MyCG has a story about the experience of personnel manning USCGC Bear’s CIC during Operation Nanook. There were some statements that surprised me.
“There were a lot of ways we were pushed as a team within the operations department,” he explained. “For me, I think it was getting acclimated with being on a cutter after being an ‘OS’ at a sector for most of my career. Being underway was really uncharted territory for me, no pun intended. Communications, especially the use of tactical signals to pass important information from ship-to-ship, was completely new to me with nearly 17 years of experience. But I would gladly do it again if I had the chance.”
How is it that we have an OS1, 17 years in the service, and he has never been afloat before?
Learning tactical signals, or TACSIGS, Gordon refers to was no small feat either. TACSIGS are a lost form of communication the Coast Guard no longer teaches. Only as a result of CIC’s collective brain power was Bear able to engage in close-quarter maneuvering with other ships in the convoy— often times, only at moment’s notice.
I know cutters seldom work with other warships, but it is a basic skill required of a CIC. Screwing up tactical signal will at least embarrass the ship, at worse the ship may be run over by an aircraft carrier–it has happened more than once.
And then there was this,
The unreliable internet capabilities to carry out critical tasking also challenged the crew.
You are depending on internet to coordinate operations? You can’t expect that to work when you need it most, and where is EMCON?
Sounds like the OS rating has proven so useful, and so many of the OS billets are now ashore, that the rating’s skill set has drifted away from those required afloat. Sounds like we have a problem. Maybe we need to split the rating? Create an OS like rating for those that serve exclusively ashore? Or else a special school to bring OSs going afloat up to speed?
Below is a post from the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9). I had never heard of the “Athena combat weapons system” so “Googled” it. The most common thing that came up was an Army laser weapons program. I don’t really think that is what they talking about, but I could be wrong. The post does call it a “weapons system.” I think it may be the Leonardo ATHENA® (Architecture & Technologies Handling Electronic Naval Applications) Combat Management System (CMS). Leonardo’s web page on the system indicates it is the CMS used on the FREMM frigate which is the parent craft for new USN FFG. Maybe the Navy liked the CMS as much as they liked the ship.
The CMS on the Bertholf class cutters is an Aegis based system. I have not heard anything about its application to the offshore patrol cutter (OPC).
Late Addition: Got this, thanks to Timothy H,
That is good news, since it means there will be commonality between the systems on the NSCs and the OPCs.
The Coast Guard modified its current contract with Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) May 20 so installation of the Athena combat weapons system and multi-mode radar system will be completed during the production phase of the offshore patrol cutter (OPC). The Athena system, radar and armament of the OPC are provided to the Coast Guard as Navy type-Navy owned government furnished equipment.
Prior to this modification, installation of both systems was to occur after contract delivery while each cutter was in its homeport. The Navy has completed development, integration and testing of the Athena and radar systems, enabling the Coast Guard to shift to production-phase installation. Performing this work prior to delivery reduces the technical risks associated with post-delivery installation and delivers mission-ready OPCs to the fleet as soon as possible.
The first four OPCs are currently in production at ESG’’s shipyard in Panama City, Florida.
The OPC meets the service’s need for cutters capable of deploying independently or as part of a larger task force and is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters, interdicting undocumented individuals and protecting the nation. The acquisition of 25 OPCs will complement the capabilities of the service’s national security cutters and fast response cutters as an essential element of the Department of Homeland Security’s layered maritime security strategy.
For more information: Offshore Patrol Cutter Program page