“Coast Guard to commission new unit in Memphis” –News Release

A boat crew from Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg, Florida, conducts training near the station on a new 29-foot response boat-small II Aug. 25, 2014. The Coast Guard placed a delivery order for 20 additional boats Jan. 12, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Meredith Manning.

Below is a news release from D8. What I found interesting here is,

“Station Memphis is the second of five new Coast Guard stations to be commissioned in the Coast Guard 8th District’s Western Rivers Sectors.”

The push for new infrastructure seems to be working. Also note the statement, “…. is deployable to the Gulf of Mexico for hurricane flood response.” apparently in response to the repeated need to respond to flooding in the Eight District.

Media Advisory

U.S. Coast Guard 8th District Heartland
Contact: 8th District Public Affairs

Coast Guard to commission new unit in Memphis

WHO: Capt. Ryan Rhodes, Sector Lower Mississippi River commander, Cmdr. Erick Neussl, Sector Lower Mississippi River deputy commander, Lt. Jamal Scarlett, Sector Upper Mississippi River chaplain, Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Rollins, Station Memphis prospective officer-in-charge.

WHAT: Commissioning ceremony for Coast Guard Station Memphis 

WHERE: FedEx Event Center, 415 Great View Drive East, Cordova, TN 38018 (Suite 103)

WHEN: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021 (Media should arrive no later than 9:30 a.m.)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Coast Guard is scheduled Tuesday to commission its newest station, Coast Guard Station Memphis, during a ceremony at the FedEx Event Center in Cordova, Tennessee.

The station is responsible for search and rescue, recreational boating safety, ports, waterways, flood response, and coastal security. The station’s area of responsibility ranges from mile marker 720 to mile marker 750 on the Mississippi River, numerous lakes in Arkansas, and is deployable to the Gulf of Mexico for hurricane flood response. The station is equipped with two 29-Foot Response Boat-Small II and three shallow-water response boats. 

Station Memphis is the second of five new Coast Guard stations to be commissioned in the Coast Guard 8th District’s Western Rivers Sectors.

For more information follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

“Removable bow turns tugboat into icebreaker” –Marine Log

image description

Motorized bow enables tugboat to break ice up to 70 cm (2.3 feet/27.6″) thick

MarineLog reports progress on this. We talked about this earlier, looks like this is happening. This description from the earlier report.

Danfoss Editron’s hybrid electric system will powering the removable bow with two generators, built as a DC system, and two propulsion systems. In addition, the company has provided a front supercapacitor so that peak powers can be efficiently controlled. The Editron software also cuts fuel consumption and delivers high efficiencies as the diesel-generators in the DC system can be driven at variable speeds.

Lake Saimaa, where it operates is not very large. Looks like it is about 40 miles from corner to corner. Note while the tug pushing it is not an icebreaker, it is ice strengthened.

Below is a comment on the earlier post by, Tups, a Finn, and our resident icebreaker expert.

“… the technology is easily scalable and, since you don’t have to worry about seakeeping during the open water season – you can go for a slightly more “extreme” icebreaking bow to increase the performance at the cost of slamming impacts in head seas. Perhaps this could be a solution for commercial (contracted) icebreaking in the Great Lakes?

“By the way, this relates to another post you published some time ago – the tug that pushes the removable bow is the one that was fitted with the new ice-strengthened bronze propellers.”

“Coast Guard releases draft request for proposal for river buoy and inland construction tenders” –CG-9

USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315)

The Acquisition Directorate reports they have released a draft request for proposal (RFP) to “design a River Buoy Tender (WLR) and an Inland Construction Tender (WLIC) – two variants of one design – and build 16 WLRs and 11 WLICs.” I have duplicated their post below:

The Coast Guard released a draft request for proposal (RFP) July 29, 2020, for detailed design and construction of the river buoy and inland construction tenders as part of its Waterways Commerce Cutter acquisition program. The draft RFP is available here.

The deadline to submit feedback on the draft RFP is Sept. 18, 2020.

The Coast Guard is recapitalizing its 35 river, construction and inland buoy tenders, which collectively average more than 55 years in service. The fleet is responsible for maintaining more than 28,200 marine aids throughout 12,000 miles of inland waterways, facilitating the movement of 630 million tons of cargo annually.

There are currently 18 river buoy tenders and 13 construction tenders in the inland tender fleet. Based on extensive analysis of mission needs, the Coast Guard plans to replace these ships with newly designed river buoy tenders and construction tenders that have greater endurance, speed and deck load capacity than their predecessors. The Coast Guard plans to acquire these two variants on the same contract due to major design commonality including hull form, deck layout and standardized equipment. The inland buoy tender replacements will be acquired separately.

Replacing the aging fleet is critical to sustaining the overall safety of the U.S. Marine Transportation System, which accounts for $5.4 trillion of economic activity annually and sustains approximately 30.7 million jobs.

For more information: Waterways Commerce Cutter program page. Additional resources and previous industry engagement materials can be located under the “Resources” tab at the bottom of the page.

Waterways Commerce Cutter Update

USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315), commissioned 1944

Here is a link to a power point style update on the Waterways Commerce Cutter apparently given at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, 7 May, 2019.

They are hoping for initial operational capability for the new vessels in FY2024 and full operational capability (which I interpret as all the new vessels in commission FY2030.

Thanks to Lee for bring this to my attention. 

FY2019 Budget

US Capital West Side, by Martin Falbisoner

With a bit of help from a friend, the actual FY2019 budget documents were located:  “The Joint Explanation” and “The Conference Report.”

I found the Joint Explanation easiest to wade through. The Budget breakdown is found on pages 65 to 69 of the 612 page pdf.

Note in some cases I have rounded to the nearest $0.1M

Our total Coast Guard FY2019 budget is $12,015,921,000. This is $91,803,000 less than last year, but $577,720,000 more than the budget request.

The Operations and Support allocation is $7,808.2M. That is $434.9M more than last year (a 5.6% increase), and $215.1M more than requested.

I have provided information on the PC&I budget below including a complete list of line items that I was unable to provide before.


Vessels and Boats

  • Survey and design:                      5.5M
  • In service vessel sustainment:   63.25M
  • National Security Cutter:              72.6M (Follow up on ships already funded)
  • Offshore Patrol Cutter:                  400M (Second of class + LLTM for third)
  • Fast Response Cutter: 340M (Six Webber class including two for PATFORSWA)
  • Cutter boats                                       5M
  • Polar Security Cutter:                     675M (First of class + LLTM for second)
  • Waterways Commerce Cutter:           5M
  • Polar sustainment:                            15M (Polar Star Service Life Extension)

—-Vessels Subtotal:  $1,581.35M


  • HC-144 Conversion/Sustainment:         17M
  • HC-27J Conversion/Sustainment:         80M
  • HC-1330J Conversion/Sustainment:   105M
  • HH-65 Conversion/Sustainment:           28M
  • MH-60 Conversion/Sustainment:         120M
  • Small Unmanned Aircraft:                        6M

—Aircraft Subtotal:  $356M

Other Acquisition Programs:

  • Other Equipment and System:                                               3.5M
  • Program Oversight and Managemen:                                    20M
  • C4ISR                                                                                    23.3M
  • CG-Logistics Information Management System (CG-LIMS):   9.2M

—Other Acquisitions Programs Subtotal:   $56M

Shore Facilities and Aids to Navigation:

  • Major Construction; Housing; ATON; and Survey and Design: 74.51M
  • Major Acquisition Systems Infrastructure:                                 175.4M
  • Minor Shore                                                                                      5M

—Shore Facilities and Aids to Navigation Subtotal:  $254.91M

The PC&I total, $2,248.26M, was $446.48M less than FY2018, but it was $361.51M above the budget request.

R&D was cut by almost a third. This is probably a place to spend more not less.

Reserve Training disappeared as a separate line item, so I can’t tell what happened there.

Also included in the new budget is $5M for the National Coast Guard Museum

Incidentally, the total amount appropriated for the polar security program includes $359.6M (FY2018 and prior) + $675M (FY2019), or $1,034.6M, of which $20M is for Long Lead Time Material for the second ship, and the remainder is for the first ship and other program-related expenses.

With Operations and Support up more than 5% over 2018 and Procurement Construction &Improvement (PC&I) over $2B for the second year in a row, this is the kind of budget we can live with. It just needs to keep happening.

Hearing: Coast Guard Requirements, Priorities, and Future Acquisition Plans (FY-2018)


May 18, the Commandant, Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, addressed the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee. The recorded testimony is above. It is fairly long (1h40m). The Commandant’s initial statement, following the introductions, begins at 8m40s and ends approximately minute 14.

The administration’s FY 2018 budget request was not available, but the Commandant was there to discuss future priorities, requirements, and programs. The Department Secretary, General Kelly, is expected to address the Subcommittee on May 24 at 3PM Eastern.

I will just mention a few of the items I thought significant.

Admiral Zukunft noted that Huntington Ingalls has begun cutting steel for NSC #9. Questioned about NSC#10, he said, if it were funded, the Coast Guard would of course use it, but that the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) is the Coast Guard’s #1 priority. His response, that another NSC would have an effect on long-range operating cost, seemed to suggest anticipated significantly lower operating costs for the OPC. Significantly, there has been no mention of reducing the OPC program by one ship to offset the addition of NSC #9. (There is already a strong push to build more NSCs, a bill to authorized a multi-year buy of three more.)

He contended that the Coast Guard has taken a harder hit, due to budget restrictions, than other armed services and would need 5% annual growth and at least $2B annually for Acquisitions, Construction, and Improvements (AC&I). Later he stated that this annual AC&I appropriation would included about $300M annually for shore facilities. He pointed to a need to restore 1100 Reserve Billets and add 5,000 active duty military billets while retaining current levels of Civilian staff.

Apparently the FY2918 budget will begin a program to replace 35 Inland tenders at an estimated cost of approximately $25M each ($875M total). (Even if, in the unlikely event, this program were funded in only five years, that would only average $175M/year, so it is not a big program, but one that should have begun at least a decade ago.)

Cyber security for ports was discussed. The Commandant sees the Coast Guard role as decimating best practices, rather than imposing regulation. We now have a cyber program of record–still very small, two CG Academy graduates going directly into the program. The fact that two billets is worth mentioning, is probably the best indication of how really small the program is. A much smaller pre-World War II Coast Guard probably had more people working on breaking German and Japanese codes. 

Marine Inspection was addressed. The Commandant noted the increased demand for Inspections because 6,000 tugs have been added to inspection program. He noted a need for more stringent oversight of 3rd party inspectors, who in some cases have not been as meticulous as they should have been. He also noted that the US flag merchant fleet, notably the MSC’s Afloat Prepositioning Fleet, will need replacement, which will also raise demand for marine inspectors.

The Commandant also voiced his support for the Jones Act. He noted, we only have three shipyards building Jones Act ships in the US, and their loss would be short-sighted.

There was much discussion about the Arctic and the Icebreaker Fleet. Looks like follow-on funding for icebreaker program (at least after the first) will have to come from CG AC&I rather than the Navy budget. This may be difficult, but it is the way it should be. The chair of committee expressed his reservations about attempting to fund such big-ticket items through the DHS budget. The Commandant stated that the Coast Guard is still considering the acquisition of the commercial Icebreaker Aiviq (but apparently they are doing it very slowly–the chairman of the committee seemed a bit irritated about this).

The committee members seemed to latch onto the idea that the USCG, rather than the Navy, would be responsible for enforcing US sovereignty in the Arctic (which by US definition includes the Aleutians), and seemed to be asking if the Coast Guard was prepared to fight the Russians and/or Chinese in the Arctic. The Commandant suggested instead, that our role was to provide presence in the pre-conflict phase in order assert US sovereignty. He acknowledged that the National Security Cutters are only armed defensively and are not suitable for conventional naval warfare against an enemy combatant.

The Commandant acknowledged that, at some point it may be desirable to arm Polar Icebreakers, meaning they should be built with space, weight, and power reservations for additional weapons.

(I am all for keeping open the option of arming our icebreakers, so that they can defend themselves and do their part, if there is a conflict in a polar region, but there did not seem to be recognition among the Congression Representatives, that an Arctic conflict is most likely to be determined by submarines and aircraft. The icebreakers’ role is likely to be primarily logistical.)

The Commandant apparently does expect that there may be disagreements with regard to the extent of the US authority over certain areas of the Arctic.

In discussing the need for land based Unmanned Air Systems, there was a curious note at minute 40 about go-fast boats going south. Where are they going?

Alien Migrant Interdiction (AMIO). We have gone for seven weeks without a single Cuban Migrant being interdicted. This is because of the end of Wet Foot/Dry Foot Policy. This has allowed reallocation of resources to drug interdiction South of Cuba and human trafficking from the Bahamas

A Congressional Representative, from Texas pointed out there is no CG presence on the Rio Grande River, in spite of it being an international waterway. There was no mention of it, but perhaps he was thinking of the Falcon Lake incident in 2010 when an American was allegedly shot in the head by Mexican drug runners. Maybe something we should reconsider.

The Commandant promised the CG would have an unfunded priority list for FY2018.

Admiral Papp Interviewed–OPC/Inland AtonN/Budget

Former Commandant, Admiral Papp, has been at the Sea-Air-Space EXPO representing Eastern Shipbuilding. He has given a couple of interviews, the one above and a second one here.

Of the two, I think the one you can view above is by far the more interesting, and his comments were not limited to the Offshore Patrol Cutter, discussing the inland tender fleet and the CG budget in general as well. There were a couple of notable details in the interview.

Admiral Papp stated explicitly that the expected crew size for the OPC would be 126 (I suspect this might actually refer to the planned accommodations rather than the crew). That is considerably more than the crew of the WMECs they replace. These ships are actually a third again larger than the 378s and much more capable than the ships they replace, so this should not be a great surprise. I do think this is more than the nominal crew of the National Security Cutter, although probably less than they actually sail with.

He also stated that the electric motors in the hybrid propulsion system would be good for at least nine and perhaps as much as 13 knots. All along I had assumed the hybrid system had been adopted as a means of meeting the range requirement, but since it is apparent they do not expect to be able to reach 14 knots using the electric motors, then the claimed range of 10,200 miles at 14 knots must be achievable using the Main Propulsion diesels. This suggest the range at lower speeds using only the ship’s service generators and electric motors may actually be considerably more.

Admiral Papp also suggested that there may be a possibility of exporting Eastern built ships because of its projected cost, well under $350M per ship.

Thanks to Luke for bringing this to my attention. 

My Unfunded Priority List

An earlier post reported a plea by Representative Duncan Hunter, Chair of the Transportation Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, for the Coast Guard to provide an unfunded priority list to include six icebreakers and unmanned Air System.

Thought perhaps I would list my own “unfunded priorities.” These are not in any particular order.


Icebreakers: We have a documented requirement for three heavy and three medium icebreakers, certainly they should be on the list. Additionally they should be designed with the ability to be upgraded to wartime role. Specifically they should have provision for adding defensive systems similar to those on the LPD–a pair of SeaRAM and a pair of gun systems, either Mk46 mounts or Mk38 mod 2/3s. We might want the guns permanently installed on at least on the medium icebreakers for the law enforcement mission. Additionally they should have provision for supporting containerized mission modules like those developed for the LCS and lab/storage space identified that might be converted to magazine space to support armed helicopters.

110225-N-RC734-011 PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 25, 2011) Guy Mcallister, from Insitu Group, performs maintenance on the Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45). Scan Eagle is a runway independent, long-endurance, UAV system designed to provide multiple surveillance, reconnaissance data, and battlefield damage assessment missions. Comstock is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, which is underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility during a western Pacific deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac/Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 25, 2011) Guy Mcallister, from Insitu Group, performs maintenance on the Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45). Scan Eagle is a runway independent, long-endurance, UAV system designed to provide multiple surveillance, reconnaissance data, and battlefield damage assessment missions. Comstock is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, which is underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility during a western Pacific deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac/Released)

Unmanned Air Systems (UAS): We seem to be making progress on deploying UAS for the Bertholf class NSCs which will logically be extended to the Offshore Patrol Cutters. So far we see very little progress on land based UAS. This may be because use of the Navy’s BAMS system is anticipated. At any rate, we will need a land based UAS or access to the information from one to provide Maritime Domain Awareness. We also need to start looking at putting UAS on the Webber class. They should be capable of handling ScanEagle sized UAS.

File:USCGC Bluebell - 2015 Rose Festival Portland, OR.jpg

Photo: The Coast Guard Cutter Bluebell sits moored along the Willamette River waterfront in Portland, Ore., June 4, 2015. The Bluebell, which celebrated its 70th anniversary this year, is one of many ships participating in the 100th year of the Portland Rose Festival. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.)

Recapitalize the Inland Tender Fleet: This is long overdue. The program was supposed to begin in 2009, but so far, no tangible results. It seems to have been hanging fire for way too long.

Expand the Program of Record to the FMA-1 level: The Fleet Mix Study identified additional assets required to meet the Coast Guard’s statutory obligations identifying four asset levels above those planned in the program of record. Lets move at least to first increment.

Alternative Fleet Mix Asset Quantities

————–POR       FMA-1      FMA-2      FMA-3       FMA-4
NSC                8             9                 9                 9                  9
OPC              25           32               43                50               57
FRC              58           63               75                80               91
HC-130         22            32               35                44               44
HC-144A       36            37               38                40               65
H-60              42            80               86                99             106
H-65             102         140             159              188            223
UAS-LB           4            19                21                21              22
UAS-CB        42            15                19               19               19

At the very least, looks like we need to add some medium range search aircraft (C-27J or HC-144).

Increase Endurance of Webber Class Cutters: The Webber class could be more useful if the endurance were extended beyond five days (currently the same as the 87 cutters, which have only one-third the range). We needed to look into changes that would allow an endurance of ten days to two weeks. They already have the fuel for it.



Ship Stopper (Light Weight Homing Torpedo): Develop a system to forcibly stop even the largest merchant ships by disabling their propulsion, that can be mounted on our patrol boats. A torpedo seems the most likely solution. Without such a system, there is a huge hole in our Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security mission.


Photo: SeaGriffin Launcher

Counter to Small High Speed Craft (Small Guided Weapon): Identify and fit weapons to WPB and larger vessels that are capable of reliably stopping or destroying small fast boats that may be used as fast inshore attack craft and suicide or remote-controlled unmanned explosive motor boats. These weapons must also limit the possibility of collateral damage. Small missiles like SeaGriffin or Hellfire appear likely solutions.

40 mm case telescoped gun (bottom) compared to conventional guns.

40 mm case telescoped gun (bottom) compared to conventional guns.

Improved Gun–Penetration, Range, and Accuracy: The .50 cal. and 25mm guns we have on our WPBs and WPCs have serious limitations in their ability to reach their targets from outside the range of weapons terrorist adversaries might improvise for use against the cutters. They have limited ability to reach the vitals of medium to large merchant vessels, and their accuracy increases the possibility of collateral damage and decreases their probability of success. 30, 35, and 40 mm replacements for the 25 mm in our Mk38 mod2 mounts are readily available.

Laser Designator: Provide each station, WPB, and WPC with a hand-held laser designator to allow them to designate targets for our DOD partners.


Vessel Wartime Upgrades: Develop plans for a range of options to upgrade Coast Guard assets for an extended conflict against a near peer.


Changes Ahead, Acquisition, Organization? and Again, Where is the Damn Unfunded Priority List?

Two new posts regarding the Coast Guard’s future, both from Defense News.

The first, “Commentary: US Coast Guard deserves military level funding,” by Representative Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) is a plea for better funding of the Coast Guard. Its significance is less what it says, than who is saying it.

The second, “US Coast Guard urged to step up requirements,” by Christopher P. Cavas, quotes Representative Hunter and his chief of staff, Joe Kasper. It primarily encourages the Coast Guard to provide a comprehensive unfunded priority list, primarily with regard to icebreakers, Unmanned Air Systems, and, some what obliquely, the inland tender fleet, but it goes further, indicating Hunter will attempt to have the Coast Guard moved into the DOD and have our larger cutters better armed.

So who is Representative Hunter?  He is the son of long serving representative Duncan L. Hunter. He serves on the Armed Services, Education and the Workforce and Transportation and Infrastructure committees, and most importantly for us, he chairs the Transportation Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. He is a Marine Reserve Major. The day after the September 11 attacks, Hunter quit his job and joined the Corps. He served two tours in Iraq as an artillary officer and was recalled to duty for a tour in Afghanistan.

Perhaps significantly he and Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) were the first members of Congress to endorse Trump.

I first became aware of him watching the video you can see here, “Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Hearing on Coast Guard Arctic Implementation Capabilities 7/12/16.” I should have been paying more attention earlier when I included another video of a subcommittee hearing here, “Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation: Examining Cutter, Aircraft, and Communications Needs.”

If you look, particularly at the first video from 2016, you will see his frustration with the Coast Guard leadership. This call for an “expansive” unfunded priority list seems to be an effort to teach the Coast Guard leadership how to “play the game.”

“We’re trying to instill some courage in the Coast Guard,” he added. “They’re taking on a bigger role, doing more things. We’re talking about the Arctic, about inland waterways. Until you ask for it, it is going to be increasingly difficult for us on the Hill to sound the need. There is no confusion around the Navy’s fleet size, there’s good awareness on where the Navy needs to be. The Navy knows how to play this game, to advocate for its needs.  Until you start getting out in front and making the case for where you need to be and not worrying about the effect on your budget, you’re never going to get what you need.”

I have expressed my own inability to understand why the Coast Guard will not provide an unfunded priorities list even when it is requested by Congress. Here in 2013, and again in 2014.

Hopefully we will see one this year.

Thanks to Luke for bringing these to my attention.


Innovation for Inland Tenders

Photo: BAE systems

We don’t hear about it often, but the Coast Guard also needs to recapitalize its inland fleet, WLI, WLIC, and WLRs. There are 35 of these. One entered service in 1944, another in 1945. The two newest entered service in 1990, but all the rest are much older. Two entered service in the ’50s. 23 in the ’60s, and six in the 70s. .

Whenever we belatedly get around to replacing these, there is an innovation we might want to look at, high-lift flap rudders. These were recently used on a Jones Act Articulated Tug Barge (ATB). Reportedly it provides much improved maneuverability.