Senate Appropriations Bill noted, Senator Capito (R-WV) introduced an original bill (S. 3109) making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes. (6/21/18) [].

Looking at the bill, proposed appropriations include

  • Operations and Support: $7,792,409,000
  • Environmental Compliance and Restoration: $13,429,000
  • Procurement, Construction, and Improvements: $2,169,260,000
  • Research and Development: $20,109,000
  • Retired Pay: $1,739,844,000

If enacted, this will be a $282.51M increase in Procurement, Construction, and Improvement over the budget request. If memory serves $2,169,260,000 would be a record.

You can see the FY 2016 and 2017 enacted and the 2018 proposed budgets here. There is a comparison between the FY2017 enacted and the FY2019 budget request here. There is a good short overview of the FY2019 request here. Strangely, I have been unable to find a final FY2018 appropriations report other than the top line amount. If you know where I can find one, please include in the comments section.

Navy Will Release New 30-Year Ship Repair, Modernization Plan with Annual Shipbuilding Report–USNI

The Navy has announced that they will release not only a 30 year shipbuilding plan, but also a 30 year ship repair and modernization plan.

He acknowledged that the timing of ship maintenance availabilities are prone to change, as deployments are extended, one ship is swapped for another to meet a warfighter need, and so on. But while the planning is complex, he said, “the only thing I know is, the best way to start getting after a complex issue is laying out at least what you know and laying that out as a baseline, so then when you do have to do – whether it’s for operational reasons or whatever – have to do changes, you’re changing from a known baseline and you can more quickly understand what the second- and third-order effects are.”

I still don’t think the Coast Guard has ever submitted their 20 year plan as mandated by GAO and Congress. We have discussed the need for a long term shipbuilding plan numerous times. These are only two:

I suspect the 20 year plan was stalled in the Department.

It is really important to build an understanding of future needs. It seems this was a part of the problem in getting a realistic shipbuilding budget. We should anticipate replacing all our ships when they reach 30 years of age. As that time approaches we can reevaluate and perhaps delay replacement if they are holding up well, and we will be heroes.

We really have to tell the administration and the Congress what we need. To do that I would reiterate the need to periodically redo the Fleet Mix simulation and study. The last one was done about ten years ago and still assumed multiple crewing of the Bertholf Class NSCs and Offshore Patrol Cutters. (Crew Rotation Concept).

Report to Congress on U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Procurement, 23 May 2018

OPC “Placemat”

Mr. O’Rourke has been busy, in addition to the report on Icebreakers, the latest edition of the Congressional Research Service report on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement, also by Ronald O’Rourke, was also published on 23 May, 2018. You can see it here. 

I have reproduced the summary immediately below.  Note that the price for the OPCs is already surprisingly low. 

The Coast Guard’s acquisition program of record (POR) calls for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard high-endurance cutters, medium-endurance cutters, and patrol craft. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2019 budget requests a total of $705 million in acquisition funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs.

NSCs are the Coast Guard’s largest and most capable general-purpose cutters; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 12 aged Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters. NSCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $682 million per ship. Although the Coast Guard’s POR calls for procuring a total of 8 NSCs to replace the 12 Hamilton-class cutters, Congress through FY2018 has funded 11 NSCs, including two (the 10th and 11th) in FY2018. Six NSCs are now in service, and the seventh, eighth, and ninth are scheduled for delivery in 2018, 2019, and 2020, respectively. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2019 budget requests $65 million in acquisition funding for the NSC program; this request does not include additional funding for a 12th NSC.

OPCs are to be smaller, less expensive, and in some respects less capable than NSCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 29 aged medium-endurance cutters. Coast Guard officials describe the OPC program as the service’s top acquisition priority. OPCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $391 million per ship. On September 15, 2016, the Coast Guard announced that it was awarding a contract with options for building up to nine ships in the class to Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, FL. The first OPC was funded in FY2018 and is to be delivered in 2021. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2019 budget requests $400 million in acquisition funding for the OPC program for the construction of the second OPC (which is scheduled for delivery in 2022) and procurement of long leadtime materials (LLTM) for the third OPC (which is scheduled for delivery in 2023).

FRCs are considerably smaller and less expensive than OPCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 49 aging Island-class patrol boats. FRCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $58 million per boat. A total of 50 have been funded through FY2018. The 27th was commissioned into service on April 20, 2018. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2019 budget requests $240 million in acquisition funding for the procurement of four more FRCs.

The NSC, OPC, and FRC programs pose several issues for Congress, including the following: 

  • whether to fully or partially fund the acquisition of a 12th NSC in FY2019; 
  • whether to fund the acquisition of four FRCs in FY2019, as requested, or some other number, such as six, which is the maximum number that has been acquired in some prior fiscal years; 
  • whether to use annual or multiyear contracting for procuring OPCs; 
  • the procurement rate for the OPC program; 
  • planned procurement quantities for NSCs, OPCs, and FRCs; and 
  • initial testing of the NSC.

Congress’s decisions on these programs could substantially affect Coast Guard capabilities and funding requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.

Navy League Tribute: “Zukunft helped usher in future of US Coast Guard”

Alan Kaplan, national president of the Navy League, offers an appreciation of out going Commandant, Admiral Paul Zukunft.

I have been impressed with the Commandant’s ability to stay on message. He has been very consistent in repeatedly hitting the same points which were highlighted in his 2015 State of the Coast Guard address. I only hope the new Commandant will be as successful in presenting the case for the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Authorization Bill

Saw the following on the Brymar Consulting web site:

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (H.R. 5515) has been reported in the House of Representatives. The bill incorporates the Maritime Administration (MARAD) Authorization Act and the US Coast Guard (USCG) Authorization Act. (5/15/18) [].

It is a huge document. The Coast Guard sections, 3521-3539, are on pages 942 to 961. It doesn’t really look like a new authorization bill to me, just changes to the existing 2010 authorization.

There was one particular requirement included that I applaud.

‘‘Not later than the date on which the President submits to Congress a budget pursuant to section 1105 of title 31, the Commandant of the Coast Guard shall make available on a public website and submit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate an update on Coast Guard mission performance during the previous fiscal year.’’

Our reports of mission effectiveness, goals vs actual, have been sporadic at best. We should want to do this to tout our achievements and to identify where we need more resources to accomplish statutory missions.

“Should the USCG Transition to DoD?” USNI Blog

The US Naval Institute blog has a post recommending that the Coast Guard be moved into the Department of Defense.

The most significant part of the post appears to me to be that this concept has been put forward by Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who is the Chair of the Sub-Committee that has oversight of the Coast Guard. Representative Hunter is a Marine Reserve Major who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Having watched him perform in several sub-committee meetings, I have a great deal of respect for his opinions. He would like to see a stronger and better armed Coast Guard.

Personally I see still unrealized potential for the Coast Guard in the Department of Homeland Security and potential problems as well as opportunities in the Department of Defense.

How would the Coast Guard be funded within the DOD? Would it be a separate agency or would it be budgeted with the Department of the Navy?

The Department of Defense (DoD) is responsible for providing the military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of the United States (U.S.). The major elements of these forces are the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The President is the Commander-in-Chief, while the Secretary of Defense exercises authority, direction, and control over the Department. This includes the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Organization of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the three Military Departments, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General, 17 Defense Agencies, 10 DoD Field Activities, and other organizations, such as the National Guard Bureau (NGB) and the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO)., Department of Defense organizational chart (December 2013)

Within the DHS budget, the Coast Guard is the third largest component behind FEMA and Customs and Border Protection. It has significant visibility.

In the DOD organization above, I cannot even find the National Guard Bureau. We might do well because we would be a very small part of the overall budget, or we might simply be too small to attract any attention. I think there is a real possibility that if we were transferred into the Navy Department, the Coast Guard might end up as little more than a Master at Arms Corps.

We should remember that in terms of personnel, while the US Navy (and the DOD) is now much smaller than it was 50 years ago, the Coast Guard is larger.  I can recall when the Navy was about 25 times as large as the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps about 8 times as large. Now the Navy is less than eight times as large. The Marine Corps is only 4.4 times as large.

We can talk about how the Congress has not been kind to us, but at least funding has been relatively consistent, and of late there seems to be a recognition of greater need for capital improvements.

If our personnel end strength had followed the trend of the DOD we would now have fewer than 20,000 active duty rather than over 40,000.

In short, be careful what you wish for.



“Coast Guard Fears Two-Year Budget Boost Just A Blip: Adm. Zukunft”–Breaking Defense

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Kelley.

BreakingDefense brings a report of the Commandant’s remarks at the Defense Writers’ Breakfast. He expresses concern that the budget success for FY 2018 and 2019 may be an anomaly.

If you think the competition for budget dollars is intense today, Zukunft warned reporters at a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast, “it’s going to be even more competitive tomorrow.”

There is discussion of shortages of Operations and Maintenance funding, the shore side facilities backlog, and the icebreaker program.