Tag Archives: 110 persian gulf

Coast Guard Updates: Islands fading, SLEP’ing Bears, and OPC gains steam

From the DHS/USCGC FY2023 Budget book are a few gems including the drawdown of the once-mighty 49-ship strong Island-class 110-foot patrol boats— built between 1985-1992– the fact that at least one of the circa 1960s 210-foot Reliance-class cutters will decommission soon, and one of the 13 crews of the circa 1980s 270-foot Bear-class cutters will be disbanded as the class undergoes a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) process to continue service for another decade (or two) as the Offshore Patrol Cutter comes onboard.

Islands

We’ve talked a bunch about the Islands in past years, and they deserve it, as they are great boats. The planned drawdown leaves just five Island-class cutters in domestic waters, three in New England and two in the Pacific Northwest, areas where smaller 87-foot boats have a tougher go of it:

USCGC Key Largo (WPB-1324) is based in Gloucester, Mass 


USCGC Sitkinak (WPB-1329) is based in Portland, Maine 


USCGC Tybee (WPB-1330) is based in Woods Hole, Mass


USCGC Cuttyhunk (WPB-13) is based in Port Angeles, Washington


USCGC Anacapa (WPB-1335) is based in Petersburg, Alaska

The cutter Anacapa tied up at the Coast Guard’s mooring in Petersburg in April 2022 Joe Viechnicki KFSK

Of note, Anacapa is somewhat famous, having sunk by NGF a Japanese “zombie trawler” a few years back.

Now THAT’S Homeland Security! ( USCG D17 photo)

Cuttyhunk is set to decommission this week– on Thursday 5 May– after 33 years of service and will be replaced at Port Angeles by Anacapa who just shipped down there from Alaska, where she has, in turn, been based for the past 32 years.

A snippet of Cuttyhunk’s long and distinguished career: 

Over the past 34 years of service, Cuttyhunk’s crew conducted a wide range of operations. The cutter’s crews completed over 1,000 operations ranging from law enforcement boardings to search and rescue responses throughout the Pacific Northwest. Cuttyhunk assisted U.S. Naval Base Kitsap Bangor in several submarine escorts before Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor was established to ensure the safe transport of Ship Submersible Ballistic Submarines.

Nicknamed “The Pest of the West”, Cuttyhunk assisted in one of the largest maritime drug seizures in the Pacific Northwest, near Cape Flattery, Washington, in December of 1997. More than 3,500 pounds of marijuana, estimated at a street value of $15 million, was recovered from the OK Jedi, a 60-foot sailboat with three people onboard.

And then there were four.

Bears in hibernation

The Coast Guard has a habit of doing most of their repair, modernization, and SLEP work in-house, at the Government-owned CGY in Maryland. If only the Navy had such a program, right?

Anyway, USCGC Seneca (WMEC-906), commissioned in 1987, is the sixth of the 270-foot Bear-class cutters completed but is the first to complete its nine-month SLEP. Besides hull work in drydock, this included replacing generators and updating systems throughout the ship.

Incidentally, the Coast Guard Yard has been the DOD’s primary supporter of the MK 75 76mm gun, as everything that carried the old OTO Melera Super Rapid in the U.S. Navy (FFG-7, PHM, etc) has been decommissioned.

Bear-class cutter USCGC Thetis with her new (to her) MK 75

Changeout of CGC THETIS’ MK75 using a previously-overhauled MK75 this month at the CG Yard

Offshore Patrol Cutter

Fast facts:
• Class: Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) Heritage-class (WMSM)
• Weight: 4,320 tons
• Length: 360 feet
• Beam: 54 feet
• Speed: 22.5 knots
• Armory: Mark 110 57mm Bofors rapid-fire gun, Mark 38 MOD 3 25mm autocannon with 7.62mm chaingun over the helicopter hangar, remote and crew-served .50 caliber M2HB heavy machine gun mounts
• Crew: up to 126

Panama City’s Eastern Shipbuilding Group is celebrating the award of the fourth Heritage Class offshore patrol cutter (OPC), the future USCGC Rush (WMSM 918), as Hull# 309A last week. The Coast Guard plans to field as many as 25 of the new 360-footers to replace both the 210-foot Reliance and 270-foot Bear-class cutters.

The three other OPCs under contract to ESG, all in various states of construction:

Hull# 302A: WMSM-915: USCGC Argus
Hull# 305A: WMSM-916: USCGC Chase
Hull# 307A: WMSM-917: USCGC Ingham

Ukraine War Naval Update

Besides your typical maritime harassment seen in the area in the past few years– GPS jamming, AIS spoofing, communications jamming, electronic interference, and cyber-attacks– Lloyds and NATO warn shipping that “collateral damage or direct hits on Civilian Shipping in the North-Western Black Sea area are considered VERY HIGH.”

This includes mines, which the 2,100 dwt Estonian-owned, Panama-flagged cargo ship MV Helt may have sunk by last week off Odessa.

Word is that the Russians may have forced the vessel to act as a lane-clearer in the aspect that “any ship can sweep for mines…once.”

When it comes to missiles or rockets, it appears at least three neutral party merchant vessels have taken hits in the area since the war started.

  • Millennial Spirit (IMO 7392610), a 2,200-ton Moldavian-flagged chemical tanker, was attacked on 25 February and burned for two days.
  • Namura Queen (IMO 9841299), a Japanese-owned Panama flagged 85,065-dwt kamsarmax, was hit on 25 February.
  • Yasa Jupiter (IMO 9848132), a Turkish-owned Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, with 11 Filipino crew, was hit on 24 February but was able to make it to port in Turkey.

In other naval news from the Black Sea, it has been confirmed that the Ukrainian Navy scuttled their flagship and only frigate, the Krivak III-class Hetman Sahaidachny (U-130).

The lightly armed 3,500-ton OPV had been in a maintenance availability at Mykolaiv and was ordered wrecked to prevent her from falling into Russian hands.

The Ukraine Navy ship Slovyanks (P190)— formerly the 110-foot Island-class USCGC Cushing is allegedly sunk, with the parents of several of her crewmembers posting pleas for information. According to a Russian report (so hold your breath) the Mayor of the city of Yuzhne, Volodymyr Novatsky, said the patrol boat was sunk on 3 March by an anti-ship missile of Russian naval aviation. 

110 foot Islands Slavyansk and Starobilsk in better times. They are the former Bollinger-built Islands, ex-USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321) and ex-USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323).

The Ukrainians have managed to get one lick in, though.

On Monday night, Ukrainian Naval Infantry units reportedly hit the 1,800-ton Russian corvette, RFS Vasily Bykov off Odessa with a shore-based anti-ship missile (some chatter is that it was a GRAD rocket or even an ATGM instead). Heavily damaged and forced to retreat, it reinforces how dangerous it is to work in the littoral, even when you have control of the sea. 

Russian corvette, RFS Vasily Bykov, has reportedly been heavily damaged by shore-based fires near Odessa this week. 

In one report, Ukrainian small boats okie-doked the Russian Project 22160 patrol boat to chase them towards a camouflaged firing position, where he (Russian vessels are always “he”) was shelled and hit with at least one lucky shot. Dawn showed the vessel on fire offshore.

USCG Legacy in the Ukrainian Navy

Ukraine inherited a lot of assets from the old Soviet Black Sea Fleet in 1992 including the lion’s share of the personnel, armaments, and coastal facilities of the famed organization. However, over the course of two decades of continued neglect and atrophy, the once-mighty Fleet by 2014 largely just consisted on paper and, what still existed then largely was either captured/surrendered to the Russians or was destroyed in conjunction with the Russian seizure of Crimea, the hub of the old Black Sea Fleet and the modern Ukrainian Navy.

Since 2014, the Ukrainians have tried to rebuild, with the old commercial seaport of Odesa its primary base. This has included a little help from Washington in the form of five retired old former 110-foot U.S. Coast Guard Island-class patrol boats.

These guys:

*P190 Sloviansk, ex-USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321)
*P191 Starobilsk, ex-USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323)
*P192 Sumym ex- USCGC Ocracoke (WPB-1307)
*P193 Fastiv, ex-USCGC Washington (WPB-1331)
*P194 Vyacheslav Kubrak, ex-USCGC Kiska (WPB-1336)

The first two were transferred and delivered to Ukraine in 2019 after training 34 crewmen across 10-weeks to man them and the second two were shipped to the country last December after their crews were likewise trained at the USCG Yard. Kiska/Kubrak was set to be delivered in January 2022, but I am not sure that happened. The plan is to send them as many as seven Islands, or at least that was the plan.

Armed with a single Mk 38 Mod 0 Bushmaster forward and two M2HBs, they dropped their coast guard flash and gleaming white paint for a more utilitarian haze grey in Ukrainian service.

P191 Starobilsk, ex-USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323), seen exercising with US destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG80) in the Black Sea 29 Sept 2020

As the largest ship of the Ukrainian fleet, the Nerei/Krivak III/Menzhinskiy-class frigate Hetman Sahaidachny (F130), is widely reported to have been scuttled by her crew at Nikolayev last week, things don’t look good for the old Islands.

Ukraine picks up a couple scratch-and-dent 110s

Last week the U.S. Coast Guard transferred a pair of two former 110-foot Island-class patrol boat cutters, the ex-USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323) and ex-USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321), during a ceremony at Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore.

Note the racing stripes are gone

Attending were Coast Guard VADM Michael McAllister, Deputy Commandant for Mission Support and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko. Although it should be noted that the actual transfer will take place in 2019, after some maintenance, and training of their new Ukrainian crews.

Poroshenko is the gray-haired guy on the stern, looking toward the camera.

On the same day as the transfer, Poroshenko tweeted, “Having faced a opposition on the land, Russia is testing waters for a possible offensive from the sea. Like a hooligan at the street, Moscow makes a blow, if no reaction follows then it makes another blow. The task is to reassure Kremlin of our resolve to protect Ukraine’s shores.”

Cushing, long homeported in Atlantic Beach, was decommissioned last March after 29 years’ service. Drummond, who spent a very busy career in the Florida Straits as she was stationed in Miami Beach, struck last year after 30 years working for Uncle. They aren’t the first 110s sent to the Black Sea, as Georgia picked up a pair in 2016.

Two USCG 110-foot cutters to patrol Black Sea, forever

Coast Guard Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz, Deputy Commandant Mission Support, presents a picture of a Island-class cutter to Major General Zurab Gamezardashvili, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, at the Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Md., Sept. 30, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Barney.

Coast Guard Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz, Deputy Commandant Mission Support, presents a picture of a Island-class cutter to Major General Zurab Gamezardashvili, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, at the Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Md., Sept. 30, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Barney.

Major General Zurab Gamezardashvili, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, and U.S. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz signed certificates for the transfer of two former U.S. Coast Guard cutters to the Georgian Coast Guard at the Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Md., Sept. 30, 2016.

The vessels transferred ex-Jefferson Island (WPB-1340) and ex-Staten Island (WPB- 1345) are the first Island-class patrol cutters “transferred to an international partner.”

The Georgian flag was flown for the first time aboard the cutters immediately after transfer, which will be named Ochamchire and Dioskuria respectively.

Jefferson Island and Staten Island were both “C” model 110s, built by Bollinger in 1991, and assigned to South Portland, ME and Atlantic Beach, NC, respectively.

Replaced by more modern Sentinel-class fast-response cutters, the Coast Guard is rapidly letting their relatively new (for them) 110s go, pulling them from service and shipping them for a final ride to the CG Yard for disposal.  Its not a bad replacement scheme, trading 49 110-foot patrol boats for 58 more capable 154-footers.

Background on the 110s

Persian Gulf (April 27, 2005) – Coast Guardsmen aboard U.S Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy (WPB 1326) wave good-bye to the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 74) after the first underway fuel replenishment (UNREP) between a U.S. Navy cruiser and a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter. Antietam completed fuel replenishment with the Monomoy in about two hours and saved the 110-foot patrol boat a four-hour trip to the nearest refueling station. Antietam and Monomoy are conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf as part of Commander, Task Force Five Eight CTF-58). U.S. Navy photo by Journalist Seaman Joseph Ebalo (RELEASED)

Persian Gulf (April 27, 2005) – Coast Guardsmen aboard U.S Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy (WPB 1326) wave good-bye to the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 74) after the first underway fuel replenishment (UNREP) between a U.S. Navy cruiser and a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist Seaman Joseph Ebalo (RELEASED)

Part of a project initiated in 1982 as a DoD Augmentation Appropriation to phase out the pre-Vietnam era 95-foot Cape-class patrol cutters, the Islands were originally designed to carry a Mk 16 20mm manually operated cannon on the foredeck and two M60 7.62mm machine guns on the 01 deck.

First of the class, the “A” variant USCGC Farallon (WPB-1301) was delivered in 1986, followed by 16 sisters. “B” variant leader USCGC Baranof (WPB-1318) was delivered in 1988 followed by 19 sisters before the “C” series started with USCGC Grand Isle (WPB-1338) in 1991 with 11 sisters delivered by 1992.

In all, some 49 cutters to replace the 36 ancient Capes.

In the meantime, the ships have been steadily upgraded with new commo and nav gear, regular engine swaps, and a Mk.38 25mm gun tapping in for the obsolete Mk 16 and M2 .50 cals taking the place of the M60s. Every three years they get a 15-week or so spate in dry dock.

Eight (mostly A series boats) that were stretched to 123-foot vessels in a fiasco that left them riddled with hull cracks have been pulled from service and laid up for disposal (likely via reefing) at the CG Yard since 2006. They are USCGC Matagorda (WPB-1303), USCGC Manitou (WPB-1302), USCGC Monhegan (WPB-1305), USCGC Nunivak (WPB-1306), USCGC Vashon (WPB-1308), USCGC Attu (WPB-1317), USCGC Metompkin (WPB-1325), and USCGC Padre (WPB-1328).

Then there were 41, though the Coast Guard only lists 27 in service, and some of those have been overseas for more than a decade. Seven are cooling their heels in Alaska where they sometimes have to take on ghost ships. Two are in Guam. One in Hawaii.

Since 2002 the Coast Guard has forward deployed six of their 110s to Manama, Bahrain to serve in the Persian Gulf littoral. After all these vessels can stay at sea for a week at a time, have a cutter boat, a decent surface search radar, can make 29-knots, and float in just 7 feet of seawater– which the Big Blue has a hard time pulling off. This force formalized in 2004 as Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) and is very active, typically having 3-4 patrol boats underway in the Gulf at any given time looking for pirates, smugglers, terrorists out to pull off another USS Cole-style attack, and, well, the Iranians.

Of the other disposals, Costa Rica is supposed to pick up two of the class next year. 

Some Island-class cutters are apparently up for sale through private brokers as well.

A recently refitted 1991 vintage C-model vessel (which could be 1338, 1339, 1341, 1342, or 1343) is up for sale– price on request– here with “All gun mounts remain intact and fully operational, can be sold fully armed to qualified buyers that do not have sanctions of UN, USA or other regulatory Government or agencies. Owner has full authority and can provision the ship according to buyer interest.”

Island-class vessels moved on to the civilian market may be rather spartan. According to the USCG, their Cutter Transition Division has removed parts worth approximately $1.2 million per 110-foot patrol boat, and reintroduced them into Coast Guard and Navy supply chains for use on ships that are still operational.

USCGC Block Island (WPB-1344) and the USCGC Pea Island (WPB-1347), two late model C-variants, now renamed the MY Jules Verne and the MY Farley Mowat, were purchased in Baltimore last year and are used by Sea Shepard, flying a black flag.

You can bet the 40 or so 110s that make it out in to the wild still have a few decades of use left in them.