The Commandant has been good enough to answer three more of our questions, and we expect to hear more in the near future. Today we hear more about the National Security Cutter (NSC).
Will the Coast Guard implement the National Security Cutter multi-crewing plan referred to as the Crew Rotation Concept? Has the concept been adequately tested? If the plan is workable, would it be implemented on smaller vessels?
Current plans are to implement the Crew Rotation Concept on the National Security Cutters. Thorough testing will be required to ensure that return on investment forecasts are correct, and the Coast Guard will make adjustments as needed. Validated studies of Navy efforts conducted by Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office have shown that success requires proper planning and infrastructure to succeed. The Coast Guard has received funding in support of the Crew Rotation Concept, and is nearing the point where testing of the concept can begin.
The Coast Guard continues to build National Security Cutters at the rate of one a year, while the average age of the large cutter fleet continues to increase. Is there any chance of increasing the rate at which ships are replaced?
It is imperative that the Coast Guard recapitalize its aging surface fleet. While we would like to equip Coast Guard men and women with the latest equipment as quickly as possible, schedule acceleration is not free and complex acquisitions such as the National Security Cutter, Offshore Patrol Cutter and Fast Response Cutter take time to execute properly. We are also in a period when all federal agencies are being asked to put even greater emphasis on good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. The Coast Guard has developed acquisition plans that balance our needs for not only surface assets, but aviation and C4ISR.
Is the National Security Cutter significantly more capable than the Offshore Patrol Cutter as currently envisioned?
The National Security Cutter is built for more distant operations where logistics and other support are not as readily available and where its extended presence capability and endurance can be brought to bear. It is particularly suited for extended operations in the Western and Eastern Pacific, as a force component of a Naval Battle Group, or when the mission requires persistent command and control of multiple interagency assets during a major event. With lesser endurance, speed, and seakeeping capabilities than a National Security Cutter, the Offshore Patrol Cutter will operate
primarily within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. The National Security Cutter will have the higher speed and capabilities necessary to respond in time when distance and sea state would preclude the use of the Offshore Patrol Cutter.
The Offshore Patrol Cutter will have the space, weight and power for the Sensitive, Classified, Information Facilities allowing for potential future outfitting of capabilities that employ Ship’s Signals Exploitation Equipment. The National Security Cutter is delivered with a fully operational Sensitive, Classified Information Facility.