Yesterday a report surfaced that OMB was recommending eliminating the Offshore Patrol Cutter Program. I don’t know how serious this threat is to the program. It might just be one of hundreds of line items that might be considered as ways to trim the budget. An OMB recommendation doesn’t necessarily reflect the intent of the President or the department. Certainly the Congress will also have something to say about it.
On the other hand, we know there will be serious attempts to reduce the budget shortfalls, so we can expect any high profile program to get looked at seriously. Within the Coast Guard, it doesn’t get any more high a profile than the OPC program. This is potentially the most expensive ship building program in our history.
We should expect a fight over this program. There are going to be many questions. Hopefully we will have the answers ready, because if this program is canceled, the character of the service will be changed radically, and the country will loose a vital capability.
- Why do we need them?
- What missions will not get done if the program is canceled?
- What can they do that you can’t do with the 154 ft Hero class fast response cutters (FRC)?
- Are those tasks worth doing?
- Why don’t we let the Navy provide the ships, and “You can just put a detachment on board to do law enforcement missions.”
- and our Senators and Representatives will ask, “What’s in it for my constituents?”
Even if the program is not canceled outright there will be questions about the choices made:
- Why do they need to be so big and complicated?
- Aren’t the current ships doing the job? Why can’s you build a simpler ship like the 210?
- Do you really need that many?
- Why don’t buy Littoral Combat Ships and get economies of scale?