CG Seeks Alternatives for FRC Construction

Coulton Company’s Maritime Memos brought to my attention that the Coast Guard is looking at the possibility of constructing future FRCs at yards other than Bollinger. They have issued an Request For Information (RFI).

“Background: The Fast Response Cutter (FRC)/SENTINEL Class Phase I contract was awarded in September 2008 to Bollinger Shipyards Incorporated for a lead ship and up to 33 additional hulls. The U.S. Coast Guard is currently conducting market research for the FRC/SENTINEL Class re-procurement. The FRC/SENTINEL Class Phase II acquisition will complete the fleet of 58 cutters by acquiring additional hulls.

“Objective: The U.S. Coast Guard invites U.S. shipyards to participate in one-on-one meetings with the FRC Project Manager and staff (FAR 15.201(c)(4)). At this time, the U.S. Coast Guard is interested in meeting only with U.S. shipyards that have the organic capability to design and construct cutters of the FRC’s complexity as described in the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2007 Request for Proposal (RFP): (http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/sentinel/pdf/frcbrfp.pdf).

“These meetings will be held in the Washington, DC area and are tentatively planned to begin on October 11, 2011. The U.S. Coast Guard will brief all potential offerors on the current status of the reprocurement, to include the FRC’s existing operational requirements and the potential acquisition strategies under consideration for the Phase II reprocurement.”

This could go in at least two different directions.

The Coast Guard has options with Bollinger for additional cutters up to a total of 34, but they are not contractually committed to continue exclusively with Bollinger. Since Bollinger is under contract to provide the design package for the Webber Class, the Coast Guard could invite yards to bid competitively to build additional Webber Class.

On the other hand the RFI specifically states, “…the U.S. Coast Guard is interested in meeting only with U.S. shipyards that have the organic capability to design and construct cutters of the FRC’s complexity as described in the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2007 Request for Proposal (RFP).” So it appears that they may also consider other designs that meet the original design requirements.

There is also the very slim possibility that the Coast Guard could build a high-low mix of two different designs in different yards at a rate of more than six vessels a year if it could be sold as a stimulus program.

Related: Fast Response Cutter Alternative? FRC-A? and FRC Alternative?

28 thoughts on “CG Seeks Alternatives for FRC Construction

  1. It would be nice if Bath Iron Works shipyard would bid on the last three NCS cutters .I think they would do a better job then Ingalls shipyard.

      • I want to third this thought. GRC43 is fantastic and deserves a shot head-to-head if the Guard really is going to look beyond the Webbers.

      • The question is, can they meet the performance specification and do it significantly cheaper than the Webber Class?

        Additionally, will the Coast Guard relax their parent craft requirement as spelled out in the original specification? It appears neither of the vessels I talked about in the related articles would meet those. On the other hand the Webber Class was extensively modified from its “parent craft.” More power, different propellers, more water tight bulkheads. In many ways they were very different.

        The thing that might drive this is of course the cost of the Webber Class. The price in the FY2012 budget request was about $360M for six vessels. At last report the FRC program was 32% over it’s 2007 approved baseline. (http://cgblog.org/2011/08/11/deepwater-program-unachievable-gao-part-two/) On the other hand, the vessel bought for the Lebanese Navy under FMS referred to here (http://cgblog.org/2011/01/18/fast-response-cutter-alternative-frc-a/) and in the post, cost about half that. I really think the CG had to have been surprised when the 110 replacement ended up being three times as large as the boat it will replace.

        Perhaps builders like Westport that have built a demonstrator, should follow DCNS’s example and loan an example to the CG to prove their worth. DCNS has loaned an Offshore Patrol Vessel, L’Adroit, to the French Navy for evaluation. (http://frontierindia.net/indiandefence/gowind-opv-l-adroit-began-its-first-sea-trials-on-wednesday-27-july/)

  2. Oh Yeah! How many Zumwalt DDX 1000 will BIW get to build two or maybe three, if they are lucky. But their is a very good chance that they and or Ingalls will build Zero. Since the Navy CGX program has been cancel, and that took away the main reason for building the three Zumwalt. If the Sectary of the Navy cancel Zumwalt DDX 1000. That will save the Navy 10 to 15 billions dollars, at less. I am sure that there is a couple of senators from the state of Maine will be very unhappy. But thats live!

      • It maybe something that the US Coast Guard can consider as a FRC alternative. It’s right now being built for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Maybe the US Coast Guard can look at getting a modified version of the Cape class patrol boat. It could be used for Hawaii or Guam based US Coast Guard Units.

      • Chuck,
        I’m all for bigger is better and more off the shelf technology. Even make a ship that has room to expand with the ever changing technology and new advances.

        As for the Cape Class patrol Boat that the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is getting, maybe we can get an armed version at that length.

    • We are not. As usual the amateurs and non-Coasties here think they somehow are more qualified than the entire CG-7 and CG-9 staff though.

  3. Patrick you are so right! Why don’t we wait until the Webber is commission, and see how it performers before we throw it under the bus.

    • I don’t think anyone is throwing it under the bus. What I expected to happen was the first alternative, a competitive bid to build Webbers. I was surprised at the way the solicitation was phrased, but I can see why the Coast Guard might want to at least look at cheaper alternatives as options in what is obviously going to be a fiscally constrained environment. Not to look would probably be irresponsible. That does not mean they won’t decide in the end, Webbers are the way to go. Even if you are going to argue that Webbers are the best of all possible solutions, it helps to be able to say you took another look at the alternatives.

      • Who are you to judge anyone with more experience than yourself?

        Unless you are actually in the CG or work for us, you have no options have or have not been discussed. We do recognize that your knowledge on these subjects is limited by your own preconceived notions and personal biases, which is why these issues are left in the hands of acquisition professionals who are certified by DOD.

        While you are more than welcome to whine all day about it, it falls in the same general category as fans griping about the managers of sports teams.

  4. I was just interested because I am not a ship designer so I can’t look at the specs and see what is wrong. That was not my experience in the Coast Guard. But I hope like any new system they are critical of the first few so the next one gets better and better.

    • My last was addressed to “Nobody Important.” I think the Webber class are going to be great ships. Looking at alternatives is a good sign that the CG does not have its head up where the sun don’t shine, and is not being lead around by the nose like they were during the early history of “Deepwater.”

      • All great points. My concern would be unless a ship design is much better then it would be more expensive to split the designs in half. Through my concern like yours now is what will the OPC become? Will in make it through all the cost cutting. And what can the Coast Guard do to avoid being cut to much.

  5. This next thing I am going to talked about is not about the FRC but. I have found out the Japan Coast Guard is planning on acquiring 22 new ships for it service. At less 8 will be in the 1000 tons range. Also 2 maybe 3 will be helicopter class ships about 6500 tons each. They are to replace ships that are consider too old. Ships that were build around the 1980’s and 1990’s. Hmmm! Just a thought for all you people who thinks a 4500 tons cutter is simple to big of a ship for the good old US Coast Guard.

    • The Japanese tend to replace their ships very early. For a very long time they built one submarine a year and decommissioned the one that had reached 16 years old. Their fleet of cutters is larger then ours; they also tend to build fast ships in the 1,000-2,000 ton class. Their ships do trend to look like they are built more like merchant or fishing vessels rather than being built to “warship” standards.

  6. Significantly, they (JPN) have a very deliberate planning and aquisition process for Naval Force Planning supporting an actual strategy.
    See “A New Carrier Race? Strategy, Force Planning, and JS Hyuga”
    http://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Review/2011—Summer.aspx

    I’ll leave it to the moderator to seperate this out for a new thread but perhaps focused discussion on strategy and force planning would spark some ideas on support of the CGs Fleet Mix. Additionally, See the AUG Proceedings (CG Issue) and the recently (Chuch Hill) referenced Navy Times article. Several articles and the COMDT’s interview lay out what the CG envisions using NSC/OPC/FRC type vessels for.

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