Above is a Defense and Aerospace report interview with the Commandant, Adm. Karl Schultz. It is worth a look.
There is a lot here about what is going on in the Western Pacific and our response to China’s changing behavior. There is a lot of discussion about the Philippine Coast Guard which is apparently growing at a tremendous rate. There is also some discussion about other coast guards in South East Asia and the USCG’s place with “The Quad” (US, Australia, New Zealand, and France).
BRP Andrés Bonifacio (FF-17), the former USCGC Boutwell.
Updates added below
NavyRecognition is reporting that the Philippines has awarded a PHP1.5 billion ($28.6M) contract to a South Korean firm for upgrades to their Del Pilar Class Frigates. These are the former cutters Hamilton, Boutwell, and Dallas.
“The project has an approved budget of PHP1.5 billion which will be sourced from the Armed Forces of the Philippine Modernization Trust Fund. The upgrade seeks to enhance the ships’ combat management systems, electronic support and sonar capability to make it capable of operating with incoming and more modern naval assets like the two Jose Rizal-class missile frigates being completed by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea.”
The AN/SPS-40 air search radar, SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System, 25 mm Mk38 guns, and the Phalanx CIWS were removed before the vessels were transferred to the Philippines.
Presumably in addition to sonar, this upgrade will include torpedo tubes and Korean manufactured torpedoes (Update: apparently not–not included in this contract). The EW system will likely also include countermeasures. An air search capable radar like the Hensoldt TRS-3D Baseline D multi-mode phased array C-band radar being installed on the Jose Rizal-class frigates, to replace the AN/SPS-40 will almost certainly be included (Update: Sea Giraffe multi-role radar had been purchased from the US for this purpose, this is the same radar being purchased for the OPCs). Provision for anti-ship cruise missiles is a possibility, but at this point the full extent of modernization is not clear. I would assume the former WHECs will share some systems with the new frigates.
Naval News reports that the French shipyard OCEA has launched the largest aluminum offshore patrol vessel ever constructed. It is going to the Philippine Coast Guard as part of a package deal that also included four much smaller patrol boats. The shipyard claims substantial lifecycle saving in fuel and maintenance as well as lower emissions due to the choice of building materials. (Note the underwater body on the after third of the ship. It looks unusual.)
Choice of an aluminum hull and superstructure does bring on discussion of the possible dangers of using aluminum, frequently blamed for serious damage due to fire including USS Belknap (CG-26) and loss of British type 21 frigates HMS Antelope and HMS Ardent and the destroyer HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War.
There are real issues with the use of aluminum, since it softens, melts, and looses its structural integrity at lower temperatures than steel, as seen on HMS Amazon when it had a fire in 1977, but losses as a result of structural aluminum have frequently been exaggerated. Problems with cracking of aluminum superstructures have been largely as a result of the different expansion rates of mixed steel and aluminum construction.
In the case of Belknap, the collision severed fuel lines running outboard on the carrier and dumped huge amounts of fuel onto the ship, feeding the fire, while ammunition cooked off. Nevertheless the ship was saved by extraordinary DC effort.
The loss of Antelope and Ardent were evaluated to have not been the result of their Aluminum superstructure.
The Sheffield actually employed steel rather than aluminum in both its hull and superstructure, so aluminum construction played no part in her loss.
As noted in the report, the Algerian Navy bought 21 of these and has ordered ten more.
They have a GRP hull and are powered by two 3,660 HP Caterpillar diesels using waterjets. Specs on the Algerian boats as follows.
Displacement: 100 tons
Length: 31.8 meters (104’4″)
Beam: 6.3 meters (20’8″)
Draft: 1.2 meters (3’11”)
Speed: 30 knots
Range: 900 nmi @ 14 knots
Most of these boats are armed with a single auto-cannon forward. In most cases a 20mm, the Algerian boats have a 30mm. Given the Ukranians’ tensions with Russia, curious to see if they may choose to provide more weapons.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (left) moves in formation with Philippine coast guard vessels Batangas (center) and Kalanggaman during an exercise on May 14. U.S. Coast Guard/Chief Petty Officer John Masson
The Navy League’s Seapower is reporting that USCGC Bertholf is conducting SAR exercises with the Philippine Coast Guard.
“The crew of Bertholf also will participate in other joint events with members of the Philippine coast guard during the ship’s Manila port call. The events include a series of engagements on operational subjects such as damage control and search and rescue as well as sporting and social events. The activities are designed to improve interoperability and strengthen the ties between the two countries.”
Their design is 81.7 meters (268 feet) in length overall, with a beam of 13.3 meters (43.6 feet), and a draft of 4 meters (13.1 feet), so, similar in size to the Bear class cutters, with perhaps slightly greater displacement. The illustration shows a ship armed with a 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid naval gun, and two auto-cannon. It has a helicopter landing deck but no hangar.
It is apparently equipped with a stern boat ramp and boat davit starboard.
There is no information on speed, but I would guess 20 to 22 knots on a pair of diesels.