FRC #43 Accepted

USCGC Frederick Hatch (WPC-1143) click on the photo for a larger version of photo.

After the recent look at a Webber class cutter bound for Bahrain, I thought I’d publish a photo of the latest FRC, Frederick Hatch (WPC-1143), provided by Bollinger. There is a lot of stuff on the mast I don’t recognize.

The Next four FRCs off the line, Glenn Harris (WPC-1144), Emlen Tunnell (1145), John Scheuerman (1146), and Clarence Sutphin (1147) will all be going to Bahrain to replace the 110 foot cutters of PATFORSWA, two in Fall 2021 and the last two in 2022. Generally Bollinger has been delivering five Webber class per year, so all four these should be delivered by the end of calendar 2021.

Coast Guard news release here:

Imagery Available: Coast Guard accepts Guam’s third fast response cutter

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific
Contact: 14th District Public Affairs
Office: (808) 535-3230
After Hours: HawaiiPacific@uscg.mil
14th District online newsroom

Coast Guard accepts Guam’s third fast response cutter

USCGC Frederick Hatch USCGC Frederick Hatch USCGC Frederick Hatch

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

SANTA RITA, Guam —The Coast Guard accepted delivery of its newest Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC), the Coast Guard Cutter Frederick Hatch (WPC 1143), from Bollinger Shipyards in Key West, FL, Thursday.
 
Frederick Hatch is scheduled to be the third FRC stationed in Guam and will arrive in Santa Rita during the summer. The cutter was placed in commission, special status, and will remain in Florida while the crew completes pre-commissioning trials and maintenance.
 
“The fast response cutters in the Pacific are a game changer for the Coast Guard,” said Cmdr. Josh Empen, deputy sector commander, Coast Guard Sector Guam. “Frederick Hatch will be the third fast response cutter in Guam, joining the Coast Guard Cutters Myrtle Hazard (WPC-1139) and Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) who have already saved mariners in distress at sea, intercepted narcotics, and boarded several vessels to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Oceania. These cutters are conducting longer missions over greater distances than the older patrol boats they are replacing.”
 
Replacing the older 110-foot Island-class patrol boats formerly stationed in Guam, the Frederick Hatch represents the Coast Guard’s commitment to modernizing the service’s cutter fleet.
 
FRCs boast a wide array of improvements over its predecessors including advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems designed to assist the cutter’s crew with their primary mission to patrol coastal regions.
 
These advanced capabilities greatly improve the Coast Guard’s ability to conduct missions ranging from Search and Rescue to national defense within Guam’s waters while also contributing to joint operations between the United States and its regional partners as they work towards common goals such as the preservation of Pacific fish stocks.
 
“All of our accomplishments to date are due to the tremendous amount of hard work our crew has put in to this process,” said the Lt. Craig Rooke, the Frederick Hatch’s commanding officer. “They continue to amaze me everyday with their great attitude and their tremendous effort that they have been putting into the pre-commission process. I know Frederick Hatch would be proud.”
 
In keeping with the tradition of naming new FRCs after Coast Guard enlisted heroes, the cutter is named in honor of Frederick Hatch, a two time recipient of the Gold Lifesaving Medal.
 
Hatch was awarded his first medal in 1884 while he was a surfman at the Cleveland Life-Saving Station for rescuing the crew of the schooner Sophia Minch during an October gale. During the rescue, Hatch volunteered to attempt to reach two men caught in the aft rigging of the vessel. At great risk to his own life he reached the two men and was able to bring them safely to shore.
 
Later Hatch transferred to the Lighthouse Service where once again he received the Gold Lifesaving Medal for his selfless act of courage as he rescued those on board the schooner Wahnapitae which grounded near the Cleveland Breakwater lighthouse in 1890.
 
Both the Lighthouse Service and the Life-Saving Service would later make up what we now know as the Coast Guard.
 
With the addition of Frederick Hatch’s 24-person crew there will be over 70 new Coast Guard FRC members stationed on Guam along with a projected 100 dependents and family members. Before the FRCs arrival, the Coast Guard presence on Guam was composed of approximately 250 active duty personnel and 40 reservists.

*All times are in Chamorro Time Zone

-USCG-

Bahrain Bound FRC gets Upgrades, LRAD and Short Range Air Search

(As we get into this, you may want to click on the photo to get an enlarged view.)

This Spring, the first two Webber class patrol craft are expected to go to Bahrain to start replacing the six 110 foot WPBs of Patrol Force South West Asia (PATFORSWA).  Two more will join them in the Fall and the last two in 2022. Back in 2018, I speculated on what might be done to modify them for duty in this more dangerous area. Apparently the Coast Guard leadership has had a few ideas of their own.

We have some very shape observers among the readers of this blog.

First Andy provided the photo of USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC-1141) above and pointed out the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD, the gray device mounted near rail on the O-1 deck just this side of the port forward corner of the bridge) and the four round sensors a short way up the mast two on each side. I note these systems were not on the ship when it was handed over by Bollinger (photo below).

The 41st fast response cutter (FRC), Charles Moulthrope, as delivered to the Coast Guard in Key West, Florida, Oct. 22, 2020. It is the first of six planned FRCs to be stationed in Manama, Bahrain. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Then Secundius identified the four round sensors on the mast as Sierra Nevada Modi RPS-42 S-Band Radar.

From the Company web site: “RPS-42 is an S-Band tactical hemispheric air surveillance radar system. It is a member of the non-rotating, solid-state, digital radar family Multi-mission Hemisphere Radar (MHR), developed by RADA Electronic Industries Ltd.
“The RPS-42 is a pulse Doppler, software-defined radar platform, that can detect, classify and track all types of aerial vehicles – including fighters, helicopters, UAVs, transport aircraft, etc. at tactical ranges. A single radar platform provides 90º azimuth coverage. Hemispheric coverage is achieved when four radars are employed as a system. Mobile or stationary, the system can be integrated with any C⁴I system and other radars and sensors. The software is able for On-the-Move (OTM) Operation. The radar can operate either as a stand-alone or as part of a large-scale surveillance system.
“The Antenna is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) based on Galliumnitrid (GaN) Amplifiers. Its diameter is 50.4 cm , the max width is 16.5 cm. (19.8″ x 6.5″ –Chuck)
“The achievable range for detection of the smallest drones (known as Nano UAV) is 3.5 km”

These radars use Galliumnitrid (GaN), the new technology in radar, that allows the AN/SPY-6 to significantly outperform the earlier AN/SPY-1 found on most Aegis equipped warships. (Reportedly a 3000% improvement)

You can get an appreciation of what this is about from this Popular Mechanics article. This Is the ATV-Mounted Jammer That Took Down an Iranian Drone.

There is more here: Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System [LMADIS] (globalsecurity.org)

I’m only guessing, but I would think the FRC would also have the same or equivalent complementary equipment as the LMADIS, e.g. small EO/IR camera, Skyview RF Detection system and Sierra Nevada MODi RF jammer (Photo below, I may be seeing the jammer–pictured below–located above and behind the port side RPS-42 radar arrays, visible between the radar arrays and the tripod legs). The cutters of this class are already normally equipped with electro-optic devices, both on the mast and on the Mk38 gun mount, which can provide a kinetic counter to UAVs.

Sierra Nevada MODi RF jammer. From the company web site, “SNC’s Modi II is the most modern & highly-capable dismounted EMC system in the DOD inventory.”

This was probably what the Commandant was talking about, when he said that Coast Guard PATFORSWA had a counter UAS role in a recent interview.

I am thinking, this radar might also be used on some of our other cutters as well, perhaps the 210s and the six 270s to be FRAMed, to provide them better control of their helicopters on approach in bad weather. The 210s have no air search radar and the 270s will almost certainly lose the Mk92 fire control system which provides their only air search radar currently. Reportedly the radar has a range of up to 30km and an instrumented range of 50km at altitudes from 30ft to 30,000 feet. Apparently the Marines are also using it to direct fire for their short range air defense systems. which includes a 30mm gun and Stinger missiles.

Thanks to Andy and Secundius for kicking this off.

USCGC Oliver Henry, WPC-1140, Exercises with the Navy in the Philippine Sea

Some photos from Twitter,

“The crew of USCG Cutter Oliver Henry participated in an integrated exercise alongside Navy Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron TWO in the Philippine Sea last month under the direction of U.S. 7th Fleet.”

The Navy vessel is apparently a MkVI patrol boat.

USCGC Oliver Henry is the second FRC to be homeported in Guam, so the Philippine Sea is practically just out the front door.

The location of the Philippine Sea. (Section of a world map from the CIA World Factbook)

Thanks to Walter for bring this to my attention. 

“Omnibus Spending Bill Funds Four Additional Fast Response Cutters” –Seapower

USCGC Joseph Doyle (WPC-1133)

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

President Trump on Dec. 27 signed into law the omnibus spending bill for fiscal Year 2021, which included funding for four more Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters (FRCs), allowing Bollinger Shipyards to build and deliver four more FRCs to the U.S. Coast Guard, the company said in an Dec. 28 release. This increases the total number of funded boats to 64.

This would complete funding for both the 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRC) included in the Program of Record and the six required to replace the six Island Class 110 foot WPBs currently based in Bahrain, serving with the 5th Fleet as PATFORSWA.

There has been some discussion of basing FRCs in Palau. That could mean additional ships. We could conceivably replicate the PATFORSWA organization using three FRCs in Guam and three in Palau.

“U.S. presence in Palau could balance Beijing’s aggression, analysts say” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum has a short article about the desirability of a US defense presence in Palau. Much of it is about Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing, so it is largely concerning the Coast Guard.

There has already been some talk about basing Webber class WPCs in Palau.

The area may best be remembered for the Battle of Peleliu.

“Schultz: Upcoming Coast Guard Budget Has ‘Dollars For People’ Focus” –USNI

The US Naval Institute’s news service has an excellent article about the Commandant’s recent remarks on the budget.

It is wide ranging. I will not try to outline it, but there was one particularly interesting discussion on the coming icebreaker fleet that suggest we may ultimately see more than six icebreakers. 

“There’s been conversation” in the administration and with Congress about expanding upon his plan for to have six icebreakers in the fleet to meet missions in the polar regions.”

Take a look, its well worth the read.

“Coast Guard Cutter to Deploy to U.S. 5th Fleet; Escort New FRCs to Bahrain” –Seapower

CARIBBEAN SEA
09.04.2019
Courtesy Photo
U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADET Jacksonville
Subscribe 19
The Coast Guard Cutter James conducts Hurricane Dorian relief operations alongside the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark in the Caribbean Sea, Sept. 6, 2019. During their 62-day counter-drug patrol, the James’ crew, along with members from Tactical Law Enforcement Team-South, Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, Cryptologic Direct Support Element and multiple partner agencies, contributed to the interdiction of 7 drug-smuggling vessels and were responsible for the seizure of more than 12,677 pounds of cocaine and 4,085 pounds of marijuana bound for the United States. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter James)

The Navy League’s on line magazine, Seapower, reports that a Bertholf class cutter will escort two Webber class WPCs when they transit to Bahrain to begin the replacement of the six 110 foot WPBs that are currently there. Presumably this will be happening a couple of additional times, as the new ships are commissioned. Since typically, about 5 cutters are completed annually, deployments will likely be four to six months apart. It will be interesting to see how long the larger cutters remain in 5th Fleet’s AOR.

It would not be surprising to see them doing some “capacity building” in East Africa before returning home.

This May Be the Launcher We Need

Navy MkVI patrol boat. It it can fit on this, it can probably fit on any cutter WPB or larger. (Sorry I could not grab a photo of the launchers–you have to follow the link.)

Lockheed has new vertical launchers for JAGM, the missile that is replacing the Hellfire. Presumably it can also use the Hellfire. They seem particularly appropriate for Coast Guard applications, being small enough to mount 16 missiles atop the deckhouse of the Navy’s 85 foot MkVI patrol boat. They have a small foot print and are probably pretty light. They can be mounted in multiples of quad missile launchers; each quad launcher appears to be no more than 2′ x 3′ x 8′ tall. (That is my estimate, but I think if anything they are probably smaller. The missile itself is 7.1″ in diameter and 71″ long. For reference beam of the MkVI is only 20’6″.)

The Hellfire/JASM can successfully engage a large spectrum of potential maritime terrorist threats from small fast highly maneuverable craft (with one hit) to larger ships (assuming multiple hits), helicopters, drones, and some fixed wing aircraft.

There are two naval versions, one for mounting directly on deck and one for mounting below decks with just the muzzles above deck.

These would be an excellent addition to the Webber class being sent to replace the 110s in PATFORSWA. Probably could fit one or two quad launchers forward of the deckhouse on the Webber class on either side of the 25mm Mk38.

Thanks to Malph for brining this to my attention. 

 

CRS’s “Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” –an Update

US Capital West Side, by Martin Falbisoner

It has been seven months since we last looked at this Congressional Research Service document. (Clicking on this link will always take you to the latest version of the report). Since then, there have been six revisions, with the latest Oct. 14, 2020.

Notable changes include report of the issuance of a draft RFP for the follow-on Offshore Patrol Cutter competition (page 12)

There is no report of any action by the Senate, but the House has been working on two bills that could effect Cutter procurement, the FY2021 DHS Appropriations Act (H.R. 7669) (page 23) and the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395) (pages 23-26)

H.R. 7669, if made into law, would add four Fast Response Cutters to the FY2021 budget, bumping the FRC line item from $20M to $260M and would not include the proposed rescission of $70,000,000 of the $100,500,000 provided in fiscal year 2020 for the acquisition of long lead time materials for the construction of a twelfth National Security Cutter, leaving the door open for NSC#12.

Division H of H.R. 6395 is the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020:

  • Section 8004 (page 23) would authorize NSC #12,
  • Section 8012 (page 24) would authorize four Webber class Fast Response Cutters (page 24)
  • SEC. 9211 (page 24) addresses modification of acquisition process and procedures, specifically the “Extraordinary relief” granted Eastern.
  • SEC. 9422 (page 25) requires a report on the combination of Fast Response Cutters, Offshore Patrol Cutters, and National Security Cutters necessary to carry out Coast Guard missions not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. Sounds like a revisit to at least parts of the “Fleet Mix Study.”
  • SEC. 11301. Directs that the Coast Guard better align its mission priorities  to direct more effort to the Arctic and develop capabilities to meet the growing array of challenges in the region; including providing a greater show of Coast Guard forces capable of providing a persistent presence. Additionally it directs that the Coast Guard must avoid overextending operational assets for remote international missions at the cost of dedicated focus on this domestic area of responsibility (meaning the Arctic).

Shed the Freedom Class LCS, Build FFGs and Navalized Webber Class?

Littoral combat ship Little Rock (LCS 9) is underway during a high-speed run in Lake Michigan during acceptance trials. Lockheed Martin Photo

Not that I think it is going to happen, but Forbes has a proposal, “Now Is The Perfect Time To Sink The Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship,” by Craig Hooper. He suggests the Navy end its long embarrassing association with the Freedom class LCS, handing them over to Foreign Navies who might be able to use them. The Navy could then accelerate introduction of the new FFG that are to be built at Marinette which is currently building the Freedom class. If we really need more LCS, we could continue construction of Austal’s more successful Independence class. or

“Alternatively, the Navy could fund a smaller, simpler patrol boat. The U.S. Coast Guard’s cost-effective Sentinel class Fast Response Cutter is already in the field, demonstrating value every day—with about 40 already in service, these reliable, 154-foot ships are doing everything that the Freedom class vessels are not. Sentinel class Fast Response Cutters are deploying throughout the Pacific, forward-basing in Hawaii and Guam, and 6 of the ultimately 64-hull fleet will soon operate out of Bahrain. They may even be based in deepest parts of the American Pacific, operating out of American Samoa. A navalized version of this useful patrol ship—potentially leveraging the powerful F-35 radar system and other useful, off-the-shelf systems—can be whipped up in almost no time, quickly replacing the Freedom class ships currently based in Mayport Florida with a lower-cost, more functional and more strategically-useful platform.”