“Coast Guard begins multi-month fisheries enforcement operation with Bermuda” –News Release

Below is a 5th District news release concerning a new level of cooperation between the USCG and Bermuda to counter Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing. This certainly makes sense, since the Bermuda and the US share the same fish stocks. No matter where overfishing of that stock occurs, it hurts both US and Bermudian fishermen and our economies.

This seems to be the latest in a trend toward pooling resources, using the ship-rider program and Law Enforcement Detachments, to enforce norms for mutual benefit. Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory that lies 559 nautical miles (1,035 km) ESE of North Carolina. Britain, along with Canada, the Netherlands, and France, has been helping the USCG’s drug interdiction efforts.

(Bermuda is a great liberty port. I have found memories. Took my family back recently. I am sure the crews will enjoy Bermudian hospitality.)

The Bermuda Coast Guard was formed in February 2020.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 5th District Mid-Atlantic

Coast Guard begins multi-month fisheries enforcement operation with Bermuda

USCGC Angela McShan (WPC-1135)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Angela McShan (WPC-1135) is scheduled to arrive in Bermuda on April 6 as part of a multi-month fisheries enforcement operation in concert with the Bermuda Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Royal Bermuda Regiment, Bermuda Coast Guard, and Bermuda Police Services. 

The cutter will be the first of four Coast Guard ships that will patrol seaward of the Bermuda Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends 230 miles from shore. The joint operation will expand upon the long-standing U.S.-Bermuda partnership, as well as emphasize protection of the environment and living marine resources in this region. 

The operation is a result of recent meetings between Bermuda’s Deputy Governor Alison Crocket, Deputy Premier Walter Roban, Permanent Secretary in Bermuda’s Ministry of Home Affairs Rozy Azhar, United States Consul General in Bermuda Karen Grissette and Rear Admiral Laura Dickey, the U.S. Coast Guard Fifth District Commander.  The professional exchange focused on increasing efforts to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a global issue recently detected in the Mid-Atlantic.  

“It was an honor to meet Rear Admiral Dickey and her staff, along with the U.S. Consul and her staff,” noted Deputy Premier Roban.  “This operation begins a new chapter of cooperation with the U.S. Government in supporting illegal, unreported fishing and other unacceptable activity in our waters.  All is as a result of a meeting held with the National Climate Advisor to U.S. President Biden, Gina McCarthy, at COP26 where we discussed matters important to Bermuda and the United States.  The willingness of the United States to support Bermuda in our effort to oversee our EEZ is in step with our centuries’ long relationship as neighbors.  My gratitude on behalf of the people of Bermuda extends to the U.S. Consul’s Office in Bermuda for facilitating these meetings and the support we will get from the United States Coast Guard.”

As the worldwide demand for fish as a protein source continues to grow, IUU fishing will have a profound impact on the security of all countries with a maritime boundary. Left unenforced, IUU fishing will threaten global geo-political security, undermine maritime governance, and impact a nation’s ability to achieve domestic food security.

“We’re excited to join with Bermuda to help detect and monitor potential IUU fishing in the region,” said Rear Admiral Dickey.  “As we each work to safeguard our respective Exclusive Economic Zones, we’re fortunate to build on our long-standing relationship to partner together in this effort to protect global fish stocks and promote adherence to international rules.”

“The United States is proud to partner with Bermuda to promote security and lawful conduct in the Atlantic region,” added U.S. Consul General Karen Grissette.  “Reinforcing the United States’ security partnership with Bermuda is one of my top priorities, so I am proud to welcome these U.S. Coast Guard cutters to advance our shared interests.  This important operation is one more tangible demonstration of the close security collaboration between Bermuda and the United States.”  

The Sentinel-class fast response cutter (WPC) is a key component of the Coast Guard’s offshore fleet that is capable of deploying independently to conduct missions that include port, waterways and coastal security, fishery patrols, search and rescue, and national defense.

Navy to Decommission Cyclone Class Patrol Craft

Cyclone-class patrol coastal USS Zephyr (PC 8) crew conducts ship-to-ship firefighting to extinguish a fire aboard a low-profile go-fast vessel suspected of smuggling in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean April 7, 2018. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Barney

I learned recently that the Navy expects to decommission their 13 Cyclone class patrol craft in FY2021. This is significant for the Coast Guard for a couple of reasons.

The three based in Mayport have consistently been used to augment Coast Guard vessels, hosting Law Enforcement Detachments for drug enforcement (a recent example). .

Second, these vessels frequently partner with Coast Guard patrol boats of PATFORSWA based in Bahrain. Their decommissioning may put a greater load on the Coast Guard unit as it begins to receive Webber class as replacements for the existing six Island class patrol boats.

ARABIAN GULF (Sept. 16, 2018) A MK-60 Griffin surface-to-surface missile is launched from coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt (PC 12). (Photo by MC2 Kevin Steinberg)

For the Island class cutters in the Persian Gulf, the Cyclone class have served as better armed, big brothers, adding a bit of muscle to escort missions where Iranian Fast Inshore Attack Craft might be encountered. While the Webber class, that will be replacing the Island class, are a bit better armed than the 110s, unless they are extensively modified, they will not come close to replacing the missile armed Cyclone class. LCS are supposed to replace the Cyclone class, but they still have not demonstrated the ability to sustain a reasonable number of vessels in a remote theater. LCS are also too large to go many of the places the Cyclone class were able to.

USS Hurricane (PC-3)

These little ships have seemed to count for very little to the Navy. Regularly we see a count of “Battleforce ships”“Battleforce ships” that includes everything from aircraft carriers down to civilian crewed, unarmed fleet tugs (T-ATF), salvage ships (T-ARS), and high speed intra-theater transports (T-EPF, really aluminum hulled, high speed ferries). The Cyclone class were only included in the count one year (2014), so their loss will be largely invisible. (Significantly, this count of what many must assume is the National Fleet also makes no mention of Coast Guard assets either.)

Until ten of the class found a home in Bahrain, the Navy seemed to have had a hard time figuring out what to do with them. Originally intended to support the special warfare community, they were considered to large for that mission. Of the original fourteen one was transferred to the Philippine Navy. Five had been temporarily commissioned as Coast Guard cutters.

Other than the far larger LCS, the navy has no plans to replace these little ships, that have reportedly been the busiest ships in the Navy.

DAHLGREN, Va. (Nov. 6, 2004) Coast Guard Cutter Shamal (WPC-13) . USCG photo by Joseph P. Cirone, USCG AUX

Navy Ships to Return to the Drug War

USS Freedom (LCS-1)

The US Naval Institute reports, “SECNAV Memo: Navy Won’t Reactivate Perry Frigates for SOUTHCOM Mission; Will Send Ships to Fight Drug War in 2018.”

The Navy has not been providing ships in support of the SouthCom drug interdiction mission since the last USN Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate was decommissioned in 2015, but it looks like the Navy will return to the mission.

SecNav has directed the Navy provide four ship years in the form of either LCS or Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transports (T-EPF)(formerly called the Joint High Speed Vessel).. In addition, they will be bringing with them an unmanned air system, probably Scan Eagle.

They will certainly need Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments aboard, but the mention of Scan Eagle makes me wonder about the aviation support planned. No mention of helicopter or the larger MQ-8 UAS. Are they going to want a Coast Guard Airborne Use of Force helicopter detachment?

The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) (Now T-EPF-1)conducted high-speed trials, reaching speeds of approximately 40 knots off the coast of Virginia. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Phil Beaufort/Released) 130820-N-ZO696-135