“Bangladesh, U.S. and regional organizations discuss shared maritime domain awareness goals” –IndoPacificDefenseForum

A report from IndoPacificDefenseForum about an aspect of the CARAT exercise with Bangladesh, with emphasis on Maritime Domain Awareness and Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing.

There is no mention of the Coast Guard, but you can be sure Coast Guardsmen were involved and the vessel, seen in the distance, in the accompanying photo (above) is a former USCG 378, BNS Somudra Avijan, the former USCGC Rush, one of two Hamilton class now serving in the Bangladesh Navy.

“Pakistan Navy commissioned its new PNS Tabuk Damen corvette OPV 1900” –Navy Recognition

PNS Tabuk during sea trials. (Picture source Damen)

NavyRecognition reports the commission of the second of two Damen designed offshore patrol vessels (OPV) built in Romania for the Pakistani Navy.

The Damen OPV 1900 has a hull-length of 90 m, a maximum speed of 22 knots, and a full-load displacement of 1,900 tons. The ship can launch two high-speed RHIBs of 11.5 meters and 6.5 meters simultaneously and also has the capability to accommodate two TEUs for special mission-based operations. The rear deck of the ship is able to transport both a helicopter and a UAV.

According to Janes, the ships are 2,300 tons (presumably full load), 91.3 meters (299.5′) in length, with a beam of 14.4 m (47.2′), a draft of 4 m (13.1′), and a complement of 138.

Below is a video shot on the first ship of the class. You can see that it also includes a hangar. Weapons and additional sensors are to be fitted in Pakistan. The video indicates the ship will be equipped with two 30mm cannon and anti-ship cruise missiles. The model, seen in the video at time 1m30s, shows the vessel equipped with what appears to be a single barrel mount similar to the Mk38 forward, but the mount on the aft starboard corner of the superstructure, looks like a Chinese Type 730 CIWS that includes a seven barrel Gatling gun. That weapon is currently in service with the Pakistani Navy. You would think the same weapon would be used in both positions, but the more sophisticated CIWS might not take kindly to the green water that is likely to come over the bow. The model also shows launchers for eight anti-ship cruise missiles, presumably of Chinese origin, like the C-802. The ships are also reportedly being given an ASW capability. 

“China Coast Guard to be allowed to use force in case of territorial infringement” –People’s Liberation Army Daily

This Chinese People’s Liberation Army Daily post concerning use of deadly force, linked here, may be particularly interesting for its call out of the US Coast Guard.

Law enforcement on land, sea and in airspace under its own jurisdiction, with the use of weapons on necessary occasions, are the rights granted to sovereign states by international law. The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) also stipulates that lethal weapons can be used when enforcing the law in waters under its own jurisdiction. For the US Coast Guard (USCG), the use of force is even more common, and it is even planning to apply long-arm jurisdiction to China.

Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the USCG, claimed to strengthen deployment in the Asia-Pacific region and participate in security patrols in the waters surrounding China in response to Chinese maritime militia’s declaration of sovereignty in the South China Sea in April last year. Robert O’Brien, US National Security Advisor, announced on October 24 that the USCG would deploy Enhanced Response Cutters in the Western Pacific. . Without providing any evidence, he accused Chinese fishing boats of illegal fishing and claimed that the sovereignty of the United States and its neighbors in the Pacific had thus been threatened.

If they should choose to employ force against one of our cutter in their claimed “Nine Dash Line,” it is likely they would attempt to get several units in at very close range before opening fire, as they did in this engagement.

Chinese depiction of the fighting Battle of Paracels Islands

Next time we send a cutter into this area, it might be a good idea to have a squad of Marines along armed with shoulder fired missile or rocket launchers.

Might also be a good idea to provide a bit of ballistic protection (and here) for our .50 cal. gun crews. Not too difficult because you can buy it on the GSA catalog.

Most China Coast Guard Cutters are not as well armed or as fast as the Bertholfs, but there are exceptions. In all likelihood they would be more interested in causing casualties and chasing us off, than actually sinking a cutter. This is more likely to serve their purpose without getting themselves in a war. Not that I think such an attack would go unanswered, but they, or a mid-level commander, might be foolish enough to think they could get away with it. Still probably better not to have a lone cutter doing “Freedom of Navigation Operations,” although air cover might be sufficient. Really I would like to see an international repudiation of their claims in the form of an multi-national demonstration.

Combinations of CCG cutters with weapons larger than 14.5mm machine guns could be extremely dangerous at close range. Some of those are shown below.

The China CG version of the Type 056 Corvette

 

China Coast Guard Cutters Converted  from Type 053H2G frigates

USCGC Oliver Berry (WPC-1124), 45 Days Away from Homeport, 9,300 Nautical Mile Patrol, Hawaii to Guam and Return

The crew of the Oliver Berry (WPC-1124) travel in a round-trip patrol from Sept. 12 to Oct. 27, 2020, from Hawaii to Guam, covering a distance of approximately 9,300 miles during their journey. The crew sought to combat illegal fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific to protect the United States and our partner’s resource security and sovereignty. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the CGC Oliver Berry)

Below is a District 14 News Release. Not your typical WPC operation. 9300 nautical miles and 45 days away from home port. I was a bit surprised that it sounds like they did not board any of the fishing vessels they encountered, “We executed 19 observation reports on fishing vessels, 6 of which had not been previously contacted by the Coast Guard.” Perhaps there were no ship-riders aboard from the nations in whose waters they were sighted. 

This might also have served as a dry run for the three Webber class WPCs that will be transiting to Guam. Presumably they took the opportunity to introduce this new type asset to representatives of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia and perhaps to the supporting Coast Guard staff in Guam. Notably there is no mention of transiting in company with a larger ship as happened in previous long range operations.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific
Contact: 14th District Public Affairs
Office: (808) 535-3230
After Hours: HawaiiPacific@uscg.mil
14th District online newsroom

Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry returns to homeport after a 6 week patrol in Pacific

   

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download a high-resolution version.

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) returns to homeport in Honolulu after a mission in the Pacific to curtail illegal fishing and increase maritime law enforcement self-sufficiency with international partners. 

The crew of the Oliver Berry traveled in a first-of-its-kind round-trip patrol spanning from Sept. 12 to Oct. 27, 2020, from Hawaii to Guam, covering a distance of approximately 9,300 miles during their journey. 

“Traveling just under 10,000 nautical miles, we (CGC Oliver Berry) operated further from our homeport than any other FRC to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in portions of Oceania,” said Ensign Michael Meisenger, weapons officer on the Oliver Berry.

The Oliver Berry collaborated with the governments of Republic of the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia strengthening maritime domain awareness and resource security within their Exclusive Economic Zones. An EEZ is an area of coastal water within a certain distance of a country’s coastline for which the country claims exclusive rights for drilling, fishing, and other economic ventures.

The Oliver Berry aided international enforcement efforts by sending observational reports and imagery to the Maritime Security Advisors and the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency, Regional Fisheries Surveillance Center, thereby increasing mission success and showcasing the Coast Guard’s unwavering commitment to partner nations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We worked to increase awareness of unlawful fishing operations in remote portions of the United States, Republic of Marshall Islands, and Federated States of Micronesia’s EEZs, and on the high seas,” said Meisenger. “We executed 19 observation reports on fishing vessels, 6 of which had not been previously contacted by the Coast Guard.” 

Fast Response Cutters are equipped with new advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems and boast greater range and endurance compared to their predecessor, the 110 foot Island-class patrol boats. 

The FRCs represent the Coast Guard’s commitment to modernizing service assets and maintaining a strong presence and support for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Oceania covers an area of 3.3 million square miles and has a population of approximately 40 million people. Its melting pot of cultures depends on the living marine resources and maritime commerce to allow their people to thrive. 

The Coast Guard combats illegal fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific to protect their resource security and sovereignty. Combating illegal fishing is part of promoting maritime governance and a rules-based international order that is essential to a free and open Oceania. 

“We made great contributions to our partnerships and increasing maritime domain awareness,” said Meisenger. “As a crew, we could not be happier to be back home after a highly successful and trailblazing patrol.”

 

“US to base Coast Guard ships in western Pacific to tackle China” –Aljazeera

United States Exclusive Economic Zone – Pacific centered NOAA map

Aljazeera reports that,

The US Coast Guard was “strategically homeporting significantly enhanced Fast Response Cutters … in the western Pacific,” White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said in a statement.

What does that mean? Is this just a reference to the three Webber class WPCs that will be homeported in Guam? Or will we see a replication of PATFORSWA in the Western Pacific? Does “significantly enhanced” mean these FRCs will have improvements to sensors, communications, and/or weapons, or does it just mean they will be better than the two 110 foot WPBs they are replacing?

There is also this interesting tidbit,

O’Brien added that the Coast Guard, which is under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was also studying whether to permanently station several of its patrol ships in the area of American Samoa in the South Pacific.

Thanks to Walter for bringing this to my attention. 

“BOLLINGER SHIPYARDS DELIVERS 41st FAST RESPONSE CUTTER STRENGTHENING DEFENSE CAPABILITIES IN THE ARABIAN GULF” –Bollinger Press Release

USCGC CHARLES MOULTHROPE

Below I have reproduced a Press Release from Bollinger. Normally I would note the delivery of these vessels by a comment on a previous post, “Webber Class WPC Homeports,” but this is the first Webber class to be going to PATFORSWA. I hope we will see some upgrades to their weapons before they get to Bahrain.


BOLLINGER SHIPYARDS DELIVERS 41st FAST RESPONSE CUTTER STRENGTHENING DEFENSE CAPABILITIES IN THE ARABIAN GULF

FRC is first of six cutters destined for overseas operations in Manama, Bahrain

LOCKPORT, La., — (October 22, 2020)Bollinger Shipyards LLC (“Bollinger”) today delivered the USCGC CHARLES MOULTHROPE to the U.S. Coast Guard in Key West, Florida. This is the 164th vessel Bollinger has delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard over a 35-year period and the 41st Fast Response Cutter (“FRC”) delivered under the current program.

The USCGC CHARLES MOULTHROPE is the first of six FRCs to be home-ported in Manama, Bahrain, which will replace the aging 110’ Island Class Patrol Boats, built by Bollinger Shipyards 30 years ago, supporting the Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest overseas presence outside the United States.

“Bollinger is proud to continue enhancing and supporting the U.S. Coast Guard’s operational presence around the world by delivering the USCGC CHARLES MOULTHROPE,” said Bollinger President & C.E.O. Ben Bordelon. “It is our top priority to ensure that the brave men and women of the Coast Guard stationed in PATFORSWA have the most state-of-the-art, advanced vessels as they work to build and maintain the necessary regional alliances to ensure maritime security in the region. Building ships for the Coast Guard provides critical assets to bolster our national security and advance America’s interests, both at home and abroad.”

At a PATFORSWA change of command ceremony earlier in the summer, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander Vice Adm. Steven D. Poulin emphasized the importance of the unit, saying, “During these historical times it is important, now more than ever, that we maintain maritime security operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. [PATFORSWA is] pushing forward into the unknown to protect American interests in the region.”

PATFORSWA Commander Capt. Willie L. Carmichael echoed Poulin’s comments, saying PATFORSWA “plays a key role in maritime security, maritime infrastructure protection, theater security cooperation, and counter-smuggling operations.”

PATFORSWA is composed of six cutters, shoreside support personnel, and the Maritime Engagement Team. The unit’s mission is to train, organize, equip, support and deploy combat-ready Coast Guard Forces in support of U.S. Central Command and national security objectives. PATFORSWA works with Naval Forces Central Command in furthering their goals to conduct persistent maritime operations to forward U.S. interests, deter and counter disruptive countries, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to promote a secure maritime environment.

Bordelon continued, “The FRC hot production line continues to produce and provide stability in the industrial base for the U.S. Government and our Bollinger workforce, assuring economic benefit for our region, our vendor partners in the 40-plus states that support the FRC program, and our country.”

The last 20 weeks of the USCGC CHARLES MOULTHROPE build occurred despite the COVID-19 global pandemic and six named storms impacting the Gulf region, all of which affected Louisiana and two of which made landfall in the state as hurricanes, including Hurricane Laura – a Category 4 storm and the strongest to hit the state since the Great Storm of 1856. Bollinger undertook precautions to ensure the health and safety of employees and maintain its delivery schedule. For the COVID-19 pandemic, Bollinger increased and enhanced sanitization practices across the shipyard, and enacted more liberal leave and remote work policies as well as altered shift schedules to promote social distancing.

Each FRC is named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished himself or herself in the line of duty. Born in Massachusetts in 1873, Charles Moulthrope was a member of the crew of Revenue Cutter Commodore Perry. Seaman Moulthrope gave his life in the performance of duties in 1896. Moulthrope had previously performed a heroic deed while serving on the Perry.Moulthrope rescued four of his shipmates who had fallen into the sea from the cutter’s launch after they had gone to rescue another crewman, Boatswain Alfred Halfell who had fallen overboard. He grabbed a line and leaped over the side into the freezing water to rescue the four who were rapidly succumbing to hypothermia.Moulthrope worked the line around all four of the sailors and those on board the cutter then pulled the men aboard the Perry.

About the Fast Response Cutter Platform

The FRC is an operational “game changer,” according to senior Coast Guard officials. FRCs are consistently being deployed in support of the full range of missions within the United States Coast Guard and other branches of our armed services.This is due to its exceptional performance, expanded operational reach and capabilities, and ability to transform and adapt to the mission. FRCs have conducted operations as far as the Marshall Islands—a 4,400 nautical mile trip from their homeport. Measuring in at 154-feet, FRCs have a flank speed of 28 knots, state of the art C4ISR suite (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), and stern launch and recovery ramp for a 26-foot, over-the-horizon interceptor cutter boat.

About Bollinger Shipyards LLC

Bollinger Shipyards LLC (www.bollingershipyards.com) is a leading designer and builder of high performance military patrol boats, ocean-going double hull barges, offshore oil field support vessels, tugboats, rigs, lift boats, inland waterways push boats, barges, and other steel and aluminum products from its new construction shipyards as part of the U. S. industrial base. Bollinger has 10 shipyards, all strategically located throughout Louisiana with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River and the Intracoastal Waterway. Bollinger is the largest vessel repair company in the Gulf of Mexico region.

“Stuck in the middle with you: Resourcing the Coast Guard for global competition” –Brookings

Brookings contends that the Coast Guard, not the Navy, is the proper instrument to counter Chinese maritime “gray zone” operations. But it needs more money, something in the range of $200-500M more per year, a 1.7-4.2% budget increase.

Simply put, for a relatively meager influx of operations and maintenance funds, at least in DoD terms (where the unit cost of a single Fordclass aircraft carrier is more than the Coast Guard’s entire annual budget), the Coast Guard could provide substantially more services in the Pacific. Enhanced funding in the range of $200-$500 million would translate to improved readiness and availability of its National Security Cutter (NSC) fleet and other Coast Guard assets capable of operating deep into the Pacific theater. Importantly, this funding might actually save money for DoD. Using the Coast Guard to conduct joint military exercises and patrols, capacity building, and international training is far cheaper than using a higher-end Navy ship to perform the same missions. (emphasis applied–Chuck)

It goes on to suggest that the PATFORSWA model be replicated in the Western Pacific and suggests,

As a corollary, as the Coast Guard plans for its Offshore Patrol Cutter acquisition, it should consider whether it could optimize a sub-class of these vessels for these types of defense-flavored operations in the Pacific.

There is also a suggestion of overseas basing,

Finally, it may also be time for the Coast Guard to consider independent foreign basing options for the first time in recent memory, perhaps with America’s close ally and “Five Eyes” partner, Australia. A Coast Guard detachment in Australia would not only provide for an additional Pacific-centric staging area, besides existing Coast Guard locations in Hawaii and Guam, but would also assist with Coast Guard strategic icebreaking operations directed towards Antarctica, which is itself becoming more and more relevant in the era of great power competition.

Once we have our fleet of icebreakers, we might want to base one in Australia or New Zealand, but Guam still looks like a good place for our patrol ships, even if we might include OPCs in addition to the three Webber class FRCs currently planned. Patrolling our Western Pacific EEZ and that of friendly Micronesian states, we might want to replenish at Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, where Australia is developing a joint use base. At least for short term deployments, our ships and aircraft might also exploit the newly improved base at Wake Island 1,501 miles (2,416 kilometers) east of Guam, 2,298 miles (3,698 kilometers) west of Honolulu.

North Korea’s Ghost Fishing Fleet –It is worse than I thought

Sixty fishermen aboard this North Korean boat were rescued after it collided with a Japanese patrol vessel and sank off Japan’s Noto Peninsula in October 2019.

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum reports on the extent of the disaster that has befallen North Korean fishermen since their government has sold fishing rights to the PRC.

“The so-called ghost ships come ashore on Japan’s coastline and increasingly along Russia’s coast, according to a mid-September 2020 report by Lenta.ru, a Russian-language online newspaper.

“Japanese authorities report that more than 500 ghost boats have landed on the nation’s coast in the past five years, with 158 in 2019, Lenta.ru reported. The unidentified bodies found aboard are buried in unmarked graves in Japanese and Russian coastal towns, the online report said.”

“Japan Coast Guard protects fishing boat from Chinese vessels near Senkaku islands” –Stars and Stripes

The Senkaku islands in the East China Sea are administered by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan. CABINET SECRETARIAT OF JAPAN

Stars and Stripes reports the latest of an increasingly frequent series of incursions by the Chinese in an attempt to intimidate Japanese interests in the Senkaku islands.

The report identified the Chinese vessels only as “naval vessels.”

Uotsuri-shima / Diaoyu Dao (Blue, west end and nearly south end, 25°44′33″N 123°28′17″E at Mount Narahara), Kuba-shima / Huangwei Yu (Yellow, north end, 25°55′24″N 123°40′51″E at Mount Chitose), Taishō-tō / Chiwei Yu (Red, east end, 25°55′21″N 124°33′36″E at the peek) referenced on Geospatial Information Authority of Japan and distances referenced on Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Every distances of the map show coast to coast, but distances of the coast of Okinawa Island and Naha City, and the coast of Ishigaki-Island and Ishigaki City are quite near on the map. Author: Jackopoid, from Wikipedia.

“10,000 Tons Patrol Vessel ‘Haixun’ Launched For China’s Maritime Safety Administration” –Naval News

Artist impression of 10,000 tons class patrol vessel Haixun

Naval News reports the launch of a 10.700 ton cutter (more than twice the size of a National Security Cutter) for the Chinese Maritime Safety Agency. We knew this was coming.

“The 165-meter maritime security patrol vessel has a displacement of 10,700 tonnes and a speed of over 25 knots (46 km / h). It can travel more than 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 kilometers) at an economical speed of 16 knots (30 km / h) and make trips of more than 90 days.”

This is not the China Coast Guard (CCG). That is a separate agency and they already have built ships that may be larger than this.

Like the China Coast Guard ships, these may have a wartime role as fast attack transports. Unlike the CCG ships, these do not appear to have significant armament.

Speed of construction is significant. “Construction of the vessel began in May 2019…and is set to enter service next year.”