“ENHANCING EXISTING FORCE STRUCTURE BY OPTIMIZING MARITIME SERVICE SPECIALIZATION”–CIMSEC

Fourth HC-144A delivered

Photo: The Government of Mexico purchased four CN235-300M aircraft (similar to the Coast Guard’s HC-144A). Oct. 1, 2010, the Foreign Military Sales program awarded a $157.9 million contract to EADS North America to produce these aircraft. The fourth and final delivery took place May 2, 2012, at EADS’ facility in Seville, Spain. Photo courtesy of Airbus Military.

CIMSEC has an interesting post that postulates a greatly expanded leadership role for the Coast Guard. In many ways it is radical, but I think it may be the way we are headed.

It suggests an enlarged role in international maritime policing and Foreign Military Sales. That probably implies intelligence collection and distribution.

“Under the umbrella of muscular law enforcement, the Coast Guard would manage not only patrols of the American coast, but also patrols off South America and Africa as well.”

That may already be close to reality in the SouthCom AOR.

The author describes a standard “frigate” that could very well be the Offshore Patrol Cutter:

“The principal requirements would be low cost, ease of maintenance, and margins for growth. The basic warship would have a simple power plant, enough systems to operate as a minimalist patrol ship, and substantial space and weight left available for additions.”

“Built cheaply and in large numbers, flotillas of these semi-modular ships would patrol for pirates off Africa, drug smugglers in the Gulf of Mexico, or vessels in distress off North America.”

He also sees a role for these ships in Amphibious Assaults.

“…the amphibious train would be escorted by frigates (based on the common hull introduced above) specialized with the maximum number of naval guns possible. With these frigates, the amphibious force would be able to defeat enemy forces in waters too constricted for the blue-water warships to operate effectively.”

We have seen a growing Coast Guard role in Foreign Military Sales with the delivery of hundreds of boats to dozens of nations, new 87 foot patrol boats going to Yemen, and maritime patrol aircraft going to Mexico. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to see OPCs or Webber class WPCs being sold to our allies and friends, possibly funded in whole or in part by US Foreign Military Assistance.

There may be minor issues with his vision. I might argue that in accordance with the post’s logic, force protection should be under Coast Guard management, but generally his views are sound. It is surprising to see so much of a post by a former E-2C/D Hawkeye Naval Flight Officer devoted to the Coast Guard. The whole post is worth a read.

Two More WHECs, if You Please–Philippines?

File:PF-15 and SARV-002 CARAT 2013.jpg

Photo Credit: United States Navy with the ID 130629-N-YU572-530, by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh, PHILIPPINE SEA (June 29, 2013) The Philippine Coast Guard vessel Edsa (SARV 002), left, and the Philippine Navy frigate Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) steam in formation during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2013.

Global Post is reporting the Philippines is looking for two more “frigates” from the U. S. It is not clear they are referring to Hamilton Class Cutters, but it seems likely. Referring to the two WHECs they already have, the article states,

“The Philippines has already acquired two refurbished American frigates in the past two years, and they now lead patrols in the South China Sea.”

The request might conceivably refer to retiring Perry Class navy frigates, but that would introduce an additional set of systems to the Philippine Navy and the gas turbine powered FFG-7s are not as economical to operate as the normally diesel powered Hamiltons with their combined diesel or gas turbine (CODOG) power plant. The redundancy offered by the cutters’ four engine, two shaft power plant may also be seen as an advantage over the FFG-7’s two engine, single shaft propulsion.

US to Buy boats for Vietnam Coast Guard–Sec State

There has been a report that the US will be providing assistance in the form of maritime enforcement assets to some ASEAN nations, notably those in conflict with China.

“On his first visit to Vietnam as America’s top diplomat, Kerry pledged an additional $32.5 million for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to protect their territorial waters and navigational freedom in the South China Sea, where four states have competing claims with China. Included in the new aid is up to $18 million for Vietnam alone that will include five fast patrol-boats for its Coast Guard. With the new contribution, U.S. maritime security assistance to the region will exceed $156 million over the next two years, he said.”

This isn’t really a lot of additional capability when a Webber class cost on the order of $50M. Five vessels totaling $18M, and that will certainly include training, spares, etc. so less than $3.6M each. They could be talking about Response Boat, Mediums. The last contract was $89M for 40, roughly $2.4M each. Add the miscellaneous additional expenses and it might come to to $18M.
At any rate, it is likely the Coast Guard will be tasked with doing some of the training. It’s also possible the Coast Guard’s Foreign Military Sales effort will be a bit busier.

S. Korea Transfers Ship to Colombia for Drug Enforcement

MarineForum, 23 July, is reporting

“The Colombian navy will be given a decommissioned (in service 1983, out of service 2011) South Korean corvette …for anti-drug operations … part of South Korean plans to boost arms exports to Latin America) (rmks: dates given seem to indicate DONG HAE class 755 AN YANG)

Coast Guard units may have an opportunity to work with this vessel. Here are the specs for the ship found in Wikipedia. No helicopter deck, but perhaps that might be changed, otherwise looks like a good addition for drug enforcement.

Displacement: 1,076 tonnes (1,059 long tons; 1,186 short tons)
Length: 78.1 m (256 ft 3 in)
Beam: 9.6 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draft: 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in)
Propulsion: CODOG unit
Speed: Maximum: 31 knots (57 km/h)
Cruising: 15 knots (28 km/h)
Range: 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km)
Crew: 95
Sensors and
processing systems:
EDO 786 hull mounted sonar
Armament: • 1 × OTO Melara 76 mm/62 compact cannon
• 2× Emerson 30mm twin guns
• 1× Bofors 40mm/56 twin guns
• 2× Mark 32 triple torpedo tubes (with 6× Mark 46 torpedoes)
• 12× Mark 9 depth charges

CG Help for Bangladesh Navy

DefenseMediaNetwork has taken the occasion of the transfer of the former USCGC Jarvis (WHEC-725) to review the progress of the Bangladesh navy (BN). In addition to Jarvis the USCG is expected to transfer another 378 and

“…the USCG has been steadily delivering significant quantities of small craft – primarily 16 Safeboat Defenders and 20 Metal Shark Defiants, with more than 30 such craft delivered to date. Deliveries of Defiants are ongoing under the USCG Security Assistance Program.  Most of these craft are used by the naval Special Warfare and Diving and Salvage (SWADS) although a few have gone to the Bangladesh Coast Guard.”

Given what Bangladesh has done with their former British Castle Class OPVs (discussed at the end of the article), we may expect that the former cutters will soon be equipped with Chinese made sensors and weapons including anti-ship cruise missiles.

Intercept That Drug Runner–Sorry, Not Enough Ships

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/36/USCGC_Hamilton_%28WHEC-715%29.jpg

File:USCGC Reliance WMEC 615.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ea/Thetis_cutter_WMEC-910.jpg

There have been several articles recently as a result of a breakfast meeting with reporters hosted by Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, chief of the U.S. Southern Command, reporting that SouthCom is intercepting only one in three drug shipments that they know about. He sited diversion of assets for combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and operations off Libya, Somalia, and Iran.

One thing I found very curious, as noted in the AOL defense report, “Fraser focused on Navy vessels and did not specifically address the Coast Guard, which does contribute some ships to Southern Command operations.” Why the hell not?

The General reported a decline in our ability to intercept drug shipments.

At sea, Fraser explained, the U.S. Navy is retiring the smaller ships that have traditionally been the mainstay of drug interdiction patrols, the aging and increasingly expensive to operate Perry-class frigates, while their much-delayed replacement, the Littoral Combat Ships, is just beginning to enter service. “We ‘ll see a gap in the numbers of those types of ships,” Fraser said. “So we’re working with the Navy to see what other types of vessels and capability that’s coming back from Iraq might be available,” particularly small craft that have been used for river patrol and offshore patrol in the Gulf. Such boats could boost the U.S. fleet’s own interception capability but also, and perhaps more importantly, some could be transferred to friendly countries that are currently short on assets to intercept drug boats moving through their own territorial waters.

Nationaldefensemagazine.org also reported he made reference to the possibility of terrorists entering the US by using the drug smuggling routes.

There was much made of the lack of assets available to partner nations.

Here is a proposal, The Coast Guard still has 10 WHECs and 29 WMECs that are due for replacement. If we can get them replaced, we can turn them over to partner nations. That should essentially totally eliminate any shortage of vessels in SouthCom. The sooner we replace them the more useful they will be.

Why couldn’t the General have put in a good word for the Coast Guard?

Philippines to Acquire Decom 378(s)?

A report the Philippines would like to acquire one of the Hamilton Class; that they are in talks now; and that the ship “might arrive in the country within the first semester of this year.”

Sounds like the Philippine Navy is one of the few out there with a fleet older than the Coast Guard’s.

The Philippines has ongoing struggles with at least two insurgent groups, one Maoist, one Islamic radical, and is perhaps militarily the weakest of several countries, including the Peoples’ Republic of China, with competing claims to the Spratly Islands. A 378 will be a major increase in their capabilities. There is some indication they may want more than one.