Getting Outflanked along the California Coast

FierceHomelandSecurity is reporting the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection are admitting that Pangas smuggling north from Mexico are going around existing patrols. Shouldn’t surprise anyone, there is a lot of money in it. In addition to drugs they could be  smuggling terrorist just as easily.

Perhaps we need a few of those Webber Class WPCs in the Pacific. Reportedly the administration is taking another look at border security. Its time to make our case that the water side is way too porous.

Seventh Webber Class WPC to be Commissioned Saturday, 16 Nov.

Press release announcing the planned commissioning of the seventh Fast Response Cutter, Charles W. David, Jr. (WPC-1107) (The press release says, this is “…the eighth Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutter (FRC) to arrive to Coast Guard Seventh District”  but by my count this is the seventh to be commissioned. Suppose it may be possible both statement are true. Last one commissioned was Paul Clark, on 24 August.) They are coming out at approx. three month intervals.

This will be the first FRC homeported in Key West.

7th FRC, Charles Davis, Jr., Delivered

gCaptain is reporting the delivery of the seventh Webber Class FRC, Charles Davis, Jr., WPC-1107.

“On the night of February 3, 1943, the U.S. Army transport USS DORCHESTER was torpedoed by a U-Boat off the coast of Greenland in the North Atlantic.    The CGC COMANCHE was on the scene and its crew desperately searched for survivors in the frigid waters.  David fearlessly volunteered to leave the safe haven of the COMANCHE to dive overboard to help rescue the DORCHESTER’s crew.  As other crewmen also volunteered to dive in, 93 survivors were rescued out of the freezing waters.

“After the last of the survivors were safely aboard, David began to climb the cargo net to the ship’s deck.  One of David’s shipmates, Richard Swanson, was having trouble climbing the net due to his freezing limbs.  David descended the net with the help of another crewman and pulled Swanson to the deck out of harm’s way.  Tragically, David died a few days later from pneumonia.”

Robert Yered Commmissioned

The forth Webber Class Fast Response Cutter Robert Yered (WPC-1104) has been commissioned. This Miami Herald report includes some good video, including structural test firing of the ships weapons, mooring using a wired remote controller they call a pendant, and interior shots from the ship.

The bridge is certainly large; so large it was apparently used for the pre-fire brief. The watch will need to be careful not to be distracted, if meetings on the bridge becomes common.

This report mentions that the cutter is capable of 32 knots, which is substantially more than the usually reported 28 knots.

This report from NavalToday, includes a video with a more personal look at the heritage the ship represents.

Two More Heroes for Two More Cutters

The Coast Guard Compass has continued to expand their coverage of the stories of the individuals the first 14 Fast Response Cutters are to be named for, adding two more since our last post on the subject.

Napier was a Life Saving Service Great Lakes station keeper in the late 19th century. William Trump was one of the many Coast Guardsmen involved in the Normandy invasion. You might also like to follow this link (also included in Trump’s story), that gives more detail about the Coast Guard and the Normandy invasion.

If you would like to catch up on stories previously published, they are linked here.

Fast Response Cutters–Named for Heroes

Today the Coast Guard Compass announced the first fourteen names to be assigned to the Fast Response Cutters (the Bernard C. Webber Class). They are also doing a series explaining the accomplishments of each of the service members the vessels are named for. These are the first two:

Navy sidelines Cyclone class patrol boats–CG implications

Reportedly the Navy has found “significant structural damage” in several of their Cyclone Class patrol boats. This includes the five boats operating with CG 110ft WPBs that protect Iraqi oil terminals. Sounds as if the WPBs may have to take up the slack. In addition the Coast Guard operates three boats of this class which will also require inspection and likely repairs.

Four More Fast Response Cutters

The Acquisition Directorate is reporting “The Coast Guard awarded a $166.1 million contract option to Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport, La., on September 14 to begin production of four Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters (FRCs). ”

This is the third contract and means that eight vessels have been contracted for. Options have already been negotiated to bring the total to 34. Ultimately we plan to have 58.

I have high hopes for these vessels. They are much more capable than the ships they replace. In some respects they may be able to fill in for the ship-day deficits we will see in HEC/MEC days. At the same time, it has to be recognized that they will cost more to run than the 110s, just as the 110s cost more to run than the 95s.

Is the Fleet Shrinking?

Is the Fleet Shrinking?

I got curious and did a small survey of the fleet size using resources I had at hand (that’s why I used 1982 instead of the more logical 1980). So here is a comparison of the  fleet composition in 1982, 1990, 2000, and 2010 with some notes about the future. To make the information more meaningful, I have grouped the ships in categories by displacement and provided subtotals of all the ships in that category or larger. There is a more specific evaluation of patrol vessels near the bottom.  My sources are at the foot.

(note: loa is length over all.  tons (fl) is full load displacement)

Type         Class               loa    tons (fl)      1982    1990    2000    2010

WAGB     Healy              420    16,000          –           –             1           1
WAGB     Polar               399    12,087           2          2            2           2
WAGB     Glacier            310      8,449           1           –            –            –
=> 8,000 tons                                                  3         2           3           3
WAGB     Wind               269      6,515            2          –             –            –
WAGB     Mackinaw      290      5,252             1          1            1            –
WMSL     Bertholf          418      4,306              –          –            –            2
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Mk38 mod2, 25 mm, more than just a gun

Yes, it is a gun but it is also a day/night electro-optic sensor system that can help with SAR, law enforcement, navigation, man-overboard. When the Webber Class Cutters are delivered they will have a new gun system, but it is really much more.

The new system includes the familiar 25 mm chain gun that currently arms 378s, 210s, and 110s but it is mounted on a stabilized system with an on board electro-optic system that appears to have many uses beyond directing the gun.

The Mod2 is a product of BAE Systems Minneapolis, MN, but it is designed by Rafael, Haifa, Israel and it incorporates Rafael’s Toplite electro-optic system that includes 4-axis gimbal stabilization, forward looking infra-red radar with three fields-of-view, a low contrast, low light level color television camera and an eye-safe laser range finder.

Navigating at night, you can pick out a point that would be invisible to the naked eye and get a bearing and range. Looking for a man in the water, the IR will help you find him. See what is happening on suspected smuggler as you approach at night, or document illegal fishing activities. The electro-optic sensors can be slewed separately from the weapon, so we don’t have to point the weapon to use the sensors.

Israel calls the mount the Typhoon and uses the mount on boats as small as the Super Dvora and Shaldag class patrol boats which are slightly smaller than our own 87 ft WPBs. The Israelis also mount small missiles like the Spike-ER on the Typhoon in addition to the gun which extends the range of the system from 2,000 meters for the gun out to 8,000 for the missile. Here is a video of the system in operation: ( You’ll have to copy and paste, I could not get it to link properly.)