“Coast Guard releases cutter videos, announces waterways commerce cutter webinar” –CG-9

USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315)

Below is an announcement about the Waterways Commerce Cutter program from the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9)


The Coast Guard waterways commerce cutter (WCC) program released two videos today showing layouts, operational footage and crew interviews from the river buoy and inland construction tenders in anticipation of the upcoming request for proposal (RFP) release.

The Coast Guard is recapitalizing its river, construction, and inland buoy tenders, which collectively average more than 55 years in age. The fleet is responsible for maintaining more than 28,200 marine aids throughout 12,000 miles of inland waterways, which move 630 million tons of cargo annually. Replacing the aging fleet is critical to sustaining the overall safety of the U.S. Marine Transportation System, which accounts for $5.4 trillion of economic activity annually and sustains approximately 30.7 million jobs.

The WCC program aims to inform industry members about the current inland tender fleet to help them better understand the mission need. This effort will help industry in creating better quality proposals for the upcoming RFP release for the river buoy and inland construction WCC variants. The RFP release is anticipated during spring 2021. The Coast Guard plans to acquire these two variants on a single contract, as these variants share significant commonalities except for their hull lengths and working deck layout and equipment.

The WCC program is inviting industry questions about these videos at wcc@uscg.mil. The program plans to address these questions and provide additional operational information in a 45-minute presentation during a virtual webinar held in cooperation with WorkBoat, scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern time Jan. 20, 2021. The final 15 minutes of the webinar will be reserved to answer any additional questions, with operations, engineering, logistics and contracting subject matter experts available to provide additional information.

Webinar registration is free and will be conducted through the WorkBoat site here. The presentation and question-and-answer information will be available on the WCC program webpage following the event.

For more information: Waterways Commerce Cutter program page. Additional resources and previous industry engagement materials can be located under the “Resources” tab at the bottom of the page.

4 thoughts on ““Coast Guard releases cutter videos, announces waterways commerce cutter webinar” –CG-9

  1. As the bean counters and admirals are clapping each other on their backs, don’t forget to have provisions in store to up-armor these Guardians of the inland transportation system to protect us from future Communist Chinese hordes infiltrating our country. Semper Paratus

    • I’m not opposed to the idea, but I wonder if there is a consistent refueling capability in place to support running these 30 vessels scattered across the country.
      I live in Jacksonville FL, and Crowley operates two ConRo ships that operate between JaxPort and San Juan PR. Crowley felt it necessary to have an LNG bunkering facility built in JAX to support the two ships operations..

  2. In looking at the “Black Hull Fleet,” I can’t help but think there is a missed opportunity for better efficiency. I like that they are consolidating the quilt-work hodge-podge of ATON tenders, but switching completely to unitary-hull vessels may not be ideal. This usually corresponds to deeper draft and poor beaching qualities, and these things inhibit the mission. Also, the two 140’ WTGBs with ATON barges are left out.

    If one looks at the WLRs, WLIs, and WLICs currently in service as unitary units with their barges (or without, for the current unitary hull vessels), the breakdown is:
    (11) 180’-190’ (yes, bigger than WLMs)
    (14) 159-170’
    (6) 143’
    (2) 100’
    (2) 65’ (used to be 3 of them)
    Most of these work the Western Rivers complex (Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio Rivers and their commerce supporting contributories like the Illinois and Tennessee), while most of the rest work the Intracoastal and nearby rivers and estuaries. One of the little 65 footers works SE Alaska.

    The two 140’ WTGBs with ATON barges work the Great Lakes, primarily switching out Summer aides and Winter aides, depending on the season.

    If the icebreaking tugs (both 140’ and 65’) with the ATON program (many of which overlap in their coverage areas – while some definitely do not), there is an opportunity to build two sizes of tug with appropriately shaped unitary hulls and one size of river tender which can replace all of the above types. The River Tender would be about 80’ and have the improved habitability requested in the videos. It would push either an ATON barge or Construction Barge and the length of barge could be adjusted for the area serviced. This would preserve shallow draft and easy beaching for shore aid servicing. The tug-replacing units would likewise have an ATON barge for their Summer operations, and this could be detached for Winter icebreaking. The smallest 65’ replacement would be unitary hull laid out for ATON, but with light icebreaking hull reinforcement. The other benefit to this is that many of the tugs in the NE are co-located where 64’ ANBs and 55’ BUSLs work, and the 65’ ATON tugs could replace several of these boats.

    Efficiency is key in a service which is constantly asked to do more with less…

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