Since the earliest days of the American republic, a small investment in coastal cutters has always provided a tremendous value and service to ensure national economic security. One suspects both major maritime strategists Alfred Thayer Mahan and Julian Corbett would have agreed on the vital but nonglamorous role these ships play in maintaining sea lines of communications or joining the main fleet to mass numbers for battle on the open seas. These coastal cutters have been called upon in every major conflict and yet when not at war, they are on duty providing a public service just offshore. They perform the endless and thankless dirty work of maritime-domain awareness, patrolling, inspecting, and protecting in all kinds of weather. The last set of these vessels was built 25–50 years ago. It is time to provide new ships to address emerging issues and maintain a tactical advantage in maritime security.
Bring on the New Workhorses
Twenty-first-century maritime security can’t keep relying on 20th-century Coast Guard vessels; enter the offshore patrol cutter.
By Commander Jay Caputo, U.S. Coast Guard