Smugglers’ Boats Evolve

Very Slender Vessel (VSV). Guatemalan Ministry of Defense photo.

Popular Mechanics has a post on the way drug smuggling craft are evolving in an attempt to avoid detection. Specifically they have begun to use very slender hull forms for their self propelled semi-submersibles.

The post also has a link to perhaps the best collection of photos of smuggling craft I have ever seen.

Thanks to Peter O. for bringing this to my attention. 

Interview: Adm. Paul Zukunft demands Coast Guard respect–Defense News

DefenseNews had an interview with the Commandant. You can read it here. I will not repeat the Commandant’s responses here, but I will repeat one of the questions and add my own thoughts.

Admiral, you have said that the Coast Guard’s identity as an armed service is forgotten. Can you tell me what you mean by that?

The Commandant talks here about budget, but I think this starts with self image. We do SAR. We rescue sea turtles. Armed services are first and foremost ARMED. We are by law a military service, but we are currently inadequately armed for even our peacetime counter terrorism, DHS mission. We are less capable of forcibly stopping a ship than we were 90 years ago.

Do our people know what their role will be if there is a major conflict with the Chinese or Russians? You can bet Navy and Marine Personnel have a pretty good idea of their roles.

We have had a quarter century hiatus in a mono-polar world where no one could challenge American seapower. That is changing rapidly and it is time for the Coast Guard to see itself in a new light. Just as the nation has benefited from having two land forces (Army and Marines), it can benefit from having two sea forces. The Coast Guard is a substantial naval force. Certainly we will not replace the Navy’s sophisticated systems, but there is a need for a high low mix and the marginal cost of adding capability to Coast Guard vessels that are going to be built anyway is very small.

We are currently in an unrecognized naval arms race with China. It is time to give the Coast Guard back the ASW and ASuW capabilities it was building before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

When I reported to the academy in 1965, it had a gun lab, and we were taught ASW (badly) during swab summer. The Coast Guard had 36 ships equipped with sonar, ASW torpedoes and 5″ guns. The ships were old (not as old as now), but we were building a new fleet of 36 Hamilton Class WHECs equipped with a better sonar in addition to torpedoes and a 5″ gun. Being armed did not stop us from doing SAR, fisheries, or aids to navigation.

At that time (1965) in terms of personnel, the US Navy was about 25 times larger than the Coast Guard and had 287 cruisers, destroyers, and frigates. Now it is only eight times as large as the Coast Guard and has only 85 ASW equipped surface ships. We also had a powerful naval ally in Europe in the form of the Royal Navy. Now the Coast Guard is supplying personnel to the Royal Navy and in terms of personnel the Coast Guard is larger than the Royal Navy or the French Navy. Equipping our planned 33 to 35 large cutters as true surface combattants could make a real difference.

Even if we never go to war, preparation can make us better at our peacetime roles. Drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, and even SAR benefit from military grade ISR and C4I. Recognition of naval capabilities in the Coast Guard may justify additional resorces that have dual use for peacetime missions. Its a win-win.


U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Admits to Not “Aggressively Enforcing” Firefighting Rules–gCaptain

A report from gCaptain.

Marine inspection has never been my area, but this does not sound good.

“A top U.S. Coast Guard official admitted at a recent congressional oversight hearing that the U.S. Coast Guard “has not been aggressively enforcing the compliance” of vessel response plans filed under federal Salvage and Marine Firefighting (SMFF) regulations. The rules, derived from the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, are meant to prevent a worst-case discharge resulting from fire or explosion aboard a vessel.”


Coast Guard Year in Review–US Naval Institute Proceedings

USCGC Monomoy (WPB-1326) and Adak (WPB-1333), elements of PATFORSWA

The US Naval Institute has made their annual review of Coast Guard activities available to the general public. You can read it here.

While it is not “news,” I was a little surprised, considering the audience, that there was no mention of the continued forward deployment of Coast Guard Patrol Forces South West Asia, PATFORSWA, and their six Island class patrol boats stationed in Bahrain.

I had seen most of this information in various places before, but there was one tidbit in the report I had not heard before,

“The Stratton deployed for the entire RIMPAC exercise with an embarked Navy H-60 Seahawk and aviation detachment. Successfully completing this deployment was a significant milestone. It was the first extended Navy aviation deployment on board a U.S. Coast Guard cutter…”

Now did we have magazine and storage for their weapons, ammunition, and expendables? Not clear if this was the Romeo (ASW) or Sierra (General Purpose/ASuW) version of H-60.

You might want to check out other articles here.