“USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) arrives in Lisbon, Portugal”–Navy.mil–and Two More FRCs for PATFORSWA

USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC-1146) and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC-1147) enroute PATFORSWA

Below is a Navy news release reporting the arrival of USCGC Mohawk in Lisbon. Somewhat surprisingly there is no mention of the two Webber class cutters pictured in an attached photo (above) and no photo of Mohawk.

Looking closely at the photo above, you can see they have the Counter Drone upgrades seen on other FRCs that have been assigned to PATFORSWA.

Obviously this is the last pair of Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) being transferred to Patrol Forces SW Asia (PATFORSWA). They were escorted across the Atlantic by Mohawk. Can’t believe I did not see the gorgeous photo below earlier. Perfect for 4th of July.

The USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913), USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146), and USCGC Clarence Sutphin Jr. (WPC 1147) sail in formation in the Atlantic Ocean, June 22, 2022. The John Scheuerman and the Clarence Sutphin Jr. are the 46th and 47th Sentinel-class fast response cutters, respectively. They will become the fifth and sixth FRC’s to be homeported in Manama, Bahrain. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Fontenette)


USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) arrives in Lisbon, Portugal

29 June 2022

From U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs

LISBON, Portugal – The Famous-class medium endurance cutter USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913) arrived in Lisbon, Portugal for a scheduled port visit, June 29, 2022.

This port visit marks the first stop for Mohawk, while employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of operations. During the visit, Mohawk leadership will meet government leaders and military maritime counterparts, while the crew enjoys the rich cultural history of Portugal.

“It is a tremendous privilege to be here in Lisbon,” said Cmdr. Andrew Pate, commanding officer aboard USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913). “Like the United States, Portugal has a rich and deep maritime history and combined maritime operations provide a critical opportunity to improve interoperability with our partners, and prove that we are stronger together.”

Earlier this month, Adm. Linda Fagan, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, visited Lisbon and met with Ambassador Randi Charno Levine and Portugal’s Chief of Naval Staff, Adm. Henrique Eduardo Passaláqua de Gouveia e Melo. Fagan is also the first woman, and first mother, to lead any of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Portugal has a long maritime history and their navy boasts 705 years of continuous service.

“Portugal is an important ally of the United States and plays a pivotal role in the security and cohesion of the Alliance,” said Rear Adm. Chase Patrick, director of maritime headquarters, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa. “Mohawk’s visit to Portugal demonstrates our shared goals for regional peace and stability.”

Mohawk is the 13th and last of the Famous-class cutters. It is named for the Algonquin tribe of Iroquoian Indians who lived in the Mohawk Valley of New York. Mohawk is the third cutter to bear the name. Mohawk’s parent command is U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area.

The U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area command oversees all domestic Service operations east of the Rocky Mountains, including the Arctic, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and out-of-hemisphere operations in Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia. Atlantic Area is responsible for coordinating and deploying cutters, aircraft, pollution response equipment, and thousands of personnel throughout the globe to ensure resources, equipment, and personnel are available to support the Coast Guard’s statutory missions.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.

“Coast Guard cutters mark SLEP milestones for ISVS Program” –CG-9

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Seneca prior to prototype SLEP

Below is an Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) report on a couple of “In Service Vessel Sustainment” (ISVS) projects. This talks about the Polar Star, but we already knew about that. This is the first report on the WMEC270 SLEP that I can recall. It corrects my previous impression that Harriet Lane was to be the first. Seneca was the first. It also says,

Six more of the 13 in-service WMECs will undergo SLEP work, with production work starting in 2023.

I was under the impression that only six total were to be SLEPed. Does “production work starting in 2023,” mean what was done to Seneca and will be done to Harriet Lane is not a full-fledged SLEP?

If work on these two ships is “prototyping” and not “production,” it may be significant that these two cutters were built by different builders, Harriet Lane having been one of the four built by Tacoma Boat and Seneca one of the nine built by Robert Derecktor Shipyard. There may be some differences within the class.

It was anticipated that the 76mm Mk75 gun was to be removed, along with, presumably, the Mk92 fire control system, to be replaced with a Mk38 gun mount.  There is no mention of this.


Coast Guard cutters mark SLEP milestones for ISVS Program

April 21, 2022

Two Coast Guard service life extension programs (SLEP) reached milestones in early April – prototype work was completed on a 270-foot medium endurance cutter (WMEC) and Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star commenced the second phase of its SLEP work.

SLEPs address specific systems and major maintenance to extend the service life of the vessel to meet cost, schedule and performance requirements. They are part of the In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program, which conducts strategic major maintenance and recapitalization as vessels age and critical systems become obsolete, improving the reliability of Coast Guard vessels, helping control maintenance costs and increasing time spent underway.

For the WMEC SLEP, Coast Guard Cutter Seneca recently departed Coast Guard Yard April 4 for its homeport in Portsmouth, Virginia. Seneca served as a prototype for the SLEP work on the WMECs, which is a renewal of several mission-critical systems including electrical updates with new generators, switchboards and Coast Guard machinery control system software updates.

“This wraps up a successful nine-month project at Coast Guard Yard that began in July 2021 totaling over $6.4 million,” said Lt. Charles Lortz, the Project Residence Office Baltimore 270-foot WMEC SLEP section chief. “Beyond the difficulties inherent to a prototype project, the Seneca project followed an expedited planning process to more quickly deliver a more capable asset to the fleet. It was certainly noted, by all involved, that this project was charting new territory.”

Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane arrived at Coast Guard Yard March 28 and will undergo prototype refinements. Six more of the 13 in-service WMECs will undergo SLEP work, with production work starting in 2023. The WMEC SLEP will sustain capabilities to meet mission needs until they are replaced by offshore patrol cutters.

As Seneca was heading to its homeport, Polar Star transited from the San Francisco Bay to Mare Island Dry Dock LLC in Vallejo, California. On April 8, it commenced the second phase of SLEP work items and recurring maintenance, which is taking place over a five-year, annually phased production schedule that runs through 2025. During the second phase, Polar Star SLEP will recapitalize two engineering control systems: one will operate and control the cutter’s 75,000 shaft horsepower gas turbines and auxiliary systems while the other control system is dedicated to the diesel electric propulsion plant. When completed, Polar Star’s SLEP will have replaced a number of major systems and extended the service life of the Coast Guard’s only operational heavy icebreaker.

The Coast Guard is also investing in a new fleet of polar security cutters (PSC) that will sustain the service’s capabilities to meet mission needs in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. The first PSC is on contract for delivery in 2025. Polar Star will stay in service until the second PSC is operational.

For more information: In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program page

“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.

Major Cutter Homeports

“Coast Guard Cutter Forward and Coast Guard Cutter Bear, homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia, finish an at-sea transfer while underway on a two-month patrol. Coast Guard Cutter Forward returned to homeport on April 10, 2021.” (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Recently I had to look up homeports of WMECs. I found that there did not seem to be a single comprehensive up to date list. Seemed it might be useful to share the list. I have added the Bertholf class and what we know about the basing of the Offshore Patrol Cutters as well. These are not district assets, but I found it convenient to group them by homeport district. The numbers in parenthesis are the hull numbers. First some observations.

OBSERVATIONS:

The intent is to split the Bertholf class, almost evenly between the Atlantic and Pacific Areas: five (45%) to LANTAREA and six (55%) to PACAREA.

The vast majority of medium endurance cutters are assigned to LANTAREA. All 100% of the 270s and 24 (86%) of 28 total.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the US EEZ and territorial sea (84%) falls under the Pacific Area Commander, the vast majority of large patrol cutters are based in the Atlantic Area. This is, at least in part, due to the Alien Migrant and Drug interdiction missions. It is counter intuitive, but Charleston, SC is closer to the Eastern Pacific Drug transit zones than San Diego, CA.

Once the first four OPCs reach their bases in San Pedro and Kodiak, the Pacific Area will once again have ten “high endurance cutters,” as they did before recapitalization began.

WHO BUILT THEM?:

The entire Bertholf class has been built by Huntington Ingalls of Pascagoula, MS. The lead ship was laid down in 2005 and commssioned in August 2008. The tenth is expected to be delivered 2023. The eleventh, maybe 2024.

The Bear class WMEC270s were built by two different builders. The first four ships (901-904) were built by Tacoma Boatbuilding, Tacoma, WA, with Bear laid down in August, 1979 and the last of the four commissioned in December, 1984. The remaining nine were built by Derecktor Shipbuilding, Middleton, RI. The first of these laid down June, 1982, and the last of the nine completed in March 1990.

The 16 Reliance class WMEC210s were built by four different builders, with the first laid down in May 1963 and the last commissioned August 1969, less than six years and three months later.

  • The first three, 615-617, were built by Todd Shipyards, Houston, TX.
  • The fourth, 618, by Christy Corp., Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
  • Five, 619, 620, and 628-630, were built at the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, MD.
  • Seven, 621-627, were built by American Shipbuilding, Lorain, OH.

WMEC 622 and 628 have since been transferred to Sri Lanka and Colombia respectively. All underwent a major maintenance availability at the Coast Guard Yard between 1984 and 1998.

THE FORCE LAYDOWN:

FIRST DISTRICT: 2 WMEC270s

  • US Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, Kittery, ME: two WMEC270s: Tahoma (908), Campbell (909)

FIFTH DISTRICT: 9 WMEC270s, 2 WMEC210s

  • Portsmouth, VA: 9 WMEC270s: Bear (901), Escanaba (907), Forward (911), Harriet Lane (903, currently in SLEP at CG Yard), Legare (912), Northland (904), Seneca (906) , Spencer (905), Tampa (902)
  • Virginia Beach, VA: WMEC210s: Dependable (626), Vigorous (627)

SEVENTH DISTRICT: 3 National Security Cutters (2 more under construction), 2 WMEC270s, 5 WMEC210s

  • Charleston, SC: 3 NSCs: Hamilton (753), James (754), Stone (758), (two more NSCs building: Calhoun (759), Friedman (760))
  • Naval Station Mayport: 1 WMEC210: Valiant (621)
  • Cape Canaveral: 2 WMEC210s: Confidence (619), Vigilant (617)
  • Key West: 2 WMEC270s: Mohawk (913), Thetis (910)
  • St. Petersburg: 2 WMEC210s: Resolute (620), Venturous (625)

EIGHTH DISTRICT: 4 WMEC210s

  • Pensacola: WMEC210s: Dauntless (624), Decisive (629), Diligence (616), Reliance (615)

ELEVENTH DISTRICT: 4 National Security Cutters

  • Alameda, CA: 4 NSCs: Bertholf (750), Waesche (751), Stratton (752), Munro (755)

THIRTEENTH DISTRICT: 3 WMEC210s

  • Astoria, OR: 2 WMEC210s: Alert (630), Steadfast (623)
  • Port Angeles, WA: 1 WMEC210: Active (618)

FOURTEENTH DISTRICT: 2 National Security Cutters

  • Honolulu, HI: 2 NSCs: Kimball (756), Midgett (757)

SEVENTEENTH DISTRICT

  • Kodiak, AK: 1 WMEC283: Alex Haley (WMEC-39)

OFFSHORE PATROL CUTTER HOMEPORTS

We have heard where the first six OPCs are expected to be homeported.

  • Argus (915) and Chase (916) will go to San Pedro, CA
  • Ingham (917) and Rush (918) will go to Kodiak, AK
  • Pickering (919) and Icarus (920) will go to Newport, RI

 

USCGC Harriet Lane Headed for Service Life Extension Program

USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC-903), March 17, 2009. US Coast Guard photo.

Below is an Atlantic Area news release. It is about a relatively routine patrol by USCGC Harriet Lane, but there is a bit of news here.

“The crew shifted gears upon return to homeport and met the next challenge of readying Harriet Lane for an important maintenance upgrade cycle…Following this patrol, the vessel will undergo a nine-month planned maintenance and upgrade period at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore.”

It is not apparent from the text of the news release, but apparently the cutter arrived in Curtis Bay to be SLEP on March 28. Got that from a photo caption. Sorry no idea when she returned to Portsmouth after the patrol or when she departed for the Yard.

—-Wish these news releases included departure and arrival dates—

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane arrives at the Coast Guard Yard for a service life extension in Baltimore, March 28, 2022. The cutter will remain in Baltimore without the crew for approximately nine months during the overhaul project.

It appears Harriet Lane will be the first of six WMEC-270s to undergo the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) that will keep ships of the class in service until the Offshore Patrol Cutter construction program is expected to be completed in 2038.

“WMEC SLEP includes electrical system upgrades, remanufactured main diesel engines, structural renewal for stern tube and piping, and installation of a new gun weapon system supplied by the U.S. Navy. “

There are still some unanswered questions as to what will be included in the “upgrade.” We know they will loose the 76mm Mk75 gun, replaced by a 25mm Mk38, and presumably the M92 “mini-combat” firecontrol system that also provides the ships an airsearch capability that can be used for helicopter control. Will there be a replacement multi-mode radar? Will they get only one or perhaps two Mk38 guns? Will the ships retain their electronic warfare equipment that can be use in law-enforcement operations? Will they get an Unmanned Air System? Will there be changes to the aviation support equipment to better handle the larger MH-60, as it becomes the shipboard helo of choice? Maybe CG-9 will give us an update in the not too distant future.

Harriet Lane is one of the oldest 270s, commissioned in 1984. (The newest was commissioned in 1991.) She was one of four built by Tacoma Boatbuilding, before the program was switched to Robert Derecktor Shipyard, where the last nine were built. Will all four of the Tacoma Boat built cutters go through the program?

As I noted earlier, assuming the Mk38 gun will be on the bow, it probably should be mounted on a raised platform, with a breakwater, to better protect it from water coming over the bow. It would also allow the weapon to engage targets at closer range.

News Release

USCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrol

USCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrolUSCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrol

USCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrolUSCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrolUSCGC Harriet Lane returns home following 50-day patrol

Editors’ Note: To view more or download high-resolution imagery, click on the photos above.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The crew of USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) returned to homeport in Portsmouth on Monday, following a 50-day patrol in the North Atlantic Ocean.

While on patrol, the Harriet Lane crew navigated over 6,559 miles along the southeastern coast of the United States, extending as far south as the northern coast of Cuba and east to The Bahamas, performing migrant interdiction and search and rescue operations in support of the U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District.

The Harriet Lane patrolled the Florida Straits to aid with a recent surge in unsafe and illegal migration by sea. The crew interdicted six unseaworthy vessels carrying approximately 467 individuals of Cuban or Haitian origin and cared for more than 520 migrants aboard the cutter during a four-week time span while awaiting logistics for repatriation.

The crew also assisted in two search and rescue cases after receiving notification of an individual stranded on Anguilla Cay, Bahamas and another case where several people were stranded in the water near Cuban territorial waters.

“I remain in awe of this steadfast crew. They answered the call on multiple occasions during our patrol, ensuring safety of life at sea while preventing illegal entry into the United States,” said Cmdr. Ben Goff, commanding officer of the Harriet Lane. “This mission can take an emotional toll, but our team stuck together and persevered through every challenge and adversity presented. The crew shifted gears upon return to homeport and met the next challenge of readying Harriet Lane for an important maintenance upgrade cycle with aplomb. We are forever grateful for the outstanding support we receive across the Coast Guard and from our loved ones at home. I’m looking forward to getting our crew well-earned downtime with friends and family.”

Following this patrol, the vessel will undergo a nine-month planned maintenance and upgrade period at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore.

The Harriet Lane is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter responsible for a variety of missions, including search and rescue, drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, other law enforcement and marine environmental protection.

The U.S. Coast Guard national security and medium endurance vessels homeported on the East Coast operate under the ultimate authority of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander located in Portsmouth, Virginia, overseeing all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf.

“Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol” –News Release

PHOTOS AVAILABLE: Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol

09Feb22 DILIGENCE conducting small boat training in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. (Credit: BM3 Cayne Wattigney)

Below is a D8 news release. Sounds like a pretty typical WMEC Eastern Pacific patrol, but I would point out something I think is a bit unusual–they carried no helicopter. Awning over the flight deck and no mention of HITRON in the news release. Was this because of H-65 availability or because adequate air support was available from land bases? Maybe some other difficulty? Without a helicopter there is no armed overwatch and no way to chase down boats that may be faster than ship’s boats.

Looks like they left homeport a few days before Christmas.

 

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 8th District Heartland

Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol

Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol 2/2 Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol

Editor’s Note: Click on images to download high-resolution version.

PENSACOLA, Fla. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returned to their homeport of Pensacola Sunday following a 60-day counter-drug patrol in Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Partnering with three other Coast Guard cutters, Diligence interdicted three suspected drug-smuggling vessels resulting in the apprehension of 12 detainees and the interdiction of more than 4,321 lbs of cocaine with a street value of approximately $82 million.

“Diligence’s crew demonstrated professionalism, resilience and perseverance while conducting complex high-speed boat pursuits in the drug transit zone,” said Cmdr. Jared Trusz, Diligence’s commanding officer. “I am honored to serve with and proud of the crew’s superlative efforts that directly support the United States national security interests.”

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.

The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District, headquartered in Alameda, California. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The Diligence is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Pensacola with78 crewmembers. The cutter’s primary missions are counter-drug operations, migrant interdiction, enforcing federal fishery laws and search and rescue in support of Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Thetis Escorts FRCs Transatlantic

USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910) is moored behind USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) and USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) in Mindelo, Cabo Verde, on Dec. 29, 2021. Mindelo served as the cutters’ first stop after crossing the Atlantic Ocean before continuing the escort of the fast response cutters to the Mediterranean en route to their new homeport of Manama, Bahrain. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower)

Below is a press release regarding USCGC Thetis’ escort of Fast Response Cutters Emlen Tunnell and Glen Harris across the Atlantic, enroute Bahrain, where they will become part of the PATFORSWA. Contrary to the title on the release, this was not a counter-narcotics deployment. Appropriately enough, they did have a SAR case enroute.

There are some notable differences between this transit and the previous one. The previous escort by Hamilton, apparently made a more northerly transit and Hamilton and the FRCs parted company in the Mediterranean. Hamilton made several port calls in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

This transit, perhaps to avoid the North Atlantic in Winter, actually crossed the equator, replenishing in Fortaleza, Brazil Dec. 22/23. They apparently stayed only one day, and then sailed NE to Mindelo, Cape Verde arriving Dec. 29, 2021. They were, unfortunately, underway over Christmas. Fortaleza to Mindelo is only 1477 nautical miles, one of the shortest ways to cross the Atlantic. The FRCs should have been able to make the crossing with ample fuel reserves, without refueling from Thetis.

There is no mention of Thetis entering the Mediterranean or doing any “capacity building” anywhere other than Mindelo. Their SAR case was Jan. 4.

Thetis’ odyssey started in Key West Nov. 18 and ended Jan. 26, 2022.

I expect we will hear about the arrival of the two WPCs in Bahrain very soon.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jared Phillips speaks with Lt. Mary Mills on the bridge of USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910) in the port of Fortaleza, Brazil, on Dec. 23, 2021. Phillips served as the navigation evaluator while leaving the port and communicated with the cutter’s combat information center through a sound-powered phone. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower)

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

USCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deployment

USCGC Thetis fast response cutter escortUSCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deploymentUSCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deployment

USCGC Thetis returns home from 68-day counter-narcotic deploymentUSCGC Thetis in BrazilU.S. Coast Guard, partners conduct joint rescue of migrants in Atlantic

Editors’ Note: To view more or download high-resolution imagery, click on the photos above.

KEY WEST, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis’s crew (WMEC 910) returned to homeport in Key West on Wednesday, after a 68-day transit escorting the Coast Guard Cutters Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) and Glen Harris (WPC 1144) across the North Atlantic en route to their new homeport in Manama, Bahrain.

Thetis’ crew worked alongside NATO Allies and interagency partners in the region while transiting in the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.

During the patrol, Thetis’s crew received a report from Spain’s Las Palmas Rescue Coordination Center of two overloaded migrant rafts taking on water. Thetis, Glen Harris and Emlen Tunnell crews worked together to rescue 103 migrants from overloaded and unseaworthy vessels and recovered two deceased migrants. The rescued individuals were provided food and medical care prior to being transferred to a Royal Moroccan Navy frigate.

“While escorting two new cutters across the Atlantic, we responded to a distress call and quickly transitioned to our service’s core mission of search and rescue,” said Cmdr. Justin Nadolny, the commanding officer of Thetis. “Working alongside a Moroccan ship, we were able to rapidly respond to those in distress. The case reinforced the importance of joint operations and reaffirmed the U.S. Coast Guard’s presence in the region to ensure the safety of life at sea. I am exceedingly proud of our professional and highly capable team. The crew of all three ships showed remarkable vigilance and adaptability. This case highlighted the Coast Guard’s ability to operate worldwide to protect and save those in distress on the ocean, along with our ability to work seamlessly with international partners to accomplish a shared mission.”

Thetis’ crew strengthened international partnerships in various ports, hosting military and Coast Guard leaders in Fortaleza, Brazil and Mindelo, Cape Verde. Thetis’s crew also embarked a Cape Verdean Coast Guard officer aboard for two weeks. The professional exchange was mutually beneficial, providing U.S. Coast Guard members with a deeper understanding of maritime activity in the region while passing on valuable lessons to our foreign allies.

Prior to departing Cape Verde, U.S. Ambassador Jeff Daigle visited Thetis. The ambassador’s visit showcased the importance of the maritime partnership between the U.S. and Cape Verde while demonstrating the commitment to the shared goal of global maritime security and stability on the African continent.

Thetis deployed with a MH-65 helicopter and aircrews from Air Station Miami and Houston to increase their capabilities. The aviation detachment and cutter crew worked together to conduct day and night flight operations and practice rescue hoists.

Thetis is the first 270-foot medium endurance cutter to escort fast response cutters across the Atlantic in support of the Coast Guard’s Patrol Forces Southwest Asia mission. These cutters are the third and fourth to be deployed to the region, with the final two scheduled to be delivered to Bahrain in the spring of 2022.

Thetis is a 270-foot Famous-class cutter homeported in Key West with a crew of 104. Its primary missions are counter-drug operations, migrant interdiction, enforcing federal fishery laws and search and rescue in support of U.S. Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

“SOLICITATION FOR 270′ WMEC SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS (SME)” –ALCOAST

“Coast Guard Cutter Forward and Coast Guard Cutter Bear, homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia, finish an at-sea transfer while underway on a two-month patrol. Coast Guard Cutter Forward returned to homeport on April 10, 2021.” (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

This caught my attention, because I was not sure if the SLEP for 270s had begun. Apparently we are still in the planning stage.

Good to see deck plate users are being asked their opinion.

Maybe questions like the need for an multifunction radar, electronic warfare systems, and type and number of weapons are still open. See “Don’t Neuter the Medium-Endurance Cutter Fleet” –USNI

It would be nice if these ships came out of SLEP with some enhancements, not just reduced capabilities. The ability to operate UAS and enhanced EO/IR capabilities come to mind.

united states coast guard

R 051250Z NOV 21
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC
TO ALCOAST
BT
UNCLAS
ALCOAST 406/21
SSIC 5102
SUBJ: SOLICITATION FOR 270′ WMEC SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS (SME)
1. This ALCOAST solicits volunteers to participate in a three-day
270′ Medium Endurance Cutter (WMEC) Service Life Extension Project
(SLEP) Operational Assessment (OA) in Portsmouth, VA from 25-27
January 2022. The OA is a review and analysis of intended work
items to determine the operational capability and effectiveness
expected to be delivered during the upcoming WMEC 270 SLEP. The
OA will be used to identify equipment or process discrepancies that
may degrade mission efficiency, and assesses the effectiveness and
suitability of a system or service during the WMEC 270 SLEP.
2. Background: The WMEC 270 SLEP is essential to maintaining viable
platforms while OPCs are being constructed so as not to have a gap
in offshore operational capacity.
3. The OA is a tabletop documentation review by experienced active
duty members who are currently serving, or have recently served on
WMEC 270s. SMEs will assist the Operational Test Director (OTD) in
determining suitability of system changes during the WMEC 270 SLEP.
An OA report will be submitted to the Vice Commandant and DHS’
Office of Test and Evaluation to assess the WMEC 270 SLEP proposal.
4. The OA mission areas are grouped below.
    a. Operations. Comprised of CO/XO, OPS, ET, and OS. This group
will focus on mobility, command and control, and launch and recovery
of cutter boats and helicopters.
    b. Deck. Comprised of 1LT, GM with Mk 38 Mod 2/3 experience, and
Deck BM. This group will focus on anchoring, launch and
recovery of cutter boats and helicopters, and employment of
the new 270 SLEP weapon suite.
    c. Engineering. Comprised of EO, AUXO, ENG, MK, and EM. This
group will focus on launch and recovery of cutter boats, the new
SLEP Electrical Power System, equipment and machinery maintenance
and repair, reliability, maintainability, and engineering casualty
control.
    d. Support. Comprised of F&S, and SK. This group will focus on
logistics supportability.
    e. Aviation. Comprised of helicopter pilots with ship deployment
experience. This group will focus on helicopter launch and recovery.
5. Personnel required.            Rate/Rank         Required Experience
CO                  1                     O-5/O-6               270′ WMEC CO
XO                  1                     O-4/O-5               270′ WMEC XO
EO                  2                     O-3/O-4               270′ WMEC EO
OPS                1                     O-3/O-4               270′ WMEC OPS
AUXO              2                     O-1/O-2              270′ WMEC AUXO
HH-65 PILOTS  2                     O-3/O-4              270′ WMEC Deployed
ENG                2                      CWO                   NESU/MPA
F&S                 1                      CWO                   SUPPO
BM (Deck)        2                      E-5/E-6               270′ WMEC
EM                   2                     E-5/E-6                270′ WMEC
ET                    1                     E-5/E-6                270′ WMEC/ESU
GM                   2                     E-5/E-6                MK38 Mod 2/3
MK                   2                     E-5/E-6                 270′ WMEC/MAT
OS                   1                      E-6/E-7                 270′ WMEC
SK                   1                      E-5/E-6                  270′ WMEC
6. Volunteers must be available for the entire three-day event.
SMEs will be provided read-ahead documents in preparation for
their role to ensure the OA is completed within the allotted
time. A detailed schedule of events will be provided via email
after participants have been identified.
7. Interested participants should contact the 270′ WMEC SLEP
Sponsor’s Representative, LTJG Louie Wu, by 10 December 2021 via
email. Member must include a copy of their employee summary sheet
from CGBI in-board view as an attachment and desired mission area
from paragraph 4. Email must be forwarded from your unit CO or XO
to demonstrate command approval for participation. COMDT (CG-9322)
will issue travel orders to members selected to participate.
8. Point of contact: LTJG Louie Wu, COMDT (CG-751), 202-372-2360,
Louie.Wu@uscg.mil.
9. RDML Todd C Wiemers, Assistant Commandant for Capability
(CG-7), sends.
10. Internet release is authorized.

“Report to Congress on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement” –CRS, Updated October 19, 2021″ –CRS

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf enters the San Francisco Bay en route to their Alameda, California homeport following a three-month multi-mission patrol, Oct. 3, 2020. Bertholf is one of four Legend-class national security cutters homeported in Alameda. (Photo by Pablo Fernicola)

The Congressional Research Service has again updated their “Report to Congress on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement”. (This link will always take you to the most recent edition of the report.) My last post on this evolving document was in reference to a 15 September, 2021 update. The questions raised in that report remain largely unanswered. I have reproduced the one page summary in full below. The summary does not appear to have changed, except to reflect the commissioning of the 45th FRC. But first I will highlight what I believe to be the changes since the last update. The significant changes reflect the Senate’s actions reported on pages 27 and 28.

Senate

The Senate Appropriations Committee, in the explanatory statement it released on October 18, 2021, for the FY2022 DHS Appropriations Act (S. XXXX), recommends the funding levels shown in the SAC column of Table 2. (PDF page 144 of 160) The explanatory statement states:

Offshore Patrol Cutter [OPC].—The Committee provides the requested amount of $597,000,000 for the construction of the fourth OPC and LLTM for the fifth OPC. While the Committee supports OPC procurements, the Committee remains concerned about costs for the program and continues the requirement for the Coast Guard to brief the Committee within one week prior to taking any procurement actions impacting estimated costs for the OPC program.

Fast Response Cutter [FRC] Program.—In accordance with the Coast Guard’s recapitalization plan, the Committee has completed funding for the replacement of legacy 110-foot Island Class patrol boats with FRCs that will operate similarly in the coastal zone. The Coast Guard is encouraged to notify the Committee if additional FRCs are necessary to support the Department of Defense in Patrol Forces Southwest Asia. (PDF page 69 of 160)

The explanatory statement also states:

Fleet Mix Analysis.—The Committee recognizes ongoing acquisition programs for various cutter classes that are responsible for many of, but not all, Coast Guard missions. While programs have correctly been prioritized around recapitalizing the oldest vessels in the fleet, several cutter classes are rapidly approaching the end of their service lives, while others have long surpassed their service lives. In order to best understand future capital investment needs, the Coast Guard shall provide to the Committee within 180 days of the date of enactment of this act, a comprehensive analysis that provides a fleet mix sufficient to carry out the assigned missions of the Coast Guard and other emerging mission requirements. The Coast Guard shall brief the Committee within 60 days of the date of enactment of this act on its plans to carry out this requirement.

Full-Funding Policy.—The Committee again directs an exception to the administration’s current acquisition policy that requires the Coast Guard to attain the total acquisition cost for a vessel, including long lead time materials [LLTM], production costs, and postproduction costs, before a production contract can be awarded. This policy has the potential to make shipbuilding less efficient, to force delayed obligation of production funds, and to require post-production funds far in advance of when they will be used. The Department should position itself to acquire vessels in the most efficient manner within the guidelines of strict governance measures.

Domestic Content.—To the maximum extent practicable, the Coast Guard shall utilize components that are manufactured in the United States when contracting for new vessels. Such components include: auxiliary equipment, such as pumps for shipboard services; propulsion equipment, including engines, reduction gears, and propellers; shipboard cranes; and spreaders for shipboard cranes. (PDF page 68 of 160)


Summary

The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR), which dates to 2004, 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 FY2022 budget requests a total of $695.0 million in procurement funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs, including $597 million for the OPC program.

NSCs are the Coast Guard’s largest and most capable general-purpose cutters; they are replacing the Coast Guard’s 12 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 8 NSCs to replace the 12 Hamilton-class cutters, Congress through FY2021 has fully funded 11 NSCs, including the 10th and 11th in FY2018. In FY2020, Congress provided $100.5 million for procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th NSC, so as to preserve the option of procuring a 12th NSC while the Coast Guard evaluates its future needs. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $78.0million in procurement funding for activities within the NSC program; this request does not include further funding for a 12th NSC. The Coast
Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget also proposes rescinding $65.0 million of the $100.5 million in FY2020 funding for LLTM for a 12th NSC, “allowing the Coast Guard to focus investments on building, homeporting, and crewing Polar Security Cutters and Offshore Patrol Cutters.” The remaining $35.5 million appropriated in FY2020 for LLTM would be used to pay NSC program costs other than procuring LLTM for a 12th NSC. Nine NSCs have entered service; the ninth was commissioned into service on March 19, 2021.

OPCs are to be 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 and PSC programs as the service’s highest acquisition priorities. OPCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $411 million per ship. The first OPC was funded in FY2018. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $597.0 million in procurement funding for the fourth OPC, LLTM for the fifth, and other program costs. On October 11, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of which the Coast Guard is a part, announced that DHS had granted extraordinary contractual relief to Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) of
Panama City, FL, the builder of the first four OPCs, under P.L. 85-804 as amended (50 U.S.C. 1431-1435), a law that authorizes certain federal agencies to provide certain types of extraordinary relief to contractors who are encountering difficulties in the performance of federal contracts or subcontracts relating to national defense. The Coast Guard is holding a full and open competition for a new contract to build OPCs 5 through 15. On January 29, 2021, the Coast Guard released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this Stage 2 contract, as it is called. Responses to the RFP were due by May 28, 2021. The Coast Guard plans to award the Stage 2 contract in the second quarter of FY2022.

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 $65 million per boat. A total of 64 have been funded through FY2021, including four in FY2021. Six of the 64 are to be used by the Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf and are not counted against the 58-ship POR quantity for the program, which relates to domestic operations. As of October 19, 2021, 45 of the 64 have been commissioned into service. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $20.0 million in procurement funding for the FRC program; this request does not include funding for any additional FRCs

“Report to Congress on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement” –CRS, Updated September 15, 2021″ –CRS

“Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton leads the way for cutters Robert Goldman and Charles Moulthrope as they depart Puerto Rico April 1. National security cutter Hamilton is escorting the two fast response cutters (FRCs) across the Atlantic to Rota, Spain. From there, the FRCs will continue to their homeport of Manama, Bahrain.” U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sydney Phoenix.

The Congressional Research Service has again updated their “Report to Congress on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement”. (This link will always take you to the most recent edition of the report.) My last post on this evolving document was in reference to a 17 August, 2021 update. I have reproduced the one page summary in full below. But first,

I missed this addition in my last look at the report. From page 22/23:

August 2021 House Committee Request for GAO Review

In a letter dated August 16, 2021, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee requested GAO to review the management of the OPC program and the Coast Guard’s efforts for managing its existing medium endurance cutters. The letter stated:

Initially projected to cost about $12 billion over its 30-year life cycle, the [OPC] program recently experienced significant cost and schedule delays….

In addition to construction of the OPC, the Committee continues to remain concerned about the operational gap between the end of service life for the aging Medium Endurance Cutters and the delayed delivery of the OPCs….

Given the significant budgetary commitment that the Congress, DHS, and Coast Guard have made for the OPC program to date, continued oversight is necessary to ensure the OPC program does not continue to experience cost growth or additional schedule delays. As such, the Committee requests that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) review the management of the OPC and Medium Endurance Cutters acquisition programs including, but not limited to:

  • The status of the Phase 1 (the first four hulls) and Phase 2 (hulls 5 through 25) OPC acquisition programs, including what steps are being taken to manage the program within the revised cost and schedule commitments; and
  • The status of the Medium Endurance Cutters and level of maintenance needed to keep the fleet operating to minimize the operational gap until the OPCs are incrementally delivered.

This is new. From page 27:

FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4350) House
The House Armed Services Committee’s report (H.Rept. 117-118 of September 10, 2021) on H.R. 4350 states:

Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter

The committee looks forward to reviewing the Navy’s updated force structure assessment and shipbuilding plan. The committee understands the Navy intends to change the fleet architecture reflected in the 355-ship force-level goal to reflect a more distributed fleet mix with a smaller proportion of larger ships and a larger proportion of smaller manned ships as well as unmanned vessels. The committee supports incorporating a mix of smaller manned ships into the fleet and encourages the Navy to consider the capabilities the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter could provide to the fleet and the concept of operations and associated requirements that would support acquisition of these vessels.

Further, the committee is aware the U.S. Coast Guard has contract options for 12 additional Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters with firm fixed pricing in place until May of 2023. Exercising these contract options in advance of their expiration would lock in favorable pricing on Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters should the Navy determine that they add value to the fleet.

Given the successes of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter in support of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet as a part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the committee believes there are similar roles for Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters in other areas of responsibility. Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report to the congressional defense committees not later than February 1, 2022, that details the current mission sets and operating requirements for the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter and expands on how successes in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility would translate to other regions, including the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Further, the committee directs the Secretary of the Navy to assess the requisite upgrades to the Sentinel class Fast Response Cutter required to meet Navy standards and evaluate the concept of operations for employing these vessels in Southeast Asia. This report should be unclassified but may include a classified annex. (Page 21)

The Summary page is reproduced below:


Summary

The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR), which dates to 2004, 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 FY2022 budget requests a total of $695.0 million in procurement funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs, including $597 million for the OPC program.

NSCs are the Coast Guard’s largest and most capable general-purpose cutters; they are replacing the Coast Guard’s 12 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 8 NSCs to replace the 12 Hamilton-class cutters, Congress through FY2021 has fully funded 11 NSCs, including the 10th and 11th in FY2018. In FY2020, Congress provided $100.5 million for procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th NSC, so as to preserve the option of procuring a 12th NSC while the Coast Guard evaluates its future needs. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $78.0million in procurement funding for activities within the NSC program; this request does not include further funding for a 12th NSC. The Coast
Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget also proposes rescinding $65.0 million of the $100.5 million in FY2020 funding for LLTM for a 12th NSC, “allowing the Coast Guard to focus investments on building, homeporting, and crewing Polar Security Cutters and Offshore Patrol Cutters.” The remaining $35.5 million appropriated in FY2020 for LLTM would be used to pay NSC program costs other than procuring LLTM for a 12th NSC. Nine NSCs have entered service; the ninth was commissioned into service on March 19, 2021.

OPCs are to be 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 and PSC programs as the service’s highest acquisition priorities. OPCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $411 million per ship. The first OPC was funded in FY2018. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $597.0 million in procurement funding for the fourth OPC, LLTM for the fifth, and other program costs. On October 11, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of which the Coast Guard is a part, announced that DHS had granted extraordinary contractual relief to Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) of
Panama City, FL, the builder of the first four OPCs, under P.L. 85-804 as amended (50 U.S.C. 1431-1435), a law that authorizes certain federal agencies to provide certain types of extraordinary relief to contractors who are encountering difficulties in the performance of federal contracts or subcontracts relating to national defense. The Coast Guard is holding a full and open competition for a new contract to build OPCs 5 through 15. On January 29, 2021, the Coast Guard released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this Stage 2 contract, as it is called. Responses to the RFP were due by May 28, 2021. The Coast Guard plans to award the Stage 2 contract in the second quarter of FY2022.

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 $65 million per boat. A total of 64 have been funded through FY2021, including four in FY2021. Six of the 64 are to be used by the Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf and are not counted against the 58-ship POR quantity for the program, which relates to domestic operations. Forty-four of the 64 have been commissioned into service. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $20.0 million in procurement funding for the FRC program; this request does not include funding for any additional FRCs