it was recently recognized as one of CIMSEC’s the top ten posts for 2020.

This only looks at fishing off the Galapagos, but pretty sure this is happen elsewhere as well. The post reports the Chinese government is paying massive subsidizes and suggests that it seems to be attempting to establish a sort of lien on the world’s fisheries stocks, e. g. “we have historically taken the majority of the high sea’s catch so we should be allowed to continue to do so in perpetuity.”

It also looks at indicators of Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing.

“SNA NEWS: Coast Guard Wants Budget ‘Booster Shot’” –National Defense

Polar Security Cutter. Image credit VT Halter Marine.

National Defense reports on the Commandant’s comments during the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.

The pitch is that the Coast Guard is playing catch-up and needs an infusion of money (“$900 million to $1 billion dollars”) to deal with the current demands, and continued growth of 3 to 5% per year for the next five years. Really, I think he is saying the budget needs a new higher base which would then be built upon, so the $900M to $1B addition would not be a one time thing.

There are some particular statements that caught my attention.

The U.S. Coast Guard will soon have 103 cutters of various types in its inventory, but is looking to add more to boost its capacity and capabilities. It is also pursuing upgrades to its information technology systems and other assets, as well as looking to bring on more personnel.

That 103 figure refers only to recent and ongoing construction projects. We already have many more cutters than that. It appears to refer to 3 PSCs,11 NSCs, 25 OPCs, and 64 FRCs, but he is saying we need more than that.

What are these additional ships?

  • Arctic Security Cutters (ASC): Certainly it includes the three Arctic Security Cutter medium icebreakers. These were among the recommendations of the High Latitude Study. There seems to be general agreement about the need for at least a total of six icebreakers. There have been suggestions that one or more of these might be replaced by additional polar security cutters, but that suggestion has been mentioned but has not been strongly seconded by the Commandant. These may be intended for the Atlantic side.
  • Fast Response Cutters (FRC): It probably means more Webber class FRCs as well. There is already talk of homeporting some in Palau (probably two or three) and of replicating the PATFORSWA type organization (six ships) in support of PACOM. These raise the possibility of up to eight additional FRCs.
  • Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC): For the OPCs, I think it is more a matter of needing them sooner than currently planned. They are well behind in their delivery schedule. Moving to four ships a year, from two different yards, would dovetail nicely with the perceived need to maintain and build up US shipbuilding capacity. Even going to four per year would mean it will be many years before the Coast Guard could ask for the budget to build more than the 25 ship Program of Record.
  • Cutter X: Certainly no indication yet that the Coast Guard is considering an additional type of patrol cutter, but something of 1,500 to 2,500 tons, between the size of the OPC and the FRC would offer a way to procure a larger number of cutters with greater range, endurance, and seakeeping than the FRCs at perhaps half the cost of a similar number of OPCs. Building annually two in addition to one or two OPCs could speed the recapitalization process.
  • Polar Security Cutters (PSC): The quotation below suggest the Coast Guard may ultimately seek seek six PSCs as well as three ASCs.

“If resources were less constrained, the Coast Guard would like to have a fleet of nine icebreakers including potentially six polar security cutters and three Arctic security cutters, he noted.”

Sounds like we might continue building Polar Security Cutters beyond the three currently planned, but nuclear powered icebreakers are out.

“We have moved off the nuclear-powered” icebreaker, Schultz said. “The ability to operate that in the Coast Guard — that just doesn’t exist, and nor could we build out to that with all the demands on our plate.”

“Virtual Coast Guard art exhibit highlights service, missions” –News Release

Perfect Trust, Watercolor by Tom Hedderich

Below is a 8th District news release. Follow the link to four years of Coast Guard art. The four Coast Guard exhibits (2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020) are there along with other exhibits. You may have to page right, but once you enter one, at the bottom of the page you can link to the next or previous year, or use my individual links above. 

united states coast guard

 News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 8th District Public Affairs Detachment Texas
Contact: 8th District Public Affairs Detachment Texas
Office: 281-464-4810
After Hours: 832-293-1293
PA Detachment Texas online newsroom

Virtual Coast Guard art exhibit highlights service, missions

HOUSTON — The United States Coast Guard’s art collection now appears as an online exhibit at the Houston Maritime Education Center and Museum. The virtual exhibit offers the public the opportunity to explore four years of Coast Guard art and provides a fascinating look at the many ways in which the Coast Guard contributes to this nation. This is the largest exhibition of Coast Guard art ever to appear in one museum.

The full collection is available on the museum’s website and is publicly accessible at www.houstonmaritime.org/exhibits/.

The Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions are highlighted in more than 130 works by nearly 60 Coast Guard Art Program (COGAP) member artists from around the country. Although the words “U.S. Coast Guard” often conjure images of rescue swimmers and orange helicopters or aid given to distressed boaters and fisherman, the missions and duties of this military service are far more numerous and versatile. They range from national defense to environmental protection, and from search and rescue to maintaining aids to navigation and port security.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, this exhibit is a volume that tells the Coast Guard story as seen through the artists’ brushes and paints. COGAP art gives visual testimony to the unique contribution the Service makes to the nation in its multifaceted roles as a military, humanitarian and law enforcement organization,” said Rear Admiral Jon Hickey, director of Governmental and Public Affairs at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington.

“This marks the first time ever we have been able to provide such an extensive body of work on the role of a military service virtually to our visitors,” said Leslie Bowlin, the Houston Maritime Museum’s CEO. “We were delighted to work with the Coast Guard in bringing this exhibition to our members and internet visitors safely, especially during this time of the pandemic.”

Coast Guard Art is exhibited at museums around the country. It is also displayed in offices of members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries, senior government officials and other military services and Coast Guard locations nationwide. Coast Guard artists—a talented cadre of professional artists—donate their work to the program. Today, the collection comprises over 2,000 works showing the missions performed by the service’s force of 43,330 active duty members. This year marks the program’s 40th anniversary.

For more information about the Coast Guard Art Program, visit: www.uscg.mil/Community/Art-Program

For more information about the Houston Maritime Museum, visit: www.houstonmaritime.org.

USCG