“British Navy tests new .50 machine gun mounting system ASP” –Updated, Its made in the US

After publishing my initial post about this stabilized gun mounting system, a comment from Secundius provided much better, more detailed photos of the system and gave me the manufacturer’s name, FlexForce. The FlexForce website told me they were headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and that the system is available on GSA schedule.

Their “News” page indicates the mount will be at the Work Boat Show in New Orleans,Booth 3877 aboard Lake Assault Custom Boats FP-M boat (33 foot US Navy Force Protection, Medium) December 1-3. If this becomes a standard USN system, it would make it more readily available, perhaps at Navy expense.

Below is their data sheet for maritime applications. The Coast Guard obviously knows about this mount. The first photo below is obviously of the system mounted on a Webber class WPC.

Click to access 20190115-ASP-Maritime-Datasheet.pdf

There is another better photo of the mount on a Webber class here and a photo of it mounted on a Coast Guard 25 foot boat here.

The Coast Guard has been looking for ways to make their weapons more accurate for some time. Unfortunately some of the links are broken, but I did this report back in 2014. Back in 2017, when I was able to do a tour of the Bailey Barco, the gunners mate told me they had done some weapons testing with Navy and Marine as well as Coast Guard observers aboard.

The Electro-Optic options should also help with targeting, especially at night. The remote option essentially makes this a remote weapon station meaning the operator need not be an obvious target. Significantly FlexForce claims the system is effective against UAS.

Hopefully this system or something like it will start showing up on Coast Guard cutters, most immediately those assigned to PATFORSWA.

(I wonder if it might be possible to mount the Fletcher APKWS launcher on this (with the remote option)?

Up-Gunning the China Coast Guard–Add 22 New Type 056 Corvettes

Type 056 corvette, credit 樱井千一

We have a report from Defence.PK, that 22 PLAN Type 056 corvettes are being transferred to the China Coast Guard. These ships are the early models that were completed without the more sophisticated anti-submarine warfare capabilities of the Type 056A. Rather than upgrade them, the Chinese Navy will build 22 additional Type 054A Frigates.

Reportedly they are adding a LED billboard and the missiles are being removed. Probably the torpedoes as well. But that still leaves a 120 round/minute 76 mm gun and a pair of 4,000 round/minute 30mm Gatling Guns.

The China Coast Guard already has more large cutters than the US Coast Guard, despite of the fact that their EEZ is less than 20% that of the US, even if all their outrageous claims were accepted. But most of these cutters have no guns of 20mm or larger. 22 AK-176 76mm guns and 44 AK-630 30mm Gatling Guns will substantially increase the China Coast Guard’s firepower.

These 1500 ton 25 knot ships are a handy size for an area like the South China Sea.

Unlike the US Coast Guard, the China Coast Guard tends to operate their cutters in groups. Three of these, snuggled up to you, at close range, could be very intimidating even to a DDG like those the US Navy uses for Freedom of Navigation Exercises. For relatively unarmed Asian Coast Guard cutters, it would be much more so.

Chinese Naval Forces don’t have a lot of naval victories in their past so the Battle of Paracel Islands, where they defeated the Vietnamese by opening fire at very close range, must assume outsized importance in their imagination.

Image

I note, the cutters China used when they recently turned back a Philippine resupply effort in the South China Sea, included at least one armed with a 76mm gun.

In case you missed it, below is a statement from the US Ambassador to the Philippines (and to China).

“British Navy tests new .50 machine gun mounting system ASP” –Navy Recognition

Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001

British navy sailor fires burst using gun mounting system ASP (Agile, Small-deflection, Precision) armed with a .50 heavy machine gun. (Picture source British Royal Navy)

If we don’t replace the .50 caliber machine gun and we don’t put it in a remote weapons station, we may still do something to improve its accuracy as a crew served weapon.

Navy Recognition reports the Brits have been testing a new mount.

Over a week of trials, the team put down nearly 5,000 .5 caliber rounds – 3,500 fired using the new mounting, 1,450 from a heavy machine-gun on a traditional ‘soft’ mounting to allow for comparisons. They conducted more than three dozen gunnery shoots in different scenarios and weather conditions to give both mountings a comprehensive workout.

Seven of Argyll’s ship’s companies were taught how to fire a .50 cal loaded onto the new mount. They found it easy to use – and their gunnery improved as the trials went on.

I would at least be curious about their test results.

Steel Cut for DDG Honoring Coast Guard Hero

A graphic illustration of the future Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Quentin Walsh (DDG 132). (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Paul L. Archer/Released)

Dmitry Shulgin reports,

The U.S. Navy and General Dynamics (GD) Bath Iron Works (BIW) marked the start of fabrication for the future USS Quentin Walsh (DDG-132) with a ceremony at BIW’s Structural Fabrication Facility in East Brunswick, Maine, November 16.

This earlier post tells the story of this Coast Guard Hero.

“Media Advisory: Coast Guard Cutter Healy returns to Seattle from 133-day trip around North America” –D13

Passing along this Press release. There is a link at the bottom to a lot of good photos.

Welcome back home Healy.

united states coast guard

Media Advisory

U.S. Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest

Media Advisory: Coast Guard Cutter Healy returns to Seattle from 133-day trip around North America

WHO: U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and crew.

WHAT: Return to homeport following a 22,000-mile, 133-day deployment circumnavigating North America. The commanding officer will be available for interviews following the cutter’s mooring.

WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at 12 p.m. estimated ship arrival.

WHERE: Pier 36, 1519 Alaskan Way S, Seattle, WA 98134.

Healy deploys annually to the Arctic in support of oceanographic research and Operation Arctic Shield, the Service’s annual operation to execute U.S. Coast Guard missions, enhance maritime domain awareness, strengthen partnerships, and build preparedness, prevention, and response capabilities across the Arctic domain.

Commissioned in 2000, Healy is one of two active polar icebreakers in the Coast Guard’s fleet. Healy is capable of breaking 4 feet of ice continuously and up to 8 feet of ice while backing and ramming.

The U.S. Coast Guard is recapitalizing its polar icebreaker fleet to ensure continued access to the Polar Regions and protect the country’s economic, commercial, environmental, and national security interests.  The Coast Guard and U.S. Navy, through an integrated program office, on April 23, 2019, awarded VT Halter Marine Inc., of Pascagoula, Mississippi, a fixed-price incentive contract for the detail, design and construction of the lead Polar security cutter with contract delivery planned for 2025.

Additional photos from Healy’s deployment are available here.

“VESSEL REVIEW | KOLACHI – NEW LARGE PATROL VESSEL FOR PAKISTAN MARITIME SECURITY AGENCY” –Baird Maritime

Photo: PMSA

Baird Maritime reports delivery of a Chinese designed Offshore Patrol Vessel to the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), the maritime safety and law enforcement arm of the Pakistan Navy. This second ship was reportedly built in Pakistan while the first was produced in China.

This ship may look a bit familiar. It appears to be a variant of the Type 056 corvette. 72 of the corvettes were inducted into the Chinese PLA Navy between 2013 and 2019. Variants of the class also serve with the Bangladeshi and Nigerian Navies and the China Coast Guard.

There is a Pakistani Coast Guards distinct from the PMSA, but it falls under the authority of the Pakistani Army and functions more like Customs and Border Protection and its Air and Marine Unit, being limited to operations on shore and within the 12 mile limit.

Two About Puma sUAS

Royal Navy Photo

Naval News reports on the Royal Navy’s increasing use of the Puma small Unmanned Air System (sUAS).

And we have this from Seapower, regarding a new night time imaging system.

The Puma is a system the Coast Guard has experimented with more than once, and the Canadians have also adopted it. My last look at this small UAS with comments on its suitability and links to previous posts here.

Now It Is Really Time to Replace the 52 Foot MLBs

Coast Guard crew members aboard four 52-foot Motor Life Boats and one 47-foot Motor Life Boat transit in formation outbound of Yaquina Bay, Ore., April 9, 2019. The four 52-foot MLBs are the only active vessels of their kind and the crews are assigned to different units across the Pacific Northwest, which is why having all four together for the roundup was a rare occurrence.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor Lilburn)

Just got this comment from Peter on an earlier post,

All four 52 footers are officially retired today. They are all currently underway to rendezvous at Station Cape Disappointment. The Intrepid left Coos Bay yesterday, the Victory left Yaquina Bay at 0200 this morning and the Invincible will leave later today.

The end of a era.

This certainly was not unexpected, and we have had some indication the Coast Guard is looking for replacements. My Feb. 2021 post on the topic included a number of comments and referenced earlier posts and possible alternatives.

As seems to be too frequently the case, we have waited too long to look for a replacement for a system obviously approaching the end of its useful life. There should not have been a gap in providing a replacement. Additionally, in many locations, a faster more capable large MLB could also serve as a replacement for 87 foot WPBs–also approaching the end of their useful life.  This could be a larger program than just five boats.

“U.S. upgrades Bahamas’ maritime security” –The Watch

Source: CIA, The World Factbook, 2004.

NORTHCOM’s on-line magazine, “The Watch,” reports,

“The United States recently bolstered maritime security in the Bahamas by delivering a radar system to its partner in the Caribbean region.

“The U.S. $2.4 million-dollar MSS (Maritime Surveillance System–Chuck) is part of a commitment of more than $10 million to empower the Bahamas to better ensure the safety and security of its vast archipelago, the news release said. The radar is the second MSS installed with funding from USNORTHCOM, the first having become operational on the island of Great Inagua in 2019. Third and fourth systems have been proposed for Ragged Island and Great Exuma.”

There is more of course.

Now, do we have comparable systems on Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands?

“U.S. Warships Have This Seldom Discussed But Very Powerful Optical Targeting System” –The Drive

USCGC Hamilton with its EOSS (Electro Optic Sensor System) atop its bridge. 

The Drive/The War Zone has a post regarding the Mk20 Mod1 Electro Optic Sensor System (EOSS) that is equipping National Security Cutters and Offshore Patrol Cutters in addition to the Navy’s newest destroyers and the new FFG. The post is in the form of an interview with a company rep.

We have talked about this system before here.

For such an inconspicuous system, it looks to be extremely useful. Other than using it as a firecontrol for ASuW and AAW, this system can be used for:

  • Location and tracking a man overboard
  • Channel position and navigation
  • Detection and identification including looking for the IR signature of low profile vessels
  • Naval gunfire support
  • Safety check-sight
  • Battle Damage Assessment

These will definitely be used on the Offshore Patrol Cutter. The earlier Mk20 Mod0 version was in the Draft Technical Package back in 2012.