“U.S. 5th Fleet Reveals New Details on Iranian Drone Attack on Tanker” –USNI

Graphic illustration and images captured by a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal team aboard M/T Pacific Zircon, Nov. 16, showing the location where an Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) penetrated M/T Pacific Zircon’s outer hull during an attack Nov. 15. The one-way UAV attack tore a 30-inch-wide hole in the outer hull on the starboard side of the ship’s stern, just below the main deck. US Navy graphic

The US Naval Institute has a post providing addition detail about the November 15  drone attack on tanker Pacific Zircon.

The primary thrust of the post seems to be, to confirm that the drone was of Iranian origin, but then, that was almost assumed. They seem to have proven that, identifying it as a Shahed-136 design, a “loitering munition.”

For me the new information was where the tanker was targeted and the extent of the resulting damage.

When I first heard that this drone had hit the hull, I thought perhaps the Iranians had decided it was not to their advantage to kill crew members, as had happened in the July 30 attack on the tanker Mercer Street, but apparently that was not the case, since this strike was also on the stern where it is more likely to effect crewmembers.

As to the weapon’s effect, the Shahed–136 reportedly has a 30–50 kilograms (66–110 lb) warhead. referencing a 5th Fleet report, USNI notes,

On Nov. 15, a Shahed 136 explosive-tipped drone flew into the aft section of the merchant oil tanker M/T Pacific Zircon punching a hole through the hull, “while subsequently penetrating and damaging internal compartments. The UAV’s explosive impact also damaged a shipboard boiler, potable water tank and life raft,” reads the statement.

That they managed to damage engineroom equipment, which presumably required penetration of multiple internal bulkheads, after penetrating the hull, is more than I would have expected. The anti-armor, shaped charge version of the munition, which would result in a narrowly focused path of destruction, may have been used.

Another report from Business Insider vis Yahoo that includes more photos here.

“Coast Guard Establishes Cyber Reserve Component and Cyber Billets” –Seapower

Coast Guard Information Systems Technicians inside a server room at the Telecommunication and Information Systems Command (TISCOM) Jan. 24, 2013. U.S. COAST GUARD / Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith

The Navy League’s on-line magazine, Seapower, reports,

The Coast Guard is creating three reserve entities to strengthen its cyber capabilities, the service’s headquarters announced in an internal message.

“MH-65 upgrades were invaluable to mission success in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian” –CG-9

The report below is from the CG-9 website

MH-65 upgrades were invaluable to mission success in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

Air Station Miami crew during Hurricane Ian

The Air Station Miami crew evacuates a person in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. In addition to Air Station Miami’s MH-65Es and HC-144Bs, the coordinated rescue included one MH-65E from Air Station Houston and two MH-65Ds from Air Station Savannah. Total statistics for the coordinated rescue: 46 lives saved, 36 lives assisted and 19 pets saved. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Miami.


Hurricane Ian caused nearly 150 fatalities when it swept through Florida in late September 2022 and has been cited as the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since 1935. In the search and rescue efforts that followed, Air Station Miami crewmembers played a pivotal role in rescuing both human and animal survivors. According to the pilots, upgrades on the Coast Guard’s MH-65E proved vital during multiple rescue missions. In the days following the storm they were faced with harried conditions when fuel stops were limited, communications were intermittent and lives depended on the speed and awareness of the crew.

The upgraded MH-65E, or Echo, sports an all-glass cockpit and Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) that replaced legacy analog components. The new system aligns with Federal Aviation Administration next-generation requirements that call for performance and space-based navigation and surveillance, allowing for more three-dimensional approaches and flight patterns as well as higher visibility of the helicopter by other on-scene aircraft.

Integral to the CAAS is the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, or ADS-B, which allowed command aircraft (both Coast Guard HC-144 and Navy P-3) to track the MH-65E even when it was no longer visible to the crews. The moving map on the pilot screens can be overlayed with the traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), which helps deconflict airspace with multiple aircraft maneuvering in tight quarters. The display can be placed across four multi-function display (MFD) screens and is accessible to both pilots.

“The TCAS was immensely helpful, especially being able to use the moving map overlay,” said Lt. Audra Forteza. “There were so many aircraft in the area, both military and civilian, and not everyone was making traffic calls as they should be – the TCAS allowed us to quickly and efficiently find the most imminent threat and maneuver to maintain separation. Knowing where exactly to look for a target made identification much faster and allowed us to focus on the mission at hand vice continually searching for other aircraft.”

The crewmembers were equally impressed by the bingo fuel alerts, an aviator term used to describe the minimum fuel an aircraft requires to land safely at its designated landing site. Fuel stops were severely limited because of widespread power outages on the ground. This meant that finding an airport with a generator strong enough to facilitate refueling was largely based on recommendations from other parties in communication with the aircrews. “Word of mouth was key to success for aircrews operating the area to determine which airports had fuel,” Forteza said. “And the people at the airfields were extremely accommodating in getting crews food, fuel, water and bathrooms.”

The MFD screens were also very useful when it came to hoisting survivors out of difficult situations while maintaining situational awareness and control of the aircraft. Forteza was able to monitor her co-pilot safely and effectively while they operated the hoist in a series of challenging urban environment rescues over the course of several days.

Additionally, utilizing the upgraded radar weather mode allowed for safe navigation between hurricane bands as the crews searched for survivors by painting a clearer, more accurate picture of the evolving weather situation even when their in-flight tablets did not have reception. In response to Hurricane Ian, Air Station Miami pilots flew a total of 46 hours over several days. Forteza and Lt. Danielle Benedetto personally contributed to saving the lives of 16 people, as well as five cats and three dogs. The air station fully transitioned to the MH-65E in July 2021.

Air Station Miami crew

Air Station Miami crew, from left: Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Kilbane, Petty Officer 2nd Class Nick Rodriguez, Lt. Audra Forteza and Lt. Danielle Benedetto. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Live shots taken by Minotaur-equipped HC-144

Live shots of Hurricane Ian damage taken by Minotaur-equipped HC-144 aircraft were used to support the Incident Management Team. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

MH-65E transition
The Coast Guard has completed 52 out of 98 total conversions including avionics upgrades to the Echo configuration and Service Life Extension work. Air stations that have completed the transition and number of aircraft:

Houston 3
Miami 5
Port Angeles, WA 3
Barbers Point, HI 4
North Bend, OR 5
Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron 12
Humboldt Bay, CA 3
San Francisco 7

Next up for conversion are Atlantic City, N.J., and Savannah, GA

For more information: MH-65 Short Range Recovery Helicopter Program page and Minotaur Mission System Program page

“Media Advisory: Coast Guard cutter to return home following 97-day multi-mission Arctic deployment” –PACAREA

U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Stratton (WMSL 752) and Kimball (WMSL 756) steam in formation while patrolling the U.S.-Russian Maritime Boundary Line (MBL), in the Bering Sea, Sept. 26, 2022. This marked the first time two national security cutters jointly patrolled the MBL above the Arctic Circle. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo).

This isn’t like the Alaska Patrols I went on, which concentrated on the Aleutians/Bering Sea and never went much North of the Arctic Circle. This patrol went across the top of Alaska and apparently, this is getting to be more common.

Media Advisory

Nov. 22, 2022
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

Media Advisory: Coast Guard cutter to return home following 97-day multi-mission Arctic deployment

Coast Guard cutter returns home following 97-day multi-mission Arctic deployment

USCGC Stratton conducts operations offshore Little Diomede, Alaska Coast Guard cutter returns home following 97-day multi-mission Arctic deployment USCGC Stratton conducts flight operations while underway in Arctic Ocean

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

Who: U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) and crew

What: Return home from multi-mission Arctic deployment

When: Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022 at 9 a.m.

Where: Coast Guard Base Alameda, 1 Eagle Rd., Alameda, CA, 94501

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) and crew are scheduled to return to Alameda, Wednesday, following a 97-day multi-mission deployment to the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea.

The cutter and crew departed Alameda in August to project U.S. sovereignty throughout U.S. Arctic waters, provide search-and-rescue capabilities in the region, meet with Alaskan communities and conduct an Arctic search-and-rescue exercise with international partners.

Stratton operated along the length of the U.S.-Russian maritime boundary line (MBL) from the Diomede Islands to well above the Arctic Circle, while they patrolled within the U.S. Arctic zone. Stratton also patrolled the U.S.- Canadian MBL in the Beaufort Sea, providing Coast Guard presence in the distant regions of the Arctic.

“I’m extremely proud of this crew and all they have accomplished,” said Capt. Stephen Adler, Stratton’s commanding officer. “The U.S. Coast Guard provides the Nation’s most active and visible maritime presence in the high latitudes, and coordinates with our international partners through joint exercises and professional exchanges to maintain a safe and prosperous Arctic region. The Coast Guard remains ‘Always Ready’ to preserve and protect our northern shores and waters. As more ships and people move into the Arctic, the Coast Guard will be there to ensure safety of navigation and preserve our national sovereignty, as it always has. The crew has truly lived up to our ship’s motto of, ‘We Can’t Afford Not To’ throughout our patrol.”

Stratton is one of four 418-foot national security cutters (NSC) homeported in Alameda. National security cutters are capable of extended, worldwide deployment in support of homeland security and defense missions. These cutters and crews routinely conduct operations from South America to the Arctic, where the combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct vital strategic missions.

Media are encouraged to contact Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs at pacificareapublicaffairs@uscg.mil to arrange an escort on Base Alameda to attend the ship’s arrival. Adler and crew will be available for interviews following the ship’s arrival.

“All American Marine wins order for 74-foot patrol vessel” –Marine Log

California Department of Fish and Wildlife vessel will feature Teknicraft rapid RHIB launch and retrieval system, integrated into the stern

Marine Log reports,

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has awarded Bellingham, Wash., based All American Marine Inc. (AAM) a contract for the construction of an aluminum catamaran patrol vessel…Measuring 74 foot long by 27.5 feet wide…The design integrates a Teknicraft hull shape…complemented by Teknicraft’s signature integration of a wave piercer that is positioned between the catamaran sponsons to break up wave action and ensure reduced drag while conducting research missions.”

I did an 2019 post on the Texas Parks and Wildlife patrol boat this craft is based on. Notably that craft was designed to patrol up to 200 nautical miles offshore. A foil between the catamaran hulls reportedly reduces resistance and improves fuel economy.

Notably All American Marine is doing service life extension (SLEP) work on Coast Guard 47 foot MLBs.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this unconventional design to my attention. 

Want to Buy an Icebreaker?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Coast Guard is planning to buy the  icebreaking, anchor-handling tug-supply vessel Aiviq, “U.S. Looks to Buy Private Icebreaker to Help Patrol Contested Arctic.” The Coast Guard has been noncommital, but it seems likely. We have been talking about this ship since 2012. It is ten years old. When attempts to drill in the Arctic ended and the ship went on the open market without a buyer, I suggested the Coast Guard consider purchase. Probably not because of my urging, but the Coast Guard did look at it, and decided it did not meet our needs. Really it probably still does not. (The geared diesel propulsion looked like it might be problematic in the ice.) Buying it would probably help a major Congressional contributor cut his losses. It is going to require a major rework, and its only selling point is that it seems to be the only alternative, but is it?

gCaptain reports,

The Finnish Government is blocking Helsinki Shipyard from delivering an icebreaker to Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel.

The shipyard, which is known for its icebreaker construction, said Wednesday it had received a “negative decision” from Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on September 30th related to the export license of the vessel, confirming reports in Finnish press. The shipyard’s statement did not go into specifics…the icebreaker was to be largest and most powerful diesel-electric icebreaker ever built in Finland, with an integrated dual-fuel engine that can run on both LNG and low-sulfur diesel oil.

No it is not finished, but the design is complete. “Helsinki Shipyard in January said it had completed purchasing contracts for the vessel’s main machinery and propulsion equipment and construction was expected to start this year.” Delivery had been expected in 2024.

This looks like an opportunity to get a powerful, state of the art icebreaker and help a company that has been hurt because Finland stood up against Russian aggression. Since construction has not begun, there may also be an opportunity to tweek the design to meet CG requirements. It has been less than two months since the Finnish government stopped construction. I suspect Finland could complete the ship promptly, probably by 2025. It should at least be looked at. We would need special dispensation from Congress to buy a foreign built ship, but it has been done before. There would probably still be some fitting out work to be done in an American shipyard.

Icebreaking Anchor Handling Vessel Aiviq

As for the Aiviq, we could still lease it, see how it works out, and buy it later if we like what we have seen.

 

“Merchant Mariner Shortage Has Gotten Worse, but a Partial Solution Is Available” –Real Clear Defense

“Convoy WS-12: A Vought SB2U Vindicator scout bomber from USS Ranger (CV-4) flies anti-submarine patrol over the convoy, while it was en route to Cape Town, South Africa, 27 November 1941. The convoy appears to be making a formation turn from column to line abreast. Two-stack transports in the first row are USS West Point (AP-23) — left –; USS Mount Vernon (AP-22) and Coast Guard manned USS Wakefield (AP-21). Heavy cruisers, on the right side of the first row and middle of the second, are USS Vincennes (CA-44) and USS Quincy (CA-39). Single-stack transports in the second row are Coast Guard manned USS Leonard Wood (AP-25, later APA-12) and Coast Guard manned USS Joseph T. Dickman (AP-26 later APA-13).”

Real Clear Defense reports,

A mariner shortfall in 2018 was a grave concern. Today, with an escalating conflict in Europe and an increasingly bellicose China, the lack of seasoned merchant mariners is a clear and present danger to our national security.

Four years ago, the nation was about 1,800 mariners short to sustain sealift in a crisis beyond six months. Today that number is only increasing.

The proposed partial solution is to increae the size of the Merchant Marine Academy classes.

Coast Guard Academy graduates know the Merchant Marine Academy primarily as a football rival, but it is also a source of many Coast Guard Officers.

The central point of the post is that we don’t have enough mariners to support a war. The great distances of the Pacific exacerbate the problem. Logistics, as always, are key.

I would note that the shortages of mariners is not just in the officer ranks, so something more would have to be done.

This have anything to do with the Coast Guard? Well, a few months before the US entry into WWII, there was a test of our maritime logistics capabilities, and it found that the merchant marine crews of Army transport ships were unwilling to operate in the manner the military thought best, including darken ship. What happened? The ships were commissioned and crewed by the Coast Guard.

I am not suggesting that today’s merchant crews are unreliable, but if there are shortages, it is not impossible the nation will again turn to the Coast Guard to supply mariners for high priority logistics ships.

“Ukraine’s Maritime Drone Strikes Again: Reports Indicate Attack On Novorossiysk” –Naval News

Artist’s Impression of the Ukrainian Navy maritime drone attack on Novorossiysk, November 18 2022

Naval News reports,

It appears that a Ukrainian maritime drone, similar to those using in an attack on Sevastopol, has struck Novorossiysk. This would be strategically important, showing that more of the Russian Navy is under threat. Efforts may be underway to suppress this story in Russian media.

What might be missed in the report is that Novorossiysk, unlike Savastopol, is not in occupied Ukraine. It is in Russia. According to Wikipedia, “Novorossiysk is the biggest Russian seaport. In 2019 cargo turnover amounted to 142,5m tons. In 2021 cargo turnover amounted to 105,2m tons.”

It is too early to say that this is the start of a Ukrainian campaign against Russia’s oil and gas export industry, but it would be one way to apply additional leverage. If the Ukrainians are successful in their crowd funding drive to build 100 of these explosive Uncrewed Surface Vessels, they could make it very dangerous for Russia’s tankers and coastal energy infrastructure.

“US Coast Guard Legend class Hamilton visits Latvia amid tensions with Russia” –NavyRecognition

USCGC Hamilton and Ukraine CG on previous voyage.

Navy Recognition reports,

“According to information published by the US DoD on November 17, 2022, the Legend-class national security cutter (NSC) USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) arrived in Riga, Latvia for a port visit…Prior to arriving in Riga, Hamilton conducted multiple operations with allies and partners in the Baltic Sea, including a series of at-sea engagements with Swedish, Finnish, Estonian, and Lithuanian maritime and naval forces.”

“Coast Guard launches new Lateral Entry initiative” –MyCG

Masked members of the cutter James crew and Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz (front, center), along with interagency partners, stand among interdicted narcotics at Port Everglades, Florida, on June 9. U.S. COAST GUARD / Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray

Just passing this along from MyCG. Note that one of the three ratings included in the program is culinary specialists (CS), reflecting the apparent cronic shortage in the rating. Presumably we are short electrician’s mates (EM), and health service technicians (HS) as well.


Coast Guard launches new Lateral Entry initiative

By Zach Shapiro, MyCG Writer, Nov. 17, 2022

The Coast Guard is launching a new Lateral Entry Beta Test initiative to fill key gaps in the workforce. As part of the Commandant’s intent to transform the total workforce, the Lateral Entry Working Group (LEWG) has developed a new, smooth, and streamlined process to recruit, train, and place candidates with matching skillsets and suitable military experience into critical roles in the service in fiscal year 2023 (FY23). The LEWG used the Maritime Operational Threat Response (MOTR) Protocols to develop the Lateral Entry Determination Calls (LEDC) Protocols to govern the process.

“The intent is to bring quality applicants into the Coast Guard at a grade commiserate with their existing skillsets,” said Command Master Chief Petty Officer Edward Lewis of Force Readiness Command (FORCECOM). This new process will create accountability, foster collaboration, and build a tailored training program that will help the Coast Guard meet the challenges of the next decade and beyond.

For Lewis and the Working Group, balancing the need for new recruits with preserving the age-old values of the Coast Guard is paramount. “Our fundamental goal is to protect the culture of the Coast Guard,” Lewis emphasized.  “However, we must seek new methods of accession, training, and managing, talent that preserve our competitive edge as an employer of choice.

The LEWG is focusing on filling key roles to strengthen the service. “We are trying to ensure that our workforce can meet missions. We’re looking hard at places where we are shorthanded,” Lewis added. “The recruiting effort is really going to be driven by critical ratings,” including culinary specialist (CS), electrician’s mate (EM), and health service technician (HS). Depending on the outcome of this pilot program, other ratings may be added to this priority list in the future.

The new lateral entry determination protocols will be evaluated regularly throughout FY23.

If you have any questions, please contact Russell Kirkham at Russell.A.Kirkham@uscg.mil or 202-795-6848.

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