“JUST IN: Coast Guard Aims to Learn from Navy at RIMPAC” –National Defense

The crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Midgett (WMSL 757) and Kimball (WMSL 756) transit past Koko Head on Oahu, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2019. The Kimball and Midgett are both homeported in Honolulu and two of the newest Coast Guard cutters to join the fleet. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

We are finally getting some information about the Coast Guard’s participation in RIMPAC 2022, and some of it may be a bit surprising.

A Coast Guard CO will command a task force,

Coast Guard Cutter Midgett is commanding Combined Task Force 175, which includes ships from France, Peru and the U.S. Navy, and is conducting air and missile defense, gunnery, mass rescue and anti-submarine warfare exercises.

The surprise, of course, is anti-submarine warfare. Midgett might simply simulate the high value unit to be protected, but Midgett will embark an MH-60R. The “Romeo” version is an ASW helicopter.

The 418-foot Midgett, a national security cutter and the largest class in the Coast Guard fleet, will also sail with a Navy MH-60R helicopter on board.

“Part of that is, how do you sustain that particular airframe? How do you support it for a long-range, two-month or three-month deployment?” he said. The Coast Guard is hoping to convert some of its airframes to ones used by the Navy going forward.

I might add, where do you store the sonobuoys, torpedoes, and other weapons?

(I have felt for a long time there are opportunities for attaching Navy Reserve units, that might include ASW Helicopters and their crews and sonar equipment and supporting personnel, to Coast Guard cutters as mobilization assets.)

Will the helicopter operate from Midgett as part of a Sink-Ex? Will Midgett get to participate in a Sink-Ex?

All the Sink-Exs seem to target ships of frigate size or larger. It would be good to have some smaller targets for less capable weapon systems.

What about the USCGC William Hart (WPC-1134), that will also be participating? Her only activity mentioned is to help set up a SAR exercise,

“As part of RIMPAC, the Hart will deploy two groups of mannequins at sea for the Midgett and a Japanese cutter to find and recover in a mass-rescue operation.”

Hope Hart and Midgett get to exercise against high speed small surface targets.

“SEA Completes Successful Trials Of KraitArray In The English Channel” –Naval News

KraitArray (actual size) on SEA stand at DSEI 2019

Naval News reports,

“SEA, the UK’s defence and security electronic system specialist, has completed successful trials of its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) thin line towed array, KraitArray, in the English Channel – proving its exceptional sensing performance in small vessels.”

This seems to be another example of an ASW system being marketed for unmanned vessels that might also be used on cutters if the need should arise.

The company’s brochure does in fact specifically mention patrol craft and OPVs that are unable to accommodate full size towed arrays. In addition to the towed array, they also make active sonar systems, acoustic decoys, and light weight torpedo launchers.

A towed array might also be a good way to search for low profile smuggling vessels that have a minimal visual and radar cross section.

“Elbit Systems To Supply ASW Capabilities To An Asian-Pacific Navy” –Naval News

Naval News Reports, Israeli defense contractor, Elbit Systems has been awarded contracts totaling about $56M to provide ASW capabilities to an unnamed Asia-Pacific country (my guess, the Philippines).

Elbit Systems will provide the Seagull™ USVs (Unmanned Surface Vessels) configured to perform ASW missions and the Towed Reelable Active Passive Sonar (TRAPS) systems. The Seagull USVs will integrate Helicopter/Ship Long-Range Active Sonars (HELRAS) and will be equipped with the Company’s autonomous suite, Combat Management System and Satellite Communication capability. The TRAPS systems, which will be installed onboard the customer’s corvettes, are low frequency variable-depth-sonars intended for detection, tracking and classification of submarines, midget submarines, surface vessels and torpedoes.

I love to see this stuff because it means there are ASW systems out there that are appropriate for cutters from the largest down to relatively small.

Using helicopter style dipping sonars on surface vessels is not new. The Soviets built a number of corvettes that used this approach (Petya, Mirka, and Koni classes), but the dipping sonars have gotten much better since then.

We have talked about TRAPS before:

HELRES, Helicopter Long Range Active Sonar, is a product of L3Harris, headquartered in Melbourne, FL.

Elbit Systems’ Seagull unmanned surface vessel. I do love this photo because it shows that even a very small vessel can launch light weight torpedoes.

 

“CONVOY ESCORT: THE NAVY’S FORGOTTEN (PURPOSE) MISSION” –War on the Rocks

An Allied convoy heads eastward across the Atlantic, bound for Casablanca, in November 1942. U.S. Navy (photo 80-G-474788), Post-Work: User:W.wolny – This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 520948.

War on the Rocks has a post entitled, “Convoy Escort: The Navy’s Forgotten (Purpose) Mission

Since it has been a Coast Guard mission and may be again, it might be of interest.

Contrary to the impression you may get, most of the North Atlantic convoy work during WWII was done by Great Britain’s Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy. The US Navy played a relatively minor role until mid 1943.

USCGC Duane on North Atlantic Convoy Duty

“US Coast Guard won’t ‘close the door’ on hunting submarines again in the future” –Business Insider

US Coast Guard crew of cutter Spencer watched as a depth charge exploded near U-175, North Atlantic, 500 nautical miles WSW of Ireland, 17 Apr 1943. Photo by Jack January

Business Insider reports on the Commandant’s response to a question posed at a Navy League event. It was hardly a ringing commitment, but the Commandant did say,

“If there was a requirement that was at the joint Coast Guard-Navy-[Department of Defense] level that said, ‘Hey, there’s an urgent need to bring that capability back in Coast Guard,’ I’m not saying we couldn’t revisit that,”

“I’m not so sure I see an immediate return to that mission space here, but again, I don’t close the door on anything since we live in an increasingly complicated world … and requirements change,” Schultz added

We have had an almost 30 year period when the Coast Guard’s Defense Readiness mission has been limited to low level requirements that had little impact on the majority of Coast Guard members. It happened because of the virtual disappearance of any significant naval threat after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but there has always been the possibility that a more active role might reemerge in the future.

If we have no defense readiness mission, there is no reason the Coast Guard should be military. There would be no reason for our ships to have sophisticated fire control systems, electronic warfare systems, or Phalanx CIWS. There would be no reason for defensive systems, because if we were irrelevant in a military conflict, why would an enemy bother wasting ammunition on us.

Many countries have no coast guard or their coast guards are limited to coastal SAR. In many nations their regular navies and air forces, that do have war time missions, also do fisheries protection, drug enforcement, migrant interdiction, coastal security, and SAR.

If our large cutters do not have a wartime defense readiness mission, it is illogical for us to build ships that are 80 to 90% of a frigate or corvette, with 80 to 90% of the crew of those types, when more numerous, much less capable ships could do the non-defense related missions much more economically.

Schultz and other officials have also said new Coast Guard ships will be able to adapt for future missions.

“We’re putting in what we call space, weight, and power to be able to plug and play for all kinds of mission support,” Shannon Jenkins, senior Arctic advisor at the Coast Guard’s Office of Arctic Policy, said at an event in August when asked about arming icebreakers. “It certainly will have the capacity and the abilities to add in whatever we need to execute our national missions, not just Coast Guard missions.”

( I think you mean Coast Guard non-defense related missions, because defense is a Coast Guard mission?)

If conditions are favorable and no conflict appears likely for a long period, then it may make sense to adopt a policy of “fitted for but not with” or a more open weight, space and power reservation approach, but at some point we are going to need leadership in the mold of Admiral Wasche to recognize the need for the Coast Guard to again step up and fill its military role.

Adding an ASW capability will take time. It has become more complex than it was in WWII and we no longer have a lot of ship building and repair facilities capable of quickly upgrading our ships. How good are we at predicting the future?

Even in WWII we began the war terribly unprepared. Cutters were assigned to escort convoys that had neither sonar nor radar. Some ships that got sonars had no trained operators. Although more U-boats were sunk by aircraft than by ships, our air assets failed to sink any submarines (although one sinking was credited, it turned out not to have been the case).

The Navy may be hesitant to ask that the Coast Guard start preparing for possible armed conflict. There are many in the US Navy who might see asking the Coast Guard to shoulder some of the responsibility for naval defense as a diversion of attention from the Navy’s needs. But the Navy has several communities that compete for dollars. If the Coast Guard can provide some surface escorts it may mean more Navy money available for submarines or aircraft, so we may also have support from within the Navy. We really need to talk about the Coast Guard’s role in a major conflict when our non-defense related missions will have a lower priority.

The international environment is starting to take on an ominous resemblance to the late 1930s. The US needs to deter aggressive action. The Coast Guard can play a part in providing a credible naval deterrent, but only if it is seen as capable in the near term. We really need to start thinking about this before the need becomes urgent.

 

How Spencer Became the Coast Guard’s Top U-Boat Killer, Thank You Royal Navy

US Coast Guard crew of cutter Spencer watched as a depth charge exploded near U-175, North Atlantic, 500 nautical miles WSW of Ireland, 17 Apr 1943. Photo by Jack January

Wanted to pass along a bit of Coast Guard history I found on Uboat.net. Below is their list of “Notable Events involving Spencer.”

It really looks like Spencer got a lot of her ASW training from the British Royal Navy, operating in company with British, Canadian, and USN escorts, against small World War I vintage British H class submarines.


23 Mar 1942
HMS H 50 (Lt. H.B. Turner, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with USCGC Spencer and USS Gleaves. (1)

26 Aug 1942
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.R. Drummond, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Yestor (Lt. R.C. Holt, RNVR), HMS Beverley (Lt. R.A. Price, RN), USS BabbittUSS SpencerHMCS Collingwood (T/A/Lt.Cdr. W. Woods, RCNR) and HMCS Trillium (T/Lt. P.C. Evans, RCNR). (2)

22 Dec 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. G.M. Noll, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Fowey (Cdr.(Retd.) L.B.A. Majendie, RN), HMS Carnation (Lt. A. Branson, RNR), HMS Black Swan (Cdr. T.A.C. Pakenham, RN), HMS Tango (T/Lt. J. Hunter, RNR), USS SpencerUSS Badger and HMCS Trillium (T/Lt. P.C. Evans, RCNR). (3)

23 Dec 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. G.M. Noll, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with USS SpencerHMCS Dauphin (T/Lt. R.A.S. MacNeil, RCNR) and HMS Tango (T/Lt. J. Hunter, RNR) plus ships from the 37th Escort Group. (3)

9 Feb 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. M.H. Jupp, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Poppy (Lt. N.K. Boyd, RNR), HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.F. Tognola, RNR) and USS Spencer. (4)

10 Feb 1943
HMS H 28 (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with USS Spencer. (5)

10 Feb 1943
HMS H 44 (Lt. I.S. McIntosh, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMCS Dauphin (T/Lt. M.H. Wallace, RCNR), HMCS Trillium (T/Lt. P.C. Evans, RCNR), HMS Ness (Lt.Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN), HMS Philante (Capt. A.J. Baker-Cresswell, DSO, RN), HMS Folkestone (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, OBE, RN), USS SpencerUSS Campbell and HMCS Rosthern (T/Lt. R.J.G. Johnson, RCNVR). (6)

8 Mar 1943
German U-boat U-633 was sunk in the North Atlantic south-west of Iceland, in position 58.21N, 31.00W, by depth charges from the US Coast Guard cutter USCGC Spencer.

23 Mar 1943
HMS H 28 (Lt. K.H. Martin, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Mallow (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.T.S. Clouston, RNVR), HMS Myosotis (T/Lt. R. Lugg, RNR), HMS La Malouine (T/Lt. V.D.H. Bidwell, RNR), HMS Dianthus (T/A/Lt.Cdr. N.F. Israel, RNR) and USS Spencer. (7)

17 Apr 1943
German U-boat U-175 was sunk in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 47.53N, 22.04W, by depth charges and gunfire from the US Coast Guard cutter USCGC Spencer.

Polar Security Cutters and Coast Guard ASW

The US Naval Institute Proceedings web page has a couple of Coast Guard related articles that did not appear in the print version of Proceedings,

I have reproduced my comments on these topics below.


In regard to arming the Polar Security Cutters (the author seemed fixated on cruise missiles. We did discuss this topic earlier here)

There are limits to what we want to put on ships bound for Antarctica, since they have to be open for inspection. On the other hand if we ever do have a near peer conflict involving the Arctic or Antarctic, these will become rare and essential naval auxiliaries. As such they will probably operate with other vessels, including more powerful warships if appropriate, but that does not mean they should not be able to defend themselves against the possibility of leakers. We need to make provision for last ditch defense with systems like SeaRAM.

Meanwhile the fact that they are law enforcement vessels means they should be able to forcibly stop any private or merchant vessel regardless of size. So far it seems they will have at most, 25mm Mk38 Mod3 guns.

The follow on Medium Icebreakers or Arctic Security Cutters, which are unlikely to go to Antarctica, are more likely to be more heavily armed from the start.


Coast Guard ASW (comments were generally surprisingly adverse):

It is a fact that in WWII most U-boats were sunk by aircraft, but about a third (about 230) were sunk by surface vessels, primarily those of our allies Britain and Canada.

Even when surface vessels did not sink U-boats, they often performed valuable service in blocking access to convoys and in rescuing mariners from sunken ships.

US Naval vessels only sank about 38 U-boats. Coast Guard cutters and Coast Guard manned Navy ships were involved in sinking a disproportionate number of those (ten) for various reasons. Most of the US Navy effort went into the Pacific and most of the USN effort in the Atlantic at least through mid-1943, was in escorting high speed troop convoys than largely avoided contact with U-boats.

Circumstances we will face in any near peer conflict may be very different.

The advantages provided by code breaking in WWII are unlikely.

The advantages provided by radar equipped aircraft detecting U-boats charging their batteries or transiting the Bay of Biscay on the surface during the night no longer exists.

The Chinese surface and air threat would divert the most capable USN assets from ASW tasks.

Unlike the Japanese during the Pacific campaign, the Chinese are likely to make a concerted effort to disrupt our logistics train.

We simply do not have enough ASW assets.

Augmenting Coast Guard cutters to allow them to provide ASW escort and rescue services for ships that are sunk by hostile subs, in lower threat areas, is a low cost mobilization option that can substantially increase the number of escorts at low cost.

This could be facilitated by augmenting cutter with USN Reserves. Navy reserve ASW helicopter squadrons could be assigned to fly from cutters.
LCS ASW modules could be placed on cutters and manned by reactivated Navy reservists with LCS ASW module experience.

Our few US merchant ships need to be protected and when inevitably, some are sunk, we need someone to rescue those mariners, because they have become a rare and precious commodity.

The crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Midgett (WMSL 757) and Kimball (WMSL 756) transit past Koko Head on Oahu, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2019. The Kimball and Midgett are both homeported in Honolulu and two of the newest Coast Guard cutters to join the fleet. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)


In answer to this comment from James M

Add : For (millions)

ASIST : 6.263
Mk 32 SVTT : 3.237
SLQ-25 Nixie: 1.727
AN/SRQ-4 LAMPS III: 4.625
VDS/MFTA combo: 14.802
ASW Combat Suite: 33.684
64.338 total. I am sure something could be arrived at for less. I look at this as what it takes to fit out an NSC the whole way. For one, OPC will never fit that VDS/MFTA on its stern. At best it would be a Nixie, maybe a container towed sonar we don’t yet use, and the mods for MH-60R. It would be good to know the plan for MUSV as it might help the equation. After all, the 64.338 would buy 2 MUSVs without payload. It could also buy an additional FRC.

So, we could equip ASW equip all eleven projected Bertholf class National Security Cutters (NSC) for less than the cost of a single frigate.

Why do you believe the VDS/MFTA would not fit on the Offshore Patrol Cutter? It is fully as large as the NSCs and does not have the boat launch ramp cut into the stern. They are also substantially larger than the LCSs.

OPC “Placemat”

Containerized Sonar

Naval News reports that the French Navy is testing a containerized Thales CAPTAS-1 active/passive variable depth sonar (VDS).

This not the only such sonar available. The Canadians offer a similar system.

Should it be necessary, such systems could conceivably allow sonar systems to be added to all Coast Guard cutters the size of the Webber class Fast Response Cutters and larger.

“GeoSpectrum Launches Low Frequency Active VDS Deployable by USVs”

Geospectrum’s new, compact version of the Towed Reelable Active Passive Sonar (TRAPS) suitable for Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs)

NavyNews reports that Canadian Company GeoSpectrum has developed a version of their “Towed Reelable Active Passive Sonar” (TRAPS) that is scaled to fit vessels as small as 12 meter Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV).

We talked earlier about an earlier version of this system. If it fits on a 12 meter (39’4″) USV, then it should certainly be able to fit on anything WPB or larger. If we should ever have to go to war, this might be a capability we would want to protect our harbor approaches from submarines. We would probably also want to add an ASW torpedo launching capability.

It might be worth doing some experimentation to see how it works, and if desirable, draw up plans for adding this or a similar system for mobilization. First of course we should take a look at the results of Canada’s tests.

Might also be desirable to have something like this for the Webber class cutters going to PATFORSWA, since the Iranians have a large number of small conventionally powered submarines.

Maybe it could help us find semi-submersibles smuggling drugs as well. 

Surface Navy Association 2019 –Virtual Attendance

Like many of you, I was unable to attend the Surface Navy Association Conference, but I did find a number of videos which may provide some of the information that would have been available there. The Coast Guard Commandant had been scheduled to speak but cancelled, apparently in response to the partial government shutdown.

I have provided three videos, each about ten minutes, that may be of general interest, and links to four others, typically 20-25 minutes. The descriptions are from their respective YouTube pages.

The second and third videos have specific Coast Guard content, which I have identified by bold typeface with the beginning time in parenthesis. Some of the other equipment may have Coast Guard applications in the future.

Day 1 video coverage at SNA 2019, the Surface Navy Association’s national symposium. In this video we cover:
– Austal latest frigate design for FFG(X)
– Raytheon DART Variable Depth Sonar (VDS)
– Raytheon / Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM)
– Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti Ship Missile (LRASM)

Day 2 video coverage at SNA 2019, the Surface Navy Association’s national symposium.
In this video we cover:
– Fincantieri Marine Group FREMM frigate design for FFG(X)
– General Dynamics NASSCO John Lewis-class T-AO (New Oiler)
– Raytheon SM-2 restart
– Raytheon SM-3
– Leonardo DRS Hybrid Electric Drive for U.S. Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) (time 11:10)

Day 3 video coverage at SNA 2019, the Surface Navy Association’s national symposium. In this video we cover:
– Atlas North America’s solutions for mine counter measures, harbor security and unmanned surface vessels
– Lockheed Martin Canadian Surface Combatant (Type 26 Frigate, Canada’s Combat Ship Team)
Insitu ScanEagle and Integrator UAS (time 4:30)
– Raytheon SPY-6 and EASR radar programs

NAVSEA’s Moore on Improving Ship Repair, McCain & Fitzgerald, Ford, LCS

Vice Adm. Tom Moore, USN, the commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command, discusses US Navy efforts to increase public and private ship repair capabilities, lessons learned from repairing USS John S. McCain and Fitzgerald, the new Ford-class aircraft carrier, getting the Littoral Combat Ship on regular deployments and more with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian at the Surface Navy Association annual conference and tradeshow in Northern Virginia.

GE Marine’s Awiszus on LM2500 Engine Outlook, Future Shipboard Power

George Awiszus, military marketing director of GE Marine, discusses the outlook for the company’s LM2500 engine that drives warships in more than 30 nations and the future of shipboard power with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference and tradeshow in Northern Virginia.

US Navy’s Moran on Improving the Surface Force, Culture, Ship Repair & Information Sharing

Adm. Bill Moran, USN, the vice chief of naval operations, discusses dialogue with China, improving the surface force in the wake of 2017’s deadly accidents, refining Navy culture, increasing ship repair capabilities, harnessing data, improving information sharing across the force and the new Design for Seapower 2.0 with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference and tradeshow in Northern Virginia.

US Navy’s Coffman on New Expeditionary Warfighting Concepts, Organizations, Unmanned Ships

Maj. Gen. David “Stretch” Coffman, USMC, the US Navy’s director of expeditionary warfare (N95), discusses new expeditionary warfighting concepts, the recent deployment of Littoral Combat Group 1 — composed of USS Wayne E Meyer (DDG-108) and USS Somerset (LPD-25) — to South America, new formations to replace the current Amphibious Ready Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit, unmanned ships, the performance of the F-35B Lightning II and more with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian.