“Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard working on ‘tri-service maritime strategy'” –Inside Defense

USS Sterett (DDG-104), front, participates in a photo exercise with Chilean Frigate Almirante Lynch (FF-07), second, Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Ottawa (FFH-341), third, French Navy Floreal-class frigate FS Prairial (F-731), fourth, United States Coast Guard Cutter USCHC Bertholf (WMSL-750), fifth, the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10), sixth, and Royal Canadian Navy commercial container ship Asterix. US Navy Photo

This is the only indication I have seen so far that an update to the existing plan is underway..

SAN DIEGO — The Navy is working with both the Marine Corps and Coast Guard on a joint maritime strategy the services expect to receive from staff this summer. Speaking to attendees at the West 2020 conference here, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday disclosed work on the “tri-service maritime strategy” for the first time publicly. “We are trying to bring things together from a top-down perspective in a more integrated way,” Gilday said. Asked for details by Inside…

The rest is behind the paywall.

We of course already have a tri-service plan, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready“, published March 2015. The question is, will this be different? Will it  have any effect on how the Coast Guard operates, how it trains or how it is equipped? This will be a document at a very high level, so we can’t expect much in the way of detail. It will be descriptive, rather than prescriptive. Plus there will presumably be a classified supplement.

The previous version seemed to be about how to manage a peaceful environment. The environment now looks much more challenging. The new strategy could and should lead to visible change.

News Release: U.S. Coast Guard signs memorandum of agreement offering up to two years tuition at California State University East Bay

Passing along this news release. 

united states coast guard

News Release

Feb. 28, 2020
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
Contact: Coast Guard Pacific Area Public Affairs
Office: (510) 437-3319
After Hours: (510) 816-1700
Pacific Area online newsroom


U.S. Coast Guard signs memorandum of agreement offering up to two years tuition at California State University East Bay


U.S. Coast Guard and California State University East Bay representatives sign Memorandum of Agreement for College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program
U.S. Coast Guard and California State University East Bay representatives sign Memorandum of Agreement for College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program U.S. Coast Guard and California State University East Bay representatives sign Memorandum of Agreement for College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program U.S. Coast Guard and California State University East Bay representatives sign Memorandum of Agreement for College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program
U.S. Coast Guard and California State University East Bay representatives sign Memorandum of Agreement for College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program U.S. Coast Guard and California State University East Bay representatives sign Memorandum of Agreement for College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program U.S. Coast Guard and California State University East Bay representatives sign Memorandum of Agreement for College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program

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

ALAMEDA, California — On Friday California State University East Bay became the third school in California to partner with the Coast Guard for the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI) program. Vice Adm. Linda L. Fagan, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, and California State University East Bay President Leroy M. Morishita signed a memorandum of agreement during a ceremony on campus.

Students who are accepted into the CSPI program will receive up to two years of tuition, living expenses and a salary while attending school and are guaranteed a commission with the Coast Guard following graduation.

As part of the agreement, Cal State East Bay faculty will also have increased opportunities to work with the Coast Guard on projects of shared interest such as marine biology and environmental science.

“Cal State East Bay is proud to join the U.S. Coast Guard’s College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative,” said Morishita. “Our students will receive significant resources and real-world training and our faculty can expand their research as a result of this agreement. We look forward to a collaboration that will have lasting impact for the university.”

CSPI is designed for motivated individuals who demonstrate a high caliber of academic and leadership excellence and who desire to serve their country in the United States Coast Guard. More than 470 students have graduated from the program since its inception in 1989.

“To meet the future needs of the Nation, our Coast Guard workforce must be representative of the American public we serve,” said Fagan.  “Diversity is a top priority for the service, and we are excited about our partnership with Cal State East Bay and the shared opportunities the CSPI program will create.”

The fully funded scholarship program is open to students of all races and ethnicities. While enrolled in school, the CSPI student, officer trainee, is enlisted in the Coast Guard with a four-year active duty obligation. While in the program, officer trainees are provided with valuable leadership, management, law enforcement, navigation and marine science skills and professional development training. Upon graduation from college, officer trainees attend Officer Candidate School and are commissioned as ensigns in the service.

“I look at my peers who have thousands of dollars in student debt after graduating from college and I’m so thankful that the Coast Guard not only paid my tuition but also paid me a salary, which allowed me to fully focus on my education.” said Ens. Sarah Connell, a recent CSPI graduate. “Now I’m student loan debt-free with a four year degree, and an officer in the military.”

Students currently enrolled, accepted for enrollment or pending enrollment in a full-time bachelor’s degree program at a designated college or institution with the desire to complete college and receive a guaranteed commission as an officer in the United States Coast Guard can apply for CSPI. Interested applicants can contact their nearest Coast Guard recruiter to start the application process and find more information by visiting www.gocoastguard.com.

2020 USNI Coast Guard Essay Contest, Deadline 30 April

USCGC Duane on North Atlantic Convoy Duty

The US Naval Institute is conducting its 2020 Coast Guard Essay Contest. Details and entry procedures are here.

The Challenge

Advance new thinking about the U.S. Coast Guard’s critical role in the new era of great power competition. No issue is too big or too narrow as long as it makes the Coast Guard stronger. This does not mean authors cannot be critical and take on conventional wisdom and current practices. In fact, we encourage you to push the “dare factor.”

Submission Guidelines

  • Word Count: 2,500 words maximum (excludes endnotes/sources).
  • Include word count on the title page but do not include your name on title page or within the essay.
  • Note: Your essay must be original and not previously published (online or in print) or being considered for publication elsewhere.

First Prize: $5,000

Second Prize: $2,500

Third Prize: $1,500

Selection Process

The Proceedings staff members will evaluate every essay and screen the top essays to a special Essay Selection Committee of at least six members who will include two members of the Naval Institute’s Editorial Board and four subject experts. All essays will be judged in the blind—i.e., the Proceedings staff members and judges will not know the authors of the essays.

Announcement of the Winners

Winners will be published in the August 2020 Proceedings.



Probably everyone who follows this blog has 2500 words of opinion about the Coast Guard.


Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz visits with Coast Guard crews stationed in New York City. U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 1st Class Jetta Disco.

Below you will find the text of the Commandant’s 2020 State of the Coast Guard speech. 

You can watch it here.

There is background information on some of the stories mentioned in the speech here.

Good Afternoon. It’s great to be here in Charleston, once again, WITH OUR PEOPLE! 230 years ago, the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, recognized that America’s prosperity depended on securing our ports, facilitating the flow of commerce, and establishing common rules for maritime trade.  Hamilton insightfully created what would become the United States Coast Guard. For well over two centuries, we have protected, defended, saved, and shielded the American people.  Today, I am proud to stand before you as the Commandant of the “World’s Best Coast Guard” and tell the story of WHY WE SERVE.

To Serve: THAT’S our promise to the public. Over the past year, you saw us first on scene following the horrific destruction of Hurricane Dorian – the largest most devastating storm to hit The Bahamas. Millions watched in awe as a Coast Guardsman fearlessly leapt onto a narco sub traversing the Eastern Pacific Ocean. National Security Cutter BERTHOLF plied the Taiwan Straits to promote free and open access to the seas and adherence to the “Rules Based Order.” Coast Guard service members rescued 24 trapped crewmembers from the overturned 650-foot GOLDEN RAY, including four confined for over 30 hours in 140 degree engine room spaces.

But, we did not become the world’s best by resting on our laurels. From our humble beginnings with just 10 wooden Brigantine sailing vessels, through today where our iconic racing stripe, branded on our cutters and aircraft, is recognized as a symbol of responsible maritime governance.  YOUR Coast Guard serves across the globe to advance American security and prosperity. We are an indispensable arm of the United States Armed Forces, and a vital component of the Department of Homeland Security.

As I reflect on the past year, I couldn’t be prouder of the men and women who answer our nation’s call to serve. Last March I stood with our people in Los Angeles to chart a course for the future. Since then, we’ve put tools in the hands of our frontline operators, including the fast-track deployment of ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems, and continue to achieve significant progress towards fielding our next generation of cutters. And we updated our personnel and assignment policies, including important changes to our weight and body composition program addressing disparities across our uniformed workforce.

We’ve seen overwhelming demand for our initiative to employ Coast Guard Reservists to backfill primary caregivers on parental leave. We also began testing new electronic health records and launched a modern credentialing system for our enlisted workforce.

Our Service has never been more relevant. Your Coast Guard is found at the intersection of great power competition and economic prosperity… fostering maritime stability and genuine “human-to-human” partnership.

As a Service, we are rightfully proud of our ability to lead in crisis, but our greatest value is in preventing crises in the first place. There is no agency better suited than the United States Coast Guard to lead in the maritime domain and to uphold worldwide institutions founded on the principles of freedom, sovereign rights, and liberty.

As we enter a new decade, the number 2020 itself connotates keen vision, and I see both challenges and opportunities confronting our Service – an inflection point of sorts as I approach the mid-point of my tenure as Commandant.  So, today, I offer you a “clear-eyed view” of our path forward and the acknowledgement that we have much work to do to achieve our goals.

In a constantly evolving environment, we cannot remain the world’s best Coast Guard, we cannot be “Always Ready” when America needs us, unless we think and act differently. Unless we continually hone our operational tradecraft.  Unless we continue to develop a positive culture that promotes respect, diversity and inclusion through strong leadership at all levels. Unless we develop our people and continually earn and maintain the public trust.

Now, let’s take a look at how we serve. Just outside is National Security Cutter JAMES… these cutters are the flagship of the Coast Guard’s modernized fleet with automated weapons systems, state-of-the-art command and control equipment, and advanced sensors. JAMES recently returned from a two-month deployment, where these modern systems and capabilities enabled them to stop dangerous drug cartels from smuggling over 13,000 pounds of narcotics.

Since the implementation of our Western Hemisphere Strategy four years ago, the men and women of the Coast Guard have interdicted 2 million pounds of pure cocaine worth 26 billion dollars. This vitally important work is the most effective way to help thwart cartels from trafficking their illicit products. Crews like those aboard Cutter JAMES battle these dangerous cartels.

[Video: LPV Interdiction]  During JAMES’s deployment, their armed helicopter crew shot out the engines of a low-profile vessel, a stealthy craft built for the sole purpose of smuggling drugs.  In today’s introductory video, you met Ensign DiRado.

He led a boarding team to apprehend the suspects; however, once on scene they realized the low profile vessel was sinking. They quickly removed the traffickers and slowed the flooding long enough to salvage the deadly narcotics and preserve critical evidence to support prosecution of the drug smugglers.

In fact, Ensign DiRado is here with us today. Ensign DiRado, please stand. OUTSTANDING WORK SHIPMATE!

Your leadership and skills exemplify the traits I look for in every Coastie.

Drug cartels are actively harming Americans and our way of life.  They traffic drugs, weapons, and people, causing instability and violence in Central America that drives migrants north.  And, their illicit commodities destined for U.S. soil devastate American families… setting records for drug-related deaths each year. THIS IS WHY WE SERVE!

Additionally, great power competitors like China and Russia are gaining influence right here in the Western Hemisphere by exploiting opportunities amidst the instability and weak governance fueled by transnational criminal activities. Our efforts in the Western Hemisphere are critical, and we are using every tool to combat this scourge.

Our network of embedded Coast Guardsmen in the region strengthen like-minded friends and allies. For the FIRST TIME in the history of the multi-decade maritime drug campaign, this past year our partner nations’ accounted for HALF of the Transit Zone drug interdictions.

This success is noteworthy, but only a hint of what we hope for in the future. Upholding the “rule of law”, and dismantling these insidious cartels furthers stability and enables our Western Hemisphere partners to protect their sovereign-interests against our global competitors.

Our Offshore Patrol Cutters – which will become the backbone of our modernized fleet – will have a critical role in this campaign.  The first in its class, Cutter ARGUS, is already under construction and will be delivered in 2022. The Offshore Patrol Cutter program is set to deliver 25 hulls and that fleet will ultimately comprise almost SEVENTY PERCENT of our offshore presence.

Our near-peer adversaries don’t just stop at financial entrapment of vulnerable countries.  They are actively exploiting other nations’ natural resources, including fish stocks. In many cases challenging the sovereignty of smaller or less developed nations.  China, with the world’s largest distant water fishing fleet,  is one of the worst predatory fishing offenders, engaging in what we call Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated Fishing—or IUU. This is far more than just about conservation and sustainability, this is a national security challenge warranting a clear response.

Fish is an essential protein source for over 40 percent of the global population, and fish stocks around the world are critical to many nations’ sovereignty and economic security.  Even by the most conservative estimates, IUU fishing accounts for more than a $23 billion annual loss to the global economy.

The United States Coast Guard can be a global leader combatting IUU fisheries by increasing partner-nation capacity, international cooperation, and targeted operations. To frame our expanding efforts to counter IUU fishing around the world, we are developing a progressive IUU Strategic Outlook for the Coast Guard, which we plan to release in late summer.

And, to enhance maritime domain awareness across the Pacific Ocean we are fostering a partnership with Global Fishing Watch, which uses cutting-edge machine learning and artificial intelligence to visualize, track, and share data about fishing activity in near real-time. If successful, this initiative may be scaled to our fisheries enforcement efforts worldwide.

Today, the United States holds sixteen counter-IUU fishing bilateral agreements in the Pacific and West Africa. And we are pursuing additional agreements to help us push back against the destructive fishing practices that are leaving vast expanses of the ocean and seabed in ruins. As a recent Stimson Center Report indicates, to stop IUU fishing we must increase accountability and help coastal nations improve their maritime domain awareness.

We call upon like-minded nations across the globe to join us, in publically denouncing countries and corporations that engage in IUU fishing, and enhance enforcement activities that thwart this threat.

Nowhere is this more important than the Indo-Pacific – where we serve to uphold America’s enduring interests. This swath of ocean is the epicenter of global maritime trade and geostrategic influence.

Many of these Pacific Island Countries, and even American island territories, lack the capability and capacity to fully police their sovereign waters, making them vulnerable to a spectrum of illicit activity.  We are most concerned by coercive state’s influence operations, intentions to construct dual-use infrastructure projects, and implied military threats to persuade other states to heed their strategic agenda. In the face of antagonistic behavior, the United States Coast Guard offers transparent engagement and partnership.  We aspire to remain the preferred and enduring partner in the region, tailoring and synchronizing our services with other like-minded partners to meet but not overwhelm the absorptive capacity of the nations we support.

Later this year, we will continue Operation AIGA to strengthen the community of island nations in Oceania.  By pairing an ocean-going Coast Guard buoy tender and Fast Response Cutters, we will promote “rules-based order,” build capacity, and affirm the United States’ positive and enduring role in the region. And, by the end of the year, we are on track to take delivery of the first two 154-foot Fast Response Cutters to be homeported in Guam.  These modern cutters will replace 40-year-old vessels, enhancing all aspects of the Coast Guard’s surface capabilities in the region, including increased range, sea-keeping, crew size, and enhanced cutter boats to support operations.

My Commander’s Intent is to employ our unique authorities and capabilities to complement, not duplicate, Department of Defense efforts.  In 2019, we deployed two National Security Cutters, STRATTON and BERTHOLF, for 10 months of uninterrupted support to the Indo-Pacific Combatant Commander. National Security Cutters will return to the Western Pacific again this year for joint operations with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, including participation in RIMPAC 2020 – the world’s largest multi-national Naval Exercise.

The Coast Guard is also doubling down on “human-to-human” interaction to bolster partner nation capacity building. Last August, our Mobile Training Team from Yorktown, Virginia worked hand-in-hand with the Philippine Coast Guard to stand up their new Outboard Motor Maintenance Center of Excellence.  And, last fall I met with another key regional partner, Japan, who is providing the Philippine Coast Guard with two 94 meter Response Vessels in 2022. These endeavors provide the Philippines with the organic capability to build and sustain their enforcement fleet, enabling them to lead regional security efforts.

Like the Philippines, countries around the world see WHY WE SERVE and are modeling themselves after the United States Coast Guard.  THE alternative to coercive and predatory engagement is “human-to-human” interaction and robust partnerships.  That’s what we do best.  Even our junior members provide an outsized impact to our globally strategic missions…

[FN Zheng, CGC STRATTON Vignette]

Fireman Zheng is watching today’s livestream with her Cutter STRATTON shipmates in Alameda, California.  Let’s recognize her incredible contributions with a round of applause.

Good luck at Aviation Maintenance Technician School FN Zheng – you’ll be an outstanding addition to our aviation community!

Now imagine thousands of people like Fireman Zheng, each applying his or her own unique talents and contributions across Oceania, demonstrating the full value proposition of the United States Coast Guard.

That’s why I’ve challenged my headquarters staff to work with our colleagues at the Department of State to explore leveraging similar funding models for Oceania that have enabled Coast Guard operations in the Caribbean and Central American corridor for the past 25 years.

Oceania is but one of several emerging geostrategic flashpoints.  Now let me tell you how we serve American interests at the furthest ends of the earth. As our Polar Regions become more accessible, foreign competitors seek to encroach on American sovereignty, exploit natural resources, and potentially limit access to shipping routes.

The Coast Guard operates our Nation’s only icebreaker fleet countering malign influence as our Nation’s most persistent surface military presence at the Polar Regions. We do this with just two cutters, one heavy and one medium ice-breaker. This is a woefully unacceptable level of presence in an area where we must be a leading force. PRESENCE EQUALS INFLUENCE – and we must up our game with respect to High Latitude presence!

I just returned from Antarctica, where I met the crew of the 44-year old POLAR STAR charged with ensuring access to our national interests in one of the most remote and unforgiving environments on earth. You met LCDR Karen Kutkiewicz, Operations Officer aboard the POLAR STAR in the introductory video.

[Video: POLAR STAR]   Each year, LCDR Kutkiewicz and the crew of POLAR STAR leave their families behind during the holiday season. While underway for their annual Antarctic deployment, the crew not only faces the challenges of the harsh environment, but they must also rely on their grit and ingenuity to keep their aging vessel in the fight.  And then, after their annual deployment to Antarctica, to remain ready for the coming year, they enter a six-month dry dock maintenance period far from their families in Seattle.

The good news is that both the Administration and Congress have duly recognized the burden our POLAR STAR sailors bear to meet the Nation’s call. That’s why I’m grateful for their recent support to fully fund our new Polar Security Cutter, the first modern heavy icebreaker to be built in the United States in half a century. Additionally, the President requested $555 million dollars in Fiscal Year 2021 to fully fund our critically needed second Polar Security Cutter, and there’s an acquisitions and funding strategy to build a third.

And today we’re developing operational requirements for medium ice-breakers. A fleet of at least three Polar Security Cutters, and three medium ice-breakers will ensure American sovereignty and presence in the Polar Regions for decades to come.

Cutter HEALY, our twenty-year old Medium Icebreaker, annually deploys above the Arctic Circle.  When HEALY sails this summer, it will do so, yet again, without reliable communications for a large portion of its multimonth patrol.

These challenges are not limited to the Arctic Circle… Just last month, the harsh environment of northern Alaska once again degraded communications equipment. In bitter cold conditions, Petty Officers Rustemeyer, Diko and Chipperini, from Electronic Systems Support Detachment Kodiak, traveled on snow machines until the cold rendered them inoperable.  They continued the journey by pulling their heavily loaded sleds, and then dug by hand through several feet of snow in order to effect temporary repairs on-site until weather improves.

As Commandant, I need my operational commanders to be able to communicate with every Coast Guard asset — anytime, anywhere. We are exploring new satellite communications capabilities with the Department of Defense and industry, as well as renewing land-based communications capabilities in Alaska. Arctic communications are a “whole-of-government” issue — we must work together to solve our communication blackout in the Arctic NOW.

Tremendous challenges and opportunities remain in the Polar Regions, and robust partnerships are imperative to success. Through strategic forums, the Coast Guard is a leader, maintaining a safe and prosperous Arctic region where cooperation is paramount, and the eight Arctic States rightfully set the terms of governance.  A strong U.S. Coast Guard allows America to lead at these vital frontiers.

Like the Pacific and Arctic, Coast Guard men and women are stationed worldwide in defense of our Nation. Today, as tensions in the Middle East remain heightened, the Coast Guard stands watch on the Arabian Gulf.  Six patrol boats and our Advanced Tactical Interdiction teams defend against terrorists, rogue nation states, and smugglers who destabilize the region. And, we are all in, with plans to begin replacing our aging patrol boats with Fast Response Cutters next year, expanding our maritime capabilities in support of U.S. Central Command. Not only are we on the operational frontlines, our Maritime Engagement Team trains the U.S. Navy, Allied Navies, and Gulf Coalition Countries building partner capacity to further stabilize the Arabian Gulf.

Right here in the homeland, your Coast Guard also enhances security. For the first time ever, we employed DHS’s recent congressionally authorized counter-drone authorities to protect over 130 world-leaders who gathered for the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

Likewise, under delegated DoD authority, Coast Guard Reserve petty officers helped pioneer state-of-the-art drone defense equipment at the Maritime Force Protection Units in both Kings Bay, Georgia and Bangor, Washington. These Coasties provide counter-drone protection for U.S. Navy Ballistic Missile Submarines.

The aforementioned programs are funded by the Department of Defense, but many of our defense contributions are not, leaving the Coast Guard on an unsustainable path to support our growing operational requirements. In contrast, DoD’s readiness funding has grown nearly THREE TIMES as much as the Coast Guard’s over the past five years despite our services having the same types of readiness challenges. That said, I am grateful to the Administration and Congress for the enacted 2020 budget and the 2021 President’s Budget Request which starts us on a healthier funding trajectory.   The long-term solution is to recognize the Coast Guard’s crucial role in maintaining our national security.  I continue to advocate for a return to a “security” and “non-security” appropriations framework which would help ensure the Coast Guard is funded in parity with the rest of the military services.

A community like Charleston understands just how important our defense contributions are to the Nation. And for generations, the people of this great port city have also appreciated the importance of maritime commerce to our nation.  Our interconnected global economy relies on efficient ports and waterways. Over NINETY PERCENT of the world’s goods move by sea.

We are clearly a maritime nation, and our marine transportation system generates over 30 million jobs and 5.4 trillion dollars annually in economic activity. Right here… in South Carolina, your ports account for 10 percent of both jobs and gross domestic product for the entire state.

[Charleston Video]

And South Carolina is not alone. The advantages of our Nation’s ports and waterways positively affect EVERY American, and EVERY State.  THAT IS HOW WE SERVE AMERICAN PROSPERITY.

Today we face unparalleled growth in vessel traffic and complexity within the marine transportation system, from liquefied natural gas exports, to offshore windfarms, to increasingly sophisticated vessels.  These factors and a host of others all contribute to an unprecedented demand for Coast Guard services.

Additionally, we see an emerging vulnerability in the increasing cyber-attacks targeting our ports. Over the past year, our new Cyber Protection Team has deployed to cities like New York and New Orleans to aid the intergovernmental response to malicious cyber-attacks.  This year, to better enable our operations, we intend to refresh our Cyber Strategy.

Our people are working around the clock on waterways across the country to keep our maritime industry safe and efficient, ensuring American shelves remain stocked and our vast needs for energy met.

However, the allure of high-paying jobs in the private sector makes it harder EVERY DAY to fill our shortage of qualified marine inspectors who facilitate the flow of commerce, and are typically found in our commissioned officer ranks.  Thankfully, the talents of our highly skilled enlisted workforce are helping us fill the gap. This year we are expanding the Enlisted Marine Inspector Program by sixty-three Apprentice positions, and growing seventeen additional inspector billets.

And we are arming those inspectors with enhanced tools to increase mobility and effectiveness. We are testing “INSPECT,” a tablet application that provides access to key Coast Guard databases in the field. However, tools alone are not enough.  Gaps in training funding in recent years have atrophied our skills in critical fields of expertise. Hence, we must create a regular training cycle for our marine safety professionals to keep pace with an increasingly complex maritime industry.

Pivoting to shore infrastructure, every mission begins and ends AT a Coast Guard facility. Unfortunately, due to years of flat-line budgets forcing tradeoffs, the facilities that our men and women deploy from and return to are crumbling around them.  Forty percent of Coast Guard buildings are over fifty years old. Mold. Leaky roofs. Flooding. Outdated building standards. These have all culminated in a TWO BILLION dollar backlog of facility repairs.  Every day that we continue to operate with antiquated infrastructure, it gets harder to protect our modern maritime economy, harder to save those in peril, harder to attract talented men and women into our ranks, and ultimately harder to defend our Nation.    Take for instance, Station Niagara. Last summer, the crew responded to record breaking flooding on the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. For four months, flood waters inundated the station grounds. The crew pumped-out 200,000 gallons of water DAILY, and worked around the clock just to keep their station operational. Despite such challenges, these dedicated Coasties still rescued 45 people and protected our northern border.

But it’s a different story in Houston where the city was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. There, our modern and resilient Coast Guard facilities – constructed with previous years’ emergency disaster supplemental funding – withstood Harvey’s direct hit enabling the Coast Guard to save NEARLY TWELVE THOUSAND lives. This is the value proposition of fully addressing the Coast Guard’s massive and untenable shore infrastructure backlog.

This is a nationwide challenge, including here in the Low Country. Charleston, similar to other ports across the country, is experiencing unprecedented change.  By 2021, Charleston will have the deepest harbor on the East Coast. Nationwide, the Coast Guard has an enduring responsibility to safeguard the marine transportation system and bolster maritime competitiveness, infrastructure improvement, economic prosperity, and national security. As a future Coast Guard operational center of gravity, NOWHERE do these responsibilities ring more true than RIGHT HERE, in Charleston. Here we will homeport the most capable surface assets in our fleet, including five National Security Cutters and a complement of yet to be built Offshore Patrol Cutters.

Over the next five years, the Coast Guard will work to consolidate our campus along one waterfront. This gives Charleston the potential to grow into the largest concentration of assets and people in the Coast Guard. Today, we are executing 140 million dollars in prior-year hurricane supplemental funding to start upgrading shoreside facilities. But, this funding is only the down payment needed here in Charleston. We need an infusion of persistent investment in the Coast Guard – RIGHT HERE in this great American community.

When dedicated Coasties like Fireman Zheng and LCDR Kutkiewicz return from months at sea thousands of miles away, we owe them a place to call home… A home meeting fundamental needs like sturdy piers, affordable housing, and functional support facilities that ensures they are ALWAYS READY.

Charleston is a first stop to nation-wide investment in our Service, our facilities, and our People. To serve the communities in which we live, we need early adopters like YOU here today, to champion this vision.

The Coast Guard of tomorrow must operate beyond brick and mortar. Rapid industry innovation and sophisticated adversaries are changing the very paradigm of maritime operations. In order to meet these challenges, the Coast Guard requires considerable advances to our 1990s-era hardware, software, and analytics. Years of investment tradeoffs have brought our information technology to the brink of catastrophic failure. Just this past summer over 95 vital systems went offline for several days due to a single server malfunction, impacting our ability to save U.S. citizens, thwart criminals, defend our Nation, and yes, even to simply check our email. Our people will never fail our country, but our technology is failing our people.

That’s why we need a “TECH REVOLUTION”…a whole-of-Service effort to empower our people with an information system that is reliable, mobile, and integrated.

In an era where data generates more revenue than oil, it is crucial that the Coast Guard modernizes its data management to help build and sustain its future force.  Today, I’m proud to release our “Tech Revolution Road Map” to secure the Service’s readiness and digital modernization. Yet another example of how we serve our Coast Guard people.

This revolution starts now. In 2020, we will increase the Service’s external internet speeds by 50 times and DOUBLE major cutter connectivity with planned upgrades over the next three years. And, we are placing all of our IT equipment on an industry-standard replacement cycle, reducing the risk of future critical failures and addressing the long-term problem of deferred maintenance.

This spring we will also transition to Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud, to increase email reliability during both day-to-day operations and critical crisis response efforts.

Not only that, but AUXDATA is on schedule to deploy this April…another cloud-based, user-friendly system to manage the outstanding work done by our highly capable 24,000-member volunteer Auxiliary force.

In fact, the AUXDATA procurement team who is watching today’s livestream at Headquarters – Ms. Brenda Oberholzer, LT Nicholas Fredericksen, LT Carl Stokes, and Ms. Shandra Kotzun – just earned “Homeland Security Today’s” Federal Acquisition Excellence Award for their innovative procurement techniques that will deliver this critical software in just over four months.

While we’ve developed this new road map to a more technologically advanced and effective Coast Guard, we need an injection of funding NOW. Closing our existing 300 million dollar annual IT shortfall is an important step to modernize the Coast Guard’s technology landscape.

However, the Coast Guard is not waiting for tomorrow.  We are placing our talented men and women at the key intersections of technology, mission, and innovation.  Just last month, we cut the ribbon on the “Blue Technology Center of Expertise” in San Diego to better connect the Coast Guard with the tremendous government, academic, and industry innovation ecosystem.  This center will create a unique pipeline for the rapid implementation of new maritime technologies into Coast Guard operations around the globe.

This summer, the Coast Guard will also assign a contingent of our brightest minds to the “Defense Innovation Unit” in Silicon Valley to identify capabilities ready for accelerated deployment to solve a host of defense and homeland security problems.

And in this cradle of innovation, last year I had the privilege to personally meet with CEO Tim Cook at Apple Headquarters.  While our industries are quite different, our purpose is similar: do the best for our people, provide the highest level of service, and make a positive impact in the world.  Much of this starts with technology.

That is why I believe a wholesale investment will enable our talented people to carry out their missions across the maritime domain today and tomorrow.

These dedicated men and women are why READINESS is my top priority for the Coast Guard.  And a key component to readiness is building and sustaining a robust talent management enterprise, establishing the Coast Guard as an employer of choice.

Talent Management is both our most pressing challenge and our greatest opportunity. Attracting, incentivizing, and retaining our best talent also requires us to think about our Coast Guard families.  For instance, Congress recently authorized the military to reimburse professional relicensing costs for spouses.  And, the Coast Guard is leading the six armed services in the number of spouses reimbursed!

But despite some successes, our workforce faces a lack of accessible and affordable childcare across the nation. To help our people, we partnered with the Navy to change our child care subsidy program. Unfortunately, this transition created an enrollment backlog, slowing payments to our members. However, we’ve instituted multiple improvements and the Navy recently added staff to address this backlog. As of today, we have more than 1,600 children enrolled – that’s nearly 500 more than under the previous program.

To lead operations in an uncertain future requires us to harness the full power of diverse backgrounds and original thinking. We must ALL build an inclusive culture that not only attracts the best of America’s diverse population, but fosters an environment that encourages them to stay. A Coast Guard where every person understands that inclusion and diversity are mission imperatives, where every Coast Guardsmen understands that these imperatives are only enhanced and strengthened through the foundations of strong leadership.

Leaders are found at every level in our Service.  During Hurricane Dorian, you may have seen our aircrews and cutter crews on the news, but you didn’t see the HERO IN THE HANGAR. A mission support expert who facilitated our whole-of-Coast Guard response in the wake of the deadly storm…

[SK2 Ford Video]

Our efforts must be focused on recruiting and retaining truly inspirational and talented people like Petty Officer Ford. This begins with a better understanding of why our people serve.

This past May, we launched a two-year holistic underrepresented minorities study, with preliminary results due this June. This study will provide valuable insight into how we can strengthen our Culture of Respect. An issue so important that I’ve extended the initial two year charter for the Personnel Readiness Task Force brought on board in 2018, so that we can accelerate the pace of change informed by the study’s initial results.

But this is only one part of a greater plan. Next month we will launch a four-year Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan to provide leaders at every level with the skills to realize the full potential of our talented workforce.

In the year to come, you’ll also see the roll-out of a workforce 2030 action plan to better position our Service to meet future personnel readiness needs.

I’m committed to applying knowledge learned in order to solve our greatest personnel problems now. For instance, the 2019 Women’s Retention Study identified that our workforce lacks a centralized and accessible communication platform to get the information they need. That’s why we are launching “MyCoastGuard” this June — a comprehensive mobile communications hub for our entire Coast Guard community.

Responding to feedback from the field, we have improved the Coast Guard’s Meritorious Advancement Program.  Now, for the first time in our history, every District Commander has the authority to select and meritoriously advance some of the most talented people in our Service.

This is one way we can honor an individual’s embodiment of our core values.  Similarly, we owe it to the cornerstone of what makes our Service great —our people— to memorialize the extraordinary achievements of our past, present, and future workforce.  And I look forward to showcasing the rich history and heroism of all Coast Guardsmen in the National Coast Guard Museum scheduled to open in New London, Connecticut in 2024.

Collectively, ALL of these talent management initiatives empower our people to pursue and achieve success and in the process, optimize Coast Guard mission excellence.

There is no better return on investment than the United States Coast Guard, and I am grateful for both the Administration’s and the Congress’ support for our new assets which provide unprecedented capability. Now, we need the matching resources to effectively operate and support the Coast Guard that the Nation has built.  These investments are essential mission-enablers, ensuring our operational success today, and revolutionizing the way we conduct operations in the future. Every day I am inspired, impressed, and humbled by OUR COASTIES who put the needs of the American public first.  Men and women who lead during crisis, whether it’s hurricane response, massive flooding, or a capsized vessel…

[AST2 Newberg, GOLDEN RAY Vignette]

Petty Officer Newberg is truly a hero.

The next generation of Coast Guard men and women NEED strong leaders coming up through the ranks, leaders who excel in the face of adversity and leaders who embody our Core Values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty. Petty Officer Newberg, here in the audience, and Petty Officer Ford whom is watching in the Bahamas – PLEASE STAND.

In honor of our new meritorious advancement program, I hereby advance Petty Officer Emily Ford and Petty Officer Nathan Newberg to first class petty officers in the United States Coast Guard! Master Chief Vanderhaden, CDR Benson, present their new collar devices.

Our extraordinary men and women who truly live by our Core Values will never let you down. And our senior leadership team will ALWAYS have their backs because on our watch your Coast Guard must, and will, remain SEMPER PARATUS – ALWAYS READY… the American public expects no less!

History and experience show that our people enable the Coast Guard to adapt and overcome. This was true for Hamilton’s Revenue Cutter Service, and is true today – to best serve the Nation, we must invest in our Service and empower our people.

We all serve for different reasons, but over my 36-plus year career I have found that we all share the same desire to take care of our shipmates, protect our families, and safeguard the American dream…

Ensuring our outstanding Coast Guard men and women can achieve these goals and grow as both individuals and professionals…THIS is why I serve! Thank you for joining me today and God Bless the United States of America. Semper Paratus!

Sorry, I am Distracted

You may have noticed the blog hasn’t had any new content for several days.

I have been distracted and it will likely continue for another ten days or so.

My wife and I are celebrating our 50th anniversary. Things should get back to normal about the end of February.

“Malaysia taps American fund to convert transport planes for maritime surveillance role” –Defense News

A model of the PTDI CN-235 hybrid gunship-maritime patrol aircraft is on display at the 2020 Singapore Airshow. (Mike Yeo/Staff)

Defense News reports,

Malaysia will convert two Indonesian-built CN-235 transport aircraft into maritime patrol platforms using U.S. funding set aside for regional nations to improve maritime security, a top general confirmed.

Malaysian Armed Forces chief Gen. Affendi Buang said the plan is to convert three of the military’s seven PT Dirgantara Indonesia-made CN-235s into unarmed maritime surveillance aircraft.

Work will be carried out by PTDI’s facilities in Indonesia using funding from the Maritime Security Initiative.

Is there a USCG connection? Only that the CN-235 is also known as the HC-144 and the Coast Guard has 18 of them.

Well Done to D7 Public Affairs Detachment, Jacksonville

I see most Coast Guard new releases, but this one caught my eye, because of the use of links within the release. News papers are not the only users of these releases. When used by on-line news sources this is a real plus. It allows the readers to see what the USS  Shamal, an H-65, or a response boat, medium looks like. It highlighted the use of an EPIRB and made it easy to find out what one is.

Adding hyper-links takes more time, but it adds value. Well done, D-7 PA Detachment, Jacksonville.

Coast Guard, Navy rescues disabled fishing vessel after alert from distress signal

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 7th District PA Detachment Jacksonville
Contact: Coast Guard PA Detachment Jacksonville
Office: 904-714-7606/7607
After Hours: 305-318-1864
PA Detachment Jacksonville online newsroom

Coast Guard rescues disabled fishing vessel after alert from distress signal

Editor’s Note: Click on stock image to download the high-resolution version.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Coast Guard and Navy crews rescued four mariners Thursday on a disabled fishing vessel 55-miles east of Mayport.

The 37-foot fishing vessel “Fish Bone” notified the Coast Guard Wednesday via emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB)it had become disabled due to machinery failure.

Coast Guard 7th District Command Center watchstanders received the EPIRB distress signal at 6 p.m. and launched an Air Station Savannah MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew. The Dolphin crew immediately located the Fish Bone and confirmed the mariners aboard had no medical concerns. The USS Shamal, a Navy patrol boat in the area, diverted and put the vessel in tow until a Coast Guard Station Mayport 45-foot Response Boat–Medium crew transferred the tow.

The fishing vessel and crew were towed to Morning Star Marina in Mayport.

The mariners were reported to be in good condition.

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“Coast Guard Budget Request Funds Two of Three Major Cutter Programs” –USNI

CARIBBEAN SEA, 09.04.2019, Courtesy Photo U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADET Jacksonville

The Coast Guard Cutter James conducts Hurricane Dorian relief operations alongside the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark in the Caribbean Sea, Sept. 6, 2019. During their 62-day counter-drug patrol, the James’ crew, along with members from Tactical Law Enforcement Team-South, Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, Cryptologic Direct Support Element and multiple partner agencies, contributed to the interdiction of 7 drug-smuggling vessels and were responsible for the seizure of more than 12,677 pounds of cocaine and 4,085 pounds of marijuana bound for the United States. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter James)

The US Naval Institute News Service reports that the FY2021 budget request for the Coast Guard includes requests for the second Polar Security Cutter and the third OPC along with long lead time items for the fourth, but does not include funds for additional FRC construction. Not mentioned, but that certainly also means no request for NSC #12.

62 FRCs have been funded through FY2020 and only 64 have been planned, so why not just request the last two? Stopping and then restarting production for two vessels in a future year would be wasteful and really stupid. This seems to be a game played every year. The administration asks for four and Congress funds six. Ask for two and Congress funds four. Guess this year, it may be, ask for none and Congress funds two or perhaps four. We have to wait and see.

NSC #12 is a child of Congress. The administration never asked for it, but Congress has already allocated over $100M for it. This year is decision time. Will it happen? Please pass the popcorn.

“Enhancing the Royal Navy’s batch II OPVs” –Save the Royal Navy

The Royal Navy is looking at how they might increase the lethality of their new River Class Batch II Offshore Patrol Vessels. Save the Royal Navy looks at how they might be upgraded. “Save the Royal Navy” describes itself as “an online campaign but not an organisation as such,” so not an official voice of the Royal Navy.

These are effectively the UK’s WMECs. They do fisheries, SAR, and drug enforcement, but they are looking to use them for a bit more. They have the three River class Batch I OPVs to do fisheries around the home turf, so they plan to use most of these in the overseas territories or providing presence in distant theaters of operation. One is currently deployed to the South Atlantic operating out of the Falklands and a second is tasked with operations upholding UK interests in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Western North Atlantic. It is likely one will go to Gibraltar and another to the SW Asia/Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean Area.

Compared to our own WMECs, the River Class Batch IIs are bigger and faster than the Bear class.

  • 2000 tons vs 1800 tons
  • 297′ (90.5 meters) vs 270′
  • 24 knots vs 19.5 knots

But they are equipped more like a 210. They have no helicopter hangar and only a single 30mm gun in an optionally manned remote weapon station while the Bear class has a 76mm gun and radar fire control system and they have nothing like the Bear class’s SLQ-32 and decoy systems.

“Save the Royal Navy” considers upgrade packages that were labeled, in order of increasing complexity, “OPV Plus”, “OPV Max”, and “Corvette”.

“OPV Plus” includes a container based rotary wing UAS like the Schiebel Camcopter S100, two 30mm guns, a BAE Bofors 40mm/70 Mk4 with a possible fire control upgrades, and Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

“OPV Max” includes a collapsible hanger for an Agusta/Westland AW-159 Wildcat helicopter, two 30mm guns, added Martlet LMM (Light Multirole Missile) to the 30mm mounts, and a BAE Bofors 57mm Mk110 and associated fire control system, but for some reason lost the LRAD.

“Corvette” traded the hangar for Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCM) and exchanged a RHIB for an armed Unmanned Surface Vessel. In addition to two 30mm guns with LMM Martlet missiles, and a BAE Bofors 57mm Mk110 and associated fire control system, it also adds an enlarged operations room (CIC), decoy launchers, and a multirole Artisan 3D radar.

Its easy to understand why upgrades might be in order when you consider some of the duties that these ships might be called upon to perform.
These ships will often be far from any backup. They might be escorting Russian warships through UK EEZ; facing off against Argentine OPVs in the South Atlantic or Spanish OPVs in Gibraltar’s EEZ. And of course operating in areas where the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Navy may be encountered is likely to raise your pulse rate. Not that shooting is expected, but it is a lot easier to stand your ground or perhaps intimidate the other guy if you have the weapons to back up your position.
I have always thought that the requirement to be able to land and refuel the very large Merlin helicopter (max gross weight 14,600 kg or 32,187 lb), that seemed to preclude a hangar was a poor choice. Having a helicopter aboard at all times, particularly an armed aircraft, could help the ship with both peacetime and wartime missions.
The 30mm gun is a close relative of the 25mm found on USCG cutters, but we know that it is more effective. Having more than one seems a good idea. If a helicopter hangar is added, they could have one on the roof of the hangar that could bear directly aft. That means they could have as many as four, one forward, one aft, and one on each bridge wing. They could put up to three guns on a target.
The Martlet LMM probably should be added to whatever 30 mm guns are mounted. It could make these ships much more lethal inside 5,000 yards.
I like the 40mm70 MK4. It could function to some degree as a counter to ASCMs, but I doubt the improvement is sufficient to justify replacing a 30mm/Martlet LMM combination considering it would require introducing a second gun, second ammunition, a fire control system, and additional training.  Being able to bear three 30mm and 15 Martlet LMM on a target would be very effective against a single target if within range. The combination could be useful against swarming boats as well. In the Straits of Hormuz, I would still worry about IRGC torpedo and missile boats that could engage from longer range, but the armed Wildcat helicopter with Martlet LMM should be effective against them.
The case for the 57mm is much more convincing than that for the 40mm, given the smart projectiles that are being developed for it.
The author seems unenthusiastic about the corvette option, and since adding anti-ship cruise missiles would likely mean no helo hangar, and an armed USV replacing an RHIB needed for peacetime duties, I can understand his reservations. On the other hand, if they fail to add a hangar, being prepared to add ASCMs, quickly might be wise. We have already seen this done to a Thai OPV built to an earlier version of this design.
There is some indication that the Thais will attempt to sell their version of this design to the Philippines.

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