Defense Media Network

National Security Cutters Demonstrate Capabilities

Honing the fleet

In fact, those capabilities alone allowed the ship to “overcome the most remote of operating spaces by coordinating with national and international resources to inform our operations space awareness and focus our sensors to confirm and influence it,” Crabbs said.

This was crucial for the Bertholf, as the waters above the Arctic Circle were heavy with research vessels from China, Russia, Korea, Canada, and Japan.

And again, the NSC’s long reach proved up to the task.

“Our own sensors and operators were consistently successful in detecting and tracking small sailing and power-driven vessels with little to no targeting emissions and very low profiles,” Crabbs said.

Along with the Arctic ops, the Bertholf patrolled the Bering Sea, conducting another mainstay operation of the service – fisheries law enforcement.

MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Los Angeles flew missions while embarked aboard the CGC Bertholf in the Bering Sea. Both units were deployed to the Arctic region in support of Operation Arctic Shield in order to test operational capabilities and to participate in community outreach efforts. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Tamargo

“Following our Arctic duties we engaged in Bering Sea fisheries enforcement, targeting the red king crab fleet of Deadliest Catch television show fame,” Crabbs said.

During these operations the Bertholf conducted 12 boardings of red king crab fishing vessels.

“On the cusp of challenging winter weather, the NSC’s seakeeping abilities allowed us to safely and effectively achieve enforcement goals and objectives where a high endurance cutter would most certainly have been unable,” Crabbs said.

During these operations, the ship’s nearest replenishment point was Dutch Harbor, Alaska, nearly 1,200 miles away. But the endurance of the NSC, Crabbs said, allowed the ship to remain on station longer than any previous Coast Guard asset, including the Hamilton-class high endurance cutters.

“We aggressively operated for 30 days with no replenishment, and without compromising mobility desires,” Crabbs said.

After a replenishment visit to Dutch Harbor, the ship headed back to the Bering Sea for another 26 days, again without replenishment – a total of 56 days at sea with just one pause – a feat that Crabbs said allowed the ship to more effectively patrol its assigned area simply by being able to stay on station so long.

“That is unmatched manned persistence, and we achieved it in arguably the harshest of maritime environments,” he said. “Leveraging our C4ISR [command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] capabilities to engage national, international, and local partnerships, we achieved remarkable operations space awareness and leveraged the same to apply our sensors, persistence, and speed to make U.S. sovereign interests clear to every maritime entity in the operations space.”

This included everything from foreign-flagged research and commercial vessels to low-profile adventure vessels.

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    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-178192">

    With an Aegis upgrade using SPY-1F, Mk41 VLS, and Hybrid Electric Drive in main propulsion, this little fighter would make a great Frigate for the US Navy. We need about 20 of them in the Pacific right now.