Fast Response Cutter / Navy MkVI Patrol Boat –Peter Ong

Today we have a guest author, Peter Ong. This is Peter’s sixth post on this blog, and he is now a regular contributor to Naval News. In this post, he reports a conversation with Coast Guard Cutter Forces about why the success of the Coast Guard’s Fast Response Cutter program has allowed  the Navy to cancel their MkVI patrol boat program that at one time was expected to produce 48 patrol boats.

The MkVI had only very austere galley and messing facilities, a Microwave and MREs. They were not expected to be underway more than 24 hours. The FRCs endurance, allowing days, rather than hours, on station to intercept drug and arms smugglers and their abilitiy to support counter UAS systems may be providing capabilities the MkVI simply could not have.

220822-A-KS490-1182 STRAIT OF HORMUZ (Aug. 22, 2022) From the left, U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutters USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144), USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146), USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147) transit the Strait of Hormuz, Aug. 22. The cutters are forward-deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure maritime security and stability across the Middle East. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Noah Martin)

When is a ship a boat and when is a boat a ship? When is an apple an orange and when is an orange an apple? Answer: they are not as these are two different and distinct things when it comes to comparing the warships of the U.S. Coast Guard to the MkVI patrol boats of the U.S. Navy.

A U.S. Navy Mark VI patrol boat with Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron TWO moves through the water prior to a live fire exercise in the Philippine Sea, Feb. 27, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by 1st Lt. Stephanie Murphy).

The U.S. Navy is divesting of their 12 in-service Mark VI Patrol Boats, which at the Surface Navy Association 2021, Major General Tracy King, USMC, Director, Expeditionary Warfare (N95) stated that the twelve Mark VIs “Were very expensive to maintain.” However, many critics and pundits of the Mark VIs’ early retirement cite that the Mark VIs still have a lot of life left in them and that their high speeds and heavy armament makes them an asset to special forces, Marines, and Navy SEALs. Mark VIs also perform capital ship escort screenings and contribute to Distributed Lethality and Distributed Maritime Operations by having a smaller vessel signature that might help U.S. Marines move around and slip ashore undetected.

In a phone interview on September 29, 2022 with United States Coast Guard (USCG) Captain John J. Driscoll, Office of Cutter Forces (CG-751), the U.S. Coast Guard captain made a comment about the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters (FRC) substituting for the U.S. Navy’s Mark VI Patrol Boats in the Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) region and other parts of the globe.

The U.S. Navy plans to replace the Mark VIs and the aging Patrol Coastal boats in the PATFORSWA region with USCG FRCs. When asked how the cutter fleet is integrated with the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense, the captain replied that the cutter fleet is built into different operational security plans within the U.S. Department of Defense, but these plans are not discussable.

Captain Driscoll said that the Coast Guard’s Fast Response Cutters and the Mark VI are different assets and have different capabilities. The 65 planned FRCs have much greater range and greater endurance (5 days, 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km; 2,900 mi) and are designed to be on patrol 2,500 hours per year) than the U.S. Navy’s Mark VI Patrol Boats (750 nautical miles (860 mi; 1,390 km) at 25 knots; 690 nautical miles (790 mi; 1,280 km) at 30 knots).

The captain mentioned that the FRC is tremendously capable and different in how it integrates with the Department of Defense and one can’t make comparisons between the Navy’s Mark VI and the USCG’s Fast Response Cutters because the FRC is a commissioned warship of the United States with an assigned crew whereas the Mark VI is just a patrol boat—a ship versus a boat—the ship is larger. The FRC is 154-feet long (46.9 m) with a beam of 25-feet (7.6 m) whereas the Mark VI Patrol Boat is 84.8-feet (25.8 m) long with a beam of 20.5-feet (6.2 m).

Armament is about the same between the two vessels (a Mark 38 MOD 2 25mm autocannon forward with crew-served 12.7mm heavy machine guns and grenade launcher(s) aft) with the Mark VI sporting more armament (another potential Mark 38 25mm autocannon aft and potential crew-served 40mm automatic grenade launchers or 12.7mm heavy machine guns. Some PATFORSWA FRCs will receive the Mark 38 MOD 3 with a 7.62mm coaxial chaingun to the bow 25mm autocannon and a 40mm automatic grenade launcher).

Nonetheless, one can see the huge difference in operational range. Furthermore, the success of the 65 planned Coast Guard FRCs eclipses the 12 Mark VI U.S. Navy Patrol Boats in terms of production numbers. Furthermore, the Mark VI is propelled by waterjets to 45 knots (52 mph; 83 km/h) whereas the FRC has propellers that drive it at 28+ knots. Repeated requests to the U.S. Navy asking for explanation on “[The Mark VIs are] very expensive to maintain” were not answered, but one can assume that it takes a lot of time, labor, and money to clean out the Mark VI’s waterjet intakes and impellers compared to the more easily accessible external shaft and propellers on the Fast Response Cutters when operating in littoral waters potentially teeming with flotsam and seaweed.

FRC range and endurance are important. Captain Driscoll stated that the FRCs are working in the Papua New Guinea and Indonesian region to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and are working with partner nations to address the competition for maritime resources.

As for possible up-arming of the FRCs with the Mark 38 MOD 4 30mm autocannon, that is a retrofit possibility, noted the captain, although the upcoming Polar Security Cutter (PSC) heavy icebreakers will receive the 30mm autocannons first, two on each PSC. Captain Driscoll mentioned that the 30mm autocannon is in the U.S. Navy acquisition system and that the USCG and U.S. Navy both decide on future cutter armament. Programmable and airbursting 30mm ammunition options are not discussable although if the U.S. Navy has the specialized and advanced 30mm ammunition in its inventory, the USCG can also use it depending on the cutter’s mission parameters.

The new Mark 38 Mod 4 30mm naval gun system on display on MSI Defence stand at Sea Air Space 2022. It can, in theory and with funding, be retrofitted aboard existing USCG cutters if agreed upon between the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. Photo: NavalNews

“Hellfire Missile With Roughly Three Times More Range Tested…” –The Drive

New Lockheed Hellfire/JASM launcher discussed earlier

The Drive reports an exercise that claimed to employ an enhanced version of Hellfire with a range about three times as great as that of the previous versions. Hellfire’s replacement, JASM, perhaps more accurately an upgraded Hellfire, has now been approved for full rate production and there have been reports that a longer range version was in the works.

Beyond the air-launched advantages, this missile would be hugely beneficial for sea-launched applications, such as the LCS. Beyond that, it could be extremely beneficial in servicing Hellfire’s growing surface-to-air role, as well.

Since the typically reported surface to surface range of the Hellfire is 8 km, three times that would be 24 km or over 26,000 yards (equal to the longest ranged battleship hit in WWII). In most cases, that means it can reach anything within the visual horizon. It would also mean, it would out range our 57 and 76mm guns. If this longer ranged Hellfire/JASM is mounted on the new 30 mm Mk38 Mod4, it could mean even Polar Security Cutters will have a potentially more potent weapon than the 57mm Mk110, with a much smaller footprint and lower maintenance requirements.

The weapon would certainly be a welcomed addition to the Webber class patrol craft of PATFORSWA because it would give them greatly enhanced capability against swarming small inshore attack craft, helicopters, and UAS, threats common in their operating area.

As I noted earlier, JASM could provide Coast Guard vessels as small as patrol boats, with a much more accurate, more powerful, and longer ranged response to the need to be able to forcibly stop vessels both small and large, while also providing counter UAS, a degree of anti-aircraft protection, and should it ever be required, a naval fire support ashore capability.

“Media Advisory: First New England-based Fast Response Cutter to arrive in Boston” –D1/Six FRCs Coming to Boston

The 50th fast response cutter, William Chadwick, was delivered to the Coast Guard Aug. 4 2022, in Key West, Florida. It will be homeported in Boston. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A news release from First District. The big news here is that there will be six FRCs assigned to Boston. Wikipedia had already identified five as going to Boston. (Incidentally the photo in the news release is not of USCGC William Chadwick, it is USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) arriving in Port Moresby.)

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 1st District Northeast

Media Advisory: First New England-based Fast Response Cutter to arrive in Boston

U.S Coast Guard conducts port visit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Editors note: Media interested in attending the ship’s arrival are requested to RSVP with d1publicaffairs@uscg.mil no later than 4 p.m. Wednesday.

BOSTON — Coast Guard Cutter William Chadwick (WPC-1150) is scheduled to arrive Thursday following a transit from Key West, Fla. The newly-built William Chadwick was accepted by the Coast Guard on August 4, and will be the first of six Fast Response Cutters homeported in Boston.

The cutter’s arrival will include a water salute from the Boston Fire Department and air escort by an Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., MH-60 Jayhawk crew. Crew families, and Coast Guard personnel will be providing a pier side welcoming party for their arrival.

WHO: Lt. Cmdr. Tyler Kelley, commanding officer of the William Chadwick, along with the ship’s crew.

WHAT: Arrival of USCGC William Chadwick to Boston

WHEN: Thursday September 29, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. Media are requested to arrive by 12:30 p.m. to clear security and be escorted to the pier

WHERE: Coast Guard Base Boston, 427 Commercial St., Boston, MA 02109

The Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC) is designed for multiple missions, including drug and migrant interdiction; ports, waterways and coastal security; fishery patrols; search and rescue; and national defense. The Coast Guard has ordered 65 FRCs to replace the 1980s-era Island-class 110-foot patrol boats. The FRCs feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; over the horizon cutter boat deployment to reach vessels of interest; and improved habitability and seakeeping.

The ship’s commissioning ceremony will be held November 10, 2022 at Base Boston.

Born in Dover, New Jersey, the cutter’s namesake was a keeper of the Green Island Lifeboat Station in New Jersey and recipient of the Congressional Gold Lifesaving Medal for his rescue of the crew of the schooner George Taulane on Feb. 3, 1880. Chadwick remained keeper of Green Island Station until his retirement in August 1886.

“U.S. Coast Guard arrives for planned port visit in Cairns, Australia” –Adventures in Paradise with the Webber Class

The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) arrive in Cairns for engagements with Australian Defence and Home Affairs partners and local representatives, Aug. 31, 2022. The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a routine deployment in Oceania as part of Operation Blue Pacific, working alongside Allies, building maritime domain awareness, and sharing best practices with partner nation navies and coast guards. Op Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission U.S. Coast Guard endeavor promoting security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while strengthening relationships with our regional partners. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy USCGC Oliver Henry)

The six Hawaii and Guam based Webber class Fast Response Cutters do seem to get around. USCGC Oliver Henry made it to North Eastern Australia, mooring at Her Majesty’s Australian Station Cairns, which is home to some Australian Navy patrol, hydrographic, and survey vessels. Cairns looks like a delightful little city (population in June 2019 was 153,951). Not bad after no one tossed out the welcome mat in the Solomon Islands. The crew is going to have a lot of sea stories.

Cairns is a bit over 1800 nautical miles South of Oliver Henry’s homeport in Guam.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

U.S. Coast Guard arrives for planned port visit in Cairns, Australia

The Oliver Henry is the first U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutter ever to fly the Australian ensign.  The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) command stand for a photo with Cmdr. Alfonso Santos, commander of HMAS Cairns, and Capt. Toby Reid, U.S. Coast Guard representative to the defense attache office of the U.S. Embassy in Australia,
USCGC Oliver Henry meets with Cairns regional Council and mayor The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) arrive in Cairns for engagements with Australian Defence and Home Affairs partners and local representatives, Aug. 31, 2022

Editor’s Note: Click on the images above to view or download more.

CAIRNS, Australia — The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) crew arrived in Cairns for engagements with Australian Defence and Home Affairs partners and local representatives, Aug. 31.

“A cutter arrival to Australia is another first, not only for U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia but also our fast response cutter fleet and is a reminder of our Service’s commitment to our partners and our enduring presence in the region,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. “The ship driver in me was envious when Lt. Hofschneider reported ‘OH transiting southbound along Inner Great Barrier Reef Passage enroute to Cairns. No issues or concerns.’ Not the kind of thing many Coast Guard members have ever written or said.”

Before arrival in port, Oliver Henry’s crew operated at sea with aerial support from the Australian Border Forces in the Torres Strait. While in port, the two nations will continue to build on the relationship forged at sea. Upon arrival, the crew was greeted by representatives from the Royal Australian Navy HMAS Cairns and the U.S. embassy. They were also guests of the Cairns Regional Council.

“It is an honor for Oliver Henry and her crew to visit and host our Australian friends,” said Lt. Freddy Hofschneider, the Oliver Henry commanding officer. “The U.S. and Australia have been standing side-by-side for more than 100 years. This is more than a partnership, it is mateship. The U.S. Coast Guard looks forward to more opportunities where we can work with the Australian Border Force, Royal Australian Navy, and other Australian partners to advance the rule of law at sea.”

During their stop in Cairns, members of Oliver Henry anticipate engagements with local officials and the community while also experiencing local culture.

The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a routine deployment in Oceania as part of Operation Blue Pacific, working alongside Allies, building maritime domain awareness, and sharing best practices with partner nation navies and coast guards. Op Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission U.S. Coast Guard endeavor promoting security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while strengthening relationships with our regional partners.

The Oliver Henry is the 40th Sentinel-class fast response cutter. The ship was commissioned along with its sister ships, Myrtle Hazard and Frederick Hatch, in Guam in July 2021. In the time since, the crew has participated in several search and rescue cases, completed a counternarcotics patrol off Guam with the Japan Coast Guard, and conducted sovereignty and fisheries patrols in the Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam area of responsibility.

For more U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam news, visit us on DVIDS or subscribe! You can also visit us on Facebook at @USCGForcesMicronesia.

For more U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam news, visit us on DVIDS or subscribe! You can also visit us on Facebook at @USCGSectorGuam.

PATFORSWA Now Has Six Webber Class

220822-A-KS490-1182 STRAIT OF HORMUZ (Aug. 22, 2022) From the left, U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutters USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144), USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146), USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147) transit the Strait of Hormuz, Aug. 22. The cutters are forward-deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure maritime security and stability across the Middle East. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Noah Martin)

The planned six Webber Class contingent for PATFORSWA is now complete. See the press release below.


08.23.2022

Story by NAVCENT Public Affairs   

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet

MANAMA, Bahrain – Two U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutters arrived in Bahrain, Aug. 23, marking the arrival to their ultimate destination after departing Key West, Florida in June.

USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146) and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147) are two of the Coast Guard’s six newest Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRC) now stationed in Bahrain where U.S. 5th Fleet is headquartered.

“This arrival represents the culmination of years of tireless effort and exceptional teamwork,” said Capt. Eric Helgen, commander of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA). “These newest FRCs bring us to our full complement of six ships and mark the beginning of a new era of extraordinary maritime capability supporting U.S. 5th Fleet.”

The Sentinel-class cutters in Bahrain are overseen by PATFORSWA, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the United States. The ships are forward-deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure maritime security and stability across the Middle East.

“We are extremely excited to be here and look forward continuing to work with international partners in the region,” said Lt. David Anderson, commanding officer of Clarence Sutphin Jr. “Completing this more than 10,000-nautical-mile transit to Bahrain has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

John Scheuerman and Clarence Sutphin Jr. were commissioned in February and April 2022 respectively. The 154-foot long vessels feature advanced communications systems and improved surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.

“USCG Report: Small Cutters Prove They Can Patrol a Big Ocean” –Marine Link

We have noted before, that the Coast Guard is using Webber class WPCs more like Medium Endurance Cutters than like “Fast Response Cutters” here, here, and here. No where have their capabilities been pushed harder than in the 14th District in the Central and Western Pacific.

Increased illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in US and neighboring island EEZs, US obligations under the Compact of Free Association, and desire to avoid the destruction of fisheries resources essential to the properity of the region has resulted in a need to push these little ships into remote areas of the Pacific.

Marine Link has a report about the use of Webber class FRCs for long distance patrols in the Western Pacific. This is a particularly good report in that it records not only the successes, but also the limitations that worry the crews on these demanding deployments.

Food and Fuel are major concerns

The nominal range for the Webber class WPCs is 2500 nautical miles (nmi) at 14 knots. Attempting to stretch that range requires some compromises. Fuel margins have proven adequate, but they are thin and running engines at their most economical speed takes a toll. The need to minimize fuel consumption to make the great distancces requires running the engines at low RPM,

Sabatini said that the lower speed poses some other problems for the engines. “The diesels are really designed to operate at higher RPMs. When we were going for a week to ten days at a relatively slow speed, the carbon isn’t getting blown out. So, I was worried about that build up, and concerned about replacing injectors at a high rate than normal.”

It also means that almost any diversion, weather avoidance, or even adverse weather will cut into that margin.

The nominal endurance is five days. As built there is simply not enough storage space for food.

“We had extra freezers and reefers on the bridge and out of the mezzanine deck.”

I presume the mezzanine deck is the clear area between the bridge and the Mk38 gun mount that is marked for vertical replenishment. When I got to tour the Bailey Barco (WPC-1122) while it was enroute to Alaska, there was a lot of gear stowed on deck in that area. Apparently that worked, but I can imagine situations where the seas might wash some gear stowed there over the side.

I have also heard that the on-board laundery facilities are inadequate for prolonged patrols.

So far, most of these long Webber class deployments seem to have been accompanied by a larger cutter, but I got the impression from the post that that may be changing since the Webber class have proven their ability to make the voyages unsupported.

Medical Facilities

The lack of any onboard medical assistance is also worrysome. The report notes this as a danger to the crewmembers, but it also means the ship is not well equipped to provide medical assistance if required in a SAR case. The possible distance from shoreside medical facilities may also mean they would have to maintain a 10 knot economical speed rather than being able to go to speed to the nearest shore facility.

The Future

That the Webber class have proven capable of doing these missions comes as a pleasant surprise because they would not normally be our first choice for covering these great distances. What might we do to make these missions less challenging?

We might base some of the OPCs in the Hawaii or Guam. This may be possible specifically because the Webber class have proven capable of performing missions previously handled by Atlantic Area WMECs. That is probably desirable in the long term, but there is a more immediate solution. Base two, or preferably three, Webber class in American Samoa.

A base in Pago Pago, American Samoa would make unneccessary any routine transits longer than the nominal five day endurance and more than 2000 nmi that are now required to reach parts of the US EEZ and Western Pacific Island nations. A base in Pago Pago would put these ships within less than five days and less than 1500 nmi of Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Fiji, Vanuatu (1260 nmi), Tarawa (1373 nmi) and New Caladonia (1416 nmi).

“Coast Guard accepts delivery of 49th Fast Response Cutter Douglas Denman” –D17 Press Release

The Coast Guard accepts delivery of 49th Fast Response Cutter Douglas Denman, in Key West, Florida, May 26, 2022. The cutter will be homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Below is a press release reporting the acceptance of the 49th Webber class Fast Response Cutter. (There is an error in that this is reported to be the “24th Fast Response Cutter built by Bollinger Shipyards” while all 49 have been built by Bollinger)

This will be the third FRC based in Ketchikan. Normally I would simply add this news as a comment on a previous post, but there is news here that I had not picked up on previously.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which included a $130 million increase for two additional FRCs, continuing the program beyond its 64-vessel program of record. This is the second time Congress has added FRCs beyond the original 58 vessel program of record.

Bollinger typically delivers five FRCs a year, so we can expect the 17 additional FRCs to be delivered for over the next three and a half years.

The additional cutters now make it almost certain we will see FRCs based in America Samoa. Additionally we may see them in a second additional new Western Pacific base.

Photo Release

U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska

Coast Guard accepts delivery of 49th Fast Response Cutter Douglas Denman

The Coast Guard accepts delivery of 49th Fast Response Cutter Douglas Denman, in Key West, Florida, May 26, 2022. The cutter will be homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The Coast Guard accepts delivery of the 49th Fast Response Cutter Douglas Denman, in Key West, Florida, May 26, 2022, alongside the Denman family. The cutter will be homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

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

 KEY WEST, Fla. — The Coast Guard accepted the Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Denman (WPC 1149), the 24th Fast Response Cutter built by Bollinger Shipyards, during a May 26 ceremony at Coast Guard Sector Key West.

“We were honored to have Douglas Denman’s son, Doug Jr. and daughter, Karen there for the momentous occasion,” said Lt. Paul Kang, commanding officer of the cutter. “In addition to that, two of Douglas Denman’s granddaughters drove down from Georgia with their families.”

The cutter, which is 154-feet long and has a crew complement of 24, will be homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska.

The Douglas Denman is scheduled for commissioning in September in Ketchikan. It is the third Fast Response Cutter to be stationed in the Coast Guard’s 17th Coast Guard District, which covers the state of Alaska and the North Pacific. The Denman will join the John McCormick (WPC 1121) and the Bailey Barco (WPC 1122), which arrived in Alaska in 2016 and 2017.

Born in Tallapoosa, Georgia, the cutter’s namesake joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1940 and was eventually assigned as a coxswain to the USS Colhoun (DD-85), a Wickes-class destroyer in the U.S. Navy during World War I and later re-designated APD-2 in World War II. On Aug. 30, 1942, the Colhoun was positioned off the coast of Guadalcanal when it was attacked by hostile aircraft. Denman was seriously wounded during the attack but remained at his duty station. When the order was given to abandon ship, Denman and another crew member helped evacuate the crew and get life jackets to those already in the water. Because of Denman’s selfless actions, 100 of the 150 officers and staff survived the attack and sinking of Colhoun. Denman received the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals for his heroic efforts. He served for 20 years in the Coast Guard, retiring as a senior chief petty officer in 1961.

The Fast Response Cutter is replacing the aging Island-class 110-foot patrol boats and features advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance equipment, and an over-the-horizon cutter boat. The cutter features advanced seakeeping capabilities and can achieve more than 32 mph (28 knots). The cutter has an endurance of five days. The Coast Guard is in the middle of the FRC acquisition program.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which included a $130 million increase for two additional FRCs, continuing the program beyond its 64-vessel program of record. This is the second time Congress has added FRCs beyond the original 58 vessel program of record.

Douglas Denman is designed for multiple missions, including law enforcement, fisheries enforcement, waterways and coastal security, search and rescue, and national defense.

For more information about this cutter, please contact 17th District Public Affairs at D17-DG-PublicAffairs@uscg.mil or Douglas Denman’s executive officer at Alicen.T.Re@uscg.mil.

Coast Guard Lt. Paul Kang, commanding officer of Cutter Douglas Denman, accepts delivery of the 49th Fast Response Cutter Douglas Denman, in Key West, Florida, May 26, 2022. The cutter will be homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

“USCG’s Polar Security Cutters to Receive Mark 38 Mod 4 Guns” –Naval News

Naval News reports that the Polar Security Cutters will be armed with the new 30mm Mk38 Mod4 rather than the familiar 25mm Mk38 Mod2/3 which currently arms Webber class Fast Response Cutters.

There were a couple of additional pieces of information as well.

  • Other Coast Guard vessels will also get the Mod4.
  • There are no plans to replace existing 25mm mounts with the 30mm Mod4.

The answer on the Polar Security Cutters is probably definitive because it is still three years in the future. Presumably the Navy will use up the 25mm mounts they have already purchased before installing the Mod4. The Offshore Patrol Cutter program extends so far into the future, it is likely most of them will receive the 30mm.

I would argue, vessels for which the Mk38 is the primary armament, particularly if they have only one, should receive a higher priority for the more capable Mod4 since we know the 30mm is more effective than the 25mm, and these vessels have no more powerful alternative weapon they could employ. It appears the WMEC270 that are going through the service life extension program fall in this category.

As for upgrading existing installations, there is a strong case to be made for upgrading the PATFORSWA Webber class WPCs. The 30mm offers options that are not available for the 25mm including an airburst round that can be used against UAVs and a swimmer round that is particularly effective against swarming fast inshore attack craft, both significant threats in the Persian Gulf.

The post also refers to the possibility of mounting missiles on the mount. That possibility was discussed in more detail here. I would like to see all the 25mm guns replaced by the 30mm, but if the earlier Mk38 Mod2/3 mounts were modified to mount APKWS guided rockets or Hellfire and its successor, there would be less need for the larger caliber gun.

“2021 Naval Engineering Awards Recipients Announced” –My CG

Coast Guard Cutters Emlen Tunnell and Glen Harris are moored pierside in Beirut, Lebanon, Jan. 31, 2022. The two fast response cutters are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region. U.S. Army photo by Cpl. DeAndre Dawkins.

MyCG announced special recognition of significant Naval Engineering accomplishments in the form of awards. I would like to point out one element, in one award statement, because it is the only official statement, I have seen so far regarding upgrades to the Webber class cutters that are assigned to Patrol Forces SW Asia.

“CAPTAIN RICHARD D. POORE AWARD…Mr. Michael Parrish, Deputy Product Line Manager, Surface Forces Logistics Center (SFLC) Patrol Boat Product Line (PBPL)…He used innovative financial methods to procure $4.7 million in warfighting packages to outfit six PATFORSWA cutters to help protect the U.S. Fifth Fleet.”

“Coast Guard to host groundbreaking ceremony at Base Boston for Fast Response Cutter pier construction” –News Release

Below is a First District news release. This is good news for those hoping to see some new cutters in New England. We have known for a while that Webber class FRCs were going to Boston, but the surprise I see here is, “…$35 million recapitalization of current Coast Guard facilities at Base Boston and acquisition of six new Fast Response Cutters (emphasis applied–Chuck) at a cost of $380 million.”

This follows the pattern we have seen lately of these vessels being clustered, rather than being widely distributed in ones and two.

Base Boston (photo above) must certainly have much to recommend it, but as a high-cost area, it seems likely it will host no large patrol cutters in the future. It was once homeport to several High Endurance Cutters. Until recently, it hosted three WMEC270s, Escanaba, Seneca, and Spencer. All three have since moved to Portsmouth, VA. We already know the Coast Guard plans to base OPCs #5 and #6 in nearby Newport R.I. at the former US Navy base, where there had been no large cutters.

Wikipedia has a good list of Webber class WPCs and their homeports. It does not reflect the addition of two more ship to the program of record, FRCs #65 and #66, in the FY2022 budget, but it does list 64 named vessels and homeports for 50 cutters including two expected to be homeported in Boston, USCGC William Chadwick (WPC-1150) and USCGC Warren Deyampert (WPC-1151), expected to arrive in the second half of 2022. Homeports are not yet identified for 16 ships. Four of those are presumably going to Boston so where are the remaining 12 going? One is each is expected to go to Seward and Sitka. Two will go to Kodiak. That leaves eight. Some may be added to already identified homeports. One of the 50 identified includes the first ship going to St. Petersburg, FL. St. Pete will likely get at least two more. Assuming that is the case that leaves six. We also know that two will go to Astoria, Oregon. That leaves four. The recent addition of two was probably with the intention of stationing them in America Samoa. Two there would only leave two which might go to previously identified homeports, so we may not see any additional homeports added.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 1st District Northeast

Media Advisory: Coast Guard to host groundbreaking ceremony at Base Boston for Fast Response Cutter pier construction

Editors’ Note: Media interested in attending are requested to RSVP at 617-717-9609 by 4 p.m., April 13, and should arrive no later than 9:45 a.m., Thursday.

FRC

BOSTON —The Coast Guard is scheduled to hold a media event for the Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter Homeport Groundbreaking Ceremony at Base Boston, Thursday.

WHO: Rear Adm. Thomas Allan, commander, Coast Guard First District, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Congressman Stephen Lynch, and Mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu.

WHAT: Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter Homeport Groundbreaking Ceremony

WHEN: Thursday, April 14, 2022, at 10 a.m.

WHERE: Coast Guard Base Boston, 427 Commercial Street, Boston, MA 02109

This ceremony marks the starts of a large Coast Guard investment in the Northeast with a $35 million recapitalization of current Coast Guard facilities at Base Boston and acquisition of six new Fast Response Cutters at a cost of $380 million. The FRCs are the Coast Guard’s newest cutter class replacing the Legacy Island Class Patrol Boats and will operate throughout the Coast Guard’s First District from New York, to the Canadian border. 

These cutters are designed for missions including:

  • search and rescue
  • fisheries law enforcement
  • drug and migrant interdiction
  • port, waterways, and coastal security
  • national defense

In addition, the Coast Guard will increase personnel presence in the area with 222 new Coast Guard members to crew and maintain the cutters. These new crews are expected to have an annual economic impact of $45 million on the local economy.