“Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, October 11, 2019

Busy as always, the Congressional Research Service has already updated their examination of the Coast Guard’s cutter procurement program to reflect the results of the contract relief extended to Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) and the intention to re-compete for contracts to construct OPC#5 and later. You can see the new report here. 

Significant changes are found on pages 8-10 under the title “October 2019 Announcement of Contractual Relief and Follow-on Competition,” and pages 13-15 under the title “Issues for Congress–Contractual Relief and Follow-on Competition for OPC Program.”

Delays in the execution of the OPC program might be seen as justification for NSC#12 particularly if it is seen as a trade-off for a future OPC.

Not new to this edition, but looking at “Table 1. NSC, OPC, and FRC Funding in FY2013-FY2020 Budget Submissions” on page 13, raises a question about how many Webber class FRCs are to be built. The Program of Record is 58, but this did not include replacements for the six vessels assigned to Patrol Forces SW Asia. Adding six for PATFORSWA should bring the total to 64. So far 56 Webber class have been funded, including four to replace 110 foot patrol boats assigned PATFORSWA. There is $140M in the FY 2020 budget request, which would fund two more, but there are insufficient funds in the out years to fund even a single additional FRC. This appears to mean the program will end with a total of 58 vessels unless Congress steps in.

 

14 thoughts on ““Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, October 11, 2019

    • Not impossible that the Congress could put it in the Navy’s budget. More likely Congress will add ships to the Coast Guard’s budget as they have done several times before.

      • The Navy should put it IN the budget they submit to the Congress. It might show up in the OCO portion?

      • Chuck, what’s the likelihood that the Coast Guard brings in another yard to build the same OPC design vs a design proposed by that other yard. Memory has it that Bollinger and BIW were the finalists. How inclined would they be to build the Eastern Shipbuilding design?

      • @DaSaint, It seems likely there will be several yards that will want to build the ships. Don’t think most would mind building the current design, because design and building are frequently done by different organizations. Really it is a Coast Guard decision whether they will accept other designs or only the current design. I would suspect allowing a different design would add another year to the process, because they have not yet gone through the detail design process.

  1. 58 ships is a good run. Post that 58 ship run, perhaps prepare for something just a bit larger than the FRCs, with better endurance and better aviation support.

    Something kitted out to the same level as the FRCs but just a bit larger.

  2. “Limited Relief” equals “extraordinary” government bailout. It seems the USCG and DHS are the only groups of people on the planet that DIDN’T know that program was woefully underbid. Hurricane Michael took place over a year ago and it takes DHS and the USCG a year to decide that the OPC is vital to National Security Interests in order? Don’t get me wrong the panhandle was severely devastated which is something I am intimately familiar about having survived hurricanes Camille and Katrina. Why did it take until June 30th of this year to file for this “extraordinary” relief using an exemption that the CG has probably never ever granted or maybe not even requested of in the history of their shipbuilding programs? This national security route was dreamed up only after Senator Rubio’s repeated attempts to get bail out money through his congressional actions and the lack of support by his colleagues. The CG also announced OPC would be rebid with up to 4 ships going to the incumbent yard. Rubio’s office announcement of the bail out basically said that this bail out would give his shipyard a competitive advantage during the re-compete process. This “leg up” competitive advantage is about the only thing the government can be assured of.

    When the amount of bail out and delay awarded is finally announced publicly the numbers will be staggering and very likely in the 100s of millions not a paltry few million dollars of “limited relief”. If the shipyard had even started cutting steel at the time of Michael, it was only barely. How can these numbers be justified? Talk about the fleecing of the taxpayers.

    In full disclosure, I do work for a competing shipyard that lost out on the supposed fair competitive OPC contract. Also in full disclosure, my family and I did also spend 28 years of sacrifice in active duty service onboard ships and at shipyards building cutters and overseeing construction of them for the men and women of the USCG and just as importantly the American taxpayer.

    There are lots of good folks in the panhandle and at the site of the OPC construction (I know many of them) but there are also a lot of good folks in Maine and Louisiana that weren’t given a fair shake at this competition. Michael is an excuse for the bail out don’t let DHS convince you otherwise. There are also great men and women in the UCCG that deserve the best tools that we the taxpayers can give them at a “fair” price.

    I also know several folks in the USCG that were likely part of this decision undoubtedly. I hope like hell they were over ruled in this process by an administration that hopes to gain Florida votes in the 2020 election. This would be the only scenario that makes any sense. I also find it very interesting that acting DHS secretary resigned the same day the bail out was announced. I hope he also did that in protest of this decision because the decision doesn’t pass the straight face test. I wonder how long it will take to publicly announce the length of time the shipyard was given as well as the amount of the hand out.

    Mark E. Matta, Commander, USCG retired.

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