Hollywood’s Greats Come Out to Dance to ‘Chase Hall Funk’ (the Academy Class of 1969 Theme Song)

Now for something completely different, to lighten the mood. In prep for my Academy class’ 50th graduation anniversary, a classmate, Bob Pokress, wrote new lyrics for Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” and had it professionally recorded, to be used as the class marched onto the field. He also produce a couple of videos. First the one below staring some now old Coasties before they went to their first assignment. More recently the one above. Looking at the video below, you’ll see that the composition of the class of 1969 was very different from the population of today’s Academy classes.

The Gauntlet has been thrown down. Other Coast Guard unit videos out there that might equal or top this one?

“Trump: US to deploy anti-drug Navy ships near Venezuela” –Navy Times

Orthographic map of Venezuela centered on Caracas
Controlled territory in dark green.
Claimed territory in light green.
From Wikipedia, Author: Addicted04

The Navy Times reports,

“President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that Navy ships are being moved toward Venezuela as his administration beefs up counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean following a U.S. drug indictment against Nicolás Maduro.”

Most of the narcotics trafficking seems to be in the Eastern Pacific rather than the Caribbean. Venezuela’s coasts are on the Caribbean and the Atlantic. Apparently not all the effort will off Venezuela,

“The mission involves sending additional Navy warships, surveillance aircraft and special forces teams to nearly double the U.S. counter-narcotics capacity in the Western Hemisphere, with forces operating both in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific. Esper said the mission would be supported by 22 partner nations.”

Hope we have enough law enforcement detachments.

“Venezuelan Navy Patrol Ship Sinks After Collision With Cruise Ship ” –Maritime-Executive

Graphic from FleetMon report

Maritime-Executive and FleetMon report a curious case in the Caribbean. Looks like, perhaps the Venezuelan Navy attempted an act of piracy against an ice strengthened cruise ship, RCGS Resolute with 35 crewmen aboard, and lost a ship as a result. Warning shots were fired and the Venezuelan vessel attempted to shoulder the cruise ships.

Also this is the second Navantia built warship to sink as a result of collision. The Venezuelan patrol vessel, NAIGUATA, was commissioned in 2011 and is about the size of a Coast Guard 270 foot WMEC, 1720 tons full load, 79.9 m (262 ft) in length. Navantia is also teamed with Bath Ironworks in the US Navy’s FFG(X) Competition.

“Defense Primer: United States Transportation Command” –CRS

Emblem of the United States Transportation Command (TRANSCOM or USTRANSCOM). The original emblem was designed by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry.

The Congressional Research Service has issued a short “primer” on TRANSCOM, the US Transportation Command.

The component the Coast Guard has most frequent contact is the Military Sealift Command, MSC.

Coast Guard fixed wing assets may from time to time also be called upon to assist the Air Mobility Command, AMC.

“South Korea will deliver two decommissioned Haeuri-Class patrol vessels to Ecuador’s coastguard” –Navy Recognition

One of 22 South Korean Coast Guard Haeuri (type A) patrol vessel (Picture source: Korean Internet)

NavyRecognition reports that South Korea will be transferring two S. Korean Coast Guard vessels to the Ecuadorian Coast Guard.

The vessels are Haeuri patrol vessels, PC302 and PC303. According to my “Combat Fleets of the World,” they entered service in Dec 1990 and 1991 respectfully, so they are coming up on 29 and 30 years old. They are 55.5 meter or 182′ in length overall (53.7 between perpendiculars), have a 7.4 meter or 24.3′ beam, and a draft of 2.48 meters or just over 8′. Displacement is 300 tons light and 460 tons full load. They have a pair of MTU 16V396 diesels for a total of 4,392 HP and a speed of 19 knots, and a range of 2,100 nmi at 15 knots. Crew is four officers and 35 enlisted. Armament is a 20mm Vulcan Gatling gun and four .50 cal. (From what I have found, these ships may look a bit different from the photo above, which was included with the story. A photo of PC301 from Combat Fleets shows a vessel with a lattice mast, stack, and no boat or crane on the stern.)

The Ecuador’s Coast Guard currently has a pair of 50 meter Damen patrol vessels and four Damen Stan 2600 vessels similar to the 87 foot Marine Protector Class.

Since Ecuador’s EEZ is in the Eastern Pacific Drug transit zone, there is a good chance the US Coast Guard may interact with these vessels.

“US’s only heavy icebreaker returns home following 123-day Antarctic Treaty inspection and resupply mission” –News Release

Below is a news release. The unusual part of this, is that Polar Star was involve in inspection of foreign stations in Antarctica. These are the first such inspections since 2012. I certainly doubt there are any problems with the Italian and South Korean stations. Perhaps the Chinese presence bears watching. It is not that I expect they will find a military base, but it would not be surprising to find “dual use” facilities. Systems that could support both scientific activity and possible future military use. This was the way they started on their South China Sea artificial islands. I don’t think we can expect the current treaty to stay in place forever. 

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
Contact: Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs
Office: (510) 437-3375
After Hours: (510) 816-1700
Pacific Area online newsroom

US’s only heavy icebreaker returns home following 123-day Antarctic Treaty inspection and resupply mission

Rear Adm. Jack Vogt, commander of the 13th Coast Guard district, welcomes the crew of USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) at Base Seattle, Wednesday, March 25. The nation's only heavy icebreaker, during Operation Deep Freeze 2020 the Polar Star created a path through 451.1 nautical miles of ice up to 6 feet thick so that provisioning vessels could reach McMurdo Station, Antarctica. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Michael Clark)
USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) returns to homeport of Seattle A crewmember aboard Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB-10) supervises as mooring lines are passed to the pier on Base Seattle, Wednesday, March 25. The Polar Star crew completed a 4-month deployment to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Michael Clark) Rear Adm. Jack Vogt, commander of the 13th Coast Guard district, welcomes the crew of USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) at Base Seattle, Wednesday, March 25. The nation's only heavy icebreaker, during Operation Deep Freeze 2020 the Polar Star created a path through 451.1 nautical miles of ice up to 6 feet thick so that provisioning vessels could reach McMurdo Station, Antarctica. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Michael Clark)

SEATTLE — The 150-member crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star returned Wednesday to their homeport of Seattle following a 123-day deployment to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze.

This mission marks the Polar Star’s 23rd journey to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, an annual joint military service mission to resupply the United States Antarctic stations, in support of the National Science Foundation – the lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program.  This year also marks the 63rd iteration of the annual operation.

The Polar Star crew departed Seattle on Nov. 27, 2019, for their sixth deployment in as many years and traveled more than 26,350 miles through the North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans.

In the Southern Ocean, the crew travelled through nearly 500 miles of pack ice and broke through 23 miles of fast ice in order to create a nearly 18-square-mile navigable channel to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.  Because of the efforts of the Polar Star crew, two resupply vessels and one tanker travelled to McMurdo Station unescorted in order to refuel and resupply U.S. Antarctic stations.

This year’s operation required the construction of a temporary, modular mobile causeway to replace an ice pier, which disintegrated during Operation Deep Freeze 2018-2019.  The modular pier required a three-day construction period prior to the offload of supplies, followed by a three-day deconstruction period at the conclusion of the mission.

Three resupply ships required 23 days to offload 19.6 million pounds of cargo and 7.6 million gallons of fuel during this year’s operation, more than doubling the operation duration and capacity as previous years. Together, the three ships delivered enough fuel and critical supplies to sustain NSF operations throughout the year until Polar Star returns in 2021.

Among the cargo offloaded were construction materials for a five-year, $460 million Antarctica Infrastructure Modernization for Science (AIMS) project to recapitalize McMurdo Station, South Pole Station and other American outposts on the continent.  

Additionally, the Polar Star crew also supported a team of U.S. government officials from the U.S. Department of State, National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Coast Guard who conducted a five-day inspection of foreign research stations, installations and equipment in Antarctica.

The United States continues to promote Antarctica’s status as a continent reserved for peace and science in accordance with the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. The inspection serves to verify compliance with the Antarctic Treaty and its Environmental Protocol, including provisions prohibiting military measures and mining, as well as provisions promoting safe station operation and sound environmental practices.

The team inspected three stations: Mario Zucchelli (Italy), Jang Bogo (South Korea), and Inexpressible Island (China). This was the fifteenth inspection of foreign research stations by the United States in Antarctica and the first since 2012.

Inspections emphasize all of Antarctica is accessible to interested countries despite territorial claims and reinforce the importance of compliance with the Antarctic Treaty’s arms control provisions. The United States will present its report on the inspection at the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Helsinki, Finland, in May 2020.

“I am very proud of the tenacity of this Polar Star crew,” said Coast Guard Capt. Greg Stanclik, commanding officer of the Polar Star. “158 crew members earned the Antarctic Service Medal during Operation Deep Freeze 2020. The words inscribed on the back of the medal are Courage, Sacrifice and Devotion. Each and every one exhibited the courage to make this 123-day Antarctic voyage, sacrificed time away from their loved ones and devoted themselves to executing this nationally critical mission.”

Commissioned in 1976, the Polar Star is the United States’ only operational heavy icebreaker, capable of breaking ice up to 21 feet thick. Reserved for Operation Deep Freeze each year, the ship spends the winter breaking ice near Antarctica, and when the mission is complete, returns to dry dock in order to conduct critical maintenance and repairs in preparation for the next Operation Deep Freeze mission.

If a catastrophic event, such as getting stuck in the ice, were to happen to the Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB 20) in the Arctic or to the Polar Star near Antarctica, the U.S. Coast Guard is left without a self-rescue capability.

By contrast, Russia currently operates more than 50 icebreakers – several of which are nuclear powered.

The Coast Guard has been the sole provider of the nation’s polar icebreaking capability since 1965 and is seeking to increase its icebreaking fleet with six new polar security cutters to ensure continued national presence and access to the Polar Regions.

In April 2019, the Coast Guard awarded VT Halter Marine Inc. of Pascagoula, Mississippi, a contract for the design and construction of the Coast Guard’s lead polar security cutter, which will also be homeported in Seattle. The contract also includes options for the construction of two additional PSCs.

“Replacing the Coast Guard’s icebreaker fleet is paramount,” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area. “Our ability to clear a channel and allow for the resupply of the United States’ Antarctic stations is essential for continued national presence and influence on the continent.”