Guns for NSC and OPC–MilitaryAeroSpace–OPC Displacement

MilitaryAeroSpace is reporting that the Navy has issued a $16.4M contract for two 57mm Mk110 gun systems to equip an NSC and an OPC. There are no surprises here, but there is the most exact figure I have seen for the displacement of the Offshore Patrol Cutter, 3,730 tons. Presumably that is a full load displacement.

We knew the OPC was going to be bigger than the WMECs they replace, and I have published estimates as high as 4,000 tons. But how large is this, compared to our existing ships?

  • More than 3.5 times as large as a 210.
  • About 2.1 times as large as a 270.
  • 27% larger than the Alex Haley.
  • 22% larger than the WHEC 378s.

These are going to be very substantial ships.

“Military fails to advise sexual assault victims of civilian court option, advocates say”–USA Today

USA today has a story discussing a report that thousands of sexual assault victims in the military have not been advised they have the choice to seek civilian prosecution.

According to the report, only the Army has kept any records that this advice, required since 2015, is being provided, and they have done so only for a small portion of cases.

I have long felt these cases would be better handled in civilian courts. For non-deployed units there is little reason not to. This would minimize the potential problems of real or perceived command influence.

Caribbean Fantasy Fire–NTBSB Report Summary

The NTSB has issued their report on the fire aboard the RO-RO ferry Caribbean Fantasy. All aboard were rescued with no serious injuries, but if this had occurred further from rescue facilities, it could have turned out tragically. You can read the abstract here.

While the Coast responded laudably, this incident was also a failure of prevention–a failure to prevent bad practices and ensure adequate training. Some of the findings:

2. The fire on the port main propulsion engine started when fuel spraying from a leaking blank flange at the end of the engine’s fuel supply line came into contact with the hot exhaust manifold and ignited.

3. Use of improper gasket material on the pressurized fuel supply end flange for the port main engine resulted in a breakdown of the gasket material and the eventual fuel spray that led to the fire.

4. The nonstandard blanking plate used on the end flange of the port main engine fuel supply system potentially exacerbated the leak that led to the fire.

5. Bolts inserted by Caribbean Fantasy engineering personnel into the quick-closing valves to prevent their closing were permanently in place for use during routine operations. (Emphasis applied–Chuck)

6. Testing during recent class surveys and port state control examinations did not adequately test the full functionality of the quick-closing valves.

9. The carbon dioxide fixed firefighting system did not extinguish the fire due to ventilation dampers that failed to properly close.

12. The abandonment process on board the Caribbean Fantasy was disorganized and inefficient.

13. Crewmembers assigned to safety-critical roles on the lifeboats were not proficient with the procedures for opening the lifeboat release hooks, which delayed the abandonment and put lives at risk.

14. The crew assigned to deploy the marine evacuation system and liferafts were not adequately trained, which delayed the abandonment.

15. The crew did not follow the manufacturer’s procedures when launching the starboard marine evacuation system liferafts, which resulted in the premature inflation of the liferafts.

16. The five ankle injuries resulted from using the marine evacuation system deployed at a steeper angle than designed.

On a positive note:

18. The presence of a passenger vessel safety specialist at Coast Guard Sector San Juan, who had trained and worked with local officials, contributed to the success of the Caribbean Fantasy mass rescue operation.

Recommendations included:

To the US Coast Guard:
1. Require operators to perform full function tests of quick-closing valves during inspections and examinations, ensuring that the associated systems shut down as designed and intended.

2. Evaluate the feasibility of creating a passenger vessel safety specialist billet at each sector that has the potential for a search and rescue activity characterized by the need for immediate assistance to a large number of persons in distress, and staff sector-level billets, as appropriate, based on the findings of that evaluation.

Thanks to Bryant’s Maritime Consulting for bringing this to my attention.

“Five key challenges for SOUTHCOM”–Military Times

Adm._Kurt_W._Tidd_2016

Photo:  Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, SOUTHCOM 

Since pretty much all of SOUTHCOM’s ships are Coast Guard, might be good to know what he is thinking. Military Times reports on Admiral Tidd address before the Association of the United States Army’s forum on June 6. He talked about five key concerns:

  1. Great power competition is happening down South.
  2. Terrorist groups are fundraising in our backyard.
  3. Terrorist recruiting and attacks are happening in the Caribbean.
  4. SOUTHCOM has responsibility for one of the world’s key transit points, the Panama Canal.
  5. The Syrian refugee crisis isn’t the only such crisis having regional effects. Just look at Venezuela.

Read the full article linked above for more detail.

“Heart of the Service” Seapower Magazine Report on Inland Fleet Recapitalization

USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315)

Seapower Magazine has a report on efforts to recapitalize the Inland Fleet of tenders. You can read it on line here. It may be hard to read when it comes up, but there is a “slide” at the bottom of the page that allows you to make the text larger.

It seems the Congress has appropriated more money than we expected, $26M. Its not really a lot, maybe not even enough to buy the first new inland tender. I think they are expected to cost about $25M apiece and the first is always more expensive.

It almost seems we are complaining. “Its five year money, so unless you have a plan to spend it, it is hard. It is also a signal to get moving quicker on this.” I am sure Commander Boda is saying it is hard to optimize and get the most out of it,  but there have been studies of how best to replace these during the previous decade including a joint study with the Army Corps of Engineers, and I believe one at the Academy. There is almost certainly a backlog of maintenance, and we have five years to spend this money on a ship type that is not really that complicated. Come on guys, don’t tell the world you don’t know how you will manage to spend this little bit of money, we will certainly find a good use for it.

A request for information for a solution to our inland cutter needs went out Feb. 14, 2018. If we fund the first new tender by FY2023 presumably we will not see the new ship before 2024 with the Smilax will be 80 years old and the fleet average 61 years old. We are supposed to be flexible. We cannot say, “We did not see this coming.”

This reminds me of when Congress appropriated money for the ninth NSC and the press started quoting a warrant officer that the Coast Guard did not want or need it. We should never give the impression that we can’t use more money.

BAE/Bofors LEMUR, a Remote Control Weapon Station/Electro-Optic Sensor for Patrol Boats

This is a Remote Control Weapon Station comparable to the Mk38 mod2 used on the Webber Class WPCs. There are many such systems, but I am highlighting it because it is already in use on a boat much smaller than the Webber class. The Combat Boat 90 (time 7:10 in the video above) is only 53 feet (16.1 meters) long and 22.6 tons full load. That is about one quarter the displacement of the 87 foot Marine Protector class, less than one fifteenth the size of a Webber class. It actually displaces a little less than the 45 foot Response Boat, Medium (RB-M). I particularly like that this system has been mated with the 30mm M230 chain gun from the Apache Helicopter that is capable of penetrating light armor (see below). That could give us serious penetrating power.

Like most of these systems, they incorporate electro-optic devices which can be used for SAR, target identification, or to enhance navigation.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

Cleveland Metroparks unveils historic Coast Guard renovation (photos)

Historic former CG station on the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, at the end of a 1,000-foot pier.Photo: John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer

Cleveland.com has a story about efforts to turn the former Coast Guard Station Cleveland, abandoned in 1976, into an attraction.

Lots of photos of how it was (like the one above) and how it is now, cleaned up, but with much work still to be done.

Photo: John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer