Photos to Share, Report of Collision and Two Canadian AOPS in Key West

An overloaded migrant vessel sails next to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Confidence off the northwest coast of Haiti on Thursday, May 20, 2022. The Coast Guard said the boat collided with the bow of the cutter. U.S. Coast Guard

Couple of photographs of interest.

First is a photo of a ship I served on, USCGC Confidence (now based in Florida instead of Kodiak). The photo is from a Miami Herald report, “Coast Guard says migrant boat collided with cutter off the coast of Haiti.(apparently very minor) Confidence is about 56 years old and still doing the job. I see four RHIBs in the photo and Connie has only two. No indication where the other two came from.

The second is from Facebook. What are two Canadian Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) doing in Key West? One has been doing drug interdiction with the US Coast Guard.

HMCS Harry Dewolf (AOPV 430) and HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) alongside at NAS Key West, Florida in late May of 2022. HMCS Margaret Brooke is finishing warm weather trials on the ships cooling systems. HMCS Harry DeWolf is finishing a Op Caribbe with the USCG.

“Royal Bahamas Defence Force makes huge surge in migrant apprehensions” –The Watch

NorthCom’s online magazine, “The Watch,” reports,

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) announced that its migrant apprehensions increased dramatically in 2021 when compared with the previous year.

RBDF Commodore Raymond King said during a January 2022 news conference that detainments in the Bahamas increased by 456% in the past year, according to The Tribune, a Bahamian newspaper. King said the RBDF is faced with “people  smugglers” who are using more sophisticated methods to evade authorities.

This is really a success story with strong USCG involvement. There was also success reported in discouraging illegal fisheries poaching.

Related:

“MASTERING EXPEDITIONARY IUU FISHERIES ENFORCEMENT IN THE BAHAMAS” –CIMSEC

“U.S. upgrades Bahamas’ maritime security” –The Watch

Damen to Build New Patrol Boats for Bahamas

Thailand Buys AT-6 for Coast Guard Type Missions

Defense News reports that Thailand has become the first international customer for the Textron Beechcraft AT-6 light attack aircraft.

Thomas Hammoor, president and CEO of Textron Aviation Defense, said in a statement that the Royal Thai Air Force selected the Beechcraft AT-6 to conduct a broad array of missions in support of border security as well as anti-smuggling, counternarcotics and anti-human trafficking operations.

This is basically the same aircraft Coast Guard aviators train on before they get their wings, but with upgrades. I can’t help but think something like this or the similar Embraer A-29 Super Tucano could handle a lot of ISR missions more economically than what we are using now.

They could be used to scout for D7 Webber class FRCs doing drug or migrant interdiction and provide shots across the bow and over-watch in lieu of a helicopter.

The Washington DC air intercept mission in particular comes to mind. Local searches for overdue boats is another possibility. As you can see these aircraft support integrated electro-optical sensors.

An AT-6 Beechcraft is on display at the 2021 Dubai Airshow. (Agnes Helou/Staff)

Armed, these could also provide a response to terrorist attacks. My earlier ramblings on Coast Guard aircraft missions here.

Shelter for Migrants

RESOLUTE conducts an at-sea transfer with CGC DILIGENCE. The transfer included a 77 Haitian migrants, their personal belongings, and a Creole interpreter. In total, RESOLUTE cared for 260 Haitian migrants. All migrants are given food, water, and medical attention once onboard a Coast Guard cutter. During a 56-day patrol, RESOLUTE provided overt presence in Northern Haiti to deter illegal and dangerous migration voyages. Photo by ENS Alex Cordes.

The photo above came with the press release below. I don’t normally publish these routine patrol reports, but I wanted to publish the picture to illustrate how the Coast Guard is sheltering large numbers of migrants on small cutters. You can see the awnings fore and aft. The migrants are sheltered there.

This does mean the cutter cannot operate a helicopter or its Mk38 gun mount. Access to sanitary facilities is limited.

united states coast guard

News Release  U.S. Coast Guard 7th District PA Detachment Tampa Bay

 

Coast Guard cutter Resolute returns home from 56-day deployment

Resolute conducts an at-sea transfer with Cutter Diligence.

Editor’s Note: Click on the images to download high resolution versions

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Resolute returns home to St. Petersburg, Florida, Saturday, following a successful 56-day Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S) and Coast Guard District Seven (D7) Patrol in the Caribbean Sea.

During the patrol, Resolute interdicted multiple suspected smugglers on a go-fast vessel obtaining 279.5 kilograms of cocaine, and rescued 260 Haitian migrants.

 Resolute, with the assistance from a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) maritime patrol aircraft, tracked and pursued a drug smuggling vessel for eight hours, culminating in a successful intercept and seizure. The suspected smugglers were detained and later transferred for case disposition in the United States.

Due to increased political instability in Haiti, Resolute’s tasking shifted to Alien Migration Interdiction Operations in the Windward Pass; specifically to overtly patrol and discourage unsafe maritime migration voyages. On Sept. 24, Resolute conducted one of the largest single-unit repatriations into Cap Haitien, Haiti in recent history. Small-boat crews conducted 78 consecutive transfers safely returning all 260 migrants and their personal belongings back to Haitian authorities.   

On Sept. 22, Resolute interdicted an overcrowded sail freighter with 183 Haitian migrants including 17 children and infants aboard. Bound for the United States, the 55-foot vessel was dangerously overloaded and lacked sufficient navigation and safety equipment to make the journey. All 183 migrants were transferred safely to the cutter where they were provided food, water, shelter, and medical attention. In less than 24-hours, Resolute received an additional 77 migrants from another Coast Guard asset, raising the total count to 260.

“The migrant interdiction mission is always unique; while the migrants are attempting to escape the poor living conditions in Haiti, their unsafe voyages risk the lives of innocent people, including children,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Wooley, a maritime enforcement specialist. “It is unfortunate to see, but it makes us feel good knowing that we potentially saved 183 people from capsizing and drowning at sea.”

After a long and successful patrol, the crew is eager to return home and spend the holiday season with friends, family and loved ones.

“The crew’s actions during this patrol were heroic and inspiring. I am especially impressed with their professional dexterity and ability to shift from counter-drug operations to humanitarian missions in a moment’s notice, embracing our service motto: Semper Paratus-Always Ready,” said Cmdr. Justin Vanden Heuvel, commanding officer of Resolute.

Resolute is a 210-foot Reliance class cutter and has a crew of 72. Resolute was commissioned on December 8, 1966, and is homeported St. Petersburg, Florida.

For more information about Resolute’s patrol, please contact our Public Affairs Officer, Ensign Alex Cordes at

Alexander.N.Cordes@uscg.mil or visit our website at https://www.atlanticarea.uscg.mil/Area-Cutters/CGCRESOLUTE/. Follow us on Facebook at <\http://www.facebook.com/uscoastguardcutterResolute.

For more breaking news follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

“Migrants flown out of Texas border city after thousands cross Rio Grande” –Reuters

© Reuters/MARCO BELLO People board an U.S. Coast Guard airplane at the Del Rio International Airport as U.S. authorities accelerate removal of migrants at border with Mexico, in Del Rio

Reuters reports that,

“Reuters journalists saw a white bus escorted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents enter the Del Rio airport, then a group boarding a Coast Guard plane. A police source said the people were migrants and a source familiar with airport operations said the aircraft was heading to El Paso, Texas.”

Coast Guard vessels have routinely been to forcibly return migrants to their home countries. Its one of the more distasteful tasks that come with the job. This is the first time I have heard of our aircraft being used for that purpose (not to say it has never happened before, I don’t know).

This is a C-27J out of CGAS Sacramento. I can almost hear the air crew members saying, “This is not what I signed up for!”

Incidentally, any partisan political statements in the comments will be deleted. Take it somewhere else. 

“British Army drone to fly over English Channel to monitor migrant boats” –Independent

Thales Watchkeeper WK450

Like the US Coast Guard, the UK Border Force conducts Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations. They are reportedly getting some assistance from the British Army in the form of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) being used to patrol the English Channel.

The UAVs are Thales Watchkeeper WK 450s (manufacturer’s brochure here) an improved version of the Israeli Elbit Hermes 450 with the addition of a dual-mode synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indication system, providing all weather target acquisition.

The Watchkeeper program has not been cheap, about 1.2 billion pounds to provide and support 54 drones, and it has had its problems. They were supposed to have been operational in 2010, but apparently only reached Initial Operational Capability in 2014. Five have crashed. Regarding the current fleet,

“45 Watchkeeper airframes were in service as at 23 July 2020. 13 have flown in the past 12 months and 23 have been in storage for longer than 12 months. Of those flying, 10 have been operated by the Army from Akrotiri in Cyprus and Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, three have been used for test and evaluation. The airframes in storage are held at specific, graduated, levels of readiness. This is commensurate with practices used on other Defence capabilities and assets.”

The airframes are:

  • Length: 19.69 ft (6 m)
  • Span: 34.45 ft (10.5 m)
  • Engine: Winkel rotary, 52 hp
  • Max Speed: 95 knots
  • Operational Radius: 200 km; 108 nm (Line of Sight)
  • Endurance: 16+ hours
  • Service ceiling 18,045 feet (5,500 m)

This means, it is about half the size of the familiar MQ-1 Predator, also a bit slower and their service ceiling is lower.

The British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has selected Israel’s Elbit to demonstrate the capabilities of their larger Eblit Hermes 900 UAVs. which has capabilities similar to those of the MQ-1. Meanwhile the RAF is also flying surveillance over the English Channel. 

“H.R. 367/S.21 the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act” –Navy League

I am passing this along for our friends in the Navy League who are trying to help make sure we don’t have pay interruptions in the future. Thanks to Lee for bringing it to my attention. 

The Navy League is launching a campaign to support H.R. 367/S.21 the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act, which would ensure active-duty service members are paid during a government shutdown. For the first time in history the men and women of the Coast Guard worked without pay due to a lapse in appropriations during the partial shutdown earlier this year. This legislation would change that, and we support its passage. This bi-partisan, bi-cameral bill, sponsored by Chairman of the House Transportation Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) has 186 cosponsors in the House and 40 in the Senate. It passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last month, allowing it to be put on the calendar for a vote by the full House.

Take Action Now! Tell your Member of Congress to co-sponsor the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act.

A Conversation with Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard–CSIS

CSIS and the United States Naval Institute (USNI) conduct an interview with Admiral Karl L. Schultz, the 26th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, conducted 1 August, 2018.

Below I will attempt to outline the conversation, noting the topics and in some cases providing a comment.

The first question is about immigration. Coast Guard is the “away game.” minimizing the factors that push immigration to the US.

The Commandant does not expect a substantial increase in help from the Navy, because they are already heavily tasked, but would welcome any additional help.

06:30 Talk about Inland fleet. Congressional support is evident. $25M provided so far.

9:20 House Appropriations Committee decision to divert $750M from the icebreaker program to fund “the Wall” in their markup of the FY2019 budget bill. The Commandant is “guardedly optimistic”

11:30 Human capital readiness? Operating account has been flat and effectively we have lost 10% in purchasing power. Want to increase leadership training.

16:30 Support for combatant commanders.

18:00 Capacity building and partnering. Detachments working on host nation platforms.

21:00 Defense Force planning–Not going back to the MARDEZ model.

22:30 Situation in Venezuela/Preparation for dealing with mass migration.

24:30 Arctic forums–Need to project our sovereignty

29:00 UNCLOS

30:00 Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)

32:30 Tracking cargo as an element of MDA

34:00 Cyber

36:15 High Latitude engagement/partnerships.

39:30 Perhaps the icebreaker should be the “Polar Security Cutter?”

40:00 International ice patrol, still an important mission.

41:00 CG role in response to Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea. In discussion with Indo-Pacific Command. Will see more CG presence there.

44:00 Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC)–on track

46:30 Border issue — passed on that

48:00 Small satellites–we are looking at them

49:00 African Capacity building/cooperation. May send an MEC.

51:30 Tech modernization. Looking at it more holistically.

Other Coverage:

This interview prompted a couple of notable posts.

SeaPower’s coverage of the discussion is here. They focused on the growth of demands on the Coast Guard.

Military.com reported on the possibility of a greater Coast Guard role in South East Asia and capacity building in Africa. It probably should be noted that the title, “Coast Guard Could Send Ship to Pacific to ‘Temper Chinese Influence’,”is a bit deceptive in that the Commandant’s remark about tempering Chinese Influence was in regard to Oceania, the islands of the Central and Western Pacific. The Commandant was quoted in the Seapower post, “In the Oceania region, there are places where helping them protect their interests, tempering that Chinese influence, is absolutely essential.”

CBP Intercepts Canadian Fishing Boats in Disputed Waters

We have a Canadian report (actually more than one) that Customs and Border Protection marine units are intercepting, boarding, and questioning Canadian fishermen in a disputed area in the vicinity of Machias Seal Islandabout 19 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan Island and east of Maine.

In the past two weeks, at least 10 Canadian fishing boats from New Brunswick have been intercepted by U.S. Border Patrol agents while fishing in the disputed waters around Machias Seal Island, a spokesman for the fishermen says.

According to the report, “They’re in international waters, so border patrol shouldn’t be boarding Canadian vessels.”

Additionally it is reported the agents were asking questions about illegal immigrants. You have to appreciate the Canadians’ sense of humor.

The suggestion that the border agents were looking for illegal immigrants seems improbable, he said.

“That’s possible, but … the Gulf of Maine is not a major route for illegal immigrants sneaking into the United States,” Kelly said. “If anything, people are sneaking the other way. They’re trying to get out of the U.S. and into Canada to claim asylum.”

There is an angrier sounding report here.