“USCG’s Polar Security Cutters to Receive Mark 38 Mod 4 Guns” –Naval News

Naval News reports that the Polar Security Cutters will be armed with the new 30mm Mk38 Mod4 rather than the familiar 25mm Mk38 Mod2/3 which currently arms Webber class Fast Response Cutters.

There were a couple of additional pieces of information as well.

  • Other Coast Guard vessels will also get the Mod4.
  • There are no plans to replace existing 25mm mounts with the 30mm Mod4.

The answer on the Polar Security Cutters is probably definitive because it is still three years in the future. Presumably the Navy will use up the 25mm mounts they have already purchased before installing the Mod4. The Offshore Patrol Cutter program extends so far into the future, it is likely most of them will receive the 30mm.

I would argue, vessels for which the Mk38 is the primary armament, particularly if they have only one, should receive a higher priority for the more capable Mod4 since we know the 30mm is more effective than the 25mm, and these vessels have no more powerful alternative weapon they could employ. It appears the WMEC270 that are going through the service life extension program fall in this category.

As for upgrading existing installations, there is a strong case to be made for upgrading the PATFORSWA Webber class WPCs. The 30mm offers options that are not available for the 25mm including an airburst round that can be used against UAVs and a swimmer round that is particularly effective against swarming fast inshore attack craft, both significant threats in the Persian Gulf.

The post also refers to the possibility of mounting missiles on the mount. That possibility was discussed in more detail here. I would like to see all the 25mm guns replaced by the 30mm, but if the earlier Mk38 Mod2/3 mounts were modified to mount APKWS guided rockets or Hellfire and its successor, there would be less need for the larger caliber gun.

“2021 Naval Engineering Awards Recipients Announced” –My CG

Coast Guard Cutters Emlen Tunnell and Glen Harris are moored pierside in Beirut, Lebanon, Jan. 31, 2022. The two fast response cutters are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region. U.S. Army photo by Cpl. DeAndre Dawkins.

MyCG announced special recognition of significant Naval Engineering accomplishments in the form of awards. I would like to point out one element, in one award statement, because it is the only official statement, I have seen so far regarding upgrades to the Webber class cutters that are assigned to Patrol Forces SW Asia.

“CAPTAIN RICHARD D. POORE AWARD…Mr. Michael Parrish, Deputy Product Line Manager, Surface Forces Logistics Center (SFLC) Patrol Boat Product Line (PBPL)…He used innovative financial methods to procure $4.7 million in warfighting packages to outfit six PATFORSWA cutters to help protect the U.S. Fifth Fleet.”

Three PATFORSWA Island Class Cutters Decommissioned

This from Chris Cavas on Twitter. More photos there.

Three hard-working 110-foot US #Coast Guard cutters were decommissioned 22 March in a ceremony at Manama, #Bahrain. Cutters MAUI WPB1304, MONOMOY WPB1326 & WRANGELL WPB1332 served in the Persian Gulf since 2004, will now be available for foreign transfer.

USCGC Adak was previously decommissioned and sold to Indonesia. Likely these little ships will continue to provide useful service.

They are being replaced in Bahrain by larger and more capable Webber class Fast Response Cutters. It appears the newly arrived cutters are equipped to counter Unmanned Systems.

Thanks to Walter for bringing this to my attention. 

Thetis Escorts FRCs Transatlantic

USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910) is moored behind USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) and USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) in Mindelo, Cabo Verde, on Dec. 29, 2021. Mindelo served as the cutters’ first stop after crossing the Atlantic Ocean before continuing the escort of the fast response cutters to the Mediterranean en route to their new homeport of Manama, Bahrain. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower)

Below is a press release regarding USCGC Thetis’ escort of Fast Response Cutters Emlen Tunnell and Glen Harris across the Atlantic, enroute Bahrain, where they will become part of the PATFORSWA. Contrary to the title on the release, this was not a counter-narcotics deployment. Appropriately enough, they did have a SAR case enroute.

There are some notable differences between this transit and the previous one. The previous escort by Hamilton, apparently made a more northerly transit and Hamilton and the FRCs parted company in the Mediterranean. Hamilton made several port calls in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

This transit, perhaps to avoid the North Atlantic in Winter, actually crossed the equator, replenishing in Fortaleza, Brazil Dec. 22/23. They apparently stayed only one day, and then sailed NE to Mindelo, Cape Verde arriving Dec. 29, 2021. They were, unfortunately, underway over Christmas. Fortaleza to Mindelo is only 1477 nautical miles, one of the shortest ways to cross the Atlantic. The FRCs should have been able to make the crossing with ample fuel reserves, without refueling from Thetis.

There is no mention of Thetis entering the Mediterranean or doing any “capacity building” anywhere other than Mindelo. Their SAR case was Jan. 4.

Thetis’ odyssey started in Key West Nov. 18 and ended Jan. 26, 2022.

I expect we will hear about the arrival of the two WPCs in Bahrain very soon.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jared Phillips speaks with Lt. Mary Mills on the bridge of USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910) in the port of Fortaleza, Brazil, on Dec. 23, 2021. Phillips served as the navigation evaluator while leaving the port and communicated with the cutter’s combat information center through a sound-powered phone. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower)

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

USCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deployment

USCGC Thetis fast response cutter escortUSCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deploymentUSCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deployment

USCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deploymentUSCGC Thetis in BrazilU.S. Coast Guard, partners conduct joint rescue of migrants in Atlantic

Editors’ Note: To view more or download high-resolution imagery, click on the photos above.

KEY WEST, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis’s crew (WMEC 910) returned to homeport in Key West on Wednesday, after a 68-day transit escorting the Coast Guard Cutters Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) and Glen Harris (WPC 1144) across the North Atlantic en route to their new homeport in Manama, Bahrain.

Thetis’ crew worked alongside NATO Allies and interagency partners in the region while transiting in the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.

During the patrol, Thetis’s crew received a report from Spain’s Las Palmas Rescue Coordination Center of two overloaded migrant rafts taking on water. Thetis, Glen Harris and Emlen Tunnell crews worked together to rescue 103 migrants from overloaded and unseaworthy vessels and recovered two deceased migrants. The rescued individuals were provided food and medical care prior to being transferred to a Royal Moroccan Navy frigate.

“While escorting two new cutters across the Atlantic, we responded to a distress call and quickly transitioned to our service’s core mission of search and rescue,” said Cmdr. Justin Nadolny, the commanding officer of Thetis. “Working alongside a Moroccan ship, we were able to rapidly respond to those in distress. The case reinforced the importance of joint operations and reaffirmed the U.S. Coast Guard’s presence in the region to ensure the safety of life at sea. I am exceedingly proud of our professional and highly capable team. The crew of all three ships showed remarkable vigilance and adaptability. This case highlighted the Coast Guard’s ability to operate worldwide to protect and save those in distress on the ocean, along with our ability to work seamlessly with international partners to accomplish a shared mission.”

Thetis’ crew strengthened international partnerships in various ports, hosting military and Coast Guard leaders in Fortaleza, Brazil and Mindelo, Cape Verde. Thetis’s crew also embarked a Cape Verdean Coast Guard officer aboard for two weeks. The professional exchange was mutually beneficial, providing U.S. Coast Guard members with a deeper understanding of maritime activity in the region while passing on valuable lessons to our foreign allies.

Prior to departing Cape Verde, U.S. Ambassador Jeff Daigle visited Thetis. The ambassador’s visit showcased the importance of the maritime partnership between the U.S. and Cape Verde while demonstrating the commitment to the shared goal of global maritime security and stability on the African continent.

Thetis deployed with a MH-65 helicopter and aircrews from Air Station Miami and Houston to increase their capabilities. The aviation detachment and cutter crew worked together to conduct day and night flight operations and practice rescue hoists.

Thetis is the first 270-foot medium endurance cutter to escort fast response cutters across the Atlantic in support of the Coast Guard’s Patrol Forces Southwest Asia mission. These cutters are the third and fourth to be deployed to the region, with the final two scheduled to be delivered to Bahrain in the spring of 2022.

Thetis is a 270-foot Famous-class cutter homeported in Key West with a crew of 104. Its primary missions are counter-drug operations, migrant interdiction, enforcing federal fishery laws and search and rescue in support of U.S. Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Coyote Counter UAS

The Drive reports on tests of the Coyote Block 2 counter to Unmanned Air Systems (cUAS). This is apparently derived from the earlier Coyote Block 1 system. I may be guessing, but I presume they use the same controls and the Block 2’s launcher would be backwardly compatible.

These are specs for the earlier Block 1 as reported in Wikipedia:

  • Airspeed: 55 knots (102 km/h) cruise, 70 knots (130 km/h) kts dash
  • Deployment altitude (air launch): up to 30,000 feet (9,100 m) MSL (in non-icing conditions)
  • Comms range: 50 nautical miles (93 km) (May 2016); 70 nautical miles (130 km) (ground test October 2016)
  • Endurance: 1 hr+ @ cruise (May 2016); 2h (2017)
  • Weight: 13 pounds (5.9 kg)
  • Length: 36 inches (0.91 m) [20]
  • Wingspan: 58 inches (1.5 m)

The Block 2 appears to be similar in length and probably in weight, but it is a very different kind of loitering munition since it is jet powered.  Reportedly it is four times faster than the propeller driven Block 1 meaning capable of at least 220 knots and perhaps as much as 280 knots. The block 2 is also claimed to have a longer loiter time and to be more maneuverable. There is also a block 3 version.

“Raytheon announced in August 2021 that a demonstration of the Block 3 in an air intercept test had used a non-kinetic warhead to defeat a swarm of 10 drones. This type of payload reduces potential collateral damage and enables the variant to be recovered and reused.”

The Coyote Block 2 is not a possible future system, it has already been cleared for foreign military sales and,

“According to the company, Raytheon expects to achieve full-rate production of Coyote Block 2 in 2020.”

Iranians and their proxies appear to be stepping up the use of UAS. Breaking Defense reports,

“What is different… is a dramatic uptick in the UAV activity in the region, both in terms of their capability, their profiles, and the density of activity,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper said.

The July 2021 fatal UAS attack on the M/V Mercer Street provides ample evidence that defenses like the Coyote Block 2 are needed to protect shipping in the 5th Fleet Operating Area.

Having seen the upgrades to the Webber class FRCs going to PATFORSWA, it may be that they are being fitted with essentially the same systems as the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System. If that is the case, they may be equipped with the Coyote counter UAS system.

I also have to wonder if such a system could provide a close in weapon system to intercept at least sub-sonic cruise missiles. As a self-defense system, it would not have to be as fast as the incoming missile, it would just have to affect an intercept at some distance from the targeted ship.

Presumably these might also be useful against swarming fast attack craft.

“BOLLINGER SHIPYARDS DELIVERS FINAL BAHRAIN-BOUND FAST RESPONSE CUTTER TO U.S. COAST GUARD” –News Release

USCGC CLARENCE SUTPHIN (WPC 1147) is the sixth and final Webber class FRC planned for assignment to PATFORSWA, Manama, Bahrain.

Below is a news release from Bollinger Shipyards, 


LOCKPORT, La., — January 6, 2021 – Bollinger Shipyards LLC (“Bollinger”) has delivered the USCGC CLARENCE SUTPHIN to the U.S. Coast Guard in Key West, Florida. This is the 170th vessel Bollinger has delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard over a 35-year period and the 47th Fast Response Cutter (“FRC”) delivered under the current program.

The USCGC CLARENCE SUTPHIN is the final of six FRCs to be home-ported in Manama, Bahrain, which will replace the aging 110’ Island Class Patrol Boats, built by Bollinger Shipyards 30 years ago, supporting the Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest overseas presence outside the United States.

“Ensuring that the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard have the most state-of-the-art, advanced vessels as they work to build and maintain the necessary regional alliances to ensure maritime security in the region is a top priority,” said Bollinger President & C.E.O. Ben Bordelon. “Bollinger is proud to continue enhancing and supporting the U.S. Coast Guard’s operational presence in the Middle East and ensuring it remains the preferred partner around the world.”

Earlier this year at the commissioning ceremony of the USCGC CHARLES MOULTHROPE, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz lauded the “enhanced seakeeping” capabilities of the PATFORSWA-bound FRCs, saying “these ships are truly going to be game changing in their new theater of operations” and “offer increased opportunities for integrated joint operations with our Navy and Marine Corps colleagues” as the Coast Guard seeks to be part of the whole-of-government solution set in the region.

PATFORSWA is composed of six cutters, shoreside support personnel, and the Maritime Engagement Team. The unit’s mission is to train, organize, equip, support and deploy combat-ready Coast Guard Forces in support of U.S. Central Command and national security objectives. PATFORSWA works with Naval Forces Central Command in furthering their goals to conduct persistent maritime operations to forward U.S. interests, deter and counter disruptive countries, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to promote a secure maritime environment.

Each FRC is named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished themselves in the line of duty. Clarence Sutphin, Boatswain Mate First Class, USCG, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his courageous actions during the invasion of Saipan Island in 1944. His citation reads: “For heroic achievement in action against enemy Japanese forces during the invasion of Saipan, Marianas Islands, on June 15 and 16, 1944.  Swimming with a line through heavy surf to a tank lighter stranded on a reef, SUTPHIN remained aboard under mortar and artillery fire until the boat was salvaged.  Returning to the beach, he aided in salvaging another tank lighter under enemy fire and, when a mortar shell struck a group of eight Marines, promptly treated the wounded and moved them to a first aid station.  His courage and grave concern for the safety of others reflects the highest credit upon SUTPHIN and the United States Naval Service.”

About the Fast Response Cutter Platform

The FRC is an operational “game changer,” according to senior Coast Guard officials. FRCs are consistently being deployed in support of the full range of missions within the United States Coast Guard and other branches of our armed services.  This is due to its exceptional performance, expanded operational reach and capabilities, and ability to transform and adapt to the mission. FRCs have conducted operations as far as the Marshall Islands—a 4,400 nautical mile trip from their homeport. Measuring in at 154-feet, FRCs have a flank speed of 28 knots, state of the art C4ISR suite (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), and stern launch and recovery ramp for a 26-foot, over-the-horizon interceptor cutter boat.

About Bollinger Shipyards LLC

Bollinger Shipyards LLC (www.bollingershipyards.com) has a 75-year legacy as a leading designer and builder of high performance military patrol boats and salvage vessels, research vessels, ocean-going double hull barges, offshore oil field support vessels, tugboats, rigs, lift boats, inland waterways push boats, barges, and other steel and aluminum products from its new construction shipyards as part of the U. S. maritime defense industrial base. Bollinger has 11 shipyards, all strategically located throughout Louisiana with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River and the Intracoastal Waterway. Bollinger is the largest vessel repair company in the Gulf of Mexico region.

“Iran Boosts IRCG Navy’s Swarm Attack Capabilities” –Naval News

110 speed boats entered service with the IRGC Navy (IRIB News picture)

Naval News reports,

According to the Iranian news outlet IRIB News, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy received 110 indigenously made combat speedboats on December 11 during a ceremony in Bandar Abbas….

“This is the seventh delivery of such vessels. Their speed has climbed from 55 knots to 75 and 90 knots, with the next stage reaching 110 knots. The boats are equipped with missiles and rockets and are capable of operating efficiently under the IRGC’s indigenous radar network.”

It’s not impossible the Iranians are employing deception tactics and may be redelivering boats seen in previous delivery media events, but there is little doubt, they do have a lot of fast attack craft, making the Coast Guard’s PATFORSWA operating area a rough neighborhood. (More here, here, here, here, and here.)

Considering if PATFORSWA is ever in a fight with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp Navy, the cutters will probably be protecting tankers or Navy high value units. In that case, frankly I think most of the smaller craft are intended as a diversion, the primary threats are the missile and torpedo equipped boats that will screened by a cloud of smaller boats. Still machineguns and rockets mounted on small boats could damage the cutters.

If you want to consider if we can deal with the Iranian tactics, you might want to look at this earlier post, Guns vs the Swarm.

“Video Shows U.S. Destroyer’s Very Intimate Standoff With Iranian Vessels Over Seized Oil Tanker” –Cutter there too

The Drive–War Zone has a post about an incident that reportedly occurred on October 24. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp seized a Vietnamese flagged tanker in the Gulf of Oman and escorted it into an Iranian port.

The Iranian claim is that the tanker was carrying oil from a tanker the US had seized and they only boarded the vessel to protect it, and their oil, from being seized by the US.

Three short videos, published by the Iranians, accompany the post. The third clearly shows a Webber class cutter in the vicinity of the tanker.

In viewing the videos, I would note that, when the tanker is seized, no US assets are visible in the vicinity. The initial boarding is by troops with weapons at the ready, landed by helicopter–not normally the sort of boarding that would be used if their presence was welcomed. When additional Iranian personnel board by boat, again no US assets are visible in the area.

The videos only prove that at some point during the transit from the time of the seizure to the Iranian port, two US destroyers and the cutter closed with the tanker and its Iranian escort.

Hopefully the tanker and crew will be released in the near future. It will be interesting to hear their perspective on what occurred.

Task Force 59 Unmanned Surface Vessels Operate With PATFORSWA Cutter

US Navy TF59 Integrates MANTAS USV with Patrol Vessels

Two MANTAS T-12 unmanned surface vessels (USV), front, operate alongside U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat USCGC Maui (WPB 1304) during exercise New Horizon in the Arabian Gulf, Oct. 26. Exercise New Horizon was U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Task Force 59’s first at-sea evolution since its establishment Sept. 9. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dawson Roth)

Naval News reports an exercise conducted by Task Force 59, Fifth Fleet’s Unmanned systems development group. As I thought they might, they have been working with Coast Guard Patrol Force South West Asia (PATFORSWA) as well as Navy Cyclone class and allied navies.

Coast Guard Commissions USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC-1145)

USCGC Emlen Tunnell in Key West, Florida.

Port News reports the commissioning of the 45th Webber class WPC. The commissioning was widely reported, but I found it interesting that a Russian news outlet would take note, including reporting on Tunnell’s football career. Other report here, here, and here.

Later this year, USCGC Emlen Tunnell will join her sister-ship USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) and voyage to Bahrain as the second of three pairs of FRCs to replace the Island class cutter of Patrol Force South West Asia (PATFOSWA). Like the previous transit, the pair are likely to take the opportunity to conduct some training and joint operations along the way. Presumably there will also be a National Security Cutter along to provide support and also show the flag, conduct exercises, and build capacity.