“Migrants flown out of Texas border city after thousands cross Rio Grande” –Reuters

© Reuters/MARCO BELLO People board an U.S. Coast Guard airplane at the Del Rio International Airport as U.S. authorities accelerate removal of migrants at border with Mexico, in Del Rio

Reuters reports that,

“Reuters journalists saw a white bus escorted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents enter the Del Rio airport, then a group boarding a Coast Guard plane. A police source said the people were migrants and a source familiar with airport operations said the aircraft was heading to El Paso, Texas.”

Coast Guard vessels have routinely been to forcibly return migrants to their home countries. Its one of the more distasteful tasks that come with the job. This is the first time I have heard of our aircraft being used for that purpose (not to say it has never happened before, I don’t know).

This is a C-27J out of CGAS Sacramento. I can almost hear the air crew members saying, “This is not what I signed up for!”

Incidentally, any partisan political statements in the comments will be deleted. Take it somewhere else. 

“Coast Guard Pacific Area hosts North Pacific Coast Guard Forum Summit” –News Release

Winkel Tripel projection, WGS84 datum, central meridian : 150°E. Source Wikipedia Commons, Author: Eric Gaba

PACAREA news release.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
September 17, 2021

Coast Guard Pacific Area hosts North Pacific Coast Guard Forum Summit

Admiral McAllister

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

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The commander of U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, an Alameda-based unit that oversees U.S. Coast Guard activities from the U.S. western states to Asia and from the Arctic to Antarctica, hosted an annual forum summit with coast guard counterparts from five countries Tuesday through Thursday.

During this year’s North Pacific Coast Guard Forum Summit, forum members gathered virtually over the course of three days to discuss topics such as challenges in the North Pacific, the need for coordinated responses to those challenges, and Japan Coast Guard’s best practices and lessons learned while supporting the Tokyo Olympics. 

The North Pacific Coast Guard Forum formed in 2000, and it comprises the coast guard and maritime law enforcement agencies of Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States. Its six main areas of focus are combating illegal trafficking, combined operations, emergency response, fisheries enforcement, information exchange, and maritime security. A non-binding memorandum of cooperation all participating nations signed governs it.

“I am thrilled that coast guard leaders from six nations with common maritime interests made time to come together for three days to discuss our countries’ shared challenges in the North Pacific region,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area and U.S. Coast Guard executive agent for the forum. “The forum presents us the invaluable opportunity to communicate best practices, learn from each other and share information on myriad topics including search and rescue, counterdrug, pollution response, illicit trafficking, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, among others.”

By the conclusion of the summit, forum members prepared a renewed memorandum of cooperation for signature by the heads of the delegation and completed many of the final plans for this year’s multi-mission multilateral exercise, which the Canadian Coast Guard plans to host virtually in October.

On a rotating basis, each forum nation hosts two annual weeklong multi-lateral meetings. The first is an experts meeting held each spring and the second is the summit meeting in the fall.  The multi-mission multilateral exercise is the exercise component of the forum. At the conclusion of this year’s summit, South Korea assumed the host nation duties for 2022. 

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USCGC Munro trains with Royal Australian Navy

HMAS Sirius conducts a dual replenishment at sea with HMAS Canberra and USCG Cutter Munro as HMAS Anzac sails behind, during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021.

Sounds like Munro is having an interesting and unusual deployment, though these WestPac deployments are getting more common. Below is a Pacific Area news release.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area
Sept. 16, 2021

U.S. Coast Guard cutter engages in maritime training with Royal Australian Navy

Photo of USCG Munro and Royal Australian Navy Photo of USCG Munro and Royal Australian Navy
Photo of USCGC Munro and Royal Australian Navy Photo of USCGC Munro and Royal Australian Navy

Editors’ Note: Photos courtesy of Royal Australian Navy. Click on images to download high resolution versions.

ALAMEDA, Calif. — U.S. Coast Guard members aboard the Alameda-based Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) participated in a cooperative three-day at-sea exercise with the Royal Australian Navy in the South China Sea Saturday through Monday.

The joint training engagement included joint operations, professional exchanges, and multi-unit maneuvering at sea to strengthen interoperability between the U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Australian Navy.

“These at-sea engagements with our long-standing partners in the Indo-Pacific region provided an excellent joint training opportunity for the crew,” said Munro’s Commanding Officer Capt. Blake Novak. “Enhancing cooperation and building trust strengthens our relationship with the Royal Australian Navy while expanding our regional security cooperation initiatives.”

The U.S. Coast Guard has a long history of cooperation with the Royal Australian Navy. The U.S. and Australia, along with New Zealand and France, make up the Pacific Quadrilateral Defense Coordinating Group or P-QUAD. P-QUAD endeavors to enhance maritime security in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean in partnership with the Pacific Island Countries through organizations such as the Fisheries Forum Agency.

“The United States and Australia have deep and abiding interests throughout the Pacific,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area. “As leaders in maritime safety and security, our forces are dedicated to upholding regional sovereignty, stability and security. Through joint operations with Australia, we strengthen our interoperability with an ally deeply committed to promote international rules and norms within the Indo-Pacific.”

“The Royal Australian Navy has enjoyed multiple opportunities throughout the year to work with the United States in the Indo-Pacific,” said Capt. David Teitzel, Royal Australian Navy, Commander Task Group 635.3. “Being able to operate with a United States Coast Guard cutter like USCGC Munro has strengthened how we interoperate and boosts how we work together in the interest of regional security. I thank Munro for their time in-company and we look forward to sailing with the United States Coast Guard again.”

Munro, a 418-foot national security cutter, departed its homeport of Alameda in July for a months-long deployment to the Western Pacific. Operating under the tactical control of the U.S. 7th Fleet, the cutter and crew are engaging in professional exchanges and capacity-building exercises with partner nations, patrolling and conducting operations as directed.

National security cutters like Munro feature advanced command and control capabilities, aviation support facilities, stern cutter boat launch and increased endurance for long-range patrols, enabling the crews to disrupt threats to national security further offshore.

As both a federal law enforcement agency and an armed force, the U.S. Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to conduct defense operations in support of combatant commanders. The service routinely provides forces in joint military operations worldwide, including the deployment of cutters, boats, aircraft and deployable specialized forces.

Additional photos of the exercise provided courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy are available here.

“‘Great News’ For Great Lakes as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Approves $1 Billion for U.S. Coast Guard Infrastructure, Heavy Icebreaker” –gCaptain

Launch of USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30) on April 2, 2005. Photo by Peter J. Markham.

gCaptain reports,

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday approved $1 billion for U.S. Coast Guard shore side infrastructure nationwide and $350 million for a heavy icebreaker for the Great Lakes.

The funds were approved as part of its budget reconciliation bill, an action that the Great Lake Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) called “great news for the Great Lakes.”

Its probably too early to assume this will actually happen, but so far, so good, particularly with regard to the infrastructure portion.

As for the Icebreaker, what it is talking about is an icebreaker at least as capable a USCGC Mackinaw. What we might get is a second Mackinaw, but we could do better. This might be an opportunity to prototype the Arctic Security Cutter.

The Great Lakes contingent in Congress don’t seem to want any connection between the “Heavy” (really light) Great Lakes Icebreaker and the Artic Security Cutter, but they would be smart to consider the benefits.

First USCGC Mackinaw was commissioned in 2006. That may look pretty new now, but by the time the new Great Lakes Icebreaker is completed, it will be 20 years old. Looking further down the timeline, it will need to be replaced long before this second Great Lakes breaker. So some time in the future they will, presumably, have to again seek funding for a one-off unique design for the Lakes.

If the Arctic Security Cutter can transit the locks into the Great Lakes, they could supplement icebreaking in the Lakes and provide a ready replacement when the Mackinaw inevitably reaches the end of it life.

Combining the programs would also reduce the average unit price and would probably mean a more capable breaker for the Lakes than might otherwise have been possible.

“Smugglers Fake Ship Identities to Evade North Korea Sanctions” –MarineLink

This photo provided by Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force shows an apparent ship-to-ship transfer involving a North Korean tanker in the East China Sea.

MarineLink reports on a study that found that,

“Smugglers suspected of evading sanctions on North Korea have turned to schemes to create fraudulent identities for sanctioned ships…the group’s case studies of two ships allegedly involved in evading North Korea sanctions show how the IMO registration process can be hijacked to issue a registered identity to a non-existent vessel, which in turn can be used to disguise the identity of other ships, the report said.”

Bangladesh OPVs and a New USV, Worth the Read

A couple of stories brought to my attention by readers,

Bangladesh Navy , BNS Bijoy, armed with 1 x H/PJ-26 76 mm main gun, 4 × C-704 AShM, and 2 × Oerlikon 20 mm auto cannons

First a look at how Bangladesh has been using a couple of second hand British built Castle class OPVs. (Bangladesh now has two former USCG WHECs, so its good to see they take care of their ships. Thanks to Sven for bringing this to my attention.)

USV sighted in San Diego

Second, a report of a new unmanned surface vessel operating in San Diego. Looks like a test mule rather than a final product. (Thanks to CaptnMike for sending me the link.)

“Chinese Warships Sailing Near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands Shadowed By U.S. Coast Guard” –Small Wars Journal

US Coast Guard Captain Tim Brown, USCGC Bertholf’s commanding officer, communicates with a Chinese warship near Alaska in August 2021.

Small Wars Journal has reported,

“The U.S. Coast Guard recently released a set of pictures of the Legend class cutter USCGC Bertholf shadowing a group of four Chinese warships sailing in America’s Exclusive Economic Zone near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands back in August. The emergence of these pictures follows the editor-in-chief of Global Times, a newspaper under the direct control of the Chinese Communist Party, taking to Twitter to criticize U.S. Navy operations in the Pacific that routinely challenge many of Beijing’s widely disputed maritime territorial claims, especially in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, and warn of tit-for-tat activities on the part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.”

The PLAN task force apparently consist of a type 055 very large destroyer or cruiser,

a Type 052D destroyer,

a Type 903 replenishment ship,

160805-N-AI605-081 PEARL HARBOR (AUG 5, 2016) Chinese Navy replenishment ship Gaoyouhu (996) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following the conclusion of Rim of the Pacific 2016. (U.S. Navy Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rebecca Wolfbrandt/RELEASED)

and an intelligence-gathering ship with the hull number 799.

This is of course a bit unusual, but not something to be alarmed about. Given the current size and capability of the Chinese Navy (PLAN) we could expect them to transit within 20 miles of San Francisco or Los Angeles.

We recognize their right to do that.

But (there is always that but), having 176 vertical launch cells transiting a few miles away from major US cities does require a bit of mental adjustment, and it suggests maybe we are not as well prepared as we might be.

I almost hope they do it. The American public needs a wake-up call.

Think the Navy could sortie a couple of DDGs on short notice to shadow them?

“New division strengthens operational partnership with U.S. Navy” –MyCG

7.62 mm Chain Gun as Coax as optionally installed on 25 mm Mark 38 Mod 3. Image copyrighted by NAVSEA Dahlgren.

Below I have reproduced a story from the MyCG website . As someone who spent a considerable part of my Coast Guard career dealing with the Navy, it is gratifying to see some recognition of the potential and importance of this interface.

Still CG-453 seems to be pretty deeply buried in the Coast Guard HQ organization. Defense Readiness is one of our eleven missions and the interface with the Navy is central to that mission. From 1974 to 78, as a Lieutenant, I worked in the Military Readiness Division, Office of Operations. The division was headed, like this new office, by a Captain, and we also had a Navy Captain liaison officer. We did much the same work being expected of the CG-453, so I’m not sure there has been a lot of progress, but the existence of the National Fleet Board and Permanent Joint Working Group is encouraging.

There is much to do. 

This is not just about the Navy giving the Coast Guard a few second rate weapons so that cutters can do law enforcement and look sorta like warships. It should be about the Coast Guard being “Semper Paratus” to make a meaningful contribution to the national defense, if we should find ourselves in an existential fight with a near peer competitor, that will reorder all the national priorities.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the US has enjoyed decades without the need to worry about a near peer competitor, but that has changed. So far, I see little indication the Coast Guard has stepped up to accept a meaningful wartime role in meeting the challenges of a now aggressive and capable Chinese military.

That is not to say we need to become Navy lite, but we have assets that with a little money, thought, and coordination with the Navy, could be useful if mobilization is require. I have suggested one possibility here.

While the Navy has shown little interest in weapons appropriate for small vessels, with the new interest in unmanned vessels, it appears they may be showing interest in weapons that might also equip Coast Guard patrol craft. These might include adaptation of Hellfire/JAGM and the Very Light Weight Torpedo. These systems could allow the Coast Guard to fill its unmet need to be able to forcibly stop vessels regardless of size. That would help a peacetime counter terrorism mission, but we may need the capability in wartime as well.

Textron Systems’ CUSV with Surface Warfare payload including Hellfire/JAGM Vertical Launch System at SAS 2019

If we do get into a conflict with the Chinese, I suspect one of the Coast Guard’s first responsibilities will be to take control of the very large fleets of Chinese controlled fishing and merchant vessels. Forcibly stopping these vessels may be a major problem.


Sep 13, 2021

New division strengthens operational partnership with U.S. Navy

By Janki Patel, MyCG Writer

When the Coast Guard deploys cutters and aircraft alongside Navy battle groups, the two components operate together in support of their mutual homeland security and national defense missions. The new Navy Type Navy Owned Combat Systems Management Division (CG-453) has been established to serve as the principal point of coordination between the Coast Guard and Navy System Commands.

In fiscal year 2021 (FY21), the Coast Guard provided nearly 2,900 cutter patrol days to support Department of Defense priorities including:

  • 2,000 major cutter days to Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) for drug interdiction operations.
  • National Security Cutter deployments to support Indonesia Pacific Operations.
  • National Security Cutter escort of two new Fast Response Cutters (FRC) to Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
  • Heavy Icebreaker support for Operation Deep Freeze.
  • Six Fast Response Cutters in Patrol Forces Southwest Asia to support Central Command (CENTCOM) and Fifth Fleet.

All of these joint missions were possible through shared common systems that provide the Coast Guard with the capability to act as a force multiplier for the Navy fleet.

The Navy will spend $164 million in FY21 on the acquisition and sustainment of surface, aviation, and command, control, communications, computers, combat systems and interoperability (C5I) equipment installed on our cutters, aircraft, and training centers.

Both Navy and Coast Guard platforms use the Navy Systems Commands, which offers interoperability between services and vessels. They are also being used to increase the Navy’s combatant picture. Because of the increased integration of our newest assets, it is vital to communicate across the:

  • Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) engineers, builds, buys, and maintains the U.S. Navy’s fleet of ships and its combat systems.
  • Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) supports naval aviation aircraft and airborne weapon systems.
  • Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) is the communication center for information technology, sensors, and systems connecting air, surface, subsurface, space and cyberspace that are vital to the mission and to national security.
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) is responsible for developing policy, procedures, and requirements and other logistics/warfare centers.

“Collectively, we work together with the Navy to make sure that requirements for the acquisitions program offices are met as well as any requirements for logistics/service centers,” said Capt. Patrick M. Lineberry, Chief of the NTNO Combat Systems Management Division. “On a daily basis, CG-453 works with Navy partners to ensure that the Navy is providing the common equipment that aligns joint resources and supports the acquisition of interoperable systems installed on Coast Guard surface, air, and land-based assets.”

Some of the types of equipment the office oversees are:

  • Fire control and multi-mode RADARs
  • Military satellite communication equipment
  • Electronic warfare systems
  • Large and medium caliber gun weapon systems

“The better stewards we can be of this equipment, the more capable we will be as a joint force in the maritime domain,” said Lineberry. “We will not only offset the Coast Guard budget, but also become more efficient for the taxpayer through common training, maintenance, and logistics systems.”

CG-453 also provides training on interoperable electronics and gun weapon systems to cutter technicians show them how to operate Navy guns and electronics that are also on Navy ships.

The new division was developed in partnership with the National Fleet Board and Permanent Joint Working Group.

“It took over 18 months to solidify culmination of efforts across multiple directorates, but the topic was discussed in some circles for several years before finally taking shape, under the direction of the Executive Steering Committee, led by Rear Adm. Douglas M. Schofield,” said Neal Pratt, Deputy of the NTNO Combat Systems Management Division.

Pratt has been working for 10 years to get the NTNO Program office from development to formal office status and is elated to see both the Coast Guard and the Navy realize the true potential of the NTNO Program, and how each service can mutually benefit from common electronics and weapons systems.

“NT/NO systems are evolving from the stand-alone systems, currently installed on legacy platforms, to complex electronics and gun weapon systems that integrate with command and control capabilities that may be owned by the Coast Guard or another Navy System Command,” added Pratt.

The CG-453 division aligns with “Advantage at Sea” a tri-service (Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard) Joint Maritime Strategy.

Early stage efforts of CG-453 will focus on relationships, communications, and documenting Navy requirements and maintaining Navy systems throughout their entire lifecycle.

Please visit CG Portal site for more information.

“GA-ASI Flies MQ-9 in the Canadian Arctic” –Seapower

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ MQ-9A “Big Wing” UAS flew in the hostile climate of the Canadian Arctic. GA-ASI

The Navy League’s Seapower website reports,

 In a flight that originated from its Flight Test and Training Center (FTTC) near Grand Forks, North Dakota, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew a company-owned MQ-9A “Big Wing” configured unmanned aircraft system north through Canadian airspace past the 78th parallel, the company said in a Sept. 10 release.

A traditional limitation of long-endurance UAS has been their inability to operate at extreme northern (and southern) latitudes, as many legacy SATCOM datalinks can become less reliable above the Arctic (or below the Antarctic) Circle – approximately 66 degrees north. At those latitudes, the low-look angle to geostationary Ku-band satellites begins to compromise the link. GA-ASI has demonstrated a new capability for effective ISR operations by performing a loiter at 78.31° North, using Inmarsat’s L-band Airborne ISR Service (LAISR).

The 78th parallel lies more than 1200 nautical miles North of Kodiak. Getting any kind of air recon that far north, other than perhaps icebreaker based helicopters, has always been difficult.

Even our icebreakers have difficulty communicating. Satellite coverage at these high latitudes is spotty at best.

The ability to operate UAS in this environment could substantially improve our Polar Domain Awareness and serve as a communications relay for multiunit operations in the Arctic or Antarctic.

The high altitude capability of these aircraft also provides a far larger view than would be possible from a helicopters. The horizon distance from 45,000 feet is about 250 nautical miles.