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Those pesky German froggers. You never know where they are gonna pop up

The Kampfschwimmer units are the rough equivalent of the U.S. Navy SEALS and, as noted in a video from the German military, they really dig that Heckler & Koch.

The above spot is in German, but relax if your Deutsch ist rusty because you could fit all the dialog onto a fortune cookie strip. The gist is: innocent German citizens are in deep sauerkraut somewhere sketchy and the KSM get tasked to pull them out before bad guys with Kalashnikovs can do weird scheisse to them.

After jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, the German frogmen are taken aboard a sneaky little Type 212 diesel-electric submarine — which has a convenient compartment for combat swimmers while their gear gets passed out via 533mm torpedo tube. Then, said KSM platoon pops up silently all spec ops pimp in the shallow water offshore and moves in. That’s when you see the beauty that is tricked-out HK MP7 SMGs along with G38 and G36 rifles and other assorted goodies right from the Willy Wonka of precision steel schmidt that is Oberndorf am Neckar.

After finding the good guys, then checking their names and mother’s names, the group exfils under the cover of snipers armed with what looks like HK417s in 7.62x51mm, dusting some Eurotrash clowns in a tiny pursuit vehicle.

“Request for hot extract” is universal.

Getting some live-fire Griffin time in

Five TF55-based Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships —USS Tempest (PC 2), USS Squall (PC 7), USS Chinook (PC 9), USS Firebolt (PC 10) and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12)— recently had the chance to sling Griffin SSMs at moving target sleds to demonstrate their ability to hit surface targets, like small boats.

170718-N-VG873-0159 ARABIAN GULF (July 18, 2017) A griffin missile is launched from the coastal patrol ship USS Chinook (PC 9) during a test and proficiency fire. USS Chinook is one of 10 coastal patrol ships assigned to Coastal Patrol Squadron (PCRON) 1, which is forward deployed in Manama, Bahrain, in support of maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin L. Simmons/Released)

The tests came late last month, around the time of increased Iranian challenges in international waters from Revolutionary Guard small craft in the PG.

The MK 60 Griffin Missile System uses a four-cell box launcher about the size of a Barcalounger, with one each mounted port and starboard on the 179-foot PC, giving them 8 modified Hellfire missiles at hand to regulate small craft–and I would bet low/slow-flying aircraft as well.

The system began fielding in 2015 and uses a Battle Management System (BMS) based on a ruggedized “Toughbook” laptop is operated from the bridge drawing from target imagery from the ship’s mast-mounted Bright Star EO/IR camera. Range is listed at 3nm, but is likely a good bit longer.

While the 13-pound warhead isn’t likely to sink a frigate, it and the kinetic energy of the missile itself is probably good enough to scratch anything less than 100-footer while a salvo of four (as they can be ripple fired to the same illuminated target) could ruin the day of a corvette-sized warship if needed. Good news is they can’t be chaffed or EW’d away due to the IR nature of their warhead seeker. Bad news is the target has to be lit up the whole time by Bright Star which limits a shoot-and-scoot engagement.

OPC seems right on track

Eastern Shipbuilding Group announced last week they successfully completed the Offshore Patrol Cutter ICDR Milestone for the U.S. Coast Guard on time and under budget, which is a good sign, esp since the class is the first warship the company is making.

ESG has options for production of up to nine vessels with a potential total value of $2.38 billion (or about $265m per hull, which is a fairly good deal when you consider the cheapest LCS is $432 million) while the USCG is expected to order as many as 25 of the vessels to replace a like number of smaller and much older vessels.

OPC Characteristics:
•Length: 360 feet
•Beam: 54 feet
•Draft: 17 feet
•Sustained Speed: 22 Plus knots
•Range: 8500 Plus nautical miles
•Endurance: 60 Days

I say replace the Mk38 with a C-RAM, shoehorn a towed sonar, ASW tubes and an 8-pack Mk41 VLS with LRASMs aboard and call it a day.

What is this LRASM?

The mosquito boats at Midway

While the huge carrier task forces get all the attention at Midway, there was also an unsung fleet of plywood boats who took part in the battle as well.

As part of the local defenses at Midway were 11 early model PT boats (Elco 77′ PT’s 20-31) of the 1st Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron. Dispatched to Midway from Pearl Harbor in May, the nearly 1,400nm trip is often regarded as the longest open-water PT boat sortie of the war (though they did rendezvous with seaplane tenders for gas twice on the trip).

On June 4, as some 60 Japanese Navy planes attacked Sand Island (part of Midway) the PT boats were ready to meet them. MTB RON 1 had already had a bit of experience shooting at Japanese planes– at Pearl Harbor six months prior.

PT Boats and Zeros Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Griffith Baily Coale; 1942; Unframed Dimensions 10H X 20W Accession #: 88-188-AF On the brightly colored waters of the lagoon, the PT’s are skimming about, darting here dodging there, maneuvering between the rows of machine gun splashes, incessantly firing their twin pairs 50 caliber guns.

According to PTboats.org:

As the dive bombers pulled out over the lagoon, the PT’s opened with all their guns. PT’s 21 and 22 concentrated their fire on a low-flying Zero, which crashed in the trees on Sand Island. Another Zero came out of a steep dive to strafe PT 25. The 25 took 30 small-caliber hits above the waterline; 1 officer and 2 men were slightly wounded by shrapnel. Several times planes started to dive on other boats, but swerved off as soon as the PT’s opened fire.

After the raid they picked up five USMC Marine pilots and two enlisted who had bailed out and returned them to shore.

They also made the epitaph to the great naval battle out to sea on the 5th .

At 1930 all 11 PT’s got underway to search for damaged Japanese carriers reported 170 miles to the northwest. The weather was squally, with poor visibility. These conditions, excellent for PT attack, also made it difficult to find targets. Unable to find anything by dawn, the PT’s turned back to Midway. On the way, PT’s 20 and 21 sighted a column of smoke 50 miles to the west. They sped toward it at 40 knots, but when they arrived all they could see was a large expanse of fuel oil and floating wreckage, apparently Japanese. Probably no Japanese carriers were left afloat.

On the 6th, they put to sea with flag draped coffins of Marines and Japanese killed in the raid two days prior.

Sinking Sun Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Griffith Baily Coale; 1942; Framed Dimensions 54H X 63W Accession #: 88-188-AB Marine stands at parade rest on the bow of a PT boat as she moves slowly out to sea from Midway to give decent burial to Japanese fliers shot down on the islands during the battle. The red ball of the rising sun is prophetically repeated by the round disc and spreading rays of the sinking sun.

 

Hunter Killers!

Below is a great 1967 film featuring Grumman S-2E Trackers of Sea Control Squadron Twenty Four (VS-24) Scouts and VS-27 Pelicans and Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King helos of HS-3 Tridents from Carrier Antisubmarine Warfare Group Fifty Six (CVSG-56) aboard USS Randolph (CVS-15).

Also featured in the film are S-2Es of VS-28 Gamblers and VS-31 Topcats and SH-3As of HS-11 Sub Seekers from CVSG-52 aboard USS Wasp (CVS-18). Other footage of S-2Es of VS-22 Checkmates and VS-32 Maulers and SH-3As of HS-5 Nightdippers from CVSG-54 aboard USS Essex (CVS-9) is also used in the film. Grumman C-1A Trader carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft and Grumman E-1B Tracer airborne early warning radar aircraft of various VAW-33 Nighthawks detachments also appear in the film. The destroyer USS Newman K Perry (DD-883) is the only identifiable escort in the film but several DDs are shown from a distance.

Hattip, Avgeekery

USCG keeps swelling FRC ranks

The big 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, built to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats of the 80s and 90s, (which in turn replaced the 1950s era 95-foot Cape-class cutters, et.al) are fast becoming a backbone asset for the Coast Guard. Designed for five day patrols, these 32-knot vessels have a stern boat ramp like the smaller 87-foot WPBs, but carry a stabilized 25mm Mk38 and four M2s as well as much more ISR equipment. In a hattip to the fact they are so much more capable, the USCG uses the WPC hull designation, used last by the old “buck and a quarter” 125-foot cutters of the Prohibition-era with these craft, rather than the WPB patrol boat designation of the ships they are replacing.

You can bet these cutters are being looked at for littoral work such as in the Persian Gulf where the Navy has a whole squadron of 170-foot Cyclone-class (PCs) that are showing their age.

The latest FRC accepted, USCGC Oliver Berry (WPC 1124), is the 24th of 58 envisioned for the service.

Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) cruises out of Key West, Fla., following the cutter’s delivery to the Coast Guard, June 27, 2017

And kudos to the worst-funded branch of the military for keeping to solid naval naming conventions in honoring past heroes by naming these ships after them, rather than for politicians and the like.

From the presser this week on Berry‘s acceptance:

The cutter’s namesake, Oliver Berry, is the first enlisted helicopter mechanic in naval aviation history and was an instrumental part in pioneering the use of the helicopter for search and rescue after World War II. In September 1946, he successfully disassembled a helicopter in Brooklyn, New York, organized transportation from New York to Newfoundland, Canada, and reassembled the helicopter for use to rescue 18 stranded passengers of a Belgian airliner that crashed near Gander, Newfoundland. He subsequently received the Silver Medal of the Order of Leopold II from the Belgian monarchy for his efforts.

A Bakers’ dozen ‘Near Coastal Patrol Vessels’ on tap

Meet the Near Coastal Patrol Vessel (NCPV), an 85-foot Damen 2606 design to be built in Louisiana for about $4.1 million a pop

Jeanerette, Louisiana-based Metal Shark just picked up a U.S. Navy contract to build Near Coastal Patrol Vessels (NCPVs) for United States partner nations through the Department of Defense Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

Details:

Metal Shark’s proposal was selected by Naval Sea Systems Command from a field of six competing shipyards.

Under the terms of the award, potentially worth upwards of $54 million, Metal Shark will build up to 13 85-foot Defiant-class welded aluminum cutters for the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and other United States partner nations. Additionally, Metal Shark will supply electro-optical infrared sensors, diagnostic equipment, in-country reactivation, crew familiarization, and test support to NCPV operators.

The new vessels are based on Damen Shipyards’ Stan Patrol 2606 design, tailored by Metal Shark to suit the requirements of the NCPV mission. The versatile cutter can accommodate a wide range of mission profiles including search and rescue, border patrol, police and customs duties, counter-narcotics operations, and securing waters of economic importance.

The company is also building 18 45-foot welded-aluminum patrol boats under FMS for the Vietnam Coast Guard, the first of which were delivered last month.

Curiously, Bollinger, also based in Louisiana, has built 73 87-foot Marine Protector class patrol boats (based on the Damen STAN 2600 design developed for the Hong Kong police) for the USCG, as well as a four-pack for the navies of Malta and Yemen at a price of $3.5 million each. Sure, there is likely some inflation that can be added to that but it would seem like the trade off is there for greater interoperability, especially on SOUTHCOM/Coast Guard Tradewinds missions.

 

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