Morgenthau Going Back to Vietnam

We have a report from Naval Today that Morgenthau, being decommissioned today, will be going to back Vietnam.

Ironically Morgenthau served in Vietnamese warters earlier. This from Wikipedia:

Soon after its commissioning in 1970 the Morgenthau sailed to Vietnam for service in the US Navy’s Operation Market Time. (Operation Market Time was the United State’s successful operation to stop North Vietnamese ships and boats from infiltrating South Vietnam to supply weapons and munitions to North Vietnamese military, including the People’s Army of Vietnam (aka “NVA” – North Vietnamese Army) and Viet Cong.)

Morgenthau was extremely active in the Vietnam War: its duties included boarding/inspection of ships and boats suspected of running guns, ammunition and supplies, naval gunfire support missions, providing medical care to Vietnamese villagers (MEDCAPS – civic action program), ferrying special forces soldiers on missions, and 24/7 patrol duties.[10]

From records compiled by then-Lieutenant Eugene N. Tulich, Commander, US Coast Guard (Ret), Morgenthaus Vietnam numbers included: Miles cruised – 38,029 nautical miles (70,430 km; 43,763 mi); Percentage time underway – 72.8%; Junks/sampans detected/inspected/boarded – 2383/627/63; Enemy confirmed killed in action (KIA) 14; Structures destroyed/damaged – 32/37; Bunkers destroyed/damaged – 12/3; Waterborne craft destroyed/damaged – 7/3; Naval Gunfire Support Missions (NGFS) – 19; MEDCAPS (Medical Civic Action Program) – 25; Patients treated – 2676.

For exceptionally valorous action in combat, Morgenthau received a number of awards and commendations, including a Navy Unit Commendation when Morgenthau distinguished itself with outstanding heroism in action against the enemy. Morgenthau’s actions included its multi-day undetected tracking and surveillance of a 160′ North Vietnamese SL-8 trawler that attempted to resupply waiting North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong, and the April 11, 1971, destruction of that enemy ship when Morgenthau and other forces engaged in a two-hour battle against the ship, at the end of which the North Vietnamese SL-8 trawler suffered a massive explosion and disappeared from radar screens. For this and its other Vietnam service, the ship and Morgenthaus crew were additionally awarded the Navy Combat Action Ribbon; Navy Unit Commendation; Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation; Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation; Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation; Vietnam Campaign Medal; and other awards.

Morgenthau served in Vietnam until July 19, 1971.

I am curious, will it be repainted Vietnamese Navy gray or remain white and wear the stripes of Vietnam’s recently formed Coast Guard?

The Era of Coast Guards in the Asia-Pacific is Upon Us–Rand Corp

The Rand Corporation has issued an interesting post regarding the increased use and aggressiveness of Asian Coast Guards. It is based on a study of the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Philippine Coast Guards. The full text of the study is here. in pdf format.

The growth of these four Coast Guards has been remarkable. According to the report, between 2010 and 2016 the China Coast Guard vessel tonnage has increased 73%, the Japan Coast Guard increased 50%, the Vietnamese CG by 73%, and the Philippine CG by 100%.

The growth is largely driven by China’s pushiness using its newly formed Coast Guard, but it is also because of Japan’s new willingness to provide security assistance, at least in the form of Coast Guard vessels, to nations who, like them, must confront Chinese aggressiveness.

There also seems to have been a tacit acceptance of the idea that gray hulls should not mix it up with white hulls. This has played into the hands of the Chinese who have by far the largest fleet of white hulls in the world. In fact there are really only two kinds of vessels, private and government, and when fishing vessels act under government orders they are defacto government vessels

The full report has some figures I had not seen before.

Despite the fact that its missions apparently do not include Aids to Navigation, China’s CG is by far the largest:

“China’s investment has yielded a total fleet size of around 215 vessels, of which 105 are considered large (more than one-thousand-tons displacement) and 110 small (less than one thousand tons). In terms of total tonnage, China boasts the largest coast guard in the world at roughly 190,000 tons, enjoying substantial quantitative overmatch over its Asian competitors.” (The CCG reportedly has 17,000 members.)

Japan Coast Guard had a head start, it has grown less but still has more ships than the USCG.

In terms of fleet size, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimates that Japan has approximately fifty-three large and twenty-five small vessels in operation. The largest vessels in the JCG fleet include two PLH-class vessels with a displacement of 6,500 tons (9,000 tons fully loaded) and two Mizuho-class vessels of 5,200 tons. For comparison, the largest and most capable destroyers in the JMSDF, the Kongo-class vessels, displace approximately 9,500 tons. Most of the medium-to-high-endurance JCG vessels are equipped with deck-mounted autocannon that range in caliber from 20 to 40 mm, and most JCG officers carry light firearms for self-defense. Notably, the PLH-class cutters are only equipped with two Oerlikon 35–40 mm autocannon and two M61 Vulcan 20 mm six-barrel Gatling-style guns, compared with the 76 mm cannon on China’s largest cutter, Haijing 3901.

In terms of aviation assets, the JCG has by far the largest fleet in Asia, second only to the U.S. Coast Guard in the world, boasting twenty-six fixed-wing aircraft and forty-eight helicopters. Finally, the JCG has roughly 13,500 personnel, second most among coast guards in Asia.

Vietnam has also recently formed a Coast Guard.

The VCG has approximately fifty vessels: five large (the largest displaces 2,500 tons) and forty-five small. Soon after the Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HYSY 981) incident in 2014, Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced the allocation of U.S.$540 million to build thirty-two new coast guard ships and hundreds of aluminum fishing vessels that can withstand ramming better. With the delivery of two five-hundred-ton TT400TP-class patrol vessels in January 2016 and the addition of six one-thousand-ton patrol craft pledged from Japan, Vietnam will boast the largest coast guard fleet in Southeast Asia. Most VCG vessels have light-caliber deck-mounted autocannon or machine guns (ranging in size from 14.5 to 23 mm) or both, and most crewmembers carry light firearms for self-defense. The VCG has three fixed-wing CASA C-212 Aviocar patrol aircraft. The VCG has approximately 5,500 total personnel.

The Philippine Coast Guard:

The PCG maintains a small fleet of eight medium-endurance patrol craft, mounted with 50 mm autocannon; four buoy tenders; and roughly thirty-two small patrol vessels. Japan’s announcement that it plans to sell eight medium endurance cutters to the Philippines will mean an almost doubling of the PCG medium-endurance-cutter fleet. The PCG has only two operational aircraft— one fixed wing and one helicopter—but it is slated to receive two helicopters from France within the next few years. Finally, there are roughly 9,000 personnel in the PCG, with plans to expand to 13,500 by 2020.

A final note: 

It is not clear what type of displacement the study used. I try to consistently use full load, but Asian nations tend to try to minimize displacement and frequently report only light displacement.

The total displacement of the US Coast Guard’s ships is also going up, but it is not because of more ships, it is because the ships are larger. The total full load displacement for the program of record, 8 NSCs (36,000 tons), 25 OPCs (about 100,000 tons), and 58 FRCs (21,170 tons) is about 157,170 tons. The NSCs are 50% larger than the 378s. The OPCs are a third larger than the 378s and four times the size of the 210s. The FRCs are three times the size of the 110s they replace.

It might be assumed that a Country’s Coast Guard’s size should be related to the size of the country’s EEZ. It doesn’t seem to have worked that way. The size of the EEZs for the countries is

China: 877,019 km2 (plus disputed claims for 3,000,000 km)

Japan: 4,479,388 km2

Philippines:  2,263,816 km2

Vietnam: 748,875 km2

USA: 11,351,000 km2

 

Malaysia Builds 6 WPC w/sUAS, 3 Cutter X, and Gets 2 JCG cutters

Malaysia‘s counterpart of the USCG, the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), or APMM in Malay, was formed in 2005 and has approximately 7,000 members.

Malaysia has an EEZ of 334,671 sq km, or about 3% of that of the US. In addition they have a substantial continental shelf of about the same size. The country itself is in two main parts, one on the Malay Peninsula and one part on the island of Barneo. It borders the busiest waterway in the world, the Straits of Malacca.

They have recently begun to replace the vessels incorporated in the service when the agency was formed.

The first new class is the “New Generation Patrol Craft.”

Malaysia's New Generation Patrol Craft.

Malaysia’s New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC)

It is in many ways similar to the Webber class in size and function. It is a FASSMER design. It is a little smaller (44.5 meters or 146 feet) and a little slower at 24 knots, but it is a bit better armed, having a 30mm gun and it has one trick we do not. It will have a small Unmanned Air System and associated launch and recovery system.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency has selected to the Fulmar UAV to equip their NGPC. The Fulmar is similar in most respects to the ScanEagle.

Aerovision Fulmar UAV, 5 May 2008, by Txema1

Aerovision Fulmar UAV, 5 May 2008, by Txema1

MalaysianDefence reports they expect to build three Offshore Patrol Vessels, at least 80 meters in length.  The RM740 Million reported allocated equates to about $167M each .

Reportedly the new OPVs will be a version of the Damen 1800 (ton) design (similar to those being built for South Africa, but with a conventional bow) 83 meters (272 feet) in length and 22 knots from 4×2350 kW diesels providing 12,600 HP.

Damen 1800 OPV, from the rear.

Damen OPV 1800 Concept Illustration

As part of their effort to build capacity among their neighbors, the Japanese are transfering two Japan Coast Guard cutters to the MMEA. The first of these, Erimo (PL-02) is, by USCG standards, still young, having entered service in 1991. She is 91.4 meters in length over all, 2,006 tons full load and capable of 20 knots with a crew of 38. The second ship wll be of the same class.

Japan CG Cutter Erimo (PL-02)

Japan CG Cutter Erimo (PL-02)

References:

 

Philippines/China to form Joint Coast Guard Committee

BRP Tubbataha during its delivery to the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine CG PAO photo

BRP Tubbataha during its delivery to the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine CG PAO photo

The Diplomat is reporting, that China and the Philippines will be forming a Joint Coast Guard Committee on Maritime Cooperation,

“Substance-wise, according to the joint statement released by both sides, the coast guards “had a friendly exchange of views” on the establishment of the JCGC, getting down to the specifics of the entity including its organizational structure, terms of reference, and operational procedures, as well as potential areas of collaboration such as marine environmental protection, maritime search and rescue, combating maritime crimes including drug trafficking, and, most interestingly, “capacity-building in related areas.” Following these discussions, both sides aim to hold a second organizational meeting as well as the inaugural meeting of the JCGC in February 2017.”

China Seizes US Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

lbs-glidersystem

A U.S. Navy glider similar to one seized by Chinese forces. US Navy Photooceanglider

The US Naval Institute News Service is reporting,

“A U.S. Navy unmanned buoyancy glider was taken by Chinese forces in international waters earlier this week, two defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Friday.

“The glider was operating with U.S. Military Sealift Command ship USNS Bowditch (T-AGS-62) about 50 miles off of Subic Bay in the Philippines when a People’s Liberation Army Navy ship took the glider both defense officials said.”

Perhaps this will prompt some rethink on the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vehicle, or ACTUV. Maybe a self destruct option is in order.

Brookings Institute–A conversation with Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Paul F. Zukunft

Another video, this one almost an hour.

Coast Guard Bound for the South China Sea?

South China Sea claims map by Voice of America, 31 July, 2012

South China Sea claims map by Voice of America, 31 July, 2012

The Voice of America is reporting,

The top U.S. Coast Guard official is eyeing a unique role for his fleet in maintaining peace and stability in the East and the South China seas under the incoming presidential administration.

By mirroring the role of China’s Coast Guard in parts of the Asia-Pacific, said Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft, the U.S. Coast Guard could be the face of U.S. military presence in disputed waters without appearing too threatening.

“When you look at the East and South China seas, look at China’s Coast Guard, it is really the first face of China,” he told VOA. “So I’ve proposed to the Department of Defense that if they were to leverage the U.S. Coast Guard, I would look at providing resources to provide the face of the United States behind a Coast Guard ship, and should that be a consideration for our approach to the East and South China seas with the next administration.”

The post has more background.

This is a major change to Coast Guard tasking and there should be no doubt is will require some trade-off against existing tasking. In all probability our contribution will be a National Security Cutter. Keeping one in the Western Pacific probably means one less in the Eastern Pacific.

Perhaps the Navy will compensate by putting a ship under SOUTHCOM.

Thanks to Luke S. for bringing this to my attention.