A Conversation With General John Kelly

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, discusses the latest developments in his command’s efforts to stem the flow of drugs from South and Central America while briefing reporters at the Pentagon, March 13, 2014.

As part of The U.S. Coast Guard Academy 2019–2020 Leadership Lecture Series, General and former administration Chief of Staff John F. Kelly addressed an audience of future officers at the Academy with former Commandant Admiral Thad Allen moderating. You can watch it here, but skip ahead. It does not really start until time 31:30. The actual discussion is about an hour.

“Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” CRS

The crew of USCGC Kimball (WMSL 756) arrive in Honolulu for the first time Dec. 22, 2018. Known as the Legend-class, NSCs are designed to be the flagships of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging national security missions, including support to U.S. combatant commanders. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir/Released)

The Congressional Research Service issued an updated version of its “Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” on August 7. I have reproduced the report’s summary below. 


The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR) calls for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard high-endurance cutters, medium-endurance cutters, and patrol craft. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2020 budget requests a total of $657 million in procurement funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs.

NSCs are the Coast Guard’s largest and most capable general-purpose cutters; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 12 aged Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters. NSCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $670 million per ship. Although the Coast Guard’s POR calls for procuring a total of 8 NSCs to replace the 12 Hamilton-class cutters, Congress through FY2019 has funded 11 NSCs, including the 10th and 11th in FY2018. Six NSCs have been commissioned into service. The seventh and eighth were delivered to the Coast Guard on September 19, 2018, and April 30, 2019, respectively, and are scheduled to be commissioned into service in August 2019. The ninth through 11th are under construction; the ninth is scheduled for delivery in 2021. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2020 budget requests $60 million in procurement funding for the NSC program; this request does not include funding for a 12th NSC.

OPCs are to be smaller, less expensive, and in some respects less capable than NSCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 29 aged medium-endurance cutters. Coast Guard officials describe the OPC program as the service’s top acquisition priority. OPCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $421 million per ship. On September 15, 2016, the Coast Guard awarded a contract with options for building up to nine OPCs to Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, FL. The first OPC was funded in FY2018 and is to be delivered in 2021. The second OPC and long leadtime materials (LLTM) for the third were funded in FY2019. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2020 budget requests $457 million in procurement funding for the third OPC, LLTM for the fourth and fifth, and other program costs.

FRCs are considerably smaller and less expensive than OPCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 49 aging Island-class patrol boats. FRCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $58 million per boat. A total of 56 have been funded through FY2019, including six in FY2019. Four of the 56 are to be used by the Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf and are not counted against the Coast Guard’s 58-ship POR for the program, which relates to domestic operations. Excluding these four OPCs, a total of 52 FRCs for domestic operations have been funded through FY2019. The 32nd FRC was commissioned into service on May 1, 2019. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2020 budget requests $140 million in acquisition funding for the procurement of two more FRCs for domestic operations.

The NSC, OPC, and FRC programs pose several issues for Congress, including the following: 

  • whether to provide funding in FY2020 for the procurement of a 12th NSC; 
  • whether to fund the procurement in FY2020 of two FRCs, as requested by the Coast Guard, or some higher number, such as four or six; 
  • whether to use annual or multiyear contracting for procuring OPCs; 
  • the annual procurement rate for the OPC program; 
  • the impact of Hurricane Michael on Eastern Shipbuilding of Panama City, FL, the shipyard that is to build the first nine OPCs; and 
  • the planned procurement quantities for NSCs, OPCs, and FRCs.

Recognition for the Coast Guard’s contributions to the Office of Strategic Services during World War II

Just passing this along. Always nice to be appreciated.

U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
Contact: Headquarters Public Affairs
Office: (202) 372-4630
Headquarters online newsroom

US Coast Guard event to recognize the service’s contributions to the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, presentation of medal to the Coast Guard 

WASHINGTON —  Media are invited to attend a ceremony Sept. 12, 2019, in Washington, D.C., when the Office of Strategic Services Society will recognize the U.S. Coast Guard’s contributions to the OSS — the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency — during World War II.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a directive in 1941 to stand up the office of the Coordinator of Information, which became the OSS in 1942. The Coast Guard’s support to the OSS on covert, counter-intelligence, espionage and sabotage operations in the maritime environment was a unique instrument for national security policy during World War II domestically and abroad, and it helped lay the foundation for future Coast Guard operations. Because the information was classified for so long, the public is not fully aware of the relationship between the OSS and the Coast Guard, including Coast Guardsmen attached to the OSS in Europe and the China-Burma-India Theatre.

The OSS Society was founded in 1947 by Gen. William Donovan. It honors the historic accomplishments of the OSS during World War II and educates the American public regarding the continuing importance of strategic intelligence and special operations to the preservation of freedom.

Event details:

What: Presentation of medal to the Coast Guard by the Office of Strategic Services Society


  • Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Karl Schultz
  • Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Charles Ray
  • Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason Vanderhaden
  • Mr. Charles Pinck, president of the Office of Strategic Services Society

When: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern

Where: U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Douglas Munro Building, U.S. Department of Homeland Security St. Elizabeths Campus, Washington, D.C.

Advance registration is required for any media wishing to attend the event — there will be no same-day registration. Please reply to mediarelations@uscg.mil by Sept. 4, 2019, for instructions on registering.

“US Border Patrol boat damaged by gunfire in brief encounter on Rio Grande” –Baird Maritime

Baird Maritime is reporting that about 50 shots were fired at a Customs and Border Protection boat and its crew, operating on the Rio Grande near Fronton, Texas, on Friday, Aug. 9. The boat was hit several times, but there were no injuries.

This looks to be about ten miles below Falcon Lake. This recalls an incident in 2010. Blog discussion here.

“Lighthouse Act – 7 August 1789” –BRYMAR

A little late, but I am passing this little tidbit of Coast Guard history along from BRYMAR consulting.

Lighthouse Act – 7 August 1789

C:\Users\User\Pictures\01Blog pix\USLHS-a.jpg
The Lighthouse Act was the ninth statute adopted by the First Congress of the United States. It provided for the voluntary cession by the various states of all lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers to the federal government and tasked the Secretary of the Treasury with building and maintaining the aids to maritime navigation. The Lighthouse Establishment (later named the United States Light House Service) is the oldest of the various components of the present-day United States Coast Guard, joining in 1939.

“sUAS Extend Coast Guard Capabilities in the Inland Rivers” –USNI

160919-N-AT101-177 GULF OF MEXICO (Sept. 19, 2016) Cadet 1st Class Hanson Oxford, a student at the U.S. Air Force Academy, operates an unmanned aerial system aboard a rigid hull inflatable boat during exercise Black Dart, Sept. 19. Black Dart is the largest Department of Defense (DoD) live-fly, live-fire, counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) technology demonstration. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Maddelin Angebrand/Released)

A thought provoking article from the US Naval Institute looking at ways small unmanned air systems (sUAS) have been used, or might be used, in support of Coast Guard missions in inland areas.

The Coast Guard apparently includes systems as large as ScanEagle in the sUAS category. The USNI post notes,

“Individual Coast Guard units are currently prohibited from procuring and operating their own sUAS until the Coast Guard can establish a program to provide the appropriate systems and training to operators.”

The discussion here is not about systems as large as ScanEagle, but rather small, off the shelf systems, costing less than $5,000. The costs of these systems is so low, and the potential impact so great, perhaps the Coast Guard should have a program to procure a small number of these systems for units that can make a case for them, as prototypes for future deployment. Ground rules might specify a one year trial period and periodic feedback.

Marines are already starting to deploy these at the squad level. Presumably there must be a contract for them. Maybe they are already on GSA schedule.