It is eminently clear that the Indo-Pacific region is becoming an increasingly challenging part of the world. The ever more aggressive stances and actions that China is taking in that region threaten the internationally protected freedom of the seas for all. China is claiming territories and creating new islands on which they are actively building military bases, extending their reach into the region, which threatens free trade and the national security of other nations in that region.
Given this scenario, the United States Coast Guard is going to be enhancing its presence in that region early in 2024. The Congressman from Hawaii, Ed Case, who serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over the United States Coast Guard, has been campaigning to get more Coast Guard presence in Hawaii. The recent military appropriations budget has focused $12.8 billion on the USCGC, including monies for expanding the Coast Guard presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Case, as a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, recently visited several countries in the Western Pacific region, including Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. According to Big Island Video News, Case said, “Hawaii is at the center of the Indo-Pacific region’s future, and the Coast Guard is a critical part of our country’s efforts in maritime security, humanitarian and other region-wide engagement.”
With that in mind, the United States Coast Guard has selected the 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter USCGC Harriet Lane to become the newest addition to the growing USCGC fleet in Hawaii, serving in the Indo-Pacific region. Her homeport will be Honolulu. She will be relocated to Hawaii from her present homeport at Portsmouth, VA, early in 2024.
According to Big Island Video News, the Indo-Pacific region is the most dynamic and consequential region in the world at this time. It includes some of the busiest seaports that are involved with up to 60% of global maritime trade. This includes two of the world’s largest economies, the United States and China.
The Harriet Lane has a crew of 100 and is built for long-range patrols of 6-8 weeks, which makes her suited for joint operational training patrols in the Pacific region. The Lane is a multi-mission, Famous-class cutter. Famous-class cutters are versatile and cost-effective platforms capable of carrying out national objectives. Among other assets, she has advanced satellite communications capabilities, making her an important asset for long-range offshore missions like those she will be required to do in her new assignment in the Pacific. She is named after the niece and official hostess of President James Buchanan, and she was built by Tacoma Boatbuilding in Tacoma, WA. Her motto is “Paratus Volens Valious,” or “Ready, Willing, and Able.”
The Lane has twin turbo-charged ALCO V-18 diesel engines and can reach speeds of 19.5 knots. She carries an over-the-horizon boat and a rigid-hulled inflatable boat. Her ship’s complement is made up of 14 officers and 86 enlisted men and women. She is equipped for electronic warfare and decoys, and her armaments include one OTO Melara Mk 75 76 mm/62 caliber naval gun, two .50 cal. (12.7 mm) machine guns, and with her aft flight deck, she carries one helicopter, the HH-65 Dolphin.
The deployment of the USCGC Harriet Lane is the beginning of a planned threefold expansion of Coast Guard presence in Hawaii and the Indo-Pacific region. At a recent welcoming event for the USCGC Lane, Congressman Case said, “I welcome the Coast Guard’s expanded role in the Indo-Pacific, as it has been one of our country’s best ambassadors to this critical region. And this expansion will heighten Hawaii’s role as a center of our country’s efforts in the Indo-Pacific as well as ensuring that our own home waters are fully protected.”
We wish the crew and officers of the USCGC Cutter Harriet Lane “Fair Winds and Following Seas” in their new homeport in Hawaii and in their expanding duties in that increasingly important area of the Indo-Pacific region. Semper Paratus!