Belatedly, I have taken a look at the July 6, 2018 edition of the Congressional Research Service’s Naval Expert, Ronald O’Rourke’s Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress. It was published less than seven weeks after the previous edition.
Thought perhaps a short review of the status of the three programs addressed might be welcome.
NSC: The program of record was eight ships, but eleven ships have been funded through FY2018. Six have been commissioned. One additional delivery is expected each year, 2018, 2019, 2020 and presumably 2021 and 2022. The Senate sub-committee has expressed its intention to procure a twelfth NSC, but the FY2019 budget request did not include funding for an addition NSC. FY2020 would not be too late to fund NSC#12 and keep the delivery schedule at one per year.
OPC: The program of record is for 25 ships. The First ship was funded in FY2018. The Second ship is in the FY2019 budget request along with long lead time items for OPC#3. If all contract options are exercised, we should see one ship delivered each year 2021, 2022, and 2023. Beginning in 2024 the program anticipates delivery of two ships per year. If they hold to that modest rate, as planned, the last OPC will not be delivered until at least 2033 at which time the newest 270 will be 42 years old. Also at that rate, the newest 210 will be 60 years old when presumably, the last of the class is replaced in 2029. (If you think keeping 40 and 50 year old cutters operational is challenging, wait until you try a 60 year old. Particularly since the Coast Guard plans no major life extension work on the 210s.)
FRC: The program of record is for 58 vessels. There is also a requirement for six more to replace the six Island class 110 foot cutters currently homeport in Bahrain as part of PATFORSWA, that are not included in the program of record. 50 Webber class have been funded through FY2018, with 28 currently in commission. Funding for four additional vessels was included in the FY2019 budget request. The Coast Guard is commissioning Webber class at the rate five vessels annually. The remaining 28 vessel will presumably be commissioned by 2024. Six additional for PATFORSWA would extend that through 2025. Apparently the Congress intends the DOD to fund the six that would go to FATFORSWA so presumably the last Coast Guard funding would be in the FY2020 budget.
If my understanding is correct, it is likely that major funding for the NSC and FRC programs will be complete in FY2020, the same year the third OPC should be funded. At some point, in the not too distant future, we will need to start the process of replacing the 87 foot WPBs, but hopefully we will find a way to accelerate the OPC procurement to something more than two a year.