More Lessons Learned, “Guardians of the Gulf: A History of Coast Guard Combat Operations in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2002-2004”

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Photo: USCGC Adak, part of Patrol Forces, South West Asia, note extra machinegun mount behind the pilothouse. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Not long ago we talked about the need to preserve lessons learned from atypical (usually military) Coast Guard operations like participation in the Vietnam War or operations in South West Asia. Craig Allen Jr. brought to my attention a LANTAREA historian’s publication, “Guardians of the Gulf: A History of Coast Guard Combat Operations in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2002-2004” (pdf) by William H. Thiesen, PhD, June 2009

Regarding the deployment of WPBs the study noted, “Even though the Coast Guard served a similar mission in Vietnam, there existed no operational plan to provide guidance for OIF planning and preparations.

If the Coast Guard does not yet have a contingency plan for deployment of patrol vessels there is enough detail to make a fair start on a checklist of things to be done. The experience of the WPBs deployed to the Mediterranean can leave little doubt of the Webber Class’ ability to go almost anywhere, given time to avoid bad weather.

“On May 14, the five cutters (one 378 and four 110s–Chuck) began the return trip; however, this time the smaller cutters followed Dallas across the Atlantic rather than riding on board an MSC vessel. The 5,000-mile voyage set a record as the longest transit ever completed by a 110-foot cutter. The PATFORMED fleet had performed its escort and MIO mission admirably. Moreover, the WPBs in the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf had set records for hours of operation with some of them deploying for over thirty days of operation.”

For the future, there might be some advantage in organizing at least a few of the Webber class in deployable divisions (3 units) and squadrons (six units) as discussed earlier, with or without augmentation since there will be several location with three or more WPCs.

New Mission off Somalia?

gCaptain is reporting, “The United Nations Security Council authorized naval inspections of ships off Somaliaโ€™s coast and beyond suspected of carrying illegal weapons and charcoal, a commodity that generates millions of dollars a month in revenue for militants linked to al-Qaeda.”

Possibly there will be some Coast Guard involvement in the form of detachments on US Navy ships and conceivably with the 110 foot WPBs operating out of Bahrain.

Unfortunately, it appears, that if inspections are done, it will be in a haphazard fashion. The expectation is that the ships already in the Indian Ocean doing counter piracy will also do this. But really, the places the ships need to be to do these inspections is different from where they need to be to respond to piracy attacks, because innocent ships avoid the Somali coast. The place to intercept smugglers is close to the Somali coast.

This is the kind of operation the Coast Guard specializes in. It is essentially no different from drug or migrant interdiction. It is what the Coast Guard did in Vietnam as part of Markettime.

If the Coast Guard had some built in excess capacity to respond to contingencies, they could take on this sort of operation.

The entire US Navy is excess capacity to respond to contingencies. It is not built for routine peacetime operations. It would not be a bad thing for those that decide the budgets to see building a capable Coast Guard as the same sort of insurance.

Israeli Navy Seizes Arms Smuggler with ASCMs on board

The Israeli Navy has interdicted an arms smuggling vessel 200 miles off their coast. The arms are believed to have been en route Hamas in the Gaza strip, and there is speculation that the weapons, at least some of which were made in Iran, were delivered to Syria for transhipment by the Iranian Naval vessels that recently transited the Suez Canal.

"Victoria" Cargo Ship Carrying WeaponryInterestingly, among the arms found on board were Chinese designed, Iranian made C-704 anti-ship cruise missiles.

This is a smaller weapon than a harpoon. The Chinese make a series of anti-ship weapons, quoting, “While TL-10 series is specifically designed to engage boats displacing 500 tons or less, TL-6 series is specifically designed to engage larger naval vessel with displacement up to 1,000 tons. Along with C-704 that covers ships from 1,000 tons to 3,000 tons, and larger anti ship missiles such as C-802 that covers large ships, China has developed a complete anti ship cruise missile families that covers every displacement class. Western sources have claimed that the Iranian Nasr anti-ship missile is based on TL-6.”

(Israeli Defense Forces Photo)