The case for the national security cutter

Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf and Waesche steaming together off the coast of southern California. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf and Waesche steaming together off the coast of southern California. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

For the past several months, Coast Guard Compass has taken you aboard Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf with reports from the commanding and executive officers on operations in the Bering Sea and the Western Pacific. That unique perspective “From the bridge of the Bertholf” details the the services the national security cutter provides the nation.

Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island receives fuel from Bertholf in an astern refueling evolution

Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island receives fuel from Bertholf in an astern refueling evolution. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Today, we take you inside the minds of the service’s senior operational commanders to understand how the NSC fits into the America’s homeland security strategy and why these cutters are critical to protecting our nation now and into the future.

In a recent article published in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings, Vice Adm. Robert Parker, Commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area and Commander Defense Force East, and Vice Adm. Manson K. Brown, Commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area and Commander Defense Force West, make “The Case for the Cutter.” The article compares the NSC’s capabilities to the needs outlined in the Department of Homeland Security’s 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review which notes:

… a safe and secure homeland must mean more than preventing terrorist attacks from being carried out. It must also ensure that liberties of all Americans are assured, privacy is protected, and the means by which we interchange with the world – through travel, lawful immigration, trade, commerce, and exchange – are secured. Ultimately, homeland security is about effectively managing risks to the Nation’s security … [and] forms an important component of our overarching national security strategy.

Bertholf drug interdiction

A boarding team on the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf’s Special Purpose Craft interdicts a go-fast approximately 80 miles off the coast of Guatemala. The boat was one of two suspected drug smuggling boats stopped by the Bertholf during its first drug interdiction. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Anderson.

The admirals contend that the ability of the NSC to operate in the most challenging of environments for extended periods of time translates to America being better positioned to protect our nation’s economic borders and increase surveillance and knowledge of activities at sea as part of a strategic layered defense of our shores, ports and waterways. Additionally, the inclusion of 21st century command and control capabilities that allow the cutter to provide government leadership with the timely information necessary for decision making in a crisis – including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks makes the NSC a critical component of homeland security in the years to come.

The Coast Guard plans to build a total of eight national security cutters to replace its more than 40-plus-year-old fleet of high endurance cutters as they are decommissioned from service. Compared with the 378-foot high endurance cutters, the NSC has better range and endurance with 90-plus-day patrol cycles, significantly better sea-keeping, the ability to carry and deploy two ship-helicopters, faster and more fuel-efficient transit speeds, and requires a smaller crew.

Click here to read the full article.

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