“Media Advisory: Coast Guard cutter to return home following 97-day multi-mission Arctic deployment” –PACAREA

U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Stratton (WMSL 752) and Kimball (WMSL 756) steam in formation while patrolling the U.S.-Russian Maritime Boundary Line (MBL), in the Bering Sea, Sept. 26, 2022. This marked the first time two national security cutters jointly patrolled the MBL above the Arctic Circle. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo).

This isn’t like the Alaska Patrols I went on, which concentrated on the Aleutians/Bering Sea and never went much North of the Arctic Circle. This patrol went across the top of Alaska and apparently, this is getting to be more common.

Media Advisory

Nov. 22, 2022
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

Media Advisory: Coast Guard cutter to return home following 97-day multi-mission Arctic deployment

Coast Guard cutter returns home following 97-day multi-mission Arctic deployment

USCGC Stratton conducts operations offshore Little Diomede, Alaska Coast Guard cutter returns home following 97-day multi-mission Arctic deployment USCGC Stratton conducts flight operations while underway in Arctic Ocean

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.

Who: U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) and crew

What: Return home from multi-mission Arctic deployment

When: Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022 at 9 a.m.

Where: Coast Guard Base Alameda, 1 Eagle Rd., Alameda, CA, 94501

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) and crew are scheduled to return to Alameda, Wednesday, following a 97-day multi-mission deployment to the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea.

The cutter and crew departed Alameda in August to project U.S. sovereignty throughout U.S. Arctic waters, provide search-and-rescue capabilities in the region, meet with Alaskan communities and conduct an Arctic search-and-rescue exercise with international partners.

Stratton operated along the length of the U.S.-Russian maritime boundary line (MBL) from the Diomede Islands to well above the Arctic Circle, while they patrolled within the U.S. Arctic zone. Stratton also patrolled the U.S.- Canadian MBL in the Beaufort Sea, providing Coast Guard presence in the distant regions of the Arctic.

“I’m extremely proud of this crew and all they have accomplished,” said Capt. Stephen Adler, Stratton’s commanding officer. “The U.S. Coast Guard provides the Nation’s most active and visible maritime presence in the high latitudes, and coordinates with our international partners through joint exercises and professional exchanges to maintain a safe and prosperous Arctic region. The Coast Guard remains ‘Always Ready’ to preserve and protect our northern shores and waters. As more ships and people move into the Arctic, the Coast Guard will be there to ensure safety of navigation and preserve our national sovereignty, as it always has. The crew has truly lived up to our ship’s motto of, ‘We Can’t Afford Not To’ throughout our patrol.”

Stratton is one of four 418-foot national security cutters (NSC) homeported in Alameda. National security cutters are capable of extended, worldwide deployment in support of homeland security and defense missions. These cutters and crews routinely conduct operations from South America to the Arctic, where the combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct vital strategic missions.

Media are encouraged to contact Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs at pacificareapublicaffairs@uscg.mil to arrange an escort on Base Alameda to attend the ship’s arrival. Adler and crew will be available for interviews following the ship’s arrival.

“US Coast Guard Legend class Hamilton visits Latvia amid tensions with Russia” –NavyRecognition

USCGC Hamilton and Ukraine CG on previous voyage.

Navy Recognition reports,

“According to information published by the US DoD on November 17, 2022, the Legend-class national security cutter (NSC) USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) arrived in Riga, Latvia for a port visit…Prior to arriving in Riga, Hamilton conducted multiple operations with allies and partners in the Baltic Sea, including a series of at-sea engagements with Swedish, Finnish, Estonian, and Lithuanian maritime and naval forces.”

“US Coast Guard Cutter James’ commanding officer permanently relieved” –LANTAREA

NSC 5 James on builders trials in the Gulf of Mexico March 30, 2015.

Some sad news, and, how badly was the James damaged?

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

US Coast Guard Cutter James’ commanding officer permanently relieved

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Capt. Marc Brandt was permanently relieved of duties as the commanding officer of USCGC James (WMSL 754), Monday.

Vice Adm. Kevin Lunday, commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area, effected the permanent relief due to a loss of confidence in Brandt’s ability to command the cutter. 

Brandt was temporarily relieved on Aug. 26, 2022, pending the results of an investigation into a mishap. The investigation found that on Aug. 8, 2022, James ran aground while underway causing damage to the cutter. No personnel were injured.

Capt. John Driscoll assumed temporary command of the cutter following Brandt’s relief and will remain in command until a permanent commanding officer is assigned.

Brandt has been temporarily assigned to Coast Guard Atlantic Area.

James is a Legend-class national security cutter (NSC) homeported in Charleston, South Carolina, with a crew of 148 personnel. NSCs are the Coast Guard’s most technologically-advanced cutters in the fleet.

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew visits Kaktovik, Alaska during Arctic patrol

The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton passes underneath San Francisco’s Bay Bridge as Stratton and the crew depart on a months-long deployment to the Western Pacific in support of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, June 12, 2019. Operating under the tactical control of the U.S. 7th Fleet commander, Stratton and crew are scheduled to engage in professional exchanges and capacity-building exercises with partner nations in the Western Pacific and to patrol and operate as directed. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

Below is a District 17 news release. This is a bit unusual, that a cutter–not an icebreaker, would be that far into the Arctic. This is about the time of minimum ice coverage in the Arctic. Read about Kaktovik, Alaska here.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska
Contact: alexander.j.mastel@uscg.mil

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew visits Kaktovik, Alaska during Arctic patrol

Members from Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visit Kaktovik, Alaska, Oct. 1, 2022, and participate in a question-and-answer session with approximately 45 community members, including roughly 30 children. Discussion centered on life in the Coast Guard, job opportunities within the organization, motivations for joining, as well as the Coast Guard’s role in the Arctic region. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton)

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.

KAKTOVIK, Alaska — Crew members from Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) met with key leaders October 1 in Alaska’s most northeastern tribal community, while on a patrol in the Arctic Ocean.

Members from Stratton visited Kaktovik, where they met with Mayor Flora Rexford. Stratton members also participated in a question-and-answer session with approximately 45 community members, including roughly 30 children. Discussion centered on life in the Coast Guard, job opportunities within the organization, motivations for joining, and the Coast Guard’s role in the Arctic region.

Community members offered samplings of muktuk and expressed interest in more Coast Guard engagement in the community, most notably in their schools.

“We are so fortunate to have had this opportunity,” said Lt. Augustus Manzi, combat systems officer aboard Stratton. “We were met with overwhelming generosity from the community. Tribal members spent time getting to know us better and educated us on their customs and way of life. It was an incredible experience.”

The Stratton team presented a plaque to the mayor, delivered hand-knitted blankets gifted by the Alameda Navy League, and offered personalized etched glasses, knit hats and ship memorabilia to community members and their children.

Kaktovik is on the northern edge of the Arctic National Wildlife refuge and home to approximately 300 year-round residents.

CGC Stratton is a 418-foot national security cutter (NSC) capable of extended, worldwide deployment in support of homeland security and defense missions. NSCs routinely conduct operations from South America to the Arctic, where their unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct vital strategic missions.

The AN/SPQ-9B X-band pulse-Doppler radar

The AN/SPQ-9B radar. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

Military Aerospace Electronics reports, “DRS Laurel to build missile-defense radar systems to protect Navy surface warships from anti-ship missiles”,

U.S. Navy missile-defense experts are asking the DRS Laurel Technologies segment of Leonardo DRS in Johnstown, Pa., to provide AN/SPQ-9B shipboard anti-ship missile defense (ASMD) radar systems to help protect U.S. Navy surface warships from enemy anti-ship missiles.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a $8.7 million order to DRS Laurel last month to build AN/SPQ-9B radar systems and support equipment.

Bertholf class NSCs mount the AN/SPQ-9B and I suspect this order may include the system for NSC#11. It is one of the things that has made them better equipped than the Littoral Combat Ships. I had been under the impression the AN/SPQ-9B was a fire control radar, it is associated with weapon systems, but reading the description I decided to look for a better information and found the Navy’s description here.

Description
The AN/SPQ-9B is an X-Band, pulse Doppler, frequency agile radar which was designed specifically for the littoral environment. It has a very high clutter improvement factor supporting a very low false track rate in the littorals and in high clutter environments.

The AN/SPQ-9B scans out to the horizon and performs simultaneous and automatic air and surface target detection and tracking of low flying Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs), surface threats and low/slow flying aircraft, UAVs and helicopters.

It now almost 30 years old, but is apparently still being upgraded and put on new construction.

The radar is installed on CVN-68, LPD-17, CG-47, WMSL-750, LHD-1 and LHA-6 ship classes. The radar is also to be installed on DDG-51 class, DDG 39, 41, 42 (AUS), DDG AMOD, CG MOD (CG 63 and follows). CVN-68, DDG-51, LPD-17, CG-47, LHD-1, LHA-6 ship classes will receive PDD (periscope detection and discrimination–Chuck) Upgrade.

I have seen nothing to indicate the OPCs will have this system.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Midgett (WMSL 757) sits anchored near Malé, Maldives, on Sept. 24, 2022. The cutter spent several days in the Maldives for a port-call. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier)

In the photos, the AN/SPQ-9B is visible on the forward side of the mast near the top. The multimode radar, the Hensoldt TRS-3D (AN/SPS-75) is higher and on the aft side of the mast. The multimode radar is used for helicopter control, so it needs to look aft.

US Coast Guard cutter Munro transits the Taiwan Strait with US Navy destroyer USS Kidd in August. US Navy

“Coast Guard Cutter Midgett arrives in the Western Pacific” –PacArea

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 30, 2022) U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class cutter USCGC Midgett (WMSL 757) transits the Pacific Ocean during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, three submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Taylor Bacon)

Only weeks after having completed participation in RIMPAC2022, Honolulu based USCGC Midgett begins a “months-long” deployment in the Western Pacific.

News Release

August 31, 2022
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

Coast Guard Cutter Midgett arrives in the Western Pacific

VIDEO: Coast Guard Cutter Midgett arrives in the Western Pacific

Coast Guard Cutter Midgett arrives in Manila, Philippines Coast Guard Cutter Midgett arrives in Manila, Philippines Coast Guard Cutter Midgett arrives in Manila, Philippines
Coast Guard Cutter Midgett arrives in Manila, Philippines Coast Guard Cutter Midgett arrives in Manila, Philippines Coast Guard Cutter Midgett arrives in Manila, Philippines

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.

MANILA, Philippines – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Midgett (WMSL 757) arrived in Manila Tuesday for its first international port call during the crew’s months-long Western Pacific deployment to the region.

Midgett’s crew will conduct professional exchanges and operate with the Philippine Coast Guard as part of an at-sea search-and-rescue exercise while in Manila, building upon the strong partnership between the two nations.

Midgett is operating in support of United States Indo-Pacific Command, which oversees military operations in the region.

Operating under the tactical control of Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, the cutter’s crew plans to engage in professional and subject matter expert exchanges with regional partners and allies and will patrol and operate as directed during their Western Pacific deployment.

The Coast Guard provides expertise within the mission sets of search and rescue; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; maritime environmental response; maritime security; maritime domain awareness; aviation operations; interoperability; and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

As both a federal law enforcement agency and a branch of the armed forces, the Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to conduct non-escalatory defense operations and security cooperation in support of combatant commanders on all seven continents. The service routinely provides forces in joint military operations worldwide, including the deployment of cutters, boats, aircraft and deployable specialized forces.

“Engaging with our Philippine Coast Guard partners is truly an honor,” said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Willie Carmichael, commanding officer of the Midgett. “Together we will continue to build strong relationships and learn from each other. Our deep-rooted partnership will combine the best of both our Coast Guards and the planned search-and-rescue exercise and professional exchanges are a great opportunity for us keep the Indo-Pacific region open and free.”

The U.S. Coast Guard has a 150-year enduring role in the Indo-Pacific. The service’s ongoing deployment of resources to the region directly supports U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives in the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the National Security Strategy.

Since 2019, the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750), Stratton (WMSL 751), Waesche (WMSL 751) and Munro (WMSL 755) have deployed to the Western Pacific.

Commissioned in 2019, Midgett is one of two Coast Guard legend-class national security cutters homeported in Honolulu. National security cutters are 418-feet long, 54-feet wide, and have a 4,600 long-ton displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can hold a crew of up to 170.

Midgett is the second cutter named after Rear Admiral John Midgett, whose family has a long legacy in the Coast Guard and our services precursor – the U.S. Life Saving Service.

National security cutters feature advanced command and control capabilities, aviation support facilities, stern cutter boat launch and increased endurance for long-range patrols to disrupt threats to national security further offshore.

Why Did USCGC Midgett Embark an ASW Helicopter For RIMPAC 2022?

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 30, 2022) U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Humberto Alba, a naval aircrewman tactical-helicopter, attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, deployed on U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class cutter USCGC Midgett (WMSL 757), looks down at a USCGC crewmember after taking off during flight operations during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Taylor Bacon)

The Drive reported on Cutter Midgett’s participation in RIMPAC 2022 with a look at flying Navy MH-60R ASW helicopters from the National Security Cutters. I wanted to talk about why this might have been done, but first let’s clarify something.

This and other reports may have left the impression that a Coast Guard Officer leading a task force at RIMPAC was a first and that it was the first time a Navy H-60 had flown from an NSC. Neither is not really the case.

  • During RIMPAC 2020, USCGC Munro embarked a Navy MH-60S, the surface warfare and logistics counterpart to the MH-60R. It is not clear if they ever hangared it.
  • Reportedly USCGC Bertholf headed a Task Force during RIMPAC2018.
  • In RIMPAC 2014 USCGC Waesche also headed a task force. “The maritime interdiction operation involving the Chinese destroyer, frigate and oiler was referenced in December by the Navy as being under the Coast Guard cutter Waesche and including two Royal Brunei Navy ships, a French frigate, a U.S. frigate and the Pearl Harbor-based cruiser USS Port Royal.”

Since NSCs are skippered by Captains, while the US Navy and our allies captain Burke class DDGs and similar ships with commanders, it is not uncommon for the Coast Guard commanding officer to be the senior officer among the captains of a group ships, if there is no commodore assigned. So, frequently, the Coast Guard CO is task force commander by default. This happened to 327 skippers early in WWII as well. For a period, Spencer’s CO was an escort group commander until the Navy assigned a Commodore. Fortunately Spencer got some good training allowing her to sink two of the less than 40 U-boats sunk by US surface ships.

So what was the reason an ASW helicopter was embarked on Midgett? The Coast Guard’s motivation and the Navy’s?

Could be as simple as because they could, but I don’t think so. Both services expected to get something out of this.

Interoperability is always nice, so Navy helo on CG cutter allows both to get some training. Still think there must be more to it than that.

The Navy wants to more widely distribute their forces so this might have been something of a dry run to see what they could do in terms of command and control from a Frigate sized ship and crew.

For the Coast Guard, it could have been an opportunity to get used to operating an H-60 with folding tail from a Bertholf class. It was certainly a rare opportunity to exercise LINK 16. We might have wanted to find out if a system included in the MH-60R should also be included in Coast Guard H-60s.

Or it might have been a first small step toward reviving a Coast Guard ASW mission. Unless the National Security Cutters could operate an ASW helicopter there would be no point in trying to add an additional ASW capability such as a towed array. Confirming ship/helo compatibility would be a first step, along with identifying what changes might be necessary to provide for the helicopters’ additonal needs for weapons, sonobuoys, etc.

Maybe Supporting MH-60R helicopters is reason enough

The US Navy has alot of H-60s. The numbers I have seen are 237 MH-60S (the surface warfare and logistics type) and 291 MH-60Rs (the multi-mission/ASW type). It is probably a bit less than that now, but about 500 plus the MQ-8 helicopter drones that they will also want to take to sea.

The Navy obviously does not have as many ships capable of hosting H-60s as they would like. Every US Navy surface combatant commissioned in the 21st century (DDG and LCS–there have been no cruisers or frigates) has had the capability to hangar two H-60s, and the planned FFGs will have this capability as well.

Navy requirements seem to be always changing,

  • The proposed 355 ship navy included 104 large surface combatants (cruisers and destroyers) plus 52 small surface combatants (frigates and LCS).
  • The latest from July 2022 calls for 96 large and 56 small.

Let’s say a minimum of 116 ASW capable escorts, probably about 120. Right now they have about 90 with no ASW capable LCS, 22 cruisers all now 22 to 36 years old (five of which are slated for retirement in the current budget), and about 70 Burke class DDGs of which 13 will reach 30 years old by the end of 2025 while the first FFG is not expected until 2026. Clearly the number is ASW capable escorts is unlikely to increase significantly any time soon and number may actually decline.

So how many MH-80R/MQ-8 spots are there?

The ten carriers typically host about six MH-60R. The cruisers and Burke class flight IIA and III have two each, but 28 of the Burke class DDGs (Flights I and II), almost a third of our large surface combatants, have flight decks and LAMPS ASW electronics, but no hangar. So roughly 72 ships with 204 spots. Eleven National Security Cutters would provide 22 additional spots, about a 11% increase. The Offshore Patrol Cutters protentially offer another 25 spots about 12% more.

With the Navy hoping to more widely distribute their surface combatants, rather than keeping them firmly attached to a carrier, a couple of additional MH-60Rs could substantially improve ASW capabilities of a small surface action group (SAG).

 

 

 

Major Cutter Homeports

“Coast Guard Cutter Forward and Coast Guard Cutter Bear, homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia, finish an at-sea transfer while underway on a two-month patrol. Coast Guard Cutter Forward returned to homeport on April 10, 2021.” (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Recently I had to look up homeports of WMECs. I found that there did not seem to be a single comprehensive up to date list. Seemed it might be useful to share the list. I have added the Bertholf class and what we know about the basing of the Offshore Patrol Cutters as well. These are not district assets, but I found it convenient to group them by homeport district. The numbers in parenthesis are the hull numbers. First some observations.

OBSERVATIONS:

The intent is to split the Bertholf class, almost evenly between the Atlantic and Pacific Areas: five (45%) to LANTAREA and six (55%) to PACAREA.

The vast majority of medium endurance cutters are assigned to LANTAREA. All 100% of the 270s and 24 (86%) of 28 total.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the US EEZ and territorial sea (84%) falls under the Pacific Area Commander, the vast majority of large patrol cutters are based in the Atlantic Area. This is, at least in part, due to the Alien Migrant and Drug interdiction missions. It is counter intuitive, but Charleston, SC is closer to the Eastern Pacific Drug transit zones than San Diego, CA.

Once the first four OPCs reach their bases in San Pedro and Kodiak, the Pacific Area will once again have ten “high endurance cutters,” as they did before recapitalization began.

WHO BUILT THEM?:

The entire Bertholf class has been built by Huntington Ingalls of Pascagoula, MS. The lead ship was laid down in 2005 and commssioned in August 2008. The tenth is expected to be delivered 2023. The eleventh, maybe 2024.

The Bear class WMEC270s were built by two different builders. The first four ships (901-904) were built by Tacoma Boatbuilding, Tacoma, WA, with Bear laid down in August, 1979 and the last of the four commissioned in December, 1984. The remaining nine were built by Derecktor Shipbuilding, Middleton, RI. The first of these laid down June, 1982, and the last of the nine completed in March 1990.

The 16 Reliance class WMEC210s were built by four different builders, with the first laid down in May 1963 and the last commissioned August 1969, less than six years and three months later.

  • The first three, 615-617, were built by Todd Shipyards, Houston, TX.
  • The fourth, 618, by Christy Corp., Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
  • Five, 619, 620, and 628-630, were built at the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, MD.
  • Seven, 621-627, were built by American Shipbuilding, Lorain, OH.

WMEC 622 and 628 have since been transferred to Sri Lanka and Colombia respectively. All underwent a major maintenance availability at the Coast Guard Yard between 1984 and 1998.

THE FORCE LAYDOWN:

FIRST DISTRICT: 2 WMEC270s

  • US Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, Kittery, ME: two WMEC270s: Tahoma (908), Campbell (909)

FIFTH DISTRICT: 9 WMEC270s, 2 WMEC210s

  • Portsmouth, VA: 9 WMEC270s: Bear (901), Escanaba (907), Forward (911), Harriet Lane (903, currently in SLEP at CG Yard), Legare (912), Northland (904), Seneca (906) , Spencer (905), Tampa (902)
  • Virginia Beach, VA: WMEC210s: Dependable (626), Vigorous (627)

SEVENTH DISTRICT: 3 National Security Cutters (2 more under construction), 2 WMEC270s, 5 WMEC210s

  • Charleston, SC: 3 NSCs: Hamilton (753), James (754), Stone (758), (two more NSCs building: Calhoun (759), Friedman (760))
  • Naval Station Mayport: 1 WMEC210: Valiant (621)
  • Cape Canaveral: 2 WMEC210s: Confidence (619), Vigilant (617)
  • Key West: 2 WMEC270s: Mohawk (913), Thetis (910)
  • St. Petersburg: 2 WMEC210s: Resolute (620), Venturous (625)

EIGHTH DISTRICT: 4 WMEC210s

  • Pensacola: WMEC210s: Dauntless (624), Decisive (629), Diligence (616), Reliance (615)

ELEVENTH DISTRICT: 4 National Security Cutters

  • Alameda, CA: 4 NSCs: Bertholf (750), Waesche (751), Stratton (752), Munro (755)

THIRTEENTH DISTRICT: 3 WMEC210s

  • Astoria, OR: 2 WMEC210s: Alert (630), Steadfast (623)
  • Port Angeles, WA: 1 WMEC210: Active (618)

FOURTEENTH DISTRICT: 2 National Security Cutters

  • Honolulu, HI: 2 NSCs: Kimball (756), Midgett (757)

SEVENTEENTH DISTRICT

  • Kodiak, AK: 1 WMEC283: Alex Haley (WMEC-39)

OFFSHORE PATROL CUTTER HOMEPORTS

We have heard where the first six OPCs are expected to be homeported.

  • Argus (915) and Chase (916) will go to San Pedro, CA
  • Ingham (917) and Rush (918) will go to Kodiak, AK
  • Pickering (919) and Icarus (920) will go to Newport, RI

 

Mark Retiring Cruiser MK41 VLS and 5″/62 Mk45 Mod4s for Possible Future Installation on Cutters

151014-N-GR120-152
INDIAN OCEAN (Oct. 14, 2015) The guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) prepares to come along side for a fueling-at-sea with the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations as part of a worldwide deployment en route to their new home port in San Diego to complete a three-carrier homeport shift. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anna Van Nuys/Released)

If we ever have another major conventional naval war, as appears increasingly likely, the Navy is going to need a lot more ships, including a lot more missile shooters. Defense News reports the Navy is considering how to add additional capability. The Navy is even considering putting missiles on cargo ships. As Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA, Cdr. USN, ret.) pointed out, a number of cruisers equipped with MK41 VLS are being retired. The 22 remaining cruisers each have 122 Mk41 vertical launch cells as well as two 5″/62 Mk45 Mod4 guns.

Five of the cruisers have been approved for decommissioning in the 2022 budget. It is likely the remaining 17 will follow in the next few years.

I suggest that some of these VLS sets be stored and earmarked as mobilization assets for possible future installation on the National Security Cutters (NSC) should the need arise. Studies have shown that the NSCs could accept up to 16 Mk41 VLS. These VLS might be recycled to the new Constellation (FFG-62) class too, but since the planned 20 ships will only use 640 VLS, it would only require seven cruisers to donate enough VLS to arm both 20 FFG and 11 National Security Cutters.

It should not be too difficult to integrate the Mk41 VLS on the National Security Cutters since their combat systems use Aegis software.

Potential Mk41 VLS weapons load outs for tactical and strike length launchers.

In addition, it might be wise to earmark the cruisers 5″/62 Mk45/Mod4 guns for possible upgrades for both National Security and Offshore Patrol Cutters as well.

The Navy’s entire Naval Gun Fire Support (NGFS) capability is about 114 Mk45 5″ guns on 22 cruisers with two guns each and about 70 DDGs with only one gun. By the time the cruisers are gone, we may have perhaps 80 DDGs. That means the loss of about 30% of the current capability. Equipping the 36 NSCs and OPCs with 5″/62 Mod4 guns from the retiring cruisers could entirely replace the lost capability and importantly provide it in ships that are not likely to be deployed out of position to provide NGFS because they are needed elsewhere to provide AAW protection.

To ensure we can make these changes quickly when needed, it might be prudent to equip at least one ship of each class as a prototype for future upgrades. Upgrading one ship of each class would probably cost less than one FFG and would provide a template for future upgrades if necessary. The OPC prototype might attempt something like I described here.

Since this is preparation for war, the prototypes and storage of the weapons could come from the Navy’s budget.

 

New Generation Long Range Interceptor Boats for NSCs

U.S. Coast Guard long range interceptor (LRI) coming aboard into the notch at the stern of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750). 12 August 2009. U.S. Coast Guard Photo ID 090812-G-3421D_212_LRI, by PO2 Jetta H. Disco

It looks like the Coast Guard is preparing to procure their third generation Long Range Interceptors for the National Security Cutters. Marine Link reports,

“On March 2 the U.S. Coast Guard updated a pre-solicitation notice, originally from November 2021, regarding purchase of 15 Long Range interceptor cutter boats. These will become the 3rd generation cutters for the expanded National Security Cutter fleet. (Search SAM.gov, use ID 70Z02322R93250001.)

“The important change updates publication of the Request for Proposal (RFP). That document was expected in January or February. Now, the expected release is April or May 2022.”

The last contract for Long Range Interceptors I was aware of was reported in 2012 for eight boats.