“Heart of the Service” Seapower Magazine Report on Inland Fleet Recapitalization

USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315)

Seapower Magazine has a report on efforts to recapitalize the Inland Fleet of tenders. You can read it on line here. It may be hard to read when it comes up, but there is a “slide” at the bottom of the page that allows you to make the text larger.

It seems the Congress has appropriated more money than we expected, $26M. Its not really a lot, maybe not even enough to buy the first new inland tender. I think they are expected to cost about $25M apiece and the first is always more expensive.

It almost seems we are complaining. “Its five year money, so unless you have a plan to spend it, it is hard. It is also a signal to get moving quicker on this.” I am sure Commander Boda is saying it is hard to optimize and get the most out of it,  but there have been studies of how best to replace these during the previous decade including a joint study with the Army Corps of Engineers, and I believe one at the Academy. There is almost certainly a backlog of maintenance, and we have five years to spend this money on a ship type that is not really that complicated. Come on guys, don’t tell the world you don’t know how you will manage to spend this little bit of money, we will certainly find a good use for it.

A request for information for a solution to our inland cutter needs went out Feb. 14, 2018. If we fund the first new tender by FY2023 presumably we will not see the new ship before 2024 with the Smilax will be 80 years old and the fleet average 61 years old. We are supposed to be flexible. We cannot say, “We did not see this coming.”

This reminds me of when Congress appropriated money for the ninth NSC and the press started quoting a warrant officer that the Coast Guard did not want or need it. We should never give the impression that we can’t use more money.

2 thoughts on ““Heart of the Service” Seapower Magazine Report on Inland Fleet Recapitalization

  1. Considering these are tow boats with a construction barge (I know, they have special GPS and peculiar storage and handling equipment for the specialized ATON devices), isn’t this a classic case for COTS procurement? How hard (and expensive) does this need to be??

  2. Press Release, celebration of Cutter Smilax’s 75 years of service:

    Media Advisory

    U.S. Coast Guard 5th District Mid-Atlantic
    Contact: 5th District Public Affairs
    Office: (757) 398-6272
    After Hours: (757) 434-7712
    5th District online newsroom
    Coast Guard celebrates Cutter Smilax’s 75 years of service

    WHO: Rear Adm. Keith Smith, Fifth District Commander, the commanding officer and crew of the cutter.
    WHAT: A ceremony commemorating the cutter’s 75 years of service. Media are invited to attend and conduct interviews.
    WHEN: 10 a.m., November 1, 2019.
    WHERE: Coast Guard Sector Field Office Fort Macon, 2301 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, N.C. 28516
    Editor’s note: Media are requested to attend an hour in advance with media credentials readily available.
    FORT MACON, N.C. – The Coast Guard will be holding a ceremony commemorating the Coast Guard Cutter Smilax’s 75 years of service and dedication Friday morning at Coast Guard Sector Field Office Fort Macon, North Carolina.
    Smilax is the “Queen of the Fleet”, a title held only by the oldest commissioned cutter in the Coast Guard in active service. The Coast Guard Cutter Smilax is a 100-foot construction tender with an attached 86-foot barge. Commissioned November 1, 1944, five months after Allied forces had landed on the beaches of Normandy, the Smilax has been instrumental in many of the Coast Guard’s missions over the years, including several notable search and rescue cases.
    During Hurricane Florence, Smilax was the first cutter on scene following the storm. Within two weeks, the Smilax had corrected 80% of the aids to navigations damaged or moved by Florence, which helped to re-open critical ports for commerce and military assets in the eastern North Carolina area.
    Homeported in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, Smilax is responsible for 1,325 fixed and 26 floating aids to navigations. These aids mark the waterways around the shores on the North Carolina outer banks, ensuring that vessel traffic can safely navigate the constantly shifting shoals of the areas Smilax maintains.
    Media may RSVP to the event by contacting Coast Guard Public Affairs at 757-434-7712 or d5de@uscg.mil.

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