COAST GUARD SHIPS (Military Weapons)

Bear (WMEC 901)

These 12 multipurpose cutters were designed to perform 14-day law enforcement patrols in areas out to 400 miles from base. Maximum normal at-sea endurance is 21 days. They have been criticized for being slow (although they match speeds with the similar-size Reliance-class cutters) and, despite fin stabilization, for riding poorly in heavy seas. According to one skipper, “A [Bear] is a tender ship” for winter Alaskan patrols.
The telescoping helicopter hangar and broad landing deck permit these cutters to handle any of the Coast Guard’s helicopters as well as the Navy’s SH-2F LAMPS I. In wartime, an SH-2F would be assigned to each ship for convoy escort. The Recovery Assistance and Traversing System (RAST) is fitted to facilitate helicopter operations in rough seas.
The Integrated Cutter Electronic Systems (ICES) includes the Command Display and Control (COMDAC) that is designed to integrate navigation, piloting, internal communications, and track and coordinate Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. The system suffered from teething troubles.
In wartime, these ships could be fitted with some combination of the following systems:
SH-2F LAMPS I antisubmarine helicopter
2 Harpoon antiship quad missile canisters
1 20-mm Phalanx Gatling-type CIWS Tactical Towed-Array Sonar (TACTAS)
chaff launchers


The first four ships were ordered from Tacoma Boatbuilding. The remainder were planned for procurement also from the Tacoma yard; however, the Coast Guard was forced into competitive bidding. The subsequent ships were then awarded to the Derecktor yard of Middletown, Rhode Island. The Bear, originally scheduled for delivery in December 1980, was not delivered to the Coast Guard until February 1983; the last of the class completed in 1990.


Several of
this class have operated in the Caribbean on anti-drug-smuggling and immigration control missions.


DISPLACEMENT 1,780 tons full load
length 270 ft (82.3 m) overall beam 38ft (11.6m)
draft 14 ft (4.3m)
MACHINERY 2 Alco 18V-251 dlesels,
7,000 bhp on 2 shafts=19.5 kts, range 3,850 nm at 19.5 kts, 10,250 nm at 12
kts, electric power 1,350 kW CREW 109
1 76-mm/62-caI Mk 75 dual-purpose gun
4 .50-cal (12.7-mm) machine guns HELICOPTERS 1 light with hangar
SPS-64 (V) navigation/surface-search radar
Mk 92 weapons control system SLQ-32{V)1 passive EW system

Hamilton (WHEC 715)

These 12 cutters are the largest vessels in Coast Guard service except for the Polar (WAGB 10)-class icebreakers. They were among the first ships in any service to be driven by gas turbines, which operated in a Combined Diesel or Gas (CODOG)
powerplant. For their peacetime, Coast Guard missions, the ships have ocean-ographic and meteorological facilities. One Coast Guard skipper has referred to them as “our Cadillac in terms of sea-keeping capability and on-scene endurance. … A 378 [Hamilton] can sprint on its turbines to a hot area and then remain on the scene and do great work for an extended period of time.”
The narrow helicopter hangars were used as balloon shelters before the class’s modernization.
A late 1980s Fleet Rehabilitation and
Modernization (FRAM) program addressed the imbalance between their handy size and capacity for operating a helicopter and their relatively dated combat systems. Under the FRAM, the Combat Information Center (CIC) has been relocated into the hull; the 5-in/38-cal main gun was replaced; communications, radar, sonar, and EW systems were modernized, and the flight deck was strengthened to handle the Coast
Guard’s HH-65 Dolphin or a Navy SH-2F LAMPS I ASW helicopter. In addition,
several ships were fitted with Harpoon antiship missiles, and space and weight were reserved for the Phalanx Gatling-type Close-in Weapons System (CIWS).


36 cutters of this
class were planned in the 1960s, but only 12 were funded. All were built by Avon-dale ofWestwego, Louisiana, completing in 1967-72. Planning for additional units was deferred in favor of retaining older ships and then was dropped with construction of the smaller Bear (WMEC 901)-class cutters.
FRAM work began in October 1985.
Four East coast ships (Hamilton, Dallas, Chase, and Gallatin) frammed at the Bath Iron Works, Maine, the other eight ships at the Todd Pacific yard in Seattle, Washington. Delays hit the program and deliveries were spread out from November
1988 to April 1992. SPECIFICATIONS •


3,050 tons full load
length 378 ft (115.2 m) overall
beam 42 ft 8 in (13.0m)
draft 20 ft (6.1 m)
Whitney FT4-A6 gas turbines, 28,000 shp and 2 Fairbanks Morse 38TD8 1/8 diesels, 7,200 bhp) on 2 shafts
with controllable-pitch propellers=29 kts, range 14,000 nm at 11 kts, 2,400 nm at 29 kts CREW 148-165
8 Harpoon missiles in 2 quad-canister mounts
1 76-mm/62-cal OTO Melara dual-
purpose gun
2 40-mm Mk 19 grenade launchers in single mounts
2 20-mm Mk 67 cannon in single mounts
4 .50-cal machine guns in single mounts
6 12.75-in (324-mm) Mk 46 torpedos in triple mounts HELICOPTERS extendable helicopter hangar for SH-2F or HH-65
Lockheed SPS-40B air-search radar SPS-64 with RAYCAS surface-search radar
SQS-38 keel-mounted sonar
Mk 92 gun/missile with fire control
WLR-1C with Band 10 EW system
SLQ-32(V)2 active/passive EW system 2 Mk 36 SRBOC 6-barrel chaff/flare launchers

Healy (WAGE 20)

Construction of the Healy, a long-awaited replacement for several older icebreakers, was delayed by lack of Coast Guard funds. She’s one of the largest icebreakers to be built.
The design resembles that of the Polar class but is 60 feet longer and has only a single stack. The hull form has been criticized for failing to take advantage of recent developments in icebreaking technologies. Instead of the Poland gas turbine propulsion, the Healy is driven by large medium-speed diesels, which means a lower top speed but greater range. She can break 4-ft 8-in (1.4-m) ice at three knots or 8 ft (2.4m) of ice by backing and ramming. Her hangar accommodates one or two helicopters and she has over 4,000 ft2 (377 m2) of scientific labs.


The Coast Guard’s chronic procurement penury delayed this ship for several years. Eventually, Congress voted $274.8 million in the Navy’s FY1990 authorization. When this proved insufficient to attract bids, another $62 million was added two years later. The first round of bids was canceled in March 1992 because no contestant would come within available funds. A second round ended with the selection of
Avondale Shipyard in Westwego, Louisiana, in July 1993 for completion in 1996.


DISPLACEMENT 17,710 tons full load
length 459 ft 5 in (140.1 m)
beam 89 ft (26.85 m) waterline,
94 ft 6 in (28.8 m) extreme draft 32 ft (9.75 m)
MACHINERY 4 Colt-Pielstick diesels, 40,000 bhp turning 4 10,000 kVa generators driving 2 shafts with controllable-pitch propellers=12.5 kts (cruising), range 34,000 nm at 12.5 kts, 37,000 nm at 9.25 kts, endurance 80 days, electric power 1,500 kW
CREW 133 ( + accommodation for 49 more)
WEAPONS 2 12.7-mm machine guns in single mounts
navigation radar hydrographic mapping sonar

Island (WPB 1301)

The Coast Guard originally procured this class of 49 craft primarily for drug interdiction in south Florida and the Caribbean. The urgent need to replace 95-foot Cape- and 82-foot JPomtelass cutters, however, led to more general use. Secondary missions are offshore surveillance and search-and-rescue operations.
The 20-year-old design (based on Vosper Thornycroft 110-foot patrol boats) has a flush-deck, round-bilge hull with active fin stabilizers. The boats have a steel hull with aluminum deck and superstructure. They are expected to have only a 15-year life span because of the thinness of their hull plating.
Critics of the design note that these craft have a high minimum control speed of nine knots, making small-boat towing difficult. Also, early operational experience revealed hull problems—cracks developing in heavy seas. From the Attu (WPB 1317) on, the craft have heavier bow plating to correct the hull-cracking problem, and changes in operating procedures are claimed by the Coast Guard to reduce stress on the hull.


The Farallon (WPB 1301) was delivered for sea trials from Bellinger Machine Shop and Shipyard (Lockport, Louisiana) on November 15, 1985. WPB 1317 to WPB 1337 were ordered in two groups in February 1987: the first 16 were funded under the Coast Defense Augmentation Act, the last five under the Drug Omnibus Act. 12 more were ordered in December 1989, with the last being completed in 1992.


DISPLACEMENT 165 tons full load
length 109 ft (33.2 m) overall
beam 21 ft (6.4 m)
draft 7 ft 4 in (2.2m)
MACHINERY 2 Alco-Paxman Valenta 16
RP200 diesels, 6,200 bhp on 2
shafts=26kts CREW 16
1 20-mm Mk 16 cannon
2 7.62-mm M60 machine guns in single mounts
SENSORS SPS-64(V) surface search radar

Mackinaw (WAGE 83)

The Mackinaw is the only icebreaker operating on the US-Canadian Great Lakes. The ship is homeported in Sheboygan, Michigan.
In designing the Mackinaw for Great Lakes service, many of the features of the earlier and more numerous Wind class were adopted. Compared to those oceangoing ships, however, she is longer and beamier but draws less. She can break 2 ft
(0.76 m) of ice continuously, and 11 ft (3.3 m) by backing and ramming.


Originally to be named Manitowoc, the Mackinaw was laid down in 1943 and completed at the end of 1944 by the Toledo Shipbuilding Corp. of Toledo, Ohio. She received a $100-million refit in 1982 but was put in “caretaker status” in 1988 because of a lack of operating funds. She was restored to service in 1989 and underwent another refit in 1991.
length 290 ft (88.4 m) overall
beam 75 ft (22.9 m)
draft 19 ft (5.8m)
MACHINERY 6 Fairbanks Morse
38D81/8 X 12 diesels turning West-inghouse electric motors generating
10,000 shp aft + 3,000 slip forward
driving 2 shafts aft + 1 shaft for-ward=18.8 kts, range 10,000 nm at 18.7 kts, 41,000 nm at 9 kts, electric power 1,260 kW
CREW 127
SENSORS 2 SPS-64(V) surface search radar

Polar Star (WAGE 10)

Other than some icebreakers operated by the Russian Navy, these two ships are the largest icebreakers now in service. They’ve proved disappointing in some respects, particularly in the reliability of their cross-connected propulsion plants. Also, the ship has never achieved her design speed of 21 knots. Her great cruising range, however, is an asset.
One of the two ships deploys to the Antarctic each year, where they can break through six feet of ice while cruising at three knots and smash 21 feet of ice by riding up onto it.
The Healey (WAGB 20), a newer design, is under construction.


The Polar Star was ordered from Lockheed Shipbuilding in Seattle, Washington, in the early 1970s and delivered in 1976. The Polar Sea followed in 1978.


DISPLACEMENT 13,190 tons full load
length 399 ft (121.6 m) overall beam 83 ft 6 in (25.5 m)
draft 33 ft 6 in (10.2m)
MACHINERY CODOG: 6 Alco diesels, 18,000 bhp; 3 Pratt & Whitney gas turbines, 60,000 shp on 3 shafts=18 kts, range 28,000 nm at 13 kts, 16,000 nm
at 18 kts
4 20-mm cannon in single mounts 2 40-mm Mk 19 grenade launchers in single mounts HELICOPTERS 2 HH-65 Dolphin
SENSORS 2 SPS-64(V) surface search radars

Heliance (WMEC 615)

These 16 medium-size patrol and search-and-rescue cutters have proven very useful since they entered service in the 1960s. They have a high bridge with nearly 360° visibility well forward and a long helicopter landing platform aft.
The first five cutters were completed with a Combined Diesel and Gas (CODAG) propulsion plant, but were converted to all-diesel propulsion in the late 1980s during their Major Maintenance Availability (MMA). All 16 cutters are being modified during their MMAs, an 18-21-month refit that reduces the helicopter deck space in favor of a tapered stack and enlarged superstructure, lessens topweight, increases at-sea endurance by increasing provision storage, and upgrades the ship’s fire-fighting capability.
The A&riwas fitted with the Canadian-developed “Beartrap” helicopter haul-down system. No Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) armament is provided.


The Reliance class provided one of the few opportunities for smaller yards to build combatants. American Shipbuilding in Lorain, Ohio, constructed eight ships, the Coast Guard yard at Curtis Bay, Maryland, built four, Todd Shipbuilding in Houston, Texas, constructed three, and Christy Corp. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, delivered one. All were commissioned between 1964 and 1969.
CurtisBay conductedMMAs on the first five cutters to receive them. Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, won the contract to refit the remaining 11. The program was originally scheduled to end in December 1990, but funding cuts forced a stretch-out to November 1996.


DISPLACEMENT 1,110 tons full load (615-619); 1,129 tons full load
length 210 ft 7 in (64.2 m)
beam 34ft 1 in (10.4m)
draft 10 ft 6 in (3.2m)
MACHINERY 2 Alco 25IB turbocharged diesels, 5,000 shp on 2 shafts with controllable-pitch propellers=18 kts, range 6,100 nm at 14 kts, 2,700 nm at 18 kts, endurance 30 days, electric
power 500 kW
CREW 62-82
1 3-in (76-mm)/50-cal Mk 22 gun
2 40-mm Mk 19 grenade launchers 4 .50-cal machine guns
HELICOPTERS landing area
SENSORS 2 SPS-64(V)1 surface-search radars

Sea Bird (WSES 2)

These Surface Effect Ships (SES) operate in the Caribbean as effective counter-drug-smuggling craft. In the mid-1980s, their annual usage averaged 3,000 hours under way. Trials with the earlier Dorado (WSES 1 or SES-200) proved convincing enough to prompt procurement of these three craft. The Dorado returned to naval control.
The SES is a mixture of catamaran and air cushion vehicle design ideas. The rigid side walls and flexible bow and stern seals contain the pressurized air cushion created by the two lift engines. Claims for the SES design include stability at high speeds because of their low (2.8:1) length-to-beam ratio, smooth ride in sea states lower than the freeboard, top speed of more than 40 knots, maneuverability, and shallow draft.


All three ordered from Bell Halter Marine, New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1981, delivered in 198283.


DISPLACEMENT 150 tons full load
length 110 ft (33.5 m) overall
beam 39 ft (11.9m)
draft 5 ft 6 in (1.7 m) on
cushion, 8 ft 3 in (2.5 m) off cushion MACHINERY 2 General Motors 16V
149TIB diesels, 3,600 bhp on 2 shafts, 2 General Motors 8V 92TIB diesels,
1,800 bhp driving 2 fans for lift, electric power 55 kW (2 GM diesels) speed on cushion 33 kts in sea
state 0, 30 kts in sea state 3; off cushion 19 kts in sea state 0, 15 kts in sea state 3; “best economical” 26 kts range 1,100 nm on cushion in
sea state 3 at 25 kts, mission endurance 7 to 10 days
WEAPONS 2 .50-cal machine guns SENSORS 1 commercial navigation radar

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