I was looking around for some news about modern day pirates when I came across this item
about a new armed cigarette boat that the United States Coast Guard
is going to have in it's inventory.
In the last few decades the U.S.C.G. has been tasked with search and rescue
, a job that I'd bet it does better than any other agency in the world. Added to this is the drug interdiction missions
that it carries out every day, and the Coast Guard has shown a high degree of professionalism in this difficult law enforcement role.
9/11 turned the spotlight on some deficiencies, though. Physical protection
of ships in public harbors wasn't high priority before the terrorist attack, but it certainly is now. The law enforcement work horse of the Coast Guard is the medium endurance cutter
, an ocean going vessel armed with an automatic 5" gun on the bow. Perfect for running down smugglers, and with enough firepower to disable their vessels, it was obviously too big, slow and with a gun too powerful for in-harbor defense. The 110 foot patrol boats
, as well as the 87 foot
and 82 foot patrol boats
, are geared for rescue missions. They don't have any armament at all excpet for small arms issued to the crew. Something better had to be found.
Though the Coast Guard has small, extremely fast and nimble pursuit boats
for their drug interdiction missions, these boats are also unarmed and very vulnerable to gun fire. That's where the Guardian Transportable Port Security Boat
comes in. Made with a rigid, bullet resistant hull, the Guardian is armed with a .50 caliber heavy machine gun
mounted forward and a M60 light machine gun
mounted aft. Designed to be air transportable in the Coast Guard's own cargo planes
, the Guardian is a very capable craft for harbor defense.
Except it's not fast enough. With a top speed of only 25 knots, the Guardian could be outrun by many of the faster motor boats.
Enter the Defender, which is so new that I can't find a picture of it yet. Nothing I know of can outrun it's 50 knot top speed (that wasn't a typo, I said 50 knots
!). It's more lightly armed than the Guardian, with 2 M60 light machine guns instead of one M60 and the .50 cal. Somehow I don't think anyone who get's on the Defender's bad side will notice.
In case anyone's interested, the fact sheet for the U.S. Coast Guard's vessels and aircraft can be found here
And just to show you that the whole Defender idea idea is probably a good one, that muck raking rag in England called The Guardian has come out against it