Nice piece on USCGC Healy’s current voyage circumnavigating North America from the Seattle Times.
An interesting news release from CCGD1 below. While looking for an appropriate photo, I found an earlier article, “Hunting for Bear, the Search for the Coast Guard’s Most Iconic Vessel,” by MARK A. SNELL, PH.D., U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, beginning on page 56 of the Spring 2019 issue of Proceedings of the Marine Safety and Security Council. This is the way it ends.
A few years ago, an aspiring author posted an ode about the loss of the Bear on a website known as “Ghost Stories for Lovers.” Her thoughts on the final moments of the iconic ship are an apt denouement both for the sinking of the Bear and the conclusion of this article:
“I imagine her exhaustion. I imagine the familiar rush of waves lapping against her parched skin, reawakening every memory of every youthful adventure with such
a flood of overwhelming intensity that the strength of the wind and the salt and the biting northern air that she once drank now aches. Her arthritic timbers swell and throb as they move through the rough ocean. The towline grows taut, too taut, as she struggles to keep pace with the smaller boat. Did she welcome the final gale that snapped it, I wonder, that final push of force that plunged her mast deep into her hull, into her heart, releasing nearly a century’s worth of man’s insatiable hope from her shattered bones and back into the sea from which he crawled?
“She didn’t take anyone down with her. The two sailors who were with her when it happened shivered and gaped from the rails of the tugboat that rescued them as she slipped further into the black water. Slowly. Silently. As if she were never there…”
Media Availability: Coast Guard, NOAA to hold event to announce the discovery of U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear and arrival of U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker in Boston
Editors’ Note: Media interested in attending are requested to RSVP at 617-223-8515 or D1PublicAffairs@USCG.mil by 9:30 a.m., Oct. 13, 2021 and should arrive no later than 2:45 p.m. and must follow proper CDC guidelines for COVID-19.
BOSTON—The Coast Guard is scheduled to hold an event to discuss the discovery of the wreckage of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear and the arrival of the USCGC Healy (WAGB 20) following its recent transit of the Arctic’s Northwest Passage.
WHO: Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander, Capt. Kenneth Boda, USCGC Healy commanding officer, Coast Guard historians and representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
WHAT: The Coast Guard is announcing the findings of the wreckage of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, a vessel of historical significance to the Arctic, and discussing the arrival of the USCGC Healy, one of the Service’s polar icebreakers.
WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.
WHERE: Boston Cruise Ship Terminal, 1 Black Falcon Ave. Boston, MA 02210
The USRC Bear was built in Scotland in 1874 as a steamer ship and purchased by the U.S. government in 1884 for service in the U.S. Navy as part of the rescue fleet for the Greely Expedition to the Arctic, which gave world-wide acclaim as the vessel that rescued the few survivors of that disastrous expedition. In 1885, the Bear was transferred from the Treasury Department for service in the Arctic as a Revenue Cutter and for 41 years it patrolled the Arctic performing search and rescue, law enforcement operations, conducting censuses of people and ships, recording geological and astronomical information, recording tides and escort whaling ships. Between 1886-1895, the captain of Bear was “Hell Roaring Mike” Healy. The USCGC Healy was commissioned in 1999 and named in his honor. During World War II, the Bear served during the Greenland Patrols and participated in the capture of a German spy vessel, the trawler Buskoe. It was decommissioned in 1944 and was lost at sea while being towed in 1963.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew, following in the Bear’s tradition of Arctic service, recently completed a transit of the Arctic Northwest Passage. Healy is one of the Coast Guard’s polar-capable icebreakers and operates as a multi-mission vessel to protect American interests in the Arctic region.
For nearly two decades, NOAA Ocean Exploration, the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Maritime Heritage Program, the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development center, and a number of academic research partners have been engaged in a search for the final resting place of U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear.
For more information, please visit NOAA’s Ocean Exploration website.
The Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) has provided media used in the Coast Guard’s presentation booths at Sea Air Space 2021, August 2 and 3. While certainly not a substitute for being there, they do provide insights into programs and concerns.
Coast Guard Booth Presentations at Sea Air Space 2021
- Blue Technology Center of Expertise (BTCOE)
Overview Blue Technology Center of Expertise presentation
Ms. Jennifer Ibaven and Dr. Peter Vandeventer, BTCOE Program Managers, Office of Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and Innovation (CG-926)
Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 3-3:30p.m.
- Coast Guard Detachment at DOD’s Defense Innovation Unit
DIU & USCG Overview presentation
Cmdr. Michael Nordhausen, Liaison Officer to Defense Innovation Unit
Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 4-4:30p.m.
- Unmanned Systems
U.S. Coast Guard Unmanned Systems presentation
Capt. Thom Remmers, Assistant Commandant for Capabilities Unmanned Systems Cross-Functional Team Lead
Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, 2:30-3p.m.
Cybersecurity and Cyberspace Operations presentation
Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Albert, Office of Cyberspace Forces
Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, 3-3:30p.m.
- The Future of the Arctic
U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Policy presentation
Mr. Shannon Jenkins, Senior Arctic Policy Advisor
Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 11-11:30a.m.
- Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
U.S Coast Guard IUU Fishing Strategic Outlook presentation
Cmdr. James Binniker, Office of Law Enforcement Policy, Living Marine Resources and Marine Protected Resources Enforcement Division
Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 2:30-3p.m.
The Navy League’s Seapower website reports,
In a flight that originated from its Flight Test and Training Center (FTTC) near Grand Forks, North Dakota, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew a company-owned MQ-9A “Big Wing” configured unmanned aircraft system north through Canadian airspace past the 78th parallel, the company said in a Sept. 10 release.
A traditional limitation of long-endurance UAS has been their inability to operate at extreme northern (and southern) latitudes, as many legacy SATCOM datalinks can become less reliable above the Arctic (or below the Antarctic) Circle – approximately 66 degrees north. At those latitudes, the low-look angle to geostationary Ku-band satellites begins to compromise the link. GA-ASI has demonstrated a new capability for effective ISR operations by performing a loiter at 78.31° North, using Inmarsat’s L-band Airborne ISR Service (LAISR).
The 78th parallel lies more than 1200 nautical miles North of Kodiak. Getting any kind of air recon that far north, other than perhaps icebreaker based helicopters, has always been difficult.
Even our icebreakers have difficulty communicating. Satellite coverage at these high latitudes is spotty at best.
The ability to operate UAS in this environment could substantially improve our Polar Domain Awareness and serve as a communications relay for multiunit operations in the Arctic or Antarctic.
The high altitude capability of these aircraft also provides a far larger view than would be possible from a helicopters. The horizon distance from 45,000 feet is about 250 nautical miles.
Just passing this along.
CIMSEC provides a discussion of the possibility of using high altitude balloons as communications links in the Arctic.
Even if balloons are not the answer, the article at least does an excellent job of outlining the difficulties of communicating in the Arctic (or Antarctic).
Just passing this along.
Vice Adm. Steven Poulin to speak at August 2021 Arctic eTalks
Editors’ Note: To view more or download high-resolution imagery from
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Please join us for the August 2021 Arctic eTalks distinguished speaker presentation on “The United States Coast Guard – Our Arctic Partnerships: Safety, Security, and Environmental Stewardship” by Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area, Coast Guard Defense Force East.
*Attendees must register ahead to ensure delivery of Zoom information! Registration is free.
The Arctic eTalks is a monthly forum for open discussion (non-attribution, Chatham House Rule) in key issues affecting the Circumpolar Arctic for academics, defense and security professionals, and military leaders from Canada, Finland, Kingdom of Denmark (Greenland and Faroe Islands), Norway, Sweden, and the United States, as well as the United Kingdom and Germany.
This event is presented by our valued Arctic eTalks partners U.S. Northern Command and the command’s “The Watch” Magazine, U.S. European Command, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and the Center for Arctic Security and Resilience (CASR) – the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Vice Adm. Poulin will provide a 30-minute presentation with slides followed by a 60-minute Q&A session (non-attribution) moderated by Mr. Shannon Jenkins, U.S. Coast Guard, and Dr. Adam Lajeunesse, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Maritime Security Policy, St. Francis Xavier University, Canada.
Note: Past Arctic eTalks presentations are posted on our Arctic eTalks website. However, the Q&A discussions are not posted and are open only to registered Arctic eTalks participants during the live event.
Please register at the following link: https://alaska.zoom.us/…/regi…/WN_I1uUp6HIRvSAIXiWzXEmgg
Event website: https://www.uaf.edu/casr/activities/etalks_aug_2021.php
Below is an Atlantic Area news release. Perhaps the photo above best conveys the importance of the release. We sent a Webber Class cutter from North Carolina, accompanied by a 270 foot WMEC, North through the Labrador Sea, through the Davis Strait into the Arctic waters of Baffin Bay.
This follows Nanook 2020 when 270 foot WMECs operated North of the Arctic Circle of the first time (and here). This is also part of the first operational deployment of Canada’s Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship, class leader HMCS Harry DeWolf as she begins a circumnavigation of North America.
I note, unlike 2020, the Danes and French are not participating, at least in this “incident management and search and rescue” portion of the exercise.
Resupply in Greenland following the exercise renews a long association between the Coast Guard and Greenland.
U.S. Coast Guard completes Operation Nanook 2021
Editors’ Note: To view more or download high-resolution imagery, click on the photos above.
NUUK, Greenland — Strengthening partnerships and testing interoperability, the USCGC Escanaba (WMEC 907) and USCGC Richard Snyder (WPC 1127) participated in Operation Nanook in early to mid-August.
Operation Nanook is the Canadian Armed Forces’ signature Arctic operation, comprising a series of comprehensive, joint, interagency, and multinational activities designed to exercise the defense of Canada and security in the region and incident management response and search rescue capabilities. With commercial traffic and cruise ships increasingly visible in the Arctic, international collaborations are necessary to meet this increased traffic’s potential search and rescue challenges. Nanook-Tuugaalik is the maritime component of the Nanook series of deployments and training events intended to be an Arctic naval presence operation and domain awareness of the waters in and around Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. Nanook-Tatigiit is the incident management and search and rescue exercise portion.
“We had excellent training with the crews of HMCS Harry Dewolf (AOPV 430), HMCS Goose Bay (MM 707), and Richard Snyder. The joint effort during Tuugaalik and Tatigiit included multi-ship small boat training, formation steaming, hailing and signals exercises, and more. Weather, especially in the Arctic, is a genuine consideration, and increasing sea state and fog tested us,” said Cmdr. Ben Spector, the commanding officer of Escanaba. “The U.S. Coast Guard remains committed to conducting operations and combined maritime exercises throughout the Atlantic and the Arctic region, ensuring mission capacity and future force readiness. Training with our partners and allied nations ensure all countries are ready, relevant, and responsive in an ever-evolving maritime environment.”
This operation is also the first time the U.S. Coast Guard deployed a 154-foot Sentinel-class fast response cutter to the region – USCGC Richard Snyder. As the inventory of FRCs grows, the U.S. Coast Guard continues to test the full range of their capability, including operations in high latitude environments. While these ships are not ice-strengthened, units observed mitigations, such as the deployment time of year and carefully considering operating areas.
“The FRC has fared exceedingly well in the Arctic. Our major concerns were fuel and food, and there have been no issues with either as the cutter continues to steam through the operational area and complete all training and interactions with stellar results,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Bredariol, the commanding officer of Richard Snyder. “We’ve done some once-in-a-lifetime activities including Fjords transits, getting close aboard icebergs much larger than the cutter; restricted waters transits in harsh conditions and deployment to an unfamiliar but mission-critical area. Our colleagues aboard the Escanaba were critical in our deployment, assisting with logistics and operational support. I can’t express enough our appreciation as we deployed far from our normal operations area and completed mission sets that we don’t generally practice. As a cutter based in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, we primarily focus on living marine resources and search and rescue.”
Following Nanook, both ship’s crews are conducting engagements and resupplying in Nuuk (Greenland–Chuck). Snyder will return home. Escanaba will transition to support Frontier Sentinel, an annual exercise between the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and Royal Canadian Navy, ensuring the ability of the Tri-Party Staff and tactical assets to work together. This year’s live exercise uses feedback from the prior year’s tabletop discussion.
Participants in all exercises are observing COVID-19 protocols to mitigate exposure and comply with host nation guidelines. Exercise scenarios took into account our COVID restrictions and respective realities.
Operation Nanook is the third of four major deployments of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Atlantic Arctic Season. In June, the USCGC Eagle (WIX 327) visited Iceland, where Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, the Atlantic Area commander, hosted Icelandic officials for Arctic discussions. Also, in June, the USCGC Maple (WLB 207) participated in the Danish Joint Arctic Command’s annual exercise, Ex Argus, in Southern Greenland with international partners. Later this fall, the USCGC Healy (WAGB 20) will make stops along the U.S. East Coast after transiting the Northwest Passage on their circumnavigation of North America.
Operation Nanook has been held annually since its inception over a decade ago. Last year’s exercise was scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While participants could not conduct port visits, the activity focused on naval readiness, ship tracking, and gunnery operations between multinational partners, including the United States, Canada, Denmark, and France. The U.S. sent the USCGC Tahoma (WMEC 908) and USCGC Campbell (WMEC 909) to participate.
USCGC Escanaba is a 270-foot Famous-class medium endurance cutter with a crew of about 100 operating for the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. USCGC Richard Snyder is a Fifth Coast Guard District 154-foot Sentinel-class fast response cutter with a crew of about 24 also operating for U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. The Atlantic Area commander and staff oversee all Coast Guard domestic operations east of the Rocky Mountains, including the Arctic, Caribbean, and Southern Atlantic and Coast Guard out-of-hemisphere operations in Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia.
The Harry DeWolf class is an almost unique type of ship. Canada is building eight, six for their Navy and two for their Coast Guard. It is derived from the similar and perhaps slightly more capable Norwegian Coast Guard vessel Svalbard, which has made it to the North Pole and recently undertook a mission the Healy was unable to complete due to a machinery casualty.
They are classified as “Artic and Offshore Patrol Ships” or AOPS, rather than icebreakers, but they are clearly designed to operate in ice and are rated Polar Class 5 (Year-round operation in medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions). In many ways they approximate the similarly sized and powered old Wind Class icebreakers. (2012 post on the class with updates in the comments here.)
Below are another photo and a couple of videos, but first the specs.
- Displacement: 6,615 t (6,511 long tons)
- Length: 103.6 m (339 ft 11 in)
- Beam: 19 m (62 ft 4 in)
- Draft: 6.5 m (21 ft 4 in) (estimate based on that of Svalbard)
- Propulsion Generators: Four 3.6 MW (4,800 hp)
- Propulsion Motors: 2 × 4.5 MW (6,000 hp)
- Speed: 17 knots
- Endurance: 6,800 nautical miles
- Crew: 65 (accomodations for 85)
- Armament: one 25mm Mk38 remote weapon system modified for Arctic Conditions and two .50 cal. machine guns (I do feel this is inadequate.)
Naval News reports on a Webinar conducted by Admiral Robert Burke who is Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Africa, and Commander of Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples. Previously he served as Vice Chief of Naval Operations. He is a submariner. Sounds like he spent some time under the ice.
There is a lot here about the Arctic. Keep in mind he is talking primarily about the Atlantic side rather than the waters around Alaska. This is primarily about the Russian threat, but there are concerns about China as well.