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.

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

“NUWC & USCG Evaluate Underwater Threat Detection” –SeaWaves

Atlantic Ocean (May 5, 2005) – Members of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two (SDVT-2) prepare to launch one of the team’s SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV) from the back of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) on a training exercise. The SDVs are used to carry Navy SEALs from a submerged submarine to enemy targets while staying underwater and undetected. SDVT-2 is stationed at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., and conducts operations throughout the Atlantic, Southern, and European command areas of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Andrew McKaskle (RELEASED)

SeaWaves reports,

Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s Argus Expeditionary Maritime Defense System team recently partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center to evaluate capabilities that could aid the Coast Guard’s detection efforts, particularly with counter-unmanned undersea vehicle missions.

Italian Manned Torpedo. Photographed 1998, Submarine Museum, Gosport.

Countering Unmanned Underwater Vehicles is perhaps a new area of interest for the Coast Guard, but underwater threats to shoreside facilities and harbors are not new. The most successful of the threat organizations was Italy’s 10th Assault Vehicle Flotilla, Decima Flottiglia MAS. They used a variety of surface and subsurface craft, including the one pictured above, in more than a dozen operations, to sank or damaged five warships (totalling 72,000 tons) and 20 merchant ships (totalling 130,000 GRT). These included the Heavy Cruiser HMS York (lost after being wrecked and run aground to keep her from sinking) and severe damage to battleships HMS Valiant (out of service for seven months) and HMS Queen Elizabeth (out of service for a year and a half).

There are lots of successor organizations out there including all of the “axis of evil” usual suspects. After all, swimmer delivery vehicles are a lot easier to build than submarines and diver propulsion devices are available commercially.

The increased challenge presented by UUVs is that they may be harder to detect, and once you identify a threat, how do you eliminate it?

2 United States Marines Cpt.Lawrence R Gentile and Ssgt Robert Romito Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) with a Diver Propulsion Vehicle, or Device (DPD).

Croatian R-2M submersible, Photo by Ex13 via Wikipedia, 2010

Manned torpedo used by the Argentine Navy, especially built for operations in cold waters. Photo by DagosNavy via Wikipedia, 25 February 2010

Thanks to Paul for bringing this to my attention. 

Philippine 378 Upgrade

BRP Ramon Alcaraz sporting her new Sea Giraffe radar in Cebu.

When the US Coast Guard Hamilton class 378 foot WHECs were decommissioned and transferred to other nations, the AN/SPS-40 air search radars were removed, along with the Phalanx close in weapon system. At least one of the three former cutters, in service with the Philippine Navy, has been upgraded with the addition of a Sea Giraffe multi-mode radar and a pair of 25mm Mk38 guns as can be seen on these photos of BRP Ramon Alcaraz (former USCGC Dallas). There were plans to acquire at least two Sea Giraffe radars. I can’t say how far they have gotten.

The Sea Giraffe, USN designation AN/SPS-77, is the radar that will equip the Argus class OPCs. It is also currently installed on Independence class LCS.

I found these on Facebook, but apparently they came from Daryll Evan Mancao’ Flickr page.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz (former USCGC Dallas) equipped with new Sea Giraffe multi-mode radar in Cebu.

Shipboard Panoramic Electro-Optic/Infrared (SPEIR) program

L3 Harris Mk20 mod1 Electro Optic Sensor System. (Picture source Navy Recognition)

It appears the Navy has a new AI aided sensor system going into low-rate production called the “Shipboard Panoramic Electro-Optic/Infrared (SPEIR) program.” It looks like it may ultimately go on every Navy surface combatant, and that it may be scalable to make it applicable to units as small as patrol boats.

The DOD daily digest bulletin for 26 March reported,


L3 Technologies Inc., Systems Company, Camden, New Jersey, is awarded a $205,899,580 cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-reimbursement, firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, and fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract for engineering, manufacturing, and development; engineering support labor; low rate initial production systems, and spares for the Shipboard Panoramic Electro-Optic/Infrared (SPEIR) program. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $593,050,756. Work will be performed in Mason, Ohio (54%); Northampton, Massachusetts (16%); Bothell, Washington (12%); Hamilton, Ontario (7%); Austin, Texas (7%); Tulsa, Oklahoma (2%); Norfolk, Virginia (1%); and various locations across the U.S., each less than 1% (1%), and is expected to be completed by November 2025. If all options are exercised, work will continue through March 2031. Fiscal 2021 research, development, test, and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $11,000,000 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with one offer received. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-22-C-5514).

This 2017 report from Military Aerospace Electronics seems to provide insight into the program’s objectives and challenges.

This 2015 report seems to have been an earlier version with the same program, under the name CESARS, which in turn combined two earlier programs, the Shipboard Panoramic EO/IR Cueing and Surveillance System (SPECSS); and Multispectral EO/IR Countermeasures for Advanced Threats (MEIRCAT). The objectives included target acquisition, tracking, classification, identification, 3-D ranging, threat assessment, countermeasures execution, and countermeasures effectiveness monitoring against threats including cruise missiles (particularly optically guide cruise missiles that are not active emitters), small surface vessels, and Unmanned Air Systems. It would of course, also detect ships and conventional aircraft.

A major advantage of this type system is that it can provide situational awareness while allowing the ship to maintain strict EMCON (emissions control) minimizing active emissions that might be picked up by an adversary.

The good news for the Coast Guard is that, from the 2017 report,

This project also seeks to identify a family of imaging systems that could handle the situational-awareness needs of surface vessels ranging in size from a patrol craft, a frigate, a destroyer, and an aircraft carrier.

On small units, this system might provide some of the situational awareness capability provided by multi-mode radar and/or ESM on larger units, that is otherwise not available on these units.

USCGC Harriet Lane Headed for Service Life Extension Program

USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC-903), March 17, 2009. US Coast Guard photo.

Below is an Atlantic Area news release. It is about a relatively routine patrol by USCGC Harriet Lane, but there is a bit of news here.

“The crew shifted gears upon return to homeport and met the next challenge of readying Harriet Lane for an important maintenance upgrade cycle…Following this patrol, the vessel will undergo a nine-month planned maintenance and upgrade period at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore.”

It is not apparent from the text of the news release, but apparently the cutter arrived in Curtis Bay to be SLEP on March 28. Got that from a photo caption. Sorry no idea when she returned to Portsmouth after the patrol or when she departed for the Yard.

—-Wish these news releases included departure and arrival dates—

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane arrives at the Coast Guard Yard for a service life extension in Baltimore, March 28, 2022. The cutter will remain in Baltimore without the crew for approximately nine months during the overhaul project.

It appears Harriet Lane will be the first of six WMEC-270s to undergo the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) that will keep ships of the class in service until the Offshore Patrol Cutter construction program is expected to be completed in 2038.

“WMEC SLEP includes electrical system upgrades, remanufactured main diesel engines, structural renewal for stern tube and piping, and installation of a new gun weapon system supplied by the U.S. Navy. “

There are still some unanswered questions as to what will be included in the “upgrade.” We know they will loose the 76mm Mk75 gun, replaced by a 25mm Mk38, and presumably the M92 “mini-combat” firecontrol system that also provides the ships an airsearch capability that can be used for helicopter control. Will there be a replacement multi-mode radar? Will they get only one or perhaps two Mk38 guns? Will the ships retain their electronic warfare equipment that can be use in law-enforcement operations? Will they get an Unmanned Air System? Will there be changes to the aviation support equipment to better handle the larger MH-60, as it becomes the shipboard helo of choice? Maybe CG-9 will give us an update in the not too distant future.

Harriet Lane is one of the oldest 270s, commissioned in 1984. (The newest was commissioned in 1991.) She was one of four built by Tacoma Boatbuilding, before the program was switched to Robert Derecktor Shipyard, where the last nine were built. Will all four of the Tacoma Boat built cutters go through the program?

As I noted earlier, assuming the Mk38 gun will be on the bow, it probably should be mounted on a raised platform, with a breakwater, to better protect it from water coming over the bow. It would also allow the weapon to engage targets at closer range.

News Release

USCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrol

USCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrolUSCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrol

USCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrolUSCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrolUSCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrol

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

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The crew of USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) returned to homeport in Portsmouth on Monday, following a 50-day patrol in the North Atlantic Ocean.

While on patrol, the Harriet Lane crew navigated over 6,559 miles along the southeastern coast of the United States, extending as far south as the northern coast of Cuba and east to The Bahamas, performing migrant interdiction and search and rescue operations in support of the U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District.

The Harriet Lane patrolled the Florida Straits to aid with a recent surge in unsafe and illegal migration by sea. The crew interdicted six unseaworthy vessels carrying approximately 467 individuals of Cuban or Haitian origin and cared for more than 520 migrants aboard the cutter during a four-week time span while awaiting logistics for repatriation.

The crew also assisted in two search and rescue cases after receiving notification of an individual stranded on Anguilla Cay, Bahamas and another case where several people were stranded in the water near Cuban territorial waters.

“I remain in awe of this steadfast crew. They answered the call on multiple occasions during our patrol, ensuring safety of life at sea while preventing illegal entry into the United States,” said Cmdr. Ben Goff, commanding officer of the Harriet Lane. “This mission can take an emotional toll, but our team stuck together and persevered through every challenge and adversity presented. The crew shifted gears upon return to homeport and met the next challenge of readying Harriet Lane for an important maintenance upgrade cycle with aplomb. We are forever grateful for the outstanding support we receive across the Coast Guard and from our loved ones at home. I’m looking forward to getting our crew well-earned downtime with friends and family.”

Following this patrol, the vessel will undergo a nine-month planned maintenance and upgrade period at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore.

The Harriet Lane is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter responsible for a variety of missions, including search and rescue, drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, other law enforcement and marine environmental protection.

The U.S. Coast Guard national security and medium endurance vessels homeported on the East Coast operate under the ultimate authority of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander located in Portsmouth, Virginia, overseeing all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf.

Marines’ Next-gen Handheld Targeting System (NGHTS)–Naval Today

Next Generation Handheld Targeting System (NGHTS) Photo by: Northrop Grumman. 

Naval Today reports,

“US-based aerospace company Northrop Grumman Corporation has been selected to provide the US Marine Corps with the next-generation handheld targeting system (NGHTS).”

As disclosed, NGHTS is capable of performing rapid target acquisition, laser terminal guidance operation and laser spot imaging functions. Its high-definition infrared sensors provide accuracy and grid capability over extended ranges.

So, what does this have to do with the Coast Guard?

If the Coast Guard is to respond to a terrorist attack using a medium to large ship, we have to respond in one of two ways. We either have to stop the ship with Coast Guard systems, or we have to call in help from other armed forces. Either way, something like this could help.

Plus, the device seems to have additional capabilities that might be useful.

In what is likely to be a rapidly developing threat situation, I have little faith, that we can get help in time, but if we do, we are going to need to quickly and effectively identify the target. This can be a lot more difficult than you might think. Army and Air Force pilots are not trained in ship recognition. They are unlikely to be able to recognize a particular ship based on a description. Using a laser designator insures there would be no misunderstanding about which ship is their target.

If Coast Guard are going to forcibly stop a terrorist-controlled vessel, we need accurate weapons that will not result in collateral damage. Laser guided weapons can fill this role.

These systems seem to have capabilities beyond laser designation. Looking at the illustration above, it appears it also can serve as a compass, perhaps capable of taking bearings day or night, and of providing low probability of intercept, line of sight communications.

This could even be used on smaller units like the response boats. Large cutters are getting the Mk20 Electro-Optic Sensor System (It is still not clear to me, if that includes a laser designator but it does seem likely). On a rolling ship we would probably rather have a mounted rather than handheld system, but some kind of mount would probably not be too difficult. Since it is supposed to be network capable, presumably its imaging could be remoted to command positions.


Foward Looking Navigational Sonar

gCaptain brings us a short “sponsored” post about “Safely Navigating Polar Regions.” This is essentially an advertisement for the company, FarSounder, but that is not necessarily all bad. The products are reported to be able to identify navigational hazards in 3D out to 1000 meters at speeds up to 25 knots.

I am not endorsing this particular product. There are probably other vendors offering similar products, but a forward-looking navigational sonar sounds like a good idea for any vessel, such as Offshore Patrol Vessels, that may frequently be called upon to go close in shore for SAR, marine environmental protection, or for interdiction,

FarSounder has fourteen dealers in the US, so it can’t be that exotic.

For icebreakers there is a retractable version.

The Argos 1000 Transducer Module is housed in a retractable steal pod with integrated cover-plate. When retracted, the cover-plate sits flush with the hull and is reinforced for protection during ice-breaking.

Two of the ships reportedly using this system are pictured below. 

Polar cruise ship Le Commandant Charcot

RRS Sir David Attenborough. Proto from Rolls-Royce

“This company’s drone set flight-time records. But what it really wants is more work with the Pentagon” –Defense News

A Vanilla ultra endurance land-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operates during U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21 at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, on April 24, 2021. UxS IBP 21 integrates manned and unmanned capabilities into challenging operational scenarios to generate warfighting advantages. (MC2 Michael Schutt/U.S. Navy)

Defense News report,

WASHINGTON — Small business Platform Aerospace continued to set records in 2021 with its Vanilla Unmanned family of drones, but the company says it’s working to ensure it’s building a relevant warfighting platform, not just an aerospace novelty.

The Vanilla UAV in its long-endurance configuration set a world record in September and into October, when it flew for eight days, 50 minutes and 47 seconds out of Edwards Air Force Base in California. The aircraft had previously demonstrated a five-day flight.

We talked about this UAS, from veteran-owned small business Platform Aerospace, when it set the earlier record. Since then, there have been some significant developments including a drug interdiction capability test with SOUTHCOM.

“… in July with U.S. Southern Command. The vehicle flew out of Key West with a mesh radio, satellite communications, a radar pod and an electro-optical/infrared camera, demonstrating what a multi-day drone with a complex payload package could accomplish.”

There is also this mention of a sensor, that might be applied to other UAS, that could come in handy for icebreakers.

“While the bulk of Platform Aero’s work has been with the military, and chiefly the Navy, Pappianou said the aircraft flew a mission with a proprietary radar designed by the University of Kansas to measure snow and ice depths in the Arctic Circle.”

Naval News Coverage of Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), Sept. 14-17. 2021

Below I have provided the Naval News coverage of DSEI 2021. There are a few segments in particular that may be of interest.

In the Day 1 coverage:

  • 07:25 – VARD 7 115 Next Generation OPV. I think you can see the similarity to the Offshore Patrol Cutter design which is a VARD 7 110.
  • 10:09 – OMT’s MPV-80/12:52 – SH Defence “The Cube” modular mission module. The Danes have been making modular naval systems for decades and this is modularity on steroids. “The Cube” is a proposed system of standard container-sized modules. The MPV-80 is a modular OPV with 32 positions for “The Cube” modules.  

In the Day 3 coverage:

  • 00:47 – Royal Navy’s NavyPODS is another container-sized module proposal. Sounds like the Royal Navy may be considering using these on their River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels. 
  • 06:46 – AEUK SeaSense variable depth sonar. This is another ASW sensor that could be deployed on very small vessels. 
  • 07:27 – BAE Systems Bofors 40Mk4 naval gun system. This would make a good choice to arm smaller cutters or for use as a secondary on larger cutters. Right now, it’s not in the USN inventory and there is no integral fire control system, so. at least an Electro-Optic system would be required. The ammunition uses the same 3P fuse used on the 57mm Mk110 gun. For decades the Italians used 40mm guns for their CIWS. Most recently they have been using 76mm guns. The Royal Navy has recently adopted this mount to use as a secondary weapon and CIWS on the Type 31 class frigate

In the Day 4 coverage:

  • 04:55 – MSI Defence Ltd Seahawk 30mm naval gun system. We talked about this gun mount earlier, since it appears it will be the USN Mk38 Mod4. It is the reason I posted this video earlier. 

Day 1 at DSEI 2021 in London, UK. We focused on new anti-ship missiles, the Sea Breaker by Rafael, the Sea Serpent by IAI and Thales UK. We then take a look at two new OPV designs: The VARD 7 115 NGOPV and the MPV 80 by OMT. We then discuss with SH Defence about “The Cube” modular mission module.

  • 00:50 – Rafael’s Sea Breaker
  • 05:03 – IAI’s Sea Serpent
  • 07:25 – VARD 7 115 Next Generation OPV
  • 10:09 – OMT’s MPV-80
  • 12:52 – SH Defence “The Cube” modular mission module.

Day 2 at DSEI 2021 in London, UK. We focused on Naval Strike Missile (NSM) with Raytheon, the new Quadome 3D radar by Hensoldt, UAS integration with Thales and the MMCM program with Thales.

  • 00:15 – Intro
  • 00:53 – Raytheon’s NSM for SSGW
  • 04:12 – Hensoldt launches new Quadome 3D radar
  • 05:30 – Thales’ Unmanned wide area surveillance
  • 07:28 – Thales MMCM program

Day 3 at DSEI 2021 in London, UK. We talked to the Royal Navy about their NavyPODS concept. We then focused on mine warfare, talking to Patria and its acoustic sweep, and Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK) ARCIMS and its payloads. We then talked to BAE Systems Bofors to get an update on the 40Mk4 naval gun program and learn about the T-650 heavy lift UAS which can carry a lightweight torpedo.

  • 00:12 – Introduction
  • 00:47 – Royal Navy’s NavyPODS
  • 02:53 – Patria’s acoustic sweep
  • 05:17 – Atlas Elektronik UK ARCIMS
  • 06:46 – AEUK SeaSense variable depth sonar
  • 07:27 – BAE Systems Bofors 40Mk4 naval gun system
  • 09:16 – BAE Systems T-650 heavy lift UAS

Final day at DSEI 2021 in London, UK. Naval News’ Editor-in-Chief, Xavier Vavasseur, takes you around the show floor and comments some of the new systems on display. We start with MBDA who was showcasing its future missile concepts (related to FCASW) as well as current portfolio of anti-ship missiles (SPEAR, SPEAR EW, Exocet, Marte, Sea Venom and Maritime Brimstone) and naval air defense solutions (Dragonfire, Aster B1 NT and CAMM / Sea Ceptor). We then take a close look at a scale model of the XLUUV on the TKMS stand and the MSI Defence Systems’ Seahawk 30mm naval gun system which was recently selected by the US Navy. Finally we talked to IAI’s Malcolm McKenzie to learn more details about Sea Serpent.

  • 00:47 – MBDA concept missiles for FCASW
  • 01:34 – MBDA SPEAR and SPEAR EW
  • 01:57 – MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 3C
  • 02:22 – MBDA Marte ER
  • 02:38 – MBDA Sea Venom
  • 02:48 – MBDA Maritime Brimstone
  • 03:08 – MBDA Dragonfire laser weapon system
  • 03:20 – MBDA Aster 30 B1 NT
  • 03:25 – MBDA CAMM / Sea Ceptor
  • 03:45 – TKMS XLUUV
  • 04:55 – MSI Defence Ltd Seahawk 30mm naval gun system
  • 05:26 – IAI Sea Serpent anti-ship missile




“U.S. Warships Have This Seldom Discussed But Very Powerful Optical Targeting System” –The Drive

USCGC Hamilton with its EOSS (Electro Optic Sensor System) atop its bridge. 

The Drive/The War Zone has a post regarding the Mk20 Mod1 Electro Optic Sensor System (EOSS) that is equipping National Security Cutters and Offshore Patrol Cutters in addition to the Navy’s newest destroyers and the new FFG. The post is in the form of an interview with a company rep.

We have talked about this system before here.

For such an inconspicuous system, it looks to be extremely useful. Other than using it as a firecontrol for ASuW and AAW, this system can be used for:

  • Location and tracking a man overboard
  • Channel position and navigation
  • Detection and identification including looking for the IR signature of low profile vessels
  • Naval gunfire support
  • Safety check-sight
  • Battle Damage Assessment

These will definitely be used on the Offshore Patrol Cutter. The earlier Mk20 Mod0 version was in the Draft Technical Package back in 2012.