A Case for Propeller Guards & Cutters–Marine Link

Having had a towing hawser foul a prop shaft once, I found this post from MarineLink very interesting.

We don’t do as much towing as we used to, but it is still an important and frequently used skill. Getting a line in the screws is never a good idea, but it happens. There is also the danger of running afoul of a drift net. This offers a possible cure for the problem.

More on the FY2019 Budget—and—Killing the Crew Rotation Concept?

NSC 5 James on builders trials in the Gulf of Mexico March 30, 2015.

Homeland Security Today gives us the best summary of the proposed Coast Guard budget, and it had an interesting small item.

$32 million in savings associated with the elimination of the Crew Rotation Concept (CRC) pilot program, which standardizes NSC fleet operations and avoids costly and ineffective implementations in two other NSC homeports.

I presume this means they will close down the multiple crewing experiment in Alameda (looks like a nice building) and make no attempt to implement it in Charleston and Honolulu.

I’ve been arguing against this for almost eight years. Its nice to see sanity prevail. Certainly the provision of more Bertholf Class cutter has helped make this more acceptable.

Request for Proposal for Up to Three Icebreakers

USCGC Polar Star will be 47 years old by the time we see a replacement. USCGC photo.

The Navy has issued a Request for Proposal with options for up to three heavy polar icebreakers. Its not a block buy, but it is a bit of a surprise. I have copied and pasted the brief summary below. (Thanks to Tups for bringing this to my attention.)

Solicitation Number:
Notice Type:
Added: Feb 14, 2018 2:17 pm

The Naval Sea Systems Command plans to issue an unrestricted solicitation for the procurement of the Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) of up to three (3) Heavy Polar Icebreakers (HPIB) under a Fixed Price Incentive Firm (FPIF) Contract. This contract will award Advance Procurement and Detail Design, and include option line items to procure three (3) Heavy Polar Icebreakers. The contract will also include options for Provisioned Items orders to outfit the ships and purchase spares, repair parts, and other special equipment; Engineering and Industrial Services in support of Government systems installation and post-delivery activities; Special Studies for Government-directed engineering tasks; and Crew Familiarization. The HPIB will be procured utilizing full and open competition in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 15, Contracting by Negotiation. Award is anticipated to be made to a single Offeror who offers the Best Value to the Government as determined by the tradeoff process as defined in Sections L and M of the Solicitation. The solicitation is anticipated to be posted within 30 days, this synopsis is provided as an advance notice.

This synopsis and any updates and/or changes for this planned procurement, the posting of the RFP, and any future Amendments to the RFP, will appear at the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website located at http://www.fbo.gov. Inquires/questions concerning this announcement may be e-mailed to the Naval Sea Systems Command, Shipbuilding Contracts Division representatives listed below.

The points of contact for this posting are Ms. Melissa Donnelly, Contract Specialist, e-mail Melissa.Donnelly@navy.mil AND Mr. James Platner, Contracting Officer, e mail, James.Platner@navy.mil. Please send inquiries via e-mail to both points of contact. No telephone inquiries will be accepted and requests for solicitation packages will not be honored, as a solicitation is not prepared at this time. This notice does not constitute an Invitation for Bid or Request for Proposal and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government.

The contracting agency is: Naval Sea Systems Command, 1333 Isaac Hull Ave SE, Washington Navy Yard, DC. 20379-2020

Contracting Office Address:
SEA 02
1333 Isaac Hull Avenue SE
Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia 20376
United States
Primary Point of Contact.:
James E. Platner,
Contracting Officer
Secondary Point of Contact:
Melissa Donnelly,
Contract Specialist

Inland (tender) Cutter RFP

USCGC Smilax (WLIC-315)

The Coast Guard has issued a Request for Proposal for a solution to our inland cutter needs. I have copied and pasted the brief description below.

Solicitation Number:
Notice Type:
Special Notice
Added: Feb 14, 2018 3:52 pm

The Coast Guard has a statutory mission to establish, maintain, and operate maritime aids to navigation to serve the needs of the armed forces and commerce of the United States. This Request for Information (RFI) is the first of several planned industry engagements aimed at developing the data the Coast Guard needs to make informed decisions about potential solutions to carry out this mission. The Coast Guard has historically accomplished this mission via a fleet of Coast Guard inland vessels. However, this RFI does not presume a specific solution and is not a statement by the Coast Guard that a final solution has already been identified; it is only one part of an overall effort to better understand the decision space.

Responses to this RFI shall be submitted to Jennifer Sokolower at Jennifer.G.Sokolower@uscg.mil.
This special notice is for market research and planning purposes only. It does not constitute a solicitation and shall not be construed as a commitment by the Government to award a contract from responses to this announcement. Any information submitted by interested parties is strictly voluntary and no monetary compensation will be provided for response preparation.


30 Year Shipbuilding Plan–Where Is Ours?


The Navy has provided their 30 year Ship Acquisition Plan. Here is their news release.

WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Department of the Navy submitted the long-range ship acquisition plan to Congress Feb. 12.

The 30-Year Ship Acquisition Plan is a Congressionally-mandated report which describes the Department of the Navy’s long-range shipbuilding plans for 2019-2048. This year’s report focuses on meeting the Navy’s baseline acquisition requirements needed to build the Navy the Nation Needs (NNN) and sustaining the domestic industrial base to meet that aim.

In support of the National Defense Strategy’s stated goal of achieving a more lethal, resilient and agile force, the plan serves as a roadmap to reach a 355-ship fleet by the early FY2050s, potentially quicker with an aggressive investment of resources. The plan pursues acquisition strategies to build ships more quickly and affordably and places top priority on sustaining the industrial base now and for the future. Ultimately, the plan supports the Navy’s overall effort to build the Navy the Nation Needs to protect the homeland, defend the interests of America and its allies abroad, and preserve America’s strategic influence around the world.

This plan addresses the Navy’s most critical shipbuilding needs by:
* Building CVNs four years apart after CVN 82 instead of five to support a 12-ship CVN force.
* Building 12 Columbia-class SSBNs in support of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and STRATCOM deterrence requirements.
* Establishing a stable profile of two per year Attack Submarines (SSN).
* Establishing a stable profile of 2.5 per year Large Surface Combatants (DDG), plus an additional ship in FY2022.
* Establishing a stable profile of two per year Small Surface Combatants (LCS, FFG) starting in FY2022, accommodating the transition to FFG(X).
* Increasing the pace for amphibious ship production to support a 12-ship LHD/LHA force and modernized lethality in FY2033, FY2036 and FY2039.
* Addresses the candidate long-term replacement for the NNN payload-based submarine, filled mid-term by Virginia Payload Module (VPM).

The plan can be viewed in its entirety here: www.secnav.navy.mil/fmc/fmb/Pages/Fiscal-Year-2019.aspx.

I have to ask, where is ours? Perhaps Congress should mandate one for us, but we don’t always respond to Congress anyway. There is a mandate for a 20 year plan, but I haven’t seen that yet either. Really Congress is trying to help us communicate our needs without having them filtered by DHS and GAO. Maybe it is DHS and GAO that are the roadblocks, but the Navy seems to find ways to get their needs to Congress.

An important part of the “Acquisition Plan” is really what they plan to decommission. Which constituencies are going to lose an asset? This is something we also need to pass to Congress, and we need to mean it. It is also where we have an advantage because our assets impact so many constituencies. We should not be operating 50-year-old ships.

The Navy does not always get everything they ask for, but at least they ask.


FY2019 Budget

USCGC Polar Sea

Military.com has some information on the Coast Guard budget.

“Overall, the Coast Guard budgeted $7.8 billion for operating expenses, including pay; $1.9 billion to recapitalize equipment; and $1.9 billion in mandatory spending and fees.”

It includes $750M for the first new heavy icebreaker; $400M for the second OPC and long lead time items for the third; and $240M for four Webber class.


RfP for Services/Textron’s Aerosonde sUAS

Seapower, a Navy League Magazine and web site, reports, the Coast Guard issued a Request for Proposal on February 7, for “Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Competitive and Unrestricted Commercial Services Combined Synopsis/Solicitation for Unmanned Aircraft Systems for National Security Cutters (NSCs) for the United States Coast Guard.” Proposals are due by March 9. (Pretty quick turn around.)

In particular they identify two competing systems, the Scan Eagle from Insitu and Textron Systems Aerosonde sUAS. We have been talking about the Scan Eagle for almost seven years. Also the Coast Guard has been using Scan Eagle operationally, but since we have not talked about the Aerosonde I thought, perhaps we should take a look.

There is a pdf brochure on the Aerosonde here.

The Aerosonde is a bit bigger than the Scan Eagle, but if a larger aircraft is needed then Insitu has the option of offering the RQ-21 Blackjack which is in the Navy’s inventory. 

For a rough comparison, Scan Eagle has a max Take Off Weight 44-48.5 lb. (22 kg), Aerosonde has a max TO weight of 80 lb (36.4 kg), and the RQ-21A Blackjack a max TO weight of 135 lb (61.4 kg).

GULF OF MEXICO (Feb. 10, 2013) Members of the RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) test team transport the RQ-21A across the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) after its first flight at sea. Mesa Verde is underway conducting exercises. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sabrina Fine/Released) 130210-N-NB538-195

“The U.S. Coast Guard customer has expressed unique technology and operational requirements in its Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) RfP,”  so we are not simply going to buy what the Navy already has. Using the usual optical systems is like looking through a straw. I expect the Coast Guard is going to want an area search capability, radar or perhaps ViDAR.

Figuring out how best to use these is going to be an interesting Operations Research problem. What search pattern? at what altitude? How far out can we fly these and still communicate and have the cutter provide sense and avoid to prevent a mid-air?