Canadian Navy Buying Small UAS For Coast Defense Ships

HMCS Saskatoon, a Kingston class Coastal Defence Vessel, near Esquimalt, British Columbia and A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter that is practicing personnel transfers.
Date March 2007
Photo by Rayzlens

Seapower Magazine (on-line) is reporting that Canada will equip its Coastal Defense ships with the Puma AE RQ-20B small unmanned air system (sUAS). These ships of the Kingston class, are a bit smaller than the Coast Guard’s 210 foot cutters and have no flight deck.

These ships frequently cooperate with the Coast Guard in drug interdiction operations, with a USCG Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) on board.

The Coast Guard has some experience with the Puma UAS as it has flown from USCGC Healey, and from USCGC Chock as part of a demonstration

John Ferguson and Chris Thompson, Unmanned Aircraft System operators for AeroVironment, release a Puma All Environment UAS from the flight deck of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy during an exercise in the Arctic Aug. 18, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo)

Below can be seen the Mantis i45 sensor as installed on the Puma sUAS

Mantis i45 sensor

This might be a candidate for a sUAS to operate from the Webber class WPCs. I can see some useful scenarios, such as providing overwatch while doing a law enforcement boarding, but I still think we need something more capable of providing a more persistent and more wide-ranging search. Still a combination of a sUAS like this and the TALONS (Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems) might be very effective. The recovery methods I have seen so far, for this system, either landing on the flight deck of an icebreaker or landing in the water don’t seem satisfactory.

Still I would suggest we take a look at what the Canadians are doing. We might want to send an R&D rep who has participated in our previous examination of sUAS to ride one of these ships during the last half of a drug interdiction patrol, so they can get input from both the Canadians and the LEDET.

 

Acoustic Systems from Our Canadian Friends

TRAPS containerized active/passive towed array from GeoSpectrum Technologies.

We talked about the possibility of using TRAPS earlier. I had an email discussion with a GeoSpectrum Technologies representative, Geoff Lebans. He tells me the Canadian Navy will test TRAPS from a Kingston class ship in March. 

The Kingston class are a little smaller and slower than the 210 foot WMECs, but they have regularly assisted the Coast Guard in drug interdiction.

Would love to see how effective this system might be in detecting semi-submersibles.

The Coast Guard has expressed an interest in having unmanned systems providing networked sensors and GeoSpectrum makes a much smaller towed acoustic directional sensor that they believe would work with the Liquid Robotics™ Wave Glider™ and other small autonomous vehicles. Frankly, I could see the drug cartels putting a bounty on recovery of unmanned surface vessels and their sensors. Still the Navy might also be interested in this sort of network for ASW and they could probably fund the program out of loose change they might find in the sofa. Forth Fleet would probably more than happy to test it in the Eastern Pacific and cutters could probably deploy them.

Hopefully the Canadians will send their TARPS equipped ship down to the Eastern Pacific transit zones. If they do not, it might make a good Coast Guard R&D project to mount one on the back of a WMEC and use it to help define competitive contract requirements.

An acoustic system like this should be good for detection of something like a semi-submersible out to at least the first convergence zone, well beyond the visual and radar horizon. Mounted in a container they could be placed on WMECs bound for the Eastern Pacific and then transferred to the OPCs as they replace the MECs.

 

HMCS Nanaimo, a Royal Canadian Navy maritime coastal defense vessel operating in support of Operation Martillo

Canada Expands Coast Guard

A rescue boat sits moored at the Kitsilano Coast Guard station before the base's closure in 2013.

Rescue boat sits moored at the Kitsilano Coast Guard station before the base’s closure in 2013.

Our Canadian counterparts are looking forward to an 11% expansion over the next two years. This is a part of the Canadian government’s $1.5B (Canadian) Ocean Protection Plan that will include new vessels and new lifeboat stations.

The Ocean Protection Plan appears to be a response to late or less than satisfactory response to pollution incidents.

I’m told among the new Canadian Coast Guard assets will be 45 foot USCG standard Response Boat, Mediums.

 

United States-Canada Joint Arctic Leaders’ Statement

Below you will find a verbatim press release. The US and Canadian Coast Guards are mentioned prominantly, particularly in regard to the formation of Low impact shipping corridors. Certainly the Coast Guard will enforce the fisheries restrictions as well. 

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2016

In March, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau announced a new partnership to embrace opportunities and confront challenges in the changing Arctic, with Indigenous and Northern partnerships, and responsible, science-based leadership. Over the past year, both countries have engaged a range of partners and stakeholders, including Indigenous peoples and Northern communities, state, provincial and territorial governments, nongovernmental organizations and businesses. Those consulted have expressed a strong desire for real and long-term opportunities to build strong families, communities, and robust economies. Today, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau are proud to launch actions ensuring a strong, sustainable and viable Arctic economy and ecosystem, with low-impact shipping, science based management of marine resources, and free from the future risks of offshore oil and gas activity. Together, these actions set the stage for deeper partnerships with other Arctic nations, including through the Arctic Council.

Science-based approach to oil and gas:

In March, the United States and Canada committed that commercial activities will occur only if the highest safety and environmental standards are met, and if they are consistent with national and global climate and environmental goals. Today – due to the important, irreplaceable values of its Arctic waters for Indigenous, Alaska Native and local communities’ subsistence and cultures, wildlife and wildlife habitat, and scientific research; the vulnerability of these ecosystems to an oil spill; and the unique logistical, operational, safety, and scientific challenges and risks of oil extraction and spill response in Arctic waters – the United States is designating the vast majority of U.S. waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas as indefinitely off limits to offshore oil and gas leasing, and Canada will designate all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment.[i]

Supporting strong Arctic communities:

In March, both countries committed to defining new approaches and exchanging best practices to strengthen the resilience of Arctic communities and continuing to support the well-being of Arctic residents, in particular respecting the rights and territory of Indigenous peoples.

Recently, in direct response to requests from Alaska Native communities, President Obama created the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area protecting the cultural and subsistence resources of over 80 tribes as well as one of the largest seasonal migrations of marine mammals in the world of bowhead and beluga whales, walrus, ice seals, and sea birds. The United States also launched an interagency Economic Development Assessment Team in the Nome region of Alaska to identify future investment opportunities, with other regions to follow. In addition, the Arctic Funders Collaborative (AFC), a group of 11 U.S., Canadian, and international philanthropic foundations, announced the coordination and mobilization of an estimated $27 million in resources for programs across the Arctic over the next three years.

Today, for its part, Canada is committing to co-develop a new Arctic Policy Framework, with Northerners, Territorial and Provincial governments, and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis People that will replace Canada’s Northern Strategy. The Framework will include priority areas identified by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs’ Special Representative, such as education, infrastructure, and economic development. The Framework will include an Inuit-specific component, created in partnership with Inuit, as Inuit Nunangat comprises over a third of Canada’s land mass and over half of Canada’s coast line, and as Inuit modern treaties govern this jurisdictional space. In parallel, Canada is reducing the reliance of Northern communities on diesel, by deploying energy efficiency and renewable power. Canada will also, with Indigenous and Northern partners, explore how to support and protect the future of the Arctic Ocean’s “last ice area” where summer ice remains each year.

Low impact shipping corridors:

In March, the United States and Canada committed to working together to establish consistent policies for ships operating in the region. Today, both countries are launching the first processes ever to identify sustainable shipping lanes throughout their connected Arctic waters, in collaboration with Northern and Indigenous partners. The U.S. Coast Guard is launching a Port Access Route Study (PARS) in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.[ii] Results from this analysis may be used to establish vessel routing measures including traffic separation schemes, recommended routes, Areas To Be Avoided, or other instruments such as fairways where no structures may be erected. The Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada is implementing Northern Marine Transportation Corridors, determining what infrastructure and navigational and emergency response services are needed.  Canada is also launching a new program to support training curriculum for Northerners, particularly Indigenous peoples, to join the marine field, as well as programming to support marine infrastructure and safety equipment for communities.

In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard, in consultation with industry, Indigenous communities, and the State of Alaska, has begun a strategy to phase down the use of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) in the Arctic. The Canadian Coast Guard is conducting similar outreach and consultations to develop proposals to phase down the use of HFO in 2017. The United States and Canada will each, or jointly, propose a plan for consideration at the International Maritime Organization’s spring 2017 meeting.

Science-based management of Arctic fisheries:

In March, the United States and Canada called for a binding international agreement to prevent the opening of unregulated fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean and to build on a precautionary, science-based approach to commercial fishing that both countries have put in place in their Arctic waters. Today, the United States commits to supporting and strengthening existing commercial fishing closures in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and to conducting scientific research to improve our understanding of the Arctic. Canada commits to working with Northern and Indigenous communities to build world-leading and abundant Arctic fisheries – based on science – that firstly benefit Northern communities. Together, the United States’ and Canada’s actions will create the largest contiguous area of well-regulated fisheries in the world.

Both countries reaffirm their commitment to a legally binding agreement to prevent unregulated commercial fisheries in the Arctic High Seas until an internationally recognized Regional Fishery Management Organization is in place to provide effective management. Both countries are working towards such an agreement in the coming months.

(Below are apparently footnotes–Chuck)

[i] Taking into account the respective obligations of the United States and Canada under international law to protect and preserve the marine environment, these steps also support the goals of various international frameworks and commitments concerning pollution, including those reflected in the 1990 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response, and Cooperation, the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, and the U.S.-Canada Joint Marine Pollution Contingency Plan.  Furthermore, with respect to areas of the Beaufort Sea where the U.S.-Canada maritime boundary has not yet been agreed, these practical arrangements are without prejudice to either side’s position and demonstrate self-restraint, taking into account the principle of making every effort not to jeopardize or hamper reaching a final maritime boundary agreement.

[ii] In conducting this study, and consistent with existing authorities, the Coast Guard will consider traditional knowledge from local communities, the effects of shipping and vessel pollution on the marine environment, marine mammal migratory pathways and other biologically important areas, subsistence whaling, hunting, and fishing, and the needs of maritime safety and commerce.

This came to my attention through the Bryant’s Maritime Consulting Blog.

Canada Chooses Airbus C-295 as New SAR Aircraft

Airbus C-295 seleccted as Canada's Fixed Wing SAR aircraft.

Airbus C-295 seleccted as Canada’s Fixed Wing SAR aircraft.

FlightGlobal reports, after 14 years, Canada has selected the Airbus C-295 as their future Fixed Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft.

The deal means Airbus will supply 16 C295s to replace six de Havilland Canada CC-155 Buffalos and 13 CC-130H Hercules at four bases spread across Canada, providing search and rescue services from the Arctic to the southern border with the USA.

The article is not correct in saying, “The aircraft is in service with the US Coast Guard as the HC-144A, serving as a maritime patrol and rescue aircraft.” The HC-144 (max takeoff weight 36,380 lb (16,502 kg)) is based on the smaller C-235. The C-295 (max takeoff weight 51,146 lb (23,200 kg)) is a direct competitor of the C-27J (max takeoff weight 67,241 lb (30,500 kg)).

Russians Building Missile Armed Arctic Patrol Vessel

Project23550IceClassPatrolVessel

Concept image issued by the Russian Ministry of Defence of the Project 23550 ice-class patrol ships for the Russian Navy. Source: Russian MoD

Janes360 is reporting that the Russian Ministry of Defense has awarded contracts for two new ice class patrol vessels that are reportedly capable of operating in ice up to 1.5 meters thick (approx. 5 feet).

The class is described (in Russian) by the MoD as being “without analogues in the world”, and combining “the qualities of tug, ice-breaker, and patrol boat”.

To me it looks an awful lot like the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel Svalbard or Canada’s Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship that is based on the Svalbard’s design.

Jane’s notes, “A concept image released by the MoD showed the vessel armed with a medium-calibre main gun on the foredeck (likely an A-190 100 mm naval gun), a helicopter deck and hangar, and two aft payload bays each fitted with a containerised missile launch system (akin to the Club-K system offered for export) armed with four erectable launch tubes – presumably for either Club anti-ship or Kalibr-NK land-attack missiles. Although billed as patrol boats, this level of armament makes them better armed than many corvettes.”

If these are in fact containerized missile systems, then they may simply be optional equipment, added to the conceptual image to give the ship a bit more swagger, and we may never actually see this. If you are breaking ice for a vessel following close behind, you may not want missiles with their warheads and high energy fuel located near the stern where a collision with a vessel following too close might rupture a missile and start a fire.

It does suggest that a few spaces for containers could turn almost any ship into a potential missile platform.