“Turkish Dearsan Lays Keel Of First Of Two OPVs For Nigeria” –Naval News

Rendering of HE OPV-76 vessels (Screenshot from Dearsan video–via Naval News)

Naval News reports,

Turkish Dearsan Shipyard laid the keel of the first of two high-endurance offshore patrol vessels (HE OPV 76) for the Nigerian Navy during a ceremony held at Dearsan’s facilities in Istanbul on September 16, 2022.

Turkey is becoming an increasingly capable and respected arms supplier and shipbuilder.

With a population of over 218 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the sixth most populous in the world.

The Nigerian Navy and Coast Guard has an eclectic fleet sourced from the US, Europe, China, and Israel, along with some locally built small craft. They currently operates two of the former USCG 378 foot high endurance cutters which are their largest fully operational ships. Reportedly they also have four former USCG 180 foot buoy tenders and 15 USCG type “Defender class” Response Boat, Small.

Gulf of Guinea, from Wikipedia

Nigeria’s territorial sea and EEZ is relatiely small, less than 2% that of the US, but their marine environment is complex with a history of piracy and smuggling, with many countries in and around the Gulf of Guinea complicating jurisdiction.

The New OPVs:

We talked about these ships earlier.

There have been some, mostly minor changes in the specs:

The reported displacement is likely to be light displacement since, these ships are considerably larger than the 1,127 ton full load Reliance class and nearly as large as the 1,800 ton Bear class. Given their range, they don’t carry a lot of fuel, so I would expect about 1,500 tons full load.

The armament is lighter than initially reported (earlier reports indicated 76mm + 40mm +  MBDA Simbad RC systems for Mistral short range surface to air missiles). The electronics also appear to have been simplified. This was probably a cost saving measure, but the ships remain better armed than most OPVs of comparable size, in that they have two medium caliber guns rather than just one, probably a good idea. The provision for at least three, probably four, electro optic devices mounted on the weapon stations mean they are particularly well provided for in this respect.

Back view of the HE OPV-76 rendering while conducting helo ops (Screenshot from Dearsan video–via Naval News)

We see an illustration of what the stern of the ship looks like. No hangar is provided.

There might be an issue with the boat handling arrangement. Boats are visible under the flight deck, but neither davits nor stern ramps are really visible. Looks like stanchions and the centerline support at the transom preclude a single centerline boat launch ramp like the NSCs have.

Twin launch ramps also appear unlikely. There no visible ramp doors, and the RHIBs we can see do not appear to be on an incline.

Arms might extend outward from under the flight deck to act as davits. If that is the case, with the boats so far aft of the center of pitch, there may be difficulties when the ship is pitching. That may require them to seek a heading that will minimize pitch, just as cutters with stern ramps do, when the boat returns to the cutter, but with the boats being suspended during launch and recovery, they would also want to minimize roll.

USCGC MOHAWK’s Trans-Atlantic, Europe and West Africa Deployment–Wrap Up

I love the T-shirt, great morale builder. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrea Daring, an operations specialist temporarily assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, cleans the bulk heads during a fresh water wash down of the ship while underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Aug. 10, 2022.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Fontenette) 

Below is a media advisory concerning the expected return of USCGC Mohawk from a 92 day deployment that included escorting two PATFORSWA bound Webber class patrol craft accross the Atlantic and port visits and capacity building in Europe and West Africa.

Maybe we need a new slogan, “Join the Coast Guard and see the World.”

It was an unusually very well documented cruise, at least photographically, check it out.

USCGC Mohawk (WMEC-913), Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC-1147), and John Scheuerman (WPC-1146)

USCGC Mohawk sails alongside a Nigerian navy ship in the Atlantic Ocean, Aug. 22, 2022. (Jessica Fontenette/U.S. Coast Guard)

USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) conducts a MK-75 gun exercise while underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Sept. 2, 2022.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Fontenette)

Crew members onboard the USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) prepare for helicopter hoist training on the flight deck while underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Aug. 27, 2022. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Fontenette)


Media Advisory

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Are

Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk to return from 92-Day AFRICOM deployment

KEY WEST, Fla. — USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) and crew are scheduled to return to their homeport Monday following a 92-day, United States Africa Command deployment.

WHO: Cmdr. Andrew Pate, Mohawk’s commanding officer, and Mohawk crew

WHAT: Mohawk crew returns to Key West homeport after 92-day, AFRICOM deployment

WHERE: Coast Guard Sector Key West, 201 Mustin St., Key West, Florida 33040, Delta 2 Pier

WHEN: 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12

Editor’s Note: Media are asked to RSVP by 4 p.m. Sunday to Atlantic Area Public Affairs at 757-452-8336. Media are requested to arrive no later than 12 p.m., Monday, with a driver’s license and proof of insurance in order to be processed through security.

Mohawk’s crew departed Key West, Florida in June and forward-deployed to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe –Africa area of operations, where they were employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.

Mohawk began its deployment as surface action group commander, leading the transatlantic escort of two newly commissioned 154-foot fast response cutters, USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147) and USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146) from Key West, Florida to the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations. Clarence Sutphin Jr. and John Scheuerman continued on to their new homeport in Manama, Bahrain, where they will be employed by U.S. Fifth Fleet.

While on deployment, Mohawk made significant advances in combating piracy and illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing conducting multinational law enforcement operations at sea in the Atlantic basin. Their efforts served to strengthen existing relationships with  African nations, and prioritized opportunities for new partnerships with allies who share common interests in the region. Mohawk’s crew worked closely with eight partner nation navies, sailing nearly 19,000 nautical miles in support of American interests abroad. Leading training exercises at-sea and in port, Mohawk also hosted diplomatic engagements and participated in community relations events during port visits to Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Portugal, Senegal, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. Mohawk was the first United States warship to moor in The Gambia since 1994.

Commissioned in March 1991, Mohawk is the 13th and last of the Famous-class Coast Guard cutters. It is named for the Algonquin tribe of Iroquoian Indians who lived in the Mohawk Valley of New York, and is the third cutter to bear the name. Mohawk is homeported in Key West, Florida.

 Photos from Mohawk’s deployment are available here.

“Coast Guard carves out strategic niche in Africa” –Stars and Stripes

USCGC Mohawk manns the rail as she sails alongside a Nigerian navy ship in the Atlantic Ocean, Aug. 22, 2022. Mohawk is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of operations. (Jessica Fontenette/U.S. Coast Guard)

Stars and Stripes reports on the Coast Guard’s latest capacity building and counter IUU efforts in West African waters.

Previous related reports:

The second link immediately above includes additional links regarding previous similar efforts.

“USCGC Mohawk Arrives in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire” –SeaWaves

USCGC Mohawk (WMEC-913), Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC-1147), and John Scheuerman (WPC-1146)

SeaWaves report,

The Famous-class medium endurance cutter USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) arrived in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire for a scheduled port visit August 12.

The visit demonstrates the strengthening security cooperation relationship between the United States and Côte d’Ivoire. While in Abidjan, the Mohawk crew will exchange with Côte d’Ivoire maritime forces, including medical response treatment, close quarters combat and casualty care, illegal contraband collection and handling, and Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) demonstrations.


Mohawk is forward-deployed to the U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) area of operations, while employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet. Mohawk is on a West Africa patrol to demonstrate partnership with regional partners and conduct a routine presence patrol. Since July, the Mohawk has made port calls to Senegal, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone.

This is a continuation of a voyage that initially escorted the last two Webber class WPCs bound for Bahrain, where they replace 110 foot WPBs that have long served Patrol Forces South West Asia (PATFORSWA). Some previous reporting,

“USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) arrives in Lisbon, Portugal”–Navy.mil–and Two More FRCs for PATFORSWA, and “USCGC Mohawk arrives in Dakar, Senegal” –SeaWaves July, 2022

This is only the latest visit by a WMEC270 to Africa. Some previous reports:

Exercise Obangame Express 2019 –Capacity Building in West Africa, Mar. 2019 and “The U.S. Coast Guard’s Mission to Africa” –USNI, Apr. 2019, USCGC Thetis (WMEC-910)

“The Long Blue Line: Operation “Relevant Ursa”–Bear training in West Africa” –Coast Guard Compass, Oct. 2020, USCGC Bear (WMEC-901)

Thetis Escorts FRCs Transatlantic, and “U.S., Spain, Morocco collaborate to conduct rescue at sea” –LANT AREA News Release, Jan. 2022, USCGC Thetis (WMEC-910)

 

“New Drug Seizure By The French Navy In The Gulf Of Guinea” –Naval News

Naval News reports seizure of 1.7 tons of cocaine in an unusual place, the Gulf of Guinea, off the West coast of Africa. It was apparently incidental a normal French Navy deployment, not specifically a drug interdiction operation.

I found it a bit unusual that the cocaine did not appear to be well hidden. That might indicate how unlikely interception along this route may be.

Significantly this interception was conducted in cooperation with the Gulf of Guinea Interregional Network’s centers of the Yaoundé Process.

The “Landing Helicopter Dock” (LHD) Mistral, is certainly not the type vessel typically involved in drug interdiction.

The frigate involved, FS Courbet, is a Lafayette class frigate. This class always seemed similar in function to Coast Guard WHECs, because, as built, they had no ASW capability. Aside from the Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles they carried, in many respects their capabilities were similar, particularly after the WHECs were FRAMed. The French ships were built about aboout three decades after the Hamilton class. In some ways they apear to be as an intermediate design between the Hamilton class and the Bertholfs. FS Courbet is smaller (3600 tons full load), slower (25 knots), and has less range than the Bertholf class NSCs (7,000 nmi), but has been recently upgraded with a hull mounted sonar, improved point defense AAW systems, and later model Exocet ASCMs.

“Obangame Express 2022 Promotes Cooperation To Fight Sea Crime” –ADF Magazine

Members of the U.S. Navy share critical care techniques with the Senegalese Navy during Obangame Express 2022. U.S. NAVY

I got a reminder that the Obangame Exercise 2022 had concluded (Brazil sent an OPV), so I went looking for some information about possible Coast Guard participation. I found none, although I feel sure at least some special teams were involved.

This report from AFRICOM’s African Defense Forum does include an interesting note,

One important element of the exercise is practicing the use of SeaVision, a maritime domain awareness tool that helps professionals in the operations center track vessels at sea. Created in 2012 by the U.S., this tool is used by about 25 African countries to monitor their waters.

Is this system system something the Coast Guard uses? Is it used by our friends in Latin America? SE Asia? Sounds interesting.

Copenhagen Declaration, Blue Justice Initiative

We are seeing what appears to be growing international cooperation to curb Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and with it, other forms of maritime criminal activity frequently associated with it. A basis for this cooperation is found in the non-binding UN Copenhagen Declaration, Blue Justice Initiative. 48 Nations have signed on to the declaration. It is basically a letter of intent to cooperate. It is reproduced at the end of the post. Notably it has not been endorsed by the US, Canada, UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, India, or China, but this is very important to many smaller nations. I would think the US Coast Guard would be all-in on this. It certainly does not preclude the kinds of bilateral agreements the Coast Guard has with dozens of nations.

How did I learn about this Declaration?

NORTHCOM’s on-line magazine, The Watch, reported on a March 2022 meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). This led me to look for more information on this organization. 

Below is the CRFM report on the meeting. Additional comments follow.


Belize City, Friday, 18 March 2022 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) hosted a Technical Meeting on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Organized Crime in the Fishing Industry this week. It marked an important milestone in the region’s efforts to fortify the region’s response to this very challenging and costly problem, through coordinated action at both the national and regional levels, with the support of the Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Blue Justice Initiative.

The CRFM, its Member States, and partner agencies both at the CARICOM and international levels committed to advancing their collaboration using modern digital technology, to strengthen the region’s response to illegal fishing and transnational organized criminal activities, such as drugs, human and small arms trafficking, trade in contraband goods, document fraud and forgery, tax crimes, and money laundering, which use commercial and recreational fishing as a cover for their activities.

Last October, during a high-level meeting of CRFM Ministers, twelve (12) Member States signed the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also endorsed the Blue Justice Initiative, which supports developing countries in operationalizing the Copenhagen Declaration, aimed at “promoting a sustainable and fair Blue Economy for all, that is free from fisheries crime.”

The CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS convened the technical meeting of senior fisheries and maritime law enforcement officers to identify priority actions to strengthen regional and international cooperation to combat and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fisheries sector. The event marked an important milestone for the Caribbean region in collectively combating the scourge of crime connected with the fishing sector.

Over 90 participants from 15 Member States of the CRFM and representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat, the CRFM, CARICOM IMPACS, the Regional Security System (RSS), UNDP and the Government of Norway participated in the virtual session.

The meeting featured a diverse array of speakers who provided participants with insights on the Blue Justice Initiative and ‘Copenhagen Declaration, the UNDP Blue Resilience Project and its use of digital technology and institutional cooperation, tools and techniques to detect and analyze fisheries crime, and a general overview of fisheries crime in the Caribbean. Participants engaged in interactive sessions, as they contributed to charting the way forward.

In addressing the gathering, Hon. Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, and Chair of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, said: “The fight globally has increased against IUU fishing and organized crime, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Member States of the CRFM continue to honor our duty… It is our quest in the Caribbean to partner with all international agencies to ensure that we reduce criminal activities when it comes to the Blue Economy. We intend to work with regional and international partners and other friendly governments such as Norway… because every Member State in the global community must play an important role.”

CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton noted the seriousness and impacts of illegal and criminal activities in the fisheries sector and expressed the CRFM’s appreciation for Norway’s commitment to the sustainable use of ocean resources, through the Blue Justice Initiative and the Copenhagen Declaration. He thanked the Government of Norway and the UNDP for supporting the region in its efforts to help address this intractable problem.

Important Dates:

15 October 2018:

The Copenhagen Declaration was initially adopted by 9 countries: Faroe Islands, Ghana, Indonesia, Kiribati, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka.

10 December 2020:

Several Ministers responsible for Fisheries from the CARICOM / CRFM Member States took part in a virtual High-Level International Blue Justice Conference that was convened by the Government of Norway. The main purpose of the Conference was to promote and advance political support for the non-binding Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the fishing industry.

 21 May 2021:

At the Fifteenth Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, Ministers discussed the issues and recognized the need for Member States to cooperate with other affected countries to improve understanding and knowledge of the problem, identify countermeasures, and build capacity to prevent, deter and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry, in the region and globally. The Ministers issued Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021, documenting their position.

 4 October 2021:

During a special ministerial meeting, several Ministers from the Caribbean Community responsible for Fisheries, the Blue Economy and related matters, delivered official statements endorsing The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also affirmed their support for the Blue Justice Initiative, established by the Government of Norway to support implementation of the declaration. (View the proceedings and country statementshere.)

Twelve (12) CRFM Member States, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and The Turks and Caicos Islands, signed the Copenhagen Declaration on this occasion.


This in turn led me to a CRFM report of a 5-8 April Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), an organization of 79 member states. Seeing this degree of widespread interest, I had to look up the declaration.


THE DECLARATION

We, the Ministers of Benin, Chile, Costa Rica, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Ghana, Greenland, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Kiribati, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Philippines, São Tomè and Principe, Scotland, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Uruguay;

Encourage other Ministers to support this non-legally binding declaration.

Note the recommendations and the outcome of the 2nd International Symposium on Fisheries Crime held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia 10–11 October 2016 which was published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime at the occasion of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice during its twenty-sixth session in Vienna 22–26 May 2017.

Recognize that our countries are dependent on the sea and its resources and the opportunities it holds for the economy, food and well-being of our population and we are determined to support a healthy and thriving fishing industry that is based on fair competition and the sustainable use of the ocean.

Are committed to work towards the fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals particularly in relation to Goal 14 on “Life Below Water” and Goal 16 on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.”

Are convinced that there is a need for the world community to recognize the existence of transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry and that this activity has a serious effect on the economy, distorts markets, harms the environment and undermines human rights.

Recognize that this transnational activity includes crimes committed through the whole fisheries supply and value chain which includes illegal fishing, corruption, tax and customs fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, document fraud and human trafficking.

Recognize further the inter-continental flow of illegal fish products, illicit money and human trafficking victims in transnational organized crime cases in the global fishing industry and that all regions of the world need to cooperate when investigating such acts

Are convinced that inter-agency cooperation between relevant governmental agencies is essential at a national, regional and international level in order to prevent, combat and eradicate transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry,

Are also convinced that there is a need for international cooperation and that developing countries are particularly affected.

Recognize the particular vulnerability of small-island developing states and other Large Ocean Nations of the impact of transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.

Are also convinced the need for continuous support on the highest level and the necessity for awareness raising on these issues through events such as the International FishCrime Symposium.

Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) Doing Coast Guard Work off West Africa

ADRIATIC SEA – (Feb. 19, 2022) The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) sails the Adriatic Sea, Feb. 19, 2022. Hershel “Woody” Williams is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national interests and security in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV/Released)

The Navy League’s on-line magazine, “Seapower,” has a post, “USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams Completes Gulf of Guinea Maritime Security Patrol,” reporting on the activities of this newly arrived 6th Fleet asset, the “first warship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility.”

And what was this 784 foot (239 m) ship doing?

In March, the joint U.S. and African maritime team interdicted an illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing vessel operating in Sierra Leone’s economic exclusive zone.

In April, as part of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership, the joint team, led by Cabo Verde, worked in coordination with the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics, INTERPOL and Cabo Verde’s national Maritime Operations Center to conduct a compliant boarding of a Brazilian-flagged fishing vessel, which led to the seizure of approximately 6,000 kilograms of suspected cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $350 million.

The US Navy regularly hosts Coast Guard teams in the Caribbean or while operating off Central and South America. US Coast Guard cutters have operated with West African nations previously. Coast Guard teams embarked on US Navy ships have trained with West African nations, but this may be the first time US Coast Guard teams, operating from a US Navy ship, have participated in law enforcement operations on the behalf of a West African nation.

Thetis Escorts FRCs Transatlantic

USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910) is moored behind USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) and USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) in Mindelo, Cabo Verde, on Dec. 29, 2021. Mindelo served as the cutters’ first stop after crossing the Atlantic Ocean before continuing the escort of the fast response cutters to the Mediterranean en route to their new homeport of Manama, Bahrain. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower)

Below is a press release regarding USCGC Thetis’ escort of Fast Response Cutters Emlen Tunnell and Glen Harris across the Atlantic, enroute Bahrain, where they will become part of the PATFORSWA. Contrary to the title on the release, this was not a counter-narcotics deployment. Appropriately enough, they did have a SAR case enroute.

There are some notable differences between this transit and the previous one. The previous escort by Hamilton, apparently made a more northerly transit and Hamilton and the FRCs parted company in the Mediterranean. Hamilton made several port calls in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

This transit, perhaps to avoid the North Atlantic in Winter, actually crossed the equator, replenishing in Fortaleza, Brazil Dec. 22/23. They apparently stayed only one day, and then sailed NE to Mindelo, Cape Verde arriving Dec. 29, 2021. They were, unfortunately, underway over Christmas. Fortaleza to Mindelo is only 1477 nautical miles, one of the shortest ways to cross the Atlantic. The FRCs should have been able to make the crossing with ample fuel reserves, without refueling from Thetis.

There is no mention of Thetis entering the Mediterranean or doing any “capacity building” anywhere other than Mindelo. Their SAR case was Jan. 4.

Thetis’ odyssey started in Key West Nov. 18 and ended Jan. 26, 2022.

I expect we will hear about the arrival of the two WPCs in Bahrain very soon.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jared Phillips speaks with Lt. Mary Mills on the bridge of USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910) in the port of Fortaleza, Brazil, on Dec. 23, 2021. Phillips served as the navigation evaluator while leaving the port and communicated with the cutter’s combat information center through a sound-powered phone. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower)

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

USCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deployment

USCGC Thetis fast response cutter escortUSCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deploymentUSCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deployment

USCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deploymentUSCGC Thetis in BrazilU.S. Coast Guard, partners conduct joint rescue of migrants in Atlantic

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

KEY WEST, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis’s crew (WMEC 910) returned to homeport in Key West on Wednesday, after a 68-day transit escorting the Coast Guard Cutters Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) and Glen Harris (WPC 1144) across the North Atlantic en route to their new homeport in Manama, Bahrain.

Thetis’ crew worked alongside NATO Allies and interagency partners in the region while transiting in the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.

During the patrol, Thetis’s crew received a report from Spain’s Las Palmas Rescue Coordination Center of two overloaded migrant rafts taking on water. Thetis, Glen Harris and Emlen Tunnell crews worked together to rescue 103 migrants from overloaded and unseaworthy vessels and recovered two deceased migrants. The rescued individuals were provided food and medical care prior to being transferred to a Royal Moroccan Navy frigate.

“While escorting two new cutters across the Atlantic, we responded to a distress call and quickly transitioned to our service’s core mission of search and rescue,” said Cmdr. Justin Nadolny, the commanding officer of Thetis. “Working alongside a Moroccan ship, we were able to rapidly respond to those in distress. The case reinforced the importance of joint operations and reaffirmed the U.S. Coast Guard’s presence in the region to ensure the safety of life at sea. I am exceedingly proud of our professional and highly capable team. The crew of all three ships showed remarkable vigilance and adaptability. This case highlighted the Coast Guard’s ability to operate worldwide to protect and save those in distress on the ocean, along with our ability to work seamlessly with international partners to accomplish a shared mission.”

Thetis’ crew strengthened international partnerships in various ports, hosting military and Coast Guard leaders in Fortaleza, Brazil and Mindelo, Cape Verde. Thetis’s crew also embarked a Cape Verdean Coast Guard officer aboard for two weeks. The professional exchange was mutually beneficial, providing U.S. Coast Guard members with a deeper understanding of maritime activity in the region while passing on valuable lessons to our foreign allies.

Prior to departing Cape Verde, U.S. Ambassador Jeff Daigle visited Thetis. The ambassador’s visit showcased the importance of the maritime partnership between the U.S. and Cape Verde while demonstrating the commitment to the shared goal of global maritime security and stability on the African continent.

Thetis deployed with a MH-65 helicopter and aircrews from Air Station Miami and Houston to increase their capabilities. The aviation detachment and cutter crew worked together to conduct day and night flight operations and practice rescue hoists.

Thetis is the first 270-foot medium endurance cutter to escort fast response cutters across the Atlantic in support of the Coast Guard’s Patrol Forces Southwest Asia mission. These cutters are the third and fourth to be deployed to the region, with the final two scheduled to be delivered to Bahrain in the spring of 2022.

Thetis is a 270-foot Famous-class cutter homeported in Key West with a crew of 104. Its primary missions are counter-drug operations, migrant interdiction, enforcing federal fishery laws and search and rescue in support of U.S. Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

“Predicting illegal fishing activity is tip of the iceberg for mature AI technology” –BAE

BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams.

Below is a company press release, but it is an interesting one, with relevance to Coast Guard missions. The Obangame Express Exercise is one the Coast Guard has participated in, in the past. More info on the exercise here and here.


BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams.

The old “finding a needle in a haystack” analogy doesn’t begin to articulate the challenge associated with illegal fishing detection and identification. While a ship may be larger than a needle, the ocean is certainly larger than your biggest haystack. Add the need to not only find the ship, but determine its recent activities, anticipate future movements, and compare them with all other ships in the area — and do it in near real-time using open source data feeds.

At the Obangame Express event, which is the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western Africa, BAE Systems’ Multi-INT Analytics for Pattern Learning and Exploitation (MAPLE) as a Service, MaaS for short, was integrated with SeaVision, the U.S. Navy’s premier tool for unclassified interagency and coalition maritime data sharing. SeaVision is a maritime situational awareness tool that ingests maritime vessel position data from various government and commercial sources and simultaneously displays them on the same screen in a web browser.

“Military organizations use illegal fishing as a model application due to the unclassified nature of the available data,” said Neil Bomberger, chief scientist at BAE Systems’ FAST LabsTM research and development organization. “Successful detection of illegal fishing activity helps address a serious challenge and highlights another use case for our mature artificial intelligence technology.”

Giving depth to data

While manual analysis of individual vessel tracks is possible, it gets exponentially more challenging and time-consuming for large numbers of vessels. BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams. This enables analysts to quickly answer time-sensitive questions, prioritize manual data analysis activities, identify higher-level trends, and focus on decision-making instead of manual data analysis.

During the event, BAE Systems’ MaaS technology processed streaming data and automatically detected vessel behavior events that SeaVision displayed as an additional data layer to support user-friendly and timely analysis. The technology provides full visibility into the data to allow the users to check whether the detected behavior warrants further investigation. This helps build trust in the automation and supports additional analysis.

Decades in the making

BAE Systems’ FAST Labs maritime sensemaking capabilities are rooted in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Backed by nearly two decades of development, their behavior recognition and pattern analysis capabilities continue to show significant utility in real-world environments.

The cloud-based artificial intelligence technology was matured via work on the Geospatial Cloud Analytics (GCA) program. In the months since the successful event, the FAST Labs organization has continued to develop and mature its autonomy portfolio. Elements of its autonomy technology have proven successful in multiple domains including air, land, and sea.

“This successful event delivers on the promise of mature artificial intelligence technology – easy to integrate, incorporating trust, and providing fast and actionable information in a real-world scenario,” continued Bomberger. “The event showcased how our artificial intelligence technology can be deployed in a cloud environment, integrated with a government tool, and used to address relevant maritime activities.”