On patrol with Waesche: Firepower

Coast Guard Cutter Waesche – the second of eight planned national security cutters – had a successful inaugural patrol, and after an in-port period is back at it again. Waesche’s crew is currently on an Asia-Pacific patrol and is once again demonstrating the national security cutter’s ability to uphold the Coast Guard’s centuries-old tradition of safeguarding our nation. Compass looks forward to bringing you updates from the men and women aboard Waesche with a new series, “On patrol with Waesche.” Check out the first installment below, as the cutter’s gunnery officer gives you a glimpse of Waesche’s firepower.

Coast Guard Cutter Waesche pulls into Honolulu Harbor at Coast Guard Base Sand Island, Hawaii to resupply before joining with the Pacific Command's 7th Fleet for interoperability training with United States partner nations in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition to training, the Waesche will be conducting fisheries and law enforcement patrols with shipriders from different island nations. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth.

Coast Guard Cutter Waesche pulls into Honolulu Harbor at Coast Guard Base Sand Island, Hawaii to resupply before joining with the Pacific Command’s 7th Fleet for interoperability training with United States partner nations in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition to training, the Waesche will be conducting fisheries and law enforcement patrols with shipriders from different island nations. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth.

Written by Lt. j.g. Rachel Foote, gunnery officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Waesche.

Coast Guard Cutter Waesche is officially on Asia-Pacific patrol and kicked off the five-month deployment by participating in an historic set of gunnery exercises. The exercises, designed to test Waesche’s defenses against a low, slow-flying aircraft and a high-speed maneuvering surface target, put the gun crews of the cutter’s major mounts to the test.

Throughout the exercise, the gun crews used two of Waesche’s weapons systems – the 20 mm close-in weapons system and the 57 mm gun weapons system. The close-in weapons system has traditionally been used for air defense, however the system installed on Waesche and the other national security cutters is unique for the Coast Guard in that it has both air and surface firing modes.

While on patrol, Coast Guard Cutter Waesche's gun crews used two of the ship's weapons systems – the 20 mm close-in weapons system and the 57 mm gun weapons system. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Waesche.

While on patrol, Coast Guard Cutter Waesche’s gun crews used two of the ship’s weapons systems – the 20 mm close-in weapons system and the 57 mm gun weapons system. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Waesche.

Both of these modes were used in the exercises, and Waesche was only the second U.S. surface combatant and first Coast Guard cutter to use a close-in weapons system to defeat an unmanned aerial vehicle – with the profile of a low, slow-flying aircraft.

Waesche’s close-in weapons system team convincingly defeated the aircraft on its first inbound run, scoring multiple hits and causing the UAV to crash into the ocean. Then, in a first for a U.S. vessel, the cutter used the close-in weapons system in surface mode to finish destroying the UAV, scoring multiple direct hits on the remains of the floating aircraft and further breaking it apart.

”Being able to see and track the target by hand as opposed to completely automated was definitely an amazing experience,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class operator Douglas Locklear, an electronics technician and close-in weapons system operator.

The 57 mm gun weapons system is Waesche’s major caliber battery. The 57 mm fires at a cyclic rate of more than 200 rounds per minute and the ammunition can be programmed for effective use in multiple different scenarios depending on the target profile.

While at the exercises, Waesche also became the first U.S. asset to effectively utilize the 57 mm gun weapons system to inflict damage on a high-speed maneuvering surface target. The accuracy of Waeche’s gunnery allowed for multiple effective salvos – or simultaneous discharge of firearms – that neutralized the threat from the target before it could get close enough to the cutter to potentially inflict serious damage.

Coast Guard Cutter Waesche - the second of eight planned national security cutters - is currently on an Asia-Pacific patrol. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto.

Coast Guard Cutter Waesche – the second of eight planned national security cutters – is currently on an Asia-Pacific patrol. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto.

These gunnery exercises demonstrated Waesche and crew are ready to answer all threats and defend against multiple targets. The exercises also highlighted the teamwork necessary to achieve this high state of readiness. The watchstanders, operators, maintenance technicians and gun crews all worked hand in hand to attain these gunnery successes.

As the deployment continues, and new challenges are presented, Waesche looks forward to continuing this success and showing just how critical the national security cutter is in protecting our nation now and in the future.

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