– USNI News – The Coast Guard plans to award a contract this spring to build a new heavy icebreaker, but Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz says today’s problems running the one decades-old icebreaker illustrate the fragility of the current polar icebreaking capability.
– Navy Times – The crew of the Coast Guard’s last heavy icebreaker battled a nighttime Feb. 10 blaze for almost two hours before it was extinguished.
– USNI News – The U.S. Coast Guard hopes to keep its aging fleet of short-range search and rescue helicopters flying for another dozen years while evaluating the potential of vertical lift studies from the Pentagon to fulfill future missions.
– Breaking Defense – With House and Senate appropriators still at odds over funding a new icebreaker in 2019, the Coast Guard is hoping a new name — ‘Polar Security Cutter’ — and a clearer emphasis on national security missions will help convince the House to fund the ship.
– USNI News – Continual improvements in computer technology, specifically decryption (“hacking”) software, has invoked a new threat that requires the Coast Guard to add maritime cyber security to its mission set considering 90 percent of the goods used by Americans are transported by sea.
– CIMSEC – With only two operable icebreakers the Coast Guard is unable to safely conduct their mission in regions which are increasingly accessible due to receding ice levels. This gap in capability exacerbates international and economic consequences of an increasingly accessible Arctic against American interests. To conduct sustained Arctic operations in the national interest new icebreakers are needed and soon.
– USNI Proceedings – The majority of the U.S. public is unaware of the Coast Guard beyond its response to national-level incidents such as hurricanes and oil spills. The service blames the lack of national awareness on its small size, but ignores the real problem: The Coast Guard does not care about its public affairs program. Rather than embracing the program as a mission enabler, the service has allowed it to become depleted from decades of neglect. The program’s lack of focus, lack of leadership, and lack of resources hinder the Coast Guard’s ability to connect with the audiences necessary to move the service forward.
– USNI Proceedings – With a few modest modifications, the Coast Guard’s major cutter fleet could play a greater role in defense at home and maximize Navy capacity to project power abroad.
– USNI Proceedings – Ninety years after rescuing 43,853 victims of the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, the Coast Guard again surged to “all hands on deck” disasters, this time Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. They were but the latest in an already lengthy list of disasters the Coast Guard has faced less than two decades into the 21st century, events that provide insight into the challenges the service must be prepared for in the coming decades. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill; the Haiti earthquake; Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Sandy, Gustav, and Ike; the 9/11 maritime evacuation of Manhattan—these and other massive, highly disruptive disasters required deep and extended commitments of Coast Guard capabilities, competencies, and authorities. They also sorely tested its capacity to sustain ongoing, normal operations.
– Reuters – The Trump administration and key Asian allies are preparing to expand interceptions of ships suspected of violating sanctions on North Korea, a plan that could include deploying U.S. Coast Guard forces to stop and search vessels in Asia-Pacific waters.
– War on the Rocks – It has been deemed the “Era of Coast Guards” in the Asia-Pacific. The U.S. Coast Guard has suggested that the service’s frequent interactions with the Chinese Coast Guard better position it to navigate the “narrow door of diplomacy” in the region than U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers. Yet despite the growing emphasis on a “white hull” coast guard versus “grey hull” naval approach in the South China Sea, many analysts continue to argue against utilizing the U.S. Coast Guard there. These critics contend that the service would have little if any positive effect on China’s coercive maritime behavior, and even go so far as to say it’s “too little too late” for a white hull answer. Even more ominously, some believe such an approach could accidentally spark war.
– The Drive – The Polar Star is the only ship the United States has to cut paths through the toughest Arctic and Antarctic ice.
– Breaking Defense – The Coast Guard’s new heavy icebreaker will have space, weight, and electrical power set aside to carry offensive weapons.
– CIMSEC – Recently there has been discussions at the highest level of the U.S. military concerning the deployment of U.S. Coast Guard assets to the South China sea and integrating them into the freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) conducted by the U.S. Navy relating to the manmade atolls constructed by the Chinese and subsequently claimed as Chinese sovereign territory.
– Defense News – The U.S. Coast Guard’s last remaining icebreaker has just over half a decade left in it at most, putting enormous pressure on the service to get a ship designed and built on a constrained timeline.
– Proceedings of the US Naval Institute – Escalating demands require a balanced Coast Guard committed to innovative leaders and capabilities—like its Deployable Specialized Forces—to complement its cutter force.
– War Zone – As Russia is building literally a new armada of new icebreakers, ice-capable supply ships, a massive arctic “research” submarine and icebreaker surface combatants armed with cruise missiles, the Pentagon is now looking at arming its relatively tiny fleet of future icebreakers with similar weapons as well.
– Proceedings of the US Naval Institute – Transferring the U.S. Coast Guard to the Department of Defense would enhance the service’s capabilities and the nation’s defense.
– USNI News – The Coast Guard has determined it would be too costly to refurbish the heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB-11) and has designated the ship a “parts donor” to sister ship USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10).
– National Interest – The United States’ peer naval competitors are on the rise, and our Navy is woefully deficient in the small surface combatants that provide global presence during peacetime and serve as utility players during times of conflict. Until the early 1990s, the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest cutters could be expected to fill a portion of the small surface combatant gap. However, decisions made since the end of the Cold War have left the service without cutters to meet today’s minimum threshold of combat value. Restoring credible warfighting capability to the major cutter fleet is an efficient way to address the small surface combatant shortfall.
– Proceedings of the US Naval Institute – The Coast Guard is well suited for employment in gray zone environments, where interactions fall between the traditional war and peace duality. But the 2015 capture of U.S. Navy riverine crews by the Iranians should prompt an examination of predeployment training.
– Breaking Defense – After a decade of dithering, the White House and Congress have finally come close to agreeing that America must build a new icebreaker. One congressional subcommittee, the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, has actually come up with the $1 billion needed to build it in less than a decade. But the money wasn’t put in the Coast Guard’s budget. The defense subcommittee put the money in the Navy’s budget. But the Navy won’t operate the ship. So why should the Navy get the money? Is that a good idea?.
– US Naval Institute Proceedings – As relations between Cuba and the United States trend toward amiable, the Florida Straits maritime domain could become chaotic.
– Associated Press – The last U.S. icebreaker capable of crushing through the thickest ice of the Antarctic and Arctic resumed its mission after the latest repairs to postpone its already past-due retirement.
– USNI News – The Arabian Gulf (AG) has evolved into a proving ground for expeditionary patrol boat operations. In the future, reduced high-end combatant availability, a truncated LCS fleet, and the growing importance of the kinds of littoral and irregular warfare operations that favor patrol craft capabilities will likely sustain or increase demand for patrol craft in overseas contingency operations. Both the Navy and Coast Guard should pause to reflect on some of the enduring lessons-learned from operating patrol craft in the AG for the last twelve years to ensure that future patrol craft crews are well-prepared for operating in politically-sensitive, high-threat environments.