“The Long Blue Line: Charleston—over 230 years of Coast Guard service and growth in South Carolina!” –MyCG

Coast Guard Base Charleston. The Base is moving from this location to the former Charleston Navy Base

MyCG has another in the Long Blue Line series, The Long Blue Line: Charleston—over 230 years of Coast Guard service and growth in South Carolina!

I have added it to my Heritage Page, but there was an interesting note in the next to last paragraph discussing the recent past and future of Base Charleston,

“In October 2015, the North Charleston cutter base was officially commissioned as Coast Guard Base Charleston with new National Security Cutters Hamilton and James replacing the old Gallatin and Dallas. The recently commissioned National Security Cutter Stone has joined its two sister cutters and future plans see the facility becoming a “super base” supporting two more NSCs, as well as units of the new medium-endurance class of Offshore Patrol Cutters and, possibly, one or two new Polar Security Cutters.” (Emphasis applied–Chuck)

We have begun to see indications of an intent to base icebreakers on the Atlantic side, but I had assumed these would be the Medium Icebreakers (Arctic Security Cutters). This may reflect an anticipation the Coast Guard will have more than three Polar Security Cutters.

When you realize that, in relationship to the Eastern Pacific Drug Transit Zone, Charleston is about 1,000 nautical miles closer than San Diego and about 1,400 nautical miles closer than Alameda, you can understand why the Coast Guard decided to base five Bertholf class NSCs there. Its why 4th Fleet, which is responsible for all of South America is an Atlantic Fleet Command.  Add to that the lower cost of living and it makes a lot of sense.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James arrives at its new homeport of Charleston, S.C. Aug. 28, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake)

“Nordic Allies Help Navy Improve Ship Ops in Icy Waterways as Arctic Competition Heats Up” –Military.com

http://www.state.gov/e/oes/ocns/opa/arc/uschair/258202.htm . This map of the Arctic was created by State Department geographers as part of the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Military.com has a report on the Navy’s increased activity above the Arctic Circle, at least on the Atlantic side. (Still have not seen much from PACFLT.) Remarks are quoted from Adm. Robert Burke, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Command Naples. The discussion was primarily about working with allies, but he does not fail to mention the Coast Guard. 

“Responding to a question on whether the Navy needs to have icebreakers or hardened vessels as it increases its Arctic presence, Burke said he would leave the question “up to the force providers,” adding that ship drivers are getting good at maneuvering in the challenging Arctic environment.

“He said also that icebreaking is the U.S. Coast Guard’s “core business … today, anway,” and the Navy and Coast Guard work together in many areas worldwide.

“”We’ve got great partners in the U.S. Coast Guard. … You know, if it stays in their core mission or we do some sort of shared thing, it’s going to work great,” Burke said.”

The Coast Guard, with only two polar icebreakers, has none based on the Atlantic side. We have had some indication the Coast Guard intends to base one or more of its planned three medium icebreakers (aka Arctic Security Cutters) on the Atlantic side.

To put my comment above in context, LANTFLT has much more reason for operating in the high North than PACFLT. On the Atlantic side, Russia’s most important naval bases are above the Arctic Circle, off the Barents Sea. On the Pacific side, the primary Russian naval bases are over 800 nautical miles below the Arctic Circle around Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. So the difference is perhaps understandable.