Coast Guard MH-65E Program Completes Low Rate Initial Production, Begins Initial Operational Test And Evaluation –CG-9

H-65 short range recovery helicopterThe Coast Guard completed Service Life Extension Program activities and an avionics upgrade on an H-65 short range recovery helicopter as part of a joint production line Dec. 18, 2018. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard.

The following is taken verbatim from the Coast Guard Acquisitions Directorate web site. 

The Coast Guard is completing the first phase of production and moving to full-rate production on concurrent Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) and avionics upgrades of the service’s H-65 short range recovery helicopters.

The avionics upgrades include reliability and capability improvements for the Automatic Flight Control System; installation of a digital cockpit display system and an upgraded digital weather/surface search radar; integration of a robust Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) suite and modernization of the digital flight deck with Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS), common with the Coast Guard H-60 medium range recovery helicopter and similar Department of Defense aircraft. Once the upgrades are complete, the helicopter is redesignated an MH-65E.

At the same time, the Coast Guard is completing SLEP activities to replace five major structure components – the nine-degree frame, canopy, center console floor assembly, floorboards and side panels. These mission-critical improvements are designed to extend the service life of the helicopter by 10,000 flight hours.

Work was finished Dec. 18, 2018, on the first H-65 – CG 6556 – to complete SLEP activities and the avionics upgrade in a joint production line. Termed low rate initial production (LRIP), this first phase allows the service to review and validate improvements required after the initial work on the prototype and validation/verification (CG-6587) aircraft. During this phase, Coast Guard teams discovered that the wire analysis system was not completely ready for full production. On-the-spot corrections were made to remedy the problem and rolled into the production process for future aircraft.

The avionics upgrades and SLEP are being completed at the same time to achieve schedule and cost efficiencies. The Coast Guard will also sequence the installation of new upgrade components after SLEP and programmed depot maintenance is complete, avoiding unnecessary rework that would be required if the efforts were conducted separately.

Initial Operational Test and Evaluation Begins

On Jan. 7, 2019, the H-65 Program with Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force began initial operational and test evaluation (IOT&E) activities on two of the three aircraft that have been converted to the Echo configuration, the LRIP and validation/verification aircraft. IOT&E is the evaluation process used to demonstrate the MH-65E’s airworthiness and ensure the aircraft meets operational requirements and associated performance requirements, and is able to safely and effectively perform the Coast Guard missions prior to fleet induction.

Twenty-one ground events and 56 flights have been planned for IOT&E. There will be three test periods and one make-up test period that take place in a three-month window.

A final test report of data collected from both the operational assessment and IOT&E will be used to support a decision for the program to move into full rate production. The program anticipates an ADE-3 decision in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020.

Projected completion of the MH-65E conversion for all 98 aircrafts is fiscal year 2024.

For more information: MH-65 program page

“The shipwreck that changed the Coast Guard forever” –5th District Public Affairs

The following is a 5th District press release quoted in full.

The shipwreck that changed the Coast Guard forever

This video outlines the Marine Electric shipwreck and the incident’s lasting impact on the Coast Guard.  

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

Story and artwork by Petty Officer 2nd Class Corinne Zilnicki

When the clock tolled 12 a.m. on Feb. 12, 1983, the 605-foot cargo ship Marine Electric trekked northward 30 miles off Virginia’s Eastern Shore, plowing slowly through the gale-force winds and waves stirred up by a winter storm.

An able-bodied seaman relieved the watch and peered forward, noticing for the first time that the ship’s bow seemed to be riding unusually low in the water. Dense curls of green ocean rushed over the bow, some of

them arching 10 feet over the deck before crashing back down. The crew had been battling 25-foot waves for hours, but until now, the bow had bucked and dipped as normal.

Now it seemed only to dip.

Over the next two hours, the waves intruded with increasing vigor. The entire foredeck was swallowed in 6 feet of water. The main deck was completely awash.

At 2:30 a.m., the ship’s master, Phillip Corl, summoned his chief mate, Robert Cusick, to the bridge and shared his fears: the bow was settling, they were taking on too much water, and the crew was in real trouble.

At 2:51 a.m., the captain made the first radio distress call to the Coast Guard.

“I seem to be taking on water forward,” Corl said. “We need someone to come out and give us some assistance, if possible.”

By the time assistance arrived, the Marine Electric had listed, rolled violently to starboard, and capsized, hurling most of its 34 crew into the 37-degree water. Chaos ensued.

Chief mate Cusick surfaced with a gasp, managed to get his bearings, and spotted a partially-submerged lifeboat nearby. After swimming through towering waves for 30 minutes, he pulled himself into the swamped boat and started thrashing his legs to stay warm.

“All the time I kept looking out and yelling out, ‘lifeboat here,’ just continually yelling out to keep myself going,” the chief mate said. “Then I waited and prayed for daylight to come.”

The Coast Guard had long since dispatched an HH-3F Pelican helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and directed the crews of several cutters to the Marine Electric’s position, but the tumultuous weather conditions slowed the rescuers’ progress.

Naval Air Station Oceana had to recall available personnel before launching a helicopter crew, including rescue swimmer Petty Officer 2nd Class James McCann.

At 5:20 a.m., the Coast Guard helicopter crew was the first to arrive on scene. They had expected to find the Marine Electric’s sailors tucked into lifeboats and rafts, but instead, they found a blinking sea of strobe lights, empty lifeboats, and bodies strewn below.

The Navy aircrew arrived and deployed McCann, who tore through the oil-slicked waves, searching for survivors. He managed to recover five unresponsive sailors before hypothermia incapacitated him.

The Coast Guard crew scoured the southern end of the search area and discovered one man, Paul Dewey, alone in a life raft. They dropped the rescue basket so he could clamber inside, then hoisted him into the helicopter. About 30 yards away, they spotted Eugene Kelly, the ship’s third mate, clinging to a life ring, and lowered the basket to retrieve him.

Cusick remained huddled in his lifeboat until the sailors aboard the Berganger, a Norwegian merchant vessel whose crew was helping search the area, sighted him and notified the Coast Guard. The helicopter crew retrieved him in the rescue basket, then took off for Salisbury, Maryland, to bring the three survivors to Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

Meanwhile, more Coast Guard and Navy rescue crews converged on the scene to search for survivors.

Coast Guard Capt. Mont Smith, the operations officer at Air Station Elizabeth City, had piloted a second Pelican helicopter through turbulent headwinds for over an hour in order to reach the site.

He and his crew scanned the debris field below for signs of life. The people they saw were motionless, and it was difficult to determine whether they were simply too hypothermic to move, or deceased. Smith spotted one man and hovered over him, squinting through the whipping snow, trying to decide what to do.

“We all felt helpless,” Smith said. “There was no way to know if the man was dead or alive. We had to try something.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Greg Pesch, the avionics electrical technician aboard the helicopter, volunteered to go down on the hoist cable. After some deliberation, Smith agreed.

Pesch’s descent in the rescue basket was a harrowing one.

“The whole world seemed to be churning,” Smith said. “I struggled to maintain a smooth hoist, but I know it was erratic.”

Once in the water, Pesch grappled with the basket, trying to hold it steady as he guided the unresponsive man inside. It took several attempts, and then he scrambled into the basket himself and ascended back to the helicopter alongside the victim.

The aircrew spotted another potential survivor, and although Pesch attempted to descend again, the hoist cable spooled back on itself on the drum. The crew was forced to abort their mission and departed for nearby Salisbury Airport, where the man they had pulled from the water was pronounced dead on arrival by paramedics.

Dewey, Kelly and Cusick were the only men pulled from the ocean alive that morning. Their 31 shipmates had either succumbed to hypothermia or drowned.

All told, Coast Guard, Navy, and merchant vessel crews recovered 24 bodies from the scene of the capsizing. Seven were never found. It is likely the ship’s engineers were trapped belowdecks when the vessel capsized.

“Throughout Coast Guard history, the missions of the service have been written in blood,” said Dr. William Thiesen, historian, Coast Guard Atlantic Area. “Such was the case with the loss of the Marine Electric. This tragic event led to stricter marine safety regulations and the establishment of the Coast Guard’s premiere rescue swimmer program.”

While the incident itself served as the catalyst for the major changes to the Coast Guard and maritime community at large, the rigorous efforts of Coast Guard Capt. Domenic Calicchio brought the necessity for such changes into sharper focus.

Calicchio was one of the three marine safety officers charged with investigating the capsizing and sinking of the Marine Electric. The board of inquiry launched their investigation on July 25, 1984, and examined every aspect of the WWII-era cargo ship, its upkeep, the events leading up to its demise, and the Coast Guard’s rescue efforts on that morning.

The investigation revealed that although the Marine Electric had been recently inspected several times by both the American Bureau of Shipping and the Coast Guard, marine inspectors had failed to note several discrepancies or recommend needed repairs. Investigators concluded that the casualty had most likely been caused by inadequate cargo hatches and deck plating, which allowed the crashing waves to flood the vessel’s forward spaces.

Calicchio felt the Coast Guard needed to revamp its marine safety procedures and demand more of maritime companies, but more importantly, that the Coast Guard needed to demand more of itself.

His push for reform resulted in several additions to the Coast Guard’s marine safety protocol, including guidance on hatch cover inspections, and new requirements for enclosed lifeboats and their launching systems, for ships’ owners to provide crews with cold water survival suits, and for flooding alarms to be installed in unmanned spaces on vessels.

The Coast Guard also tightened its inspections of 20-year or older ships, which led to the near-immediate scrapping of 70 similar WWII-era vessels.

“Calicchio embodied the service’s core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty,” said Thiesen. “He championed marine safety and pursued the truth even at the risk of his career of a Coast Guard officer.”

While the Coast Guard changed many policies to make a safer marine environment after the the sinking of the Marine Electric, the service continues to make improvements on its marine safety program today. By 2025, it is estimated that the demand for waterborne commerce worldwide will more than double. The Coast Guard has published its Maritime Commerce Strategic Outlook in preparation for the increasing demand. 

The Marine Electric shipwreck also served as the genesis of another crucial development: the Coast Guard rescue swimmer program, which was established in 1984. The program’s physical fitness standards, training and organizational structure were developed over a five-year implementation period, and in March of 1985, Air Station Elizabeth City became the first unit to receive rescue swimmers.

The first life was saved two months later.

The Marine Electric, a 605-foot cargo ship, as seen underway before its capsizing and sinking on Feb. 12, 1983. The converted WWII-era ship foundered 30 miles off the coast of Virginia and capsized, throwing most of its 34 crew into 37-degree water, where 31 of them drowned or succumbed to hypothermia. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Capacity Building in the Philippines

Found this on Facebook, posted by fellow CIMSEC member Armando J. Heredia. That lead me to the original source. You can find more photos there. 

US Government opens new training facility for Philippine Coast Guard

The Philippine Coast Guard and United States Government jointly held the ceremonial ribbon cutting and soft opening of the newly constructed Outboard Motor Center Training Facility in Balagtas, Bulacan today, February 11, 2019.

The event was graced by the Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Elson E Hermogino; United States Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, John C Law; and the Deputy Director of the Joint Interagency Task Force-West (JIATF-W), Capt Earl Hampton Jr USN (Ret).

The Outboard Motor Center of Excellence will enhance the Philippine Coast Guard’s capacity to train and sustain its workforce and equipment. It consists of classrooms, barracks and an outboard motor maintenance lab built under local contract managed by the U.S Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

The facility is a joint project between the PCG, U.S Coast Guard, the JIATF-W, the Joint U.S Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG), and the U.S Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs which is approximately worth 156 million Pesos.

In its inventory, the PCG has 300 aluminum boats and 50 rubber boats with outboard motors deployed nationwide.

The PCG frontline units rely heavily on these aluminum and rubber boats in fulfilling its mandate. These assets are primarily used in the coastal law enforcement patrols, search and rescue operations and monitoring of environmental laws compliance.

Last year, at least 40 PCG personnel were sent to US Coast Guard Training School in Virginia to undergo different shipboard courses to include training on the maintenance of outboard motors. For this year, the US Government will place a mobile training team inside the training facility in Bulacan to train qualified PCG personnel to become instructors.

Photos by Tanod Baybayin



“Myanmar to create a Coast Guard force” –NavyRecognition

Burma (Myanmar) (dark green) / ASEAN except Burma (Myanmar) (dark grey) illustration by ASDFGHJ

NavyRecognition is reporting that Myanmar (formerly Burma) has decided to form a Coast Guard.

“The Myanmar government is to establish a coast guard force to safeguard its 2,080-km-long coastline and territorial waters, according to a coordination meeting held at the Ministry of Transport and Communication on January 22.”

Myanmar has an EEZ of 532,775 square km or about 4.6% of that of the US, but it does extend our to 200 miles from the shore. They also have some offshore islands, and a claim to continental shelf.

We don’t know what sort of organization or equipment the new Myanmar Coast Guard will have, but their Navy (19,000 personnel) has an eclectic collection of vessels and equipment from China, Russia, India, the US, and Israel, plus some indigenously produced vessels built in a naval shipyard provided by China.

Myanmar has had human rights issues.

It is not unlikely that they might welcome some training assistance from the US Coast Guard.