A Plan to Push Back Against China’s Fishing Practices

War on the Rocks – The Soviet fishing fleet was once a near-permanent fixture on America’s Pacific coast, hauling in an estimated 1.2 million tons of fish until the two sides reached an agreement to limit the Soviet catch in exchange for a relaxation of rules on Soviet port visits. Moscow’s fishing fleet dwindled in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, only to be replaced by China’s large fleet — and maritime militia — that Beijing now uses to encroach on the sovereignty of its neighbors. The environmental and economic challenges of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing are clearly a threat to the global fish supply, but also represent a more direct and significant threat to national security.

The Case for U.S. Coast Guard Cutters in American Samoa

CIMSEC – Compared to the marquee U.S. military installations at Diego Garcia, Yokosuka, or Guam, American Samoa is a U.S. territory that evokes images of idyllic island life rather than strategic competition. However, by considering American Samoa through the lens of strategic competition, a military installation manned by the U.S. Coast Guard is an easy step to demonstrate commitment in the region that makes imminent sense for several reasons. Due to the sheer distances involved in the Pacific — the closest Coast Guard installations are from Hawaii (2,260 nautical miles) and Guam (3,120 nautical miles) — current sustained operations in region are necessarily expeditionary.

Beware Buyer’s Remorse: Why the Coast Guard Needs to Steer Clear of the LCS

CIMSEC – With all the negative publicity surrounding the Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS) program, it would seem self-evident the Coast Guard has no interest in acquiring the LCS as a hand-me-down. However, with the recent publishing of “In Dire Need: Why the Coast Guard Needs the LCS,” a newly found interest in acquiring problematic navy platforms may be growing and deserves to be judged on its merits.

Exploring Unmanned Surface Vehicles to Guard Ports and Harbors

CIMSEC – Port authorities must ensure security twenty-four hours a day, every day. This task includes continuous inspection of port assets, threat detection and security response, as well as on-demand inspections after storms or other disasters, ongoing surveys to ensure navigable waterways, hull inspections, and a wide-range of other missions. Unmanned surface vessels can fill this gap better than legacy approaches.

In Dire Need: Why the Coast Guard Needs the LCS

CIMSEC – In the spring of 2021, defense-minded internet message boards and social media were ablaze at headlines that the U.S. Navy would be decommissioning the first hulls of the decade-old Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). A chorus of “good riddance” posts and thought pieces followed. Though the Navy maintains it intends to keep using both Independence and Freedom variants of the LCS, it is no secret that the program has been beleaguered with class-wide mechanical issues. As many in naval thought circles lament and debate what the Navy will do in the way of near shore combatants in contested waters, a unique opportunity has emerged for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Pushing or Overstepping? Legal Boundaries in the Fight Against Maritime Drug Smuggling Part 1

CIMSEC – Every day, U.S. Coast Guard cutters patrol the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea for drug smuggling vessels, seizing more cocaine than all other American law enforcement agencies combined. Federal prosecutors then bring charges against the detained smugglers under a controversial and confusing legal regime. By analyzing the lifecycle of a case – from interdiction to detention to prosecution – this two-part article explores (1) the extraterritorial jurisdiction established by the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA); (2) the practice of detaining suspected smugglers aboard Coast Guard cutters for weeks without formal arrest; and (3) the interaction between intelligence gathering and the trial penalty. In each of these instances, a different branch of the federal government is pushing against – if not overstepping – legal constraints in order to empower the Coast Guard in the fight against maritime drug smuggling. This is a fragile system, however, and should one of these government branches become squeamish, the whole apparatus could collapse.