U.S. Coast Guard photo ID: 100228-G-2129M-004, by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin Metcalf
Defensedaily.com is reporting that while the FY 2013 budget request would fund the sixth National Security Cutter, additional purchases would be delayed while the Department reevaluates its needs.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday that the reason for proposing a pause in the NSC program is due to budget constraints as well as examining how it fits with the Navy’s plans.
“We will look at [NSC’s] seven and eight in light of what the Navy is doing,” Napolitano told the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee during a hearing to examine her department’s budget request. “So we need to look at what the DoD is doing with respect to their own force lay down to see what we need to be putting in the acquisition pipeline.”
Presumably this ties in with the Navy’s review of their own programs.
It has been recognized for a long time that current plans would require a substantial increase in AC&I funding. The GAO has called the program of record “unachievable.”
While I certainly applaud coordination with DOD, this could mean a lot of different things.
Will the Navy try to move the Littoral Combat Ship program to the CG as replacement for the OPC?
Will the Navy try to avoid cutting their building programs further by suggesting that the CG does not need large ships for drug enforcement because they will supply platforms for CG boarding teams? or
This might not be so bad. When Under Secretary of the Navy Robert O. Work discusses American Sea Power, he almost never fails to mention the contribution of the Coast Guard. Perhaps some additional thought will go into how possible military roles should be reflected in the requirements for Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC), Icebreakers, and other assets.
An OPC that reflects military requirements would almost certainly be larger and more capable than one designed only to meet peacetime requirements that might otherwise have been forced on the CG in an austere budget climate. Those greater capabilities probably would also make it a more capable CG asset in peacetime.
The differences might include a larger hull, more speed, better aviation facilities, and better communications and sensors, possibly including a towed array that would be useful for detecting drug subs (both true subs and self propelled semi-submersibles).
Its not clear yet, if this is a disaster or an opportunity. Perhaps a new way of justifying CG assets will come out of this, and the government will see that putting money in the CG is a sound investment.