Weapons Interdicted in the Arabian Sea

This is one of several reports I have seen of the interdiction a dhow carrying weapons believed to have been en route from Iran to Yemen.

There are a number of unanswered questions about this operation. We don’t know who did the initial intercept and boarding. We don’t really know where the vessel was going.

What we do know is that the cargo included a number of anti-tank weapons, most of which were dumped at sea. A USN destroyer, USS Forrest Sherman, arrived on scene after the initial intercept to assist in the investigation. The dhow and its crew were released after the arms were confiscated.

I strongly suspect Coast Guard personnel may have been involved in this operation, if not directly, at least to the extent that they were involved in the training of those that were directly involved. Hopefully we will learn more in the future.

Document Alert–National Military Strategy, 2015

The US has issued a new National Military Strategy. You can see it in pdf form here, or you can see it on the Naval Institute News Service here.

Its not really very long. There are only 18 pages of text. Even so, I will provide a “Readers’ Digest” version, or perhaps more properly, a powerpoint version, in that it is in outline form, and offer only limited Coast Guard related comment.


  • The security of the United States, its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners.
  •  A strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity.
  • Respect for universal values at home and around the world.
  • A rules-based international order advanced by U.S. leadership that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through stronger cooperation to meet global challenges.


  • The survival of the Nation.
  • The prevention of catastrophic attack against U.S. territory.
  • The security of the global economic system.
  • The security, confidence, and reliability of our allies.
  • The protection of American citizens abroad.
  • The preservation and extension of universal values.


  • Deter, deny, and defeat state adversaries.
  • Disrupt, degrade, and defeat violent extremist organizations.
  • Strengthen our global network of allies and partners.


  1. Maintain a secure and effective nuclear deterrent 
  2. Provide for military defense of the homeland 
  3. Defeat an adversary 
  4. Provide a global, stabilizing presence 
  5. Combat terrorism 
  6. Counter weapons of mass destruction 
  7. Deny an adversary’s objectives 
  8. Respond to crisis and conduct limited contingency operations 
  9. Conduct military engagement and security cooperation 
  10. Conduct stability and counterinsurgency operations 
  11. Provide support to civil authorities 
  12. Conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response

There is nothing here that adds to the Coast Guard’s “to do list.” There is no specific mention of the Coast Guard or any other service for that matter. They do talk about working with DHS partners, and a couple of times they mention Coast Guardsmen along with an enumeration of all other types of US military personnel.

There is a recognition of the “Violent Extremist Organization” either acting alone or with support of a Nation State in a form of “Hybrid Warfare.”


There may be more emphasis on “defense of the homeland,” but we are a long way from providing the kind of commitment to this, that we saw in the late 1950s and early 60s when we had Nike missile launchers around every US city and hundreds of interceptors on strip alert around the country. At that time there were also Naval Sea Frontiers that were ready to respond to naval threats.

DOD has recently begun to talk about defense against cruise missiles, but really, it is easier to get a weapon of mass destruction into the country by boat than by missile or aircraft.

I would like to particularly highlight the explanation that accompanies the #2 priority, after #1–maintaining a nuclear deterrent,  because it certainly involves the Coast Guard,

Provide for Military Defense of the Homeland.  Emerging state and non-state capabilities pose varied and direct threats to our homeland.  Thus we are striving to interdict attack preparations abroad, defend against limited ballistic missile attacks, and protect cyber systems and physical infrastructure.  Key homeland defense capabilities include resilient space-based and terrestrial indications and warning systems; an integrated intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination architecture; a Ground-Based Interceptor force; a Cyber Mission Force; and, ready ground, air and naval forces, (emphasis applied–Chuck).  We also are leveraging domestic and regional partnerships to improve information sharing and unity of effort.  These capabilities will better defend us against both high technology threats and terrorist dangers.

Make no mistake, for countering any covert maritime surface threat to the US, the Coast Guard is the “ready naval force,” that is ready to investigate possible hostile contacts. Even if the US had aircraft armed and ready to engage surface vessels, which I doubt, I don’t think anyone is going to send aircraft to sink a ship based on a suspicion, however well founded, that the ship has some nefarious intent. Someone is going to have stop the vessel and attempt a boarding.  Navy Bases are few and far between. The only Navy surface combatant on the Atlantic coast based North of the Norfolk complex is the USS Constitution. The only surface ships based on the East Coast are around Norfolk and Jacksonville. On the West Coast they are either in Everett or San Diego. There are none based in Alaska and none on the Gulf Coast. Unless they are holding a Navy Day, celebration the majority of US ports are hundreds of miles from the nearest Navy surface combatant.

The Coast Guard’s position ought to be that we see a problem here, and the Coast Guard is the solution (and here I am not talking about the larger cutters, because they are either going to be deployed or in some sort of stand down if they are in port). The vessels that are going to do the stopping and boarding are most likely to be WPCs or WPBs, but currently they are not really armed to handle anything much more threatening than an angry outboard.

In addition to better weapons, we certainly need to continue to exploit the DOD’s intelligence organization and the Navy’s Maritime Domain Awareness hopefully including JLENS if they become more than prototypes.

REACTION. Of course the Chinese had a comment, as did Russia, “Clearly Anit-Russsian.”

CBP’s New Coastal Interceptor Vessel

MarineLink is reporting,

“SAFE Boats International informs it has been awarded a contract from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to build up to 52 coastal interceptor vessels (CIV). Should all options be executed, the contract value would exceed $48 million.”

SAFE 41 Center Console—Offshore, from which the CIV is derived

It is perhaps interesting to contrast this boat with the Coast Guard’s Response Boat Medium (CRB-M). The CIV is optimized for speed, while the RB-M, although still relatively fast,  is optimized for staying power. The CIV is apparently powered by four outboard motors while the RB-M is powered by two inboard diesels. This gives the CIV its greater 54 knot speed compared to RB-M’s 42 knots.  The engine choice suggest that the RB-M has greater range. The RB-M provides greater protection from the elements for the crew and equipment. This again suggests that the CIVs are not expected to stay underway as long, and perhaps additionally, that they are only expected to operate in relatively mild climates like Southern California and Florida. The closed cockpits of the RB-Ms would also make communications, necessary for coordinated operations, easier, because of the lower noise level.

It appears that while the CIV cost slightly less than $1M each the RB-Ms cost slightly less than $2.5M each.

In addition to the CIV, SAFE Boats is also making the “Over the Horizon” cutter boat for the Coast Guard and the Mk VI patrol boat for the Navy.