requires a new approach and not doing things the same
old way,” Brown said.
Coast Guard Commandant ADM Paul F. Zukunft has
made the Western Hemisphere one of his top priorities.
He has spoken about the service’s commitment to the
region during a number of congressional hearings and
speaking engagements throughout the country.
“As the Navy repositions to the Western Pacific, I’m
repositioning to the Western Hemisphere. … Our presence right now is up by nearly 40 percent,” he said during a Jan. 16 event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
During a Feb. 26 House Transportation and Infrastructure Coast Guard and maritime transportation subcommittee hearing, the commandant told lawmakers
that he is fully committed to giving the region the best
possible assets to succeed going forward, and that
includes the future Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC).
The cutter program, aimed at replacing the aging
Medium-Endurance Cutter, will not award a production
contract until fiscal 2016. The OPC will not be deployed
in the fleet until fiscal 2021.
“In the future, acquisition of an affordable and capable
Offshore Patrol Cutter will also be a critical piece of the
Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy to combat
these [smuggling and criminal] networks,” Zukunft said.
The service plans to build 25 OPCs.
Brown, whose job entails implementing the Coast
Guard’s strategy, said the OPC will allow the service to
possibly take on new missions in the region, but he
would not speculate on what those may be.
For now, the service will mainly
patrol the area with 156-foot Fast
Response Cutters (FRCs), 420-foot
National Security Cutters and the
HC-144A Ocean Sentry medium
surveillance aircraft. Over the next
decade, the service plans to build 58
FRCs, with more than half of them
being sent to the Miami-based
Brown said part of the strategy is
to increase the number of assets that
have flight decks and small boat
attachment capabilities. The Coast
Guard also will increase the number
of law enforcement detachment personnel on allied nations’ assets.
The service has been working on a
number of multilateral agreements
with countries in the region, including one with Cuba. Since 2000, the
service has had an officer stationed in
Patrolling the Western Hemisphere is one of the missions tasked to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command
and U.S. Fourth Fleet. The Navy, which usually has
more than three ships in the area of operations, will
have two for the remainder of the year, Hogan said.
Two ships left the region in early March, including
USS Gary, as part of the Navy’s planned decommissioning of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate fleet.
The Navy, though, will take part in a number of initiatives over the second half of fiscal 2015 in the
Western Hemisphere. The hospital ship USS Comfort
deployed in March on an 11-country humanitarian
mission to Latin America and Caribbean countries
while Southern Partnership Station-Joint High-Speed
Vessel 2015 was to take place in June.
The partnership focuses on subject matter expert
exchanges with partner nation militaries and security
forces in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
The Navy also will take part in UNITAS 2015, an exercise intended to train participating forces in a variety of
maritime scenarios to test command and control of forces
at sea, while operating as a multinational force to provide
the maximum opportunity to improve interoperability,
with several allied countries, including Brazil and Chile.
The Navy and Coast Guard also will be participating
in the annual Operation Martillo, a U.S., European and
Western Hemisphere effort targeting illicit trafficking
routes in coastal waters along the Central American.
“We have a lot going on in the area of operations
this year,” Hogan said. ■
37 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / JULY/AUGUST 2015
Coast Guard and other federal law enforcement officials work together to
offload more than 8 tons of cocaine from the frigate USS Vandergrift at Naval
Base San Diego Dec. 19. The cocaine was seized in the eastern Pacific Ocean
in international waters off the coast of Central America.