“Solomon Islands doesn’t answer US Coast Guard’s request for port visit, US says” –CNN/Reuters

The USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) crew arrives in Manus, Papua New Guinea, on Aug. 14, 2022, from Guam as part of a patrol headed south to assist partner nations in upholding and asserting their sovereignty while protecting U.S. national interests. The U.S. Coast Guard is participating with partners to support the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency-led Operation Island Chief and the larger Operation Blue Pacific through patrols in the Western Pacific in August and September 2022. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Oliver Henry)

CNN reports,

A United States Coast Guard vessel was unable to enter Solomon Islands for a routine port call because the Solomon Islands government did not respond to a request for it to refuel and provision, a US official said.

The vessel was USCGC Oliver Henry, hardly a symbol of American hegemony. HMS Spey, a larger offshore patrol vessel, was also reported to have had difficulty arranging a replenishment stop. Both were operating in support of the fisheries agency for the Pacific Islands Forum.

HMS Spey, River class Batch2 OPV

The difficulties may have been resolved,

“The U.S. Department of State is in contact with the Government of the Solomon Islands and expect all future clearances will be provided to U.S. ships”

Still it appears to be a symptom of growing Chinese influence in the Western Pacific.

 

USNI Proceedings Coast Guard Issue

USCGC Mohawk (WMEC-913), Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC-1147), and John Scheuerman (WPC-1146)

Sorry this post is going to ramble a bit.

The Prize Winning Essays: 

The August issue of the U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings is again the “Coast Guard Issue,” and includes the three winning essays in their Coast Guard Essay contest.

First prize went to prolific author and repeat winner, Cdr. Craig Allen, Jr., USCG for his “Expeditionary Cutter Deployments Should Not Be a Mission to Mars.” It talks about some of the logistical difficulties encountered. His comments about the integrated C5ISR, navigation, and engineering systems and “controlled parts exchanges (taking working parts from one cutter and installing them in another) to deploy on schedule and/or remain underway” are partiuclarly troubling.

He offered three suggestions about how to make the Coast Guard more deployable.

  • Improved cutter self-sustainability.
  • Forward operating bases
  • Mission support cutter.

I would note that large cutters are probably already have more self-sustainability than their Navy counterparts making extended single ship deployments with minimal support easier for cutters than for Navy ships, but it does sound like we have made some choices that may put those capabilities at risk.

It is probably diplomatically easier to establish a Coast Guard forward operating base than one for the Navy, particularly in Latin America. Realistically we are probably only talking about a base in the Eastern Pacific, near the drug transit zone. To make that happen would probaby require some initiative from SOUTHCOM.

Elsewhere we could probably ride the coat tails of the Navy and our allies including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands.

The mission support cutter, or, more generally, a floating base might be addressed in a number of ways. Presumably SOUTHCOM will get their own Expeditionary Sea Base. Wherever it is moored will become a defacto forward operating base. There should be room aboard for priority Coast Guard unique support requirements. Unfortunately I understand, dispite their tanker origins, they don’t carry fuel for tranfer to other ships. That is unfortunate, but probably something that could be fixed. Any kind of forward operating base could make Webber class deployments to the Eastern Pacific drug transit zones much more productive.

Effectively the Coast Guard has already been using buoy tenders as mission support cutters for Webber class in the Western Pacific.

One might think that a Navy owned MSC vessel might make a good mission support vessel, but the underway replenishment vessels they have currently, are far too large to be dedicated to supporting routine Coast Guard operations.

Something  to consider might be a routine teaming of Charleston based National Security Cutters (NSC) with District 7 Webber class Fast Response Cutters (FRCs). A NSC and a pair of FRCs could make a very effective team, with the NSC providing underway replenishment for the FRCs. There are three NSC in based in Charleston now and there are expected to be five when the program is completed. There are currently 20 FRCs based in district 7. These ships are the closest of their type to the Eastern Pacific Drug Transit Zones.

Second prize went to “The World’s Fishermen as a Maritime Sensor Network,” by Lieutenant Holden Takahashi, USCG, that suggest a cell phone based reporting system could provide additional eyes to Maritime Domain Awareness systems.

Third prize went to “Lost At Sea: Teaching, Studying, and Promoting Coast Guard History,” by Lt. Christopher Booth, USCG, and Mark Snell, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary contending,

“To foster pride in its heritage and promote its historic accomplishments to the public, the Coast Guard cannot continue to ignore its past. It must make a major shift in how it approaches, teaches, promotes, and preserves its history. The Coast Guard must rescue the history and heritage of “that long line of expert seamen” and their contributions to the nation, so they are no longer lost at sea.”

Other Posts of Interest:

There are also other posts that directly address the Coast Guard or at least would involve the Coast Guard.

A Campaign Plan for the South China Sea,” by Captain Joshua Taylor, U.S. Navy advocates for persistent low-end presence.

A South China Sea campaign that translates these principles into action in a resource- and diplomatically constrained—but feasible and effective—manner should be organized around the following lines of effort and accompanying messages:

  • Beat Cop. Persistent low-end presence—“The United States has skin in the game.”
  • Neighborhood Watch. Build a regional coalition— “We are stronger together.”
  • Vigilance. Information sharing—“We are always watching.”

ln terms of information sharing, also mentioned was this Maritime Domain Awareness program that I was not aware of.

Since 2016, the United States has invested more than $425 million through the Maritime Security Initiative to help Indo-Pacific countries develop the ability to “sense, share, and contribute” to a regional recognized maritime picture (RMP). While some of these funds have purchased secure communication systems, the standout success story has been the U.S. Department of Transportation’s unclassified web-based SeaVision maritime domain awareness and coordination tool. Drawing on government and commercially contracted datastreams, SeaVision fuses information from terrestrial and satellite Automated Identification System data, the satellite Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, satellite synthetic aperture radar, and—soon—satellite electronic signal detection to form a high-quality unclassified RMP that could support a countercoercion campaign in the South China Sea. Indeed, naval services throughout Southeast Asia already use it—with the notable exception of the U.S. Navy.

(My own ideas for a persistent low-end presence are here, Combined Maritime Security Task Force Pacific.)

The Coast Guard’s Firefighting Fiction,” by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Phillip Null, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired) suggests the Coast Guard should take a more active role in marine fire fight.

“Recent tragedies have shown the need for the Coast Guard to revisit its stance on firefighting, not to supplant municipalities or absolve them of their responsibilities, but to support them with real capabilities and expertise and to provide capability in unprotected waters to avert tragedy. The Coast Guard trains and equips its cutter crews to combat fires on board their own vessels, the success of which was recently demonstrated on board the cutter Waesche (WMSL-751) during a Pacific transit.8 Now it needs only to increase the capacity and foam-delivery capability of the pumps carried on its boats, expand the training and equipment available to its boat crews who operate in coastal regions where fire poses the greatest threat, and revise policies that limit involvement and inhibit on-scene decision-making even in unprotected waters.

While on the topic of maritime firefighting, take a look at this post by Cdr Sal, “How Many Fireboats Can You Buy for $1.2 Billion?” that discusses the Navy’s lack of fireboats. In so many cases, a less than optimal resourse on scene in a timely manner is far better that the perfect resource arriving late. Perhaps Coast Guard assets could have helped.

Some people in the Coast Guard are thinking about major ship fires, “Coast Guard, Long Beach and LA fire departments train for maritime fires.

Polar Security Cutters and Coast Guard ASW

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,

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.

The crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Midgett (WMSL 757) and Kimball (WMSL 756) transit past Koko Head on Oahu, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2019. The Kimball and Midgett are both homeported in Honolulu and two of the newest Coast Guard cutters to join the fleet. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)


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.

OPC “Placemat”

“Russian navy will create an Arctic group of tanker ships of Project 23130” –NavyRecognition

Project 23130 is a series of medium-size replenishment oilers developed by the Spetssudoproect JSC and built by Nevsky Shipyard for the Russian Navy. (Picture source Nurlan Aliyev Twitter account)

NavyRecognition reports that the Russian Navy is building a fleet of six ice-capable underway replenishment tankers. The ships are relatively small,

“Project 23130 tanker has a displacement of 9 thousand tons. It is 130 meters long and 21 meters wide. The maximum speed is 16 knots. The autonomous navigation can last two months. The maximum range is 8 thousand nautical miles. The tanker can operate in 0.8-meter thick Arctic ice.”

But on the other hand the US Navy has nothing comparable.

The article also seems to point to a serious shortage of underway replenishment vessels in the Russian Navy.

New Zealand Adds One of a Kind Ice Class Underway Replenishment Vessel

HMNZS Aotearoa Logistics Support Vessel

Naval News reports that the New Zealand Navy has commissioned what I believe is a one of a kind vessel, a Polar class underway replenishment vessel, HMNZS Aotearoa (not that it is an icebreaker, no icebreaking bow).

There is an excellent description of this ship here.

(Anyone know if the Polar Security cutters can do underway replenishment?)

Unlike US Navy replenishment ships, this will be armed and have a military crew.

I doubt the ice-strengthening and winterization really cost a whole lot. With the Arctic opening up, maybe the Navy should be thinking about something like this.

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.

PROCUREMENT, CONSTRUCTION, AND IMPROVEMENTS (PC&I) $2,248.26M

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

Aircraft

  • 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.

Kites for Energy Savings and Maritime Domain Awareness

gCaptain is reporting that, since 2012, the Irish Naval Service has been experimenting with using kite sails to give their ships a fuel saving boost and to hoist aloft surveillance equipment up to 300 meters (1000 feet) into the air.  They now consider the technology mature enough to be commercialized.

Putting sensors at 1000 feet gives a horizon distance of 38.7 miles compared with 8.7 miles for a more typical height of 50 feet.

The Irish Naval Service, their missions, and their ships look more like the US Coast Guard than the US Navy. This technology might have applications for the Coast Guard. Perhaps it is worth a look by the Research and Development Center.

It looks like the Navy may be working on something that looks similar, TALONS, but is only intended to hoist sensors, not improve fuel economy.

“The Sea Based Logistics Response to the Haiti Earthquake”–Thinkdefence


The day following the Haitian Earthquake, Commandant, Adm. Thad Allen discusses the Coast Guard Response.

British Blog, Thinkdefence, has an interesting and very detailed examination of the response to the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti. There seems to be an omission of the 270s role as first US ships on scene, but it is really focused on the delivery of relief supplies. The blogger has a recognized fascination with containers that is almost a running gag, so don’t be surprised if there is a lot of talk about containers.

It is a great primer for disaster response planning.