Good Company

Good Company
Good Company

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Arctic Maritime Security: "America Needs a Coast Guard That Can Fight "

U.S. Coast Guard photo.
An interesting argument set out in "America Needs a Coast Guard That Can Fight"by James Holmes at Foreign Policy
Forget for a moment about the U.S. Navy and its "pivot to Asia." Over the next few decades, the woefully underfunded and thoroughly unsexy U.S. Coast Guard will likely hover near the center of the action.

The reason, in three short words: the Arctic Ocean.
Vigor Industries image
What sort of ships might the Coast Guard want? Nice discussion of an $8 billion program at Stew Magnuson's New Coast Guard Cutter Sparks Fierce Competition Among Shipbuilders :
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp Jr. said at the Naval Surface Association conference in January that the Offshore Patrol Cutter will be the service’s “workhorse” for the next 40 years. He has stated many times in public that the ship is the Coast Guard’s most important project.

“We’ve put an awful lot of effort into it,” he said of the program.

“There seems to be significant interest out there to build 25 ships, and we’re very pleased about that. I think people are thinking out of the box. They’re looking at new designs. We need to think out of the box as well as we go forward, because as I said, this ship is going to be very, very important to us.”
USCGC BERTHOLF underway off Kodiak Island Alaska
Coast Guard photo
Well, remember that last year the CG took a hit in shipbuilding funds, as set out in Chris Cavas's 2 cutters removed from FY13 Coast Guard budget:
Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard’s parent agency, attempted to explain the elimination of the two cutters when she testified before Congress on Feb. 15 on the budget.

“What we are going to do, and this is all guided by really looking at the nation’s resources and the Budget Control Act and how it works, and there’s language in the budget request to this effect, we will look at seven and eight in light of what the Navy is doing,” Napolitano said.

“So we need to look at what the Department of Defense is doing with respect to their own force ... to see what we need to be putting in the acquisition pipeline.”

Napolitano did not elaborate on how the Navy’s shipbuilding plans affect the Coast Guard requirement for eight NSCs, but she noted the struggle to get funding for the ships.
Which is, I suppose, is Washington speak for "screw the Coasties" but you may have your own interpretation. No matter the interpretation, I hope Admiral Papp is not holding his breath while waiting for money to flow for 25 ships.
Vigor Industries image

It is interesting that one design possibility, put out by Vigor Industries (to whom credit for the illustration above goes) involves an "Ulstein X bow hull" - a patented design now being widely adopted for offshore oil vessels.

Good luck in these political times.

However, I truly urge all citizens to support the vital needs of the Coast Guard, which is too small, too underfunded, has too much territory to cover at its current level of funding, manning and ship count.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:50 PM

    Unfortunately the Coast Guard abandoned its naval offensive capability when it FRAM'ed the WHEC's in the mid 80's by removing the torpedo's, 5"38 mount and sonar from all 12 vessels when they thought the new world order was going to bring peace in our time. Then when the NSC was introduced it was further neutered when they fielding a 57mm mount with no NGFS capabilities, or true disabling fire, and these 6 NSC's are going to replace 12 existing WHEC's.
    In addition it will be 6-8 years before they start to replace the 45 year old WMEC's with 25 OPC's(optomistic number sure to be reduced due to budget constraints), also with a tentatively planned 57mm mount.
    Also the Artic will be a bustling oil boom town with a dozen country's vying for space while expanding their perceived soverenty before the CG gets a third operational icebreaker.
    The CG is longer a capably equipped, or trained offensive naval force in a world with hightened threats in the littorals to be of real value to augment the Navy in time of war, or even stop a rouge vessel in territorial waters!
    I served 20+ years in the USCG and served in an WHEC and watched the decline over the course of my career and saw no effort to return to a force multiplier of the the type that was used extensively in WWII and Vietnam.
    Just my opinion.