Past Warship Wednesday subject Mohawk will be getting a diver-viewable photo gallery installed.
“In May, Austrian photographer Andreas Franke plans to hang a series of photographs on Mohawk Veterans Memorial Reef, thus creating a temporary art exhibit only accessible to divers. Helping on the project will be the Lee County Division of Marine Sciences and Joe Weatherby, founder of Reefmakers LLC, a Key West-based company that specializes in sinking ships as artificial reefs.
On July 2, 2012, county scientists and Reefmakers scuttled the 165-foot World War II Coast Guard cutter Mohawk 30 miles off Redfish Pass.”
The News Press also has a great interactive graphic of the Mohawk herself.
Back in 2007, the US Navy started looking at high-energy lasers for use as an active weapon. The most promising of these, the Laser Weapons System (LaWS) has already downed target aircraft and is on the way to the fleet.
(The LaWS prototype aboard the USS Dewey in 2012)
The LaWS uses series of six commercially available 5.4-kW fiber lasers focused through a frequency doubling crystal. This active laser system can fire a very tight 32kW beam at line of sight ranges than can travel in excess of 10-miles on a clear day. The typical commercially availible red laser pointer is about 1 milliwatts and is advertised to be able to damage your retinas if you stare into it. This laser is 32-kW, which means that it is 32,000,000-times more powerful than the thing you chase your cat around the house with. It costs some $32-million to develop, which may seem like a lot but when compared to such high-tech weapons as the multi-billion dollar F-35, it’s a comparative bargain.
How effective is it?
In a recent test aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Dewey last summer the LaWS prototype downed a BQM-147A target UAV drone. This weapon, when fielded will be able to shoot down slow moving aircraft, such as UAVs and helicopters, as well as be able to engage small boats and possibly even targets ashore. Its beam does not have to destroy the target if not required. It can simply damage it, blind its sensors, or in the place of a small boat, kill its engine and leave it dead in the water.
If just a small portion of the laser energy is used, rather than a full power blast, an intense and visible beam can be projected to significant ranges to provide a clear and unmistakable warning that a potential target is about to be zapped unless an immediate change in their behavior is observed. This feature could also be used as a laser dazzler, a sort of less-lethal weapon, to disorient and warn away the crew of an aircraft or ship. In short the LaWS could be used to ‘flash’ an approaching unidentified craft at long distances, in the hope that a little bit of eye irritation could result in saving lives on both sides. While the 1995 United Nations Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons bans weapons designed to cause permanent blindness, the use of the LaWS in this sense could be examined if it could be turned down enough to not cause permanent damage.
A test video of the LaWS in action, shooting down a remotely piloted UAV drone. Pretty dramatic footage. From the Navy’s website: “120804-N-ZZ999-001 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) (shown here conducting an operational test) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research’s Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy video by Office of Naval Research/ Released)”
Smoke one UAV
Costs $1 per shot
According to the Navy, the LaWS can fire a full-power burst that costs less than $1 per session. By comparison a SM-2MR surface to air missile, the Navy’s standard plane and missile killer for the past thirty years, costs about $400,000 a pop. Even smaller close in point defense type missiles such as the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) can run over $700K apiece. Further, whereas the number of missiles, shells, and bullets carried by a ship is always finite, as long as the ship’s engineering department can produce power, the LaWS can be fired.
This beast is the old 1989-era Sea Lite Beam Director, the Navy’s first active high-energy laser. Well, the USN has now figured out how to shrink this down to package that is more pallet-sized than supersized.
How will it look when it is adopted?
LaWS will deploy on the Persian Gulf next year on the USS Ponce. The Ponce is a nearly 50-year old former amphibious warfare ship that had been converted to an Afloat Forward Staging Base inthe Persian Gulf. An experimental Ord-Alt’ed CIWS on the Ponce is expected to carry the system sometime after October 2013.
The current US Navy’s Phalanx MK15 Close In Weapons System (CIWS) fires a high-speed computer controlled radar guided 20mm Gatling gun at over 4500-rounds per minute. It’s expected that the Navy will add the LaWS laser to this already cutting-edge gun after 2016.
(The red ‘can’ on the side of the CIWS is the LaWS laser…coming to the fleet at least in experimental form as early as this year)
The Navy is intending to add this system to the more than 250 CIWS Phalanx mounts found through the fleet. These devices are the familiar R2D2-looking systems that marry a small radar, fire-control system, and 20mm Vulcan cannon to track targets out to 10 miles away and destroy them once they are within 2.2-miles with accurate gunfire. The addition of the LaWS laser to this will allow the CIWS to engage threats first with the laser then with the 20mm Vulcan if needed.
This combined laser/gun mount, after testing and acceptance will be known as the CIWS Mk 15 Mod 41 with production and fielding in the fleet by 2017.
Times, it seems, they are a changing.
North Korea says what?
Think you can hit a bouncing target from a moving platform 1000+ meters away? Marines assigned to Scout Sniper Platoon, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and Sailors assigned to the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), conduct a live-fire exercise while at sea, to practice defending the ship against small boat attacks. The 26th MEU operates continuously across the globe, providing the president and unified combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, sea-based quick reaction force. The MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations.
In 2013, the firearms carried by the regular soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines of the US military are among the best in the world. In some cases, these guns represent more than a century of continually evolving designs while others are about as new and visionary as we’ve ever seen.
Although very similar in profile to the Vietnam-era M16 and civilian AR-15, the M4A1 carbine, currently the standard front line rifle of the US military, is something altogether different. Much shorter, its 14.5-inch barrel and collapsible stock gives an overall length of just 29.75-inches, nearly a foot shorter than the M16A4 that it supplemented in 1994 (as the 3-round burst capable M4) and has now largely replaced…..
Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com
Since the 1930s, the sound of American awesomeness on the battlefield has been played through the .50-caliber heavy machine gun. This gun, officially dubbed the M2 though cherished as the Ma Deuce or Mr. Deuce by our troops in the field, is the longest serving weapon in front line use in US military history. If you ever have the privilege to fire one, it’s easy to see why.
Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com
To give the lightly armed LCS, the remaining 179-foot Cyclone class coastal patrol craft, and the new 85-foot MK VI boats, the US Navy is testing the lightweight Griffin missile. This economical ($45,000 a pop, which is cheap as far as this type of stuff goes) little bottle rocket is just the thing for splashing a small boat (such as a Iranian Boghammer) or a quiet sea-side hut full of pirates. Small in profile, it can be used in an 8-pack launcher that is all above deck, fitting in any area that can accept a Mk38 sized mount.
Designed for small UAVs to be used in precision strikes against buildings and vehicles, the AGM-176 Griffin has a proven track record in air-to-ground use. The 45-pound missile uses components of the FGM-148 Javelin and the AIM-9X Sidewinder. It can send a 13-pound warhead guided by laser, GPS, or INS out to 12-miles. The Navy is at least using a proven missile for once. In its surfaced launched version it can reach out to 5500-meters (3.5-miles), which is still well past the range of heavy machine guns and RPGs which are the probable weapons of any small boats that the Griffin would defend against.
One has been mounted on the USS Monsoon (PC-4) for trials and seems to work just fine so far.
The standard sidearm for the US armed forces as everyone knows is the Beretta M9 (92F). Before 1984, it was the legendary Colt 1911 .45 (versions of which are still in use with special operations units.) However, what you may not know is that several variants of the SIG P-series pistol also serve.
Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com
Ever seen the old 1971 flick Murphy’s War in which Peter O Toole takes on a German U-boat in a lost stream in Africa? In it he flies (pretty badly) a J2F Grumman Duck. The Duck was used by the Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard from 1936-1950s, and only about 600 were built.
The United States Coast Guard is currently working with North South Polar Recoveries to recover a J2F-4 Duck downed in a storm on a Greenland glacier. Three Coast Guard airmen were lost and presumed still entombed at the site. The Duck is presumed to be under 38 feet of ice.
“NEW YORK – The Defense Department’s Joint POW/MIA Personnel Accounting Command said an exhaustive search by an expedition team of U.S. Coast Guard service members and North South Polar, Inc. Scientists and explorers has produced sufficient evidence that the crash site of a WWII Coast Guard Grumman Duck rescue aircraft missing for 70 years with three men aboard, beneath the ice near Koge Bay, Greenland, has been found, Coast Guard officials announced Monday.
By using historical information, ground penetrating radar, a magnetometer and metal detection equipment, the expedition team isolated the location where the aircrew crashed on Nov. 29, 1942. The team then melted five six-inch-wide holes deep into the ice and lowered a specially designed camera scope. At approximately 38 feet below the ice surface in the second hole, the team observed black cables consistent with wiring used in WWII-era J2F-4 amphibious Grumman aircraft.
KOGE BAY, Greenland – Possible wreckage of the WWII Coast Guard J2F-4 Grumman Duck rescue aircraft missing for 70 years with three men aboard, beneath the ice near Koge Bay, Greenland, Aug. 29, 2012. An expedition team of Coast Guard servicemembers and North South Polar, Inc. Scientists and explorers located the crash site. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Mitchell Zuckoff.
The USCG lost one of those rare NCOs that help hold everything together. Chief Horne, of the USCGC Halibut (WPB-87340), an 87-foot Marine Protector Class patrol boat , lost his life when his small boat was rammed by a suspected drug runner off of the Southern California coast, suffering a TBI.
PORT OF HUENEME, Calif. (KABC) (story link with video) –
Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III of Redondo Beach and three others were on an inflatable boat in pursuit of suspected drug smugglers in a panga. Investigators say that the panga was running dark with no lights on when it was spotted near Santa Cruz Island around 2 a.m. Sunday.
The Coast Guard cutter Halibut deployed its small boat, and the crew chased after the smugglers with its law enforcement lights on. Authorities say the suspects suddenly turned, and at a high rate of speed, hit the Coast Guard inflatable head-on, throwing two Coast Guard members into the water.
Horne, 34, sustained a traumatic head injury and was pronounced dead at the Port of Hueneme. The other Coast Guard member suffered minor injuries.
“I want to emphasize that our hearts go out to the family and the loved ones of Chief Petty Officer Horne,” said Coast Guard Capt. James Jenkins.
The two suspects have been arrested. Sources say they are Mexican nationals. The Department of Justice is investigating the deadly incident.
In Redondo Beach, family and friends have been filling his home and comforting his wife. Neighbors say that she is pregnant with their second child.
Authorities say drugs were recovered on the panga, and according to sources, it was a large amount of marijuana.
(Copyright ©2012 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
Rest in peace, Chief Horne.
The Coast Guard, going back to the old historic Revenue Cutter Bear, has long been the sole force to police the polar regions of the US. With global warming, more of said coast is open to the public and leads to more problems.
An article in the LA Times talks about the first ever extensive patrol by a large cutter along Alaska’s arctic coast
“BARROW, Alaska — In past years, these remote gray waters of the Alaskan Arctic saw little more than the occasional cargo barge and Eskimo whaling boat. No more.
This summer, when the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf was monitoring shipping traffic along the desolate tundra coast, its radar displays were often brightly lighted with mysterious targets.
There were oil drilling rigs, research vessels, fuel barges, small cruise ships. A few were sailboats that had ventured through the Northwest Passage above Canada. On a single day in August, 95 ships were detected between Prudhoe Bay and Wainwright off America’s least defended coastline, and for some of them, Coast Guard officials had no idea what the vessels were carrying or who was on them….”