Author Topic: The great white trident of death  (Read 780 times)

Offline TurboCoupeTurbo

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The great white trident of death
« on: April 13, 2017, 04:50:56 AM »
In mid 2018, massive hull cracks were found on 10 of the US Coast Guard's fleet of Reliance class medium endurance cutters.  These old ships, which had originally been commissioned in the 1960's, were due to be replaced soon by the upcoming offshore patrol cutter under the Deepwater program.  However, the OPC design had only just been finalized and ordered; it would be several years before the ships would join the fleet.

Desperately in need for hulls to fulfill their required missions, the Coast Guard asked the Navy to loan ships from the reserve fleet or assign more ships to the maritime patrol mission filled by the Coast Guard with additional law enforcement detachments on board.  Instead, Navy officials surprised the Coast Guard by offering to loan the first four littoral combat ships (USS Freedom, USS Independence, USS Fort Worth, and USS Coronado).  The Navy had originally intended to use the ships as training platforms for other LCS vessels being commissioned; however, the LCS mission had been altered to become a fast frigate (FF), and this required radical redesigning of the ships under construction, rendering the quartet as less than ideal trainers.  Upgrading the four early ships was deemed too expensive at the time in an program that was already vastly over budget, so the Coast Guard loan was seen as an acceptable use for the ships to prove themselves until the Navy could get their upgrades approved.


Since the vessels were still owned by the Navy, the Coast Guard was only permitted to make minor alterations.  This also allowed the vessels to join the fleet as soon as possible.  Equipment to support an MH-65C Dolphin short range recovery helicopter was added, and the boat davits were altered to support Coast Guard small boats (normally 2 Long Range Interceptors, a 36 ft rigid hull inflatable powered by water jets).  Internally, some of the bunks were altered from 2 highs to 3 highs to bring the ship's complement up to the same 75 crew as the Reliance class, plus the aviation detachment.  The mission module bays were converted into large empty rooms with cameras inside and locks on the doors.  These rooms allowed the four ships to securely hold up to 30 additional people below decks (including migrants, detainees, or even rescue survivors) instead of keeping them out on the weather decks or inside the hanger like other cutters.


All four ships entered service between December 2018 and February 2019, along with two of the Reliance class ships that could be easily repaired and the three that had not developed cracks.  Because of their speed, they were classified as maritime security cutter, fast (WMSF), matching the hull codes assigned to the national security cutter and the offshore patrol cutter (maritime security cutter, large (WMSL) and maritime security cutter, medium (WMSM) respectively).  The 40+ knot speed and helicopter capability of the new WMSF ships was a huge advantage to Coast Guard law enforcement missions, particularly the counter drug mission.  The two Independence class vessels were homeported in San Diego, CA, and were used to conduct missions along the west coast of Mexico and central America.  The two Freedom class vessels were homeported in Mayport, FL, and normally conducted missions in the southern and western portions of the caribbean.  This freed up other cutters to cover the gaps from the loss of so many Reliance class ships.


As the new offshore patrol cutters enter the fleet, the last remaining Reliance class ships will be decommissioned on a one for one bases.  After the Reliance class, the next four OPC will replace the Independence and Freedom classes and they will be upgraded to either FF specs or refitted as better training vessels.


This is the Cyberhobby/Dragon 1/700 kit of the USS Independence, LCS-2, mixed with a Battlefleet Models 1/700 US Coast Guard decal sheet.  It is also my FIRST completed ship model, ever!

Ever since I learned about the LCS program, and especially the Independence class, I've thought they could be exceptionally useful Coast Guard cutters.  That isn't intended to be any criticism of the LCS program (in case someone needs to go to the sparring room).  The kit itself is amazing, almost falls together if you shake it hard enough.  The flight deck decals though, were precariously thin, and the big white square became 4 sorta straight lines.  Nearly every decal on the flight deck broke in some way, which is why it looks like the boatswain's mates were drunk when they painted it.  It was also my first attempt with photoetch, and that was less than fun.

She isn't technically finished 100%.  I would still like to add a Dolphin helicopter on the deck (from the trumpeter Z-9 kits probably) and it needs flags on some rigging (which I've never done before!).  But it's at a good enough state until I learn rigging, and the Dolphin/Z-9 is technically another kit.  ;)  I would also like to do a Freedom class version at some point in the future.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: The great white trident of death
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 05:42:15 AM »
 :)
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline buzzbomb

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Re: The great white trident of death
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 07:30:28 AM »
That is great work.
The colour scheme really pops on that platform

Offline kerick

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Re: The great white trident of death
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2017, 08:23:04 AM »
How about a Coasty Seahawk or two?
Or go all MH-53 on it!
Beautiful work!

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: The great white trident of death
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2017, 11:29:49 AM »
Nice! Kinda suits the Coast Guard, too. :)
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: The great white trident of death
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2017, 12:13:54 PM »
How about a Coasty Seahawk or two?
Or go all MH-53 on it!
Beautiful work!
I agree on the beautiful work comment.  I can't help but wonder if USCG adoption of a few of the rather more militant Sea Hawk variants might be suitable for the counter-drug mission (or even, expensive as they would be, some dedicated V-22's to really interdict when needed - Hmm, MV-22B's in USCG markings, anyone?).

Offline TurboCoupeTurbo

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Re: The great white trident of death
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2017, 01:33:42 PM »
Thanks for all the positive comments guys.  I agree, she looks great in white.  I even replaced the bow anchor that I realized I knocked off before the photo shoot!

The Coast Guard does have a Seahawk variant, called the Jayhawk.  However, they are not deployed aboard ships since their best asset (range) is required on shore bases.  Instead, we only deploy Dolphins to our cutters since they are smaller and lighter.  The Dolphins have all been upgraded or are currently being upgraded to conduct airborne use of force operations using machine guns and a sniper rifle.  The Jayhawks were also upgraded with the same equipment.

While I'm sure the Coast Guard would enjoy more air assets, I think hellfires and penguins might be overkill for drug runners  :o  The Osprey is probably too large and expensive for CG use, but I think a more mature, smaller, and cheaper tilt wing could look good in white.  Probably not as interdictors, but as long range recovery and patrol aircraft to replace the C-130 when the time comes.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: The great white trident of death
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2017, 01:34:49 PM »
Stunning!

I had been toying with the idea of an Australian Border Protection Command Austal trimaran based on the Dragon Independence in the scheme below.  They design and build nice looking ships but boy do I hate the company with a passion.


Offline LemonJello

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Re: The great white trident of death
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2017, 07:21:53 PM »
I agree on the beautiful work comment.  I can't help but wonder if USCG adoption of a few of the rather more militant Sea Hawk variants might be suitable for the counter-drug mission (or even, expensive as they would be, some dedicated V-22's to really interdict when needed - Hmm, MV-22B's in USCG markings, anyone?).

There's one in the pipeline at LemonJello Heavy Industries.

As to this build: Amazing! It really does look good in the Coastie's scheme.