Tag Archives: National Security Cutter

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

COAST GUARD SAYS DEEPWATER IS DEAD

Deepwater RIP graphic illustration

USCG graphic by Craig Behrin
  • (Sidebar- The US GAO found that of the 40 former high-ranking Coast Guard officials who left the service from 2005 through 2009, 22 have been compensated by Coast Guard contractors.)

Deepwater RIP – A Leadership Perspective

by Rear Adm. Jake Korn, Assistant Commandant for Acquisition

— Published Dec. 8, 2011

NSC Stratton - click for larger view

USCG photo by PA2 Andrew Kendrick

The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, the newest cutter in the fleet, transiting the Chesapeake Bay Oct. 31.View and download this image from the Coast Guard Visual Information Gallery.

The time has come for the U.S. Coast Guard to officially drop the Deepwater name from any reference to our acquisition portfolio. The active period of performance for the last line item under the Integrated Coast Guard Systems contract ends in January, and there will be no further work initiated.

The Coast Guard has long since taken over as the lead systems integrator for all acquisition projects, including those which started under the Deepwater umbrella. The Coast Guard, as a whole, has greatly improved our acquisition governance processes and exponentially increased the number of certified acquisition professionals across many disciplines and directorates.

This year, the Government Accountability Office retired Deepwater from the title of its annual audit. The new title is “Management and Oversight of Coast Guard Recapitalization.”

MH-65D First Flight - click for larger view

USCG photo by Dave Silva

The MH-65D Dolphin’s first flight. (Short Range Recovery helicopter)

Deepwater was an innovative idea and in line with conventional wisdom at the time. Moreover, the Coast Guard found ourselves in a position where all our surface assets were in need of recapitalization at nearly the same time, and we needed to elucidate the urgency of this problem. Deepwater was the solution.

However, due to some well-publicized problems in execution, the Deepwater title now has negative connotations. In the end, the general consensus is that we ceded too much responsibility to the contractor, including some functions that should have been reserved for government employees. However, there is a great deal of good that has emerged from this endeavor. We have learned many hard lessons, fostered systems thinking, built our acquisition expertise and are collectively smarter as a service. Chances are good that you, the reader, have one or more acquisition certifications.

HC-130J Super Hercules - click for larger view

USCG photo by Dave Silva

An HC-130J Super Hercules (Long Range Surveillance aircraft)

So why should we care that Deepwater has ended? In short, the collection of acquisitions formerly known as Deepwater was not inclusive of all service acquisition needs and, more importantly, had an artificial end date associated with it. This end date implied that the Coast Guard would be recapitalized, no further Acquisition Construction and Improvement funding would be needed, and all would be well. Of course, we would continue to need an adequate annual stream of funding to avoid getting into the familiar position of outdated assets and infrastructure that mandated the exceptional creativity of a program like Deepwater.

C-144 Maritime Patrol Aircraft - click for larger view

U.S. Coast Guard photo

An HC-144A Ocean Sentry (Maritime Patrol Aircraft)

Before shoveling the last spade of dirt on Deepwater, let’s take stock of our current acquisition projects with a genesis in Deepwater. Depending on how progress is measured, we are probably somewhere between 25 to 50 percent complete. Much of the planning investment and upfront work has been completed across all projects. The Offshore Patrol Cutter, the last major shipbuilding project, is nearly through the analyze/select phase of the acquisition process and is a beehive of activity.

We have delivered about 50 percent of our planned aviation acquisitions and upgrades. Six HC-130Js are in service, with funding in hand for two more. Additionally, 12 HC-144As have been delivered with three more on order. The MH-60T and MH-65 series helicopters are nearly halfway through their periodic upgrade segments at the Aviation Logistics Center. The HC-130Hs have upgraded surface search radars, center wing boxes have been purchased and the avionics upgrade segment is well underway.

USCGC Webber, Fast Response Cutter - click for larger view

U.S. Coast Guard photo

The Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber prepares to enter the water. (Fast Response Cutter)

Three National Security Cutters have been delivered, with two more under construction, and 12 Fast Response Cutters are being built as I write this article. Delivery of FRC #1, the Bernard C. Webber, is imminent. The 110-foot patrol boats and 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutters have completed the Mission Effectiveness Project at the Coast Guard Yard, and approximately half of the shipyard availabilities for the 270-foot MEC class have been completed.

Our Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) and small boat projects are also making progress on a regular basis. A total of 126 Response Boats-Medium have been ordered, with 77 delivered. We have awarded contracts for the 7-meter Over-the-Horizon cutter boat and will evaluate four contenders in February. We received proposals for the 11-meter Long Range Interceptor cutter boat. Rescue 21 is nearly complete in the continental U.S. with island sites in progress. The Nationwide Automatic Identification System, Interagency Operation Centers and C4 Common Operational Picture are making regular progress and providing real value to overall maritime domain awareness.

Response Boat-Medium - click for larger view

USCG photo by PA3 Nick Ameen

The crew of a Coast Guard Station Key West 45-foot Response Boat-Medium patrols off Key West April 7, 2010. Station Key West is one of three smallboat stations within Coast Guard Sector Key West, which has a 55,000-square-mile area of responsibility that contains two international borders–Cuba and The Bahamas.View and download this image from the Coast Guard Visual Information Gallery.

The operational successes of our new assets have been well documented. The significant developmental work invested over the last several years has removed the majority of risks from our current acquisition projects. The one significant risk across the board is having the cash flow to finish funding them as efficiently as possible. The business case to do so is compelling given the operational needs and the maturity of the projects.

Failure to finish out these investments will create capability gaps in the future as other recapitalization needs become inexorably more urgent.

Deepwater is officially dead – long live Coast Guard recapitalization.