“SHOWING UP IS HALF THE BATTLE: U.S. MARITIME FORCES IN THE INDIAN OCEAN” –War on the Rocks

War on the Rocks has a good treatise on the growing importance of the Island nations of the Indian Ocean and why the US should take more interest. The author contends that while forming a new First Fleet Command, something the Navy is contemplating, would be a good start, there is much more that needs to be done, and the Coast Guard has an important part to play. The author mentions the Coast Guard fifteen times in the article. I have reproduced the portion of the article specific to the Coast Guard below, but read the entire article for context.

When USCGC Hamilton escorts the first two Webber class WPCs to Bahrain, hopefully Hamilton will have some time to do some capacity building in the Indian Ocean. Perhaps PATFORSWA will also be involved in a continuing effort.

A Coast Guard Initiative

Finally, Washington should look to its Coast Guard in maximizing its interactions with small island nations. While the Coast Guard plays a significant role in training Pacific island nations’ maritime forces, they are rarely seen in the Indian Ocean. As with the Pacific, the islands of the Indian Ocean, too, face similar non-traditional security issues as their primary challenges. Interactions between, and trainings conducted with, the Coast Guard and Indian Ocean island nations might carry more value at the operational and tactical level. Recognizing resource constraints and its limited capacity to deploy in the region, Coast Guard initiatives can come in the form of training and capacity building efforts. Many island nations such as Maldives, Mauritius, and Comoros have a coast guard tasked with both law enforcement and defense of their sovereign territories. Given the nature of their primary threats — such as illegal fishing, drug smuggling, and human trafficking — training with the U. S. Coast Guard will be a significant step forward for many of the island nations of the Indian Ocean. Such engagements could also help offset an overreliance on military trainings in Beijing, including interpretation of customary law and the U.N. Convention for the Law of the Sea. Chinese interpretation of customary and international laws at Sea are notably different than those of the U.S. and its allies.  However, these interactions should be extended to islands and littorals across the region, instead of limiting them to Sri Lanka and Maldives only.

The U.S. Coast Guard could potentially utilize some of its lessons and experiences from the Pacific in interacting with, and training, the islands of the Indian Ocean on a range of issues from law enforcement to surveillance to disaster response. Washington could perhaps borrow from its interactions as a member of the Pacific Quad, prioritizing engagements with island nations and their security concerns as a model for the Indian Ocean too. If the Coast Guard is to take on this additional mission, it will require additional resources, which may require a willingness to cut some Department of Defense resources previously devoted to ground wars in the Middle East and redirect them to the Coast Guard.

An Indian Ocean deployment leveraging all its maritime forces allows Washington to address two immediate concerns in the region. First, it would provide a singular node, or a specific agency, tasked with engaging with the region as a whole to bridge the gap resulting from the divided combatant commands. Second, a burden-sharing model with close partners and allies leveraging the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps aids the already extended U.S. Navy and its role in the Indian Ocean. This could help conceptualize a framework that allows Washington to deploy and engage its maritime forces in the region in a meaningful and, more importantly, an achievable way.

“Bangladesh, U.S. and regional organizations discuss shared maritime domain awareness goals” –IndoPacificDefenseForum

A report from IndoPacificDefenseForum about an aspect of the CARAT exercise with Bangladesh, with emphasis on Maritime Domain Awareness and Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing.

There is no mention of the Coast Guard, but you can be sure Coast Guardsmen were involved and the vessel, seen in the distance, in the accompanying photo (above) is a former USCG 378, BNS Somudra Avijan, the former USCGC Rush, one of two Hamilton class now serving in the Bangladesh Navy.

“Pakistan Navy commissioned its new PNS Tabuk Damen corvette OPV 1900” –Navy Recognition

PNS Tabuk during sea trials. (Picture source Damen)

NavyRecognition reports the commission of the second of two Damen designed offshore patrol vessels (OPV) built in Romania for the Pakistani Navy.

The Damen OPV 1900 has a hull-length of 90 m, a maximum speed of 22 knots, and a full-load displacement of 1,900 tons. The ship can launch two high-speed RHIBs of 11.5 meters and 6.5 meters simultaneously and also has the capability to accommodate two TEUs for special mission-based operations. The rear deck of the ship is able to transport both a helicopter and a UAV.

According to Janes, the ships are 2,300 tons (presumably full load), 91.3 meters (299.5′) in length, with a beam of 14.4 m (47.2′), a draft of 4 m (13.1′), and a complement of 138.

Below is a video shot on the first ship of the class. You can see that it also includes a hangar. Weapons and additional sensors are to be fitted in Pakistan. The video indicates the ship will be equipped with two 30mm cannon and anti-ship cruise missiles. The model, seen in the video at time 1m30s, shows the vessel equipped with what appears to be a single barrel mount similar to the Mk38 forward, but the mount on the aft starboard corner of the superstructure, looks like a Chinese Type 730 CIWS that includes a seven barrel Gatling gun. That weapon is currently in service with the Pakistani Navy. You would think the same weapon would be used in both positions, but the more sophisticated CIWS might not take kindly to the green water that is likely to come over the bow. The model also shows launchers for eight anti-ship cruise missiles, presumably of Chinese origin, like the C-802. The ships are also reportedly being given an ASW capability. 

New Addition to “Recommended Blogs” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) sales alongside the Indian coast guard ships Abheed and Shaurya (16) Aug. 23, 2019, while transiting in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Chennai, India. The Stratton is participating in a professional exchange with the Indian coast guard that includes operational exercises at sea and on shore. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Esterly)

I have made an addition to my “Recommended Blogs” page (which is also my daily reading list) that you may find interesting, the Indo-Pacific Defense Forum.

Below I have duplicated the self description from their “About Us” page. The page also includes contact information not duplicated here.

In addition to English, this site is also published in Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Korean, and Japanese.

Not all the content is Coast Guard related, but it seems much of it is.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.


About Us

IPDefenseForum.com is the online version of Indo Pacific Defense Forum magazine and is sponsored by the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM).

Our Mission

Indo-Pacific Defense Forum is a professional military magazine published quarterly by the Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command to provide an international forum for military personnel of the Indo-Pacific areas. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily represent the policies or points of view of this command or any other agency of the United States government. All articles are written by IPD Forum staff unless otherwise noted.

The site features articles from the IPD Forum magazine staff as well as news from across the region and analysis, interviews and commentary by paid IPDefenseForum.com correspondents and contributors.

The Secretary of Defense has determined that publication of this magazine is necessary for conducting public business as required of the Department of Defense by law.

“SOCARENAM Shipyard Selected to Deliver 6 French Navy OPVs for Overseas Territories” –Naval News

Rendering of the future “POM” OPV of the French Navy

Naval News reports,

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.

French territory, territorial waters, and EEZ. By B1mbo, via Wikipedia

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.

DOD Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, 1 June 2019

Winkel Tripel projection, WGS84 datum, central meridian : 150°E. Source Wikipedia Commons, Author: Eric Gaba

The DOD has issued a 64 page unclassified Indo-Pacific Strategy Report

Below is the press release quoted in full. Sorry, I have not read it yet, so no commentary. The US Coast Guard and coast guard organizations are mentioned a number of time. 


The Department of Defense’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report was publicly released the morning of June 1, 2019, and can be accessed here, under “Publications” on Defense.gov.

The first Indo-Pacific Strategy Report released by the Department, the document is a comprehensive articulation of DoD’s role within a whole-of-government strategy for the Indo-Pacific region.  As an implementation document, the report provides clarity on the U.S. National Defense Strategy as it applies to the region and highlights the role of allies and partners in implementing our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The report details the Department’s enduring commitment to upholding a free and open Indo-Pacific.  The execution of this vision is articulated in the context of preparedness, partnerships, and the promotion of a networked region.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan delivered key messages from the report during his plenary remarks at the 18th Asia Security Summit: the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

USCG in Packistani Naval Exercise?

USS Hurricane (PC-3)

USS Hurricane (PC-3)

Interesting note from the German Navy Blog, “Marine Forum”

“10 February, PAKISTAN, Opening ceremony in Karachi for Pakistan-hosted multinational naval exercise „Aman 2017“ … until 14 Feb, three phases in and off Karachi: in-port, at-sea maritime, anti-terror (special forces/naval infantry) … participants from 37 countries, 9 of which with naval units … 24th Chinese task group (destroyer „Harbin“, frigate „Handan“, replenishment ship „Dongpinghu“), Russian Northern Fleet task group (destroyer „Severomorsk“, tanker „Dubna“, salvage tug „Altay“), USA with patrol boat „Typhoon“, AKE „Amelia Earhart“ plus two USCG vessels (emphasis applied–Chuck) … frigate „Arunta“ (Australia), frigate „Sultan Iskandar Muda“ (Indonesia), OPV „Samudra“ (Sri Lanka), frigate „Gelibolu“ (Turkey), destroyer „Daring“ (UK) … and, of course, hosting Pakistan Navy”

I can only think that since the Navy PC “Typhoon” is there, the two USCG vessels might be 110s out of Bahrain. Kind of surprising we have not seen any press releases on this.

110 foot WPB USCGC Jefferson Island

110 foot WPB USCGC Jefferson Island

Bangladesh Coast Guard to Get Huge Upgrade

File Image: Fincantieri - Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A.

MarineLink is reporting that the Bangladesh Coast Guard has reached agreement with Italy and Fincantieri for the refurbishment and transfer of four Minerva Class Corvettes, “Minerva”, “Sibilla”, “Urania”, and “Danaide”, for use as Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs). The 87 meter (285 foot), 1,285 ton, diesel powered, 25 knot vessels had been previously employed in this role by the Italian Navy. They first entered service between 1987 and 1991.

My trusty “Combat Fleets of the World,” 16th Ed., copyright 2013, indicates that the Bangladeshi Coast Guard consisted of approximately 20 officers and 250 enlisted. The Wikipedia entry, which appears very up to date, says they have 1,282 personnel and 57 vessels. Apparently the organization is growing rapidly, helped by the Bangladesh Navy. It is probable they would welcome some assistance from the USCG. It sounds like the Bangladesh Coast Guard closely follows the USCG model in terms of missions and general structure, in that it is a military organization outside the regular defense organization having law enforcement authority and a military mission in time of war.

The intention is to extend the life of these four ships another 20 years. Delivery is expected to take two years. There is no specific information about what the conversion would include.

Is Pakistan Forming an American (or Chinese) Style Coast Guard?

Defense News reports that Pakistan is planning a new force to protect its ports and Exclusive Economic Zone. There are few details except that it should have 12,000 members. There is speculation that it will incorporate the existing Maritime Safety Agency which is a maritime agency under control of the Navy and their existing Coast Guard which is a shore-side agency under control of the Army.