Some recognition for what the Kimball has been doing in the Western Pacific from the Indo-Pacific Command web site Indo-Pacific Defense Forum, including a really nice photo.
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.
The US Naval Institute Proceedings web page has a couple of Coast Guard related articles that did not appear in the print version of Proceedings,
- “The Polar Security Cutter’s Capabilities Must Match Its Name” by Lieutenant Commander Bill Rogers, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)
- “Bring Back Coast Guard Sub Hunters” by David Van Dyk
I have reproduced my comments on these topics below.
In regard to arming the Polar Security Cutters (the author seemed fixated on cruise missiles. We did discuss this topic earlier here)
There are limits to what we want to put on ships bound for Antarctica, since they have to be open for inspection. On the other hand if we ever do have a near peer conflict involving the Arctic or Antarctic, these will become rare and essential naval auxiliaries. As such they will probably operate with other vessels, including more powerful warships if appropriate, but that does not mean they should not be able to defend themselves against the possibility of leakers. We need to make provision for last ditch defense with systems like SeaRAM.
Meanwhile the fact that they are law enforcement vessels means they should be able to forcibly stop any private or merchant vessel regardless of size. So far it seems they will have at most, 25mm Mk38 Mod3 guns.
The follow on Medium Icebreakers or Arctic Security Cutters, which are unlikely to go to Antarctica, are more likely to be more heavily armed from the start.
Coast Guard ASW (comments were generally surprisingly adverse):
It is a fact that in WWII most U-boats were sunk by aircraft, but about a third (about 230) were sunk by surface vessels, primarily those of our allies Britain and Canada.
Even when surface vessels did not sink U-boats, they often performed valuable service in blocking access to convoys and in rescuing mariners from sunken ships.
US Naval vessels only sank about 38 U-boats. Coast Guard cutters and Coast Guard manned Navy ships were involved in sinking a disproportionate number of those (ten) for various reasons. Most of the US Navy effort went into the Pacific and most of the USN effort in the Atlantic at least through mid-1943, was in escorting high speed troop convoys than largely avoided contact with U-boats.
Circumstances we will face in any near peer conflict may be very different.
The advantages provided by code breaking in WWII are unlikely.
The advantages provided by radar equipped aircraft detecting U-boats charging their batteries or transiting the Bay of Biscay on the surface during the night no longer exists.
The Chinese surface and air threat would divert the most capable USN assets from ASW tasks.
Unlike the Japanese during the Pacific campaign, the Chinese are likely to make a concerted effort to disrupt our logistics train.
We simply do not have enough ASW assets.
Augmenting Coast Guard cutters to allow them to provide ASW escort and rescue services for ships that are sunk by hostile subs, in lower threat areas, is a low cost mobilization option that can substantially increase the number of escorts at low cost.
This could be facilitated by augmenting cutter with USN Reserves. Navy reserve ASW helicopter squadrons could be assigned to fly from cutters.
LCS ASW modules could be placed on cutters and manned by reactivated Navy reservists with LCS ASW module experience.
Our few US merchant ships need to be protected and when inevitably, some are sunk, we need someone to rescue those mariners, because they have become a rare and precious commodity.
In answer to this comment from James M
Add : For (millions)
ASIST : 6.263
Mk 32 SVTT : 3.237
SLQ-25 Nixie: 1.727
AN/SRQ-4 LAMPS III: 4.625
VDS/MFTA combo: 14.802
ASW Combat Suite: 33.684
64.338 total. I am sure something could be arrived at for less. I look at this as what it takes to fit out an NSC the whole way. For one, OPC will never fit that VDS/MFTA on its stern. At best it would be a Nixie, maybe a container towed sonar we don’t yet use, and the mods for MH-60R. It would be good to know the plan for MUSV as it might help the equation. After all, the 64.338 would buy 2 MUSVs without payload. It could also buy an additional FRC.
So, we could equip ASW equip all eleven projected Bertholf class National Security Cutters (NSC) for less than the cost of a single frigate.
Why do you believe the VDS/MFTA would not fit on the Offshore Patrol Cutter? It is fully as large as the NSCs and does not have the boat launch ramp cut into the stern. They are also substantially larger than the LCSs.
Below I have duplicated the self description from their “About Us” page. The page also includes contact information not duplicated here.
Not all the content is Coast Guard related, but it seems much of it is.
- There is a story about Indonesia’s Maritime Security Agency from June 15.
- There is a story about the Polarstern’s wintering over in the Arctic from June 15
- One about the apparent sharp increase in Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia. from June 24
- A report on an Exercise with the Maldives with Maritime Security aspects from June 27.
- One about Indonesia’s rejection of a Chinese proposal for negotiations on maritime borders from June 28
Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.
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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.
The US Naval Institute News Service reports comments by the Commandant”
“KUALA LUMPUR — The U.S. Coast Guard is looking at longer deployments to the Western Pacific region following the successful execution of the Operation Aiga deployment to Samoa and American Samoa, commandant Adm. Karl Schultz told reporters on Monday.
This is in reference to an operations discussed in a previous post. Earlier USCGC Oliver F. Berry (WPC-1124) also supported by the USCGC Walnut (WLB-205) had completed a similar mission to the Republic of the Marshall Islands
The Commandant apparently sees this as a prototype for future operations.
“We are looking at taking that proof of concept 30-day operation and pushing that probably into a little longer duration in the future,” he said.
This is only the latest statement from Coast Guard officers at the highest levels indicating that the Coast Guard’s intent to put more emphasis on operations in the Western Pacific: the Commandant: July 23, 2019; Commander, Pacific Area: August 17, 2019.
Changes are coming that will make maintaining that presence a bit easier. Three Webber class Fast Response Cutters will replace two 110 foot WPBs in Guam, that will give CCGD14 six Webber class WPCs, three homeported in Honolulu in addition to the three in Guam. Two National Security Cutters were recently commissioned in Oahu. The switch to longer ranged J model C-130s equipped with Minotaur will make providing air reconnaissance easier and more effective.
I do have some concerns about the ability to exploit these additional Webber class. The long range WPC and WPB operations have been supported by 225 foot buoy tenders, but there are only two in the Fourteenth District, one each in Guam and Hawaii. They may have already reached their limit in the amount of support they can provide. Other large ships might be able to take on this role and aviation asset in support are certainly desirable. A second WLB in Guam would be very useful. They are almost ideal for disaster response to small island communities, but there are no new ones being built and all are likely fully committed where they are. Some of these operations have been conducted in cooperation with assets from Australia and New Zealand. France also has interests in the region. They could provide both material support and an air element. An ultimate solution might be Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) based in Guam.
In order to continue NSC operations with the 7th Fleet similar to those undertake recently by Bertholf and Stratton, a third NSC in the Fourteenth district would be useful, either the potential NSC#12 or one of the five currently expected to be homeported in Charleston. The need for this, would of course, go away if we had two or three OPCs in Guam.
Real Clear Defense has an article which first appeared in the Australian think tank Lowy Institute‘s publication “The Interpreter,” advocating greater cooperation between the Coast Guards of Australia, India, Japan, and the US.
“The so-called Quad group of Indo-Pacific maritime democracies – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – is a valuable grouping, although it is still under utilized in many ways. One of the most effective ways that these countries could work together to enhance maritime security in the Indo-Pacific would be through coordinating the work of their coast guard agencies.”
While India in particular, is adverse to committing to a military alliance, these nations share a commitment to a rules based international system.
Quadrilateral cooperation through the countries’ coast guards could provide an answer to this political problem. As principally law-enforcement agencies, coast guards can provide many practical benefits in building a stable and secure maritime domain, without the overtones of a military alliance.
Using ship-riders, this sort of cooperation could go beyond capacity building and uphold the norms of international behavior. It might lead to the kind of standing maritime security task force I advocated earlier. When coast guards are in conflict, having multiple coast guards on scene could insure that instead of a “he said, she said” situation, we could have a “he said, we say” situation that would show a united front against bullying.
Given Bertholf and Stratton‘s stay in the Western Pacific and Walnut and Joseph Gerczak‘s support of Samoa, which was coordinated with Australia and New Zealand, it appears we may already be moving in this direction.
KUALA LUMPUR – The U.S. Coast Guard will increase its presence and deployments to Asia – particularly around Oceania and U.S. Pacific territories – and test out a new operational deployment concept in the region, service head Adm. Karl Schultz told reporters on Thursday.
We have been seeing this happening. The Coast Guard has begun spending more time in and around the Western Pacific, particularly around US Western Pacific territories and Oceania.
The reference to use of a buoy tender as a mothership to support patrol craft operations looks like a test to see how useful the proposed basing of three Webber class cutters in Guam might be.
The Commandant suggested that the tender might partner with Australian, New Zealand, or Japanese vessels as well. He promised,
““In the face of coercive and antagonistic behavior, the United States Coast Guard offers transparent engagement and partnership,…”
There is no reason this should not work, hopefully it will lead to similar multi-unit operations in the Eastern Pacific drug transit areas where the Webber class could augment larger cutters.
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.
NavyRecognition provides some information on what India is doing to maintain Maritime Domain Awareness.
Since the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, they have made a strong effort to monitor marine traffic. An earlier discussion and links to related topics here.
When I reported Betholf’s departure for the Western Pacific, Jan. 22, 2019, I speculated that after Munro’s visit to the Solomon Islands and Fiji, reported Dec. 8, 2018, that perhaps we were seeing the start of a new trend. Apparently I was a bit late in my prediction because, apparently Mellon had already followed Munro into the Western Pacific, departing Seattle shortly after Christmas. The CCGD14 news release below will explain.
Something else I noticed in the news release, was that while in Hawaiian waters, Mellon had conducted Astern Re-fueling-at-Sea training with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126). We also had a report of an underway refueling of a Webber Class Cutter when USCGC Oliver F. Berry (WPC-1124) completed a 2,200 mile transit for Operations in the Marshall Islands. Could this be preparation for multi-unit operations in the Western Pacific?
The News Release
HONOLULU — Following a stop in Fiji in late January, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717) continue their South Pacific patrol in support of counter-Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing and global security missions.
The presence of a high endurance Coast Guard cutter conducting operations in the region demonstrates the U.S. commitment to regional partnerships and strengthening a coalition of like-minded countries to strengthen regional maritime governance and promote a rules-based regime for fisheries.
Mellon’s crew is supporting international fisheries on the high seas and enforcement of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). Upon arrival in the WCPFC convention area, they partnered with the Canadian Armed Forces who flew seven reconnaissance flights improving maritime domain awareness and aiding in the enforcement of the WCPFC convention. Patrolling over 1,110 square miles within the WCPFC convention area, the Mellon’s law enforcement team boarded two vessels, one fishing vessel and one bunkering vessel. Both boardings resulted in potential violations of conservation management measures including high seas transshipment and specifications for the marking and identification of fishing vessels.
“Participating in the WCPFC ties into a broader strategy the Coast Guard is pursuing in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Capt. Stephen Burdian, commanding officer, cutter Mellon. “Throughout the area, the U.S., and by extension the Coast Guard, is encouraging relationships respecting the sovereignty, supporting fair and reciprocal trade, and the rule of law in an open and free Oceania. Through a tactical lens, that strategy looks like a Coast Guard boarding of a foreign fishing vessel, while on the high seas or in a sovereign Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) jointly with a member of that country’s enforcement team. On this patrol, we are fortunate to have excellent support from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and our Canadian counterparts.”
While on a port call in conjunction with the US Embassy in Suva, Fiji, the crew strengthened partnerships with Pacific Islands Nation communities by participating in community relations events at a local animal shelter, children’s hospital and garden. At the animal shelter crew members engaged with kittens and puppies while giving animals baths and general clean-up of the shelter. At the children’s hospital and garden, the crew read books to children and tidied up the garden area.
Mellon’s crew of 150 departed their homeport of Seattle shortly after Christmas. They made a brief stop in Hawaii for fuel and supplies. This stop was leveraged for training as the crew conducted Astern Re-fueling-at-Sea training with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126). Also, they worked with Air Station Barbers Point crews to complete 72 shipboard helicopter evolutions over three days, resulting in the qualification of three M H-65 Dolphin helicopter pilots and 10 flight deck personnel aboard Mellon. The cutter also embarked two Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans Officers, two U.S. Navy Aerographer’s Mates, and one U.S. Marine Corps Mandarin translator while in Hawaii for the upcoming operations. The crew is more than 8,000 miles into their patrol and have taken every opportunity for professional development with more than 40 crew earning new qualifications.
Oceania covers an area of 3.3 million square miles and has a population of 40 million and is home to some of our valued strategic partners in the Pacific Island Nations as well as Australia and New Zealand, with whom the U.S. has aligned for more than a century.
The importance of the Pacific Islands is very evident as the Coast Guard continues operations in the region and the U.S. strengthens partnerships with the governments of these nations. We recognize tourism and exports, both requiring a great deal of commercial vessel traffic, are a primary economic driver. Tuna represented a nearly $5 billion industry in 2015 with more than half the world’s tuna is sourced from the Western Pacific. In 2017 reported landings were 2.5 million tons of fish.
The presence of a high-endurance cutter in this part of the Pacific to enforce Conservation and Management Measures established by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission represents the U.S. and the Service’s commitment to our partnerships in the region. This body represents another essential collaboration. The WCPFC is an international body made up of 43 nations and international organizations. Members agree to allow the 13-enforcer nations in the pact to board and record any potential violations on their nationally flagged vessels. The findings go to the WCPFC who notifies the vessel’s flag state of the suspected infraction for further investigation.
“The U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans have a long history of working together to ensure the viability of fish stocks off North America. Working with experts from Canada and regional leaders like Fiji is vital to ensuring food security and the rule of law in Oceania,” said Capt. Robert Hendrickson, Chief of Response for Coast Guard 14th District. “Working together we are helping to ensure a more secure, free and open Indo-Pacific.”