“Stop Calling It a Patrol Boat” –USNI

USCGC Angela McShan (WPC-1135), The Coast Guard’s fast response cutters (FRCs) are replacing its Island-class patrol boats, but the FRCs have far greater capabilities than the platform they are replacing. U.S. COAST GUARD (BRANDON MURRAY)

The November 2020 edition of the US Naval Institute Proceedings has an absolutely dynamite article about the current organization of support for the Webber class WPCs. Unfortunately it is member only content. (If you spend time on this website, you really should also be a USNI member.)

He rightly points out that while these ships are being used like WMECs and they are essentially as capable as a 210 other than the flight deck, they have only a third of the crew. Short tours due to promotions often leave the ships without critical skills. Training is problematic. Crew burnout is a problem. Meanwhile they are frequently viewed as “only a patrol boat” and given support similar to that of the preceding 87 and 110 foot patrol boats, in spite of much more sophisticated system.

His solution is a squadron organization that would consolidate administrative control of the assets, provide senior leadership and resident expertise for the various ratings, and provide a source for backfill of short term personnel shortfalls, similar to what has been done with PATFORSWA,Β at least in Miami, San Juan, Key West, and San Pedro where four or more Webber class are based together.

The Coast Guard, District Seven in particular, should really take a serious look at this proposal.

I made a similar proposal for 19 divisions of three cutters each back in 2011. It included a slow crew rotation process as a sort of proof of concept when we were still considering the “Crew Rotation Concept” for the larger cutters.

I might add, stop calling them “Fast Response Cutters.” It leaves the wrong impression of how they are used and their capability.