“US, PH, Japan coast guards hold maritime law enforcement training” –The Manila Times

More than 30 participants from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam joined the Multinational Vessel Boarding Officer Course funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on May 15-26, 2023. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Manila Times reports on a US sponsored, Philippines hosted, boarding officer course that was also extended to officers from other ASEAN partners.

“Through this course, 33 participants from the PCG, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency, Thailand’s Maritime Enforcement Command Center, and Vietnam’s Department of Fisheries enhanced their knowledge of the law of the sea and policy on the use of force.”

Thanks to Paul for bring this to my attention. 

“The Coast Guard Must Take Action to Send Women Afloat” –USNI

The US Naval Institute blog has a post entitled “The Coast Guard Must Take Action to Send Women Afloat, writen by Cadet Second Class Kyra Holmstrup, U.S. Coast Guard, who said that she was fortunate to spend a long summer cruise on a National Security Cutter but noted her experience was the exception.

Third-class summer is vital to future career selection in the Coast Guard. Without having gone afloat on an NSC, I would not be at CGA today. Seeing the world from the bridge helped me identify the reason why I joined and solidified the leadership lessons I learned as they guide me through my 200-week leadership journey. If this is not addressed now, our service risks losing the diversity and relevance the Coast Guard has so desperately worked to attain. To the senior leaders at CGA and in the Coast Guard: Make it a priority to send female cadets afloat for summer assignments and provide cadets with opportunities to experience different underway platforms. The focus should be on providing prospective female officers with earlier exposure to the afloat community starting at CGA with cadets like me. Not enough female cadets experience adequate time on board cutters early on in their careers; if female cadets did, the Coast Guard would see an increase in the number that go and—more importantly—stay afloat.

Earlier USNI had another post,“Fixing the Coast Guard Academy’s Priorities” that we discussed here. It appears all cadets, not just female cadets, are not getting enough experience afloat with operational units.

Our credibility in all mission areas is predicated on our experience as a seagoing organization. All Coasties, particularly officers, need at least some experience afloat.

“Fixing the Coast Guard Academy’s Priorities” –USNI

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Feb. 23, 2021) — USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC 1141) conducted Astern Refueling at Sea training with the USCGC Venturous (WMEC 625). This evolution provides vital fuel to extend the endurance and range of FRC and provided an excellent training opportunity for both crews. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sydney Niemi/Released)

US Naval Institute Proceedings has an essay that was chosen as third place winner in their “Midshipmen & Cadets Essay Contest,” written by now Ensign Logan Tobias. He contends, “The U.S. Coast Guard Academy is failing as a commissioning source for future leaders in the maritime domain. “

He suggests that the Academy has prioritized academics over professional training, and further that it is failing to graduate officers with “a love for the sea.” He also suggest that the class ranking system (military precedence average (MPA) calculation) which is weighted to consider suitability for service or military performance (MPI) as only 25% of the total undermines professional development.

 The MPA formula ensures academics always take precedence even though it is widely understood that MPI better encapsulates what it means to be an effective officer. In fact, a study commissioned by the U.S. Military Academy demonstrated that the correlation between academic success and officer effectiveness “did not demonstrate a very high relationship.”

Pointing out that academic performance and leadership do not necessarily go hand in hand he suggests, an evaluative prioritization shift to 55 percent GPA, 40 percent MPI, 5 percent PDC will help cadets reassess their priorities, allowing them to pursue opportunities for professional development not as a tradeoff for MPA points, but to advance both their personal readiness and class rank at the same time.

It does seem like sea-going experience is taking a hit.

In total, cadets accumulate approximately 140 sea days before graduation: 6-weeks on board the USCGC Barque Eagle (WIX-327) during third-class summer, three weeks on board 44-foot sailing yachts during second-class summer, and 11-weeks on board a cutter during first-class summer. However, this practicum is of questionable efficacy, as sailing a yacht to Nantucket is only tenuously related to conning a Coast Guard cutter. Moreover, many first class go to drydocked cutters, never leaving the pier, or only go underway for 6 weeks rather than 11, opting instead for internships and air stations. In summer 2021, more than one third of first-class cadets were assigned to internships or air stations. This apportionment helped contribute to 42 percent of the class not having enough sea time to earn a 100-ton license as of November 2021.

Forgive me, I am going to indulge in a bit of “back in my day,” even though it was long, long ago in a galaxie far, far away.  

My class and those of that now ancient era had an organized training cruise every year.  Newly arrived “swabs” (4th class/freshmen) capped swab summer with a short two week cruise that also included the 2nd class cadets.  3rd class and 1st class cadet had a 10 week cruise. That is 24 weeks afloat compared to the current 20 weeks but there were other significant differences. Even then there were some departures from this typical schedule but these were normally only available to second and first class cadets.

First, we all knew our first assignment would be afloat, so it focused the mind.

The 10 week cruises were organized as a training squadron of several ships whose only mission was training cadets. None of them were tied up in port except for scheduled short port calls.

Academy officers were assigned to the ships to coordinate cadet training with the ships.

The first class cadets began to learn officer duties, OOD, CIC, Navigator, Damage Control and Engineering.

Perhaps most importantly, the third class cadets would stand watches with enlisted sailors as messenger, helm, BMOW, evaporator watch, generators, main prop, mess cook, radarman, quartermaster, etc. We lived in enlisted berthing and eat on the messdeck. We would lower and raise boats and served in the boat crews in different positions. We manned and fired the 5″ gun. We did man overboard drills. We laid out the hawser and did towing drills, towing and being towed. We worked maneuvering board solutions for stationing problems, learning a lot about relative motion. This gave us a good understanding of what we could and should expect of our enlisted personnel. This is something you don’t get on Eagle or on a 44 sloop.

That third class year long cruise may be the most important thing missing now. Being part of a good crew is a great part of the allure of sea duty. That cruise gave us a taste of that.

Bottom line, if the academy does not provide better trained and better motivated Coast Guard officers than other sources, it has no need to exist.

The author may be wrong in his assessment. Current requirement may make it impossible to train everyone to be ship drivers or marine engineers, but the background does provide a degree of credibility for marine inspectors and a better understanding for our aviators. I would think, at least for the first two summers’ training would strongly emphasize an afloat career path.

“A Community at Sea: Building Up the Cuttermen” –USNI

Masked members of the cutter James crew and Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz (front, center), along with interagency partners, stand among interdicted narcotics at Port Everglades, Florida, on June 9. U.S. COAST GUARD / Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray

The US Naval Institute Proceedings June 2022 issue includes an article that looks at how the retention and training of afloat personnel might be improved. There are a number of suggestions here including ending the up or out convention, lessons from the CG aviation community, and maritime credentialing.


Photo: Training Ship Tenacious under sail.

The Royal Navy reports,

For the first time in decades Royal Navy sailors are learning the art of seafaring on a traditional tall ship.

The use of the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s Tenacious is helping to plug the gap left by the closure of the Navy’s command and leadership school in the Brecon Beacons due to the pandemic.

“In a difficult period for Royal Navy training due to the pandemic, the use of the Jubilee Sailing Trust has allowed us to continue to provide top quality core leadership and team training in a maritime context,” said Commander Adrian Coulthard from the Navy’s training organisation.

Information on the ship here. Remarkably she is a wooden ship completed in 2000.

(Contrary to the claim in the Wikipedia article, she is not the largest wooden ship afloat, unless both USS Constitution and USS Constellation happen to be in dry dock at the same time.)

Exercise Tenacious Wave
Royal Navy sailors are setting sail on a traditional tall ship as part of Exercise TENACIOUS WAVE. Working in partnership with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, junior sailors are put to sea on Sailing Vessel Tenacious to continue their naval training.
This opportunity provides early exposure to maritime life, teaching about routines on board a ship and developing skills through a series of leadership exercises.

How The Fleet Forgot to Fight” –CIMSEC

USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752), left, and the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) maneuver in formation during Talisman Sabre 2019 on July 11, 2019. US Navy Photo

Currently the CIMSEC web site is migrating to a new server so it is off line, but they have provided something a shorthand critique of how some think the Navy has fallen short, since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Coast Guard still has Defense Readiness as one of its eleven missions. We in the Coast Guard are highly dependent on the Navy helping us know what needs doing, but I don’t think we should fail to think for ourselves.

This short five page outline of what the Navy has been doing wrong may be helpful because we have probably been making some of the same mistakes, not just in our preparation to fight a “near peer” major conflict, but in our response to the terror threat, and perhaps in our on-going war with drug smugglers.

“Swimming in Inequality” –USNI

MOBILE, Ala. Ð Rescue swimmers from Coast Guard Aviation Center Mobile show Luke Wiedeman how to properly inflate his life jacket, Nov. 7, 2011. Crewmembers from ATC Mobile worked with the Mobile chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help Luke realize his dream of becoming a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. Luke was able to take part in training with the swimmers, navigate high-tech flight simulators and participate in a search and rescue demonstration. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

The US Naval Institute blog has a short entry that discusses what was, to me. an unrecognized barrier to more equal racial representation in the Coast Guard–the swim standard for OCS.

“… 70 percent of Black children are unable to swim and 60 percent of Latino children are unable to swim. Of the Black and Latino children that say they are able to swim, there also is a large portion that are self-taught swimmers. In comparison, it is estimated that only 40 percent of Caucasian children are unable to swim.”

Was also surprised to see the large disparity in representation between the Navy and Coast Guard.

“As it stands right now, 5.5 percent of commissioned Coast Guard officers are Black, and only 13.5 percent are minorities in total. It is possible that qualified minority candidates see the swimming standards as impossible obstacles to overcome.”

“As of 2017, the Navy reached 34 percent of minority officer representation.”

Sounds like we have a self imposed barrier to recruiting some good people. Certainly swimming is a desirable ability, but do we apply the same standard to all Coastguardsmen? Does the Navy apply it to their incoming personnel? Can we do something to provide this skill to those who do not come to us with the ability?

“Surface Warfare Should Adopt Commercial Training Standards” –USNI

Display of maritime traffic provided by AIS. Only vessels equipped with AIS are displayed, which excludes most fishing boats, pleasure craft, inland navigation and vessels less than 300 tons. Location: Dover Straits/English Channel. Author: fr:User:Pline

The March 2020 issue of US Naval Institute Proceedings magazine has an article suggesting that,

“…the Navy needs to revamp its training regime. One way to do that is to align training with International Maritime Organization (IMO)/U.S. Coast Guard training and certifications for merchant mariners. Coast Guard/IMO–approved officer in charge of a navigational watch and management-level training would give surface warfare officers the fundamentals in navigation and seamanship they need to run a ship more effectively.”

Interestingly the article talks about Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy (RAN), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Commissioned Officer Corps, and U.S. Army mariner training, but it doesn’t discuss U.S. Coast Guard officer training, even though it does discuss NOAA 19-week Basic Officer Training Class (BOTC) at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

I have been away too long to speak knowledgably about our current deck officer training. I’m pretty sure it has become more formalized since my own experience. Hopefully we meet the standards we expect of other mariners.


Twenty-five nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, 17 land forces,  more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel participated in the latest RIMPAC exercise. Nations represented included Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

180710-G-ZV557-1313 PACIFIC OCEAN (July 10, 2018) Crewmembers aboard the USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) check the flight deck July 10, 2018, alongside the flight crew of the a U.S. Navy HSC-4 Black Knight MH-60 helicopter 15 miles south of Oahu, Hawaii, while in support of RIMPAC 2018. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Weydert

And the Coast Guard was there. USCGC Bertholf even headed one of the Task Groups. But I have yet to see any stories from the Coast Guard about Coast Guard participation.
Consequently there is not a lot I can say about what the Coast Guard did. Can’t help but think this was a missed opportunity.

All we seem to have are Navy photographs with their captions.

RIMPAC 2018 will also be the first time that US Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team West (MSRT-W) participates in RIMPAC SOCAL. US Navy Photo

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (July 10, 2018) U.S. Coast Guardsmen assigned to Regional Dive Locker Pacific conduct diving operations during a decontaminated water diving symposium at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, July 10, 2018.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez/Released)

The Sinking Exercises

One of the highlights of RIMPAC is always the ability to test ordnance against an actual ship in a Sink-EX. This time there were two target ships, the former USS Racine (LST-1191) and a frigate, the former USS McClusky (FFG 41).

The Racine Sink-EX

This RIMPAC was a bit unusual, in that US Army and Japanese ground units participated in the Racine Sink-EX.

Using targeting from a US Army Gray Eagle drone and AH-64E team, the former Racine was hit by four Japan Ground Self Defense Force surface to surface missiles, a Naval Strike Missile fired from a US Army vehicle with a Palletized Load System (PLS), five HIMAR artillery rockets were fired (no indication how many hits), a Harpoon missile fired by an Australian P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, and another Harpoon and a torpedo from a US submarine.

Photo By Master Chief Petty Officer Brian Brannon | 180712-N-HO130-2002 PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY BARKING SANDS, Hawaii (July 12, 2018) Members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) fire a Japanese Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile (SSM-12) at the ex-USS Racine (LST-1191), positioned at sea, during a sinking exercise, July 12, at Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. This marks the first time the U.S. Army and JGSDF have participated in a sinking exercise during RIMPAC.  (U.S. Navy photo by Master Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian Brannon/Released)


The McClusky Sink-EX

We don’t have a video of the McClusky Sink-EX. An early report indicated that she was sunk by fire from “from a ship and an aircraft.

Subsequently we learned that the Singapore Navy, presumably RSS Tenacious (71) which has space for up to 24 Harpoons, fired two Harpoons at the decommissioned FFG and that unlike most Harpoon strikes, these hit at the waterline, causing the ship to sink earlier than expected. (Really I think all anti-ship cruise missiles should be programmed to strike the waterline–perhaps a terminal dive. Usually their detonations let in air rather than water, damaging the target rather than sinking it.)

“In all, six Harpoons were successfully shot between the two SINKEX events, according to manufacturer Boeing.”

I presume this means two surface launched by the Singapore Navy and two air launched against the FFG and one sub launched and one air launched by the Australian P-8 against the LST.

An Air Force launched LRASM was originally planned to be used against Racine, but I have seen no indication one was launched during the exercise.

Innovation Fair

The Naval Institute reported on a new RIMPAC program, the “Innovation Fair.” While apparently it included a lot of high-tech presentations; it was a simple low-tech “why didn’t I think of that” good idea that won the prize, and it looks like something the Coast Guard could use, a floating and reflective damage control (DC) bag.

Royal Malaysian Navy Sub-Lieutenant Chan Jun Kwan, assigned to frigate KD Lekiu (FFG 30), displays a damage control floating bag concept developed by his crew during the inaugural Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise innovation fair. US Navy photo.