“Defense Primer: U.S. Precision-Guided Munitions” –CRS

The Congressional Research Service has issued a three page, “Defense Primer: U.S. Precision-Guided Munitions.” (Thanks to the USNI news service for bringing this to my attention.)

The remarkable thing is how pervasive these systems have become.

The U.S. military has become reliant on PGMs to execute military operations, being used in ground, air, and naval operations. In FY2020, DOD requested approximately $5.6 billion for more than 70,000 such weapons in 13 munitions programs. DOD projects to request $4.4 billion for 34,000 weapons in FY2021, $3.3 billion for 25,000 weapons in FY2022, $3.8 billion for 25,000 weapons in FY2023, and $3.4 billion for 16,000 weapons in FY2024.

What has this got to do with the Coast Guard? The Coast Guard is a military organization. We are an armed force at all times. We are armed, but we are not really armed for the realities of the 21st century.

Precision guided weapons have the potential to provide the capabilities we need on a wider range of platforms, with increased effectiveness, at lower costs, with less likelihood of collateral damage.

One of the Coast Guard’s core peacetime capabilities should be the ability to forcibly stop a vessel of any size. Earlier I discussed why I believe we are not capable of doing this, here in 2011, and in fact not as capable as we were in the 1920s and 30s here in 2012.

If we are to make a meaningful contribution in any future conflict, we need to be equipped with modern weapons.

Precision guided munitions are no longer reserved for capital ships. Littoral Combat Ships, the Navy combatants that are closest to our large cutters, were built with Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) systems and Naval Strike Missiles are being added. There is not a single class of US Navy surface combatants, down to, and including the Cyclone class patrol craft, that is not equipped with some form of precision guided munition.

It is time for an upgrade.

Guided weapons can give even relatively small platforms a heavy weight punch. Anti-ship cruise missiles and torpedoes have been successfully fitted to numerous classes of vessels of less than 300 tons full load (e.g. smaller than the Webber class).

Certainly precision guided weapons, be they missiles or torpedoes, cost more on a per round basis, but a gun system that can inflict comparable damage requires an expensive gun, a large quantity of ammunition that is expensive, heavy, and a potential danger to the ship itself, extensively trained technician maintainers and operators, and frequent live training. The launchers for smart munitions by contrast may be simpler. The weapons are most frequently “wooden rounds” that require no maintenance, and training programs are frequently incorporated in the launch system software.

Lastly, if we are going to engage targets, potentially within the confines of U.S. harbors, we want to make sure rounds don’t go astray and hurt innocent Americans. Guided weapons are far less likely to cause unintended damage.

The document briefly describes twelve systems. This is certainly not all the systems in the US inventory. I presume, only these are described, because these are the systems that are included in current budget deliberations. I am reproducing the description for the systems that I think are most likely to be applicable to the Coast Guard, preceded by comments on how they might be used by the Coast Guard. The document divides missiles into “Air Launched,” “Ground Launched,” and “Naval,” but as we know, several of these missiles can be launched from ships as well as from the air or ground.

Hellfire, a good candidate for countering small, fast, highly maneuverable surface threats. Also capable of inflecting serious damage on larger targets if multiple rounds are used. Damage is roughly comparable to a shell from a WWII cruiser. Versions are now being used to arm Littoral Combat Ships. They appear to be a good fit for vessels as small as WPBs.

Army Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) firing
(IFPC, “Indirect Fire Protection Capability”) Launching Hellfire missile

Hellfire Missile. The first Hellfire was introduced into service in 1982 on the Army’s AH-64 Apache, using laser guidance to target tanks, bunkers, and structures. Hellfire missiles have a maximum effective range of 4.3 nautical miles. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Hellfire missiles were introduced on the MQ-1 Predator, and later the MQ-9 Reaper, enabling unmanned aerial vehicles to provide a strike capability. Hellfire missiles have become a preferred munition for operations in the Middle East, particularly with increased utilization of unmanned aircraft like MQ-1s and MQ-9s. 

JAGM, a possible direct replacement for Hellfire. same size and shape:

Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM). The Joint Air-to-Ground Missile is designed to replace the Hellfire, TOW, and Maverick missiles. JAGM uses a new warhead/seeker paired with an existing AGM-114R rocket motor to provide improved target acquisition and discrimination. JAGM underwent testing starting in 2010, declaring initial operating capability in 2019 having successfully been integrated on the AH-64E Apache and AH-1Z Super Cobra attack helicopters.

Naval Strike Missile, chosen for the Littoral Combat Ship and new frigate, this would seem to be a natural fit for the National Security Cutter and Offshore Patrol Cutter. I would prefer the LRASM because of its longer range and much larger warhead, but this system does have a smaller foot print so might fit where the LRASM could not. This is the first time I have seen a maximum range of 300 nautical miles quoted.

A Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is launched from the U.S. Navy littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS-4) during missile testing operations off the coast of Southern California (USA). The missile scored a direct hit on a mobile ship target. 23 September 2014.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary D. Bell

 Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The NSM is an anti-ship low observable cruise missile capable of flying close the surface of the ocean to avoid radar detection. The NSM is designed to fly multiple flight profiles—different altitudes and speeds—with effective ranges of between 100 and 300 nautical miles at a cruise speed of up to 0.9 Mach. The Navy has integrated the NSM on its Littoral Combat Ship, which deployed to the Pacific region in September 2019.

 

LRASM, this would be my preferred option to arm the NSC and OPC. It has sufficient range to almost guarantee that if there were a terrorist attack using a medium to large ship, we would have a vessel underway, ready, and within range to engage it. Its warhead is almost four time the size of that of the NSM, so it would be much more likely to get a mobility kill with a single round. It, like the NSM, can be launched from deck mounted inclined canisters.

US Navy photo. A U.S. Navy Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) in flight during a test event Dec. 8, 2017 off the Coast of California.

Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). LRASM was conceived by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, using a JASSM missile body to replace the AGM-88 Harpoon. Flight testing began in 2012 with the B-1B and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. LRASM uses radio-frequency sensors and electrooptical/infrared seekers for guidance.

 

If you want to dig deeper into this, the Congressional Research Service has done a much more in depth study of the procurement issues.

“Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, October 21, 2019, A New Version Reflects RFI

Congressional Research Service has again updated their review of the Coast Guard’s Cutter acquisition programs. (Again only five days after the previous update) The changes reflect the Request for Information (RFI) issued Oct. 18, 2019. You can see the new CRS report here.

The significant changes begin on page 11, and continues through page 14 with quotes from the RFI, and in the “Issues for Congress” section, beginning on page 18 under “Follow-On Competition,” continuing through page 20.

It still seems strange to me that Eastern’s team is not being required to complete the detail design and that the Coast Guard would take the time to develop a second detail design.

As I understand, it the design team is Vard. They should not have been significantly  effected by the hurricane that struck Eastern. Have they been unable to complete a detail design? Shouldn’t they be able to complete one before the re-compete contracts for design studies, evaluates design studies, awards another contract, and completes a second detail design? That the Coast Guard is considering this course make be suspicious that that something is terribly wrong within the Eastern team. I hope I am wrong.

It is gratifying to note that two posts from this blog are referenced in the report:

More Coast Guard in the Western Pacific, “U.S. Coast Guard Mulling More Operations in Oceania” –USNI

COLONIA, Yap (July 4, 2019) The U.S. Coast Guard Island-class patrol boat USCGC Kiska and Mark VI patrol boats assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 2, Coastal Riverine Group 1, Detachment Guam, moored in the Micronesia port of Yap. CRG 1, Det. Guam’s visit to Yap, and engagement with the People of Federated States of Micronesia underscores the U.S. Navy’s commitment to partners in the region. The Mark VI patrol boat is an integral part of the expeditionary forces support to 7th Fleet, capability of supporting myriad of missions throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released)

The US Naval Institute News Service reports comments by the Commandant”

“KUALA LUMPUR — The U.S. Coast Guard is looking at longer deployments to the Western Pacific region following the successful execution of the Operation Aiga deployment to Samoa and American Samoa, commandant Adm. Karl Schultz told reporters on Monday.

This is in reference to an operations discussed in a previous post. Earlier USCGC Oliver F. Berry (WPC-1124) also supported by the USCGC Walnut (WLB-205) had completed a similar mission to the Republic of the Marshall Islands

The Commandant apparently sees this as a prototype for future operations.

“We are looking at taking that proof of concept 30-day operation and pushing that probably into a little longer duration in the future,” he said.

This is only the latest statement from Coast Guard officers at the highest levels indicating that the Coast Guard’s intent to put more emphasis on operations in the Western Pacific: the Commandant: July 23, 2019; Commander, Pacific Area: August 17, 2019.

Changes are coming that will make maintaining that presence a bit easier. Three Webber class Fast Response Cutters will replace two 110 foot WPBs in Guam, that will give CCGD14 six Webber class WPCs, three homeported in Honolulu in addition to the three in Guam. Two National Security Cutters were recently commissioned in Oahu. The switch to longer ranged J model C-130s equipped with Minotaur will make providing air reconnaissance easier and more effective.

I do have some concerns about the ability to exploit these additional Webber class. The long range WPC and WPB operations have been supported by 225 foot buoy tenders, but there are only two in the Fourteenth District, one each in Guam and Hawaii. They may have already reached their limit in the amount of support they can provide. Other large ships might be able to take on this role and aviation asset in support are certainly desirable.  A second WLB in Guam would be very useful. They are almost ideal for disaster response to small island communities, but there are no new ones being built and all are likely fully committed where they are. Some of these operations have been conducted in cooperation with assets from Australia and New Zealand. France also has interests in the region. They could provide both material support and an air element. An ultimate solution might be Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) based in Guam.

In order to continue NSC operations with the 7th Fleet similar to those undertake recently by Bertholf and Stratton, a third NSC in the Fourteenth district would be useful, either the potential NSC#12 or one of the five currently expected to be homeported in Charleston. The need for this, would of course, go away if we had two or three OPCs in Guam.

 

 

First Look at new OPC Acquisition Strategy, “Coast Guard Issues RFI for Offshore Patrol Cutter” –MarineLink

Thanks to MarineLink for bringing this to my attention.

The Coast Guard apparently wants a rapid response, “Responses to this RFI must be received no later than 11:00 a.m. eastern time (ET) November 6, 2019,” but otherwise we are not in such a big hurry, as I will explain below.

I will replicate the RFI at the end, but the notional schedule tells us a lot about the currently envisioned acquisition strategy.

Notional Schedule:

You can find the Notional Schedule here. Attachment_1-Notional_Schedule.pdf  Basically it looks like a restart from ground zero.

  • There is to be an Industry Studies RFP Released in mid FY2020
  • Draft Spec are to be released third quarter of FY2020 (don’t we already have not just draft specs but detailed specs?)
  • Draft DD&C RFP at the beginning of FY 2021
  • Detailed Design &Construction RFP Released Second Quarter FY2021
  • Award for Detail Design & Lead Ship Construction does not happen until late FY2022.
  • Again we expect to only build one ship per year for the first three ships before transitioning to two ship a year.
  • The final to OPC would not be delivered until the fourth quarter of FY2037

It appears there are 33 months between the issuance of this RFI and award for Detail Design & Lead Ship Construction and 45 months between the RFI and start of construction of OPC#5. After as much planning and effort has gone into the design of these ships, that has got to be wrong.

The fourteenth OPC will not replace the last 210 until fourth quarter FY2032. That 210 will be over 63 years old. The last 270 decommissioned will be at least 48 years old. I’m sorry, that is ludicrous.

Something is terribly wrong here. Why are we paying for multiple detail designs? This will mean we will have at least two class, even if they may look alike. Did Eastern never complete the detail design as they were contracted to do? Why not demand the detail design as a condition of contract relief? These ships are long overdue. Where is the sense of urgency?

The RFI below does seem to open some additional possibilities including awarding contracts for construction to more than one yard, construction of more than two ships per year, and block buy contracting.

The possibility of multiple detail designs from multiple shipyards, “…the USCG intends to release a solicitation for multiple-award, Government-funded Industry Studies to prospective prime Shipbuilders for an OPC Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) contract” is troubling and raises the possibility of a proliferation of detail designs within the class that is certainly undesirable.

If we persist in this slow approach to construction of the rest of the class, perhaps we should make them faster, quieter, and better armed so they would make better warships if we have to engage in a major naval conflict in the future.

——

Request For Information:

Solicitation Number: RFI-USCG-OPC-2020-1
Notice Type: Special Notice
Synopsis:
Added: Oct 18, 2019 12:01 pm

This Request for Information (RFI) issued by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) is for information and planning purposes only. It does not constitute a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a promise to issue an RFP in the future. No contract award will be made based on any responses to this notice. The Government is not responsible for any costs associated with providing information in response to this RFI and no reimbursement will be made for any cost associated with effort expended in responding to this notice.

Submission of proprietary information is not requested, and respondents shall refrain to the maximum extent practical from providing proprietary information in response to this RFI. If respondents volunteer to provide proprietary information, clearly mark such proprietary information appropriately and separate it from the unrestricted information as an appendix.

Responses to this RFI must be received no later than 11:00 a.m. eastern time (ET) November 6, 2019. Respondents shall email responses to the following email address: OPC@uscg.mil. Please direct any questions regarding the posting of this RFI to the attention of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) Program at OPC@uscg.mil. To assist the Government with tracking responses, please reference “Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC)” and company’s name in the subject line. Telephonic responses will not be accepted. Follow-up discussions may be conducted with respondents.

Purpose

On October 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved and granted extraordinary relief to Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc., on its OPC contract, for up to four hulls as a result of the impact of Hurricane Michael (DHS & USCG press releases are available at the following links: https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Acquisitions-CG-9/Newsroom/Latest-Acquisition-News/Article/1987279/department-of-homeland-security-approves-limited-extraordinary-relief-for-offsh/ and https://www.dhs.gov/news/2019/10/11/dhs-extends-contract-relief-offshore-patrol-cutter).

The USCG is now working to further develop and finalize its acquisition strategy for completing the OPC Program of Record of 25 hulls. The purpose of this RFI is to obtain feedback on a notional OPC acquisition approach and schedule for completing the OPC Program of Record as soon as possible.

Notional Approach & Schedule

Attachment 1 is a notional schedule that outlines a high-level acquisition approach where multiple Government-funded Industry Studies contracts may be awarded to assist in the refinement and completion of the existing OPC Detail Design and the development of a Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) solicitation to facilitate delivery of affordable OPCs to the fleet as quickly as possible, while reducing program risk over the course of the Program of Record. Under this approach, it is anticipated that upon completion of Industry Studies, the USCG would award one or more competitive contract(s) for completing the Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) of OPCs (emphasis applied–Chuck) in a continued effort to fulfill the USCG’s Program of Record requirements for 25 OPCs.

In order to meet the OPC Program’s operational fleet needs, it is assumed that Shipbuilders would utilize the mature parts of the existing OPC functional design (emphasis applied–Chuck)– to the maximum extent possible – and mature any incomplete aspects of the detail design. The existing functional design, including selected 2D design drawings, calculations, and diagrams, will be made available for Industry Studies contract awardees and will not be warranted by the Government. While schedule is a major driver, program affordability must remain a constant consideration.

Industry Studies Contracts: In early FY20, the USCG intends to release a solicitation for multiple-award, Government-funded Industry Studies to prospective prime Shipbuilders for an OPC Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) contract. (emphasis applied–Chuck) It is anticipated that the Government will award Industry  Studies contracts to Shipbuilders able to build (i.e., with a certified launch facility), design (i.e., Shipbuilders with in-house design capability or a designer as a team member), and have the capacity to deliver (i.e., within the shipyard’s current build schedule) OPCs featuring Command and Control, Navigation, Aviation, and Navy-furnished Combat systems no later than the dates included in the notional schedule below. As part of the Industry Studies solicitation, the Government may provide a draft OPC System Specification, technical data package, and draft DD&C Statement of Work. This data describes a basic OPC functional design, which has completed a Critical Design Review. Shipbuilders may be required to use this non-warranted data as the basis for completing an affordable Detail Design of the OPC on an accelerated delivery timeline. An overview (placemat) of this functional design will also be provided to Industry Study awardees. As part of Industry Studies, the Government is interested in understanding how the 2D functional design will be transitioned and incorporated into a final 3D production design for OPC construction at each Shipbuilder’s facility. It is anticipated that each Shipbuilder will conduct several cost, schedule, capability and technical studies to support validation and refinement of its proposed OPC Detail Design and transition to a production design. The results of the Industry Studies will further inform a Government RFP for an OPC DD&C contract.

Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) Contract(s): The Program intends to release an RFP, through separate full and open competition, leading to award of Long Lead Time Material (LLTM) and DD&C for OPCs in an effort to complete the OPC Program of Record of 25 hulls.

The OPC Program seeks industry feedback on the notional program schedule (Attachment 1) as well as industry feedback on how construction of OPCs could be further accelerated and how acceleration would affect program risk and cost.

 Requested Information from Industry

Acquisition Strategy Feedback

1. Given the publicly-available information and description provided above on the status of the OPC program, please provide a recommended contracting approach for the USCG to obtain Long Lead Time Material (LLTM), Detail Design, and Construction of OPCs in an effort to complete its Program of Record of 25 hulls. Describe perceived risks, impediments to competition, and opportunities available to the USCG to incentivize robust industry interest and competition and maintain program affordability. Examples of other input being sought includes, but is not limited to, contract type, Industry Studies scope of work, performance incentives, evaluation criteria, source selection approach, etc.

2. Identify risks with the notional approach described in this RFI, suggest measures to mitigate risk, and identify potential opportunities to accelerate the notional schedule, while maintaining program affordability.

3. Provide a notional plan of action and milestones for how your company would meet or accelerate the delivery dates depicted in the notional schedule provided in this RFI, while maintaining program affordability.

4. Identify how your company would approach using a Government-provided, non-warranted functional design to construct one or more OPCs. Discuss any potential technical risks associated with refining/completing an existing design from industry’s perspective. Describe your company’s preferred approach to completing an OPC production design, based on the notional schedule outlined in this request, and how your company views a requirement to utilize a non-warranted functional design data package.

5. Provide input on the potential use of a block buy contracting approach (emphasis applied–Chuck) during the course of the program and recommendations for incorporation of such an approach if your company deems that block buy contracting is feasible. Also, if your company deems that block buy contracting is not feasible, explain the rationale against using this approach.

6. Indicate if constructing two hulls per year is feasible and provide your company’s expected shipbuilding capacity with respect to constructing multiple hulls per year. (emphasis applied–Chuck) Any recommendations or input on the overall production schedule are encouraged.

Respondent Company Information

7. Please provide the current status of the DFARS-based certifications or approvals of your company’s: 1) Accounting System (DFARS 252.244-7006); 2) Earned Value Management System (DFARS 252.234-7002); 3) Purchasing System (DFARS 252.244-7001); and 4) Estimating System (DFARS 252.215-7002).

8. Aspects of this program will require access to Secret material. Please address your company’s ability to meet personnel and facility security requirements.

9. Provide one recent example of your company’s experience in delivering ships featuring C5ISR, Navigation, Aviation, and Combat Systems, and identify major subcontractors used to manage development, construction, and/or integration of those systems. (emphasis applied, not going with any inexperienced shipyard this time. Eastern will not have delivered such a ship when this submission is required and may disqualify them from the recompete –Chuck)

10. Provide a yard-loading schedule that demonstrates your company’s expected shipbuilding capacity to support the OPC program and its planned serial, multiple-hull build approach.

11. Indicate your company’s interest in participating in the potential future Industry Studies and DD&C contracts.

 

“Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, October 16, 2019, A New Version Only Five Days After the Last

Congressional Research Service has again updated their review of the Coast Guard’s Cutter acquisition programs and the changes are significant. You can see it here.

Again the significant changes begin on page 8, with the section labeled “October 2019 Announcement of Contractual Relief and Follow-on Competition.” It looks at the authority for contract relief. It goes on to discuss the “60-Day Congressional Review Period That Started on October 11” on page 9. This is followed by quotation of various press reports about the decision through page 11. Discussion of the OPC resumes on page 14 in the “Issues for Congress” section under the title, “Contractual Relief and Follow-on Competition for OPC Program.” These include questions that might be asked during the 60 day Congressional Review period. This continues through page 16

It quotes the Commandant as saying, “the first ship now delayed 10 to 12 months and the three subsequent ships about nine to 10 months each from that point,” and that “If DHS decided to reopen the competition immediately, that would probably mean a three year delay before a new vendor delivers the first OPC.” (I expect a minimum of four years.) and “If another vendor is selected through a re-competition, it’s unlikely the new shipbuilder would be tasked with building multiple ships per year immediately, Schultz said.”

The Coast Guard’s rights to Eastern’s OPC design data are discussed. My position would be that relief should be granted only if Eastern conveyed rights to all design data to the Coast Guard upon final grant of contract relief. 

The possibility of procuring a twelfth National Security as a means of ameliorating the effects of the delays to the OPCs program was discussed on page 17. (It is not addressed here, but delays in the OPC program also argue strongly for fully funding the FRC fleet to 64 units.)

The form of the follow-on contract, either annual or multi-year, was discussed on page 17 and 18. (A block buy could encourage more competition, offering stable work and to a degree offsetting Eastern’s learning curve edge in a re-compete, possibly resulting savings that might approach $1B.)

OPC procurement rate is addressed on pages 18 and 19. This question was raised in all previous editions of the report, but may gain additional urgency because of the delays associated with contract relief and because the program was supposed to transition from one ship per year to two ships per year with OPC #4 and #5 in FY2021.

If I had my druthers, we would fund NSC#12 in addition to OPC#3 in FY2020, then in FY2021 award two block buy contracts for ten ships each over five years (1, 2, 2, 2, 3) to two different shipyards. Assuming award near the end of FY2021 we might have all 20 plus the four currently planned from Eastern by the end of FY2029, five years earlier than previously planned. That could mean the last 270 would only be 38 years old when decommissioned, and we might not need to do as much work on old ships to keep the operational. That would give us 36 large ships (12 NSCs and 24 OPCs), more than the original Program of Record. That would mean funding three OPCs in FY2021, one to Eastern and one to each of the two new shipyard contracts.

“Appendix E. Impact of Hurricane Michael on OPC Program at Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG)” provides additional background on the decision to provide contract relief.

Incidentally, on page 20, the House Appropriations Committee is reported to have recommended funding five FRCs in FY2020 and on page 21 the Senate Appropriations Committee is reported to have recommended funding four FRCs instead of the two requested by the administration.

“Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, October 11, 2019

Busy as always, the Congressional Research Service has already updated their examination of the Coast Guard’s cutter procurement program to reflect the results of the contract relief extended to Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) and the intention to re-compete for contracts to construct OPC#5 and later. You can see the new report here. 

Significant changes are found on pages 8-10 under the title “October 2019 Announcement of Contractual Relief and Follow-on Competition,” and pages 13-15 under the title “Issues for Congress–Contractual Relief and Follow-on Competition for OPC Program.”

Delays in the execution of the OPC program might be seen as justification for NSC#12 particularly if it is seen as a trade-off for a future OPC.

Not new to this edition, but looking at “Table 1. NSC, OPC, and FRC Funding in FY2013-FY2020 Budget Submissions” on page 13, raises a question about how many Webber class FRCs are to be built. The Program of Record is 58, but this did not include replacements for the six vessels assigned to Patrol Forces SW Asia. Adding six for PATFORSWA should bring the total to 64. So far 56 Webber class have been funded, including four to replace 110 foot patrol boats assigned PATFORSWA. There is $140M in the FY 2020 budget request, which would fund two more, but there are insufficient funds in the out years to fund even a single additional FRC. This appears to mean the program will end with a total of 58 vessels unless Congress steps in.

 

“DHS, Coast Guard extend limited contract relief for Offshore Patrol Cutter” –CG News Release

Below is a news release in full. It reports that “contract relief” will be granted to Eastern Shipyard for construction of the first four ships but that the Coast Guard will reopen bidding for the follow on ships. The Coast Guard always had this option although it seemed unlikely before. The statement that this relief will be granted, “in parallel with immediate recompete” probably means we will see a request for proposal in the near future. 

It seems unlikely that the follow-on ships would be of a different design. The Coast Guard now owns the detail design (correction, I am told the CG does not own all the design details yet but has the option to purchase them) and a different design would introduce additional delays and expense for design development. 

A recompete once again opens the possibility of using a block buy which could result in substantial savings. The recompete could easily provide a block buy for ten ships over five years. A block buy, rather than a contract for two with options, would tend to level the playing field between Eastern, that has the advantage of already building this class, and other shipyards. 

From a historical perspective, the 270 program was also completed by two different shipyards, the first four being built by Tacoma Boat, the other nine by Derecktor Shipyard in Rode Island. The change did result in an 18 month gap between the fourth and fifth ship. 

united states coast guard

 News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
Contact: Coast Guard Acquisitions
(202) 475-3069/5532
Headquarters Media Relations (202) 372-4630
mediarelations@uscg.mil
Headquarters online newsroom

 

DHS, Coast Guard extend limited contract relief for Offshore Patrol Cutter

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security, in close coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard, granted extraordinary relief to the Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) for the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) under the authority of Public Law (P.L.) 85-804.

ESG submitted a request June 30, 2019, for extraordinary relief after their shipbuilding facilities sustained significant damages from Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm, in October 2018.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan made the decision to grant extraordinary contract relief limited to the first four hulls on the basis that ESG’s performance on the OPC contract is vital to the national defense. The Coast Guard will immediately transition to a follow-on competitive contract for the remaining OPC program of record.

P.L. 85-804 was enacted in 1958 and extended to DHS through Presidential Executive Order in 2003. Under this law, an existing contract may be amended or modified when such actions are necessary to facilitate the national defense.

The Coast Guard, supported by DHS and the Navy, conducted an extensive analysis of ESG’s request guided by law and Federal Acquisition Regulation. This review included an assessment of the cost, schedule, and performance impacts on the existing contract. The review was overseen by a Contract Adjustment Board chaired by the DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Management.

“Eastern Shipbuilding’s request for extraordinary relief was carefully considered,” said Coast Guard Vice Commandant, Admiral Charles W. Ray. “This review validated the essential contributions the OPC will provide to our national security and determined that limited relief, in parallel with immediate recompete, is the best option in this exceptional situation. Doing so is consistent with the law, fiscally responsible, and the most expeditious means to deliver this essential national capability.”

The Coast Guard intends to release a Request for Information to gauge industry interest in re-competing the remainder of the OPC program of record. This information will inform the acquisition strategy for the follow-on procurement.

The OPC will replace the fleet of Medium Endurance Cutters, commissioned between 1964 and 1991, providing a critical capability between the National Security Cutter and the Fast Response Cutter. OPC acquisition will expand the Coast Guard’s capability to secure the U.S. border and approaches, disrupt drug cartels and other illicit actors, prevent unlawful immigration, and enhance national preparedness. This decision will ensure critical capabilities are delivered to the fleet as expeditiously and responsibly as possible.

-USCG-