Tag: Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Diving to Resume

ALAMEDA, Calif. — U.S. Coast Guardsmen and U.S. Navy Sailors conducted shipboard dive operations from a Coast Guard cutter in the Arctic July 29 for the first time since two Coast Guard divers perished in a subsurface accident almost 11 years ago, the Coast Guard said in a Aug. 10 release.

Shipboard Arctic dive operations increase the Coast Guard’s ability to assure year-round access for national security, sovereign presence and increased maritime domain awareness in the region. The shipboard dive operations also highlighted the interoperability between joint Coast Guard and Navy dive teams.

The Coast Guard conducted a comprehensive dive program review following a incident on Aug. 17, 2006, that killed Lt. Jessica Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Duque during an ice dive in the Arctic Ocean aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy. In the years following the accident, the Coast Guard improved diving proficiency and retention by making diving a primary duty and created the first three regional dive lockers to centralize control, training and operations.

The joint dive operation from Healy July 29 marked the culmination of this increased oversight, training and proficiency. The crew of Healy and joint dive team held a memorial to honor the fallen divers during the cutter’s current Arctic patrol.

“There is no prospect more sobering than the death of a crew member,” said Capt. Greg Tlapa, commanding officer of Healy. “We honor the memory of our shipmates, Lt. Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Duque, and will never forget their sacrifices. It gives our crew great pride to re-establish dive capabilities to Healy and meet the subsurface needs and challenges our service will face in the coming years in the Arctic.”

USCG Cutter Healy

The joint dive team included personnel from Coast Guard Regional Dive Lockers San Diego and Honolulu and U.S. Navy Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Wash. Navy divers supported cold water and ice dives by providing an independent duty corpsman/dive medical technician and by conducting joint training using the Navy’s recompression chamber currently deployed aboard Healy.

“I’m humbled to be a part of such a historic operation, honoring our shipmates by reintroducing Coast Guard shipboard dive operations to the Arctic,” said Chief Petty Officer Chuck Ashmore from Coast Guard’s Joint Regional Dive Locker West in San Diego.

Divers are the Coast Guard’s primary resource for the service’s subsurface capabilities and perform a full spectrum of Coast Guard missions, including maintenance and repair to aids to navigation, underwater inspections and maintenance on icebreakers and other cutters, surveying critically endangered species habitats, assistance to marine casualty investigations and supporting search and rescue operations.

Healy, homeported in Seattle, is a 420-foot long medium icebreaker with extensive scientific capabilities and is the nation’s premier high-latitude research vessel. Healy’s missions include scientific support, search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the Polar regions.



GAO: Affordability of Cutters, Icebreakers a Concern

USCG Icebreaker Polar Star (WAGB-10)

The Coast Guard’s plans for modernizing its cutter fleet remain a concern to congressional auditors, who say that the service has yet to articulate how it will afford both its future Offshore Patrol Cutters and new Polar Icebreakers.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a July 25 report “Coast Guard Acquisitions: Limited Strategic Planning Efforts Pose Risk for Future Acquisitions,” noted, “Coast Guard officials stated that they are developing a 20-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP), but the timeframe for completion is unknown.”

The report notes that the Coast Guard is procuring its new Offshore Patrol Cutter “which is estimated to cost $12.1 billion through 2032.”

The report also said the service estimates a cost of approximately $75 million for a limited service life extension of its only operational polar icebreaker, Polar Star, and that the it intends to take delivery of the first new heavy icebreaker in 2023.

“This delivery schedule poses potential risk as the required acquisition documents may not be completed in time to award the contract in 2019, as currently scheduled,” the report said. “Further, in order to meet this accelerated schedule, the first polar icebreaker would need to be fully funded in fiscal year 2019 with a preliminary cost estimate of $1.15 billion, alongside the Offshore Patrol Cutter acquisition.

“The Coast Guard has not articulated how it will prioritize its acquisition needs given its Offshore Patrol Cutter is expected to absorb half to two-thirds of its annual acquisition funding requests — based on recent funding history — starting in 2018,” the report said.

The Coast Guard selected Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, Fla., in September to build the Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), with an award of $110.3 million to complete the ship’s detailed design. Options for the construction of nine OPCs are available in the contract. Construction of the first OPC is scheduled to being next year. Delivery of the lead ship is planned for 2021. The Coast Guard plans to procure 25 OPCs.


2017 Service Members of the Year honored on Capitol Hill [VIDEO]

Every year, Military Times recognizes five exemplary service members during an award ceremony on Capitol Hill. This year, Sen. Joni Ernst, along with many congressional, military and community leaders, came together to honor them.

Military Times honored the 2017 Service Members of the Year Wednesday evening in a ceremony held at the Reserve

Officers Association on Capitol Hill.

Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Robert, was the proud recipient of Marine of the year.

Staff Sgt. (now Gunnery Sergeant) Daniel Robert Philadelphia, Pa. Job Title: Platoon Sergeant Roberts joined the Marine Corps because he wanted to do his part on the war on terror and to become a better man upon his retirement. What he enjoys most is the brotherhood and bond created while serving. (Official Marine Corps graphic by Cpl. Chi Nguyen/Released)

Read the full article: HERE

*With thanks to Military Times.

Semper Fi


U.S. Coast Guard moves one step closer to procuring six new polar-class icebreakers

The USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) is nearing the end of it’s service life

2KTUU, 30 June 2017

ANCHORAGE AK The U.S. Coast Guard is one step closer to procuring six polar-class icebreakers.

The Senate Armed Service Committee unanimously passed a provision authored by Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan to procure the six polar-class icebreakers as part of the FY 18 National Defense Authorization Act.

Senator Sullivan writes, “I am hopeful that my provision and the larger NDAA will be considered by the full Senate in the near future.”

“The United States continues to be late to the game in the Arctic, as evidenced most clearly by our meager existing fleet of Coast Guard icebreakers capable of operating in this important region,” said Senator Sullivan.

Sullivan writes that the United States currently has two operational polar icebreakers, the heavy icebreaker Polar Star – which was commissioned in 1976 – and the medium-duty Healy – which was designed for scientific research.

In contrast, Russia has 41 governmental and privately owned conventional and nuclear icebreakers, with 11 additional icebreakers in development or planning, including three new nuclear-powered icebreakers to be completed by 2020.

Semper Paratus


Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson to Kick Off Warrior Games With Concert

Discus Throw
Army 1st Lt. Christopher Parks throws a discus during the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., June 16, 2016. The 2017 Warrior Games are scheduled to take place in Chicago, June 30-July 8, with an opening ceremony concert planned July 1. DoD photo by EJ Hersom.

U.S. Department of Defence, 10 June 2017

A star-studded concert featuring Grammy Award winning artists Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson will kick off the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games — the annual Paralympic-style competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans — at Soldier Field here July 1.

“The men and women that serve and protect this country on a daily basis allow the rest of us the freedoms we enjoy,” Shelton said. “I’m proud to be part of this event and root these heroes on to victory at this year’s Warrior Games.”

Credit: Brian To/WENN.com

Clarkson said she shares Shelton’s enthusiasm.

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

“I can’t wait to perform this year at the Warrior Games! Any time we can all be a part of something that lifts up and shines a light on all of these heroes that are participating is an amazing moment! We need more of these moments,” she said. “These men and women have put their lives on the line for us and have overcome so much in the process of doing that! It will be a tremendous honor to perform for them and their families who have sacrificed so much!”

Comedian Jon Stewart is returning as master of ceremonies for this year’s event. “Last year the Warrior Games were so impactful that I couldn’t wait to participate again as the master of ceremonies for the 2017 Games,” he said. “This is a can’t-miss event for Chicago. Join me in celebrating our nation’s service members.”

Eight Adaptive Sports

The star-studded event will officially kick off the 2017 DoD Warrior Games, scheduled to begin June 30 and run through July 8. About 265 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Special Operations Command, as well as military forces from the United Kingdom and Australia. Athletes will participate in eight adaptive sports: archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and wheelchair basketball.

“Warrior Games showcases the resilience and triumph of these athletes after overcoming significant injuries and illnesses,” said Navy Capt. Brent Breining, director of the 2017 DoD Warrior Games. “Having artists like Blake and Kelly perform at our opening ceremony concert demonstrates their support and gratitude for our military service men and women, and encourages people to get out and show their support for these heroes.”

To purchase tickets for the DoD Warrior Games opening ceremony concert, click on the “Ticket” icon at the Warrior Games website.

Canadian Coast Guard ships getting ABB upgrades

Upgrade works on CCGS Pierre Radisson are set to be completed by July 2017. Photo: Canadian Coast Guard.


Canadian Coast Guard’s medium icebreakers and high endurance multi task ships are getting a life-extension modernization carried out by Swiss-Swedish company ABB.

Of the 14 vessels in operation, 10 are receiving the upgrades.

Design and work supply on first of the ten vessels, CCGS Pierre Radisson, is already underway and will be completed in July 2017.

From then on, as ABB outlined, the remaining nine vessels will be completed in following order: CCGS Ann Harvey (2018), CCGS Des Groseilliers (2018), CCGS Sir William Alexander (2018), CCGS Martha L. Black (2018), CCGS Henry Larsen (2019), CCGS Edward Cornwallis (2019), CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier (2020), CCGS George R. Pearkes (2020), CCGS Amundsen (2020).

Three of the vessels equipped with DC-propulsion system are upgraded to utilize latest control technology while maintaining DC-motors and generators.

On the remaining seven vessels ABB will replace the Propulsion Cycloconverter Drives. The Propulsion Control and Monitoring systems will be upgraded in all the vessels with proven marine approved products including Control Levers, Generator Excitation Systems, Dynamic Brake and Excitation Transformers. The replacement work includes all project services from engineering to installation and commissioning.

Medium Icebreakers and High Endurance Multi Task Vessels typically work year round, performing search and rescue, maritime navigational aids, ice breaking, oceanographic studies, patrol and protection of Canada coastline.

In winter, the vessels are assigned to icebreaking and ship escort operations at Canadian waters, St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes. Every summer CCGS Amundsen is charted by a scientific consortium and makes her way to the Canadian Arctic to conduct a wide variety of scientific missions. While in the Arctic, the vessels also serve as a primary search and rescue unit and provides support to scientific missions when possible.

“These modernizations are a reflection of ABB’s long history of working with icebreakers but also our dedication to utilizing new technologies,” said Nathalie Pilon, Country Manager of ABB Canada.

The modernizations will be conducted while the vessels are afloat, under the Canadian Coast Guard’s custody, and docked at their home ports. The installation is done in cooperation with a Canadian installation company specialized to electrical systems in ships.

Canada Managing the air battlespace in the busy skies of Iceland

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets.

CANADIAN ARMED FORCES, By: Air Task Force-Iceland Public Affairs, 6 June 2017

Members of 21 Aerospace Control and Warning (AC&W) Squadron and 22 Wing Operations have deployed to Keflavik Air Base as part of Air Task Force-Iceland (ATF-Iceland) for Operation REASSURANCE.

“Maintaining an accurate recognized air picture, passing that to higher headquarters and controlling fast moving aircraft in sometimes tight airspace; it’s a big responsibility,” said the team’s senior officer, Major John Verran.

This team of ten is normally based at 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario, in a NORAD role where they monitor and track air traffic within Canadian airspace and its approaches. The team has taken their skills as Aerospace Controllers and Aerospace Control Operators to Iceland, the only NATO nation without a standing military.

This time, their role is to help fulfil the Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs mission. This long-standing NATO mission involves fighter aircraft basing out of Iceland to provide surveillance of Iceland’s airspace, as well as launching rapidly (“scrambling”) to intercept and identify unknown aircraft if needed.

Serving alongside Icelandic Coast Guard personnel at the Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) in Keflavik, on a rocky, often wind-swept peninsula west of Reykjavik, the team performs a critical command and control function.  Working as a close crew, they ensure mission execution and the passage of accurate information between ATF-Iceland and the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Uedem, Germany. CAOC is the NATO headquarters responsible for the control of Royal Canadian Air Force assets in Iceland.

“This is fun, I love it,” said Aviator Kory Clermont, of his first overseas mission as an Aerospace Control Operator. “I work with the Master Controller to help maintain situational awareness in the team and coordinate the scramble procedures for CF-18s with civilian Air Traffic Control.”

The team analyzes and assesses information from multiple radar feeds, datalink, and visual reports to develop a common picture of what is happening in the air at any one time. However, this is not the only critical function of these members.  They also serve as air intercept controllers, communicating with pilots and directing them where to be and how to get there.

Most of the work this team does is hidden from public view in a secure operations center surrounded by computer screens. However, the air surveillance and intercept mission that Canada is performing from May to June 2017 could not happen without their expertise and dedication.

“In order to conduct an efficient intercept, it is important to have freedom of movement [for our CF-18s],” explained Major Verran. “For effective operations to occur, there is a degree of control that must happen. To this end we liaise with the Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration.”

For Major Verran, the most important operational role of the CRC is two-fold: effective battlespace management and safety. “Developing plans, recognizing when it is necessary to execute or alter those plans and doing so expeditiously and safely is what we strive for every day.”

To this end, the Aerospace Controllers and Aerospace Control Operators run daily exercises involving the CAOC and ATF fighter detachment. They practice communication procedures and scramble drills, which involve pilots, controllers and maintainers working together to get fighter jets airborne quickly.

“It’s always interesting going to another country and working, in this case, with our Icelandic counterparts,” said Captain Ross Nevile, an Aerospace Controller. “You are entrusted with maintaining safety in the airspace of another country through applying your procedures thoroughly.”
To ensure the team was prepared for operations, they arrived in Keflavik a full week before the main body of the ATF. This allowed the group to develop standard operating procedures and liaise with local authorities.

“We have a relatively young crew on this deployment, but it provides an excellent development opportunity. The amount and type of control they see, and the close interaction with their pilot peers, is a valuable experience that these young controllers will use in their careers.” said Major Verran.

Conducting operations in the often busy skies of Iceland is a challenging, but a necessary job. Through sound battlespace management and coordination over the course of the deployment, the CRC team is a key contributor to a successful mission.


Future Icebreakers May Have Cruise Missiles, Zukunft Says

The 40-year-old Polar Star, the Coast Guard’s only operational heavy icebreaker capable of conducting Antarctic ice operations, carves a channel in ice near Ross Island on Jan. 16, 2017. Chief Petty Officer David Mosley/Coast Guard.

DEFENSETECH, By Hope Hodge Seck, 23 May 2017

As Russia builds up its massive icebreaker fleet with cutting-edge technology to assert dominance in the Arctic, the United States may need to keep its options open with its own icebreaker buildup plan.

In a hearing before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said current plans call for the service to build three medium and three heavy icebreakers, with accelerated delivery of the first heavy icebreaker in 2023. Currently, the United States has just one heavy icebreaker, the 40-year-old and poorly aging Polar Star, and one medium icebreaker, the Healy, used primarily for research expeditions.

But, Zukunft indicated, changing threats may call for more icebreakers, and possibly a more robust weapons loadout.

“We need to look differently … at what an icebreaker does,” he said. “We need to reserve space, weight and power if we need to strap a cruise missile package on it.”

Russia currently has 40 icebreaking ships and is in the midst of a capability ramp-up. Two new icebreaking corvettes, equipped to carry cruise missiles, will join the Russian fleet by 2020, Zukunft said.

The six total icebreakers in the Coast Guard’s build plan represent the minimum requirement for the United States in 2017, he said. But if the world changes in ways that require more or differently equipped icebreaking ships within the 30-year lifespan of the currently planned icebreakers, at least the production lines would be hot, he added.

“The advantage you have when you’re building national security cutters and now you’re making these more affordable in the long run, you have a hot production line,” Zukunft said. “Maybe, you know, 10, 12 years from now the world changes, but at least you’re producing these at an affordable price, a predictable price, and on schedule.”

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat, cited recent Russian aggression in the Arctic as proof of American presence in the region. Russia is building a key shipping port on Yamal Peninsula, Siberia, he noted, and is in the midst of a major regional military buildup that includes 14 new airfields and 16 deepwater ports.

“U.S. presence in the Arctic is necessary for more than just power projection; it’s a matter of national security,” he said. “If [they] remain unchecked, the Russians will extend their sphere of influence to over 5 million square miles of Arctic ice and water.”

The current Polar Class of heavy icebreakers is equipped with two .50-caliber machine guns and various small arms. The new ships will be part of a new class of icebreaker, and the Coast Guard is investing heavily in research to determine the specifics of those ships.

In February, the service awarded $20 million worth of contracts to five major contractors to embark on design studies and analysis, focused on ways to deliver ships faster and more efficiently and develop various designs. The studies are expected to be completed within 12 months, before the Coast Guard contracts for the first of the new icebreakers in 2019.

Meanwhile, Zukunft said, the lack of reliable icebreaking capability today means that U.S. offensive capability in the Arctic region is seasonal, limited to when the waters are ice-free. The Coast Guard, he said, is the service with sole responsibility to exercise U.S. sovereignty in the Arctic.

“And right now, we’re trying to do it with a ship that’s 40 years old. It is literally on life support,” he said, “which is why we’re going to accelerate the delivery of this first icebreaker.”

Artist’s impression of Russia’s new Ice-Class icebreaking Corvette. Two of these 6,800 ton displacement, 374 foot long Project 23550 Polar Patrol craft have been ordered so far. These ships will be capable of carrying Club-K and Kalibr NK cruise missiles, and feature a flight deck and hangar for a Kamov Ka-27 series Anti-submarine warfare helicopter.