GULF OF AQABA (Feb. 13, 2022) The U.S. Coast Guard Sentinel-class cutter USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) sails near a U.S sail drone explorer during the International Maritime Exercise/Cutlass Express (IMX) 2022, Feb. 13, 2022. IMX/CE 2022 is the largest multinational training event in the Middle East, involving more than 60 nations and international organizations committed to enhancing partnerships and interoperability to strengthen maritime security and stability. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. DeAndre Dawkins)
Defense Scoop reports:
“The Navy plans to stand up additional unmanned task forces around the globe modeled after Task Force 59 in the Middle East, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro told reporters Saturday…“We’ve demonstrated with Task Force 59 how much more we can do with these unmanned vehicles — as long as they’re closely integrated together in a [command and control] node that, you know, connects to our manned surface vehicles. And there’s been a lot of experimentation, it’s going to continue aggressively. And we’re going to start translating that to other regions of the world as well,” Del Toro said during a media roundtable at the Reagan National Defense Forum.”
The report goes on to mention 4th Fleet and Oceana specifically, both regions of intense interest to the Coast Guard in regard to drug interdiction and Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing respectively.
This could be a big boost to our Maritime Domain Awareness. In the Eastern Pacific Drug Transit Zone we might need uncrewed surface vessels with passive acoustic sensors since the targets of interest are poor targets for radar and optical sensors. That could lead to practical experience that could improve our ASW capability.
Caption from Covert Shores: A new type of ‘narco submarine’ captured by USCG Cutter Active in the Easter Pacific Ocean, May 5, 2021. There is enough that is distinct to give it a fresh family designation, LPV-OM-VSV-10. Although it appears well finished, as far as these things go, many details seem borrowed from other types. The unusual reinforced cockpit leading edge is strongly reminiscent of the LPV-IM-14 and related LPV-IM-VSV-1 types for example. But other features do not match that master boat builder. New narco submarine types are increasingly often copies of various features of established types.
Civilian analysist H. I. Sutton, who has spent a great deal of effort tracking the development of ocean smuggling craft, feels we may be seeing a change in how, and by whom, they are being built.
Narco submarine production may have entered a new phase. After the period of Productionization, we are now seeing greater variance again. This suggests more one-off vessels and, likely, more people designing and building them. It can be characterized as a Commoditization of narco submarine technology.
From the Coast Guard’s perspective, this may not make much difference on the interdiction side, but it may make it more difficult for our partners to attack the problem from shore side.