“Royal Canadian Navy ship completes Northwest Passage journey for first time since 1954” –CBCNEWS

HMCS Harry DeWolf

CBCNews reports that the Canadian Navy Artic and Offshore Patrol Ship HMCS Harry DeWolf has completed its East to West transit of the Northwest Passage as part of a planned circumnavigation of North America.

For the first time since 1954, a Royal Canadian Navy ship has completed the journey through the Northwest Passage.

“It was the longest time a Canadian navy ship has operated in the Arctic in consecutive days in more than 50 years,” said Cmdr. Corey Gleason, commanding officer of HMCS Harry DeWolf.

USCGC Healy is also conducting a similar circumnavigation of North America, but moving clockwise, while the Canadian vessel is moving counter-clockwise. If they get together, they should have some interesting stories to exchange.

I would think the Canadian experience with this class is also informing the Coast Guard’s acquisition process for the “Arctic Security Cutter,” our planned medium icebreaker.

There is also this D17 report of her PassEx with USCGC Kimball near Dutch Harbor.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska

U.S. Coast Guard Kimball, Royal Canadian Navy crews conduct joint exercise near Dutch Harbor

Harry DeWolfe

The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew and a Royal Canadian Navy crew, aboard the military vessel Harry DeWolf, transit alongside one another off the coast of Dutch Harbor, on Sept. 23, 2021. The crews exchanged radio communications after rendering honors along the ship railings. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

JUNEAU, Alaska – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) crews conducted a joint exercise off the coast of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Sept. 23, 2021.

The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew and an RCN crew, aboard the military vessel Harry DeWolf, operated alongside one another to exchange radio communications after both crews lined their respective ship’s port railings to properly salute in formation, rendering honors.

The joint exercise was a significant opportunity that allowed the crews to demonstrate international operability and reaffirms the longstanding relationship between the U.S. and Canada. The mutually beneficial alliance between the two Arctic nations continues to contribute to maritime security in this increasingly critical region.

“Our exercise with the Harry DeWolf is just the latest in a long history of maintaining a strong bond with our close friend, Canada, as well as our commitment to work with all the Arctic nations,” said Capt. Thomas D’Arcy, the Kimball’s commanding officer. “The maritime partnership between the United States and Canada enhances each nation’s regional stability, while providing mutually beneficial economic opportunities. With the increased importance of the Arctic and activity in the region, our trust and partnership in the maritime domain will promote each nation’s interests and provide opportunities to protect the environment.”

The Coast Guard provides a continuous physical presence in the Bering Sea and throughout Alaska to carry out search and rescue and law enforcement missions and to conduct interagency and international cooperation, building on current regional partnerships.

The Bering Sea, considered the gateway to the Arctic, encompasses 900,000 square miles of the U.S. exclusive zone off the Alaskan coast. The joint operations conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy bolster the ability to operate in this critical region at a time when the Arctic is becoming increasingly accessible.

The Kimball, homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii, is one of the Coast Guard’s newer 420-foot Legend-class National Security Cutters and boasts a wide array of modern capabilities helping the crew to complete their varied missions.

“Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, September 15, 2021

Photo of a model of Halter Marine’s Polar Security Cutter seen at Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exhibition have surfaced. Photo credit Chris Cavas.

The Congressional Research Service has once again updated their look at the Polar Security Cutter (heavy icebreaker) program. (See the latest version here.) My last look at this evolving document was in regard to the August 31, 2021 revision.

I will reproduce the one page summary below but first I will point out what appears to be new. From page 29-32:


FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4350)

House

Section 5301 of H.R. 4350 as reported by the House Armed Services Committee (H.Rept. 117-118 of September 10, 2021) states:

SEC. 5301. GREAT LAKES WINTER SHIPPING.

(a) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the ‘‘Great Lakes Winter Shipping Act
of 2021’’.

(b) GREAT LAKES ICEBREAKING OPERATIONS.—

(1) GAO REPORT.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report on Coast Guard icebreaking in the Great Lakes.

(B) ELEMENTS.—The report required under subparagraph (A) shall—

(i) evaluate—

(I) the economic impact related to vessel delays or cancellations associated with ice
coverage on the Great Lakes;

(II) the impact the standards proposed in paragraph (2) would have on Coast Guard operations in the Great Lakes if such standards were adopted;

(III) the fleet mix of medium ice breakers and icebreaking tugs necessary to meet the standards proposed in paragraph (2); and

(IV) the resources necessary to support the fleet described in subclause (III), including
billets for crew and operating costs; and

(ii) make recommendations to the Commandant for improvements to the Great Lakes icebreaking program, including with respect to facilitating shipping and meeting all Coast Guard mission needs.

(2) PROPOSED STANDARDS FOR ICEBREAKING OPERATIONS.—The proposed standards, the impact of the adoption of which is evaluated in subclauses (II) and (III) of paragraph (1)(B)(i), are the following:

(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), that ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes shall be open to navigation not less than 90 percent of the hours that vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries attempt to transit such ice-covered waterways.

(B) In a year in which the Great Lakes are not open to navigation as described in subparagraph (A) because of ice of a thickness that occurs on average only once every 10 years, ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes shall be open to navigation at least 70 percent of the hours that vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries attempt to transit such ice-covered waterways.

(3) REPORT BY COMMANDANT.—Not later than 90 days after the date on which the Comptroller General submits the report under paragraph (1), the Commandant shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report that includes the following:

(A) A plan for Coast Guard implementation of any recommendation made by the Comptroller General under paragraph (1)(B)(ii) with which the Commandant concurs.

(B) With respect to any recommendation made under paragraph (1)(B)(ii) with which the Commandant does not concur, an explanation of the reasons why the Commandant does not concur.

(C) A review of, and a proposed implementation plan for, the results of the fleet mix
analysis under paragraph (1)(B)(i)(III).

(D) Any proposed modifications to current Coast Guard Standards for icebreaking operations in the Great Lakes.

(4) PILOT PROGRAM.—During the 5 ice seasons following the date of enactment of this Act, the Coast Guard shall conduct a pilot program to determine the extent to which the current Coast Guard Great Lakes icebreaking cutter fleet can meet the proposed standards described in paragraph (2).

(c) DATA ON ICEBREAKING OPERATIONS IN THE GREAT LAKES.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Commandant shall collect, during ice season, archive, and
disseminate data on icebreaking operations and transits on ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes of vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries.

(2) ELEMENTS.—Data collected, archived, and disseminated under paragraph (1) shall
include the following:

(A) Voyages by vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries to transit ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes that are delayed or cancelled because of the nonavailability of a suitable icebreaking vessel.

(B) Voyages attempted by vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries to transit ice covered waterways in the Great Lakes that do not reach their intended destination because of the nonavailability of a suitable icebreaking vessel.

(C) The period of time that each vessel engaged in commercial service or ferry was delayed in getting underway or during a transit of ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes due to the nonavailability of a suitable icebreaking vessel.

(D) The period of time elapsed between each request for icebreaking assistance by a vessel engaged in commercial service or ferry and the arrival of a suitable icebreaking vessel and whether such icebreaking vessel was a Coast Guard or commercial asset.

(E) The percentage of hours that Great Lakes ice-covered waterways were open to
navigation, as defined by this section, while vessels engaged in commercial service and
ferries at tempted to transit such waterways for each ice season after the date of enactment of this section.

(F) Relevant communications of each vessel engaged in commercial service or ferry with the Coast Guard or commercial icebreaking service providers with respect to
subparagraphs(A) through (D).

(G) A description of any mitigating circumstance, such as Coast Guard Great Lakes
icebreaker diversions to higher priority missions, that may have contributed to the amount of time described in subparagraphs (C) and (D) or the percentage of time described in subparagraph (E).

(3) VOLUNTARY REPORTING.—Any reporting by operators of commercial vessels
engaged in commercial service or ferries under this Act shall be voluntary.

(4) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.—The Commandant shall make the data collected, archived
and disseminated under this subsection available to the public on a publicly accessible
internet website of the Coast Guard.

(5) CONSULTATION WITH INDUSTRY.—With respect to the Great Lakes icebreaking operations of the Coast Guard and the development of the data collected, archived, and disseminated under this subsection, the Commandant shall consult operators of vessel engaged in commercial service and ferries.

(6) DEFINITIONS.—In this subsection:

(A) VESSEL.—The term ‘‘vessel’’ has the meaning given such term in section 3 of title 1, United States Code.

(B) COMMERCIAL SERVICE.—The term ‘‘commercial service’’ has the meaning given
such term in section 2101(4) of title 46, United States Code.

(C) GREAT LAKES.—The term ‘‘Great Lakes’’—

(i) has the meaning given such term in section 118 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1268); and

(ii) includes harbors adjacent to such waters.

(D) ICE-COVERED WATERWAY.—The term ‘ice-covered waterway’’ means any portion of the Great Lakes, as defined by subparagraph (C), in which vessels engaged in commercial service or ferries operate that is 70 percent or greater covered by ice, but does not include any waters adjacent to piers or docks for which commercial icebreaking services are available and adequate for the ice conditions.

(E) OPEN TO NAVIGATION.—The term ‘‘open to navigation’’ means navigable to the extent necessary to meet the reasonable demands of shipping, minimize delays to passenger ferries, extricate vessels and persons from danger, prevent damage due to flooding, and conduct other Coast Guard missions as required.

(F) REASONABLE DEMANDS OF SHIPPING.—The term ‘‘reasonable demands of shipping’’ means the safe movement of vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries transiting ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes to their intended destination,
regardless of type of cargo.

(d) GREAT LAKES ICEBREAKER ACQUISITION.—Of the amounts authorized to be
appropriated under section 4902(2)(A)(ii) of title 14, United States Code—

(1) for fiscal year 2022, $350,000,000 shall be made available to the Commandant for the acquisition of a Great Lakes icebreaker at least as capable as Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB–30); and

(2) for fiscal year 2023, $20,000,000 shall be made available to the Commandant for the design and selection of icebreaking cutters for operation in the Great Lakes, the Northeastern United States, and the Arctic, as appropriate, that are at least as capable as the Coast Guard 140-foot icebreaking tugs.

(e) PROHIBITION ON CONTRACT OR USE OF FUNDS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF COMMON HULL DESIGN.—Section 8105 of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116–283) is amended by striking subsection (b) and inserting the following:

‘‘(b) REPORT.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this subsection, the Commandant shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representative a report on the operational benefits and limitations of a common hull design for icebreaking cutters for operation in the Great Lakes, the Northeastern United States, and the Arctic, as appropriate, that are at least as capable as the Coast Guard 140-foot icebreaking tugs.’’.

H.Rept. 117-118 states:

Report on Need for Additional Ice Breakers in the Great Lakes Region

The committee directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the congressional defense committees by March 1, 2022 on whether additional ice breaking vessels are  necessary in the Great Lakes region. The report must include an analysis on the necessity for ice breaking vessels in the St. Clair River. (Page 223)


Summary
The Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC) program is a program to acquire three new PSCs (i.e., heavy polar icebreakers), to be followed years from now by the acquisition of up to three new Arctic Security Cutters (ASCs) (i.e., medium polar icebreakers). The PSC program has received a total of $1,754.6 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion) in procurement funding through FY2021, including $300 million that was provided through the Navy’s shipbuilding account in FY2017 and FY2018. With the funding the program has received through FY2021, the first two PSCs are now fully funded.

The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $170.0 million in procurement funding for the PSC program, which would be used for, among other things, procuring long leadtime materials (LLTM) for the third PSC.

The Navy and Coast Guard in 2020 estimated the total procurement costs of the PSCs in then year dollars as $1,038 million (i.e., about $1.0 billion) for the first ship, $794 million for the second ship, and $841 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated cost of $2,673 million (i.e., about $2.7 billion). Within those figures, the shipbuilder’s portion of the total procurement cost is $746 million for the first ship, $544 million for the second ship, and $535 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated shipbuilder’s cost of $1,825 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion).

On April 23, 2019, the Coast Guard-Navy Integrated Program Office for the PSC program awarded a $745.9 million fixed-price, incentive-firm contract for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of the first PSC to VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, MS, a shipyard owned by Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering. VT Halter was the leader of one of three industry teams that competed for the DD&C contract. The first PSC is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and be delivered in 2024, though the DD&C contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery.

The DD&C contract includes options for building the second and third PSCs. If these options are exercised, the total value of the contract would increase to $1,942.8 million (i.e., about $1.9 billion). The figures of $745.9 million and $1,942.8 million cover only the shipbuilder’s costs; they do not include the cost of government-furnished equipment (GFE), which is equipment for the ships that the government purchases and then provides to the shipbuilder for incorporation into the ship, post-delivery costs, costs for Navy-specific equipment, or government program-management costs.

The operational U.S. polar icebreaking fleet currently consists of one heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Star, and one medium polar icebreaker, Healy. In addition to Polar Star, the Coast Guard has a second heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Sea. Polar Sea, however, suffered an engine casualty in June 2010 and has been nonoperational since then. Polar Star and Polar Sea entered service in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and are now well beyond their originally intended 30-year service lives. The Coast Guard plans to extend the service life of Polar Star until the delivery of at least the second PSC. The Coast Guard is using Polar Sea as a source of spare parts for keeping Polar Star operational

“‘Great News’ For Great Lakes as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Approves $1 Billion for U.S. Coast Guard Infrastructure, Heavy Icebreaker” –gCaptain

Launch of USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30) on April 2, 2005. Photo by Peter J. Markham.

gCaptain reports,

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday approved $1 billion for U.S. Coast Guard shore side infrastructure nationwide and $350 million for a heavy icebreaker for the Great Lakes.

The funds were approved as part of its budget reconciliation bill, an action that the Great Lake Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) called “great news for the Great Lakes.”

Its probably too early to assume this will actually happen, but so far, so good, particularly with regard to the infrastructure portion.

As for the Icebreaker, what it is talking about is an icebreaker at least as capable a USCGC Mackinaw. What we might get is a second Mackinaw, but we could do better. This might be an opportunity to prototype the Arctic Security Cutter.

The Great Lakes contingent in Congress don’t seem to want any connection between the “Heavy” (really light) Great Lakes Icebreaker and the Artic Security Cutter, but they would be smart to consider the benefits.

First USCGC Mackinaw was commissioned in 2006. That may look pretty new now, but by the time the new Great Lakes Icebreaker is completed, it will be 20 years old. Looking further down the timeline, it will need to be replaced long before this second Great Lakes breaker. So some time in the future they will, presumably, have to again seek funding for a one-off unique design for the Lakes.

If the Arctic Security Cutter can transit the locks into the Great Lakes, they could supplement icebreaking in the Lakes and provide a ready replacement when the Mackinaw inevitably reaches the end of it life.

Combining the programs would also reduce the average unit price and would probably mean a more capable breaker for the Lakes than might otherwise have been possible.

“Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, Updated August 31, 2021

Photo of a model of Halter Marine’s Polar Security Cutter seen at Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exhibition have surfaced. Photo credit Chris Cavas.

The Congressional Research Service has once again updated their look at the Polar Security Cutter (heavy icebreaker) program. (See the latest version here.) My last look at this evolving document was in regard to the August 17, 2021 revision.

It appears this new edition was prompted by an update to the projected cost for the program. The following is a note attached to Table 1 (page 6), which I have also reproduced below.

Source: U.S. Navy information paper on PSC program, August 18, 2021, received from Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, August 31, 2021, which states that costs shown are from the PSC program 2020 Life Cycle Cost Estimate.

Table 1. Estimated PSC Procurement Costs
(In millions of then-year dollars)

Cost element                             1st PSC       2nd PSC      3rd PSC      Total
Target contract price                    746               544              535          1,825
Program costs (including GFE)   218               175              228             621
Post-delivery costs                        46                 47                49             142
Costs for Navy-Type, Navy-          28                 28                29               85                          Owned (NTNO) equipment

TOTAL                                       1,038               794               841        2,673

There was also this additional note attached to Table 1.

Notes: Target contract price includes detail design, construction, and long lead-time materials (LLTM), and does not reflect potential costs rising to the contract ceiling price. GFE is government-furnished equipment— equipment that the government procures and then provides to the shipbuilder for installation on the ship. NTNO equipment is GFE that the Navy provides—such as combat weapons systems, sensors and communications equipment and supplies—for meeting Coast Guard/Navy naval operational capabilities wartime readiness requirements. (For additional discussion, see Coast Guard Commandant Instruction (COMDTINST) 7100.2G, May 16, 2013, accessed August 31, 2021, at https://media.defense.gov/2017/Mar/15/2001716816/-1/-1/0/ CI_7100_2G.PDF.)

Below is the one page summary:

Summary

The Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC) program is a program to acquire three new PSCs (i.e., heavy polar icebreakers), to be followed years from now by the acquisition of up to three new Arctic Security Cutters (ASCs) (i.e., medium polar icebreakers). The PSC program has received a total of $1,754.6 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion) in procurement funding through FY2021, including $300 million that was provided through the Navy’s shipbuilding account in FY2017 and FY2018. With the funding the program has received through FY2021, the first two PSCs are now fully funded.

The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $170.0 million in procurement funding for the PSC program, which would be used for, among other things, procuring long leadtime materials (LLTM) for the third PSC.

The Navy and Coast Guard in 2020 estimated the total procurement costs of the PSCs in then year dollars as $1,038 million (i.e., about $1.0 billion) for the first ship, $794 million for the second ship, and $841 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated cost of $2,673 million (i.e., about $2.7 billion). Within those figures, the shipbuilder’s portion of the total procurement cost is $746 million for the first ship, $544 million for the second ship, and $535 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated shipbuilder’s cost of $1,825 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion).

On April 23, 2019, the Coast Guard-Navy Integrated Program Office for the PSC program awarded a $745.9 million fixed-price, incentive-firm contract for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of the first PSC to VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, MS, a shipyard owned by Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering. VT Halter was the leader of one of three industry teams that competed for the DD&C contract. The first PSC is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and be delivered in 2024, though the DD&C contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery.

The DD&C contract includes options for building the second and third PSCs. If these options are exercised, the total value of the contract would increase to $1,942.8 million (i.e., about $1.9 billion). The figures of $745.9 million and $1,942.8 million cover only the shipbuilder’s costs; they do not include the cost of government-furnished equipment (GFE), which is equipment for the ships that the government purchases and then provides to the shipbuilder for incorporation into the ship, post-delivery costs, costs for Navy-specific equipment, or government program management costs.

The operational U.S. polar icebreaking fleet currently consists of one heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Star, and one medium polar icebreaker, Healy. In addition to Polar Star, the Coast Guard has a second heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Sea. Polar Sea, however, suffered an engine casualty in June 2010 and has been nonoperational since then. Polar Star and Polar Sea entered service in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and are now well beyond their originally intended 30-year service lives. The Coast Guard plans to extend the service life of Polar Star until the delivery of at least the second PSC. The Coast Guard is using Polar Sea as a source of spare parts for keeping Polar Star operational.

On August 18, 2020, an electrical fire occurred in one of Healy’s main propulsion motors as the ship was 60 miles off Seward, AK, en route to the Arctic. As a result of the fire, the ship’s starboard propulsion motor and shaft became nonoperational. The ship canceled its deployment to the Arctic and returned to its homeport in Seattle for inspection and repairs.

“Arctic Security Cutters: Regionally Named, Globally Deployed” –US Naval Institute Proceedings

HMCS Harry DeWolf in ice (6-8 second exposure)

The August, 2021 issue of US Naval Institute Proceedings has an article, that is the first I have seen to discuss the roles that should be expected of the “Arctic Security Cutters,” the Coast Guard’s planned Medium Icebreakers.

The article is available on line. I am not sure if or for how long it will be accessible to non-members.

The thrust of the article is that these ships should not be limited to deployments in the Arctic. That they have important roles in Antarctica and might also be used for domestic icebreaking, particularly in the Great Lakes during unusually severe winters, or if the Great Lakes icebreaker Mackinaw should suffer a casualty. I have suggested something similar before. It is also likely we will have reasons to operate in the Arctic entering from the Atlantic side.

This would require a homeport on the East Coast, perhaps Newport, Boston, or Kittery, ME. It would mean the ship would have to fit through the locks from the St. Lawrence to the Lakes and between the lakes.

To qualify as a “Medium Icebreaker” in the Coast Guard lexicon, the ships would have to have propulsion motors totaling 20,000 HP or more, meaning it will be more powerful than the Canadian DeWolf class Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, like the one pictured above.

The author suggests a design evolved from the Wind class Icebreakers. These were very successful ships, but the design is about 80 years old, so we can certainly do better. Even so, the successful use of the Wind class globally shows what can be done with a design smaller than the planned Polar Security Cutters.

That the Coast Guard continues to claim a requirement for a medium icebreaker class rather than simply building more Polar Security Cutters may mean they have recognized a need for a smaller ship, perhaps one that could operate in the Lakes or in shallower water than might be accessible to the PSC.

Questions remain regarding the expectations of the class. How will it be armed, and what sensors will it be equipped with? I would anticipate an outfit similar to that of the Offshore Patrol Cutters, but that is yet to be seen. Should it be capable of operating more than a single helicopter? UASs? USVs? Space and utilities to support containerized systems? Space for a SCIF? I look forward to hearing more about this class.

“Royal Canadian Navy HMCS Harry DeWolf Departs On Her Maiden Operational Deployment” –Naval News

HMCS Harry DeWolf, leaving HMC Dockyard in Halifax and steaming under Angus L. Macdonald
suspension bridge crossing Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia, Canada

Naval News reports the first of Canada’s planned eight Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) (six for their Navy and two for their Coast Guard) departed on its first operational deployment on August 3. The deployment is expected to take four months and will include participation in the annual Nanook Exercise with partners including the USCG, transit of the North West Passage, counter clockwise circumnavigation of North America, and drug operations in the Eastern Pacific transit zone and the Caribbean again in cooperation with the USCG.

USCGC Healy departed for a clockwise circumnavigation of North America on July 10. Presumably these two will arrange to say hello as they pass. Hopefully both crews will be home by Christmas.

“Coast Guard to Build Digital Twin for Polar Star” –National Defense

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star cuts through Antarctic ice in the Ross Sea near a large group of seals as the ship’s crew creates a navigation channel for supply ships, January 16, 2017. The resupply channel is an essential part of the yearly delivery of essential supplies to the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station.US Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley

National Defense reports,

“Canada-based manufacturer Gastops will collect data on the USCGC Polar Star — a ship built in the 1970s — to create a computer model that can undergo risk assessments at a relatively low cost, said Shaun Horning, president and CEO of the company.”

Results will feed into the planned service life extension intended to allow Polar Star to continue operating, at least until the second Polar Security Cutter is commissioned.

“…replacing the Polar Star’s 30-year-old analog control system with a digital control system will be one aspect of the refurbishment that will need to be tested extensively, Horning noted.”

This is the first time I have heard of the Coast Guard developing a “digital twin,” but this is becoming increasingly common. We can probably expect to hear of this being applied to other Coast Guard systems.

Is this a German Buoy Tender? Icebreaker?

SCHOTTEL Mehrzweckschiffe

It is always interesting to find that others deal with missions you perform in a very different way.

A Marine Link report on the new ship above piqued my curiosity about the parent agency. The German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV),

“… is responsible for ensuring a safe, smoothly flowing and thus economically efficient shipping traffic. The tasks comprise the maintenance, operation as well as the upgrading and construction of the federal waterways including the locks, weirs, bridges and shiplifts.

The responsibility of the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration extends to a total of 23,000 km² of maritime waterways and approximately 7,300 km of inland waterways. In addition, we maintain Vessel Traffic Service Centres at waterways in the coastal area and traffic control centres at inland waterways and we use special vessels for different specialist tasks (buoy laying, emergency missions, direction-finding etc.).

Around the clock, our experts on the water and ashore ensure safe traffic flows.

Our leitmotif is: “Facilitate mobility and protect the environment!”

Sounds like it has some of the Coast Guard’s missions and some Corps of Engineers missions.

The ship itself is described as multi-purpose. Presumably it tends buoys, but it is far bigger and more powerful than any USCG buoy tender, at over 90 meters (290′) in length driven by two steerable propulsion units of 4,500 KW each (over 12,000 HP total). It also has a 2,990 kW (over 4,000 HP) pumpjet.  Our most similar ship seems to be USCGC Mackinaw. (240′ in length and 9,119 shp/6.8 MW).

Mackinaw is of course a domestic icebreaker, in addition to being able to tend buoys.  The new German ship looks like it might also be capable of light icebreaking. (Maybe Tups who comments here frequently would be able to tell us.)

SCHOTTEL RudderPropellers type SRP 750 (each 4,500 kW at 750 rpm) on the left. SCHOTTEL PumpJet type SPJ 520 (2,990 kW) on the right. Image: SCHOTTEL

The German ship also has a gas-tight “citadel” structure with a protective air supply, in order to carry out operations in hazardous atmospheres. In the Coast Guard only the National Security Cutters have this feature.

Canada’s HMCS Harry DeWolf Class AOPS

HMCS Harry DeWolf in ice (6-8 second exposure)

The Harry DeWolf class is an almost unique type of ship. Canada is building eight, six for their Navy and two for their Coast Guard. It is derived from the similar and perhaps slightly more capable Norwegian Coast Guard vessel Svalbard, which has made it to the North Pole and recently undertook a mission the Healy was unable to complete due to a machinery casualty.

They are classified as “Artic and Offshore Patrol Ships” or AOPS, rather than icebreakers, but they are clearly designed to operate in ice and are rated Polar Class 5 (Year-round operation in medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions). In many ways they approximate the similarly sized and powered old Wind Class icebreakers. (2012 post on the class with updates in the comments here.)

Below are another photo and a couple of videos, but first the specs.

  • Displacement: 6,615 t (6,511 long tons)
  • Length: 103.6 m (339 ft 11 in)
  • Beam: 19 m (62 ft 4 in)
  • Draft: 6.5 m (21 ft 4 in) (estimate based on that of Svalbard)
  • Propulsion Generators: Four 3.6 MW (4,800 hp)
  • Propulsion Motors: 2 × 4.5 MW (6,000 hp)
  • Speed: 17 knots
  • Endurance: 6,800 nautical miles
  • Crew: 65 (accomodations for 85)
  • Armament: one 25mm Mk38 remote weapon system modified for Arctic Conditions and two .50 cal. machine guns (I do feel this is inadequate.)

HMCS Harry DeWolf looking forward, bow and 25mm Mk38 remote weapon system.