“It’s Time for a ‘Quad’ of Coast Guards” –Real Clear Defense

A Japan Coast Guard helicopter approaches an Indian Coast Guard patrol vessel during a joint exercise off Chennai, India, January 2018 (Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty)

Real Clear Defense has an article which first appeared in the Australian think tank Lowy Institute‘s publication “The Interpreter,” advocating greater cooperation between the Coast Guards of Australia, India, Japan, and the US.

“The so-called Quad group of Indo-Pacific maritime democracies – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – is a valuable grouping, although it is still under utilized in many ways. One of the most effective ways that these countries could work together to enhance maritime security in the Indo-Pacific would be through coordinating the work of their coast guard agencies.”

While India in particular, is adverse to committing to a military alliance, these nations share a commitment to a rules based international system.

Quadrilateral cooperation through the countries’ coast guards could provide an answer to this political problem. As principally law-enforcement agencies, coast guards can provide many practical benefits in building a stable and secure maritime domain, without the overtones of a military alliance.

Using ship-riders, this sort of cooperation could go beyond capacity building and uphold the norms of international behavior. It might lead to the kind of standing maritime security task force I advocated earlier. When coast guards are in conflict, having multiple coast guards on scene could insure that instead of a “he said, she said” situation, we could have a “he said, we say” situation that would show a united front against bullying.

Given Bertholf and Stratton‘s stay in the Western Pacific and Walnut and Joseph Gerczak‘s support of Samoa, which was coordinated with Australia and New Zealand, it appears we may already be moving in this direction.

 

Stratton Participates in Talisman Sabre 2019

Lt. Wes Figaro, a pilot attached to Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, guides a Navy helicopter as it lands on the flight deck of Stratton in the Coral Sea July 11, 2019.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jasmine Mieszala)

Below is a press release regarding USCGC Stratton’s participation in Exercise Tallisman Sabre 2019 hosted by the Australian Navy. This is a large biannual exercise. For the first time, Japan’s newly formed amphibious brigade participated in the amphibious landings as well as two Japanese ships. 

“Exercise Talisman Sabre will involve more than 34,000 personnel from Australia and the United States.

“Forces from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom will be embedded alongside Australian Defence Force personnel, and delegations from India and the Republic of Korea will observe the exercise. Eighteen nations from across the Indo-Pacific region have also been invited to an international visitors program.”

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U.S. Coast Guard story and photos by:
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jasmine Mieszala

The U.S. Coast Guard participated in Talisman Sabre 2019 in July, a bilateral exercise held every two years between the U.S. and Australia, and this year’s exercise marked the first for the Coast Guard since the exercises first began in 2005. TS 19 was designed to train U.S. and Australian forces across high-end, mid-intensity warfighting scenarios and to improve combat training, readiness and interoperability. This exercise illustrated the U.S., Australian alliance and the strength of military-to-military relationships in the eighth iteration of the exercise.

 “We supported 7th Fleet amphibious operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Dunlevy, the operations officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Stratton. “We were part of an amphibious readiness group that conducted a combined exercise to move Marines and associated equipment ashore in a simulated hostile environment.”

One of the Coast Guard’s primary roles in TS 19 was to serve as a forward screening vessel. As the force moved north, Stratton was sent as an advanced unit to help identify possible landing areas for amphibious operations and to ensure the water north of the force was clear of threats before the force moved in behind Stratton. The crew of Stratton used air and surface assets to conduct searches as part of the forward screen.

“We’re learning about what it means to be a part of this exercise – where we’re falling short, where we have capabilities to add and where we don’t,” said Dunlevy.

Stratton is currently the only Coast Guard cutter that has small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) capabilities permanently attached the ship. The sUAS is capable of flying more than 16 hours, has a maximum speed of 60 knots and can provide real-time data to the ship to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

This capability allows the Coast Guard to provide real-time surveillance to battle staff and exercise planners, and it allows them to explore the skills and expertise the Coast Guard can bring to both exercises and real-world scenarios.

The Stratton is the Coast Guard’s third national security cutter (NSC) and is homeported in Alameda, California. National security cutters are the Coast Guard’s key interoperability platform in the afloat arena. NSCs are capable of executing challenging operations, including supporting maritime homeland security and defense missions, as well as operating in open ocean environments and supporting international partner agencies.

TS 19 included field training exercises, force preparation, logistic activities, amphibious landings, land force maneuvers, urban operations, air operations, maritime operations and special forces activities. The exercise provided an opportunity to conduct operations in a combined joint and interagency environment that increased both countries’ ability to plan and execute contingency responses, from combat missions to humanitarian assistance efforts.

“Talisman Sabre was key to the U.S. and to the Coast Guard because we were able to exercise relationships with our international partners, to conduct training necessary and to help maintain regional security, peace and stability,” said Dunlevy.

Though this is the Coast Guard’s first time participating in Talisman Sabre, the experience and knowledge gained from participating in the exercise is proving to be instrumental.

“We will provide an after-action report detailing how we were employed and how we think we could better add to the exercise next time,” said Dunlevy. “We hope the Coast Guard is invited back for the next Talisman Sabre. This has been a huge win for the Coast Guard.”

“Schultz: Coast Guard Expanding Western Pacific Operations” –USNI

USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750) crew members observe the stars from Bertholf’s flight deck as the cutter and crew patrol the South China Sea on April 21, 2019. US Coast Guard Photo

The US Naval Institute News Service is reporting,

KUALA LUMPUR – The U.S. Coast Guard will increase its presence and deployments to Asia – particularly around Oceania and U.S. Pacific territories – and test out a new operational deployment concept in the region, service head Adm. Karl Schultz told reporters on Thursday.

We have been seeing this happening. The Coast Guard has begun spending more time in and around the Western Pacific, particularly around US Western Pacific territories and Oceania.

The reference to use of a buoy tender as a mothership to support patrol craft operations looks like a test to see how useful the proposed basing of three Webber class cutters in Guam might be.

The Commandant suggested that the tender might partner with Australian, New Zealand, or Japanese vessels as well. He promised,

““In the face of coercive and antagonistic behavior, the United States Coast Guard offers transparent engagement and partnership,…”

There is no reason this should not work, hopefully it will lead to similar multi-unit operations in the Eastern Pacific drug transit areas where the Webber class could augment larger cutters.

Australia Selects OPV Design

Photographs taken during day 3 of the Royal Australian Navy International Fleet Review 2013. The Bruneian patrol vessel Darulaman moored in Sydney Harbour. Photo by Saberwyn.

The Australian Navy has announced the selection of the design for a planned program of 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels to replace the 13 active 300 ton Armidale class patrol boats.

The new ships will be built in Australia. The design is based on that of the Durussalam class, four ships built for the Brunei Navy by Lurssen in Germany. Lurssen is famous for their torpedo and missile boats. The vessels are expected to be 80 meters (262 ft) long and 13 meters  (43 ft) of beam with a draft of four meters (13 ft) with a speed of 22 knots. Unlike most of the Brunei ships, the Australian ships will be armed with a 40mm gun rather than the 57mm seen in the illustration above. The Australian OPVs are expected to have provision for three 8.4 meter boats and mission modules.

I am a bit surprised by the choice because this appears to be the least capable of the contenders in that it has no hangar, but it does double the range of the patrol boats they will replace and is more than five times the displacements, so should prove a substantial improvement over the Armidale class that really seem to have been asked to do more than  could reasonably expected of them. 

In some ways these  are the embodiment of the Cutter X concept in that they seem to have the equipment and crew of a patrol craft in a more sea worthy hull, but they have also taken the opportunity to provide more boats and a helicopter deck.

Photograph taken during day 5 of the Royal Australian Navy International Fleet Review 2013. Stern view of the Bruneian patrol vessel Darulaman, The ship’s RHIB is deployed, and the RHIB well is open. Photo by Saberwyn.

Thanks to Nicky for bringing this to my attention.