But it wasn’t just the deep water operations in which the Bertholf excelled, Crabbs said. The ship also was able to get close in and conduct inland operations on Alaska’s North Slope – the state’s northernmost land areas.
But it’s not just the vessel that performed well, Crabbs was quick to point out; his crew, too, proved quite adept at “handling the diverse environmental and mission challenges.”
“Their professionalism and performances advanced the national security cutter as a game-changing national asset in projecting whole of United States government interests at sea along all three of the security-in-depth zones,” Crabbs said.
What Worked and What’s Next
They returned to homeport in November with multiple successes and lessons learned for the rest of the national security cutter fleet.
“We learned that the ship delivers as advertised and more, particularly with regard to endurance and mobility,” he said. “The NSC is a game-changer in United States’ mobility of authorities, capabilities, competencies, and partnerships at sea – anywhere the national interest requires.”
Because the ship’s extended endurance is a new capability, patrols such as Bertholf’s this year are helping Coast Guard commanders and planners set up and execute the longer deployments that will soon become more the norm for the service.
But Crabbs had a suggestion to increase readiness on patrols, and that’s to have a maintenance period near the mid-patrol mark when operations permit.
“The maintenance period would be designed to address preventive and conditional maintenance needs that require parts and technicians to augment the NSC’s optimized crew,” he said.
He estimates that this period would be anywhere between five to 10 days, depending on the deployment length, and would deal with preventive and unscheduled maintenance needs, but would not be too long to jeopardize the crew’s ability to stay at peak readiness during deployment.
Because this deployment was the NSC’s first extended stay in Arctic waters, Crabbs said they’d learned extensive cold weather lessons, including the impact of the cold on the ship’s hydraulic and auxiliary systems, which he said will be corrected by simple temperature control enhancements to the systems.
“The 144-day deployment enabled us to tangibly project United States’ maritime interests from the Eastern Pacific, to the mid-northern, subtropical, Pacific to the Alaskan and Arctic operations spaces – an incredible reach and influence,” Crabbs said.
“With the NSC’s extreme endurance, tremendous mobility, superior seakeeping, and world-class C4ISR capabilities, 144-day and longer deployments enable us to be the instruments of national security wherever the nation’s interests dictate.”
This article first appeared in the Coast Guard Outlook 2013 Edition.