FierceHomelandSecurity is reporting on testimony of VAdm. Charles Michel before the House Transportation subcommittee on Coast Guard and maritime transportation. As we have seen so many times recently, the Deputy commandant for Operations is pointing out that we simply do not have enough cutters to act upon all the intelligence we have for counter-drug operations. (If you look at the actual testimony, he also covers much more.)
It seems the Commandant and his staff have been repeating the same story at every opportunity.
I think they are doing the right thing. The Commandant makes a convincing case for why the country should want to do this. The other theme that accompanies it is the need for three heavy and three medium icebreakers, and the fact that the Coast Guard cannot afford to build them without a substantial budget increase.
It seems the Commandant and staff are doing their best to make a case for more money for shipbuilding. They are using the DHS Fleet Mix Study to point to the need for even more cutters than provided in the program of record and the “High Latitude Region Mission Analysis” to justify the Icebreakers.
I could point to additional shortfalls including the dearth of assets in the Western Pacific, but it looks like the Commandant has chosen his battle, and he is fighting it with determination.
The question now is, is anyone really interested in the Polar regions and our neighbors in Latin America and the problems created by the criminals that run the drug trade there.
DefenseNews.Com just posted a three part video interview with the Commandant. Each segment is five to ten minutes in length.
Impact of Sequestration: http://www.defensenews.com/videos/defense-news/2015/03/01/24221471/
The Commandant notes, in the first two months of 2015 we have seized more drugs than we seized in all of 2013. He talks about establishing priorities and specifically mentions the Arctic and Western Hemisphere Drug enforcement. He did not say what will drop out.
Capability vs Affordability http://www.defensenews.com/videos/defense-news/2015/03/01/24221423/
The Commandant has quite properly put emphasis on the OPC, and he has hit the point that spreading out procurement will cost more in the long run. He talked about icebreakers and discussed how we will need help funding them. He is pushing the results of the previous High Latitude study, saying the US needs three heavy and three medium icebreakers.
Coast Guard Modernization http://www.defensenews.com/videos/defense-news/2015/03/01/24221467/
Here he repeated themes from the State of the Coast Guard address. The importance of defending against Cyber attacks both within the Coast Guard and in the larger Maritime Transportation industry, the formation of an Arctic CG forum, and making the Coast Guard a hostile environment for those that might attempt sexual assault.
Seems the Commandant has recognized the need to sell the service and push for more funding, particularly for AC&I. It would not hurt to see the rest of the Coast Guard repeating the themes that he seems to have focused on, to make sure the message gets delivered.
The Commandant will continue to focus on the six major topics he highlighted in the State of the Coast Guard Address. Specifically I expect to see a lot more Coast Guard effort in the Eastern Pacific Transit Zone; we will continue to hear that the US needs three heavy and three medium icebreakers as the Commandant pushes for supplemental icebreaker funding; less obvious, but I think he is laying the ground work for an attempt to speed up the OPC construction schedule which would require at least another $500M annually in the AC&I account. There will be a lot more emphasis on cyber and tougher action on sexual assault. In terms of the objective of “maximizing return on investment,” I think we will see closer examination of fuel efficiency, manning, and other operating economies as a basis for where to invest modernization dollars.
gCaptain has a short post with an info-graphic depicting the requirements of the recently adopted IMO Polar Code. It all looks like common sense.
gCaptain reports that the Japanese will resume whaling in spite of rulings against it by the International Court of Justice and the International Whaling Commission.
Mostly, whaling has been done in the waters off Antarctica, although there has been some Arctic Whaling, where the US currently makes no specific territorial claim, but has reserved the right to make claims at a later date. Leaving the policing of these waters by others may be seen as weakening any future US claim and strengthening the hand of Nations that actually police these waters.
Will the US in the person of the Coast Guard attempt to stop Japanese whaling in either the Arctic or the Antarctic?
Craig Hooper’s “NextNavy” blog has some thoughts on Antarctica, including some thoughts on new construction icebreakers. He’s thinking 25 years ahead, but I think it is worth a look.
First a Russian ship gets stuck in the ice. Now their rescuer, a Chinese Icebreaker gets stuck in the ice. It is making news everywhere. Wouldn’t it be a publicity coup for the Polar Star to come to the rescue of both?
Thanks to the Coast Guard and http://www.fiercehomelandsecurity.com, we have a summary of the”High Latitude Region Mission Analysis,” that was given to Congress last year. You can get see it in the form of a pfd here.
- The Coast Guard requires three heavy and three medium icebreakers to fulfill its statutory missions.
- Naval Operations Concept 2010 (NOC 2010) included a requirement for a year-round continuous heavy icebreaker presence in both the Arctic and Antarctic. The Coast Guard would require six heavy and four medium icebreakers to fulfill its statutory missions and maintain that continuous presence, if they are all conventionally manned and based in the US.
- Using multiple crewing and basing two heavy icebreakers in the southern hemisphere (presumably Australia or New Zealand) both statutory and NOC requirements could be met by four heavy and two medium icebreakers.
“U.S. Sen. Mark Begich says the Coast Guard is including $860 million in its five-year budget plan for a new heavy polar icebreaker.”
Some interesting info about Chinese interest in the polar regions from the Voice of America.