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.