Next Navy comments on why despite great support in Congress, the Coast Guard is still not getting full funding.
There are other reasons, but it is hard for our friends to advocate for full funding when essentially, we don’t know what full funding is.
The current “Program of Record” dates from 2004. The last Fleet Mix Analysis, which essentially only served to show, “Yes, we really do need the Program of Record and a lot more,” was done in 2011.
Much has changed.
- We are using the Webber class WPCs in ways not imagined in 2011.
- We still don’t have the land based UAS that were included in the Program of Record.
- Improved sensors and platforms, including unmanned air, surface, and subsurface are now available.
- The Coast Guard’s aviation fleet, both fixed wing and rotary are not what was envisioned in the Program of Record.
- The Navy’s own Maritime Domain Awareness capabilities have changed. Presumably they will share with the Coast Guard.
- Illegal Unregulated Unreported fishing has emerged as a national security threat.
- The Chinese have been using their Coast Guard to intimidate our friends and allies.
- Combatant Commanders are constantly seeking Coast Guard assistance in Capacity Building in their AORs.
In spite of these substantial changes, we have not changed our Program of Record in 17 years.
By contrast the US Navy publishes a new Fleet Plan almost annually.
Congress has repeatedly directed the Coast Guard to complete a new Fleet Mix Analysis, but they have yet to see anything beyond the one ten year old study. I don’t know who is to blame for this. Is it the Coast Guard, the Department, or the Administration(s)?
The Congress is apparently not satisfied with the frequency of Navy updates.
I think they are going to have to demand the Coast Guard present a regular report bypassing the Department.
There is no way we should go more than four years between rigorous analysis of our needs. It is essential for risk analysis by all concerned parties, the Coast Guard, the Department, the Administration, and the Congress.
Proceeding without analysis is just whistling in the dark.
I fail to see the logic of running to WPC on their own bottom across the Atlantic whereas shipping them deck cargo or a float on/off who save costs and wear and tear on the cutters.
They go thousands of miles in the Pacific on a single patrol. They are a lot bigger than the 82s or 110s that we have shipped previously. As to what the trade-offs were, I could not say. But I suspect it was considered.
If it were up to me I would keep the production line running hot for the WPC’s while we wait for a a Fleet Mix Analysis, even if the build rate was taken back a bit. We know these provide a lot of value and more could be utilized easily. While we are at it I would also keep the NSC production going. There are a lot of unknowns with the OPC as well as the Navy’s frigate program and the extra NSC’s will also prove valuable to countering China in the Pacific, especially in situations short of a full blown armed conflict. The NSC’s would be much better suited than say a DDG in this regard. There won’t be a huge cost difference (relatively speaking) between a late program NSC and an early program OPC, not to mention the delays we have already seen and the inevitable teeth cutting the OPC’s will need to go through.
We have options for additional Webber class, and there have been suggestions we need more in the Western and South Pacific, so that might happen, but don’t think NSC #12 has a chance of happening.
We really need to get the analysis done. If it has already been done, it needs to be published.
Here is a news release about the proposed legislation. https://www.wicker.senate.gov/2021/5/wicker-introduces-legislation-to-support-u-s-coast-guard