Tradewinds 2018 and the Caribbean’s Maritime Security Challenges–CIMSEC

Participants in the Tradewinds 2018 exercise. Seen here are U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Charles David Jr. (WPC-1107, most distant); the British RFA Mounts Bay (L3008, left), a Bay-class auxiliary landing ship dock; Canada’s HMCS Shawinigan (MM 704, right), a Kingston-class coastal defense vessel; and Mexico’s ARM Oaxaca (PO 161, foreground), an Oaxaca-class patrol vessel along with a Mexican helicopter AS365N3 Panther. 180616-N-ZZ999-0004.JPG Photo By: Able Seaman John Iglesias

CIMSEC provides a brief review of the SOUTHCOM sponsored 2018 Tradewinds exercise along with background information about current maritime security challenges in the Caribbean.

New OPVs for France, Trinidad and Tobago, the Philippines, and India

Four new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) projects, totaling 20 vessels, have been reported.

NavyRecognition reports the French Navy has issued a Request for Information preparatory to procurement of six OPVs to operate from French overseas territories. They are seeking 22 knot vessels about 70 meters (230 feet) in length with facilities to support a vertical take off and landing (VTOL) unmanned air system (UAS). Given France’s recent history with OPVs these may look a lot like Offshore Supply Vessels.

The Australian Customs patrol boat ACV Cape St George on Darwin Harbour in 2014, Photo by Ken Hodge

Australian Shipbuilder Austal has been contracted to build two Cape Class OPVs (illustrated above) for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard. These are 58 meter (190 foot) 25 knot vessels with a 4,000 mile range. Ten have already been built for the Australian Navy and Border Force.

It appears Austal’s yard in the Philippines may be building six 80 meter OPVs for the Philippine Navy. These would reportedly be based on the Cape Class Patrol Vessels, but would be much larger, have steel hulls, and helicopter support facilities (helo deck certainly, but not clear if that would include a hangar).

Indian Navy Photo: INS Saryu, the lead ship of her class of advanced offshore patrol vessels of the Indian Navy

India is planning to procure six “New Generation Offshore Patrol Vessels.” It sounds like these will evolve from the Saryu Class OPV which are 2,230 tons displacement, 344 feet in length, 42 foot of beam, with a 12 foot draft with a speed of 25 knots. The Saryus are armed with a 76mm Oto Melara gun and two Soviet designed AK-630, 30mm six barrel Gatling guns (just forward of the funnels in the photo). They also have a hangar and flight deck for a HAL Dhruv medium weight helicopter. The new ships should be at least equal in capability.

 

Coast Guard Releases Request For Proposal For Long Range UAS Tech Demonstration

3-View line drawing and dimensions of MQ-1B Predator UAV, – Department of the Air Force, Engineering Technical Letter (ETL) 09-1: Airfield Planning and Design Criteria for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), 28 Sept 2009

The Acquisitions Directorate has issued a Request for Proposal for demonstration of a Long Range/Ultra-Long Endurance (LR/U-LE) Unmanned Air System (UAS).

The Statement of Work (Attachment_1_-_Statement_of_Work_.pdf) indicates demonstration is expected to take place at Eglin Air Force Base. “The period of performance will be one year from the date of award which is estimated to occur in September 2018.”

The Requirements

The sensor package will include Electro-optical (EO) and Infrared (IR) Full Motion Video (FMV), Maritime Surveillance Radar, Radio Frequency/Direction Finding (RF/DF) sensor, with tactical communications radio/data link.

Minimum airframe performance in the full up configuration include 50 knot patrol speed, 15,000 foot ceiling, 24 hour endurance.

Takeoff and Recovery Wind Limits are 20 knot headwind, seven knot crosswind, and up to five knot gusts.

For identification the airframe will be equipped with Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System, Identification Friend or Foe, Mark XII/Mark XIIA, Systems (AIMS) certified (AIMS 03-1000A) Mode 3 A/C transponder with “IDENT” capability.

Commentary

Presumably this will result in a RFP for a land based LR/U-LE UAS, but probably not before FY2021.

The specifications make it clear the Coast Guard is not looking at obtaining their own version of the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) MQ-4C Triton UAS.

I would note that the demonstration provides no slack for trade-offs between search width, speed, and endurance to determine total area searchable. The 24 hour endurance is fixed. There is also no dash speed requirement. To me this suggest that the system is more for tracking than searching, although it could also do that as well.

There is also no mention of ViDAR as an alternative to Radar.

Given distance to operating area and the relatively slow speed of these assets, to maintain an asset on scene is going to require more than one sortie per day, probably more like two per day. That suggest that a 24/7/365 on scene capability will require five or six airframes.

Perspective: Rejuvenating the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, by Sanjay Badri-Maharaj

Once again Sanjay Badri-Maharaj provides a look inside the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, (TTCG). This time, he relates its often frustrating history and its recent attempts to return to relevancy. The story should make USCG members feel very fortunate. Sanjay’s earlier post related to the TTCG’s most recent major procurement, “How the SPa was Chosen – The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard’s Spa 5009 fleet.”

British built OPV that was to have been the Trinidad and Tabago Ship (TTS) Port of Spain, seen here in TTS colors. Now the Brazilian Ship Amazonas.

At the Visakhapatnam International Fleet Review 2016, a ship graced the show with her presence – the Brazilian Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) BN Amazonas (P120) commanded by Commander Alessander Felipe Imamura Carneiro. While this ship would have gone largely unnoticed by the naval fraternity so gathered, being as it is, of sound but unspectacular design and performance, the vessel has a peculiar significance for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) as it was originally built for the said formation and was very nearly commissioned as the TTS Port of Spain. However, an abrupt and controversial cancellation of the order in September 2010, following a change in government in May 2010, brought an end to a planned expansion plan that would have allowed the TTCG to regain its place as the premiere naval unit of the Caribbean. The cancellation of the OPV contract combined with poor serviceability of surviving assets led to a scramble for assets between the years 2013 and 2015 which culminated in the procurement of a fleet of vessels that have restored a degree of capability and viability to the TTCG surface ship squadron.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Maritime Domain:

Source: Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard

As an archipelagic island state, Trinidad and Tobago’s Maritime Domain and the TTCG’s ability to patrol and secure the same are of paramount importance for the security and the economic well-being of the country. The Maritime Domain can be divided into three parts:

Exclusive Economic Zone

Trinidad and Tobago claims an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of up to two hundred nautical miles (200 n.m.).

Territorial Sea

The territorial sea limits are up to 12 nautical miles from the archipelagic baseline.

Internal Waters

Internal waters, of up to 3 nautical miles from the archipelagic baseline are also part of the responsibility of the Coast Guard.

Activities within the Maritime Domain

Energy Exploration and Exploitation

  • The offshore oil and natural gas sectors are estimated to provide some 48% of the revenue of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Commercial Shipping and Maritime Transport

  • 30 shipping companies – international and regional

Fisheries

  • 2,300 registered vessels including trawlers

Search and Rescue

  • Under the 1979 International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue Trinidad and Tobago has an area of responsibility 68,500 sq nautical miles.
  • Trinidad and Tobago also has obligations under the ICAO for search and rescue.
  • Trinidad and Tobago also hosts the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre

Trafficking in Narcotics, Arms and Ammunition

  1. The connection between drug trafficking and violent crime is obvious. Equally well known are the destabilizing economic and socio-political effects of the corruption and social degeneration that follows in its wake.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, The majority of drugs smuggled into Trinidad are transported, not by small fast boats, but by large, slow transport vessels. They are also transported by aircraft, submersibles, and fishing boats. Until 2016, the ability of the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard to intercept this multiplicity of smuggling avenues was severely limited, particularly along the South and East coasts. Furthermore, civilian marinas also provide a largely unpoliced entry route for illegal narcotics.
  3. Thus, acquiring the capability to stop the transshipment of narcotics (primarily from South America to North America and Europe) through local waters and reducing the associated arms and ammunition trade locally, is the key immediate goal of the TTCG.

Natural Resource Poaching

  1. Trinidad and Tobago claims an EEZ consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It must therefore carry out surveillance to the extremities of its EEZ (out to 200NM) to prevent unauthorized and illegal activity. Encroachments into the EEZ are always a possibility with Barbadian and Venezuelan illegal exploitation of local fisheries having occurred with regularity.

Human Trafficking and Illegal Immigration

  1. The main routes of ingress and egress in the human trafficking trade are by sea. Illegal immigration from the South American mainland by sea is increasing. An increase in illegal immigration and human trafficking has been observed within local waters.

Maritime Terrorism/ Piracy/ Natural Disasters

  1. Worldwide, the emergence of a widening range of non-state actors, including terror networks and criminal gangs has prompted a major shift in National Security Policy. These threats cannot be ignored and it can be expected that TTCG vessels may be deployed to support Counter Terrorism operations locally and regionally.
  2. Piracy has not happened to any noticeable extent, but there have been incidents within the Caribbean. Maritime crime, however, is not uncommon and needs to be addressed by deployment of Coast Guard assets. Maritime crime has been occurring in the cross border areas of local waters.

Development of the TTCG Surface Fleet

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard began its operational history with two 103ft Vosper Ltd patrol boats – the TTS Trinity (CG-1) and the TTS Courland Bay (CG-2) – commissioned on 20th February 1965, each 31.4m long, displacing 123 tons. These were followed by TTS Chaguaramas (CG-3) and the TTS Buccoo Reef (CG-4), commissioned on 18th March 1972, each 31.5m long, displacing 125 tons. CG-1 and CG-2 were decommissioned in 1986 and CG-3 and CG-4 in 1992.

Photo by Sanjay Badri-Maharaj

These Vospers were followed on 15th June  1980 by two modified Spica class vessels – TTS Barracuda (CG-5) and TTS Cascadura (CG-6) – each 40.6m long and displacing 210 tons. After a failed attempt at local repair and refurbishment, these vessels were decommissioned after nearly 15 years of inactivity. CG-5 was scrapped while CG-6 remains at Chaguaramas Heliport completely derelict, bereft of sensors, engines, weapons and accommodation, yet the vessel remains ostensibly in commission.

On 27th August 1982, 4 Souter Wasp 17 metre class (TTS Plymouth CG27, TTS Caroni CG28, TTS Galeota CG29, TTS Moruga CG30) were commissioned. In addition, the Coast Guard was augmented in the mid-to-late 1980s with vessels from the disbanded Police Marine Branch – 1 Sword Class patrol craft (TTS Matelot CG 33) , and 2 Wasp 20 metre class (TTS Kairi CG31 & TTS Moriah CG 32). All of these vessels have now been decommissioned.

The years 1986 to 1995 saw the decommissioning of almost all the TTCG patrol assets and the de facto retirement of CG-5 and CG-6 for lack of serviceability and an inability of the TTCG to undertake routine maintenance due to severe funding shortfalls. This left the formation incapable of performing its assigned tasks on any sort of credible basis. This period, not surprisingly, saw a significant increase in narcotics and illegal weapons shipments being transhipped through Trinidadian waters.

Photo by Sanjay Badri-Maharaj

After a number of years with almost no serviceable vessels, the period 1999-2001 saw the TTCG receive a boost with the acquisition of the ex-Royal Navy Island class OPV, HMS Orkney as the TTS Nelson (CG-20) and four 82ft Point-class cutters, each displacing some 66tons, from the United States (TTS Corozal Point CG7, TTS Crown Point CG8, TTS Galera Point CG9 and TTS Bacolet Point CG10). The Point class cutters were nominally on strength until 2009-10 when they were decommissioned, but in reality, they had been unseaworthy for some years prior. A half-hearted attempt was made to refit CG-7 but was abandoned. It is a depressing fact that these vessels were well over 20 years old when procured. The stark reality was that not a single new-build patrol vessel was acquired between 1980 and 2009.

Photo by Sanjay Badri-Maharaj

In 2003-2004, the then Government of Patrick Manning, began a phased expansion of the formation  which included the purchase of six new Austal PB30 Fast Patrol Craft (FPC) –CG11 TTS Scarlet Ibis, CG12 TTS Hibiscus, CG13 TTS Humming Bird, CG14 TTS Chaconia, CG 15 TTS Poui and CG16 TTS Teak – commissioned between 2009-2010 and two modified oilrig support vessels – each over 15 years old – armed and re-tasked as Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPVs) – CG-21 TTS Gaspar Grande and CG-22 TTS Chacachare – commissioned on 23rd April 2008. In addition, 4 Midnight Express Interceptors were delivered in 2005 and were extensively deployed in anti-narcotics operations.

The “crown jewels” of this expansion plan were three 90m long OPVs – to be named the Port of Spain, Scarborough and San Fernando – ordered from VT Shipbuilding (later BAE Systems Surface Ships). Easily the most advanced vessels in the Caribbean (after the demise of the Cuban navy), the OPVs were adequately armed with 25mm and 30mm guns and possessed the ability to stage medium-lift helicopters from their flight decks. However, an overly-ambitious integrated fire-control system and some unrealistic expectations from the TTCG in respect of the performance of the 30mm guns led to significant delays and problems during trials. In September 2010, the Government of then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, cancelled the contract in decision that in retrospect may have been ill-advised.

Of interest is the fact that the procurement of new vessels did not lead to a commensurate increase in the TTCG operational budget relative to the larger fleet. In addition, archaic bureaucratic procedures together with shortcomings in the TTCG engineering and maintenance branches combined to cripple efforts to restore serviceability to repairable vessels with contractors going unpaid for work done and vessels being laid-up for extended periods of time. Procurement and payment procedures and policy have also played a significant part handicapping the ability of the TTCG to meet its commitments to suppliers and contractors, largely because of a bureaucratic system that moves slowly and which fails to accord due priority to essential items necessary for the operations of the TTCG. It is a continuing area of concern that there has been no attempt to streamline urgent procurement or even payment of suppliers with basic necessities such as fuel running dangerously low on occasions. The then government attempted to circumvent these problems by entering into comprehensive logistics and support arrangements with VT and Austal. However, the former was stillborn through the cancellation of the OPVs and the latter never worked as planned, in part because of inherent deficiencies in the TTCG maintenance structure and in part because of unreformed bureaucratic processes that ensured that the TTCG was unable to meet its contractual obligations in respect of the Austal support contract.

Thus between 2001 and 2010, the TTCG, while still not improving its serviceability or operational efficacy, did formulate plans, which were accepted which led to the signing of contracts for the purchase of OPVs and FPCs. However, a change in government let to budgetary priorities shifting to the detriment of the TTCG. Despite an impressive strength on paper, the TTCG was, by 2013, in dire straits, leading to an operational audit of the TTCG surface assets which revealed the extremely poor state of repair of the surface fleet:

Type Quantity Age

(years)

Assigned Area of Operation Status
OPV

TTS Nelson

 

1

 

37

Offshore – EEZ and beyond  

Unserviceable

CPV 

Chacachacare

Gaspar Grande

 

2

 

19

17

Offshore  & Territorial Sea Unserviceable
Austal Built FPCs  

6

 

4

 

Territorial Sea &

Inshore

Serviceability is variable.

2 serviceable, 4 unserviceable.

Interceptors 17 2-4 Inshore &  Internal Waters 4 serviceable, 13 unserviceable.

Source: Author’s primary research

Acquiring New Vessels for the TTCG

In January 2014, the Government appointed the Naval Assets Acquisition Implementation Team (NAAIT) and tasked them with procuring, inter alia, 7 new CPVs and 2 OPVs (now curiously termed Long-Range Patrol Vessels or LRPVs) within the very short period of two years. For budgetary reasons the figures were reduced to 4 CPVs and 1 LRPV. The new procurement attracted some international attention and shipyards invited the NAAIT to inspect the yards and the products available. Directed by the Government, the NAAIT visited the Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyard in Ulsan, Republic of Korea, the China State Shipbuilding Company (CSSC) in Guangzhou, COTECMAR at Cartagena, Colombia and Damen Shipyards Ltd at Gorinchem, Holland. Damen, COTECMAR and HHI offered viable products meeting TTCG requirement but CSSCs products were viewed as not quite meeting TTCG specifications.

After deliberating and assessing the vessels and designs on offer, the NAAIT recommended that the 4 CPVs be acquired from Damen with two additional vessels of a similar design being acquired as “utility vessels” but so armed and equipped that they could augment the 4 dedicated CPVs in the patrol role. The vessels selected were the SPa 5009 CPV and the FCS 5009 utility vessel. The CPVs were fitted with a surveillance system which drew heavily on high-end civilian products. In addition they were fitted with a remotely controlled 20mm gun. The FCS 5009 was delivered in standard configuration but with accommodation increased for a larger crew, a manually operated 20mm gun (from TTCG stocks) and a slightly enhanced surveillance fit.

The bureaucratic procurement process, however, was slower than expected as the bureaucracy initially questioned the NAAIT’s authority, grudgingly acquiescing to the fact that it had Cabinet sanction. Furthermore, unforeseen lethargy among the bureaucrats tasked with enabling procurement, ignorance of systems and a failure to communicate in a timely fashion very nearly stymied the process. In addition, the NAAIT faced a deliberate attempt at sabotage when accusations were made by a highly-connected individual who was representing the interests of another shipyard. These accusations were found to be untrue but the procurement of the vessels was delayed. Eventually, the contract was signed enabling delivery of the vessels

The LRPV procurement was not so fortunate as the NAAIT recommendation for a formal Request for Proposals to be sent out to all the shipyards visited by the team was initially approved and then, to the surprise of the NAAIT, circumvented by the direct intervention of Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar who decided, against advice, to procure a ready-made, unarmed, LRPV from CSSC of China which compared badly with the cancelled OPVs.

Potential Lessons for Procurement

The NAAIT wound down at the end of February 2016 having completed much of its mandate. In the Trinidadian context, the NAAIT was a unique experiment. While its experience may not translate easily for other countries some lessons can be shared:

  1. Technical expertise must be an integral part of the procurement process and operate in conjunction with bureaucratic procedures. The bureaucracy must be willing to learn and understand requirements of military formations. They may not be technical experts but complete ignorance on the part of the bureaucrats involved will inevitably lead to frustrating delays. Bureaucratic lethargy is potentially lethal to any procurement process. It may be necessary to stipulate time frames for tasks and hold officials to account. This will inevitably meet with resistance from the affected parties.
  2. Bypassing the bureaucracy is not an effective option. A bureaucracy that does not feel part of the system can create additional delays by questioning the legality of the procurement being undertaken. Complete synergy of effort has to be sought.
  3. Political interference must be avoided where possible. The NAAIT experienced the effects of this where technical advice was overruled and a questionable purchase of the LRPV from CSSC China was initiated by the then Prime Minister.
  4. Above all, never let military formations decay to the extent where urgent procurement becomes necessary to restore even a veneer of capability. Rushed procurements have the potential to be as detrimental as delayed ones and run the risk of being questioned by successor governments.

Photo from Damen Shipyards, Netherlands

Conclusion

One of the most intriguing points to note is that the TTCG followed a systematic and rational procurement process until 1980. After that, its recovery from decades of neglect has been slow, painful and littered with the false dawn of the ill-fated OPV contract. Nonetheless, the frantic efforts to rejuvenate the TTCG have finally produced results. It remains to be seen whether the new vessels will meet a better end.

“The Pentagon is poised to send the LCS to thwart narcos”–DefenseNews

USS Freedom (LCS-1)

DefenseNews is reporting,

“The military is poised to decide whether it will use the littoral combat ship to stop illegal drug shipments from South and Central America to the United States.

“The move, amid pressure from lawmakers and the military command covering the Southern Hemisphere, would signal a new intensity in combating the importing of illegal drugs amid a tidal wave of opioid deaths in the U.S. It would also mean a program that has seen near-constant churn as the Navy has struggled to integrate the ship into the fleet may see more changes ― if it does have to gear up for a new mission.

There are some surprising remarks by a retired Navy Captain, reflecting what many of us believe.

“…Ultimately, if the Congress was serious about combating drugs in SOUTHCOM, he said, it should adequately fund the Coast Guard.

“What they oughta do is take a few billion from the Defense Department’s budget and give it to the Coast Guard,” Hoffman said.

“Operating Navy ships is expensive, and, at that cost, it may not be practical to send gray hulls,” he said, adding that the Coast Guard can do the job cheaper and better.

This may also reflects a desire among many in the Navy to avoid this mission.

As a side note, I would observe that the frequent assertion that the Navy is being run ragged bears some examination as to why. It does not seem to be because the ships are underway that much. The US Naval Institute News service provides a weekly “Fleet and Marine Tracker.” You can see the most recent here. Among other things it provides a number of ships in the fleet and number of ships underway. Generally the number underway is only a little over one quarter of the fleet total, and it almost never exceeds one third.

Note, I am not saying the crews are not overworked, I am just saying, it is not because they are underway too much of the time. As I recall my days afloat, we got a lot done while underway, away from the inport distractions.

Video: Review of Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request for the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs

Note the video does not really start until approximately time (17m08s).

This is going to be a hodgepodge, but it is all about the 2019 budget. There is a video above. There will be my own observations on the video. There will be a brief outline of the Procurement, Construction, and Improvement (formerly AC&I) portion of the budget copied from the “Summary of Subject Matter.” At the tail end I have reproduced the Commandant’s prepared statement that was presented at the hearing

You can look here for the FY2018 budget request. I haven’t found the actual final FY2018 as enacted.

ABOUT THE VIDEO

Above is a video of a 14 March, 2018, House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee. The commandant testified as well as Master Chief Steven W. Cantrell, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, United States Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, USN, Ret., Administrator, Maritime Administration, and The Honorable Michael A. Khouri, Acting Chairman, Federal Maritime Commission

You can find more information including all the prepared statements and the subcommittee chairman’s opening remarks here.

MY OBSERVATIONS

This subcommittee has been highly supportive of the Coast Guard, and we see the same in this hearing. The chairman, Duncan Hunter (R, CA), (17m30s) expressed his opinion that the Coast Guard was not fairing well under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He also noted the apparent obstruction of measures of effectiveness by DHS.

Ranking member, John Garamendi (D, CA), (22m) noted that there had been a welcomed significant bump in Coast Guard funding, but questioned if this would continue or would it prove an anomaly. He noted that attempting to stop drug trafficking would be better served by putting more money into the Coast Guard than by building a border wall.

(29m30s) The Coast Guard’s unfunded priority list, submitted long ago is still hung up in the administration.

(33m30s) MCPO Cantrell addressed quality of life concerns. 

(55m30) Ranking member Garamendi noted the addition of $720M added to the budget for Heavy Polar Icebreaker(s) (HPIB) in addition to $30M already in the budget, and stated that he saw this as money for the second icebreaker because the DOD was not relieved of their obligation to fund a HPIB.

(1h03m) Commandant expressed his confidence in the helicopter life extension programs expected to keep them in operation until 2033 when the Coast Guard would be able to join in the Army lead Future Vertical Lift program. He suggested that a single helicopter type might be able to replace both the MH-65 and MH-60s.

(1h07m) Commandant answering a question about AMIO in the Caribbean noted that the Webber class Fast Response Cutters (FRC) we working well in this role, but there is a shortage of ISR assets that he believed might be addressed by land based unmanned air systems (UAS).

(1h17m) In answer to a question about replacement of the Island Class six 110 foot Island class cutters currently assigned to CENTCOM as PATFORSWA, the Commandant, noting the 110s would time out in 2022, said this has been discussed at the highest levels with the Navy and there was a possibility that Webber class replacements could be funded by the Navy.  Interestingly, he also noted that the Navy’s Cyclone class patrol craft would time out in 2023 suggesting to me perhaps he believes the Navy is considering a version of the Webber class.

(1h39m) Concern was expressed that while the Commandant has consistently expressed a need for $2B annual in the AC&I account (now PC&I) and $1.8B was provided in FY2018 and $1.9B in FY2019, that the current projection is only $1.4B in FY2020.

PROCUREMENT, CONSTRUCTION, & IMPROVEMENT BUDGET

There is a good review of the FY2019 budget in the “Summary of Subject Matter.”

There is also a note on a change in accounting procedure.

In FY 2019, the Coast Guard will transition to the DHS Common Appropriations Structure (CAS). Accordingly, activities funded through the previous Operating Expenses, Reserve Training, Environmental Compliance and Restoration, and Medicare Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund Contribution are included as part of the new Operations and Support (O&S) account. In addition, acquisition personnel costs previously funded through the Acquisition, Construction, and Improvements account ($118.2m in the FY2018 budget request–Chuck) are included as part of the O&S account. The Acquisition, Construction, and Improvements account transitions into the Procurement, Construction, and Improvements account and the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation account becomes the new Research and Development account.

Below is the summary information on the PC&I section that replaces the AC&I portion of the budget.

  • Procurement, Construction, and Improvements (previously Acquisitions, Construction, and Improvements)The President requests $1.89 billion for the Procurement, Construction, and Improvements (PC&I) account, a $516.7 million (or 37.7 percent) increase over the FY 2017 enacted level. The PC&I account funds the acquisition, procurement, construction, rebuilding, and physical improvements of Coast Guard owned and operated vessels, aircraft, facilities, aids-to-navigation, communications and information technology systems, and related equipment.The FY 2019 budget request includes $1.76 billion for the acquisition of aircraft, vessels, and the continued build-out of Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems. This represents an increase of $597.1 million (or 51.7 percent) from the FY 2017 enacted level. The budget request includes:$30 million for the construction of a Heavy Polar Icebreaker. The FY 2019 Budget Addendum included an additional $720 million, for a total of $750 million; 
  • $65 million to conduct Post Delivery Activities on National Security Cutters (NSC) 7 through 9; 
  • $240 million for the production of four Fast Response Cutters (FRC); 
  • $400 million for the construction of the second Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) and to facilitate evaluation of the Long Lead Time Materials for OPC 3. The OPCs will replace the Service’s aging 210-foot and 270foot Medium Endurance Cutters (MEC); 
  • $80 million to fund the requirement to establish logistics for 14 newly acquired HC-27J aircraft. The request funds HC-27J Asset Project Office activities, logistics, training, and engineering studies to assess and resolve aircraft obsolescence issues; 
  • $20 million for the continued modernization and sustainment of the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter fleet; 
  • $23.3 million for C4ISR design, development, and integration; and
  • No funding for the Alteration of Bridges program in FY 2019. The program did not receive funding in FY 2017 or FY 2016. Established by the Truman-Hobbs Act of 1940 (33 U.S.C. 511 et. seq.), the Alteration of Bridges program authorizes the Coast Guard to share with a bridge’s owner the cost of altering or removing privately or publicly owned railroad and highway bridges that are determined by the Service to obstruct marine navigation.

The budget requests $135 million to construct or renovate shore facilities and aids-to-navigation. This request is a $35.5 million (or 26.3 percent) increase over the FY 2017 enacted level. The Coast Guard currently has a backlog of 95 prioritized shore facility improvement projects with an estimated combined cost of over $1.5 billion

____

THE COMMANDANT’S PREPARED TESTIMONY

Below you will find “TESTIMONY OF ADMIRAL PAUL F. ZUKUNFT COMMANDANT, U.S. COAST GUARD ON “THE COAST GUARD’S FISCAL YEAR 2019 BUDGET REQUEST” BEFORE THE HOUSE COAST GUARD AND MARITIME TRANSPORTATION SUBCOMMITTEE” which I have copied in full.

Introduction

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to testify today. Thank you for your enduring support of the United States Coast Guard, particularly the significant investments provided in the FY 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act, recent Hurricane Supplemental, and ongoing deliberations to support our FY 2018 and FY 2019 President’s Budget requests.

As the world’s premier, multi-mission, maritime service, the Coast Guard offers a unique and enduring value to the Nation. The only branch of the U.S. Armed Forces within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a federal law enforcement agency, a regulatory body, a first responder, and a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community – the Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to help secure the maritime border, combat transnational criminal organizations (TCO), and safeguard commerce on America’s waterways.

The Coast Guard’s combination of broad authorities and complementary capabilities squarely aligns with the President’s national security and economic prosperity priorities; furthermore, it offers an agile toolset to address the Nation’s most pressing challenges. Appropriately positioned in DHS, the Coast Guard is a military service and a branch of the Armed Forces of the United States at all times.1 We are also an important part of the modern Joint Force2 and currently have forces assigned to each of the five geographic Combatant Commanders, as well as Cyber Command.

As demonstrated in the 2017 record hurricane season, the Coast Guard is the Nation’s “maritime first responder” and plays a leading role in executing the National Response Plan (NRP) for disaster situations. Our ability to rapidly surge in response to emerging threats or contingencies are critical to success across the spectrum of missions we prosecute.

We live in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. Rapid technological advancement, increasing globalization, and intensifying threats from state and nonstate actors alike challenge international norms and threaten global governance.

To ensure we meet the demands of today while preparing for tomorrow, the Coast Guard is guided by a five-year Strategic Intent and suite of regional and functional strategies that drive our Service’s operations and investments.

These strategic efforts are informed by the National Security Strategy and applicable DHS strategies, and are coordinated to augment Department of Defense (DoD) priorities. Using these strategies as guideposts, leveraging the intelligence community, and employing a risk-based approach to focus our limited resources allows us to address maritime threats with the greatest precision and effect.

Strategic Effects

Fueled by the Service’s unique authorities and capabilities, our Western Hemisphere Strategy continues to yield large-scale successes in our counter-drug mission. The Coast Guard’s persistent offshore presence and associated interdiction efforts sever the supply lines of criminal networks where they are most vulnerable—at sea. Leveraging over 30 multilateral and bilateral agreements with a host of government organizations, the Coast Guard’s long-term counter-TCO efforts promote stability and strengthen the rule of law throughout these regions. Working with interagency partners, the Coast Guard seized 223 metric tons of cocaine and detained and transferred 606 smugglers for criminal prosecution in FY 2017. Highlighting our record-breaking mission performance for drug interdiction was the STRATTON’s offload of over 50,000 pounds of illicit narcotics, with an estimated street value of over $6.1 billion. This was a result of collaborative efforts between four U.S. Coast Guard cutters, DHS maritime patrol aircraft, and a U.S. Navy ship in over 25 separate interdictions. Beyond the important task of removing cocaine from the illicit system that gets it to U.S. streets, prosecuting smugglers facilitates deeper understanding of TCOs and ultimately helps our unified efforts to dismantle them.

Without question, National Security Cutters (NSC) have been a game-changer not only for our drug interdiction and counter-TCO operations in the southern maritime transit zone, but also in contributing to other national security priorities, such as supporting DoD Combatant Commander requirements across the globe and projecting sovereign rights in the Arctic.

Looking forward, the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) will provide the tools to more effectively enforce Federal laws, secure our maritime borders, disrupt TCOs, and respond to 21st century threats. Continued progress on this acquisition is absolutely vital to recapitalizing our aging fleet of Medium Endurance Cutters (MECs), some of which will be over 55 years old when the first OPC is delivered in 2021. In concert with the extended range and capability of the NSC and the enhanced coastal patrol capability of the Fast Response Cutter (FRC), OPCs will be the backbone of the Coast Guard’s strategy to project and maintain offshore presence.

As one of the five Armed Forces, the Coast Guard deploys world-wide to execute our statutory Defense Operations mission in support of national security priorities. On any given day, 11 cutters, two maritime patrol aircraft, five helicopters, two specialized boarding teams, and an entire Port Security Unit are supporting DoD Combatant Commanders on all seven continents. In the Middle East, our squadron of six patrol boats continues to police the waters of the Northern Arabian Gulf in close cooperation with the U.S. Navy, promoting regional peace and stability. Likewise, as one of the principal Federal agencies performing detection and monitoring in the southern maritime transit zone, the Coast Guard provides more than 4,000 hours of maritime patrol aircraft support and 2,000 major cutter days to DoD’s Southern Command each year.

In the high latitudes, the Arctic region is becoming increasingly accessible at a time when global interests in energy, clean water, and subsistence continue to intensify. The Coast Guard is committed to the safety, security, and environmental stewardship of the Arctic, and we will remain closely engaged with our partners, including Russia, via the Arctic Coast Guard Forum. By focusing on collaboration over conflict, we are promoting governance and building a shared approach to prevention and response challenges in the region.

Meanwhile, the 42-year old POLAR STAR recently completed another Operation DEEP FREEZE patrol in Antarctica. Just one major casualty away from leaving the Nation without any heavy icebreaking capability, POLAR STAR supported U.S. strategic interests and the National Science Foundation by breaking a navigable shipping lane to deliver fuel and critical supplies to the U.S. base at McMurdo Sound.

I appreciate your support for the $150 million appropriated in Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy (SCN) funding in the FY 2017 Omnibus. This is a great step forward to secure our future in the Polar Regions and finally recapitalize the Nation’s icebreaker fleet. This funding coupled with the $750 million in the FY 2019 President’s Budget, would enable the Coast Guard to award a contract for detail design and construction and deliver the first new heavy polar icebreaker in 2023. These critical investments reflect our interests and standing as an Arctic Nation and affirm the Coast Guard’s role in providing assured access to the Polar Regions.

At the same time the Service was conducting counter-drug missions in the Eastern Pacific and projecting sovereign rights in the Arctic, the Coast Guard also launched one of the largest responses in history during a historic 2017 hurricane season. Over a five week period, Hurricanes HARVEY, IRMA, MARIA, and NATE impacted over 2,540 miles of shoreline3, and Coast Guard men and women in helicopters, boats, cutters, vehicles and on foot rescued over 11,300 people and over 1,500 pets.

During our 2017 hurricane response, the Coast Guard resolved over 1,269 aids to navigation discrepancies, handled 290 pollution cases, located and assessed more than 3,623 grounded vessels, with more than 1,585 removed to date. Within hours after each storm’s passage, Coast Guard damage and recovery assessment teams were on-scene determining the status of ports and waterways, leveraging electronic aids to navigation when feasible to facilitate the rapid reopening of key ports and waterways, and assessing impacts to Coast Guard facilities and capabilities. This enabled a vital portion of the country’s waterways to reopen, helping maintain our Maritime Transportation System (MTS) which contributes $4.6 trillion annually to our Gross Domestic Product.

The daily activities of Coast Guard men and women are heroic, as they support nearly every facet of the Nation’s maritime interests, protect our homeland, and secure our economic prosperity. In addition to the hurricane responses, the Coast Guard prosecuted over 16,000 search-and-rescue cases and saved more than 4,200 lives; interdicted more than 2,500 undocumented migrants; completed over 9,100 Safety of Life at Sea safety exams on foreign vessels; and responded to over 12,200 reports of pollution incidents.
Beyond operations, we earned our fifth consecutive clean financial audit opinion – the only Armed Service that can make such a claim. Further, our major acquisition programs and product lines are delivering new assets on schedule and on budget that have proven to meet our operational requirements. To better guide our modernization, we developed a Long Term Major Acquisitions Plan (LTMAP), a roadmap to field modern platforms to address 21st century threats. We have been working with the Administration to finalize the details of the LTMAP and are committed to delivering this report to Congress as soon as possible.

Our greatest strength is undoubtedly our people. Coast Guard operations require a resilient, capable workforce that draws upon the broad range of skills, talents, and experiences found in the American population. In FY 2019, the Coast Guard will maintain a proficient, diverse, and adaptable workforce that responds effectively to changing technology, an increasingly complex operating environment, and dynamic partnerships. Together, modern platforms and a strong, resilient workforce will maximize the Coast Guard’s capacity to meet future challenges.

Conclusion

History has proven that a responsive, capable, and agile Coast Guard is an indispensable instrument of national security. Funding 21st century Coast Guard platforms and people are especially prudent investments given today’s challenging fiscal environment. I firmly believe no other investment will return more operational value on every dollar than the extraordinary men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard—which includes 48,000 Active Duty and Reserve members, 8,500 civilians, and over 27,000 volunteer members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. As illustrated by our sustained response to an historic hurricane season, another record year removing illicit narcotics from the maritime approaches, and unique support to Combatant Commanders around the globe; our ability to rapidly surge resources to emerging threats continues yield unprecedented results for the Nation.

With the continued support of the Administration and Congress, the Coast Guard will continue to live up to our motto – Semper Paratus – Always Ready. Thank you for all you do for the men and women of the Coast Guard.