Fathers’ Day Remembrance

This Sunday is Fathers’ Day. For many it seems, the military is a family affair. Many of today’s coasties came from military families. For my generation, many of our parents went through World War II in uniform.

Capt. Bob Gravino, USCG (ret.) is the scribe for my Academy class Alumni Bulletin class notes. He had been told the stories of fathers and other family members who had military experience in WWII and was concerned that those stories would be lost, so he has tried to recover them. I suggested we post them here.

It seems men of that generation seldom talked about their experiences. My father-in-law was an aircraft mechanic and tail gunner on B-25s as part of General Kenney’s Fifth Air Force in the SW Pacific. Of French Canadian parents, he spoke fluent French, so of course the Army did not send him to Europe. He had been shot down and spent a day in a raft in the Pacific before being rescued, but my wife had never heard that until I drew him out.

Here are some of my classmates’ stories. If you would like to add your own remembrances, please put them in the comments.

From George D. Bond, II

My father was Army and Gayle’s Navy (his wife-Chuck).  Both in the Pacific Theater.

My father, George D Bond, was I the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) until they disbanded it in 1942.  Like many he joined the Army as a 2nd LT, CWO1.  Don’t ask me!  CWO was permanent rank and 2nd LT reserve one.  He was in training somewhere and then was in the Alaska Aleutian operations.  He told me nothing other than there was a woman behind every tree and not a tree in sight and of crawling over the tips of hills as the wind was so bad.  I learned more reading “The 1000 Mile War”.  He was involved (he was infantry) when they kicked the Japanese out of the tip of the Aleutian Islands.  In the book they say the US fought Japan and the weather.  Japan fought the US and the weather.  The weather won.  He got home earlier than most as I was born May 1946.
Gayle’s father, Clyde William Solt, was an oiler on a Navy refueling vessel all around the Pacific.  Gayle says he also said little other than they wrapped their tools in cloth so no potential spark could occur and set them off. (Sounds like a gasoline tanker–Chuck)
My grandfather tried to serve but they said no as he was a minister.  One of Gayle’s grandfathers was in the Navy and after his enlistment was up signed up for the Coast Guard and help set up the Ocean Stations we did.  He ended up XO of the CG training station Groton at Avery Point.
From James T. Doherty, Jr.:

WOJG James T. Doherty (Sr.), 1946

My father, James T. Doherty (Sr.), was a Warrant Officer Junior Grade in the US Army during World War II. He voluntarily enlisted in US Army in February 1941, ten months before Pearl Harbor, and served until his final discharge in January 1946. He was trained as a combat medic. He served in the European theater from May 1943 through October 1945, including operations in North Africa, Italy, and France. He never spoke of his wartime experiences, but my aunts (his younger sisters) told me that his pre-war carefree attitude had been changed significantly after he treated men injured in horrific combat operations, particularly during the Italian Campaign. He was in Italy from October 1943 through October 1944. Regarding the rest of my family, four uncles served, two Navy in Pacific, one Army and one Army Air Corps in Europe. Additionally, one aunt was a Navy WAVE in Pacific, and a much older uncle had served in Army in Europe during World War I. My wife’s father, Harold J. Doebler, was a Navy radioman in an LST in the Pacific, and two of her uncles were Army and Army Air Corps in Europe. Like my relatives, my father-in-law and Patti’s uncles also voluntarily enlisted. All are gone now, my personal Greatest Generation.
From David Frydenlund:
This is a tale of three brothers from the plains of eastern North Dakota who, after having to quit school early because of the Great Depression and the loss of the family farm, were swept up in the events of WWII.   These are my recollections based on stories told at family gatherings. The fundamental arc is right but the dates and details are a little sketchy and I have no way to research them. Interestingly, like many veterans, none of them talked a lot about their experiences and they usually only shared after some alcoholic release of inhibitions or when, after I entered the military, they thought some experience that they had had would provide a useful lesson to me.
The oldest, my father, Marvin Frydenlund, entered the Navy in the summer of 1941. He had tried to enlist earlier but was under weight. His recruiter gave him a special “fattening” diet and, after a couple of weeks and with the aid of pockets full of rocks he passed the threshold. He then went straight to Great Lakes Naval Receiving Center. On graduating from Boot Camp he was ordered to the USS Maryland (BB-46), a Colorado Class battleship, as a fireman. He arrived at Pearl Harbor in early November. On December 7 Maryland was moored inboard of USS Oklahoma on Battleship Row. When GQ sounded he went to the engine room, but after the first (of two) bombs hit Maryland he was sent up on deck with a fire ax to cut away the mooring lines to Oklahoma as she had taken 7 to 9 torpedoes, was listing badly, and it was feared she would drag Maryland under as she rolled. As soon as the lines were cut, Oklahoma rolled. After the attack was over he spent the rest of the day, and most of the next two, as part of a boat crew collecting bodies, mostly from Oklahoma and Arizona, and stacking them on the beach for Graves Registration.
After temporary repairs were done to Maryland she sailed to Puget Sound for permanent repairs. She then deployed for picket duty along the West Coast and then to North Australia (Christmas Islands) to block Japanese ship movements. In late May she went back to Pearl just in time to deploy as part of the south wall for the Battle of Midway, but saw no direct action. Some where in here he became an Electricians Mate.
After Midway it was back to San Francisco where, by freak chance, he got to spend the only day during the war where he saw his brother Roy. After a brief refit in San Francisco, Maryland went to Fiji and then to the New Hebrides as a blocking action to stop the Japanese from attacking Australia. He then received orders to the pre-commissioning crew of the USS Hornet (CV-12), Essex Class, in Newport News. Lacking transport, he was assigned to a Free Dutch tramp steamer as the loader on a newly installed 3” 50 gun. They fired it twice to make sure it worked and had an uneventful steam from West Pac to San Francisco. He reported in to Hornet and was assigned to schools to become an interior communications electrician (synchros, gyros, telephones, alarm systems). Hornet deployed west in February of 1944. Somewhere in here Marvin made “clean sleeve” Chief Electricians Mate. Unlike the relatively peaceful time he spent on Maryland (after Pearl…), Hornet was nearly continuously in action, but being a “lucky ship” she was rarely seriously damaged by enemy action, though she frequently suffered damage from her own planes accidents on landing.
She went an extended period without making any port calls doing a combination of UNREP and short refits at Ulithi Atoll. Just listing major actions I can remember, she participated in strikes on Japanese installations in New Guinea, Palau, and Truk and then took part in the Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign followed by the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June (nicknamed the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”). Then the liberation of the Philippines in late 1944, and the Volcano and Ryuku Islands Campaign in the first half of 1945. Then there were attacks on Formosa and Indo China. My dad’s GQ  station during much of this time was to a Damage Control team fighting flight deck fires and repairing deck damage caused by crashes of returning aircraft. He got to see way too much carnage.
Hornet’s luck ran out in a typhoon in June of 1945. Her flight deck was warped down at the bow by wind and wave. After steaming backwards at high speed into the wind to launch her aircraft off the stern she headed for San Francisco for repairs. My dad frequently said he did not regret missing the final preparations for the invasion of Japan.

The war ended abruptly with a couple of bombs. Hornet was assigned “Magic Carpet” duty and crossed the Pacific several times returning men and material from forward deployment. My dad claimed this was the most important thing he did during the war. Magic Carpet ended in February of 1946. Shortly thereafter my father was advised that his enlistment, which had been extended “For the Duration” was ended and he had to reenlist or be demobilized. Under the influence of my mother, he elected not to reenlist and left the Navy.

The next brother, Roy, has a much shorter story. He was also rejected by the Navy for being under weight and so enlisted in the Army in late January 1942. He was assigned to Basic Training (even he did not remember where) but did not go because his Basic Battery showed him to be a candidate for a special program. He was assigned directly to Signals Intelligence Schools where he learned first radio electronics, and then wire recorders, and then Morse code (to 60 wpm) and finally rudimentary Japanese. As he described it, an excellent shot his whole life, he never officially touched a gun in the Army. On finishing school he was ordered, with the highest priority, to Oahu via San Francisco. He was put on an express train to SF and, on arrival, was given priority transport to Angel Island for transport to Hawaii. And then, in a way only the military can really do, they lost track of him, and despite the fact that he appeared every Monday at the transport desk with his orders, and the fact that at least two ships left for Hawaii each week, he spent 4 months on Angel Island with no duties. It was during this time that he got to spend a day with Marvin in SF so it was a mixed bag. He then went to Oahu and spent the rest of the war listening in on Japanese communications and recording them both by hand and on wire recorders. Interestingly, he claimed that when his number came up for Magic Carpet he missed the cutoff for being assigned to Hornet to ride home (with his brother) by less than 100.

The last brother, Earl, was too young to enlist at the beginning of the war. He finally enlisted in the Marines after VE day. By the time he had finished his training the war was over. Except his war was not over. At some point (he was pretty vague and mumbled about still “Secret”) his company was deployed to China as part of an advisory team to the Nationalist Government Army which was engaged in a losing fight against the Peoples Liberation Army. He was also pretty vague about what he did in China or even when he left. He was not vague about some bits. His company suffered heavy casualties. He counted himself as lucky to not be one of them. It was the ugliest thing he had ever done and beyond the ugliest thing he could have imagined. He liked the Chinese peasants in the ranks (farm boys a lot like himself he would say), but had no use for their ruling class (officers and politicians). They had a reckless disregard for human life, except their own. The only thing he had a lower regard for was the Chinese Communist Party who shared the reckless disregard for life but added, in his view, a casual cruelty to what they did. Noting that promotion was almost non-existent, that a wider war was probably coming, and that he had seen all the war he needed in his lifetime, he left the Corps just in time to avoid the Korean Police Action.

I don’t know why, but these stories in no way deterred my brother and I from seeking commissions in the sea services of the United States.

Bob Gravino:

My father was in the US Army during WWll and served in the invasions of North Africa and Sicily, and then fought up the Italian peninsula to Rome.  He died at age 64, and never spoke about his time in the service.  My mother would talk about him waking up in the middle of the night screaming, which went on for five or more years after they were married in 1945.

Robert Henry: 

1st Lt. Harold F. Henry, lower left.

Dad flew out of North Africa and Italy in 1944 with the 15th  AAF. He participated in numerous missions including Ploesti, Budapest,, Bucharest and Vienna, and earned two Distinguish Flying Crosses. He never talked about his war time experiences and we only found out about his achievements after he passed away. I can only imagine what he went thru along with the rest of his generation to give us the freedom we now take for granted.

Mike Moore: 

When Thomas T. Moore Jr. passed away 14 years ago, our family and the nation lost a wonderful gentleman and patriot. He loved his creator, his family, and his country with all his heart and soul. My sisters and I think of him every day and miss his warm demeanor and endless optimism. Dad served in the Army Air Force during World War II as a radio operator in B-29s and in the Air Force during the Korean War as a radio operator in C-119s. He remained in the Air Force Reserve for a number of years after Korea. Dad never spoke about the missions he flew during either war, only saying that the flights were very long. When asked about his service experiences, he talked about the places he had been stationed, his crew, life on Guam during WW Ii, and life in Ashiya, Japan the Korean War. I only learned about the missions he flew after his passing by reading some of his service personnel papers in order to put together an obituary. That was the first time I found that he was in the 6th Bombardment Squadron (very heavy), 29th Bombardment Group, 314th Bombardment Wing, 20th Air Force. Dad played baseball (catcher) and football (line) on squadron teams. He was a St. Louis Browns fan and, after the Browns moved to Baltimore, an Orioles fan. He was a huge Tennessee Volunteers fan. Among my fondest memories was listening to play-by-play radio broadcasts on fall Saturdays. Dad was a virtual handbook on how to be a good father. He instilled in us a desire to do our best, do the right thing, and a strong sense of persistence to never give up. We miss him greatly and know there is a special place in heaven for him.
I know that the purpose was to honor our fathers. There are other fathers in our lives who are important to us. My father in law enlisted in the Navy prior to WW II, served destroyers, destroyer escorts, and transports in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He ended his service as a Chief Watertender (forerunner of the BT rating). He later earned an education degree and taught school for 20 years. He was a wonderful father for Alice, her sister, and her brothers.
Gary Pavlik:

Photo: William Pavlik, gun captain of this twin 40mm. As a GM2 he would go AWOL to marry Aldia, Gary’s mother. For that he was busted to GM3.

My dad was on a completely CG crewed USN DE, the USS Lowe (DE-325), that did convoy escorts between NYC and ports in the Med. Had one confirmed sub kill and two probables.

USS Lowe (DE-325) in its later guise as USCGC Lowe (WDE-425). Maybe we could name an Offshore Patrol Cutter after her to commemorate the 351 Coast Guard manned Navy vessels and craft of World War II.–Chuck

When I was young what I heard about WWII from Dad was during conversations with his brothers, my uncles. One who served on subs in the Pacific theatre.

Dad’s youngest sister’s husband, my uncle Jack, was an 18 year old crew member of the USS Belleau Wood, an Independence-class light aircraft carrier, that took a Kamikaze hit and lost 92 crew members. At the end of the war he came home on leave and told everyone he was on an extended leave. He had gone AWOL. Eventually the shore patrol came and got him. He was discharged with a 100% disability and sent home. He did not talk about his war experiences until the last few years of is life.
A recollection burned into my memory is from mid-late 50s with my Dad at the barbershop in our small blue collar Western PA mill town. I am reasonably sure of the time frame because much after that I would have gone to the barber by myself. Keep in mind this was only about 10 years after WWII.
The barbershop was pretty full. As I recall a 3 or 4 chair business. Biggest in our blue collar town. A guy in a suit (rare to work in one where I was raised) came in and sat down and started talking about burning a hole in his suit(!!??). I was only vaguely paying attention and didn’t get alert until the barbershop owner, who I knew well from our church, said something to the “suit” like “say you weren’t in the service right?” He replied in a nervous fashion that he had a bad hip or leg or something, was in bad shape, and couldn’t pass the physical. Even as a kid I could recognize embarrassment. And that Pete the barber asked the question in a purposeful manner.
It was only when I got older that I realized the guy was embarrassed about not serving. And the other grown men in the room, who like my Dad certainly did serve, spoke with their silence.
In retrospect I recall almost no regular casual conversations about WWII in the barbershop or anywhere else. Only very occasionally among my Dad and his brothers. And then about high jinks on liberty. Not about the action they saw. And as I found out in later years, they saw a lot.
From Stuart (Stu) White: 

LTjg Daniel H. White: Dan had attended two years at Yale University before enlisting in the Coast Guard. He was stationed in Seattle where he met Mom. Dan went through Coast Guard OCS at the Academy’s Splinter Village (wooden barracks and buildings where Munro Hall and parking lots are now) and recalled the old Cadet Auditorium, Cadet Recreation Hall and the old Field House (Alumni Center area) on our Fourth Class Parent’s Weekend. He attended diesel power school at Penn State before picking up LST-763 in New Orleans and trans packing to the Pacific Theater. His LST saw action during the D-Day landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The story I’ve been told is that a roommate he had for the D-Day landing on Iwo Jima was photo-journalist Joe Rosenthal. An uncle was a navy officer who served in Europe and another uncle who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor serving on one of the battleships.

“Navy Frigate (FFG[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress,” Updated June 8, 2020, CRS

The Congressional Research Service has updated their analysis of the FFG(X) program. You can view the 38 page pdf here.

The FFG(X) equipment lists, which you might be better able to see here constitutes a list of possibilities for upgrades to the Polar Security Cutters, Coast Guard National Security Cutters, and Offshore Patrol Cutters.

 

“Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program: Background and Issues for Congress” Updated 10 June, 2020, CRS

The Congressional Research Service has once again updated their report on the Polar Security Cutter. You can see the whole report here. I have reproduced the one page summary below. The entire report is a 66 page pdf. 

Summary

The Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC) program is a program to acquire three new PSCs (i.e., heavy polar icebreakers), to be followed years from now by the acquisition of up to three new medium polar icebreakers. The PSC program has received a total of $1,169.6 million (i.e., about $1.2 billion) in procurement funding through FY2020, including $135 million in FY2020, which was $100 million more than the $35 million that the Coast Guard had requested for FY2020. With the funding it has received through FY2020, the first PSC is now fully funded and the second PSC has received initial funding.

The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $555 million in procurement funding for the PSC program. It also proposes a rescission of $70 million in FY2020 funding that Congress had provided for the procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th National Security Cutter (NSC), with the intent of reprogramming that funding to the PSC program. The Coast Guard states that its proposed FY2021 budget, if approved by Congress, would fully fund the second PSC.

The Coast Guard estimates the total procurement costs of the three PSCs as $1,039 million (i.e., about $1.0 billion) for the first ship, $792 million for the second ship, and $788 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated cost of $2,619 million (i.e., about $2.6 billion). Within those figures, the shipbuilder’s portion of the total procurement cost is $746 million for the first ship, $544 million for the second ship, and $535 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated shipbuilder’s cost of $1,825 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion).

On April 23, 2019, the Coast Guard-Navy Integrated Program Office for the PSC program awarded a $745.9 million fixed-price, incentive-firm contract for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of the first PSC to VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, MS, a shipyard owned by Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering. VT Halter was the leader of one of three industry teams that competed for the DD&C contract. The first PSC is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and be delivered in 2024, though the DD&C contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery.

The DD&C contract includes options for building the second and third PSCs. If these options are exercised, the total value of the contract would increase to $1,942.8 million (i.e., about $1.9 billion). The figures of $745.9 million and $1,942.8 million cover only the shipbuilder’s costs; they do not include the cost of government-furnished equipment (GFE), which is equipment for the ships that the government purchases and then provides to the shipbuilder for incorporation into the ship, or government program-management costs. When GFE and government program management costs are included, the total estimated procurement cost of the first PSC is between $925 million and $940 million, and the total estimated procurement cost of the three-ship PSC program is about $2.95 billion.

The operational U.S. polar icebreaking fleet currently consists of one heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Star, and one medium polar icebreaker, Healy. In addition to Polar Star, the Coast Guard has a second heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Sea. Polar Sea, however, suffered an engine casualty in June 2010 and has been nonoperational since then. Polar Star and Polar Sea entered service in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and are now well beyond their originally intended 30-year service lives. The Coast Guard plans to extend the service life of Polar Star until the delivery of at least the second PSC. The Coast Guard is using Polar Sea as a source of spare parts for keeping Polar Star operational.

“Fast Response Cutter Faces Procurement Pause” –National Defense

Coast Guard Cutter Angela McShan
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray

National Defense reports, 

Despite receiving no new procurement funding in the fiscal year 2021 budget request, the Coast Guard commandant said the Sentinel-class fast response cutter program is on track.

56 of the 64 units planned have been funded and 39 have been delivered. About 5 per year are being delivered so we can expected continued deliveries through at least 2023. It is possible a one year lapse in funding would not disrupt the orderly construction of these ships, but nevertheless the Commandant is hoping the Congress will once again, as they have frequently, add additional cutters.

Schultz said the service needed to free up dollars for other priorities such as polar security cutters, offshore patrol cutters and aviation. But he hopes procurement funding for fast response cutters will be added back in during the budget process.

SAAB’s Light Weight Torpedo

Dmitry Shulgin reports the successful testing of a new light weight torpedo from SAAB that offers some unique feature un-available on US Navy light weight torpedoes.

While American light weight torpedoes are explicitly anti-submarine weapons that at least, in the case of the Mk46 mod5, might have an incidental anti-surface capability, these are expressly identified as being for both anti-submarine and anti-surface use. Unlike USN light weight torpedoes, it has the option of wire guidance. It is designed specifically for operation in  difficult littoral environments while also being usable in deeper water.

This new torpedo is designated the Torped 47, it replaces an earlier type with similar characteristics, the Torped 45. Compared to the US Navy’s Mk54, they are longer (2.85 m (9.35′) vs (2.72m (8.91′), heavier (340 kg (750 lb) vs 276 kg (608 lb)), and of greater diameter (400mm (15.75″) vs 324mm (12.75″)).

They use a LiFPO4 battery which is rechargeable, so it is likely practice torpedoes can be used numerous times and quickly returned to service. Believe this is more difficult with the Otto fueled USN torpedoes.

 

Memorandum on Safeguarding U.S. National Interests in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions

The President has issued a memorandum, dated 9 June, 2020, regarding the Coast Guard’s Polar Security Cutter Program. The Memorandum is relative short and is duplicated below. I have added emphasis to what I see as some of the more important points by making some of the text bold. Below that, I will provide my comments.

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY
THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND
BUDGET
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL
SECURITY AFFAIRS
SUBJECT:    Safeguarding U.S. National Interests in the
Arctic and Antarctic RegionsTo help protect our national interests in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and to retain a strong Arctic security presence alongside our allies and partners, the United States requires a ready, capable, and available fleet of polar security icebreakers that is operationally tested and fully deployable by Fiscal Year 2029.  Accordingly, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:Section 1.  Fleet Acquisition Program.  The United States will develop and execute a polar security icebreaking fleet acquisition program that supports our national interests in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

(a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), shall lead a review of requirements for a polar security icebreaking fleet acquisition program to acquire and employ a suitable fleet of polar security icebreakers, and associated assets and resources, capable of ensuring a persistent United States presence in the Arctic and Antarctic regions in support of national interests and in furtherance of the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy, as appropriate.  Separately, the review shall include the ability to provide a persistent United States presence in the Antarctic region, as appropriate, in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty System.  The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of OMB, in executing this direction, shall ensure that the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) Offshore Patrol Cutter acquisition program is not adversely impacted.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through the Commandant of the Coast Guard, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, acting through the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of Energy, as appropriate, shall conduct a study of the comparative operational and fiscal benefits and risks of a polar security icebreaking fleet mix that consists of at least three heavy polar-class security cutters (PSC) that are appropriately outfitted to meet the objectives of this memorandum.  This study shall be submitted to the President, through the Director of OMB and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, within 60 days from the date of this memorandum and at a minimum shall include:

(i)    Use cases in the Arctic that span the full range of national and economic security missions (including the facilitation of resource exploration and exploitation and undersea cable laying and maintenance) that may be executed by a class of medium PSCs, as well as analysis of how these use cases differ with respect to the anticipated use of heavy PSCs for these same activities.  These use cases shall identify the optimal number and type of polar security icebreakers for ensuring a persistent presence in both the Arctic and, as appropriate, the Antarctic regions;

(ii)   An assessment of expanded operational capabilities, with estimated associated costs, for both heavy and medium PSCs not yet contracted for, specifically including the maximum use of any such PSC with respect to its ability to support national security objectives through the use of the following:  unmanned aviation, surface, and undersea systems; space systems; sensors and other systems to achieve and maintain maritime domain awareness; command and control systems; secure communications and data transfer systems; and intelligence-collection systems.  This assessment shall also evaluate defensive armament adequate to defend against threats by near-peer competitors and the potential for nuclear-powered propulsion;

(iii)  Based on the determined fleet size and composition, an identification and assessment of at least two optimal United States basing locations and at least two international basing locations.  The basing location assessment shall include the costs, benefits, risks, and challenges related to infrastructure, crewing, and logistics and maintenance support for PSCs at these locations.  In addition, this assessment shall account for potential burden-sharing opportunities for basing with the Department of Defense and allies and partners, as appropriate; and

(iv)   In anticipation of the USCGC POLAR STAR’s operational degradation from Fiscal Years 2022-2029, an analysis to identify executable options, with associated costs, to bridge the gap of available vessels as early as Fiscal Year 2022 until the new PSCs required to meet the objectives of this memorandum are operational, including identifying executable, priced leasing options, both foreign and domestic.  This analysis shall specifically include operational risk associated with using a leased vessel as compared to a purchased vessel to conduct specified missions set forth in this memorandum.

(c)  In the interest of securing a fully capable polar security icebreaking fleet that is capable of providing a persistent presence in the Arctic and Antarctic regions at the lowest possible cost, the Secretary of State shall coordinate with the Secretary of Homeland Security in identifying viable polar security icebreaker leasing options, provided by partner nations, as a near- to mid-term (Fiscal Years 2022-2029) bridging strategy to mitigate future operational degradation of the USCGC POLAR STAR.  Leasing options shall contemplate capabilities that allow for access to the Arctic and Antarctic regions to, as appropriate, conduct national and economic security missions, in addition to marine scientific research in the Arctic, and conduct research in Antarctica in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty System.  Further, and in advance of any bid solicitation for future polar security icebreaker acquisitions, the Secretary of State shall coordinate with the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify partner nations with proven foreign shipbuilding capability and expertise in icebreaker construction.

(d)  The Secretary of Defense shall coordinate with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security to continue to provide technical and programmatic support to the USCG integrated program office for the acquisition, outfitting, and operations of all classes of PSCs.

Sec2.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP
Commentary:
Notably this is in reference to both Arctic and Antarctic. There are a number of issues raised here:
  • Optimal number and type of polar security icebreakers
  • What does “persistent United States presence” mean?
  • How the Medium icebreakers will be used differently from the Heavy icebreakers?
  • Expanded operational capabilities
  • Defensive armament
  • Nuclear power
  • Basing: “two optimal United States basing locations and at least two international basing locations”
  • “Leasing options, both foreign and domestic”
  • “Identify partner nations with proven foreign shipbuilding capability and expertise in icebreaker construction.”
In most cases these topics are not new. With few exceptions, the Coast Guard has certainly considered these topics and should have well thought out positions.

Basing “two optimal United States basing locations and at least two international basing locations”

The Basing question seem the most original and may suggest the US may want to have icebreakers based in the Atlantic. First it is not clear what is meant by bases. Does it mean homeports, permanent US Navy/Coast Guard overseas bases, or just a place to replenish?
We already know the Coast Guard plans to base the first Polar Security Cutters (PSC) in Seattle.
When bound for Antarctica, icebreakers operate out of Christchurch, on New Zealand’s South Island. At one time there was consideration of basing icebreakers there, but it seems unlikely New Zealand would actually welcome a year round Navy or Coast Guard base, and there seems to be little reason to seek one. Perhaps this could qualify as a base if we are only talking a regular replenishment station.
The US unlike the rest of the world includes the Aleutians and Bering Sea as part of the Arctic, although they are below the Arctic Circle. There has been a lot of discussion about an “Arctic (really near Arctic) Base” for the Navy and Coast Guard. Likely candidates are Adak, Port Clarence, or Nome. We talked about it here, here, and here.
Seattle, Christchurch, and the Alaskan Arctic base might account for three of the four bases referred to, two domestic and one “international,” all on the Pacific side of the World. What about the fourth base? I don’t see need for another base in the South Pacific. Could he actually be thinking about having icebreakers based on the Atlantic side? There might be reason to base some icebreaking capability with easier access to the Atlantic side. We discussed that here. If that is the case, he is really talking two homeports, one on the Pacific and one on the Atlantic or perhaps Great Lakes, plus two supporting locations, one in the South Pacific and one closer to the Arctic on the Atlantic side. (We don’t need an “international” base to access the Pacific side of the Arctic.) An Atlantic support base could mean Canada, Greenland, Iceland, or least likely, Norway. If we wanted to count the proposed Alaskan near Arctic base that would mean two homeports and three support locations.

Optimal number and type of polar security icebreakers:

The High Latitude Study, now at least eight years old, has been what the Coast Guard has hung its hat on for an establish requirement, specifically three heavy and three medium icebreakers.  Based on the rule of thumb, that you need three ships to keep one fully operational (one in maintenance, one in training, work-up, or standby, and one operational), that would mean we could have one heavy and one icebreaker underway essentially year round. Problem is that we need heavy icebreakers for both the Arctic winter and the Antarctic summer which occur at the same time. We might even need heavy icebreakers to operate in the Arctic Spring and Fall, and we would really like to have two heavies go south to provide a rescue capability.

This suggest that since the price of the Heavy PSC has come down to close to what we had anticipated for the Medium PSC, perhaps we should simply continue building the more capable ship.

Six Heavy PSC would still not provide any icebreaking capability on the Atlantic side and would preclude the possibility of ever using the ships in the Great Lakes. Maybe there is a place for medium icebreakers there?

What does “persistent United States presence” mean?

Do we really need an icebreaker in Antarctic waters year round? We do have a presence in the form of people who winter over in Antarctica.

In reference to the Arctic, presence might be in the form of a continuous Icebreaker presence, but it also might be in the form of surveillance with an icebreaker on call somewhere below the Bering Strait which the US considers the Arctic, where it might be useful for SAR and fisheries enforcement.

Does Presence include an Atlantic side presence? We need some better definitions here.

How the Medium icebreakers will be used differently from the Heavy icebreakers?

This might be a back door way to ask if we really need two different classes? One of my impressions was that the while Heavy icebreakers might go North or South, the medium breakers would operate exclusively in the Arctic. The lack of treaty obligations gives us more flexibility in how to equip ships that would not be subject to inspection, so medium breakers might have heavier weapons, ESM, classified sensors, or intelligence spaces. None of this however precludes equipping Heavies this way, if they will not be going South.

Expanded operational capabilities:

The memorandum specifically mentions unmanned aviation, surface, and undersea systems; space systems; sensors and other systems to achieve and maintain maritime domain awareness; command and control systems; secure communications and data transfer systems; and intelligence-collection systems.

The heavies are large vessels with lots of space, plus organic weight handling equipment. They should be readily adaptable for operation of unmanned systems. Maritime Domain Awareness in the Arctic is challenging, but unmanned air systems should expand the ship’s horizons. There should be space for command and control systems; secure communications and data transfer systems; and intelligence-collection systems but what they actually carry and the choice of installed or containerized system would depend on anticipated employment.

Defensive armament:

It may be significant that it specifies defensive armament. The Commandant has referenced the Russian’s building of Project 23550 armed icebreakers illustrated with containerized cruise missile systems on their stern. Adm. Zukunft suggested that given the unpredictability of the situation in the Arctic the Coast Guard might need to add Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCM) and consequently the PSCs were being built with reserves as a hedge against such future additions.
So far the only armament seen on illustrations of the PSCs appear to be 25mm Mk38 Mod2/3 mounts like those being fitted to the Webber class WPCs. That is probably adequate for law enforcement.
Given the Navy’s desire to have distributed lethality, it might make sense to put ASCMs on icebreakers that do not go South to Antarctica.
All icebreakers should have the option of adding defensive systems. If we ever have a conflict in ice covered area, the icebreakers will be critically important, perhaps irreplaceable. There should be provision for providing adequate defense including perhaps two SeaRAM, Electronic Warfare systems, decoys, and torpedo warning system and countermeasures,
Nuclear power:
The Coast Guard did consider this, quite a while a go (back when I was a cadet). The Navy at that time had, not only nuclear powered carriers and submarines, but also a number of nuclear powered surface combatants. Since then, the Navy has backed away from nuclear power except for subs and carriers. After serious consideration, the Coast Guard decided they could not maintain a cadre of nuclear trained engineers.
Nuclear power is very expensive, especially if you take into account the cost of disposing of the waste at the end of the vessels life.
There is also the consideration that nuclear powered ships are not welcome at all ports.
We have apparently succeeded in providing sufficient endurance for the Polar Class icebreakers that they could winter over in Antarctica if necessary, so it does not appear there is a strong case for nuclear powered icebreakers.
“Leasing options, both foreign and domestic”:
The question of leasing has come up repeatedly in Congressional hearings. The options are limited and none can do what the Polar Star can do when its operational. The Coast Guard has decided to invest in keeping the Polar Star operational until the second PSC is fully operational.
Should the Polar Star have a catastrophic failure that leaves her stuck in the ice the Coast Guard have to hustle to find a way to get her out, but the same would apply to any leased icebreaker.
There might be an opportunity to lease vessels to fulfill the Medium PSC role, but so far the Coast Guard has not moved in that direction.
“Identify partner nations with proven foreign shipbuilding capability and expertise in icebreaker construction.”
I think the Coast Guard has done that. Building Coast Guard icebreakers in a foreign yard is against established policy and would probably be a non-starter politically–too many jobs at stake. In developing the PSC the Coast Guard cooperated with Canada and it appears sought advice around the world.
Conclusion: 
The Coast Guard is probably ready to answer this memorandum. Most of these questions were addressed in preparation for the PSC contract. I don’t think there is anything here that will require a contract modification to the existing PSC program.
Still, I am a bit mystified by the basing question.

Thanks to the readers alerted me to this topic and particularly Tups who found the original memorandum.

“Future Force Structure Requirements for the United States Navy” and the Possibilities of a Dual Service (Navy/Coast Guard) Ship

Note the hearing does not actually begin until time 57:45.

The video above is of a U.S. House Armed Services Committee hearing on “Future Force Structure Requirements for the United States Navy.” 

While most of it is not closely related to the Coast Guard, there were considerations that may be significant for the Coast Guard. There is also discussion of a new class of combatant smaller than the recently selected 7,000 ton FFG(X) that might be shared in common with the Coast Guard.

Witnesses were:

  • Admiral Gary Roughead, USN (Ret.), Former Chief of Naval Operations
  • Bryan Clark, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
  • Ronald O’Rourke, Naval Expert, Congressional Research Service

Links are provided to prepared statements by Bryan Clark and Ronald O’Rourke that are more comprehensive than their initial oral statements.

There were questions or comments about increased coordination and interoperability with the Coast Guard at time 1:09:15, 3:07:45 and 3:14:00.

There was mention of operating in the Arctic at time 3:03:00, but most of that was about submarines.

There was much discussion about the Navy’s failure to provide a 30 year ship building program (time 1:33:00 and throughout the hearing). The Coast Guard has never provided a long term shipbuilding program despite a Congressional mandate to provide a 20 year shipbuilding projection.

Perhaps the most interesting development was an apparent general agreement that there was a need for a class of combatants, smaller than the new frigates. At time 1:15:50 Admiral Roughhead, talked about the need for a high-low mix of surface ships. Time 1:23:00 Mr Clark, said there was a need a more diversified fleet including more smaller ships. 2:59 Corvettes were discussed by Mr. Clark. 

The written statement by Mr. Clark reflected a Hudson Institute study that suggested a need for 91 corvettes. I think we could make a good case that at least some of them should be painted white with racing stripes.

Mr. O’Rourke’s written statement suggested the possibility of “Coordination with Coast Guard Shipbuilding,”

As can be seen from the above list of options, there is currently some potential, at least in theory, for coordinating procurement of smaller Navy surface combatants with procurement of Coast Guard cutters—something that might increase production economies of scale and help optimize the nation’s shipbuilding effort at the national level (rather than sub-optimize it at the individual service level).

Such coordination could be viewed as consistent with Navy-Coast Guard policy statements: On at least three occasions in recent years—in 2002, 2006, and 2013—Navy and Coast Guard leaders signed joint National Fleet Policy Statements to provide (as stated in the 2013 edition) “direction and guidance for our Services to achieve commonality and interoperability for 21st century maritime and naval operations.” The document states that “This Policy is particularly important in light of: significantly constrained fiscal resources; the growing costs of acquiring, training, and maintaining technologically advanced forces; and the complexity and lethality of national security threats and challenges confronting the Nation in and from the maritime domain.” It states further that “This Policy enables Navy and Coast Guard forces to effectively and efficiently support each other while identifying specific methods and measurements, avoid redundancies and achieve economies of scale to maximize our Nation’s investment of increasingly scarce resources.” The 2013 National Fleet Policy Statement was followed in 2015 by a joint Navy-Coast Guard National Fleet Plan for implementing the National Fleet Policy Statement.

These smaller combatants might be based on the National Security Cutter or the Offshore Patrol Cutter, or might be a new design that would give birth to a new class of cutters that could make a more meaningful contribution to the National Defense. Personally I could see a modification of the current OPC design to provide greater speed by say providing a gas turbine or a second set of diesels, with the Navy variant  armed much I suggested earlier and the Coast Guard variant a bit more lightly armed but readied for rapid upgrade. These ships could presumably achieve 27 to 28 knots and could be built in second line shipyards.

If the Navy and Coast Guard start talking soon, we could probably see this new class replace the last six or eight OPCs in the program of record, replace the NSCs as they age out, and grow the large cutter fleet.

 

 

“New Normal” in the Eastern Pacific?

A Pacific Area news release (reproduced at the end of the post) concerning a change of command aboard USCGC Waesche while at sea, along with the captions of the accompanying photos, show how drug interdiction operations are changing to deal with COVID-19. If you don’t have it on your ship, the best way to avoid it, is to stay underway.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche (WMSL 751) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO 203) while patrolling the Eastern Pacific Ocean, April 20, 2020. Waesche is 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. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Dave Horning.

Waesche was underway for 90 days, apparently without a port call, replenishing underway. In the photos there is an indication of at least two underway replenishments from USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) an MSC oiler, on April 20 and on May 23. There is a good chance there may have been more.

This probably would not have been possible prior to the Navy’s surge of additional assets to the Forth Fleet for law enforcement.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche (WMSL 751) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO 203) while patrolling the Eastern Pacific Ocean, May 23, 2020. Waesche is 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. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Vincent Gordon.

Waesche in turn, replenished the Webber Class USCGC Terrell Horne (WPC-1131) on several occasions over an unspecified period. This is more evidence of the wide ranging operation of Webber class cutters, particularly in the Pacific Area.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche (WMSL 751) conducts an astern fueling at sea (AFAS) with the Coast Guard Cutter Terrell Horne (WPC 1131) while patrolling the Eastern Pacific Ocean during surface action group (SAG) operations, May 11, 2020. The cutters conducted multiple astern fueling at sea (AFAS) evolutions and one underway replenishment (UNREP) for food stores, which extended operations beyond normal patrol leg lengths for the Terrell Horne without foreign port calls by providing supply and logistics needs at sea, and protecting the crew from coronavirus and ensuring sustained Coast Guard operations. U.S. Coast Guard photo.


Alameda Coast Guard cutter conducts change-of-command ceremony during transit home from counterdrug deployment

News Release

June 4, 2020
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
Contact: Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs
D11-DG-M-PACAREA-PA@uscg.mil
Pacific Area online newsroom

Alameda Coast Guard cutter conducts change-of-command ceremony during transit home from counterdrug deployment

The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts a change-of-command ceremony during their transit home following a 90-day counterdrug patrol
The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts a change-of-command ceremony during their transit home following a 90-day counterdrug patrol The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts a change-of-command ceremony during their transit home following a 90-day counterdrug patrol The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts a change-of-command ceremony during their transit home following a 90-day counterdrug patrol The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts a change-of-command ceremony during their transit home following a 90-day counterdrug patrol
Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts counterdrug operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts a change-of-command ceremony during their transit home following a 90-day counterdrug patrol Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts counterdrug operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts counterdrug operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean
Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts counterdrug operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts counterdrug operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts counterdrug operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts counterdrug operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean

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

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche (WMSL 751) held a modified change-of-command ceremony Thursday while anchored in the San Francisco Bay.

Capt. Jason H. Ryan relieved Capt. Patrick J. Dougan as commanding officer during the ceremony.
 
The change-of-command ceremony is a historic military tradition representing the formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another. The event reinforces the continuity of command and provides an opportunity to celebrate the crew’s accomplishments.

The crew conducted the ceremony following a 90-day counterdrug patrol, stemming the flow of illicit narcotics trafficked across international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean amid the coronavirus pandemic.
 
Waesche coordinated efforts with the Coast Guard Cutter Terrell Horne and used their unmanned aerial system to disrupt criminal networks’ vital smuggling routes.
 
The crew self-quarantined for 14 days off the coast of California prior to the start of their patrol to ensure their health and safety. Instead of making international port calls, the crew took on fuel, food and supplies during replenishments at sea with the U.S. Navy.
 
Ryan reported to Waesche from the 7th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Miami, where he served as the Enforcement Branch chief. Ryan oversaw the Coast Guard’s enforcement of U.S. laws, from the protection of marine resources to drug and migrant interdiction efforts in the Southeast U.S and the Caribbean basin. 
 
Following the change of command, Dougan reported to the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area Command in Alameda, where he will serve as Pacific Area’s chief of operations. 
 
“Waesche has been successful because Captain Dougan provided the vision and leadership that allowed the crew to flourish.” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander, Pacific Area, who presided over the ceremony.

Dougan served as Waesche’s commanding officer from June 2018 to June 2020 and supported Coast Guard operations throughout the Eastern Pacific by conducting two counterdrug patrols. The crew seized more than 6,000 pounds of narcotics under Dougan’s command worth an estimated wholesale value over $200 million.
 
Dougan also oversaw an eight-month in-port maintenance period for the installation of a small unmanned aircraft system and reinstallation of fabricated parts to the main reduction gear worth a total of $15 million.
 
“This crew has faced extraordinary challenges over the last two years, and faced every one head on with vigor and a can-do spirit,” said Dougan. “Leading change is hard. Changing momentum is hard. It takes focused effort, perseverance and involved leadership at all levels. Fortunately, the Waesche crew has all three and then some.”

A Cutter X for Malta, the P71

Another cutter design fitting about half way between the Offshore Patrol Cutter and the Fast Response Cutter. An unusual feature of this one, is its hybrid propulsion system. Also found it interesting that it used the ABS classification system. Before COVID-19 this vessel was expected to be delivered this year.

The characteristics of the vessel are as follows:
Length Overall – 74.8m (245.3′)
Moulded breadth – 13m (42.6′)
Speed – More than 20 Knots
Displacement – 1800 tons full load
Draught – 3.8m (12.5′)
Classification Society – ABS
Propulsion – 2 x 5440 kW Hybrid with PTI (14,590 HP)
Propellers – 2 x CPP

Given that it will have twice the horsepower of a WMEC270 and is nearly the same displacement, its maximum speed is likely to be about 23 knots.

The hybrid propulsion includes electric motors capable of propelling the ship at up to 12 knots.

It is expected to have a crew of 48 and additional accommodations for 20.

It is expected to operate two 9.1 meter RHIBs, one from a stern ramp and one from a davit, starboard side. It is also expected to operate an AW139, an approximately seven ton gross weight helicopter. No hangar is fitted.

The construction contract, signed 10 Oct. 2018, is for EUR48.6 million (USD56.2 million) funded 75% by the European Union Security Fund.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

Sources: