Tag Archives: National Security Cutter

Dutch Harbor: Fast Forward 80 Years

Earlier this month, USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756), a shiny new 420-foot Legend-class National Security Cutter (named in honor of the organizer of the United States Life-Saving Service and the General Superintendent of the Life-Saving Service from 1878–1915), along with sistership Berthoff, kept a close eye on a four-ship Chinese Navy task force that came within 43 miles of the Alaskan coast. 

Last week, Kimball made another international connection along the shores of the 49th State when, in a less tense interaction, she steamed alongside JS Kashima (TV-3508), an officer training ship of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. A 4,050-ton vessel, the 469-foot Kashima is about the size of a frigate and is a good mirror to Kimball, armed with a single 76mm OTO and a set of ASW torpedo tubes.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and the Japan Naval Training Vessel Kashima transit together during a maritime exercise near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2021. (USCG photo)

Via U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska:

The Kimball crew and the JMSDF crew, aboard the Naval Training Vessel Kashima, operated alongside one another in the Aleutian Island chain to exchange visual communications, followed by honors, as their respective crews lined their ship’s rails for a uniform salute.

This display of maritime cooperation and mutual respect emphasizes both the United States’ and Japan’s continued commitment to one another and to partnership at sea.

“The Kimball crew welcomed the opportunity to meet the Kashima and conduct a professional exercise at sea,” said Capt. Thomas D’Arcy, the Kimball’s commanding officer. “Seeing the crews aboard the Kimball and the Kashima line the rails for the passing of honors illustrates the spirit of collaboration between the U.S. Coast Guard and Japan’s maritime forces. The exercise, movements and communications between our vessels were expertly executed and the salutes exchanged exemplify the strength of our relationship with Japan as a key partner.”

Over the past year, the U.S. and Japan have increasingly strengthened their relationship in the maritime domain through the shared mission set of the JMSDF and the U.S. Coast Guard. This includes search and rescue collaboration with the 14th Coast Guard District in Hawaii and the Japanese Coast Guard Training Ship Kajima, as well as exercises between the Japanese Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Cutters Kimball, Munro and Bertholf near the Ogasawara Islands and in the North Pacific, respectively.

The first joint exercise between the Kashima crew and a Coast Guard crew occurred in the Bering Sea last September in the form of a personnel exchange with the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley.

The Kashima is one of four training ships that belong to the JMSDF and is used to train new officers. About 110 newly-commissioned officers and more than 300 crewmembers are aboard the ship for its nearly two-month journey from Hiroshima to Alaska, up to the Arctic and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, then back to Japan.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and the Japan Naval Training Vessel Kashima transit together during a maritime exercise near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2021. (USCG photo)

Of course, June 2022, only about nine months from now, will be the 80th anniversary of the Japanese push against Dutch Harbor as a sideshow to the Battle of Midway, which shows just how much things can change in that amount of time. In another irony, of course, sharp naval historians will recognize that a previous “Kashima” on the Japanese naval list was a Katori-class light cruiser of WWII fame that also spent some time steaming under U.S. escort. 

National Security Cutters Get Chance to Flex National Security Muscle

Via the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska (emphasis mine):

During a routine maritime patrol in the Bering Sea and Arctic region, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL-750), spotted and established radio contact with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) task force in international waters within the U.S. exclusive economic zone, Aug. 30, 2021. All interactions between the U.S. Coast Guard and PLAN were in accordance with international laws and norms. At no point did the PLAN task force enter U.S. territorial waters. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Bridget Boyle.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Bridget Boyle.

The U.S. Coast Guard demonstrated its commitment to the Bering Sea and Arctic region with deployments of national security cutters Bertholf (WMSL-750), and Kimball (WMSL-756), and a U.S. Arctic patrol by icebreaker Healy.

“Security in the Bering Sea and the Arctic is homeland security,” said Vice Adm. Michael McAllister, commander Coast Guard Pacific Area. “The U.S. Coast Guard is continuously present in this important region to uphold American interests and protect U.S. economic prosperity.”

Crews interacted with local, national and international vessels throughout the Arctic. During the deployment, Bertholf and Kimball observed four ships from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) operating as close as 46 miles off the Aleutian Island coast. While the ships were within the U.S. exclusive economic zone, they followed international laws and norms and at no point entered U.S. territorial waters.

The PLAN task force included a guided missile cruiser, a guided missile destroyer, a general intelligence vessel, and an auxiliary vessel. The Chinese vessels conducted military and surveillance operations during their deployment to the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean.

All interactions between the U.S. Coast Guard and PLAN were in accordance with international standards set forth in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium’s Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea and Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

While the PLAN doesn’t “officially” have any cruisers, the brand new Type 55 DDGs (NATO designation Renhai-class) are big ships, running to 13,000-tons, and having a 112-vell VLS launcher installed with missiles cued by a phased array radar. In other words, a bigger, newer version of a Tico. They are the largest and most advanced Chinese surface combatant. 

PLAN’s Nanchang (DDG-101) Type 55, from a Japanese MOD intel picture/press release earlier this year. Look at all those VLS cells…

Bertholf. At 4,500-tons and armed with a 57 mm gun, a 20mm Close-In Weapons System, four .50-caliber machine guns, two M240B 7.62mm GPMGs, and space for two helicopters, along with passive EW and SRBOC systems, it is about as heavily armed as current US Coast Guard cutters get. Of course, I’d like to see a few Harpoons/NSSMs, Mk 32 Torpedo tubes, and maybe a RAM missile system on her, but that’s just me.

Facing off against this, the pair of 4,500-ton Legend-class National Security cutters combined had two 57mm Bofors, two CIWS, and some mounted machine guns.

In all seriousness, such interactions, coupled with the use by the Navy of the same class of white hulls to cruise through the contested South China Sea on Freedom of Navigation Patrols, point to the USCG’s larger cutters at a minimum getting an armament upgrade to swap out CIWS for C-RAM and pick up a few Naval Strike Missiles to at least put them on-par with the admittedly under-armed littoral combat ships. 

If you act like a frigate, no matter the color of your hull, you better be able to back it up. 

September 2021, Royal Australian Navy fleet oiler HMAS Sirius (AO-266) conducts a dual replenishment at sea with the amphibious assault dock HMAS Canberra (LHD-2) and USCGC Munro (WMSL-755), during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021. (RAN Photo by LSIS Leo Baumgartner)

Racing Stripes of the Philippine Sea

There is a good reason why so many “coast guards” around the globe have racing stripes similar to the one the U.S. Coast Guard adopted in the 1960s.

The USCG does a lot of unsung nation-building operations around the world and has done so for years. The fact is, a low-tech cutter is often a better training mesh with the navy or maritime patrol force of a small coastal nation. One of the longest relationships is with the Japan Coast Guard, which was founded in May 1948 as the Japan Maritime Safety Agency– notably six years and two months prior to the current Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

In an ode to the past, and with eyes on the future, the huge (9,300-ton) Shikishima-class patrol vessel Akitsushima (PLH-32) of the JCG last month conducted exercises near the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands in the Philippine Sea with the West Pac-deployed 4,600-ton Bertholf-class National Security Cutter USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756). The drills included operating “helicopters, small boats, and unmanned aerial vehicles to practice interdicting foreign vessels operating illegally inside Japanese waters.”

The two ships looked great together.

Of note, Akitsushima, while the same size as a DDG, is very lightly armed for her tonnage, carrying only two 35mm twin Oerlikons and two optically-trained 20mm Vulcans. She does have an impressive 20,000nm range and the capability to carry two large Super Puma helicopters.

Kimball is a bit better armed, roughly to the level of an old OHP-class frigate (once they lost their one-armed bandits) or to nearly the same standard as the baseline LCS with a 57mm MK110, a CIWS-1B/BL2, and six crew-served MGs as well as soft-kill countermeasures and a Slick-32. Would be a whole lot nicer if they had an ASW suite, an 8-pack of NSMs, and another of VLS ESSMs, but hey, it is still 2021.

Of note, the Ogasawaras are some 600 miles south of Tokyo and are sparsely populated, earning them the nickname of the “Galápagos of the Orient,” making them a target for illegal fishing and other activities. Naturally, military history buffs will recognize the names Chichijima and Iwo Jima in the chain.

Of Munro and Blackjacks

The 418-foot Legend-class Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755), one of four stationed at Alameda, this week returned home after a 3-month multi-mission patrol that included both spending 37 days in the Bering Sea enforcing fisheries regulations and patrolling the maritime boundary line separating U.S. and Russian waters– interacting with a Russian Border Guard vessel in the process– then shipping down to Hawaii for two weeks of the biennial Rim of the Pacific 2020 (RIMPAC) exercises.

The nut to take from this is the fact that Munro spent a lot of her RIMPAC time practicing interoperability with Navy MH-60S Sea Hawks, a vital force multiplier that the big cutters of her class would no doubt embark in the event of a real-life DOD tasking.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 25, 2020) An MH-60S Sea Hawk Helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 hovers next to the U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class cutter USCGC Munro (WMSL 755) during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020. (U.S. Navy photo 200825-N-UM706-1593 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Madysson Anne Ritter)

As noted by the USCG:

Munro’s patrol included the embarkation of a U.S. Navy MH-60S helicopter and aircrew from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, nicknamed the “Blackjacks” during RIMPAC. Over two weeks, Munro and the Blackjacks conducted 380 flight evolutions, 55 touch and go landings, 34 vertical replenishment evolutions transferring cargo by helicopter, and multiple helicopter in flight refuels.

Now if the Navy could just add some Mk.32 ASW tubes, a towed array, and some ASuW missiles to the Legends

A look at JIATF South

CBS takes an in-depth look at Joint Interagency Task Force South. Based out of Key West, it’s commanded by a USCG flag officer but includes assets from throughout USSOUTHCOM and 4th Fleet. It’s a neat video with a lot of access granted. They go inside the CIC of a National Security Cutter– USCGC James (WMSL-754)– see HITRON fire some rounds, and get a close up of Bigfoot, the narcosub over at Truman Annex that everyone poses for pictures with.

GAO says National Security Cutters have issues

The Coast Guard’s latest 418-foot National Security Cutter, James (WSML 754), is underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Thursday, July 30, 2015. The James is the fifth of eight planned National Security Cutters – the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutters in the Coast Guard’s fleet. The cutters’ design provides better sea-keeping, higher sustained transit speeds, greater endurance and range, and the ability to launch and recover small boats from astern, as well as aviation support facilities and a flight deck for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist David Lau)

The Coast Guard’s latest 418-foot National Security Cutter, James (WSML 754), is underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Thursday, July 30, 2015. The James is the fifth of eight planned National Security Cutters – the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutters in the Coast Guard’s fleet.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist David Lau)

A report by the GAO issued last month has gripes with the USCG’s new 418-foot National Security Cutters which have been slowly joining the fleet. While quantum leaps over the old 378s they are replacing on a 1:1.5 ratio due to the fact they have longer legs, better accommodations, stern launched small boats, capabilities for both a Dolphin and a UAV at the same time as well as more up-to-date EW, ELINT, radar and commo gear, they are still having problems with making their weapons suite do what it is designed for.

Now keep in mind that the weapons on Coast Guard cutters are actually “owned” by the Navy so there has always been a degree of disconnect, but there are still some pretty bad things that have surfaced over the course of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) and Combat System Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT).

national security cutter weapon systems

While the CIWS, NULKA launcher, and air search radar were all repaired following IOT&E, post operational reports indicate that problems persist with these systems as they were often unavailable during operations. For example, the CIWS was inoperable on the Stratton for at least 61 days in 2014; the NULKA was inoperable on the Stratton from October 2013 through April 2014; and, according to Coast Guard officials, the air search radar has had 18 casualties, or failures, across the three operational NSCs over the past 19 months, with a lead time for repairs of up to 18 months. Further, the ship was not tested to see if it could achieve a hard and soft kill against a subsonic anti-ship cruise missile due to a moratorium on using target drones.

Also, getting ammo to the CIWS is a bitch:

The ammunition hoists are difficult to use in their current configuration, and the crew of the NSC prefers to carry ammunition for the CIWS by hand rather than use the hoist.

Then there are engine problems which include overheating engines in tropical waters and cracked heads at an alarming rate:

The NSC has encountered casualties with the engines’ cylinder heads at a higher than expected rate, averaging four cracked cylinder heads per cutter per year. According to Coast Guard officials, cylinder heads are not normally expected to fail at this rate. The equipment manufacturer has redesigned the cylinder heads in an effort to prevent them from cracking, and all of the operational NSCs have been equipped with the re-designed part, but the NSCs have continued to experience cracked cylinder heads even with the new design, which can result in an inability to conduct operations. For example, in 2014, the Waesche missed 11 planned operational days as a result of this problem.

However, as the report states, a series of mods, upgrades and “we’re working on it(s)” are planned.

Inside the sneaky dope sub

The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew seizes cocaine bales from a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS, a/k/a/ sneaky dope sub, a/k/a narco nautilus) interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America, July 19, 2015. The Coast Guard recovered more than 6 tons of cocaine from the 40-foot vessel.

Interesting footage of the Stratton‘s 35 foot LRI-II notching in the rear ramp of the big 418-foot National Security Cutter. I’ve done it on a 17 footer in the back of a WPB and it was a blast so I can only imagine the scale involved here.

More on Stratton‘s epic 8.4 ton seizure here.

 

 

Newest 418 is commisoned

Coast Guard Cutter James, a 418-ft National Security Cutter, entered into active service on August 8, 2015 at U.S. Coast Guard Base Boston. The cutter will be homeported in Charleston, South Carolina.

Joshua_James_Portrait_1

The latest addition to the Atlantic cutter fleet is named after Capt. Joshua James, USLSS, one of the most celebrated lifesaver in U.S. Coast Guard history, credited with saving hundreds of lives from the age of 15 when he first joined the Massachusetts Humane Society until his death at the age of 75 while on duty with the U.S. Life-Saving Service. He was honored with the highest medals of the Humane Society, the United States, and many other organizations.

James was the saltiest of sea dogs, with a lifeboat for a coffin, and another lifeboat made of flowers placed on his grave upon his death.  His tombstone shows the Massachusetts Humane Society seal and bears the inscription “Greater love hath no man than this — that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Specs:
Displacement: 4,500 long tons (4,600 t)
Length: 418 feet (127 m)
Beam: 54 feet (16 m)
Draft: 22.5 feet (6.9 m)
Propulsion: Combined diesel and gas
2 × 7.400 kW MTU 20V 1163 diesels
1 × 22MW LM2500 gas turbine engine[3]
Speed: Over 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range: 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km; 14,000 mi)
Complement: 113 (14 Officers + 99 Enlisted)
Sensors and
processing systems: EADS 3D TRS-16 Air Search Radar
SPQ-9B Fire Control Radar
AN/SPS-73 Surface Search Radar
AN/SLQ-32
Electronic warfare
and decoys: AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System
2 SRBOC/ 2 x NULKA countermeasures chaff/rapid decoy launcher
Armament: 1 x Bofors 57 mm gun and Gunfire Control System
1 x 20 mm Close-In Weapons System
4 x .50 Caliber Machine Guns
2 x M240B 7.62mm Medium Machine Guns
Aircraft carried: 2 x MH-65C Dolphin MCH, or 4 x VUAV or 1 x MH-65C Dolphin MCH and 2 x VUAV
Aviation facilities: 50-by-80-foot (15 m × 24 m) flight deck, hangar for all aircraft

And with that, here are some gratuitous shots of James from all angles.

The Coast Guard’s latest 418-foot National Security Cutter, James (WSML 754), is underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Thursday, July 30, 2015. The James is the fifth of eight planned National Security Cutters – the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutters in the Coast Guard’s fleet. The cutters’ design provides better sea-keeping, higher sustained transit speeds, greater endurance and range, and the ability to launch and recover small boats from astern, as well as aviation support facilities and a flight deck for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist David Lau)

The Coast Guard’s latest 418-foot National Security Cutter, James (WSML 754), is underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Thursday, July 30, 2015. The James is the fifth of eight planned National Security Cutters – the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutters in the Coast Guard’s fleet. The cutters’ design provides better sea-keeping, higher sustained transit speeds, greater endurance and range, and the ability to launch and recover small boats from astern, as well as aviation support facilities and a flight deck for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist David Lau)

James and Eagle

James and Eagle

Coast Guard Cutter James overflight

The Coast Guard’s latest 418-foot National Security Cutter, James (WSML 754), is underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Thursday, July 30, 2015. The James is the fifth of eight planned National Security Cutters – the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutters in the Coast Guard’s fleet. The cutters’ design provides better sea-keeping, higher sustained transit speeds, greater endurance and range, and the ability to launch and recover small boats from astern, as well as aviation support facilities and a flight deck for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist David Lau)

The Coast Guard’s latest 418-foot National Security Cutter, James (WSML 754), is underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Thursday, July 30, 2015. The James is the fifth of eight planned National Security Cutters – the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutters in the Coast Guard’s fleet. The cutters’ design provides better sea-keeping, higher sustained transit speeds, greater endurance and range, and the ability to launch and recover small boats from astern, as well as aviation support facilities and a flight deck for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist David Lau)

Coast Guard Cutter James overflight

James and MH-65

James and MH-65

State of the Coast Guard

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp’s State of the Coast Guard Address
February 23, 2012 Navigating Uncertain and Stormy Seas was just realeased.

http://www.uscg.mil/seniorleadership/DOCS/SOCGA%202012_FINAL_23FEB%20FINAL.pdf

He mentions current building projects:

“Since last year, we have awarded contracts to construct the 4th and 5th National Security Cutters. We’ve also received funding for NSC #6 long lead time materials… two things made this possible: the strong support of the Congress, and the excellent work of our acquisition workforce.
We are also grateful to Secretary Napolitano and the President for requesting full-funding in the 2013 budget to complete NSC # 6 . . . as well as money to continue the Offshore Patrol Cutter, or OPC project.
We have 18 new Fast Response patrol boats on contract, and we’ll commission the first one in April.
Response Boats Medium –
We have delivered 82 boats to date – and we will receive 30 more this year.
We have accepted 13 new “Ocean Sentry” Maritime Patrol Aircraft – and numbers 14 and 15 are under contract . We have six missionized C-130J Maritime Patrol Aircraft numbers 7 and 8 are under contract, and thanks to Congress’ support, we will begin building the 9th later this year.

Patrolling the high seas requires multi-mission cutters and maritime patrol aircraft capable of sustained offshore operations. These assets are the most expensive to acquire and operate. Much of our current fleet of high and medium endurance cutters is beyond 40 years old – costly to repair, and in need of replacement.”

Also the Arctic is growing in importance and the new NSC Bertholf (WMSL-750) will be heading there. This is an important step to sovereignty.

At 4500-tons and armed with a 57 mm gun, 20mm Close-In Weapons System, 4 50 Caliber Machine Guns, 2 M240B 7.62mm Light Machine Guns and space for two helicopters, along with passive EW and SRBOC systems, it is about as heavily armed as current US Coast Guard cutters get. Of course, I'd like to see a few Harpoons, six Mk 32 Torpedo tubes and maybe a RAM missile system on her too, but that's just me.

Papp goes on to say, ” Coast Guard polar ice breakers are the only ships in our national inventory capable of performing this mission, and right now, HEALY is our only operational polar ice breaker. We are working hard to return POLAR STAR to operations in 2013 – and when she returns, we will regain one of the most powerful conventional ice breakers in the world – and another 10 years of service from her.
I want to be clear. This is only a bridging strategy. As I mentioned earlier, this is an example of scaling back where we must in the short term, so that we can do all that our Nation requires of us in the long term.
We need to come to a Whole of Government determination on the capabilities and resourcing our Nation must provide to protect our Arctic interests.”

Its a start. Call your congressman and be sure to tell them we need some new, armed icebreakers in the polar regions, while we still can. How much more shovel ready can you get?

Return of the phantom frigate

By Philip Ewing Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 7:24 pm
Posted in International, Naval

Huntington Ingalls Industries is not giving up on its “Patrol Frigate” concept.

After years of promoting the idea of an up-armed, gray hulled version of the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter with no luck, company officials renewed their pitch again on Wednesday, with a twist: Now there are two models.

Mike Duthu, Ingalls’ program manager for the NSC, said in a briefing at the Surface Navy Association trade show that company officials think navies across the world — including Australia’s, Saudi Arabia’s and others — could buy as many as 215 new frigates over the next 20 years, and that’s a perfect opportunity for two export versions of the Patrol Frigate.

The 418-foot National Secuirty Cutter is the largest USCG cutter ever produced and its armarment and size are very very similar to the current missile-less FFG-7 frigates of the US Navy

One would essentially be the Coast Guard’s ship painted gray, but with all the same standard equipment — a law enforcement or coast guard-type ship. The other would be the high-speed version we talked about before, with everything from an onboard sonar to vertical missile tubes, to Aegis — the whole shootin’ match. Duthu said the high-end ship, which Ingalls has given the lyrical name of “Patrol Frigate 4921″ can accommodate all the new weapons and sensors without major modifications to its hull and with the power and engines it already has.

Duthu said Ingalls hasn’t talked with any international clients yet about either 4921 or the base model — “We’re just rolling this out,” he said. But H-I’s corporate leaders feel there’s a growth market in play and “We believe we have a great opportunity out there with both versions,” Duthu said.

It was hard to know what to make of the company’s presentation on Wednesday. The concept of a naval NSC was something first pitched when Northrop Grumman owned the shipbuilding arm it later spun off into H-I, and nobody went for it. What’s different now? The U.S. Navy decided years ago to turn up its nose at what the Coast Guard calls its Legend-class, and other navies seem to have followed suit.

Read more: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2012/01/11/sna-return-of-the-phantom-frigate/#ixzz1k1zCzrCp
DoDBuzz.com

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