Proceedings Of The Marine

FALL 2014

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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54 Proceedings Fall 2014 a turn more quickly. 3 It also fea- tures a totally redesigned cabin t hat provides coxswain/crew with 360-degree visibility and better seating positions. ■ 45 -foot Response Boat Medium (R B -M): The RB -M is faster, more capable, and more com- fortable than the aging fleet of 41-foot utility boats it replaces, and additional sensors, such as maritime forward-looking infra- red, enhance search and detec- tion capabilities. The RB-M also boasts new interior design that improves habitability to mitigate personnel fatigue and increase crew readiness. The 45-foot RB-M has also demonstrated impressive heavy-weather performance. Field operators realized this from the earliest deliveries and began exploring this capability beneft. In certain operating areas where the 47-foot motor lifeboat (MLB) was once the only asset available for heavy-weather response, the expanded RB-M parameters allow this new asset to handle some of the heavy-weather mission demand. While the RB-M is not designed for surf conditions, nor is it intended as a replacement for the MLB, its heavy-weather perfor- mance provides the Coast Guard further options for boat allocation and distribution and allows constrained budget resources to be redirected to recapitalize the remaining MLBs. The Coast Guard received delivery of the RB-M boats in 2008 and now has 149 of 170 total boats in service. Some Coast Guard stations already have the RB-S II, with 78 delivered, and 98 more on order. The replacement process will occur gradually, as the older Defender-class assets reach the end of their service life, and the plan is to eventually procure up to 350 RB-S IIs. 4 ■ Helicopters: The Coast Guard's feet of MH-65 Dolphins and MH-60T Jayhawks has been a critical part of SAR operations since the 1980s and 1990s, respectively. Assuming plans continue for service-life extension and recapitalization, the wholesale replacement of these helicopters may not occur until the late 2020s, mid- 2030s, or beyond. In the near future, program offces at headquarters and the Aviation Logistics Center will monitor performance and manage support of the current helicopter feet. Looking further out, mission needs analyses will determine the Coast Guard's future SAROPS search patterns default to narrower track spacing based on visual detection range. The resultant search patterns are more conservative and increase the time and number of sorties required to search an area, which also increases resource expenditure and opera- tional risk. Fortunately, USCG Research and Development Cen- ter personnel have worked on these issues for the past several years and have developed lateral range curve data for fxed-wing aircraft radars. The next step is to incorporate those parameters into SAROPS. Looking ahead, we will soon acquire a small feet of C27 fxed- wing aircraft. 2 These assets will be outftted with search capabilities, and the Coast Guard may be able to shorten the acquisition cycle, sensor testing, and SAROPS incor- poration. Center staff members are also validating the electro- optical infrared sensor system onboard the MH-60T and MH-65D helicopters to develop lateral range curves and sweep widths for the thermal imager against typical search objects in a variety of environmental conditions. All of these R&D efforts will help the Coast Guard fnd mariners in distress in less time, increase the probabil- ity of mission success, and reduce search expenditures. Enhanced SAR operations: Recent acquisitions are already changing search and rescue operations and certain evolving technologies may present game-changing opportunities for the future. ■ 29-foot Freedom Class (RB-S II): The new RB-S II has a shallower planing hull than its 10-year old Defender- class predecessors, which allows it to recover speed after A Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crewmember releases an unmanned aerial surveillance aircraft during a demonstration. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Offcer Luke Clayton.

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