“Trinidad & Tobago Orders 2 Cape-class Patrol Boats from Austal” –Naval News

The Australian Customs patrol boat ACV Cape St George on Darwin Harbour in 2014, Photo by Ken Hodge

Naval News reports that Trinidad and Tobago has signed a deal for two Cape Class 58 meter patrol vessels from Austal in Australia. Contract is valued at 126M A$ or about $85.4M US. That is less than the cost of our Webber class cutters. Not that I think the USCG is in the market for anything like this right now. (Perhaps the Navy might consider it.) Still a comparison is interesting.

The Cape Class is a enlarged, improved version of the earlier Armidale class patrol vessels. The Cape Class was originally developed for the Australian Border Force, but the Australian Navy is currently also operating two of the class. Compared to the Webber class.

  • Displacement about twice as large: 700 tons vice 353
  • Length: 57.8 m (190 ft) vice 46.8 m (154 ft)
  • Beam: 10.3 m (34 ft) vice 8.11 m (26.6 ft)
  • Draft: 3 m (9.8 ft) vice 2.9 m (9.5 ft)
  • HP, less: 6,772 vice 11,600
  • Speed, slower: 25 vice 28
  • Crew, smaller: 18 vice 24
  • Boats: two on davits vice one in stern ramp

The dramatic difference seems to be range and endurance, 28 days and 4,000 miles vs five days and 2,500 miles, although I continue to believe the Webber class’ endurance could be improved with only a little effort. These little ships also have aluminum hulls, while the Webber class hull is steel. Also the Australian ships are armed with nothing larger than crew served machine guns. That appears to be just a matter of choice but it would increase the cost.

In some ways these look a lot like the French “La Confiance” PLG. meaning they are similar to the Cutter X concept, although I would favor something a little larger so that it might be able to operate a helicopter.

Our previous contributor on the Tinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, Sanjay Badir-Maharaj, questions the wisdom of this purchase, since The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard seems to be having trouble maintaining the vessels it has now. Some degree of maintenance is included apparently, we wish them luck.

“MTR100: #2 Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant, USCG” –Marine Technology Reporter

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz visits with Coast Guard crews stationed in New York City. U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 1st Class Jetta Disco.

The Marine Technology Reporter has a short article about Admiral Schultz, largely based on an interview. It is primarily concerned with the Coast Guard’s relationship to the larger Maritime Industry and Infrastructure.

Keeping the commercial maritime waterways humming means business for the subsea community, and a quick ‘by the numbers’ look at the U.S. maritime industry is enlightening and puts the Commandant’s mission in perspective: 95,000 miles of shoreline, 25,000 miles of navigable channels, 361 ports, 50,000 federal aids to navigation, cumulatively support more than 30 million jobs and $5.4 trillion in economic activity.

The Commandant also discussed the cyber threat and what the Coast Guard is doing about it.

“Think about automated ships and facilities. With those automated ships and facilities comes risk, technical and cyber risk. With all of the technology comes increased vulnerability. We’re building out our cyber capability at the Coast Guard. I have about 300 positions today on cyber at the Coast Guard, and the 2020 budget has about another 60 bodies as we have to defend Coast Guard networks from attack and we have to bring a cyber regulatory face to the waterfront. We need to build our own technical experts in this area” and to that end there is a new cyber major at the Coast Guard Academy, with the class of 2022 being the first with graduates with a cyber degree.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

“US Border Patrol boat damaged by gunfire in brief encounter on Rio Grande” –Baird Maritime

Baird Maritime is reporting that about 50 shots were fired at a Customs and Border Protection boat and its crew, operating on the Rio Grande near Fronton, Texas, on Friday, Aug. 9. The boat was hit several times, but there were no injuries.

This looks to be about ten miles below Falcon Lake. This recalls an incident in 2010. Blog discussion here.

“Coast Guard Ramps Up in Hawaii with 2 New Ships” –Military.com

The crew of USCGC Kimball (WMSL 756) arrive in Honolulu for the first time Dec. 22, 2018. Known as the Legend-class, NSCs are designed to be the flagships of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging national security missions, including support to U.S. combatant commanders. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir/Released)

Military.com reports that 14th district is getting a second National Security Cutter, the Future USCGC Midgett arriving on Friday, Aug. 16 (to be commissioned along with Kimball Aug. 24 in a rare dual commissioning) and a third Webber class, the William Hart.

It also discusses the Coast Guard’s increased activity in the Western Pacific and Oceana.

“It’s Time for a ‘Quad’ of Coast Guards” –Real Clear Defense

A Japan Coast Guard helicopter approaches an Indian Coast Guard patrol vessel during a joint exercise off Chennai, India, January 2018 (Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty)

Real Clear Defense has an article which first appeared in the Australian think tank Lowy Institute‘s publication “The Interpreter,” advocating greater cooperation between the Coast Guards of Australia, India, Japan, and the US.

“The so-called Quad group of Indo-Pacific maritime democracies – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – is a valuable grouping, although it is still under utilized in many ways. One of the most effective ways that these countries could work together to enhance maritime security in the Indo-Pacific would be through coordinating the work of their coast guard agencies.”

While India in particular, is adverse to committing to a military alliance, these nations share a commitment to a rules based international system.

Quadrilateral cooperation through the countries’ coast guards could provide an answer to this political problem. As principally law-enforcement agencies, coast guards can provide many practical benefits in building a stable and secure maritime domain, without the overtones of a military alliance.

Using ship-riders, this sort of cooperation could go beyond capacity building and uphold the norms of international behavior. It might lead to the kind of standing maritime security task force I advocated earlier. When coast guards are in conflict, having multiple coast guards on scene could insure that instead of a “he said, she said” situation, we could have a “he said, we say” situation that would show a united front against bullying.

Given Bertholf and Stratton‘s stay in the Western Pacific and Walnut and Joseph Gerczak‘s support of Samoa, which was coordinated with Australia and New Zealand, it appears we may already be moving in this direction.

 

“Lighthouse Act – 7 August 1789” –BRYMAR

A little late, but I am passing this little tidbit of Coast Guard history along from BRYMAR consulting.

Lighthouse Act – 7 August 1789

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The Lighthouse Act was the ninth statute adopted by the First Congress of the United States. It provided for the voluntary cession by the various states of all lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers to the federal government and tasked the Secretary of the Treasury with building and maintaining the aids to maritime navigation. The Lighthouse Establishment (later named the United States Light House Service) is the oldest of the various components of the present-day United States Coast Guard, joining in 1939.

“sUAS Extend Coast Guard Capabilities in the Inland Rivers” –USNI

160919-N-AT101-177 GULF OF MEXICO (Sept. 19, 2016) Cadet 1st Class Hanson Oxford, a student at the U.S. Air Force Academy, operates an unmanned aerial system aboard a rigid hull inflatable boat during exercise Black Dart, Sept. 19. Black Dart is the largest Department of Defense (DoD) live-fly, live-fire, counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) technology demonstration. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Maddelin Angebrand/Released)

A thought provoking article from the US Naval Institute looking at ways small unmanned air systems (sUAS) have been used, or might be used, in support of Coast Guard missions in inland areas.

The Coast Guard apparently includes systems as large as ScanEagle in the sUAS category. The USNI post notes,

“Individual Coast Guard units are currently prohibited from procuring and operating their own sUAS until the Coast Guard can establish a program to provide the appropriate systems and training to operators.”

The discussion here is not about systems as large as ScanEagle, but rather small, off the shelf systems, costing less than $5,000. The costs of these systems is so low, and the potential impact so great, perhaps the Coast Guard should have a program to procure a small number of these systems for units that can make a case for them, as prototypes for future deployment. Ground rules might specify a one year trial period and periodic feedback.

Marines are already starting to deploy these at the squad level. Presumably there must be a contract for them. Maybe they are already on GSA schedule.