Only been six weeks after the issuance of “Dec. 14, 2015 Congressional Research Service report, Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” there was already a 27 January, 2016 update, but this one is very different, because it incorporates the content of the FY2016 Appropriations Act which the President is expected to sign. Hopefully this marks a turning point in Coast Guard Procurement.
There is a nice summary of how the budget battle developed in Table 7. “Summary of Appropriations Action on FY2016” on page 28. The biggest part of the jump from request to Appropriation was $640M for a ninth Bertholf Class, but there were other increases in both the OPC and NSC programs.
- The NSC program went from a request for $91.4M to a final figure of $743.4M. A delta of $653M
- The OPC program from a request for $18.5M to $89.0M permitting the award of the OPC down select contract in FY2016.
- The FRC program began and ended as $340.0M (six more boats, a total of 38 funded through FY2016).
- The TOTAL for all three programs went from 4449.9M to $1,172.4M
It does look like we have some friends on both sides of the aisle in Congress.
There are some significant provisions in the bill, that should change the way the Coast Guard does business and reports to the Congress.
- There is a requirement for long range acquisition planning. They did not quite go to 30 years as the Navy has done, but to 20 years.(p.34 &37)
- There is a requirement to track operational ship days as opposed to Days Away From Homeport which may include maintenance as well as operations. (p. 37)
- There is a 10 year requirement to maintain a continuous ship presence in the Bering Sea and Arctic using ships at least as capable as the ones currently used. (p.30).
The Congress did seem to take the service to task for being slow in completing evaluation and implementation of the Crew Rotation Concept (CRC) and Unmanned Air Systems.
The Congressional Research Service also questions why the Coast Guard has not attempted to take advantage of the potential estimated 7% saving that typically result from Multiyear and/or Block Buy contracting. I have been wondering about this for some time myself, especially with regard to the Webber Class Fast Response Cutters which are a mature, proven program approved for full rate production. (p. 20)
A two year authorization is now on the way to the President’s desk, and there is little reason to expect he will not sign it. You can find the bill here.
It looks, good, but it is not a budget. We will have to wait and see.
It does include provision to begin planning for new polar and Great Lakes icebreakers.
Perhaps most notably it includes a near $2B AC&I budget for 2017 as well as 2016. Hopefully that will hold up.
“For the acquisition, construction, renovation, and improvement of aids to navigation, shore facilities, vessels, and aircraft, including equipment related thereto, and for maintenance, rehabilitation, lease, and operation of facilities and equipment—
(A) $1,945,000,000 for fiscal year 2016; and
(B) $1,945,000,000 for fiscal year 2017.”
NavalToday reports the Saudis are having 15 patrol boats built in Germany by boat builder Lürssen, famous for building missile and torpedo boats.
“German naval shipyard Lürssen has started construction of the 15 patrol vessels for Saudi Arabia under the €1.5 billion (approx $1.63b) contract despite of talks (sic) about cancelling the deal amidst the Middle Eastern country’s public executions early January 2016.”
That is about $109M each for craft of 35 and 38 meters. Our Webber class are 47 meters in length and cost typically $60M. Maybe not a bad deal.
Incidentally, these do not appear to be the 20 to 24 patrol boats 40 to 45 meters in length, discussed earlier as part of the Saudi Naval Modernization.
It now seems obvious that Unmanned Systems (air and possibly surface and subsurface) will play a part in the Coast Guard’s future, but the service has been, perhaps understandably hesitant to commit to any particular system.
Because of the variety of proprietary systems, integrating the control systems into the organization of the controlling unit, particularly ships and aircraft, and then integrating the resulting information into a common operating picture has been problematic.
Eaglespeak reports, it looks like DOD, through the Office of Naval Research, is moving in the direction of a platform agnostic software application that will permit common hardware to control different unmanned system.
This might permit Coast Guard units which commonly control small unmanned aicraft (sUAS) to be quickly adapted to
- Control a much more capable UAS.
- Hunt for mines using unmanned surface (USV) or subsurface (UUV) systems.
- Control optionally manned surface craft to search for smugglers or enhance asset protection.
- Control UUVs towing acoustic arrays, searching for submarines.
- Direct a USV equipped with AIS, lights, and signals into position to serve as a temporary aid-to-navigation.
The US Naval Institute has republished the Jan. 15, 2016 Congressional Research Service report, “Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress.”
I can only presume that this is now a hot topic because this is an update of a document that was previously updated April 22, 2015 and again Sept. 25, 2015.
Navy Recognition reports on an improved Electro-Optic system evolved from one currently on the National Security Cutters.