How Does the Program of Record Compare to Historic Fleets

 The U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722) heads out to sea from its home port in Alameda, California (USA), passing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722) heads out to sea from its home port in Alameda, California (USA), passing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

A question from a reader prompted me to look at how the “Program of Record” (POR) compares with Coast Guard patrol fleets of the past.

The program of record is
8 NSCs
25 OPCs
58 FRCs

91 vessels total

1990: Looking back at the “Combat Fleets of the World 1990/1991” the Fleet was:
12 WHEC 378′
32 WMECs (16×210′, 10×270′ (three building), Storis, 3×213′, 3×205′)
34 WPB 110′ (plus 15 building)
3 WSES 110′ surface effects ships
4 WPB 95′
85 vessels total
(There were also five Aerostat Radar Balloon tenders.)
2000: “The Combat Fleets of the World 2000-2001” showed
12 WHEC 378′
32 WMEC (13×270′, 16×210′, Alex Haley, Storis, Acushnet)
49 WPB 110′
93 vessels total.
2013: “The Combat Fleets of the World, 16th Edition,” copyright 2013 listed:
3 NSCs
8 WHEC 378′
28 WMEC (13×270′, 14×210′, Alex Haley)
4 FRCs
41 WPB 110′
84 vessels total
Comparing the Program of Record (plus NSC #9) to the fleet of 2000: You can look at it this way,
  • 9 NSCs and 3 OPCs is more than adequate replacement for the 12 WHEC 378s
  • 49 of the FRCs is more than adequate replacement for 49 WPB 110s (and we have only had 41 anyway since the WPB 123 screw up)
  • That leaves 22 OPCs and 9 FRCs to cover for the 32 WMECs.
I think we would all be pretty happy, if we had the Program of Record fleet in place right now. It really would be a substantial improvement, but while the NSCs and the FRCs are well on the way, the first of the long-delayed OPCs will not be delivered until 2021, and, if everything goes according to plan, the last probably not before 2034, at which time even the newest 270 will be 44 years old. A lot can happen between now and then.
The 2000 fleet was, I believe, the benchmark against which the program of record was measured in the Fleet Mix Study. By 2013 we were already down nine vessels. By my estimate, by the time the last 210 is replaced it will probably be 60 years old. That is expecting a lot. Can we possibly expect that none of these ships will become unserviceable before they are replaced? Building no more than two OPCs a year is really too slow. Once the first ship is built, tested, and approved for full rate production, we should accelerate construction to the maximum. That can’t happen until at least FY2022, probably FY 2023.
By the end of FY2022 we should have already funded 7 ships. The remaining 18 would take nine years, if we buy them at the currently projected schedule. Instead we could fund the entire remaining program from FY2023-2027 by doing a single Multi-Year Procurement of 18 ships. If Eastern alone could not do it, Marinette, which like the designer VARD, is also a Fincantieri company, would probably be more than willing to build an additional couple a year, particularly if the Navy stops building Freedom class LCS/frigates.
We could have the program complete by FY2030, four years early.
Thanks to Peter for initiating this line of thought. 

USCGC Citrus (WMEC-300), USCG photo


USCGC Storis WMEC-38)

USCGC Acushnet

USCGC Acushnet (WMEC-167), USCG photo


6 thoughts on “How Does the Program of Record Compare to Historic Fleets

      • I don’t think Eastern could gear up for 3 quickly, even 2 is going to be a challenge. How does it work as far as building classes at different yards?

        I know they do it for Burkes, and I know they have some cooperative arrangement between Newport and Electric Boat. But the USCG doesn’t own this design, do they? Could they stipulate that another yard is going to build these as well?

        I was thinking about the budget primarily, but I’m also curious how the business side of the contract could be worked out among multiple yards.

        I think USCG shipbuilding budgets are going to go way up because of Trump, and politics is the process of deciding who gets what, when, and how.

        For instance there is zero chance, absolutely zero, of the Marinnette yard not getting more orders in the next four years, given Wisconsins importance in the electoral college and Ryan and Priebus’ positions. The Gulf states have their own political pull too though.

        It will be interesting to watch this play out the next few years.

      • I think the Coast Guard will own the design, just as we own the design for the Webber class FRC. .

        The 270 buy was split, the first four being built by Tacoma Boat and the last nine by Derecktor.

        210s were built in four different yards.

        I would not be too surprised if Eastern were able to expand to build four a year over the several years it would take to get to that point. They could also subcontract Marinette since they have an association through Fincantieri. and VARD.

        On the other hand we might compete yards for follow on ships. So far Eastern has only a contract to complete the design and build the first ship. The follow on years are options the Coast Guard has not yet committed to.

        Marinette is in a good position to build these if they loose the contract for more Navy LCS/frigates.

        There was a lot of competition for the contract, There could also be a lot of competion for follow-on ships.

        We really ought to be looking at getting bids on a multi-year contract once the initial ship has been tested.

  1. If they wanted to get the OPCs that fast, they would have awarded it to a 1st tier yard and gotten permission from Congress for a mutli-year procurement. Bath or Ingalls could have busting this out very quickly.

    Right now, Ingalls has 7 hulls across 3 different designs in the water with many more on the land based ways. See

    They didn’t do either of those, so they must be happy with them trickling in to the fleet for the next 25 years.

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