The Samoas

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) Sept. 22, 2017. The Oliver Berry was the first of three 154-foot fast response cutters to be stationed in Hawaii. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

Below is a 14th District news release, reporting an unusual deployment of a Webber class WPC to aid Samoa in monitoring their Exclusive Economic Zone. The crew must have crossed both the International Date Line and the Equator, so they have some serious bragging rights. This is not Oliver Berry’s first very long deployment (and here), nor the first time a Hawaii based FRC has visited these waters. There is no indication that Oliver Berry was escorted by a larger cutter.

Samoa is a long way from Oliver Berry’s homeport of Hawaii, but it is pretty close to American Samoa.

Samoa Islands. From US National Park Service circa 2002. (Note these are statute miles.)

There have been suggestions that American Samoa needs more Coast Guard presence. American Samoa’s EEZ is 156,136 square miles, larger than the state of Montana, and 3.56% of the entire US EEZ.

Generally speaking, American Samoa has been out of sight and out of mind for most Americans and the people there seem to have been neglected. American Samoa is the only inhabited unorganized unincorporated territory of the United States. Despite the fact that American Samoans serve in the American Armed Forces at higher rates than any other US state or territory, American Samoans are United States Nationals, but not citizens. 2021 population is estimated to be 46,366.

The neighboring Independent State of Samoa has a larger population, 202,506 according to their 2020 census.

The waters around the islands of the two Samoas provides a rich harvest of Tuna. If the islands are to remain economically viable, we need to prevent Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing in the area. To do that, we need a good cooperative relationship with the Independent State of Samoa and Coast Guard assets closer than Hawaii. The area is also subject to earthquakes so there is the potential need for disaster response.

What kind of assets? Two or three FRCs would probably work well. Ideally three as that  would generally allow one vessel on patrol, one on standby, and the third in maintenance. Some Coast Guard Auxiliary air assets would also help a lot.


united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

U.S. Coast Guard patrols international waters in an effort to strengthen maritime governance and foreign partnerships

 

Editors’ Note: Click on Coast Guard stock image to download a high-resolution version.

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry crew conducted patrol operations in Samoa’s exclusive economic zone in September 2021, deepening our close partnership with Samoa and promoting resource security within the area.

The Oliver Berry’s crew helped to fill the policing gap for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing while Samoa’s Nafanua II patrol boat was out of service.

“The United States offered to assist the Government of Samoa by providing security and sovereignty operations in Samoan waters due to the absence of their patrol boat,” said Cmdr. Jeff Bryant, the 14th District’s chief of enforcement. “It was a pleasure to support Samoa in enforcing their laws to protect fisheries and other natural resources within their EEZ.”

The U.S. and its allies are trusted partners in the region. The U.S. Coast Guard employs 11 bilateral shiprider agreements with Pacific Island Forum nations, including Samoa, to help them ensure their resource security and maritime sovereignty.  Pursuant to those agreements, host government officials generally join Coast Guard patrols.  Due to COVID-19 protocols, in this instance the Oliver Berry did not make any shore visits or host Samoan government officials aboard.

“The Oliver Berry’s patrol operations highlighted the close U.S.-Samoa partnership and our shared commitment to ensuring security and freedom of navigation in the Pacific,” said Acting Chargé d’Affaires Mark Hitchcock. “We look forward to working with the Samoan Government and Coast Guard to facilitate additional patrols in the near future.”

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Government of Samoa have a history of partnership.  In 2019, the Coast Guard Cutters Walnut and Joseph Gerczak visited Apia Harbor and conducted patrol operations with officials from Samoa’s Ministry of Police and Ministry of Fisheries aboard. Crew from the Coast Guard Cutters also visited Lufilufi Primary School on Upolu Island to donate books, stationary, and sports gear and met with the Samoa Victim Support Group, a non-profit organization that specializes in providing shelter for domestic abuse victims, to donate children’s clothes, baby bottles, toddler blankets and reading materials.

The goal of the Coast Guard remains supportive and responsive to our international partners as they seek to improve the daily lives of their people and contribute to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Oceania covers an area of 3.3 million square miles and has a population of 40 million people; it is a melting pot of culture and diversity and each of those cultures has a dependency on living marine resources and maritime commerce to allow their people to thrive.

Despite Hurricane Ida, Bollinger Says On Track to Deliver the Next FRC Ahead of Schedule

This is just a couple of select paragraphs from a longer Bollinger press release. Good news, apparently no delays expected in delivery of Webber class WPCs.


“Bollinger Shipyards Resumes Operations at All Facilities Following Hurricane Ida

“LOCKPORT, La., ‐‐ (September 24, 2021) – Bollinger Shipyards LLC (“Bollinger”) today announced that all 11 of its facilities are now open and operational following Hurricane Ida’s landfall last month near Port Fourchon, Louisiana as a powerful Category 4 storm. Bollinger’s facilities in Port Fourchon, Larose, Lockport and Houma suffered significant damage as a result of the storm, which tied with last year’s Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856 as the strongest on record in Louisiana.

“In advance of the storm, Bollinger took steps to mitigate potential damages to its facilities and any resulting delays to its production schedules. Despite damages sustained to Bollinger’s Lockport facility, the 650‐man production line for the U.S. Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter program has resumed operations and Bollinger is on track to deliver the next vessel ahead of schedule.”

“Report to Congress on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement” –CRS, Updated September 15, 2021″ –CRS

“Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton leads the way for cutters Robert Goldman and Charles Moulthrope as they depart Puerto Rico April 1. National security cutter Hamilton is escorting the two fast response cutters (FRCs) across the Atlantic to Rota, Spain. From there, the FRCs will continue to their homeport of Manama, Bahrain.” U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sydney Phoenix.

The Congressional Research Service has again updated their “Report to Congress on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement”. (This link will always take you to the most recent edition of the report.) My last post on this evolving document was in reference to a 17 August, 2021 update. I have reproduced the one page summary in full below. But first,

I missed this addition in my last look at the report. From page 22/23:

August 2021 House Committee Request for GAO Review

In a letter dated August 16, 2021, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee requested GAO to review the management of the OPC program and the Coast Guard’s efforts for managing its existing medium endurance cutters. The letter stated:

Initially projected to cost about $12 billion over its 30-year life cycle, the [OPC] program recently experienced significant cost and schedule delays….

In addition to construction of the OPC, the Committee continues to remain concerned about the operational gap between the end of service life for the aging Medium Endurance Cutters and the delayed delivery of the OPCs….

Given the significant budgetary commitment that the Congress, DHS, and Coast Guard have made for the OPC program to date, continued oversight is necessary to ensure the OPC program does not continue to experience cost growth or additional schedule delays. As such, the Committee requests that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) review the management of the OPC and Medium Endurance Cutters acquisition programs including, but not limited to:

  • The status of the Phase 1 (the first four hulls) and Phase 2 (hulls 5 through 25) OPC acquisition programs, including what steps are being taken to manage the program within the revised cost and schedule commitments; and
  • The status of the Medium Endurance Cutters and level of maintenance needed to keep the fleet operating to minimize the operational gap until the OPCs are incrementally delivered.

This is new. From page 27:

FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4350) House
The House Armed Services Committee’s report (H.Rept. 117-118 of September 10, 2021) on H.R. 4350 states:

Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter

The committee looks forward to reviewing the Navy’s updated force structure assessment and shipbuilding plan. The committee understands the Navy intends to change the fleet architecture reflected in the 355-ship force-level goal to reflect a more distributed fleet mix with a smaller proportion of larger ships and a larger proportion of smaller manned ships as well as unmanned vessels. The committee supports incorporating a mix of smaller manned ships into the fleet and encourages the Navy to consider the capabilities the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter could provide to the fleet and the concept of operations and associated requirements that would support acquisition of these vessels.

Further, the committee is aware the U.S. Coast Guard has contract options for 12 additional Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters with firm fixed pricing in place until May of 2023. Exercising these contract options in advance of their expiration would lock in favorable pricing on Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters should the Navy determine that they add value to the fleet.

Given the successes of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter in support of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet as a part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the committee believes there are similar roles for Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters in other areas of responsibility. Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report to the congressional defense committees not later than February 1, 2022, that details the current mission sets and operating requirements for the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter and expands on how successes in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility would translate to other regions, including the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Further, the committee directs the Secretary of the Navy to assess the requisite upgrades to the Sentinel class Fast Response Cutter required to meet Navy standards and evaluate the concept of operations for employing these vessels in Southeast Asia. This report should be unclassified but may include a classified annex. (Page 21)

The Summary page is reproduced below:


Summary

The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR), which dates to 2004, calls for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard high-endurance cutters, medium-endurance cutters, and patrol craft. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests a total of $695.0 million in procurement funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs, including $597 million for the OPC program.

NSCs are the Coast Guard’s largest and most capable general-purpose cutters; they are replacing the Coast Guard’s 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters. NSCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $670 million per ship. Although the Coast Guard’s POR calls for procuring 8 NSCs to replace the 12 Hamilton-class cutters, Congress through FY2021 has fully funded 11 NSCs, including the 10th and 11th in FY2018. In FY2020, Congress provided $100.5 million for procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th NSC, so as to preserve the option of procuring a 12th NSC while the Coast Guard evaluates its future needs. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $78.0million in procurement funding for activities within the NSC program; this request does not include further funding for a 12th NSC. The Coast
Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget also proposes rescinding $65.0 million of the $100.5 million in FY2020 funding for LLTM for a 12th NSC, “allowing the Coast Guard to focus investments on building, homeporting, and crewing Polar Security Cutters and Offshore Patrol Cutters.” The remaining $35.5 million appropriated in FY2020 for LLTM would be used to pay NSC program costs other than procuring LLTM for a 12th NSC. Nine NSCs have entered service; the ninth was commissioned into service on March 19, 2021.

OPCs are to be less expensive and in some respects less capable than NSCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 29 aged medium-endurance cutters. Coast Guard officials describe the OPC and PSC programs as the service’s highest acquisition priorities. OPCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $411 million per ship. The first OPC was funded in FY2018. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $597.0 million in procurement funding for the fourth OPC, LLTM for the fifth, and other program costs. On October 11, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of which the Coast Guard is a part, announced that DHS had granted extraordinary contractual relief to Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) of
Panama City, FL, the builder of the first four OPCs, under P.L. 85-804 as amended (50 U.S.C. 1431-1435), a law that authorizes certain federal agencies to provide certain types of extraordinary relief to contractors who are encountering difficulties in the performance of federal contracts or subcontracts relating to national defense. The Coast Guard is holding a full and open competition for a new contract to build OPCs 5 through 15. On January 29, 2021, the Coast Guard released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this Stage 2 contract, as it is called. Responses to the RFP were due by May 28, 2021. The Coast Guard plans to award the Stage 2 contract in the second quarter of FY2022.

FRCs are considerably smaller and less expensive than OPCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 49 aging Island-class patrol boats. FRCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $65 million per boat. A total of 64 have been funded through FY2021, including four in FY2021. Six of the 64 are to be used by the Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf and are not counted against the 58-ship POR quantity for the program, which relates to domestic operations. Forty-four of the 64 have been commissioned into service. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $20.0 million in procurement funding for the FRC program; this request does not include funding for any additional FRCs

“Report to Congress on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement” –CRS, Updated August 17, 2021

The crew of USCGC Kimball (WMSL 756) arrive in Honolulu for the first time Dec. 22, 2018. Known as the Legend-class, NSCs are designed to be the flagships of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging national security missions, including support to U.S. combatant commanders. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir/Released)

The Congressional Research Service has again updated their “Report to Congress on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement”. (This link will always take you to the most recent edition of the report.) My last post on this evolving document was in reference to an 8 June 2021 update. I have reproduced the one page summary in full below. But first,

Comments:

It appears this report is little changed from the previous edition. The significant change is a reflection of the actions of the House Appropriations Committee and this change is relatively small. The Administration’s FY2022 Procurement Funding Request was:

  • NSC (Bertholf Class) program   $78.0M
  • OPC (Argus Class) program    $597.0M
  • FRC (Webber Class) program   $20.0M
  • TOTAL                                      $695.0M

The House Appropriations Committee mark up increased the total to $716M adding $21M to the NSC program.

An explanation included in House Report 117-87 of July 15, 2021 states

“National Security Cutter (NSC).—The Committee provides $99,000,000, which is $21,000,000 above the request, for the NSC program. This funding will support Post Delivery Activities to missionize and operationalize NSCs 10 and 11. The shortfall for these activities is currently over $200,000,000. The $21,000,000 is funded in the bill as a rescission and re-appropriation of prior-year funds to extend their availability.” (Page 57)

So while construction of the eleven National Security Cutters have be funded, we can expect to see future funding requests totaling over $100M to make #10 and #11 fully operational.

The rescission referred to is from funds earmarked for long lead time items for a possible future NSC#12. This seems to put an end to any possibility of a NSC.

The House Appropriations Committee action leaves in place the Administration’s plan to fund OPC#4 and procure long lead time items for OPC#5, but adds no additional NSCs or FRCs.

Summary (Below is the one page summary contained in the report–Chuck)

The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR), which dates to 2004, calls for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard high-endurance cutters, medium-endurance cutters, and patrol craft. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests a total of $695.0 million in procurement funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs, including $597 million for the OPC program.

NSCs are the Coast Guard’s largest and most capable general-purpose cutters; they are replacing the Coast Guard’s 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters. NSCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $670 million per ship. Although the Coast Guard’s POR calls for procuring 8 NSCs to replace the 12 Hamilton-class cutters, Congress through FY2021 has fully funded 11 NSCs, including the 10th and 11th in FY2018. In FY2020, Congress provided $100.5 million for procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th NSC, so as to preserve the option of procuring a 12th NSC while the Coast Guard evaluates its future needs. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $78.0million in procurement funding for activities within the NSC program; this request does not include further funding for a 12th NSC. The Coast
Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget also proposes rescinding $65.0 million of the $100.5 million in FY2020 funding for LLTM for a 12th NSC, “allowing the Coast Guard to focus investments on building, homeporting, and crewing Polar Security Cutters and Offshore Patrol Cutters.” The remaining $35.5 million appropriated in FY2020 for LLTM would be used to pay NSC program costs other than procuring LLTM for a 12th NSC. Nine NSCs have entered service; the ninth was commissioned into service on March 19, 2021.

OPCs are to be less expensive and in some respects less capable than NSCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 29 aged medium-endurance cutters. Coast Guard officials describe the OPC and PSC programs as the service’s highest acquisition priorities. OPCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $411 million per ship. The first OPC was funded in FY2018. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $597.0 million in procurement funding for the fourth OPC, LLTM for the fifth, and other program costs. On October 11, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of which the Coast Guard is a part, announced that DHS had granted extraordinary contractual relief to Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) of Panama City, FL, the builder of the first four OPCs, under P.L. 85-804 as amended (50 U.S.C. 1431-1435), a law that authorizes certain federal agencies to provide certain types of extraordinary relief to contractors who are encountering difficulties in the performance of federal contracts or subcontracts relating to national defense. The Coast Guard is holding a full and open competition for a new contract to build OPCs 5 through 15. On January 29, 2021, the Coast Guard released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this Stage 2 contract, as it is called. Responses to the RFP were due by May 28, 2021. The Coast Guard plans to award the Stage 2 contract in the second quarter of FY2022.

FRCs are considerably smaller and less expensive than OPCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 49 aging Island-class patrol boats. FRCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $65 million per boat. A total of 64 have been funded through FY2021, including four in FY2021. Six of the 64 are to be used by the Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf and are not counted against the 58-ship POR quantity for the program, which relates to domestic operations. Forty-four of the 64 have been commissioned into service. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $20.0 million in procurement funding for the FRC program; this request does not include funding for any additional FRCs.

USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142), Bound for Bahrain, To be Commissioned 12 March, 2021

Phoro: Sister ship, the Charles Moulthrope (WPC 1141), delivered on Oct. 22, 2020, and commissioned on Jan. 21

Below is an Atlantic Area news release. USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142) is the 42nd Webber class WPC and is expected to be one of the first two of six to join PATFORSWASIA, replacing six 110 foot WPBs currently homeported in Bahrain.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area
Contact: Coast Guard Atlantic Area Public Affairs
Contact: (757) 452-8336
Atlantic Area online newsroom

U.S. Coast Guard to commission 42nd Fast Response Cutter

USCGC Robert Goldman Seal

Key West, Fla. — The U.S. Coast Guard will commission the USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142), Patrol Forces Southwest Asia’s second Sentinel-class cutter, into service at Coast Guard Sector Key West, Friday at 10 a.m. EST.

Due to COVID mitigation, in-person attendance is limited. Anyone interested in viewing the ceremony livestream may do so at http://bit.ly/WPC1412Com, clicking on the image at the top, or by clicking here

Vice Adm. Scott Buschman, deputy commandant for operations, U.S. Coast Guard, will preside over the 42nd Sentinel-class cutter ceremony. Mrs. Eleanor Goldman is the ship’s sponsor.  

The Robert Goldman is the second of six FRCs planned for service in Manama, Bahrain. The cutter is named after Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class Robert Goldman, remembered for heroic and selfless actions as a member of the joint forces serving in the Pacific theater during World War II. 

The Coast Guard took delivery of Robert Goldman on Dec. 21, 2020, in Key West. They will transit to Bahrain later this year with their sister ship, the Charles Moulthrope (WPC 1141), delivered on Oct. 22, 2020, and commissioned on Jan. 21, in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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.