FRC #43 Accepted

USCGC Frederick Hatch (WPC-1143) click on the photo for a larger version of photo.

After the recent look at a Webber class cutter bound for Bahrain, I thought I’d publish a photo of the latest FRC, Frederick Hatch (WPC-1143), provided by Bollinger. There is a lot of stuff on the mast I don’t recognize.

The Next four FRCs off the line, Glenn Harris (WPC-1144), Emlen Tunnell (1145), John Scheuerman (1146), and Clarence Sutphin (1147) will all be going to Bahrain to replace the 110 foot cutters of PATFORSWA, two in Fall 2021 and the last two in 2022. Generally Bollinger has been delivering five Webber class per year, so all four these should be delivered by the end of calendar 2021.

Coast Guard news release here:

Imagery Available: Coast Guard accepts Guam’s third fast response cutter

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 accepts Guam’s third fast response cutter

USCGC Frederick Hatch USCGC Frederick Hatch USCGC Frederick Hatch

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

SANTA RITA, Guam —The Coast Guard accepted delivery of its newest Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC), the Coast Guard Cutter Frederick Hatch (WPC 1143), from Bollinger Shipyards in Key West, FL, Thursday.
 
Frederick Hatch is scheduled to be the third FRC stationed in Guam and will arrive in Santa Rita during the summer. The cutter was placed in commission, special status, and will remain in Florida while the crew completes pre-commissioning trials and maintenance.
 
“The fast response cutters in the Pacific are a game changer for the Coast Guard,” said Cmdr. Josh Empen, deputy sector commander, Coast Guard Sector Guam. “Frederick Hatch will be the third fast response cutter in Guam, joining the Coast Guard Cutters Myrtle Hazard (WPC-1139) and Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) who have already saved mariners in distress at sea, intercepted narcotics, and boarded several vessels to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Oceania. These cutters are conducting longer missions over greater distances than the older patrol boats they are replacing.”
 
Replacing the older 110-foot Island-class patrol boats formerly stationed in Guam, the Frederick Hatch represents the Coast Guard’s commitment to modernizing the service’s cutter fleet.
 
FRCs boast a wide array of improvements over its predecessors including advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems designed to assist the cutter’s crew with their primary mission to patrol coastal regions.
 
These advanced capabilities greatly improve the Coast Guard’s ability to conduct missions ranging from Search and Rescue to national defense within Guam’s waters while also contributing to joint operations between the United States and its regional partners as they work towards common goals such as the preservation of Pacific fish stocks.
 
“All of our accomplishments to date are due to the tremendous amount of hard work our crew has put in to this process,” said the Lt. Craig Rooke, the Frederick Hatch’s commanding officer. “They continue to amaze me everyday with their great attitude and their tremendous effort that they have been putting into the pre-commission process. I know Frederick Hatch would be proud.”
 
In keeping with the tradition of naming new FRCs after Coast Guard enlisted heroes, the cutter is named in honor of Frederick Hatch, a two time recipient of the Gold Lifesaving Medal.
 
Hatch was awarded his first medal in 1884 while he was a surfman at the Cleveland Life-Saving Station for rescuing the crew of the schooner Sophia Minch during an October gale. During the rescue, Hatch volunteered to attempt to reach two men caught in the aft rigging of the vessel. At great risk to his own life he reached the two men and was able to bring them safely to shore.
 
Later Hatch transferred to the Lighthouse Service where once again he received the Gold Lifesaving Medal for his selfless act of courage as he rescued those on board the schooner Wahnapitae which grounded near the Cleveland Breakwater lighthouse in 1890.
 
Both the Lighthouse Service and the Life-Saving Service would later make up what we now know as the Coast Guard.
 
With the addition of Frederick Hatch’s 24-person crew there will be over 70 new Coast Guard FRC members stationed on Guam along with a projected 100 dependents and family members. Before the FRCs arrival, the Coast Guard presence on Guam was composed of approximately 250 active duty personnel and 40 reservists.

*All times are in Chamorro Time Zone

-USCG-

Bahrain Bound FRC gets Upgrades, LRAD and Short Range Air Search

(As we get into this, you may want to click on the photo to get an enlarged view.)

This Spring, the first two Webber class patrol craft are expected to go to Bahrain to start replacing the six 110 foot WPBs of Patrol Force South West Asia (PATFORSWA).  Two more will join them in the Fall and the last two in 2022. Back in 2018, I speculated on what might be done to modify them for duty in this more dangerous area. Apparently the Coast Guard leadership has had a few ideas of their own.

We have some very shape observers among the readers of this blog.

First Andy provided the photo of USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC-1141) above and pointed out the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD, the gray device mounted near rail on the O-1 deck just this side of the port forward corner of the bridge) and the four round sensors a short way up the mast two on each side. I note these systems were not on the ship when it was handed over by Bollinger (photo below).

The 41st fast response cutter (FRC), Charles Moulthrope, as delivered to the Coast Guard in Key West, Florida, Oct. 22, 2020. It is the first of six planned FRCs to be stationed in Manama, Bahrain. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Then Secundius identified the four round sensors on the mast as Sierra Nevada Modi RPS-42 S-Band Radar.

From the Company web site: “RPS-42 is an S-Band tactical hemispheric air surveillance radar system. It is a member of the non-rotating, solid-state, digital radar family Multi-mission Hemisphere Radar (MHR), developed by RADA Electronic Industries Ltd.
“The RPS-42 is a pulse Doppler, software-defined radar platform, that can detect, classify and track all types of aerial vehicles – including fighters, helicopters, UAVs, transport aircraft, etc. at tactical ranges. A single radar platform provides 90º azimuth coverage. Hemispheric coverage is achieved when four radars are employed as a system. Mobile or stationary, the system can be integrated with any C⁴I system and other radars and sensors. The software is able for On-the-Move (OTM) Operation. The radar can operate either as a stand-alone or as part of a large-scale surveillance system.
“The Antenna is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) based on Galliumnitrid (GaN) Amplifiers. Its diameter is 50.4 cm , the max width is 16.5 cm. (19.8″ x 6.5″ –Chuck)
“The achievable range for detection of the smallest drones (known as Nano UAV) is 3.5 km”

These radars use Galliumnitrid (GaN), the new technology in radar, that allows the AN/SPY-6 to significantly outperform the earlier AN/SPY-1 found on most Aegis equipped warships. (Reportedly a 3000% improvement)

You can get an appreciation of what this is about from this Popular Mechanics article. This Is the ATV-Mounted Jammer That Took Down an Iranian Drone.

There is more here: Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System [LMADIS] (globalsecurity.org)

I’m only guessing, but I would think the FRC would also have the same or equivalent complementary equipment as the LMADIS, e.g. small EO/IR camera, Skyview RF Detection system and Sierra Nevada MODi RF jammer (Photo below, I may be seeing the jammer–pictured below–located above and behind the port side RPS-42 radar arrays, visible between the radar arrays and the tripod legs). The cutters of this class are already normally equipped with electro-optic devices, both on the mast and on the Mk38 gun mount, which can provide a kinetic counter to UAVs.

Sierra Nevada MODi RF jammer. From the company web site, “SNC’s Modi II is the most modern & highly-capable dismounted EMC system in the DOD inventory.”

This was probably what the Commandant was talking about, when he said that Coast Guard PATFORSWA had a counter UAS role in a recent interview.

I am thinking, this radar might also be used on some of our other cutters as well, perhaps the 210s and the six 270s to be FRAMed, to provide them better control of their helicopters on approach in bad weather. The 210s have no air search radar and the 270s will almost certainly lose the Mk92 fire control system which provides their only air search radar currently. Reportedly the radar has a range of up to 30km and an instrumented range of 50km at altitudes from 30ft to 30,000 feet. Apparently the Marines are also using it to direct fire for their short range air defense systems. which includes a 30mm gun and Stinger missiles.

Thanks to Andy and Secundius for kicking this off.

Navy to Decommission Cyclone Class Patrol Craft

Cyclone-class patrol coastal USS Zephyr (PC 8) crew conducts ship-to-ship firefighting to extinguish a fire aboard a low-profile go-fast vessel suspected of smuggling in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean April 7, 2018. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Barney

I learned recently that the Navy expects to decommission their 13 Cyclone class patrol craft in FY2021. This is significant for the Coast Guard for a couple of reasons.

The three based in Mayport have consistently been used to augment Coast Guard vessels, hosting Law Enforcement Detachments for drug enforcement (a recent example). .

Second, these vessels frequently partner with Coast Guard patrol boats of PATFORSWA based in Bahrain. Their decommissioning may put a greater load on the Coast Guard unit as it begins to receive Webber class as replacements for the existing six Island class patrol boats.

ARABIAN GULF (Sept. 16, 2018) A MK-60 Griffin surface-to-surface missile is launched from coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt (PC 12). (Photo by MC2 Kevin Steinberg)

For the Island class cutters in the Persian Gulf, the Cyclone class have served as better armed, big brothers, adding a bit of muscle to escort missions where Iranian Fast Inshore Attack Craft might be encountered. While the Webber class, that will be replacing the Island class, are a bit better armed than the 110s, unless they are extensively modified, they will not come close to replacing the missile armed Cyclone class. LCS are supposed to replace the Cyclone class, but they still have not demonstrated the ability to sustain a reasonable number of vessels in a remote theater. LCS are also too large to go many of the places the Cyclone class were able to.

USS Hurricane (PC-3)

These little ships have seemed to count for very little to the Navy. Regularly we see a count of “Battleforce ships”“Battleforce ships” that includes everything from aircraft carriers down to civilian crewed, unarmed fleet tugs (T-ATF), salvage ships (T-ARS), and high speed intra-theater transports (T-EPF, really aluminum hulled, high speed ferries). The Cyclone class were only included in the count one year (2014), so their loss will be largely invisible. (Significantly, this count of what many must assume is the National Fleet also makes no mention of Coast Guard assets either.)

Until ten of the class found a home in Bahrain, the Navy seemed to have had a hard time figuring out what to do with them. Originally intended to support the special warfare community, they were considered to large for that mission. Of the original fourteen one was transferred to the Philippine Navy. Five had been temporarily commissioned as Coast Guard cutters.

Other than the far larger LCS, the navy has no plans to replace these little ships, that have reportedly been the busiest ships in the Navy.

DAHLGREN, Va. (Nov. 6, 2004) Coast Guard Cutter Shamal (WPC-13) . USCG photo by Joseph P. Cirone, USCG AUX

“Militias: US sailors in Bahrain ‘legitimate targets’ after Soleimani slaying” –Navy Times

The current crisis in SW Asia of course brings to mind the Coast Guard members in that area, PATFORSWA, based in Bahrain.

NavyTimes has an assessment of the risks that Iranian backed militias in Bahrain might retaliate against US service members in Bahrain or their families.

Assignment to PATFORSWA is an unaccompanied tour, but apparently members are berthed off base in leased housing.

Generally the assessment is that Bahrain’s internal security forces are very good, but there are militants there and that 100% security is impossible.

Apparently the head of a Bahrain Shia militia was one of the victims of the US attack that killed Soleimani, so they might have additional motivation for an attack.

If any of our PATFORSWA personnel are looking in on the blog. Take care.