“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.

“U.S. Blames Iran for Drone Attack on Tanker Near Oman” –USNI

Shahed 136 drones. Iranian military photo

US Naval Institute’s News Service reports,

U.S. Central Command and Israeli officials are blaming Iran for a Tuesday attack on an oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire off the coast of Oman.

Tanker Pacific Zircon was 150 miles off the coast of Oman when what U.S. officials said was an unmanned aerial vehicle hit the ship at about 3:30 p.m. local time, according to the shipping company.

Interestingly this second attack was on a ship linked to Idan Ofer, brother of the Israeli billionaire, Eyal Ofer, linked to the tanker, Mercer Street, attacked in a similar manner in July 2021.

The latest attack did not result in any injuries, unlike the earlier attack that resulted in the death of two crewmembers. Both attacks occured South of Oman in the Northern Indian Ocean.

“U.S. Naval Forces Intercept Explosive Material Bound for Yemen” –CENTCOM

USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC-1146) and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC-1147) enroute PATFORSWA

Below is from the U.S. Naval Forces Central CommandCombined Maritime Forces – U.S. 5th Fleet website

U.S. Naval Forces Intercept Explosive Material Bound for Yemen

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | November 15, 2022

MANAMA, Bahrain —

On Nov. 8, U.S. 5th Fleet intercepted a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman smuggling lethal aid, including a large quantity of explosive material, from Iran to Yemen.

U.S. Coast Guard ship USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146) (emphasis applied–Chuck) and guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) interdicted the vessel as it transited international waters. Patrol coastal ship USS Hurricane (PC 3) and Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians from U.S. 5th Fleet’s Task Force 56 also assisted during a weeklong effort to fully search the vessel and verify the type of material found.

U.S. forces discovered more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidizer commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel as well as explosives. This is U.S. 5th Fleet’s first ever interdiction of ammonium perchlorate.

“This was a massive amount of explosive material, enough to fuel more than a dozen medium-range ballistic missiles depending on the size,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “The unlawful transfer of lethal aid from Iran does not go unnoticed. It is irresponsible, dangerous and leads to violence and instability across the Middle East.”

The search also found more than 100 tons of urea fertilizer. Urea is a chemical compound with agricultural applications that is also known for use as an explosive precursor.

The vessel and its four Yemeni crewmembers were intercepted while transiting from Iran along a route historically used to traffic weapons to the Houthis in Yemen. The direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law.

U.S. forces sank the vessel Nov. 13 in the Gulf of Oman after determining it was a hazard to navigation for commercial shipping. The four crewmembers were transferred to Yemen for repatriation Nov. 15 when The Sullivans completed an at-sea exchange in the Gulf of Aden with the Yemen Coast Guard.

“Alongside our partner forces, CENTCOM is committed to security and stability of the region and to deterring the illegal and destabilizing flow of lethal material into the region over land, in the air, and the sea,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander.

U.S. 5th Fleet previously seized 40 tons of urea fertilizer Jan. 18 when guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) and patrol coastal ship USS Chinook (PC 9) interdicted a another fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman that had attempted to smuggle illicit weapons off the coast of Somalia months earlier.

The U.S. 5th Fleet operating area includes 21 countries, the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandeb and Suez Canal.

“U.S., UK and Saudi Arabia Complete Naval Exercise in Arabian Gulf” CENTCOM

210524-G-N0146-0073 ARABIAN GULF (May 24, 2021) – Patrol boat USCGC Maui (WPB 1304, foreground) and fast response cutter USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142) transit the Arabian Gulf en route to Bahrain, May 24. Robert Goldman and USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC 1141) are the newest additions to Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), which is comprised of six 110′ cutters, the Maritime Engagement Team, shore side support personnel, and is the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the U.S. playing a key role in supporting Navy security cooperation, maritime security, and maritime infrastructure protection operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Logan Kaczmarek)

Below is a CENTCOM news release. Photos are available here. Wish they had listed the Saudi and Royal Navy participating units as well. 

NEWS | Nov. 8, 2022

U.S., UK and Saudi Arabia Complete Naval Exercise in Arabian Gulf

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

Naval forces from the United States, United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completed a weeklong maritime exercise called Nautical Defender in the Arabian Gulf, Nov. 7.

The multilateral training event involved U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), Royal Saudi Navy’s Eastern Fleet, UK’s Royal Navy, and observers from regional nations. Partners focused on maritime security, vessel boarding procedures, explosive ordinance disposal and other training drills ashore in Saudi Arabia and at sea.

In addition to personnel from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Coast Guard, participating U.S. ships included USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119), USS Devastator (MCM 6), USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC 1141) and USCGC Robert Goldman (WPB 1142).

NAVCENT is headquartered in Manama, Bahrain and includes maritime forces operating in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Bab al-Mandeb.

“Ukraine’s New U.S. Supplied Combat Boats Already Patrolling Black Sea” –Naval News

Metal Shark 40 Defiant

Naval News reports,

6 U.S. Navy type patrol vessels have recently been supplied to Ukraine. These are already active in the Black Sea where they face a much more powerful adversary in the Russian Navy. But the Ukrainian Navy is building a reputation as an effective asymmetric force.

These are the same 44 foot patrol boats the Navy has been buying.

Previous discussion of other boats being transferred to Ukraine here.

“U.S. Naval Forces in Middle East Interdict $29 Million in Illegal Drugs” –Seapower

USCGC Charles Moulthrope arrives at Naval Station Rota, Spain. After a two-week transit across the Atlantic Ocean, the cutter arrived in-port to resupply.

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

A U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutter seized an estimated $29 million worth of illicit narcotics from a fishing vessel while patrolling the Gulf of Oman, Oct. 12, two weeks after another sizable interdiction, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs said in an Oct. 13 release.

This is getting to be routine. The same ship seized a fishing vessel on Sept 27 with $85M in illegal drugs, presumably the “sizable interdiction” referred to above, and USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) , an another PATFORSWA cutter, has already made three drug interdictions.

“Hellfire Missile With Roughly Three Times More Range Tested…” –The Drive

New Lockheed Hellfire/JASM launcher discussed earlier

The Drive reports an exercise that claimed to employ an enhanced version of Hellfire with a range about three times as great as that of the previous versions. Hellfire’s replacement, JASM, perhaps more accurately an upgraded Hellfire, has now been approved for full rate production and there have been reports that a longer range version was in the works.

Beyond the air-launched advantages, this missile would be hugely beneficial for sea-launched applications, such as the LCS. Beyond that, it could be extremely beneficial in servicing Hellfire’s growing surface-to-air role, as well.

Since the typically reported surface to surface range of the Hellfire is 8 km, three times that would be 24 km or over 26,000 yards (equal to the longest ranged battleship hit in WWII). In most cases, that means it can reach anything within the visual horizon. It would also mean, it would out range our 57 and 76mm guns. If this longer ranged Hellfire/JASM is mounted on the new 30 mm Mk38 Mod4, it could mean even Polar Security Cutters will have a potentially more potent weapon than the 57mm Mk110, with a much smaller footprint and lower maintenance requirements.

The weapon would certainly be a welcomed addition to the Webber class patrol craft of PATFORSWA because it would give them greatly enhanced capability against swarming small inshore attack craft, helicopters, and UAS, threats common in their operating area.

As I noted earlier, JASM could provide Coast Guard vessels as small as patrol boats, with a much more accurate, more powerful, and longer ranged response to the need to be able to forcibly stop vessels both small and large, while also providing counter UAS, a degree of anti-aircraft protection, and should it ever be required, a naval fire support ashore capability.

“U.S., U.K. Navies Conduct Unmanned Exercise in Arabian Gulf” –Seapower / and the Coast Guard is There

Naval forces from the United States and United Kingdom conducted a bilateral exercise in the Arabian Gulf, Oct. 7. U.S. NAVY (That is USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142) at the end of the column.)

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

Naval forces from the United States and United Kingdom conducted a bilateral exercise in the Arabian Gulf, Oct. 7, which featured the use of unmanned systems and artificial intelligence to enhance maritime monitoring by crewed ships and operators ashore, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs said in an Oct. 7 release.

The one-day exercise, called Phantom Scope, occurred in international waters off the coast of Bahrain with forces from U.S. 5th Fleet and the UK Royal Navy. Three Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessels (USVs) participated alongside guided-missile destroyer USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119), fast response cutter USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142) and Royal Navy mine countermeasures vessels HMS Chiddingfold (M37) and HMS Bangor (M109).

US Naval Forces, Central Command, has been very actively pushing and experimenting with unmanned systems and the Coast Guard’s PATFORSWA has been actively involved in these experiments. Hopefully some of the experience will help the Coast Guard with its own exploitation of unmanned systems.

Two MANTAS T-12 unmanned surface vessels operate alongside a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat during exercise New Horizon in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dawson Roth)

“U.S. Coast Guard decommissions Bahrain-based USCGC Baranof” –LANTAREA

220926-A-EQ028-1234 MANAMA, Bahrain Seaman Alexander Moyes lowers the Union Jack aboard USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) during the ship’s decommissioning ceremony in Manama, Bahrain, Sept. 26, 2022. Baranof decommissioned after 34 years of service. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Frederick Poirier)

A bitter sweet day. End of an era. The last of six Island class cutters assigned to PATFORSWA is now decommissioned. The force has now been reequipped with six Webber class Fast Response Cutters.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

U.S. Coast Guard decommissions Bahrain-based USCGC Baranof

U.S. Coast Guardsmen conduct a decommissioning ceremony for USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) in Manama, Bahrain, Sept. 26, 2022.

ice Adm. Kevin E. Lunday, commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area, arrives at the decommissioning ceremony for USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) in Manama, Bahrain, Sept. 26, 2022. USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) is moored pierside in Manama, Bahrain, Sept. 26, 2022, prior to its decommissioning.

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

MANAMA, Bahrain — The USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) was decommissioned during a ceremony aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Monday.

Vice Adm. Kevin Lunday, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, presided over the ceremony.

“USCGC Baranof’s exemplary service to our nation is a testament to both the Island-class platform and the crews that have manned Baranof over the past 34 years,” said Lunday. “Whether it was conducting law enforcement and search and rescue in the Caribbean, or deploying to the present-day homeport of Bahrain to support U.S. Central Command, those that have manned Baranof have continually met the needs of America.”

Baranof was commissioned into service on May 20, 1988 at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach in Miami. The 18th of 49 Island-class patrol boats, Baranof received orders to the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002. Shortly after their arrival in Bahrain, Baranof’s crew was underway conducting maritime interdiction operations in the North Arabian Gulf.

Baranof was replaced by the USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147), which arrived at NSA Bahrain on Aug. 23, 2022. As part of the Coast Guard’s fast response cutter program, the service is acquiring 65 Sentinel-class fast response cutters, with six of those assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia.

PATFORSWA, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the United States, oversees the cutters in Bahrain. The ships are forward deployed to U.S. Fifth Fleet to help ensure maritime security and stability across the Middle East. The 154-foot long vessels feature advanced communications systems, and improved surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.

PATFORSWA, which is operationally attached to Fifth Fleet’s Commander Task Force 55, is composed of six FRCs, shoreside mission support personnel and a maritime engagement team. The unit plays a crucial role in maritime security, maritime infrastructure protection, and regional theater security cooperation. The unit also supports other U.S. Coast Guard deployable specialized forces operating throughout the Middle Eastern region.

PATFORSWA Now Has Six Webber Class

220822-A-KS490-1182 STRAIT OF HORMUZ (Aug. 22, 2022) From the left, U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutters USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144), USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146), USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147) transit the Strait of Hormuz, Aug. 22. The cutters are forward-deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure maritime security and stability across the Middle East. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Noah Martin)

The planned six Webber Class contingent for PATFORSWA is now complete. See the press release below.


08.23.2022

Story by NAVCENT Public Affairs   

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet

MANAMA, Bahrain – Two U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutters arrived in Bahrain, Aug. 23, marking the arrival to their ultimate destination after departing Key West, Florida in June.

USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146) and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147) are two of the Coast Guard’s six newest Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRC) now stationed in Bahrain where U.S. 5th Fleet is headquartered.

“This arrival represents the culmination of years of tireless effort and exceptional teamwork,” said Capt. Eric Helgen, commander of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA). “These newest FRCs bring us to our full complement of six ships and mark the beginning of a new era of extraordinary maritime capability supporting U.S. 5th Fleet.”

The Sentinel-class cutters in Bahrain are overseen by PATFORSWA, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the United States. The ships are forward-deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure maritime security and stability across the Middle East.

“We are extremely excited to be here and look forward continuing to work with international partners in the region,” said Lt. David Anderson, commanding officer of Clarence Sutphin Jr. “Completing this more than 10,000-nautical-mile transit to Bahrain has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

John Scheuerman and Clarence Sutphin Jr. were commissioned in February and April 2022 respectively. The 154-foot long vessels feature advanced communications systems and improved surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.