Shallow Drafts, White Ships — U.S. Coast Guard in the 5th Fleet AOR

17SEP2013 (84)

The United States Coast Guard patrols America’s waterways to keep them safe and secure. They repel drug traffickers, they provide vital search and rescue operations, and they even provide environmental protection for one of America’s most valuable resources. So why are there USCG cutters in Bahrain?

120110-G-ZZ999-004The Coast Guard employs Island Class WPB cutters, which are highly maneuverable and, with a smaller draft, can patrol in the shallow waters found in the Arabian Gulf. These ships also maintain their ability to stay long periods at sea since they can be replenished while underway. There are similarities in the capabilities of the WPBs and the Navy’s Coastal Patrol ships, however, the crew and legal jurisdiction really separate the two and creates the need for the Coast Guard in Bahrain.

7001014013_f91661bb27_hAs a member of Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard is able to enforce United States laws and treaties that Department of Defense services are unable to due to domestic and international laws.  However, when operating as a member of the armed forces, the Coast Guard can fall under the Department of Navy and obtain the same authority and jurisdiction that U.S. Navy vessels have as well.

Having the USCG in Bahrain gives us another card to play in keeping the sea lanes open and safe for travel.

-1 MC

Warrior Transition Program

Individual augmentees (IA) serving in the Middle East operate in a stressful, constantly deployed environment. IAs recieve gear and training before they get to the field and put that training into practice. At the end of thier tour, Sailors are eager to return home to their friends and family, but a small training and decompression period is beneficial before returning home and putting that into practice.

This program is called the Warrior transition program, and today we have a guest on the show to discuss the program in more detail. He is the Commander of Task Force Individual Augmentee, and the Deputy Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Rear Adm. Kevin Scott. Take it away Sir.

-Fleet LT

scott blogThanks LT, It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to share with others, what our Sailors do to support the mission in the Middle East, and especially those who have been augmented to support forces ashore.

We have more than 1,800 IA Sailors who are currently serving downrange in Afghanistan and throughout the CENTCOM AOR. I want to share with you an update regarding our focus of re-integrating these warriors back to the fleet.

8252015347_ceea6a3fb1_hAs a vital precursor to their return to Navy duties, each IA Sailor spends about five days at the Navy Warrior Transition Program (WTP) as they complete their deployment. WTP was previously located at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, but has since moved operations to Sembach, Germany, near Ramstein AFB, back in December 2012. I recently made the trip to Germany to observe the progress made since their move and to welcome a group of redeploying IA Sailors back to the Navy.

523492_261573253979679_1902351213_nTravel out of theater for these redeployers can be challenging, especially during the winter months. The weariness of travel, with stops in Kandahar or Bagram, Afghanistan, and then Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and finally Germany, was evident as I greeted the Sailors coming off the plane in Ramstein. However, their moods clearly lifted after arriving at WTP and seeing the new facilities.

567624_586648218030246_1257389539_oWTP offers the right kind of decompression our redeploying Sailors need. Having spent $11 million to refurbish old Army barracks and offices, the Navy has ensured the facilities are first-rate. At this point, the dusty tents of Kuwait are but a distant memory. Berthing is normally two per room with two rooms sharing a head. The facilities provide lots of space to relax, and the natural beauty of the surrounding country side is both breathtaking and rejuvenating.

179046_251176498352688_417644892_nI cordially invite our Navy leadership to make a visit to WTP in Germany. Less than a 30 minute drive from Ramstein AFB in the town of Sembach, a small investment of time there pays large dividends to yourself and, most importantly, shows your appreciation of our returning warrior’s service. Below is a link to our CTF-IA website and the WTP Facebook page where you can find contact information for my staff and the WTP. Please consider scheduling a visit if you a travelling through the area.

-Rear Adm. Kevin Scott

IMCMEX: Patrol Coastal Ships

17SEP2012 (46)

Did you know that the US Navy employs coastal patrol coastal (PC) ships, many of which are forward deployed to the Kingdom of Bahrain? In fact, there are five Cyclone class PCs in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) and they perform important tasks in the littorals of the Arabian Gulf. The small ships are extremely well suited to operating in the warm, shallow, busy gulf waters due to their maneuverability and shallow draft.

Picture4As Vice Admiral Miller, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces, said in a related story (Link Here), “[PCs] are capable of many missions, but what they are best suited for is infrastructure protection and maritime security in the region. There is no other platform, I am certain, that could do the job better.”

In addition to infrastructure protection, PCs maneuverability is ideal to combat various nimble small craft in the Gulf region that may be used by violent extremists to threaten or harm shipping, which, in turn, would have economic and political impacts throughout the region.

111001-N-VN693-288-660x462It takes more than big ships with big guns and aircraft to ensure the safety of the maritime environment—it takes an organized team to carry out a variety of missions. PCs are a part of that team and their mission includes infrastructure protection and maritime security operations.

Coastal Patrol Ships: Small, Maneuverable, Vital.

– Fleet LT