Document Alert: Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress

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Photo: USCGC Steadfast, one of the newer 210 class, now about 48 years old. We don’t expect her replacement for at least another ten years.

The US Naval Institute has published the Congressional Research Services latest version of Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, by their Naval Affairs Specialist, the ever prolific Ronald O’Rourke.

It is not quite up to date, because it does not reflect funding for a ninth National Security Cutter, but otherwise it nicely defines the issues the program has been faced with, most notably inadequate funding.

It also raises the question, should multi-year or block buy funding, with its potential for substantial savings, be pursued? We really should be doing this for the Webber class, which is a proven, mature design, approved for full rate production. In fact, we should have been doing this for a couple of years now.

The thing I found most disturbing was that the first Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) will not be funded until FY2018, although it looks like the detail design will be funded in FY2017. I am beginning to wonder if we will see the first OPC before 2022.

The FY2016 budget was a pleasant surprise with the addition of funds to build a ninth National Security Cutter. If this near $2B funding level is seen as a new norm (as I would hope) there will be room in the FY2017 budget for another major acquisition. It might be a tenth NSC. That would not be an altogether bad thing, but it would be outside the needs identified in the Fleet Mix Study. Unless another major project is injected into the FY2017 budget, we will loose the momentum for a larger AC&I budget.

If the FY2017 NSC, OPC, and FRC funding is as indicated in the document (see pdf page 14, marked at page 10), most of the shipbuilding funds will go for what looks like five or six more Webber class. There are smaller amounts for the OPC and NSC programs for a total of only $557M. There may, however, be the opportunity to fund a big part of the new polar icebreaker, as the Commandant has suggested, if the AC&I budget remains at least equal to the FY2016 level.

12 thoughts on “Document Alert: Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress

  1. As an aside have you seen this from STX?

    I can’t for the life of me remember if I have seen this before or not. It is like a Visby on sterioids. There are just too many concepts out there to keep track of………

    • Haven’t seen this one, but there are a couple of things I do not like about it. With those sliding flight deck sections extending over the side of the ship, they are almost certain to get slapped by a wave. Looks like a huge corrosion problem in the making.

      I also do not like the idea of launching a boat via the crane that far aft. They will experience a lot of vertical acceleration as the ship pitches, and it is awfully close to the screws.

      • Well the French company is obviously going for a stealthy design. I man pretty sure there would be a less elegant design for the sliding hatch covers in the end state?
        I cannot see a problem with launching boats by monorail overhead gantries. The trick is in single lift points and the right kind of quick release systems. One does not L&R a RHIB at above 5 knots.

        All and all, there are MANY systems on this 90 m, 2500 ton corvette to admire.

    • Lee, my objection to the boat launch was not about how it was launched, but about the fact that they put it so far aft. When using davits, I am sure you would agree that putting the davits near the center of pitch is better because then you minimize vertical accelerations that result from the ship pitching.

  2. Pingback: Document Alert: Jan.27, 2016 Congressional Research Service report, Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  3. I wonder what the chances are of getting a 10th NSC, if not a few more. I feel that the 9th NCS should be the start of Flight 2.

    • I think there is a good possibility of NSC#10 since it could be included in the FY2017 AC&I budget without exceeding the 2016 AC&I and Huntington Ingalls still has clout. After 2017 additional NSCs would be difficult as we would also be funding OPCs.

      I would not expect any changes to the design.

      Something to watch for is completion of a new Fleet Mix Study.

      • i would have to disagree about changes to design. by the time #9 is laid down wmsl-750 will have already been in service for 10 years. I think they will use #9 to create a blueprint for NSC upgrade, and to test it out.Or if Huntington has clout will use #9 to create an wartime cutter to show off for other customers that are looking for a non LCS ship. I feel they should create a wartime configured OPC for the same reason. Dose it need the latest and greatest equipment, no. But i feel customers want to know what a Patrol Frigate, or OPC equivalent is truly capable of before they commit.

        Just my opinion,

  4. Funding would happen during the lame duck after November, right? If so, then I think the chance of a 10th NSC is pretty high.

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