Passing along a Coast Guard District 8 news release.
Small Wars Journal makes the case for designating the Coast Guard to maintain expertise in and conduct maritime stability operations.
Historically, the United States military is regularly involved in some sort of stability operation despite the military preference for high intensity conflict. … The United States risks losing some of the lessons learned if it does not develop a holistic and complementary Joint Force that can both dominate a peer enemy and conduct stability operations at and below the level of armed conflict. Competition means that forces will be employed across the spectrum of operations with equal emphasis. Designating specific services to conduct stability as a primary mission is one means of ensuring a Joint Force that is equally capable across the spectrum. The Coast Guard is uniquely suited to a lead role in maritime focused stability operations. As a military force that is resident within the inter-agency, the Coast Guard provides a presence that is “instantly acceptable because of their worldwide humanitarian reputation.” This forward presence dovetails with the Department of Homeland Security mission of “safeguarding the American people” by pushing the boundaries of U.S. law enforcement into regions and countries where it can mentor and develop partner capabilities in the areas it is needed most.
It quotes the Coast Guard Strategic Plan 2018-2022.
“The Coast Guard plays a critical role in strengthening governance in areas of strategic importance. We mature other nations’ inherent capabilities to police their own waters and support cooperative enforcement of international law through dozens of robust bilateral agreements. Our leadership on global maritime governing bodies and our collaborative approach to operationalize international agreements drives stability, legitimacy and order. As global strategic competition surges, adversaries become more sophisticated and the maritime environment becomes more complex. The Coast Guard provides a full spectrum of solutions, from cooperation to armed conflict.”
The post states,
“At its heart the primary stability tasks fall into seven military missions and activities: protecting civilians, security sector reform, support to security cooperation, peace operations, foreign humanitarian assistance, counterinsurgency, and foreign internal defense.”
It then goes on to describe how the Coast Guard has done each of these tasks in the past.
What we may be seeing here is a preview of the roles the Coast Guard may be expected to perform when the expected Tri-Service Strategy is published.
Thanks to Geoff for the “White Hull Diplomacy” portion of the title.
Below is a news release from the Eighth district. The thing I found surprising, was that in the video below, it reports that three USCG drone pilots flew 95 flights totaling 16 hours and 34 minutes (about 10.5 minutes per flight). You will see some of the drone video below. Above is a better look at the equipment being used.
Coast Guard ends 37-day response to Hurricane Sally aftermath on Gulf Coast
Editors’ Note: Click on image to download high-resolution version.
MOBILE, Ala. — The Coast Guard Sector Mobile Incident Command has concluded a 37-day coordinated response effort to Hurricane Sally along the Gulf Coast, Thursday.
Many parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle sustained damage during Hurricane Sally when it made landfall September 16th as a Category 2 hurricane. Since then, 1,132 vessels have been assessed for potential pollution threat to the environment. All sources of pollutants have been mitigated and contractors continue to conduct salvage operations in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Baldwin Counties.
The Coast Guard federal on-scene coordinator and the state on-scene coordinator from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection coordinated efforts to remove weathered oil, discovered on a half-mile area of Johnson Beach, Florida, in consultation with Federal Trustees:
The impacted area was located on federally designated, critical habitat and marine protected areas as well as being designated as culturally significant to federally recognized tribes.
Coast Guard Sector Mobile Sally Marine Environmental Response (MER) partnered with wildlife response specialists to save the life of a brown pelican. It was found heavily oiled at Day Break Marina in Pensacola, Florida. After a three-week rehabilitation process, it was safely released into the Northwest Florida Wildlife Sanctuary.
“The Coast Guard concluded its response to Hurricane Sally well ahead of our anticipated timeline, ” said Cmdr. Kelly Thorkilson, Coast Guard Hurricane Sally MER incident commander. “Coast Guard members deployed from across the nation, collaborated with our partner agencies, and quickly integrated new technologies which greatly enhanced frontline operations resulting in a more efficient response.”
There were 148 Coast Guard responders whose combined efforts totaled an estimated 17,630 work hours. Members managed logistics, resources, and operations including; vessel assessments and facilitating the deployment of 11,650 feet of containment boom. Additionally, three drone pilots flew a total of 95 unmanned aerial system flights to pinpoint pollution along the Gulf Coast.
Any additional pollution incidents should be reported to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
The US Naval Institute Proceedings had a recent post, “Hurricanes: The Coast Guard’s Growing Responsibility” By Lieutenant Noah Miller, U.S. Coast Guard, September 2020.
This led me to an earlier article, “The Coast Guard Needs Urban SAR Assets” by Boatswain’s Mate First Class Michael Buchanan, U.S. Coast Guard, August 2019; then to “Now Hear This—Coast Guard on the Crest of Climate Change” by Lieutenant Angel Kwok, U.S. Coast Guard, January, 2019.
Two appeals like this from the deck plates suggests we probably need to do something more about urban search and rescue.
Apparently there is some action being taken: “New Flood Response Training Finishes Its Inaugural Course”
French President Emmanuel Macron announced today a procurement order of 6 new patrol vessels to be based overseas, a program known as POM in French (for patrouilleurs outre-mer).
They will be about 70 meters (230 feet) in length with a speed of 22 knots. They will be equipped with an unmanned air system (UAS) (apparently that flight deck is not really intended for helicopters).
Basing will be two ships in New Caledonia at Nouméa naval base (Pacific), two ships in La Reunion Island at Port Réunion naval base (Indian Ocean), and one ship in French Polynesia at Fare Ute Papeete (Tahiti) naval base (Pacific), basing of the sixth ship has not yet been decided.
This will be a significant upgrade over their current assets in the Western Pacific and will complement the Coast Guard’s increased presence in the area, as well as the efforts of Australia and New Zealand to curb Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported fishing. When disaster strike, like Australia, New Zealand, and the US, the French Navy will come to the aid of their neighbors. They are developing technology to enhance maritime domain awareness, here and here.
The French do not have the same kind of Coast Guard that the US does. The French Navy handles many coast guard type missions. Clearly they recognize the importance of these functions. These ships come on the heels of other French Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel projects, here and here.
Despite the recent kerfuffle at the NATO get together, France is our oldest ally. They and the US have the largest Exclusive Economic Zones in the world.
Both the US and France benefit from a close working relationship between the US Coast Guard and the French Navy. Beside, occasional visits by Coast Guard vessels or aircraft to New Caledonia (a major base during WWII) and Tahiti might not be bad for morale.
Note, the hearing does not actually begin until time 20:30 on the video above.
The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation conducted a hearing on “Coast Guard Modernization and Recapitalization: Status and Future” on September 26, 2018.
You can see the “Summary of Subject Matter” that was prepared for the Congressmen here.
This is the first hearing for both Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) as subcommittee chair and Admiral Karl L. Schultz as Commandant. What I saw looked promising.
The Commandant’s prepared remarks has some items of interest.
The Commandant announced that he would soon issue a Coast Guard “Strategic Plan 2018-2022”
He referenced the new icebreakers as “Polar Security Cutters.”
This past March, we released a request for proposal (RFP), setting the stage for award of a Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) contract in FY 2019 for the construction of up to three heavy Polar icebreakers. We are as close as we have ever been to recapitalizing our Polar icebreaking fleet; continued investment now is vital to solidify our standing as an Arctic nation and affirms the Coast Guard’s role in providing assured, year-round access to the Polar regions for decades to come.
This seems to be a part of an effort to broaden the appeal of the icebreaker program as discussed in a recent USNI post, “Coast Guard Renames Icebreaker Program ‘Polar Security Cutter.'”. Their “…hull designation will be WMSP. W is the standard prefix for Coast Guard vessels, and MSP stands for Maritime Security-Polar, Brian Olexy, a Coast Guard spokesman, told USNI News.”
Apparently we are working toward a fleet of 64 Webber class WPCs rather than the 58 in the Program of Record. The first two additional to replace six Island class WPBs currently assigned to Patrol Force South West Asia have already been funded.
“…Earlier this summer, we exercised the second option under the Phase II contract to begin production of six more FRCs. The FY 2018 appropriation also included funding for two additional FRCs, beyond our domestic program of record of 58 hulls (emphasis applied–Chuck), to initiate the vital replacement of our six patrol boats supporting long-term U.S. Central Command missions in southwest Asia.”
Q&A. Topics discussed during the question and answer period included:
Civil Engineering/Shore infrastructure. $1.6B backlog.
40:00 possibility of a 12th NSC
42:30 Where is the $34M taken out of the FY2018 budget will be coming from–reprogramming within the Department.
44:30 Closures of the Potomac
54:00 Diversity within the service.
1:14:40 Need for larger Reserve Force
1:18:00 Icebreaker program
1:20:00 Waterways commerce cutters
In addition response to the recent Hurricanes seemed to be very much on the minds of Representatives and was referred to repeatedly.
The USNI “Proceedings Today” has an article “Interoperability is a Core Coast Guard Strength,” that looks at the Coast Guard’s unique abilities to respond to natural disaster and offers some recommendations particularly in regard to improving the ability of the Coast Guard Reserve to respond. The author is LCdr. Eric Driggs, USCG (Reserve). He currently serves at the Coast Guard Reserve Unit at U.S. Southern Command in Miami, Florida.
Following from the USCGC Hamilton Facebook page.
CGC HAMILTON, along with 11 other Coast Guard Cutters and over 500 Coast Guard personnel have moved out of the path of Hurricane Florence in preparation for a swift response to the potential impacts of the dangerous storm. CGC HAMILTON and 5 other cutters have repositioned to Mayport, Florida in preparation to head north following Florence’s landfall. Together, these cutters have formed Surface Action Group (SAG) South, whose mission is to conduct search and rescue, provide humanitarian aid, assist maritime commerce by surveying waterways and maritime aids to navigation, and provide security to insure a prompt recovery of any impacted sea ports.
In addition to Hamilton I see three 270s, a 210, and a Webber class. Other ships in the SAG include Spencer and Harriet Lane.
Reportedly SAG South has begun to move North out of Mayport.
(Does this mean there is a SAG North?)
Twenty-six nations, 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise scheduled June 27 to Aug. 2, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
It normally includes Coast Guard participation, although I have not seen any announcement about which Coast Guard Units will play, you can be sure there will be some CG presence.
There are scenarios within scenarios, but perhaps of most immediate interest to the Coast Guard, is the Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) portion of the exercise. The US Naval Institute “Proceedings Today” online magazine has an interesting take on how to “Improve RIMPAC,” specifically the HA/DR portion. Given the Coast Guards outsized role in Disaster Relief, its world wide relationships, and its unique position as a military service in a predominately civilian department, it probably should be deeply involved.
War on the Rocks offers a suggestion as to how to build greater cooperation and trust and support international norms in the Western Pacific.
“…establishment of a Combined Maritime Task Force Pacific that would be modeled off the Standing Naval Forces Atlantic construct that NATO operated in the 1970s and 1980s… It included 6-10 surface ships (destroyers, cruisers, frigates and support ships) that attached to the squadron for up to six months at a time…the real utility was that its permanent and consistent nature allowed contributing navies to work together to build interoperability during peacetime…it was always signaling contributing navies’ growing alignment and desire to work together.”
This seems like a pretty good idea, but I would suggest one change. Make the purpose of the force Law Enforcement (particularly fisheries), SAR, and Disaster Relief/Humanitarian Assistance and use primarily Offshore Patrol Vessels instead of conventional warships.
Signaling a shared belief in the norms of international behavior, and a determination to uphold those norms, would be the primary objective.
There are lots of potential participants beside the USCG, they might include navies or coast guards of Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Australia, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, S. Korea, and the Philippines. COM7thFleet has already asked for a USCG presence, but this would not be under the COCOM. It would be a cooperative enterprise between participating nations, in most cases, coast guard to coast guard.
All the vessels involved could host ship riders from the nation(s) where the force is operating.
We already plan to have most of the Bertholf class cutters in the Pacific, and putting three OPCs in Guam could further facilitate the arrangement.
This avoids the complications of a military alliance, but strengthens the hand of SE Asian nations that might otherwise be intimidated by China.