Smarter Security for Smaller Budgets: Shaping Tomorrow's Navy and Coast Guard Maritime Security Capabilities

Report Defense

Smarter Security for Smaller Budgets: Shaping Tomorrow's Navy and Coast Guard Maritime Security Capabilities

May 17, 2005 20 min read Download Report
Bruce Stubbs
F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy



National Capabilities for Maritime Security

The likelihood of major combat operations at sea has diminished significantly for the next two to three decades. In its place, maritime security operations against numerous non-military, non-traditional, asymmetric threats-terrorists, criminals, pirates, smugglers, and assorted miscreants-are highly likely. These threats must be defeated, preferably at their origin, or well before they reach America's shores. This new national security environment places much greater emphasis on maritime security or constabulary operations for the purpose of "good order and discipline" at sea.

The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard are among the federal agencies addressing these threats to America's maritime security. The Navy will conduct increased global maritime security operations in regional coop­erative agreements, primarily against the terrorist threat, while still addressing military threats from hos­tile nation-states as well as warfighting and deterrence responsibilities for dissuasion, contested access, and power projection[1] purposes. The Coast Guard will concentrate on maritime security operations against terrorist and criminal threats in America's maritime domain while still addressing its responsibilities for maritime safety, mobility, protection of natural resources, and national defense.

Current Coast Guard maritime security capabilities are a unique blend of military and constabulary means, and its capabilities for terrorist and civilian threats are one and the same, whereas current Navy mari­time security capabilities are purely military and do not address civilian threats since, by policy and cus­tom, the Navy does not have the authority to enforce U.S. law.[2] However, both the Navy and Coast Guard must be able to detect, intercept, and board ships in the ocean expanses as well as the lit­toral. They both need to conduct, at long range and for long periods of time, single-ship interdiction, escort, presence, surveillance, patrol, peacekeeping, international engagement, and other low-level sea-control/denial missions. Navy and Coast Guard ships conducting maritime security duties need speed, endurance, and sea-keeping for multiple small boat and helicopter operations; self-sufficien­cy for independent operations, broad area coverage, and rapid reaction; and adequate C4ISR (Com­mand, Control, Communications, Computer, Intel­ligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) and combat systems.

Despite great commonality in how both services conduct maritime security operations, the Navy and Coast Guard are headed in different directions to provide this capability. The Navy plans to adapt its sophisticated warship, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), and the Coast Guard is building purposely designed maritime security ships. In an era that plac­es great emphasis on inter-service "jointness" as dem­onstrated by the Joint Strike Fighter Program, along with the very real reality of austere defense procure­ment budgets, the nation can no longer afford this bifurcated approach to its maritime security.

Two Separate Solutions for One Common Goal

Navy and Coast Guard capabilities for mari­time security share a common mission-functional sequence for all terrorist and civilian threats- detect, intercept, and board civilian ships in the ocean expanses and littorals. Examples of maritime security operations are, for the Navy, interdiction of weapons of mass destruction under the Proliferation Security Initiative[3] and, for the Coast Guard, inter­diction of illicit drug smugglers and illegal high seas fishermen. For both the Navy and Coast Guard, these maritime security operations include the need to conduct, at long range and for long periods of time, single-ship embargo, interdiction, escort, pres­ence, surveillance, patrol, blockade, peacekeeping, international navy/coast guard engagement, and other low-level sea-control/denial missions.

The Navy and Coast Guard maritime security capabilities for these missions share the same key ship design parameters-endurance, sea-keeping for multiple small boat and helicopter operations, and self-sufficiency for independent operations. Additionally, they share the need for "broad area coverage, rapid reaction, less capable combat sys­tems, and austere self-defense suites."[4] Endurance and self-sufficiency for independent operations are especially important because these ships will oper­ate without a dedicated logistics train of replenish­ment ships and far from the battle group. Such similarities raise the issue of common ships and systems, for both Navy and Coast Guard maritime security operations, for savings through economies of scale and elimination of duplication, especially in light of today's fiscal realities.

The Navy and Coast Guard are headed in differ­ent directions with regard to building ships for maritime security duties. The Navy plans to adapt a future combatant for maritime security duties by altering its new, special-purpose, anti-access com­batant, the Littoral Combat Ship, which is being designed in two variants-a 340-foot, 1,500-ton combatant and a 430-foot, 3,000-ton warship. Both variants will be speedy, optimally manned combatants, designed primarily to perform "focused missions" along the enemy's coastlines- neutralizing mines and defeating submarines and fast attack craft in relatively shallow coastal waters. Optimized with stealth and command-and-control technologies for focused warfare, and possessing robust self-defense capabilities, a maximum speed of 40 to 50 knots, a 21-day endurance and a 4,500-nautical-mile range at 22 knots, and only around a 1,500-nautical-mile range at high speed, the LCS design uses modular "plug and-fight" mission pay­load packages for each mission.

In October 2004, Paul McHale, Assistant Secre­tary of Defense for Homeland Defense, and John Young, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, dis­cussed employment of the LCS in homeland secu­rity missions, and since then it has become apparent that the U.S. Northern Command expects to use the LCS in homeland security missions.[5] The Navy wants to modify the LCS and not use com­mon ships with the Coast Guard, because the Navy believes the LCS's modularity concept lends itself to maritime security duties. Others, such as the Con­gressional Budget Office, are not so sure that the modularity concept is practical.[6]

Service leaders have consistently stated that the LCS program is their number-one budget priority.[7] Moreover, given the close relationship between the Navy and the Coast Guard's programs, with two Memoranda of Understanding put in place to ensure collaboration, some see the LCS as the answer to the Coast Guard's "high-end" maritime security cutter needs.

The Coast Guard is building two new types of maritime security ships as part of its Integrated Deepwater Project-a 421-foot, 4,200-ton ship and a 350-foot, 3,200-ton ship. With its 12,000-nautical-mile range, 60-day endurance, and 29-knot sprint speed, the "high-end" maritime security ship (WMSL) can provide a security presence throughout America's maritime domain, as well as operate overseas. The smaller maritime security ship (WMSM), with its 9,000-nautical-mile range, 45-day endurance, and top speed of 28 knots, can also provide a security presence in almost all parts of America's maritime domain. In a pinch, the WMSM could also deploy to forward areas.

The Coast Guard is currently planning to pro­cure around 33 of these ships: eight large maritime security ships at about $280 million each and 25 medium maritime security ships priced at $200 million each. The Coast Guard is also ensuring that these two classes of ships can operate in the post- September 11 security environment.

In late January 2005, the Department of Home­land Security (DHS) approved a revised Deepwater mission needs statement that incorporated home­land security and defense requirements. These two ship classes will have improved capabilities to defeat terrorist attacks, engage in opposed board­ing, and conduct operations in a chemical, biolog­ical, and radiological (CBR) environment. The Coast Guard FY 2006 budget submission reflects the Administration's support for more capable, responsive, and survivable ships to perform high-risk maritime security operations.

The Navy and Coast Guard are well aware of each other's efforts in regard to maritime security capabilities. The two services are focusing their col­laborative and coordination efforts not on common hulls, or mechanical and electrical systems, but on C4ISR systems commonality and interoperability. The Navy and Coast Guard want their ships to be able to make use of each other's onboard and off-board systems when they find their ships working together in a homeland or overseas operation. (From a security standpoint, there are no longer any "home games" or "away games." Both services see homeland security, homeland defense, and overseas operations as key elements of their "port­folios" for the 21st century.) Undoubtedly, their approach is reasonable given the different originat­ing context and timelines associated with LCS and Deepwater. However, this de facto joint Coast Guard-Navy approach is not mandated or over­seen by Congress.

Questions About the Navy's Solution for Maritime Security

While there is little doubt that the LCS-or, for that matter, all classes of Navy surface combat­ants-could conduct the Navy's maritime security role, questions exist about whether other non-LCS options that place greater emphasis on mari­time security capabilities may be more suitable, effective, and affordable for the Navy. Unfortu­nately, there is no original Analysis of Multiple Concepts to draw upon for supporting an evalua­tion of the LCS's role in maritime security mis­sions, which some analysts and observers have decried. [8]

Despite the absence of such a formal assessment, it is possible to offer some analytical parameters. The Navy needs to consider whether the LCS plac­es sufficient emphasis on maritime security capa­bilities for regional acceptance of its presence, international engagement and operations, and the security environment of the next two to three decades. Additionally, the Navy must consider whether the LCS has too much capability for home­land security duties.

Question 1: Is the U.S. Navy confident that the LCS's presence will be accepted by all regional nation-states?

Haze-gray U.S. Navy warships, with their inher­ent national orientation, cannot shake off their ominous appearance or disguise their primary pur­pose as combatants expressly built for offensive military missions such as power projection and forcible-entry operations. The experience of Admi­ral Thomas Fargo, Commander, U.S. Pacific Com­mand, underscores this issue. In the spring of 2004, he attempted unsuccessfully to implement his Regional Maritime Security Initiative in the Straits of Malacca by employing naval capabilities optimized for major theater war-U.S. Navy com­batants with embarked U.S. Marines. U.S. Navy warships, designed for high-intensity war against a major opponent, when used for maritime security duties are just too menacing in regions sensitive to sovereign rights and may not always be the most politically acceptable means for duty against mari­time criminals and terrorists.[9]

Recent diplomatic activity by the Japanese gov­ernment underscores this issue of "acceptable pres­ence" by the U.S. Navy. For the October 2004 Proliferation Security Initiative exercises held off Tokyo, the Japanese government formally requested that the United States include Coast Guard forces in the American contingent. The Japanese wanted the Coast Guard present primarily to emphasize the law enforcement nature of the exercises, as well as to draw upon the Coast Guard's unexcelled reputation and skill in boarding, conducting maritime search­es, and constabulary duties.[10]

Question 2: Is the U.S. Navy convinced that the LCS is the most appropriate naval ship to engage and operate with the majority of the world's navies and coast guards in a meaningful manner?

The overwhelming majority of the world's navies and coast guards are not blue-water, power-projec­tion, sea-control navies, but coastal forces con­cerned about maritime security threats. Regional maritime security operations are the most likely and probable U.S. Navy activity with the interna­tional naval community.

It is usually extremely difficult for these interna­tional navies and coast guards to connect to the U.S. Navy's high-technology warships, especially the deep-draft, super-sized warships. While the LCS resembles a frigate in size, the LCS may not relate to the missions and force structures of many of these international naval organizations, and could very well intimidate them, if it cannot act in consort with them on an equal basis. In fact, according to retired Royal Australian Commodore Sam Bateman, a maritime security expert specializ­ing in Asia-Pacific affairs, coast guards are emerg­ing as important national institutions in Asia and the Pacific with the potential to make a major con­tribution to regional order and security.[11]

It is important to note that the LCS would prob­ably be highly appropriate for maritime security operations with the navies such as the Royal Navy, French navy, German navy, Australian navy, Canadi­an navy, Indian navy, Spanish navy, Italian navy, and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force. But maritime security operations with lesser capable navies using ships purposefully built for warfare like the LCS may not be the most appropriate means.

Question 3: Has the U.S. Navy fully acknowl­edged the likely at-sea security environment for the next 20-30 years, and will it be able to buy enough LCSs to meet the majority of the mari­time security threats it will face?[12]

This future environment resembles in broad out­line the mid- to late-Victorian era when the United Kingdom faced no peer naval competitor to contest the Royal Navy's global reach, presence, and sea control.[13] With an adequate main battle fleet of capital ships and world-ranging cruisers to deter any would-be rivals, the Royal Navy, even so, fre­quently found itself conducting sea-denial opera­tions with its dispersed frigates and a host of specialized and purpose-built gunboats,[14] opti­mized for local conditions,[15] against maritime security threats-assorted miscreants, criminals, terrorists, insurrectionists, pirates, and the like who threatened the empire's interests.[16] The Royal Navy, with its ships on independent stations widely scattered around the globe, acted as the world's maritime constabulary. With the Royal Navy safe­guarding the seas, British merchant ships "upon their lawful occasions"[17] sailed without impedi­ment, ensuring regional and imperial stability and an unfaltering British, if not world, economy.

Today, the United States faces a nearly similar sit­uation. Major theater war at sea is remote, but mar­itime security operations against numerous non-military, asymmetric threats trying to harm Ameri­ca are highly likely and must be defeated before they reach American shores.[18] Such operations require the U.S. Navy to deploy to numerous dis­tant "stations" around the globe for unilateral and regional maritime security operations.

The very act of this global naval presence also benefits the world by providing protection for ship­ping. Even though the United States has a negligi­ble merchant marine fleet engaged in the international trade, the United States understands the value of safeguarding the trade, since global commerce fuels the American economy.[19] In early January 2005, the Chief of U.S. Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, stated that the days of major naval engagements are past-at least for now. He continued, "Building a force set that is designed only to deal with…major combat operations…is the incorrect approach."[20]

The U.S. Navy in this future security environ­ment shares another parallel with the Victorian Roy­al Navy. Numbers count, and will there will be enough U.S. Navy ships to meet the demand gener­ated by non-military and terrorist threats, especially if the Navy must also equip itself with hugely expensive, highly capable warships for dissuasion, contested access, and power projection purposes?[21] In the Victorian era, the First Lord of the Admiralty complained about the pressures from merchants, missionaries, and the Colonial and Foreign Offices:

[F]rom Vancouver's isle to the river Plate, from the West Indies to China the Admiralty is called upon by Secretaries of State to send ships…. The undeniable fact is that we are doing or endeavoring to do much more than our force is sufficient for. It is fortunate that the world is not large, for there is no other limit to the service of the fleets.[22]

While the world has not grown smaller in the intervening 100-plus years, the size of the U.S. Navy continues to decline. The Navy wants the LCS to cost no more than $230 million in then-year dollars for the hull alone, not including the modu­lar mission packages that could cost another $80 million to $100 million per hull.[23] Can the Navy afford the numbers-50 to 60 LCSs-that its advo­cates frequently cite? At a cost that will likely exceed over $300 million a copy, the LCS may still be a Cadillac when a Chevrolet-priced ship would do nicely for maritime security duties.[24]

Question 4: Is the LCS too capable for the overwhelming preponderance of homeland secu­rity duties? And, more important, what are the homeland security requirements that offer LCS as a solution?

According to a 2004 Congressional Research Service report, Navy and Coast Guard officials:

agree that the Navy's role should be to support the Coast Guard, particularly in areas, like air defense, where the Coast Guard has little or no capability. Navy officials believe that the Navy, while contributing to maritime homeland security operations, should remain primarily focused on deploying naval forces overseas to provide a forward defense against threats to the United States.[25]

What has changed for the Navy to decide it now must employ LCS in homeland security? And will the Navy use LCS to augment the Coast Guard for homeland security missions or conduct separate, stand-alone missions? Department of Defense (DOD) officials have offered few specifics about envisioned homeland security duties and numbers needed for the LCS.[26] One defense analyst believes that LCS will be used to guard offshore infrastruc­ture, such as oil platforms or underwater fiber-optic cables.[27] Since broad area surveillance, interdiction, boarding and searching vessels, and physical pro­tection are the mainstays of homeland security duties, using the LCS in physical protection and interdiction duties means its expensive warfare mis­sion modules will find little everyday use.

Before the Coast Guard could proceed with incor­porating improved homeland security and defense capabilities for its two new maritime security ships, the Department of Homeland Security conducted two exhaustive reviews at the Joint Requirements Council and Investment Review Board. It would seem reasonable that the DHS decision calculus used to approve that capability upgrade would be useful to evaluating the LCS's role in homeland security.

Furthermore, it would seem that if the Navy wants to use the LCS in homeland security, deter­mining needed numbers cannot be done without accounting for the Coast Guard's contribution of at least 33 major ships. Conversely, it would seem that the analysis that led McHale and Young to determine that the Navy needs to employ LCS in homeland security may in fact be used by the Coast Guard to see whether additional maritime security ships are warranted.

What Congress Should Do

Step 1: Before allowing the Navy to proceed with adapting the LCS for maritime security duties, Congress should direct both the Navy and the Con­gressional Research Service to analyze separately whether:

  1. The LCS can effectively and efficiently provide both warfighting and maritime security capa­bilities, especially in light of a prominent defense analyst's statement that the LCS is "going to spend 95 percent of its life doing [glo­bal war on terrorism] missions"[28] such as inter­diction, searching vessels, boarding operations, and the like. Procuring expensive ships opti­mized for the least likely scenarios, but employ­ing them almost exclusively in the most likely scenarios, is a policy whose costs and benefits require close examination.[29]
  2. The Navy should use the Coast Guard's large maritime security ship, the WMSL, in lieu of the LCS to conduct the Navy's maritime secu­rity duties. With a range and endurance three times greater than the LCS, coupled to a 29-knot sprint speed, this Coast Guard ship may adequately serve-in terms of affordability, numbers, mission fit, and operating character­istics-as a suitable Navy ship for the Navy's global maritime security duties. Furthermore the WMSL's purposeful design for constabulary vice warfighting duties, on-board equipment and systems, and dimensions makes its pres­ence more acceptable and relevant for regional maritime security operations and international engagement purposes.

The Congressional Budget Office's 2005 Budget Options Report underscores the need for such an analysis.[30] While the CBO does not endorse this suggestion, the document points out that "the Navy could save as much as $29 billion between 2006 and 2015 if it opts to build new frigates instead of procuring the DD(X) next generation destroyer and the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)."[31]

Step 2: As part of its ongoing revamping of its defense needs, the United States can ill afford to continue ignoring the lack of meaningful maritime security planning and coordination between the world's largest navy and the world's seventh largest navy-America's Navy and Coast Guard.

Furthermore, Congress needs to provide mean­ingful oversight of the Coast Guard's military role. The committees that oversee the Coast Guard have no national defense responsibilities, and the com­mittees that have those responsibilities do not over­see the Coast Guard. So the Coast Guard finds itself in a Catch-22-like position in regard to its military responsibilities. As a direct consequence, there have never been any hearings before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees on the national defense roles of the Coast Guard's $20 billion Deep­water construction program to replace its offshore ships, aircraft, and sensors-all with significant national defense capabilities.

Congress must formalize and oversee the de facto joint relationship between the Navy and the Coast Guard for ship, aircraft, and C4ISR procurement (and maritime security operations) to produce sav­ings through economies of scale and elimination of duplication, as well as to ensure integration of operational effort. Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Philip Dur, chief executive officer of Northrop Grumman's Shipbuilding Systems, recently com­mented that it would be helpful if both the Navy and Coast Guard jointly planned their long-term shipbuilding buys. "I do not know that either ser­vice takes the other service's capabilities into account," he said.[32] DOD's announcement to use LCS in homeland security without regard to devel­opments in the Coast Guard is in itself added testi­mony for improved planning and coordination between the Navy and the Coast Guard.

Specifically, Congress should:

  1. Arrange regular appearances by DHS and Coast Guard leadership before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and by DOD, Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and Navy leadership before the Coast Guard oversight committees to testify about the Coast Guard's military duties.[33]
  2. Require inclusion of the Coast Guard in the Secretary of Defense's Annual Report to the President and the Congress and the Secretary of the Navy's Posture Statement. Both reports are routinely devoid of any language that recog­nizes the Coast Guard's national defense role. Yet only the Defense and Navy Secretaries can reasonably address the Coast Guard's ability to fulfill its military role and oversee the prep­aration of the Coast Guard for its military duties.
  3. Codify in law the Coast Guard-Navy National Fleet Policy. This innovative, out-of-the-box policy commits both services to develop com­plementary forces that address the entire spec­trum of America's 21st century naval and maritime threats; to leverage each service's core competencies to improve capability, interoperability, and affordability; and to stretch the "national" budget dollar with econ­omies of scale in total ownership costs.[34] The time has come for Congress to make the National Fleet objectives a reality. In the interim, Congress should direct the Coast Guard and Navy to submit detailed plans on how they intend to meet the objectives of their National Fleet Policy.
  4. Amend the Goldwater-Nichols Act to require Coast Guard officers to participate in the Joint Officer Professional Military Education (JOMPE) Program. Congress has required the other four armed services to participate in the JOMPE Pro­gram that qualifies their officers for joint duty. If the Coast Guard wants to be a viable, contribut­ing military service, then it must prepare its per­sonnel for defense operations in the same manner as the other military services.
  5. Designate in law the Commandant of the Coast Guard as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  6. Designate in law the Coast Guard as a "Naval Service" in the same fashion as the Marine Corps so that the Navy consistently includes the Coast Guard in all its operational and resource planning efforts as a full partner on its defense team.
  7. Expand the charter of its bipartisan Congres­sional Shipbuilding Caucus, under the lead­ership of Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis (R- VA) and Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS), to include the Coast Guard as well as the Navy. Increasingly disturbed about declining naval capabilities, some Members of Congress in January 2005 formed this Caucus [35] because of their concern that the shrinking number of Navy ships will harm the nation's shipbuilding industrial base and reduce capa­bilities for national security, especially for the war on terrorism.


In his 2005 Guidance, Admiral Vern Clark direct­ed a strong "belt-tightening" approach, calling for a faster, more agile, and smaller fleet.[36] Admiral Clark clearly recognizes that the Navy's present acquisition plan is unaffordable. Admiral Clark also knows that building a Navy force set that is designed only to deal with major combat opera­tions, given all the other tasks that the Navy faces in the world today, "is the incorrect approach to building the force set of the future."[37]

Admiral Clark wants to reshape the Navy to "handle anti-terror missions as well as traditional naval operations."[38] One of Admiral Clark's key lieutenants, Vice Admiral Joseph Sestak, says that "the Navy's traditional areas of operations-over­seas offensive combat operations and homeland defense-are merging."[39] It almost sounds as if the Navy is reinventing a portion of itself to do Coast Guard missions as it searches for more relevancy and affordability.

With a Coast Guard equipping itself with 33 maritime security ships, with a Navy headed toward placing greater emphasis on homeland and maritime security duties, and in a world plagued with a burgeoning growth in terrorist and civilian maritime threats, the nation can ill afford two sep­arate solutions for its maritime security require­ments. Full integration between the Navy and the Coast Guard with respect to maritime security capabilities, planning, and operations is warrant­ed, especially in light of current and foreseeable budget realities. The Coast Guard and Navy must forge close bonds and blend their respective national elements of maritime power in a collabo­rative way to meet the nation's maritime security requirements.

Bruce B. Stubbs, a retired Coast Guard officer, worked on the National Security Council staff during the Reagan Administration. He is now a technical direc­tor, Center for Security Strategies and Operations, Anteon Corporation, Arlington, Virginia. This paper was prepared as part of The Heritage Foundation's ongoing studies of maritime security and homeland security issues.


[1]Robert Work, "Transforming the Battle Fleet: Steering a Course Through Uncharted Waters," PowerPoint Presentation, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, October 18, 2004.

[2]"The other important difference between military and constabulary activities is that the latter depend upon legitimacy deriv­ing from a legal domestic mandate or an internationally agreed order, while the former, whatever the degree of force implied, threatened or exercised, is defined primarily by the national interest." Chapter 7, "Maritime Operations," in Royal Australian Navy Sea Power Centre, HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay, Australian Maritime Doctrine: RAN Doctrine 1 (Canberra: Defence Pub­lishing Service, Department of Defence, 2000), p. 56.

[3]"Proliferation Security Initiative, which is an effort to enhance and expand our efforts to prevent the flow of WMD, their delivery systems, and related materials on the ground, in the air and at sea to and from countries of proliferation concern." "Fact Sheet: Proliferation Security Initiative Frequently Asked Questions," U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Nonprolif­eration, December 27, 2004.

[4]Work, "Transforming the Battle Fleet: Steering a Course Through Uncharted Waters."

[5]"Navy, U.S. Northern Command and industry officials said the program's three mission-specific modules-designed to com­bat surface ships, mines and submarines-are expected to give the new fast-moving LCS vessels the kinds of tools needed should they be assigned to guard U.S. territory." John T. Bennett, "Initial LCS Designs Expected to Meet Homeland Defense Requirements," Inside the Pentagon, December 16, 2004.

[6]See Section 3, "National Defense, 050-08-Discretionary Cancel the DDX Destroyer and the Littoral Combat Ship and Build New Frigates Instead," in Congressional Budget Office, Budget Options Report, February 2005. In addition, supporters argue that in pursuing the LCS, the Navy went too far in the opposite direction, designing a ship that may be too small. The LCS would be a single-mission ship with a modular combat system, which would be tailored to the mission it was expected to take on. If the LCS was sent to counter mines, it would have a mine countermeasures payload. If it was sent to counter diesel-electric submarines, it would have an antisubmarine-warfare suite. How easily or effectively the Navy could change mission modules should the threat require it is unclear. A frigate-sized ship, by contrast, would have enough payload, along with more robust self-defense systems, to perform all three missions simultaneously, making it easier to address multiple threats. Further, the Navy's experience with small warships has not been encouraging. Such ships usually have insufficient payload and range, poor handling and stability at sea, and short longevity. Frigates in the Navy today, such as the Oliver Haz­ard Perry class, have held up much better and have remained in the fleet much longer than did smaller craft such as the Cyclone class patrol ship (which was discarded by the service after 10 years) or high-speed hydrofoils (which the Navy experimented with in the 1970s).

[7]Ronald O'Rourke, "Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS): Background, and Issues for Congress," Congressional Research Ser­vice, June 25, 2004.

[8]Ibid. O'Rourke notes that "The absence of an AMC for the LCS program raises a question regarding the analytical basis for the program, particularly given the Navy's resistance to the idea of a small ship like the LCS prior to November 2001." See also Dr. Eric J. Labs, "Building the Future Fleet: Show Us the Analysis!" Naval War College Review, Vol. LVII, Nos. 3-4 (Sum­mer/Autumn 2004), pp. 138-146.

[9]"American diplomats had to smooth ruffled feathers in Malaysia, whose government hadn't been consulted." Editorial, "Piracy and Terrorism," The New York Times, April 10, 2004.

[10]"Japan Hosts Round of WMD Drills at Sea," The New York Times on the Web, October 26, 2004.

[11]Sam Bateman, "Coast Guards: New Forces for Regional Order and Security," Analysis from the East-West Center, No. 65 (Jan­uary 2003), pp. 4-6. According to Commodore Bateman, Coast Guards have several advantages over navies. They do not reveal as much naval intelligence information to other parties. They are smaller and thereby do not overwhelm prospective partners. They are paramilitary rather than military, therefore reducing sovereignty concerns. Finally, the use of Coast Guards for maritime security measures may reduce the possibility of a naval arms race.

[12]Colin Gray writes that "World order is neither self-enforcing nor is it comprehensively enforceable. Nonetheless, every such 'order' requires a sheriff, or some other agent of discipline." Colin S. Gray, The Sheriff-America's Defense of the New World Order (Lexington: Kentucky University Press, 2004), p. 3.

[13]"The world system that emerged after 1815 would be one increasingly reliant on the Royal Navy as international policeman. The sea routes on which the British Empire depended were made accessible to other nations, as an expression of the British principle of free trade. The peace and security the navy brought to Britain's shores increasingly extended to other parts of the world. The personal liberty Englishmen enjoyed became a basic human right, as the navy wiped out the slave trade. British navy vessels regularly intervened to protect Briton and non-Briton alike from tyranny and violence. An empire, originally born out of ruthless ambition and brutality, had become the basis for a new progressive world order." Arthur Herman, To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), p. xix.

[14]Hence the derivation of the term "gunboat diplomacy" as a form of coercive diplomacy defined by Sir James Cable as "the use or threat of limited naval force, otherwise than as an act of war, in order to secure advantage, or to avert loss, either in the fur­therance of an international dispute or else against foreign nationals within the territory or the jurisdiction of their own state." Sir James Cable, Gunboat Diplomacy: Political Applications of Limited Naval Force (New York: MacMillan, 1971), p. 21.

[15]While these gunboats were ideal for constabulary duties, they were of limited use in wartime.

[16]The U.S. Navy's maritime security operations in the littorals against the Philippine Insurrectos in 1899 and 1900 offer useful similarities to consider. See Commander Frederick L. Sawyer, U.S. Navy (ret.), Sons of Gunboats (Annapolis, Md.: U.S. Naval Institute, 1946).

[17]Book of Common Prayer, Royal Navy Prayer: "and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions."

[18]"While no single country looks within striking distance of rivaling U.S. military power by 2020, more countries will be in a position to contest the United States in their regions. The possession of chemical, biological, and/or nuclear weapons by more countries by 2020 would increase the potential cost of any military action by the United States and its coalition part­ners. Most U.S. adversaries, be they states or nonstate actors, will recognize the military superiority of the United States. Rather than acquiesce to U.S. force, they will try to circumvent or minimize U.S. strengths and exploit perceived weak­nesses, using asymmetric strategies, including terrorism and illicit acquisition of WMD, as illustrated in the Cycle of Fear scenario." Mapping the Global Future, Report of the National Intelligence Council's 2020 Project Based on Consultations with Nongovernmental Experts Around the World, NIC 2004-13, December 2004.

[19]"The international order will be in greater flux in the period out to 2020 than at any point since the end of the Second World War." Ibid.

[20]Admiral Clark has said that the "Navy is not 'correctly balanced and optimized for the world of the future,' and that it faces a three-decade-long effort to fully reform its forces to accommodate national security needs such as anti-terrorism and homeland security." Michael Bruno, "Navy Not 'Correctly Balanced' for Future, Clark Says," Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, January 12, 2005; keynote address to the Surface Navy Association National Symposium, Arlington, Virginia, January 2005.

[21]Work, "Transforming the Battle Fleet: Steering a Course Through Uncharted Waters."

[22]Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (London: Ashfield Press, 1976), p. 180.

[23]Ronald O'Rourke "Navy DD(X) and LCS Ship Acquisition Programs: Oversight Issues and Options for Congress," Congres­sional Research Service, September 3, 2004.

[24]George C. Wilson, "Remember the Cole and Reform the Military," National Journal, October 28, 2000.

[25]"Navy and Coast Guard officials agree that the Coast Guard should be the lead federal agency for maritime homeland secu­rity operations. The Coast Guard, they agree, is better suited in terms of equipment, training, linkages to civilian federal law-enforcement agencies, and its dual status as both an armed service and a law enforcement agency, to be the lead agency for maritime homeland security operations." Ronald O'Rourke, "Homeland Security: Navy Operations-Background and Issues for Congress," Congressional Research Service, May 17, 2004.

[26]Bennett, "Initial LCS Designs Expected to Meet Homeland Defense Requirements."


[28]"'Offensive power against a [gargantuan] foe is not where we are lacking,' Work said. Rather, the Navy needs a vessel for missions such as interdiction, searching vessels, boarding operations and the like. The LCS fills that bill, because 'it's going to spend 95 percent of its life doing [global war on terrorism] missions,' he said." Dave Ahearn, "Navy Needs Enough Ships, but Capability Is Key," Defense Today, December 20, 2004.

[29]This is not a new occurrence. In 1912, the Navy employed the scout cruisers USS Birmingham and USS Chester as the first U.S. ships to conduct what would become the International Ice Patrol after the RMS Titanic disaster. The Navy pulled out of the patrol for the next year because it needed both warships ready for service in Mexico and West Indian waters, and the mission devolved to the Coast Guard.

[30]"Some of the larger LCS designs under consideration could be scaled up and used as a basis for the new frigate. Alternatively, the national security cutter of the Coast Guard's Deepwater program is the size of a frigate-about 4,000 to 5,000 tons-and perhaps could be used as a basis for the Navy's frigate. However, the new frigate would require a substantially different com­bat system and payload than the national security cutter. In design, the frigate would need both a substantial payload to accomplish its multiple missions and long endurance. Consequently, the ship's maximum speed would have to be more in line with that of existing warships-about 30 knots-rather than with the goal of 50 or more knots for the LCS program. (In ship design, payload, endurance, and speed are traded off against one another. It is difficult to design a ship with high speed, long endurance, and a large payload. The LCS design favors speed at the expense of endurance and payload. The frig­ate envisioned in this option would have greater emphasis on payload and endurance than on speed.) Supporters of this option argue that the most likely maritime challenges that the United States and its allies will face include terrorism, drug smuggling, violations of economic sanctions, illegal immigration, and arms trafficking. The DDX, which appears to be designed for major wars, would be an exceptionally large and expensive ship to use for those missions. With a reported dis­placement of about 14,000 tons, the DDX would be larger than any other surface combatant in the Navy. The high cost of the ship appears to be driven by its large size to accommodate the features that make it difficult to detect and its two advanced gun systems-capabilities not particularly useful in the aforementioned missions." Congressional Budget Office, Budget Options Report, February 2005.

[31]Nathan Hodge, "Budget Office Report Outlines DD(X), LCS Alternatives," Defense Daily, February 23, 2005.

[32]Roxana Tiron, "Lack of Specificity in Navy Shipbuilding Plans Irks the Industry," National Defense, July 2004.

[33]There is precedent for such an initiative. On April 2, 1981, Admiral James D, Watkins, USN, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the Coast Guard Senate oversight com­mittee. He stated: "I believe this is the first appearance of a senior Navy officer before your committee. In retrospect, and considering our strong ties, this appearance is too long delayed. The appearance seems to me a most natural thing and an obvious extension of the basic relationship which exists between the Navy and the Coast Guard."

[34]In his 2005 Guidance, Admiral Clark directed the naval staff to "Develop a capabilities integration roadmap for the USN and USCG in support of the global war on terror."

[35]Other caucus members include Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY); Todd Akin (R-MO); Tom Allen (D-ME); Rodney Alexander (R-LA); Eric Cantor (R-VA); Randy Forbes (R-VA); Robin Hayes (R-NC); Maurice Hinchey (D-NY); David Hobson (R-OH); Rick Larsen (D-WA); Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ); James McGovern (D-MA); Mike McIntyre (D-NC); Chip Pickering (R-MS); Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD); Bobby Scott (D-VA); Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH); and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

[36]Robert A. Hamilton, "Navy's Chief of Operations Wants Faster, Smaller Fleet," New London Day, January 4, 2005.

[37]Ann Roosevelt, "Build a Force for the New Strategic Landscape, Not the Past, Clark Says," Defense Daily, January 12, 2005.

[38]Christopher P. Cavas, "New Missions to Rely on Sea Basing U.S. Navy Chief Says," Defense News, January 12, 2005.



Bruce Stubbs

F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy