Happy Coast Guard Day

It is Coast Guard Day. It is time for picnics and telling your shipmates how you appreciate them. Of course many are still on the job.

For 22 years I had the privilege of being part of the organization. Most of the time it was fun, although there were times when it definitely was not. Don’t expect perfection. Like the nation itself, the Coast Guard is a work in progress. It can be better. Your efforts may not always be appreciated. Be true to the ideals that motivate you, and you and the organization will be better in the end.

An Offshore Patrol Vessel With Teeth

Royal Thai Navy’s second offshore patrol vessel based on the River class, HTMS Prachuap Khiri Khan (OPV 552) constructed by Bangkok Dock Ltd and poised for induction into service. Note RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles fitted. Photo: http://thaidefense-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/blog-post_31.html

Naval News reports that the Thailand has recently launched a second Krabi class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV). (It appears the ship has completed fitting out.) These are a version of the Royal Navy’s BAE designed River class OPVs. The Royal Navy is still building “Batch II” of this class. Three of the class are also in service with the Brazilian Navy and they may build more.

The Thai vessels are clearly the most heavily armed. While the British Royal Navy ships have at most one 30mm gun and the Brazilian ships have one 30mm and two 25mm guns, the first Thai ship emerged with an Oto Melara 76mm and two 30mm. This second OPV has added Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Four missile cannisters are visible in the photo above and they could probably carry as many as eight missiles.

At 90.5 meters (297′) in length and about 2,000 tons full load, they are a little larger than a WMEC 270, and about half the size of an Offshore Patrol Cutter.

Note: Thailand does have a small coast guard squadron, but these ships are not part of it. Naval history buffs might find this naval battle between Thailand and France in 1941 interesting. 


Revenue Cutter Thomas Jefferson captures three Royal Navy barges and personnel in Hampton Roads. US Coast Guard Collection.

Below you will find the text of the Commandant’s ALCOAST regarding the upcoming Aug. 4, “Coast Guard Day.”

I find it curious that it only talks about the Law Enforcement Mission, and almost exclusively drug enforcement, with only a mention of fisheries and no mention of alien migrant interdiction, environmental protection, or marine safety regulation. No mention of SAR, AtoN, Military Readiness (other than “maintaining our national security”), or recreational boating safety. Notably no mention of icebreaking either domestic or polar when we are seeking funding for icebreakers. No mention at all of the other organizations that were folded in to make the modern Coast Guard.

It is almost as if this is written for a specific audience. Makes me curious as to why it was written the way it was. 

(Incidentally Bill Wells is sure to point out that Alexander Hamilton did not create the Revenue Marine as a Service, and certainly not as a “military service.”)

ALCOAST 253/19
1. Sunday, 4 August 2019, marks the Coast Guard’s 229th birthday.
2. The U.S. Coast Guard’s law enforcement mission is its oldest, and sets us
apart from other military services. After the American Revolution, Secretary
of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was keenly aware of the need to protect
the Nation’s customs revenue, maintain coastal waters, and combat illegal
trade and piracy. On 4 August 1790, Congress, at the urging of Hamilton,
created the Revenue Marine, a military service designed to patrol coastal
waters and regulate the collection of tariffs. The Coast Guard proudly traces
its roots to that date, and for the past 229 years, the Coast Guard has served
the Nation with excellence.
3. The first recorded narcotics seizure by a cutter occurred on 31 August 1890.
A detail of four officers and eighteen men of the Revenue Cutter WOLCOTT boarded
and discovered a quantity of opium on the steamer GEORGE E. STARR. The vessel
and its illegal cargo were seized for violations of U.S. customs law.
4. On 16 January 1920, Prohibition became the law of the land. Given the mission
of preventing liquor smuggling into the United States, the Coast Guard saw a
rapid expansion of both facilities and personnel. By 1924, the “Rum War”
escalated. Smuggling from the sea, particularly along the East Coast, grew into
an immense, highly-coordinated criminal activity. That criminal behavior was met
with intensive and aggressive action by the Coast Guard. When Prohibition ended
on 5 December 1933, Coast Guard Headquarters reported: “The continued pressure
of Coast Guard preventative measures was a potent factor in reducing the volume
of the smugglers’ business and in bringing about a change of smuggling technique.”
5. By the 1970s, the Coast Guard faced an escalation of drug smuggling on the high
seas. This rapid growth of the maritime illegal narcotics trade drove the need for
highly-trained boarding teams and Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs), to specialize
in drug interdiction. On 1 November 1984, CGC CLOVER seized 13 tons of marijuana.
Three days later, CGC NORTHWIND became the first icebreaker to make a narcotics
seizure, capturing 20 tons of marijuana. On 8 May 1987, Coast Guard units seized 1.9
tons of cocaine. In 1989, the National Defense Act named the Coast Guard as the lead
agency for maritime drug interdiction.
6. Over the next several years, Coast Guard units continued to interdict drug
traffickers, seizing tons of marijuana and cocaine. CGC DAUNTLESS became the first
cutter in history to seize one million pounds of marijuana. In 2004, Coast Guard teams
intercepted and seized two ships near the Galapagos Islands, resulting in the capture
of more than 56,000 pounds of cocaine. In March 2007, CGCs HAMILTON and SHERMAN seized
42,845 pounds of cocaine aboard a Panamanian-flagged vessel.
7. Today, the mission continues. In July, CGC MUNRO, our newest operational National
Security Cutter, completed its first-ever counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific.
The interdiction of a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) on 18 June resulted in
17,000 pounds of cocaine, the largest single seizure since 2015. Nine total interdictions
resulted in nearly 40,000 pounds of illicit narcotics with a wholesale value of $569
million dollars. During the patrol, MUNRO’s crew worked closely with the Coast Guard’s
Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON), which celebrates its 20th anniversary
this year with over $21 billion in seized narcotics from airborne use-of-force interdictions.
8. As we celebrate the 229th birthday of the Coast Guard, it is evident that our first
mission remains one of our most important today. Coast Guard air and surface assets, as
well as our brave men and women, are tasked with enforcing fisheries laws, ensuring secure
ports and waterways, keeping illegal narcotics off our streets, and maintaining our national
security. We remain “Semper Paratus – Always Ready.”
9. ADM Karl Schultz, Commandant, sends.
10. Internet release authorized.

“Joint Bomber Patrol Over the Pacific: The Russo-Chinese Military Alliance in Action” –Eurasian Daily Monitor

CSR Report RL33153 China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress by Ronald O’Rourke dated February 28, 2014. Page 8 – Figure 1. Jin (Type 094) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Source: Photograph provided to CRS by Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, December 2010.

The Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasian Daily Monitor reports on the implications of growing alliance between Russia and China reflected in their recent joint bomber patrols intercepted off S. Korea and Japan.

There is an interesting aspect to this growing alliance that might suggest more reason for US military construction and activity in the Arctic, which, in turn, may require more icebreaker support.

“Russian military expert Alexander Shirokorad…Building on earlier Russo-Chinese missile- and air-defense cooperation that necessarily involved the transmission of highly classified information between them…openly advocates for joint Russo-Chinese air- and missile-defense infrastructure in the Arctic. Unexpectedly, however, he also advances an entirely new concept of allowing Chinese nuclear-armed submarines to gain critical support from Russian Arctic ports. It is difficult to gauge to what degree Shirokorad’s article was meant to have been a justificatory trial balloon. But the piece clearly takes on additional significance when looked at in the context of the Pentagon’s annual report on China, which explicitly warns that Beijing may eventually start deploying nuclear submarines in the Arctic.”


“Cutter Bertholf’s Indo-Pac Deployment Highlighted Coast Guard’s National Security Role” –USNI

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (left) moves in formation with Philippine coast guard vessels Batangas (center) and Kalanggaman during an exercise on May 14. U.S. Coast Guard/Chief Petty Officer John Masson

This piece from Naval Institute News Service is worth a read. It is an illustration of what the Commandant was talking about here.

New Paint Technology

Some things you may take for granted and never expect to change, but Marine Log brings us a report on new paint technology that reportedly lowers deck temperature for even darker colors (like our gray decks).

The temperature difference between, for example, a deck coated with conventional paint system and one with Ever Cool can be up to about 28°C (50.4°F–Chuck), with the specially formulated coating reflecting up to 80% of the sun’s heat, even from colored coatings.

This isn’t just about keeping your flip-flops from melting to the deck, it also means lower auxiliary loads on the air-conditioning systems and generators. It may even mean a lower IR signature.

“Vice president to participate in $569 million cocaine offload in San Diego” –Press Release

The following is a PACAREA news release quoted in full.

Pacific Area online newsroom

Vice president to participate in $569 million cocaine offload in San Diego

Screen shot of a Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicting a suspected drug smuggling vessel
Screen shot of a Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicting a suspected drug smuggling vessel Screen shot of a Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicting a suspected drug smuggling vessel
Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel
Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel
Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel Coast Guard Cutter Munro boarding team interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.

Who: Vice President Mike Pence, National Drug Control Policy Director James W. Carroll, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration Uttam Dhillon; Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander Vice Adm. Linda Fagan

What: Offloading 39,000 pounds of cocaine seized from suspected drug smugglers in the Eastern Pacific

When: 12:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Naval Air Station North Island, Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale Gate, San Diego, California

Media instructions: Credentialed media who wish to attend the offload must arrive between 5:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. in order to be screened by security. Any media who show up after 9 a.m. may not be allowed on base.

ALAMEDA, Calif. – Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to attend a Coast Guard drug offload Thursday in San Diego.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Munro will offload more than 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana worth a combined estimated $569 million, which was seized in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The drugs represent 14 separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions and disruptions off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America by three Coast Guard cutters between May and July 2019.

Pence; James W. Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Uttam Dhillon, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, are scheduled to visit Munro and give remarks.

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations. The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in districts across the nation.

The Coast Guard increased U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions, a suspect vessel is initially detected and monitored by allied, military or law enforcement personnel coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force-South based in Key West, Florida. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, California. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.