The US Naval Institute reports on the Commandant’s remarks at the Surface Navy Association Symposium.
There did not seem to be any surprises. The Commandant’s messaging has been very consistent. He did spend some time discussing the Coast Guard growing role in international affairs.
“Well, I think we really play a key role in shaping the diction of global maritime security, global maritime safety, and I suspect navies around the world are recognizing that the language and purpose of coast guards are well supported to their interests and their sovereign interests. And that’s why we’re adapting our operations abroad,” Schultz said.
There was discussion about the recapitalization of the fleet, which the Commandant called the Coast Guard’s “largest shipbuilding period since World War II.” The cost of the contracts has been unprecedented and the 34 year time span from acceptance of the “Program of Record” in 2004 until its projected completion in 2038 must be some kind of record. The FRC program has certainly been a success, but aside from them, we have only delivered the nine National Security Cutters in the almost fourteen years since Bertholf was commissioned. This does not look that intense compared to the nine-year period from 1964 to 1972 when the Coast Guard commissioned 28 major ships–12 WHEC378s and 16 WMEC210s–along with 35 WPBs.
By the time we expect to get the last OPC, the first NSC will be 30 years old. We need to change our mind set and that of Congress. If we are to maintain a fleet of 72 major ships, i.e. 36 Offshore Patrol Vessels, six icebreakers, and 30 seagoing and coastal buoy tenders, and I don’t think that is really enough, and we are to replace them in a timely fashion, building two ships a year needs to be the norm, not the exception.
We are not building at a high tempo; if anything, we are building too slow.