“U.S. Coast Guard decommissions Bahrain-based USCGC Baranof” –LANTAREA

220926-A-EQ028-1234 MANAMA, Bahrain Seaman Alexander Moyes lowers the Union Jack aboard USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) during the ship’s decommissioning ceremony in Manama, Bahrain, Sept. 26, 2022. Baranof decommissioned after 34 years of service. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Frederick Poirier)

A bitter sweet day. End of an era. The last of six Island class cutters assigned to PATFORSWA is now decommissioned. The force has now been reequipped with six Webber class Fast Response Cutters.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

U.S. Coast Guard decommissions Bahrain-based USCGC Baranof

U.S. Coast Guardsmen conduct a decommissioning ceremony for USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) in Manama, Bahrain, Sept. 26, 2022.

ice Adm. Kevin E. Lunday, commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area, arrives at the decommissioning ceremony for USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) in Manama, Bahrain, Sept. 26, 2022. USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) is moored pierside in Manama, Bahrain, Sept. 26, 2022, prior to its decommissioning.

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

MANAMA, Bahrain — The USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) was decommissioned during a ceremony aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Monday.

Vice Adm. Kevin Lunday, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, presided over the ceremony.

“USCGC Baranof’s exemplary service to our nation is a testament to both the Island-class platform and the crews that have manned Baranof over the past 34 years,” said Lunday. “Whether it was conducting law enforcement and search and rescue in the Caribbean, or deploying to the present-day homeport of Bahrain to support U.S. Central Command, those that have manned Baranof have continually met the needs of America.”

Baranof was commissioned into service on May 20, 1988 at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach in Miami. The 18th of 49 Island-class patrol boats, Baranof received orders to the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002. Shortly after their arrival in Bahrain, Baranof’s crew was underway conducting maritime interdiction operations in the North Arabian Gulf.

Baranof was replaced by the USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147), which arrived at NSA Bahrain on Aug. 23, 2022. As part of the Coast Guard’s fast response cutter program, the service is acquiring 65 Sentinel-class fast response cutters, with six of those assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia.

PATFORSWA, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the United States, oversees the cutters in Bahrain. The ships are forward deployed to U.S. Fifth Fleet to help ensure maritime security and stability across the Middle East. The 154-foot long vessels feature advanced communications systems, and improved surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.

PATFORSWA, which is operationally attached to Fifth Fleet’s Commander Task Force 55, is composed of six FRCs, shoreside mission support personnel and a maritime engagement team. The unit plays a crucial role in maritime security, maritime infrastructure protection, and regional theater security cooperation. The unit also supports other U.S. Coast Guard deployable specialized forces operating throughout the Middle Eastern region.

“South Korea Unveils High-Speed Interceptor Craft – HSIC” –Naval News

Naval News reports,

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) developed a “high speed interceptor craft” (HSIC) dubbed “Phantom” capable of reaching a top speed of 60 knots.

Specifications include:

  • Displacement: 20 tons
  • Length: 20 meters (65.6′)
  • Beam: 4 meters (13.1′)
  • Range: 300 nautical miles
  • Crew of up to 12 plus 2 ton payload

Apparently, the  high performance is made possible by carbon fiber composite construction. The US Coast Guard really doesn’t have anything of comparable length  that I can compare it to, but we have had much smaller 35 foot “Long Range Interceptor” alluminum hull cutter boats that displaced 12 tons and 45 foot “Response Boat, Medium” boats that displaced 18.4 tons (light). (I don’t have current specs. This information from my nine year old Combat Fleets of the World.)

Bet the Vampire APKWS guided rocket system would fit on the cabin roof in place of the remote weapon station with 12.7 to 30mm gun.

“These Are The Riverine Patrol Boats Ukraine Is Getting From The U.S.” –The Drive

Riverines attached to Riverine Squadron 2 in a SURC at Haditha Dam Forward Operating Base conduct a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, December 20, 2007. Members of RIVRON 2 patrol Haditha’s dam and surrounding waterways, denying their use by insurgents, which in turn provides security to local fisherman. Location: Haditha Dam FOB, Anbar Province Iraq. (United States Navy, MC2 Kirk Worley) The package includes two of these.

The Drive/The War Zone has the best expanation I have seen so far as to the 18 boats that are to be transferred to Ukraine as part of the latest aid package.

A Sea Ark Dauntless patrol boat operating in San Diego. The type has been a very common sight at locales where U.S. Navy ships operate from for years now. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Moriatis/Released. Ten of these 34 foot boat are included in the aid package. 

While the 35 and 34 foot boats have been identified as to type, the six 40 foot boat have not. The post speculates that these may be of a type exported under Foreign Military Sales in 2020. I think, it is not unlikely these may be the new Navy 40 foot force protection patrol boats. They are an improvement on the 34 foot Sea Ark boats. They can be armored. They have an electro-optic system on the mast. They would be particularly useful if they had the remote weapon system on the bow they were designed to carry.

“U.S. Navy’s New 40-Foot Defiant Patrol Boat” –Naval News, Plus FMS Patrol Boat

The 40PB shows its speed in this photo and is armed with a .50cal M2 heavy machine gun at the bow, 7.62mm miniguns and acoustic devices amidships, and a M240B at the stern. The radar, electro-optical camera, and FLIR are visible on the short mast above the cabin. Metal Shark photo.

Naval News brings us a bit more informaton about the Navy’s new 40 foot force protection patrol boat. Most significantly,

NAVSEA: A total of 56 [40-foot Patrol] boats have been awarded to Metal Shark Boats and as of 9 May 2022, 20 boats have been delivered to the U.S. Navy.

In 2017 we discussed the program here and revisited it in 2019 here. The last indicated boats were being delivered at a rate of one every four weeks, meaning Metal Shark will likely be building these boats through early 2025.

Metal Shark calls this model the “40 Defiant” although it is actually 44 foot. Their description is here.

The 85-foot Defiant-class Near Coastal Patrol Vessel (NCPV) is being acquired by NAVSEA for Foreign Military Sales. Metal Shark photo.

There is also a some discussion of the Metal Shark “85 Defiant” patrol boat that is being produced for Foreign Military Sales. This is an evolution of the same design that gave the US Coast Guard its 87 foot “Marine Protector” WPBs (it too is actually 87 foot loa). The Navy calls this class Near Coastal Patrol Vessels or NCPV. We discussed this class in 2017. We noted at the time that Metal Shark had been award a contract,

“…potentially worth upwards of $54 million, Metal Shark will build up to thirteen 85-foot Defiant-class welded aluminum cutters for the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and other United States partner nations. Additionally, Metal Shark will supply electro-optical infrared sensors, diagnostic equipment, in-country reactivation, crew familiarization, and test support to NCPV operators.

Metal Shark’s website has a description of the vessel here.

“ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY RETIRES PATROL BOAT MAITLAND” –Baird Maritime

HMAS Maitland conducts a passage exercise with USCGC Kimball during Operation Solania. Photo: Seaman Isaiah Appleton

Baird Maritime reports, the Australian Navy is retiring one of their Amidale class patrol boats, HMAS Maitland. The vessel is relatively young by USCG standards, having been commissioned in 2006. It seems the class was stressed by high tempo, long distance, alien migrant interdiction deployments. This is the third of the original 14 vessels of the class to be decommissioned. One was as a result of a fire in 2014. The second was decommissioned March 2021.

These vessels are to be replaced by a class of 12 much larger OPVs, but in the meantime, the Australian Navy is also procuring, in many ways similar, 190 foot Cape Class patrol boats. The decommissioning follows closely on the delivery of the first of these “evolved” Cape class.

“Coast Guard cutter leaves Petersburg after 32 years” –KFSK

The cutter Anacapa tied up at the Coast Guard’s mooring in Petersburg (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

There is a very nice story by local media about the departure of USCGC Anacapa from Petersburg, AK. The 110 is not being decommissioned. She is changing homeport to Port Angeles, WA, where there will be a crew turn-over.

The Anacapa’s replacement in Petersburg is an 87-foot San Francisco-based Marine Protector class cutter called the Pike, built in 2005.

Anacapa’s engines and generators are being replaced, so looks like she will be retained a few more years.

There was an earlier post that featured Anacapa, “What Does It Take to Sink a Ship, Illustrated,” when she was tasked with sinking a derelict Japanese fishing vessel, back in 2012.

“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.

Coast Guard Mission from DOD Budget Justification

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bailey Barco (WPC 1122), a fast response cutter, patrols the waters near Unalaska, Alaska, while providing a security escort for the USS Kentucky, an Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine, August 24, 2017. The Bailey Barco, homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska, is the first Coast Guard fast response cutter to transit the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Brandon Newman

I took a quick look at the DOD 2022 budget justification overview. There was only a single paragraph that discussed a mission that the Coast Guard would be expected to do. From page 3-10:


Divest Coastal Riverine Squadron Craft

The Navy divests of 12 MK VI Patrol Boats from Coastal Riverine Squadrons. The Navy reallocated the associated end strength savings to higher priority Navy programs. The final deployment for the affected Coastal Riverine companies is scheduled to be complete by approximately the end of 2021. The MK VI requirement originated from a November 2007 Commander, U.S. Fifth Fleet Urgent Operational Needs Statement for a visit, board, search, and seizure overwatch platform in the littorals and the mission set was expanded to 2nd, 3rd and 7th Fleets and added maritime force protection, Theater Security Cooperation, Expeditionary MCM support, and intelligence collection tasks. Following divestment, these missions will be accomplished using other Navy platforms to include leveraging U.S. Coast Guard to escort High Value Units (HVU) (e.g., CVN, SSN, SSGN) in Fleet concentration areas. (Emphasis applied–Chuck)

 

Now It Is Really Time to Replace the 52 Foot MLBs

Coast Guard crew members aboard four 52-foot Motor Life Boats and one 47-foot Motor Life Boat transit in formation outbound of Yaquina Bay, Ore., April 9, 2019. The four 52-foot MLBs are the only active vessels of their kind and the crews are assigned to different units across the Pacific Northwest, which is why having all four together for the roundup was a rare occurrence.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor Lilburn)

Just got this comment from Peter on an earlier post,

All four 52 footers are officially retired today. They are all currently underway to rendezvous at Station Cape Disappointment. The Intrepid left Coos Bay yesterday, the Victory left Yaquina Bay at 0200 this morning and the Invincible will leave later today.

The end of a era.

This certainly was not unexpected, and we have had some indication the Coast Guard is looking for replacements. My Feb. 2021 post on the topic included a number of comments and referenced earlier posts and possible alternatives.

As seems to be too frequently the case, we have waited too long to look for a replacement for a system obviously approaching the end of its useful life. There should not have been a gap in providing a replacement. Additionally, in many locations, a faster more capable large MLB could also serve as a replacement for 87 foot WPBs–also approaching the end of their useful life.  This could be a larger program than just five boats.

“Coast Guard, Partners Complete Cooperative Pacific Surveillance Operation” –Seapower

The Coast Guard Cutter William Hart participates in the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru off American Samoa, Oct. 29, 2021.
Operation Kurukuru is an annual coordinated maritime surveillance operation with the goal of combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart/Released)

Seapower magazine has a report on the recently completed, 12 day, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru in the Pacific, intended to counter Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“The operation included 15 Guardian Class and Pacific Patrol Boats from Pacific nations operating alongside five Australian Navy, French Navy and United States Coast Guard vessels,” said Allan Rahari, the FFA Director Fisheries Operations. “Seven aircraft from the FFA, quadrilateral and regional partners provided air surveillance, as well as satellite surveillance and use of other emerging technologies.”

US Coast Guard participants include two Webber class WPCs, USCGC William Hart, operating out Hawaii, and  USCGC Myrtle Hazard, operating out of Guam, and a CGAS Barbers Point C-130.

The Pacific class patrol boats and their Guardian class replacements were donated by Australia help Pacific Island nations police their Exclusive Economic Zones.

Panorama of three Guardian class patrol boats at Austal shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia. The ships are, from left to right, the Teanoai II (301)‎, the PSS Remeliik II‎ and the VOEA Ngahau Siliva (P302). Photo by Calistemon via Wikipedia.

“The Pacific Islands Forum‘s Forum Fisheries Agency maintains a Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands.”