USCGC Bayberry (WLI-65400) to be Decommissioned

Below is a news release

June 5, 2023

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Coast Guard to hold special status ceremony for Cutter Bayberry

Editor’s note: Media interested in attending should contact the Coast Guard’s 5th District Public Affairs Office at 410-576-2541 no later than 10 a.m. Tuesday and include the names of those coming to attend the event.

WHO: Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath, commander, 5th Coast Guard District, Capt. Baer, commander, Coast Guard Sector North Carolina, and Senior Chief Christopher Thompson, officer in charge, USCGC Bayberry.

WHAT: A special status ceremony will be held to recognize the accomplishments of the Cutter Bayberry and the change of the cutter’s operational status, signifying the beginning of being decommissioned from active Coast Guard service after 69 years.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 7 at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Station Oak Island, 300 Caswell Beach Road, Oak Island, NC 28465

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The media is invited to attend a scheduled special status ceremony in preparation for removing the USCGC Bayberry from Coast Guard service.

The Bayberry was built by Reliable Welding Works in Olympia, WA, and spent its first 17 years in the San Francisco area, with a 3 year stay in Rio Vista CA, before returning to Seattle in 1971.

When it returned to Washington, it was retrofitted with a 60-foot barge for operations and was the only one of its kind. The cutter also became a primary deployer of the Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System, an oil spill recovery system. The Bayberry’s operations in Seattle spanned from 1971 until 2009 when it was relocated to Oak Island.

The Bayberry’s recent accomplishments include post-hurricane Dorian operations, where the crew led a waterways reconstitution mission, completed a complex voyage correcting 40 aids to navigation discrepancies, enabling the rapid resumption of ferry service, and facilitating the delivery of emergency supplies to 700 residents stranded on Ocracoke Island. In 2021, when extensive shoaling suddenly compromised Oregon Inlet Channel and no other capable asset was available to respond, the cutter led a 400-mile mission to the Outer Banks to retrieve and relocate five buoys that dangerously misled mariners, significantly enhancing the safety of this busy waterway, preserving search and rescue capabilities, and sustaining the local economy.

“Coast Guard awards contract for work on coastal buoy tenders” –CG-9

USCGC Ida Lewis

Below is a news release from the Acquisition Directorate (CG-9) about the next class of ships that will go through the “In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program,” the 175 foot, 840 ton, Ida Lewis or “Keeper” class 175 foot Coastal Buoy Tenders.

“…the primary objective of the MMA is to ensure that the 14 tenders reach the end of their 30-year designed service life…The 175-foot coastal buoy tenders were commissioned between 1996 and 2000. Work on the first hull, Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis, is scheduled to begin in July 2025 at Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore. The estimated project completion date for all 14 cutters is early 2036.”

There is a bit of double speak there, in that the program will not be finished until well after the “30-year designed service life” of all 14 tenders.  Even in the case of the first ship, USCGC Ida Lewis, she will have been in commission more than 28 years by the time her MMA starts and possibly 29 years before it is completed.

Obviously, these ships are expected to serve well past 30 years. That is not an unreasonable assumption. Many of the 180-foot WLBs built during WWII served more than 50 years, with the last, USCGC Acacia, decommissioned in 2006.

Nevertheless, with it taking 10 years from initial requirements to commissioning for new classes of ships, and both classes of large buoy tenders rapidly approaching 30 years in commission, it does seem like it may be time to start thinking about replacements.

Coast Guard awards contract for work on coastal buoy tenders

A 175-foot coastal buoy tender sets up a security zone for an event in San Francisco Bay. The 14 Keeper-class tenders will undergo a major maintenance availability starting in 2025. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory Mendenhall.

The Coast Guard awarded a contract to Adrick Marine Group of Cocoa, Florida, March 23 to procure HVAC systems as part of the upcoming 175-foot coastal buoy tender major maintenance availability (MMA). The contract has a total potential value of $5 million and supports continued operation of these Coast Guard surface assets through the remainder of each cutter’s expected service life.

This follows another important MMA contract awarded Dec. 19, 2022, for the main crane and central hydraulic system that was awarded to Appleton Marine of Appleton, Wisconsin, for $18.8 million.

A project of the In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program, the primary objective of the MMA is to ensure that the 14 tenders reach the end of their 30-year designed service life. MMA work facilitates fleet maintenance and increased mission availability during a cutter’s later years of service. MMA work focuses on hull and structural repairs and the replacement of obsolete, unsupportable or maintenance-intensive equipment.

The 175-foot coastal buoy tenders were commissioned between 1996 and 2000. Work on the first hull, Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis, is scheduled to begin in July 2025 at Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore. The estimated project completion date for all 14 cutters is early 2036.

Coastal buoy tenders play a vital role in directing the traffic of the nation’s Marine Transportation System and support the U.S. economy by maintaining aids to navigation critical in facilitating the safe and efficient flow of over $5.4 trillion worth of goods annually. These cutters also support the Coast Guard in various other missions including search and rescue, law enforcement, migrant interdiction, marine safety inspections, environmental protection and natural resources management. Keeper-class cutters are also used for light ice breaking operations.

For more information: In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program page

Whatever Happened to Buoy Tender Redbud (WLB-398)? Coast Guard, Navy, MSTS, Philippine Navy, Philippine CG

The U.S. Navy buoy tender USS Redbud (AKL-398) underway off Point Loma, California (USA), in 1949.

A small footnote on Coast Guard history, but it does illustrate how versatile buoy tenders are. A “C” class 180 transferred to the Navy becomes a AKL (Auxiliary Cargo, Light). Becomes a jack of all trades in support of DOD air bases, early warning radar systems, and even LORAN stations.

Redbud Class Light Cargo Ship:

  • Laid down, 21 July 1943, for the US Coast Guard as a lighthouse tender, at Marine Iron and Shipbuilding, Duluth, MN.
  • Launched, 11 September 1943
  • Commissioned, USCGC Redbud (WLB-398), 2 May 1944
  • Acquired on loan by the US Navy in 1949
  • Classified as a Light Cargo Ship and commissioned USS Redbud (AKL-398), 23 July 1949, LCDR. Francis E. Clark USN in command
  • Decommissioned and assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), 28 February 1952
  • Placed in service as USNS Redbud (T-AKL-398)
  • Placed out of service and returned to the US Coast Guard, 10 November 1970
  • Struck from the Naval Register 20 November 1970
  • Transferred to the Philippines, 1 March 1972, renamed BRP Kalinga (AG-89)
  • Final Disposition, fate unknown

Guess the ice strengthened hull came in handy. More photos from Navsource.

USS Redbud (AKL-398) moored pierside at Danish Naval Station Groennedal, Greenland, circa 1949 – 1950. Photo Source Arktisk Institut. Senior Chief, Erling Baldorf, Royal Danish Navy, retired

USNS Redbud (T-AKL-398) underway in the Arctic on a resupply mission from Thule Greenland to U.S. Coast Guard LORAN (Long Range Navigation Station) at Cape Athol, Greenland in 1967.
Photo by Lawrence Rodrigues

USNS Redbud (T-AKL-398), held immobile by the Arctic ice pack, January 1952. Photo Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret

Ex-USNS Redbud (T-AKL-398) in Philippines Coast Guard service as BRP Kalinga (AG-89) moored in Manila South Harbor, 26 January 2020.

“Blount Boats delivers icebreaking buoy tender” –Marine Log

Marine Log reports,

Delivered earlier this year by the Blount Boats shipyard in Warren, R.I., an icebreaking buoy tender ordered in July 2020, the M/V Eddie Somers, is now in service with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Homeported at Somers Cove Marina port at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, Md., the 94 x 27 foot vessel will replace the M/V J. Milliard Tawes after nearly 50 years’ service.

There is a better description of the vessel in a 2020 post reporting the construction contract award.

I found this particularly interesting,

Under a cooperative agreement with Virginia and the U.S. Coast Guard, the M/V Somers will also provide this service to Tangier Island in Virginia when requested. During heavy ice seasons, all food, fuel, medicine, and emergency transport going to and from the islands are supplied by the vessel.

Frequently there is talk of the Coast Guard shedding missions. Domestic icebreaking is perhaps one of those that might be considered. Here is a state taking responsibility for at least some elements of domestic icebreaking and at least shallow water buoy tending. Domestic icebreaking might be seen as a Federal subsidy for areas that experience icing.

The Coast Guard, as the agent of domestic icebreaking, makes the most sense when it can be done by vessels that have other missions when icebreaking is not required. Federal funding of domestic icebreaking makes the most sense when it facilitates interstate and international commerce. Like this particular vessel, Coast Guard vessels frequently combine both domestic icebreaking and buoytending capabilities as in the 225 foot buoy tenders and USCGC Mackinaw.

Looking at this vessel, it looks a lot like our proposed Waterways Commerce Cutters. Makes me wonder if an icebreaking capability for at least some of them might be a good idea, if that is not already in the plan?

Thanks to a reader for bringing this to my attention. 

“Navy: Mine Countermeasures Mission Packages to Be Available for Vessels of Opportunity” –SeaPower/Coast Guard Connection?

USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams launches a Knightfish unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) while at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay, Sept. 14, 2019. Photo: US Navy

The Navy League’s on line magazine, Seapower, reports,

“Capt. Mike Egan, branch head for mine warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, speaking May 24 in Monterey, California, at the 2022 International Mine Warfare Technology Symposium of the Mine Warfare Association, said the MCM mission package is on track to achieve initial operational capability in the fall of 2022 and the Navy plans to procure a total of 24 packages.

“The Navy plans to equip 15 Independence-class littoral combat ships with the MCM mission package, which will leave an additional nine mission packages for use elsewhere.”

USN mine countermeasures ships are being decommissioned. Soon these mission packages will be the only US naval mine clearance assets. If a US port is mined, how will the mines be cleared?

Currently all Independence class LCS are based in San Diego. With the decision to shed all but six of the Freedom class LCS, none of which will be MCM capable, it is likely at least some Independence class will be based on the East Coast, presumably at Jacksonville. Aside from these 15 LCS mounted systems, it also appears the Navy will mount one on each of the five Lewis-B. Puller-class “Expeditionary Sea Bases” (ESB). That still leaves four MCM mission packages unclaimed.

LCSs based in San Diego and Jacksonville are still a long way from many US ports. In addition to transit time, the LCSs may be deployed or may not be available on short notice. The ESBs are all expected to be forward deployed, with one probably being assigned to each Geographic Combatant Commanders with the exception of Northern Command, e.g. Africa Command, Central Command, European Command, Indo-Pacific Command, and Southern Command, so they are unlikely to be available.

These four packages could provide mine clearance for US ports. One East Coast (perhaps Norfolk area), one West Coast (Seattle?), one Hawaii (Pearl?), and one in Alaska (Anchorage?) might be a logical distribution.

We know the disasterous effect of even short term port closures. Time is critical. The mission packages should be able to be deployed by air to the port(s) of interest. Some elements of the packages could certainly operate from shore. In many cases Coast Guard bases and air stations would be logical locations for temporary relocation of Navy assets. It is not unlikely Coast Guard fixed wing aircraft might be tasked with providing the air lift.

Some elements of the mission package, like the Unmanned Underwater Vehicles are still likely to require operation from floating units. Buoy Tenders would likely be able to fill this role. It might be worthwhile exercising this option, perhaps at RIMPAC.

“Coast Guard buoy tender departs Bay Area for last time as San Francisco-based cutter” –News Release

USCGC Aspen (WLB 208) transits through the San Francisco Bay, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart)

Continued progress on the WLB In Service Vessel Sustainment program. Very nice photoessay.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 11th District Pacific Southwest

Coast Guard buoy tender departs Bay Area for last time as San Francisco-based cutter 

aspen aspen1 001
003 004 002

Editor’s Note: Click on images above to download full-resolution version.

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard Cutter Aspen (WLB 208) and crew departed the Bay Area Monday for the last time as a San Francisco-based cutter and are en route to the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore to under-go major maintenance and overhaul.

This marks the end of two decades of service along the California Coastline for the Aspen as one of 16 of the nation’s Juniper class sea-going buoy tenders. The 225-foot ship and its 48-person crew have been stationed at Yerba Buena Island since Sep. 28, 2001.

Aspen’s area of responsibility encompassed the coastal areas from the Oregon-California border down to San Diego. In addition to its primary buoy tender operations, the cutter also has a long history in search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction and marine pollution prevention and response missions. Since 2005, the cutter has worked with U.S. partners in Mexico to interdict tens of millions of dollars in illicit narcotics in support of SOUTHCOM and Joint Interagency Task Force South objectives, most recently interdicting $3.2 million worth of cocaine in 2017.  In 2007, Aspen responded to the Cosco Busan oil spill in San Francisco and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 to assist in oil spill cleanup efforts.

The crew is slated to travel approximately 6,000 miles over the course of 40 days and pass from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Panama Canal. The Aspen is scheduled to undergo a $20 million, 12-month Major Maintenance Availability (MMA) overhaul.

The MMA is a planned dry dock event at the Coast Guard Yard, the first such major availability in the life of this class of ship. The availability will re-capitalize many of the ship’s critical systems, to include complete crane replacement, topside preservation work and technology modernization. The availability is designed to ensure that the cutter can reach its designed 30-year service life. Aspen will be the 11th 225-foot Juniper Class buoy tender to begin the MMA period.

This availability comes at a time when the Coast Guard is embarking on an unprecedented recapitalization of the cutter fleet. Major shipbuilding efforts throughout the county are underway, to include the National Security Cutter, Fast Response Cutter, Offshore Patrol Cutter, Polar Security Cutter and Waterways Commerce Cutter shipbuilding programs. The four 418-foot national security cutters, Bertholf, Waesche, Stratton and Munro stationed in Alameda, are the most visible local signs of these extensive programs.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alder (WLB 216) formerly homeported in Duluth, Minnesota, is slated to be brought back into service in summer of 2022 by the former Aspen crew and re-homeported in San Francisco. The Aspen’s scheduled final destination will be Homer, Alaska in early 2023. 

“It has been a privilege to serve along California’s rugged, oftentimes austere coastline; the beauty is without parallel, and the Pacific Ocean’s winds, current, fog and constant swells offshore continue to mold us as the stern teachers they are, said Lt. Cmdr. Paul Ledbetter, the Aspen’s commanding officer. “The U.S. is and always has been a maritime nation, and my crew relishes the challenges of keeping the maritime transportation system up and running in our capacity as a WLB. We look forward to continuing to serve this great country when we return to San Francisco aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Alder next year.”

Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team San Francisco will be standing by to perform routine maintenance on the Aspen’s buoys throughout the Bay Area. Additionally, the Coast Guard Cutter George Cobb, a 175-foot buoy tender homeported in San Pedro, is slated to maintain all aids to navigation south of San Francisco and the Coast Guard Cutter Elm, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Astoria, Oregon, is also slated to assist throughout Northern California in spring of 2022.

Historical photos of the Aspen are included below:

CGC Aspen transits under Bay Bridge CGC Aspen crew cleans buoy
CGC Aspen marijuana interdiction
Aspen with helicopter photo

“Coast Guard Cutter Juniper completes patrol in Oceania” –D14

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper (WLB 201) return to Honolulu after completing a 45-day patrol in Oceania in support of Operation ‘Aiga, Oct. 1, 2021. The Juniper is a 225-foot Juniper-Class seagoing buoy tender home-ported in Honolulu, the crew is responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, performing maritime law enforcement, port, and coastal security, search and rescue and environmental protection. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Juniper)

Another out of the ordinary patrol and an indication of interest in both illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and our Oceania partners.

Note also used to refuel Webber class WPC USCGC Oliver Berry, also involved in the operation.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

Coast Guard Cutter Juniper completes patrol in Oceania

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

HONOLULU — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper (WLB 201) returned to Honolulu after completing a 45-day patrol in Oceania in support of Operation ‘Aiga on Friday.

During the 10,000 nautical-mile patrol, the cutter’s crew conducted operations to counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and strengthened relations with foreign allies while promoting the collective maritime sovereignty and resource security of partner nations in the Indo-Pacific.

Operation “Aiga,” the Samoan word for family, is designed to integrate Coast Guard capabilities and operations with our Pacific Island Country partners in order to effectively and efficiently protect shared national interests, combat IUU fishing, and strengthen maritime governance on the high seas.

“During our deployment in Oceania, Juniper conducted fisheries enforcement in an effort to counter and deter illegal fishing activities in the Central Pacific,” said Cmdr. Chris Jasnoch, the Juniper’s commanding officer. “We were able to establish a presence on the high seas and in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in American Samoa while also patrolling our partner nation’s EEZs.”

The Juniper’s crew worked under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which strives to protect the region’s fish stocks on the high seas. The WCPFC has 26 member nations and 7 participating territories, 18 of which have enforcing authority. The United States is both a WCPFC member and an enforcing nation.

“We get to take part in a unique, rewarding mission in the Pacific,” said Lt. j.g. Ryan Burk, the operations officer on the Juniper. “We have the privilege of building and strengthening relationships with our Pacific Island partners, while protecting and preserving global resources.”

During the patrol the Juniper embarked a Mandarin linguist from the U.S. Marine Corps to query 11 foreign fishing vessels and board 4 fishing vessels, generating vital information reports for IUU in the region.

The crew also conducted joint operations with a French Navy Falcon-200 aircraft to identify and intercept vessels on the high seas. They also conducted a fueling evolution with the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry’s crew, another participant in Operation ‘Aiga.

“We strengthened our joint capabilities with the French Navy in the fight against IUU fishing activities on the high seas in support of the WCPFC,” said Jasnoch.

To promote American Samoa’s maritime transportation system, the Juniper crew serviced vital aids to navigation in Pago Pago Harbor and in neighboring islands, demonstrating the cutter’s multi-mission capabilities.

In addition to normal buoy maintenance, Juniper accomplished the first Waterways Analysis and Management System Report for Pago Pago since 2003. This report integrates the opinions of Pago Pago Harbor’s regular users to review the relevance of existing aids and reevaluate where new aids would be useful, ensuring the sustainability and safety of the waterway.

Juniper’s crew also put together a donation box for the children in Pago Pago, including: sporting equipment, books and toys for the Boys and Girls Club of American Samoa.

“Despite COVID restrictions preventing an in-person event, it felt good to know that we made a difference,” said Ensign Elaine Weaver, the Juniper’s community relations officer.

The Juniper is a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender home-ported in Honolulu and is responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, performing maritime law enforcement, port and coastal security, search and rescue and environmental protection.

For breaking news follow us on twitter @USCGHawaiiPac

Is this a German Buoy Tender? Icebreaker?

SCHOTTEL Mehrzweckschiffe

It is always interesting to find that others deal with missions you perform in a very different way.

A Marine Link report on the new ship above piqued my curiosity about the parent agency. The German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV),

“… is responsible for ensuring a safe, smoothly flowing and thus economically efficient shipping traffic. The tasks comprise the maintenance, operation as well as the upgrading and construction of the federal waterways including the locks, weirs, bridges and shiplifts.

The responsibility of the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration extends to a total of 23,000 km² of maritime waterways and approximately 7,300 km of inland waterways. In addition, we maintain Vessel Traffic Service Centres at waterways in the coastal area and traffic control centres at inland waterways and we use special vessels for different specialist tasks (buoy laying, emergency missions, direction-finding etc.).

Around the clock, our experts on the water and ashore ensure safe traffic flows.

Our leitmotif is: “Facilitate mobility and protect the environment!”

Sounds like it has some of the Coast Guard’s missions and some Corps of Engineers missions.

The ship itself is described as multi-purpose. Presumably it tends buoys, but it is far bigger and more powerful than any USCG buoy tender, at over 90 meters (290′) in length driven by two steerable propulsion units of 4,500 KW each (over 12,000 HP total). It also has a 2,990 kW (over 4,000 HP) pumpjet.  Our most similar ship seems to be USCGC Mackinaw. (240′ in length and 9,119 shp/6.8 MW).

Mackinaw is of course a domestic icebreaker, in addition to being able to tend buoys.  The new German ship looks like it might also be capable of light icebreaking. (Maybe Tups who comments here frequently would be able to tell us.)

SCHOTTEL RudderPropellers type SRP 750 (each 4,500 kW at 750 rpm) on the left. SCHOTTEL PumpJet type SPJ 520 (2,990 kW) on the right. Image: SCHOTTEL

The German ship also has a gas-tight “citadel” structure with a protective air supply, in order to carry out operations in hazardous atmospheres. In the Coast Guard only the National Security Cutters have this feature.

A Modest Proposal for a Containerized Weapon System

Leonardo DRS has been chosen to provide the mission equipment package (rendering pictured) atop a Stryker combat vehicle to serve as the Interim Maneuver-Short-Range Air Defense system for the U.S. Army. (Courtesy of Leonardo DRS)

     After the recent report of Russia containerizing anti-air missile systems I got to thinking about containerized systems the Coast Guard might use. There are many systems that might be containerized–sonars, torpedo countermeasures, cruise missiles, drones, 120mm mortars, medical facilities, but there is one combination I found particularly appealing.
     We could tie into the Army’s attempt to develop a new short range air defense system (SHORAD) by mounting a marinized version of the SHORAD turret on a container.  The systems are meant to fire on the move, so they should be able to deal with ship’s movement. The container might be armored to some extent to protect it from splinters and small arms. The container could be equipped to provide power (external connection, generator, and battery), air conditioning, air filtration, etc as the supporting vehicle would have in the Army system.  It looks like the planned interim SHORAD system will include Stinger, Hellfire, an M230 30mm gun and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. If we could mount some additional vertical launch Hellfire in the container, so much the better.
     For the Coast Guard these might be used on icebreakers and buoy tenders when they go into contested areas. They might be mounted on the stern of FRCs in lieu of the over the horizon boat using an adapter over the stern ramp, when additional firepower is required. 
     The Army and Marines might also use these containerized systems as prefab base defense systems. As fixed ground defenses, the containers might be buried leaving only the turret above ground level.
     They could also be used on Military Sealift Command and Merchant ships to provide a degree of self defense.

USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) arrives in American Samoa on patrol

The crew of USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) prepare to moor at the port of Pago Pago, American Samoa, Aug. 3, 2019. They will conduct a joint fisheries patrol with NOAA Fisheries and American Samoa Marine Police members. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir/Released)

Below is a press release from District 14 (Hawaii). It suggest two things.

  • They are paying more attention to the threat of illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing in the Pacific, and
  • They are exploring the limits of recently arrived Webber class “Fast Response Cutters” (FRC).

The Joseph Gerczak is based in Honolulu. The distance from Honolulu to Pago Pago by air is 2259 nautical miles (4184 km). That is less than the nominal 2500 currently being reported as the range for the class and less than the 2950 miles that was claimed for the class earlier, but that appears to leave little in the way of reserve. The nine day transit referred to also exceeds the nominal five day endurance of the FRCs.

The news release also indicates that the USCGC Walnut (WLB-205) is also in the area, so the Walnut may have escorted the FRC and may have refueled and replenished it underway as was done when Walnut provided underway replenishment for Oliver F. Berry (WPC-1124) for a 2200 mile transit to the Marshall Islands.

I would welcome any comments about how the operation was actually done. But could an FRC make the trip unrefueled? As I recall the 2950 nmi range claim was based on a speed of 14 knots. Transiting at a lower speed should increase range. How fast did they go? Nine full days, 216 hours would have averaged about 10.5 knots. Still nine days may have meant a short day at the start and another short day on arrival so it may have been closer to eight 24 hour days or about 192 hours total that would equal an average speed of a little under 12 knots. In any case it is likely the transit could have been made unrefueled with a reasonable reserve. Even if that were the case, CCGD14 probably kept Walnut close in case they ran into trouble. They are pushing the envelope.

America Samoa location. Author: TUBS

The news release (more pictures here):


PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) arrived in the Port of Pago Pago, Saturday.

The crew is participating in Operation Aiga to conduct fisheries law enforcement and strengthen partnerships in American Samoa and Samoa throughout August.

“It was a good transit, the longest we’ve conducted yet, nine days at sea and we’re proving the capabilities of these new cutters to operate over the horizon throughout the remote Pacific,” said Lt. James Provost, commanding officer of Joseph Gerczak. “This is the first time a Fast Response Cutter has come to Pago Pago. We’re looking forward to hosting our partners and the public during tours Monday from 1 to 3 p.m. here at the port.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to enforce U.S. federal laws and regulations in the territorial waters of American Samoa. Worldwide, tuna is a $7 billion dollar annual industry and roughly 70 percent of that tuna comes from the Western and Central Pacific. These pelagic fish migrate and it is essential the U.S. and its partners protect the resource from illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. Estimates place the value of IUU fishing around $616 million annually.

“After this port call, we will be working with NOAA fisheries and the American Samoa Marine Police to enforce fisheries regulations in the region while on patrol. Oceania countries adhering to the rule of law deserve and even playing field. Presence, partnerships, and regular enforcement can deter IUU fishing and safeguard these critical fish stocks,” said Provost.

The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) crew will also be conducting a fisheries mission with shipriders from Samoa aboard to enforce sovereign laws in their EEZ and deter IUU fishing. This effort is being undertaken in coordination with Australia and New Zealand as Samoa transitions their organic patrol assets, upgrading their fleet. Both cutter crews will also respond to any emergent search and rescue needs in the area and seek out opportunities to work with partner nation assets.

The Coast Guard exercises 11 bilateral shiprider agreements with Pacific Island Forum nations to help ensure regional security and maritime sovereignty.

“The U.S. is committed to supporting our allies and neighbors in the Pacific, which is essential to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The Joseph Gerczak is a 154-foot Sentinel-Class Fast Response Cutter homeported in Honolulu. It is one of the newest patrol boats in the fleet, replacing the aging 110-foot Island-Class patrol boats serving the nation admirably since the late 1980s. Three Fast Response Cutters will be homeported in Honolulu, the third arriving in August. Three will also be stationed in Guam and are to begin arriving there in 2020.