Infrastructure Improvements

Historic former CG station on the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, at the end of a 1,000-foot pier.Photo: John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer

It looks like the Coast Guard starting to get a bit more money for infrastructure improvements.

I am not going to make a new post every time I see an announcement about an improvement, but I would like to start passing along any press releases, so I am going to use this post as a place to post them in the comments.

Engine Parts for Domestic Icebreakers and Foreign 378s

The Vietnam Coast Guard patrol vessel CSB-8020, formerly the US Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau (Photo: Vietnam Coast Guard)

A routine report of contract award, “Fairbanks Morse to Supply Engine Parts for USCG Icebreaking Tugs,” but there is note that indicates the Coast Guard wants to make sure those now 50 to 55 year old former cutters stay operational.

“The contract also includes provisions for engine parts onboard the USCG’s decommissioned high endurance cutters (WHECs) that have been transferred or are in the process of being transferred to foreign navies.”

“An Arctic presence grows more important for U.S. and its partners” –The Watch

This map show the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) within the Arctic: Canada (purple), Greenland (orange), Iceland (green), Norway (turquoise), Russia (light blue), and USA (dark blue). As sea ice reduces there will be more opportunity for ice to drift from one EEZ to another, which has implications for the potential spread of pollutants.
Credit: DeRepentigny et al., 2020

NORTHCOM’s on-line magazine, The Watch, has a short post about the Arctic.

I would note that most of the discussion centers on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, whereas the Coast Guard concentration has primarily been on the Pacific side. We have seen some indications there may be Coast Guard Arctic capable assets on the Atlantic side in the future. Not too early to think about that.

The Coast Guard has had good relations with the Russians in the Arctic because of a common interest in fisheries, SAR, and environmental protection. That is all to the good. At some future date, the Coast Guard will probably do a Freedom of Navigation Exercise through the at least parts of the Northern Sea Route. Hopefully we can find ways to, perhaps, disagree amicably as we have with the Canadians in regard to the Northwest Passage.

NSC#9, USCGC Stone, Completes First Patrol Since Commissioning, Spends Time with Colombian Friend

Below is a news release from Atlantic Area reporting USCGC Stone’s return from a patrol in the Eastern Pacific. It seems to have been a successful but fairly routine EastPac with a couple of items of note. In addition to drug interdiction, this patrol put some emphasis on Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing.

While this was Stone’s first operational mission since commissioning, she had already completed an unusual South Atlantic mission before commissioning.

I also wanted to make sure you did not miss the photos of Colombia’s 80 meter Fassmer OPV that operated with Stone. (Some of the photos were found here.) The Fassmer OPV is also operated by Chile and a slightly longer (86 meter) version is operated by Germany. 

As can be seen, this 80.6 meter (264.4′) vesselp ca n operate and hangar a helicopter and has provision for three boats including one on a stern ramp. This one is armed with a medium caliber gun (76mm), what appears to up to 22 knots and have a range of 8,600 nautical miles (15,900 km). These are about the size of Bear class WMECs, and except for EW, equipment and capabilities sound similar to the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). The Fassmer design, is probably not as capable of continuing to operate boats and helicopter in as severe weather and probably does not have as large a hangar. Also, the flight deck does not look as large, but the Colombian ship does include a stern boat ramp not included in the OPC.

Some of the Chilean ships of this class are ice-strengthened.

The crews of U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class national security cutter USCGC Stone (WMSL 758) and the Colombian navy OPV-80 offshore patrol vessel ARC Victoria (PZE-48) conduct passing exercises in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Dec. 4, 2021. The U.S. and Columbia have signed agreements on trade, environmental protection, asset sharing, chemical control, ship-boardings, renewable and clean energy, science and technology, and civil aviation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Kearney)

U.S. Coast Guard, Colombian navy conduct exercises, personnel transfers in Eastern Pacific Ocean

U.S. Coast Guard, Colombian navy conduct exercises, personnel transfers in Eastern Pacific Ocean

U.S. Coast Guard, Colombian navy conduct exercises, personnel transfers in Eastern Pacific Ocean

U.S. Coast Guard, Colombian navy conduct exercises, personnel transfers in Eastern Pacific Ocean

U.S. Coast Guard, Colombian navy conduct exercises, personnel transfers in Eastern Pacific Ocean

U.S. Coast Guard, Colombian navy conduct exercises, personnel transfers in Eastern Pacific Ocean

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

USCGC Stone returns to homeport after 61-day patrol working with partners

USCGC Stone partners with US, Panamanian, Costa Rican representatives, fishery experts to conduct Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated fishing patrols U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration attend International Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated Fishing Symposium in Ecuador USCGC Stone (WMSL 758) and the Colombian navy OPV-80 offshore patrol vessel ARC Victoria (PZE-48) 

Editors’ Note: To view more or download high-resolution imagery, click on the photos above.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — USCGC Stone (WMSL 758) returned to their homeport in Charleston following a 61-day patrol in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean in support of the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Joint Interagency Task Force South, and the U.S. Coast Guard Eleventh District.

Stone’s crew successfully interdicted two suspected drug smuggling vessels, recovering approximately 2,246 pounds of cocaine and 4,870 pounds of marijuana with an estimated combined street value of $57.1 million. The cutter’s crew subsequently transferred 20 suspected narcotics smugglers to the Seventh Coast Guard District and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration personnel, signaling the culmination of a successful joint interagency effort in the Eastern Pacific.

The Stone embarked observers from Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to perform joint operations to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF) and conduct counter-drug operations off the coast of South America.

An embarked MH-65 helicopter aircrew from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron was integral in counter-drug operations. Interagency partners provided additional aerial surveillance and reconnaissance support throughout the patrol.

During the cutter’s port call in Manta, Ecuador, Stone’s commanding officer, Capt. Clinton Carlson, attended an international IUUF symposium with Arthur Young, the embarked National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration enforcement officer, to share experiences and increase awareness of the regional issue. The crew of the Stone also participated in a friendly soccer match with Cuerpo de Guardacostas de la Armada personnel from the local coast guard station while in Manta.

“This is our crew’s first patrol outside of their initial shakedown cruise, and I am extremely proud of the dedication and pride they have shown toward getting qualified to conduct the missions expected of a national security cutter crew,” said Carlson. “Throughout these past months, everyone aboard displayed enthusiasm during the drills we’ve run every week and have proven that through teamwork and a shared understanding of the mission, we can accomplish even the most difficult tasks. I am honored to lead this impressive crew of Coast Guard women and men.”

The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions for these interdictions by United States Attorney’s Offices from the Middle District of Florida, the Southern District of Florida and the Southern District of California. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the Eleventh Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guard members.

The Stone is the ninth Legend-class national security cutter in the Coast Guard fleet and currently homeports in Charleston, South Carolina. The national security cutters can execute the most challenging national security missions, including support to U.S. combatant commanders.

The Charleston-based Legend-class cutters fall under the command of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. Based in Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area oversees all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf. In addition to surge operations, they also allocate ships to work with partner commands and deploy to the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific to combat transnational organized crime and illicit maritime activity.

“French Navy’s 2021 Report On Global Maritime Security” –Naval News

In reading this, note the difference between piracy and maritime robbery is that, the first occurs on the high seas, while maritime robbery takes place within a nation’s territorial sea or internal waters. 

Naval News reports publication of a report by the French Navy’s

“The Maritime Information Cooperation and Awareness Center (MICA Center) of the French Navy released its 2021 annual report on maritime piracy and robbery acts that impacted worldwide maritime security.”

For me, there were two surprises in the Naval News report. First there was the surprisingly good news, that incidents were much reduced in the Gulf of Guinea, but then there seemed to be the bad news, that the Caribbean was one of the two worst areas for piracy and maritime robbery.

But looking at the complete original report, Sec. 3.4, it finds that the “Caribbean Sea is an area where the threat of piracy or robbery is considered low.” I presume this apparent conflict between a high number of incidents and low probability, is due to the high traffic in the Caribbean.

Most of the “piracy/maritime robbery” reported in the Caribbean was non-violent theft from anchored yachts. This is very different from the Gulf of Guinea, where kidnappings and attacks on ships are still relatively common.

The report also comments on immigration, drug trafficking, and illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.

“U.S., Spain, Morocco collaborate to conduct rescue at sea” –LANT AREA News Release

“The crew of the Sentinel-class USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) prepares to receive migrants rescued from the water in the Atlantic Ocean on Jan. 4, 2021. The Glen Harris, with USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) and the USCGC Thetis (WMEC 901) are conducting a routine patrol in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of responsibility while the Sentinel-class cutters transit from the U.S. to their new homeport of Manama, Bahrain. U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to advance U.S. national interests, security, and stability in Europe and Africa.” (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ade Gills)

Earlier, we saw this from CG-9,

“Coast Guard cutters Glen Harris and Emlen Tunnell departed Sector Key West, Florida, for their new homeport in Manama, Bahrain, Nov. 18. They are the second pair of fast response cutters (FRCs) to be assigned to Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) as part of the Coast Guard’s effort to replace the region’s six existing 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. Glen Harris and Emlen Tunnell, accompanied by Coast Guard Cutter Thetis, arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nov. 24 and 25, respectively. The cutters are expected to complete their journey to PATFORSWA in late January 2022.”

Now we have this Atlantic Area news release below, regarding a rescue off the Moroccan coast.

Despite what the news release says, this is anything but routine, if not the mission, at least the location. They certainly were not on a “routine patrol.”

Here is a sample of a media report, this one from CNN.

Morocco has both an Atlantic and a Mediterranean coast. According to the CNN report, this occurred in the Atlantic.

The Moroccan warship would have been the Lieutenant-Colonel Errahmani, a Descubierta class corvette.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

U.S., Spain, Morocco collaborate to conduct rescue at sea

migrants in the Atlantic  U.S. Coast Guard, partners conduct joint rescue of migrants in Atlantic USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910) and a Royal Moroccan Navy vessel are seen during the joint rescue of migrants in the Atlantic Ocean

Editors’ Note: To view more photos or download high-resolution imagery, click on the images above.

ATLANTIC OCEAN — On Jan. 5, 2022, the United States, Spain, and Morocco collaborated to rescue 103 migrants 40 nautical miles west of the Moroccan coast.

Late Tuesday evening, Spain’s Las Palmas Rescue Coordination Center received reports of two migrant rafts taking on water with people possibly in the water.

The Spanish center coordinated rescue efforts with the vessels closest to the reported location of the rafts. Three U.S. Coast Guard ships, Famous-class USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910), Sentinel-class USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144), and USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145), and a nearby Royal Moroccan Navy frigate answered the call.

Working together, the crews rescued 103 migrants and recovered two deceased migrants by early Wednesday morning. Once safely aboard and stabilized, the U.S. Coast Guard crews transferred all migrants to the Moroccan Navy.

“While we are on an escort currently, the U.S. Coast Guard will always conduct our core mission of search and rescue and observe the international law of the sea and maritime custom to assist any mariners in distress,” said Cmdr. Justin Nadolny, commanding officer, USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910). “This demonstrates the capability of Thetis to work with partners and our ability to respond rapidly to any situation. I’m very proud of the team.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a routine deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, working alongside Allies, building maritime domain awareness, and sharing best practices with partner nation navies and coast guards. These operations coincide with the escort of the Sentinel-class cutters across the Atlantic en route to their new homeport of Manama, Bahrain, and the cutters’ work for U.S. Patrol Forces Southwest Asia under U.S. Navy 5th Fleet and U.S. Central Command.

“The rescue of over 100 persons in the Atlantic demonstrates the agility and reach of U.S. Naval Forces throughout Africa and Europe,” said Capt. Kyle Gantt, Commander, Task Force 65. “U.S. Coast Guard’s timely coordination with Spanish authorities and the Moroccan Navy showcases the power of integration with our international partners at sea.”

The U.S. Coast Guard remains operational during COVID-19, following all COVID-19 safety precautions and regulations.

U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa. Based in Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area oversees all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf. In addition to surge operations, they also allocate ships to work with partner commands.

At Least for This Blog, 2021 Was a Good Year, Thanks

Thanks to all of you who have come by and made the writing worthwhile. Special thanks to those who have contributed by your comments or by simply pointing me to articles of interest.


In 2021, the blog had 244,089 views and 83,692 individual visits. This year we had 465 posts, totaling 165,836 words (both the most ever). There were 1250 comments (comments seem to have dropped off a bit). That is 2.86% more views than last year (237,298) and 16.9% more individual visits, more than any previous year with the exception of 2019 (255,335 views). Posts averaged only 357 words, (I am trying to be economical of your time.)

2019 was something of an anomaly, driven a couple of unusually popular posts. “Navy, this is Coast Guard, we need to talk,” had 18,245 views in 2019, making it the second most viewed post in the history of the blog. “An Offshore Patrol Vessel with Teeth” had 4,935 views in August alone. They made August, September, and October of 2019 the most viewed months so far. Sept. 30, 2019 alone, there were 7,302 views, the most ever in a single day.

29.7% of our readers were non-US. Aside from the US, 45 countries had 200 or more views. After the US, the five countries with the most views were the UK, Canada, Finland (Tups must have had something to do with this), Philippines, and Australia. All had more than 4200 views.

The top ten posts in 2021 were:

  1. 50mm Chain Gun, More Detail (2019)
  2. What Does It Take to Sink a Ship? (2011)
  3. Perhaps the Most Well Armed Cutter Sized Corvette in the World (2021)
  4. The Hamilton Class 378 foot WHECs, an Appreciation (2021)
  5. Guided Rounds for the 57mm Mk110, ALaMO and MAD-FIRES, an Update (2019)
  6. “Weapons Effectiveness Testing–25 vs 30mm” Revisited (2021)
  7. Philippines’ New 94 Meter Cutter and the Japanese Kunigami Class Cutters (2020)
  8. Norway’s Coast Guard Jan Mayen-class vessel (2021)
  9. Bahrain Bound FRC gets Upgrades, LRAD and Short-Range Air Search (2021)
  10. “Here Is What…Missiles Actually Costs” –The Drive (2020)

Blog History

The blog began in July 2012, after Dan Trimble decided to close down his “CGBlog” where I had contributed for a bit over two years. With Dan’s help, all the content I wrote during that period has been transplanted here along with the associated comments. That is why the archive includes posts dated before July 2012.

To date we have had 3,386 posts, 19,445 comments, and 1,996,169 views.

The top ten posts ever published on his blog, updated through the end of 2021 were:

  1. What Does It Take to Sink a Ship? (2011)
  2. Navy this is Coast Guard, we need to talk (2019)
  3. OPV to OPC (2012) (Since the OPC has been selected, now only of historical interest)
  4. The Navy’s New Patrol Boat (2012)
  5. Three Nations Share German OPV Design (2014)
  6. Case for the Five Inch Gun (2012)
  7. What Might Coast Guard Cutters Do in Wartime, Part 2, Coast Guard Roles (2012)
  8. Alternate Weapons for New Large Cutters? (2012)
  9. 50mm Chain Gun, More Detail (2019)
  10. An Offshore Patrol Vessel with Teeth (2019)


USCGC CLARENCE SUTPHIN (WPC 1147) is the sixth and final Webber class FRC planned for assignment to PATFORSWA, Manama, Bahrain.

Below is a news release from Bollinger Shipyards, 

LOCKPORT, La., — January 6, 2021 – Bollinger Shipyards LLC (“Bollinger”) has delivered the USCGC CLARENCE SUTPHIN to the U.S. Coast Guard in Key West, Florida. This is the 170th vessel Bollinger has delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard over a 35-year period and the 47th Fast Response Cutter (“FRC”) delivered under the current program.

The USCGC CLARENCE SUTPHIN is the final of six FRCs to be home-ported in Manama, Bahrain, which will replace the aging 110’ Island Class Patrol Boats, built by Bollinger Shipyards 30 years ago, supporting the Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest overseas presence outside the United States.

“Ensuring that the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard have the most state-of-the-art, advanced vessels as they work to build and maintain the necessary regional alliances to ensure maritime security in the region is a top priority,” said Bollinger President & C.E.O. Ben Bordelon. “Bollinger is proud to continue enhancing and supporting the U.S. Coast Guard’s operational presence in the Middle East and ensuring it remains the preferred partner around the world.”

Earlier this year at the commissioning ceremony of the USCGC CHARLES MOULTHROPE, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz lauded the “enhanced seakeeping” capabilities of the PATFORSWA-bound FRCs, saying “these ships are truly going to be game changing in their new theater of operations” and “offer increased opportunities for integrated joint operations with our Navy and Marine Corps colleagues” as the Coast Guard seeks to be part of the whole-of-government solution set in the region.

PATFORSWA is composed of six cutters, shoreside support personnel, and the Maritime Engagement Team. The unit’s mission is to train, organize, equip, support and deploy combat-ready Coast Guard Forces in support of U.S. Central Command and national security objectives. PATFORSWA works with Naval Forces Central Command in furthering their goals to conduct persistent maritime operations to forward U.S. interests, deter and counter disruptive countries, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to promote a secure maritime environment.

Each FRC is named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished themselves in the line of duty. Clarence Sutphin, Boatswain Mate First Class, USCG, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his courageous actions during the invasion of Saipan Island in 1944. His citation reads: “For heroic achievement in action against enemy Japanese forces during the invasion of Saipan, Marianas Islands, on June 15 and 16, 1944.  Swimming with a line through heavy surf to a tank lighter stranded on a reef, SUTPHIN remained aboard under mortar and artillery fire until the boat was salvaged.  Returning to the beach, he aided in salvaging another tank lighter under enemy fire and, when a mortar shell struck a group of eight Marines, promptly treated the wounded and moved them to a first aid station.  His courage and grave concern for the safety of others reflects the highest credit upon SUTPHIN and the United States Naval Service.”

About the Fast Response Cutter Platform

The FRC is an operational “game changer,” according to senior Coast Guard officials. FRCs are consistently being deployed in support of the full range of missions within the United States Coast Guard and other branches of our armed services.  This is due to its exceptional performance, expanded operational reach and capabilities, and ability to transform and adapt to the mission. FRCs have conducted operations as far as the Marshall Islands—a 4,400 nautical mile trip from their homeport. Measuring in at 154-feet, FRCs have a flank speed of 28 knots, state of the art C4ISR suite (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), and stern launch and recovery ramp for a 26-foot, over-the-horizon interceptor cutter boat.

About Bollinger Shipyards LLC

Bollinger Shipyards LLC ( has a 75-year legacy as a leading designer and builder of high performance military patrol boats and salvage vessels, research vessels, ocean-going double hull barges, offshore oil field support vessels, tugboats, rigs, lift boats, inland waterways push boats, barges, and other steel and aluminum products from its new construction shipyards as part of the U. S. maritime defense industrial base. Bollinger has 11 shipyards, all strategically located throughout Louisiana with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River and the Intracoastal Waterway. Bollinger is the largest vessel repair company in the Gulf of Mexico region.

Top Ten Navies by Aggregate Displacement, 1 January 2022. Analysis and diagram by u/Phoenix_jz

You may need to click on this to make it readable. 

Ran across this on Facebook, posted by Buddy Stewart, an administrator at the “Navy General Board” page. He found it here. Thought it might be of interest. I can’t vouch for the accuracy, but it looks credible to me.

The creator’s notes are below. 

I figured with all the discussion flying around over the past year over the sizes of various navies – particularly with regards to the greater-than-ever attention being paid to the growth of the PLAN – I would ‘publish’ some of the data from my own navy tracking spreadsheet to give everyone an idea of the relative sizes of the top ten navies, by aggregate displacement of commissioned ships, which I tend to find is a better way of measuring the sizes of navies than my mere ship counts. Figures are aggregates of full load displacement in metric tonnes.

To break down what each of these categories mean;

  • Surface Warships is an aggregate of all above-water warships and major aviation and amphibious assault platforms. This category includes CVNs, CVs, CVLs, LHDs, LHAs, LPDs, CGs, DDGs, FFGs, corvettes, OPVs, CPVs, lighter patrol craft, and MCM vessels.

  • Submarines is what it says on the tin – SSBNs, SSGNs, SSNs, SSKs, and for select nations where applicable (and where information is available), special purpose submarines.

  • AORs includes all major fleet replenishment vessels (coastal vessels do not count, however).

  • Other Auxiliaries is a very wide net that essentially captures everything else. Special mission ships, support vessels, minor amphibious assault vessels (LSDs, LSTs, LCAC’s, LCM’s, LCU’s), training vessels, tugs, coastal support vessels, hydrography ships – all essential parts of navies, but generally stuff that isn’t paid too much attention to as its far less flashy than the warships proper.

Interesting trends in data that I thought I would share for various navies;

Though much has been said about the PLAN ‘overtaking’ the USN in number of ships, the actual data is not so friendly. A large part of the PLAN’s numerical ‘edge’ comes from the larger number of smaller platforms they operate, be it corvettes like the Type 056/56A (50+22), or missile boats like the Type 22 (83). Much of this numerical strength was pre-existing relative to the last few years – what is really notable is the fact much of the PLAN’s growth is now driven by larger warships – such as the two LHDs, eight DDGs, and SSBN commissioned in 2021 (but nine Type 056A corvettes were still commissioned), as the PLAN is finding its pace with constructing large numbers of major surface combatants. However, they still have a long way to go in all categories before they really match the USN in size, if they ever do – as it stands the 22 cruisers and 69 destroyers of the American escort fleet clock in at 870,000 tons to the aggregate 474,000 tons of the PLAN’s destroyers and frigates – many of which are still older types of limited utility compared to even something as old as a Flight I Burke.

That said, the USN will see some notable contraction in tonnage over the next few years as many older Ticonderoga-class cruisers and several LCS’s are retired, while new frigates are still about five years away from seeing service. That said, given the availability issues of the Ticonderoga’s, this isn’t really much of a practical reduction in strength.

The VMF remains comfortably as the third largest navy. Though its surface fleet has seen better days, things are slowly improving as new frigates commission and older surface combatants get through their refits. It is worth noting that the VMF is still disproportionately powerful underwater with its large fleet of SSGNs, SSNs, and SSKs, though still somewhat smaller than the USN’s fleet in displacement (it appears larger here because of the significant special purpose submarine fleet). The PLAN may be the world’s second largest navy, but underwater, the VMF is on deck and the PLAN is in the hold.

The British Royal Navy remains in the number four spot, as we step down from the ‘million plus’ club of the top three navies. British aggregate displacement remains notable with regards to its low ratio of combatant tonnage to support fleet, a testament to the size of the RFA. This, combined with the large displacement of the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers (about 140,000t of carriers, temporarily second only to the USN’s 1.14 million tons of carriers) puts the British ahead of the JMSDF, which otherwise still has a significantly larger surface fleet, but is much shallower in terms of support ships (reflective of the different environments the two navies operate in).

There’s not much to say about the Indian Navy, other than to expect a significant increase this year when Vikrant commissions. Steady, if slow, construction has seen them replace older destroyers and frigates, though the true long-term challenge will be their SSN program. The Marine Nationale still comfortably holds its seventh-place position, though it is somewhat at an ebb given its AOR fleet is at an all-time low with just two Durance-class tankers in commission. This trend will continue through 2022, as the first Vulcano-class LSS for the Marine Nationale will not enter service until 2023. The MN can, however, boast of having one of the most modern surface combatant fleets anywhere – by the end of 2022, when the last Georges Leygues-class frigate leaves service and the new Lorraine commissions, it will have not a single ship commissioned before 2000 in its front-line escort fleet of Horizon and FREMM.

The ROKN is something of a rising star, though this year they’ve poked their head into the top eight briefly thanks to stagnation in the displacement of the normal number eight, the Marina Militare – the latter is down two frigates from a sale to Egypt, and a new ‘OPV’ due to delays brought on by Covid. The ROKN is an example of another navy heavy in combatant displacement but shallow in support ships, reflective of its operating environment. Though the Korean carrier program has so far stolen much of the attention of the ROKN’s development, that remains a long way off and for now the more notable areas of growth are the steady frigate program, and indigenous submarine program.

The Marina Militare, as mentioned before, is at something of a low ebb, though they will likely regain the number eight position as a new LHD and two OPVs will net them about 35,000 tons in 2022 (as the carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi will leave service this year). The first half of the 2020s will see the delivery of a significant number of surface combatants – two FREMM and six ‘OPVs’ of the PPA type – as well as another LSS of the Vulcano-class.

The Indonesian Navy is an unlikely tenth, but they are still very much present – albeit this is primarily the responsibility of their five Makassar-class LPDs that net them the 57,000 tons that, in combination with an unusually large fleet of LSTs and LSMs, puts them over the Turkish Navy (which just misses our list at 258,048 tonnes). That said, even if they were to fall out of their current ‘position’ in the short term, they are likely to remain in the top ten in the long term, due the large expansion planned for their surface fleet of at least ten frigates by the end of the decade.