National Defense reports that the Administration’s 2020 budget request makes deep cuts in the Coast Guard budget compared to recent years, but that there is a good chance Congress will make up at least some of the difference.
We have Congress plus up the Coast Guard’s budget in the past, particularly in terms of increasing numbers of Webber class cutters funded. The 2020 budget includes only two. This is likely to be increased to four or even six.
Congress has also added three Bertholf class NSC to the program of record and there have been suggestions that a 12th is needed to fully replace the 378 foot WHECs. If we are to get a 12th NSC, it almost has to happen in FY2020 before we OPC construction goes to two per year and before we need to fund Polar Security Cutters 2-6.
The Commandant has been talking about maintenance backlogs recently. Unfortunately maintenance does not have the highly visible job creation impact of new construction, although the dollar for dollar impact may be as great. It seldom makes the evening news, so this may be a harder sell.
The Congressional Research Service has updated their report on the Polar Security Cutter Program. This is the first revision since the award of the contract, so there are significant changes, including a section on the selected design found on pages 5-9.
I am passing along some thoughts on Diver Support requirements for the Polar Security Cutter from a former USCG diver, Michael W. Carr,
Divers are assigned to all Coast Guard Icebreakers, but this operational requirement has, in the past, been an afterthought. Dive lockers were cramped, not designed to support diving operations, and hampered equipment maintenance. Additionally, Coast Guard Icebreakers have rarely carried recompression chambers, even though these ships operate thousands of miles from diving medical assistance. I have not seen the specifications for these new vessels but I hope this new design incorporates DIVING features, and there is a DIVING OFFICER assigned to the design and construction team. Listed below are features which should be on these new Coast Guard Icebreakers:
1. Doublelock Navy approved recompression chamber.
2. Full suite of Surface Supplied Diving Systems, capable of supporting a US Navy MK21 Diving System.
3. Two independent Air Compressors capable of supporting Recompression Chamber Operations, Surface Supported Diving Systems, and SCUBA Operations.
4. A dedicated Diving equipment repair and maintenance space.
5. A dedicated space for a Diving Medical Corpsman.
6. Direct Access to the outside (weather) deck and diving station, with necessary heat and lighting for day/night operations.
7. Necessary equipment to support both hot water suit and dry suit operations.
8. Systems for supporting hydraulic and pneumatic tool operations.
9. Equipment necessary to support ship husbandry operations (propellor, sea chest, transducer, etc maintenance, and repair).
10 Dedicated meeting/training room for Dive Team planning and operations.
11. A Navy approved diving stage and crane to lower and raise divers (In the past divers conducted diving operations from the ice alongside the ship, or from a small boat tied alongside the icebreaker.
12. And finally: NO overboard suctions or discharges in the area of the diving station.
We need to think far into the future, ensuring these vessels meet both present needs, and the expansion of responsibilities as the Arctic and Antartic change due to our rapid climate changes. Coast Guard Divers assigned to Icebreakers are likely to be tasked with many more missions repairing other vessels and offshore structures, oil spill response actions, maritime security, and a myriad of other tasks. Lets really think this through and get it right. Bring on Divers with experience and knowledge to ensure we make these new icebreakers state of the art. Let’s examine icebreakers from all the other countries which operate in Arctic and Antarctic regions, and incorporate that knowledge.
Michael W. Carr is a Coast Guard Academy graduate (1977) and attended US Navy Diving & Salvage Officer training while in the Coast Guard. He then served as Diving Officer on US Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team Dive Team for 6 years. After 10 years in the Coast Guard, Carr went into the US Army Watercraft community. He retired from Army in 2015.
BACKGROUND: The FY 2020 President’s Budget requests $11.34 billion for the Coast Guard, including $9.32 billion in discretionary funding. This begins to address the Service’s erosion of readiness through critical investments in the workforce, cybersecurity, and depot maintenance of legacy assets and infrastructure. The Budget also supports the Service’s highest priority acquisition, the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), and continues recapitalization efforts for capital assets and infrastructure.
Maximize Readiness Today and Tomorrow—increasing global complexity and expanding demand for Coast Guard services necessitates investment in the workforce, assets, and infrastructure to address the erosion of Service readiness.
Address the Nation’s Complex Maritime Challenges—as the Nation’s unique instrument across the full spectrum of maritime operations, the Budget invests in capabilities and capacity to detect, deter, and counter maritime threats in support of homeland security and defense operations.
Deliver Mission Excellence Anytime, Anywhere—the Coast Guard is an agile and adaptive force whose greatest value to the Nation is an ability to rapidly shift among its many missions. The Budget advances modernization efforts in both operations and acquisitions by adapting to the dynamic nature of maritime operations.
MAXIMIZE READINESS TODAY AND TOMORROW: The FY 2020 Budget requests $7.9 billion for Operations & Support (O&S). Budget highlights include:
$118 million for requisite military pay and allowances as per the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act requirements, which keeps DoD and Coast Guard military members compensated equitably, as well as providing civilian benefits and retirement contributions.
$59 million for new assets including: crew and shore-side support for NSC #9; operations and maintenance for FRCs #37-41; crews for FRCs #39-43; shore-side maintenance personnel for FRC homeports; crew for OPC #1; maintenance support personnel for the C-27J fleet; and operations, maintenance, and flight crews for HC-130J aircraft #12.
$27 million for human capital support infrastructure, and vessel, aircraft, and C5I maintenance funding to address spare parts inventory shortfalls that have led to decreased operations and lower readiness levels due to unplanned repairs.
$22 million for the final phase of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) compliance upgrades, including the replacement of obsolete aircraft equipment and systems necessary to meet 2020 airspace requirements.
ADDRESS THE NATION’S COMPLEX MARITIME CHALLENGES: The FY 2020 Budget requests $1.2 billion for Procurement, Construction, & Improvements (PC&I) to continue recapitalization of the Service’s highest priority acquisitions:
$792 million for vessels, including: $457 million for the construction of Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) #3 as well as long lead time materials for OPCs #4 and #5; $140 million for the procurement of two Fast Response Cutters (FRCs); $60 milllion for post-delivery activities for the seventh through eleventh National Security Cutters (NSCs); $35 million for program management and production activities associated with the detail design and construction contract for Polar Security Cutters (PSCs); and $15 million for a multi-year Service Life Extension Project (SLEP) for POLAR STAR.
$200 million for aircraft, including: $20 million to support service life extensions for MH-60T helicopters; $50 million for a service life extension and avionics upgrade on the H-65 helicopter fleet; $120 million for missionization of fixed-wing HC-27J and HC-144A aircraft; and $9 million for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS).
$174 million for shore infrastructure projects, including funding for: utility upgrades and construction at Air Station Ventura, CA; improvements at Station Tillamook Bay, OR; replacement of moorings at Station Siuslaw River, OR; and facility upgrades and construction to support FRC and OPC homeports.
DELIVER MISSION EXCELLENCE ANYTIME, ANYWHERE: In FY 2020, the Coast Guard will make sound, riskbased decisions to efficiently allocate resources while investing in critical recapitalization initiatives. Highlights include:
$15 million to address obsolete communications equipment on cutters, aircraft, and shore facilities to ensure continued interoperability with DoD Combatant Commanders (COCOMs) in theater, as well as in the high latitudes, and during disaster response.
$12 million in savings associated with the planned decommissioning of one High Endurance Cutter (WHEC) and three 110foot Patrol Boats (WPBs). These assets are being replaced by new, more capable NSCs and FRCs, respectively.
The $118M quoted above for military pay and allowances is to fund the pay increase not the full amount of pay and allowances.
The top line amount in the budget request, $11.34B, is roughly $770M less than the final FY2019 budget and about $860M less than the FY2018 budget as enacted. Fortunately Congress has usually made additions to the request, but this request is also less than last year’s request.
The big difference, more than $1B, is in the Procurement, Construction, and Improvement account. Amounts requested for Ships and Boats, Aircraft, and Shore-side Infrastructure are all lower. The $1.2B total is little more than half the approximately $2B/year the Coast Guard has been saying they need.
Items missing in the description of the budget that might have been expected, are a second “Polar Security Cutter” (better to do it in 2020 when we are not trying to also fund two OPCs), the Waterways Commerce Cutter, any additional HC-130J aircraft, and a land based Unmanned Air System. The procurement of only two Fast Response Cutters is below the optimum build rate and appears to have resulted in higher unit costs.
I found the Joint Explanation easiest to wade through. The Budget breakdown is found on pages 65 to 69 of the 612 page pdf.
Note in some cases I have rounded to the nearest $0.1M
Our total Coast Guard FY2019 budget is $12,015,921,000. This is $91,803,000 less than last year, but $577,720,000 more than the budget request.
The Operations and Support allocation is $7,808.2M. That is $434.9M more than last year (a 5.6% increase), and $215.1M more than requested.
I have provided information on the PC&I budget below including a complete list of line items that I was unable to provide before.
PROCUREMENT, CONSTRUCTION, AND IMPROVEMENTS (PC&I) $2,248.26M
Vessels and Boats
Survey and design: 5.5M
In service vessel sustainment: 63.25M
National Security Cutter: 72.6M (Follow up on ships already funded)
Offshore Patrol Cutter: 400M (Second of class + LLTM for third)
Fast Response Cutter: 340M (Six Webber class including two for PATFORSWA)
Cutter boats 5M
Polar Security Cutter: 675M (First of class + LLTM for second)
Waterways Commerce Cutter: 5M
Polar sustainment: 15M (Polar Star Service Life Extension)
—-Vessels Subtotal: $1,581.35M
HC-144 Conversion/Sustainment: 17M
HC-27J Conversion/Sustainment: 80M
HC-1330J Conversion/Sustainment: 105M
HH-65 Conversion/Sustainment: 28M
MH-60 Conversion/Sustainment: 120M
Small Unmanned Aircraft: 6M
—Aircraft Subtotal: $356M
Other Acquisition Programs:
Other Equipment and System: 3.5M
Program Oversight and Managemen: 20M
CG-Logistics Information Management System (CG-LIMS): 9.2M
—Other Acquisitions Programs Subtotal: $56M
Shore Facilities and Aids to Navigation:
Major Construction; Housing; ATON; and Survey and Design: 74.51M
Major Acquisition Systems Infrastructure: 175.4M
Minor Shore 5M
—Shore Facilities and Aids to Navigation Subtotal: $254.91M
The PC&I total, $2,248.26M, was $446.48M less than FY2018, but it was $361.51M above the budget request.
R&D was cut by almost a third. This is probably a place to spend more not less.
Reserve Training disappeared as a separate line item, so I can’t tell what happened there.
Also included in the new budget is $5M for the National Coast Guard Museum
Incidentally, the total amount appropriated for the polar security program includes $359.6M (FY2018 and prior) + $675M (FY2019), or $1,034.6M, of which $20M is for Long Lead Time Material for the second ship, and the remainder is for the first ship and other program-related expenses.
With Operations and Support up more than 5% over 2018 and Procurement Construction &Improvement (PC&I) over $2B for the second year in a row, this is the kind of budget we can live with. It just needs to keep happening.
$1,507.6M For Ships (LLTI refers to Long Lead Time Material):
$675M for the first Polar Security Cutter and LLTM for the second
$400M for the second Offshore Patrol Cutter and LLTM for the third
$340M for six Fast Response Cutters
$72.6M for the National Security Cutter program
$15M for life extension work on Polar Star
$5M for initial work on procuring an additional Great Lakes Icebreaker
Coast Guard C-130J
$208M For Aircraft:
$105 for the HC-130J program (I think that is one aircraft)
$95M for MH-60T recapitalization (reworking existing aircraft I believe)
$8M for upgrades to the MH-65s
That is $1,715M for the items above. This, hopefully, is not all. I don’t have a figure for the Waterways Commerce Cutter (a small figure at this point), no information on unmanned systems, and there should also be money to address the backlog of shoreside improvements, but this does seem to show a recognition of the real needs of the Coast Guard for recapitalization. Looks like the $2+B annually for PC&I the Coast Guard has been saying they need is within reach.
Polar Security Cutter Concept by Fincantieri Marinette Marine
If you have been wondering if the $655M allocated for the first Polar Security Cutter was enough, let me set your mind at ease. The original FY2019 request was for $750M and only $655M was included in the budget, so it appears we are $95M short. There is an explanation.
A footnote on page 19 of the report on the Polar Security Cutter (PSC) explains.
“47 The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2019 budget was submitted before Congress finalized action on the Coast Guard’s FY2018 budget. In its action on the FY2018 budget, Congress approved the Coast Guard’s request for $19 million in Coast Guard acquisition funding for the program, and provided $150 million in unrequested acquisition funding for the program in the Navy’s shipbuilding account. If the FY2019 request for $750 million is intended solely to complete the funding for the first ship, and if this figure does not assume that more than $19 million would be provided for the program in FY2018, then approving the $750 million request would provide $150 million more than needed to fully fund the first ship. “
There is also $15M for Service Life Extension work on the Polar Star (see Table 3 on page 35.
So, if I understand this correctly, we have $824M for the completion of design work and the construction of the first Polar Security Cutter. Additionally we have $20M for long lead items for the second PSC. If as reported earlier, the first three ships should cost approximately $2.1B, then we have a little over 39% of the funding for the three ship buy.
I would really like to see us do a block buy. Congress has authorized it, and the request for proposal asked for Block Buy quotes, so it should not be impossible.
Note: Apparently as a result of the Government Shutdown, links to the House of Representative’s Website that have been included in this are no longer available and once you get their error message you will no longer be able to back arrow to this site. You will have to reload. Hopefully these link will be reestablished some time in the future, so I have left them in. I have been unable to relocate some of the quotations below to provide more specific citations so I am going to go ahead and publish without them.
All five Representatives won reelection, so it is probable we will see them on the Subcommittee next year. Representative Garamendi was clearly excited and optimistic about the becoming chair of the House Sub-Committee. He strongly reports Coast Guard recapitalization. He also expressed a desire to see Rep. Brian Mast return as ranking member.
The two topics were essentially unrelated. We have revisited the topic of the Polar Security Cutter/Heavy Polar Icebreaker numerous times.
GAO is still contending there are Scheduling and Technological risks. They don’t seem to recognize the steps that have been taken to minimize these risks and that the largest scheduling risk is in delaying the start of the project once the detail design is substantially complete. There is real urgency in the need to replace Polar Star and they don’t seem to recognize that. Yes, the Coast Guard might have done a better job, if we had started this project about a decade earlier, and we might have done that if they had not continued to insist we had to keep our AC&I (now PC&I) budget to about $1.1B, but we can no longer afford more delay to achieve a drawn out, risk free, acquisition process.
Mr. O’Rourke once again made the case for block buy vs a contract with options, contrasting the way the Coast Guard has contracted for vessels while the Navy has successfully used Block Buy and Multi-Year contracting for vessels much more complicated than those being procured by the Coast Guard.
The need for a National Maritime Strategy reflected a realization that the US ability to transport military reinforcements to a theater of conflict in American ships with American crews seems to be in jeopardy. We discussed this problem and what the Coast Guard could do about it here.
The Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate is conducting a tailored technical readiness assessment to update the HPIB cost estimate with an estimated completion of June 30, 2019.
The Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate will update the program schedule within three months of the Detail Design and Construction contract award and before awarding construction, as appropriate, with an estimated completion date of September 30, 2019.
The Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate is conducting a tailored technical readiness assessment to analyze and determine schedule risks with an estimated completion of June 30, 2019.
Since presumably much of this work would be done by civilian acquisitions specialist, it is likely the work is falling behind because of the government shut down
Shift in Security Environment; New National Defense Strategy
A Maritime Strategy has not been issued. If it had it would likely need an update given that both the Administration and Geopolitical situation have changed.
Mobility Capabilities and Requirements Study 2018 (MCRS-18)
DOD states that it started the study, which it refers to as the Mobility Capabilities and Requirements Study 2018 (MCRS-18), on March 8, 2018, and that it is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2018…A September 25, 2017, press report about MCRS-18 states that “Since the early 1990s, Pentagon mobility studies have consistently identified a requirement for about 20 million square feet of roll-on/roll-off capacity to quickly transport material in support of a contingency.” Mobility studies conducted from the 1990s until recently, however, were all done in the post-Cold War era, when U.S. military force planning focused to a large degree on potential crises and conflicts against regional military powers such as Iran and North Korea. Given the recent shift from the post-Cold War era to the new era of renewed great power competition and the resulting formal shift in U.S. military force planning toward a primary emphasis on potential challenges posed by China and Russia, it is not clear that MCRS-18 will leave the figure of 20 million square feet of roll-on/roll-off capacity unchanged. A change in this figure could have implications for the content of a new national maritime strategy.
We have seen no indication of movement on these documents.
Potential Shortfall of Navy Escorts and Possible Impacts on Mariners
GAO notes MARAD’s September 2017 estimate of a potential shortage of U.S.-citizen mariners available to crew U.S.-owned reserve sealift ships during a crisis or conflict. The challenge of finding adequate numbers of appropriately trained mariners to crew DOD sealift ships in time of crisis or conflict is a longstanding issue, dating back at least to 1990, when mariners in their 50s, 60s, and 70s (and one aged 81), some brought out of retirement, were reportedly needed to help fill out the crews of DOD sealift ships that were activated for Operation Desert Shield (the initial phase of the U.S. reaction to Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait). Problems in filling out ship crews reportedly contributed to delays in activating some RRF sealift ships to participate in the operation. A potential shortage of U.S.-citizen mariners for manning DOD sealift ships in wartime has been a recurring matter of concern since then.
“Was I to die this moment, ‘Want of Frigates’ would be found stamped on my heart.”, Lord Nelson to Earl Spencer, 9 August 1798
Section 1072 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R. 2810/P.L. 11591 of December 12, 2017) requires the Navy to submit a report on its plans for defending combat logistics and strategic mobility forces—meaning Navy underway replenishment ships, RRF sealift ships, and MSC surge sealift ships—against potential wartime threats. The report is to include, among other things, a “description of the combat logistics and strategic mobility forces capacity, including additional combat logistics and strategic mobility forces, that may be required due to losses from attacks,” an “assessment of the ability and availability of United States naval forces to defend combat logistics and strategic mobility forces from the threats,” and a “description of specific capability gaps or risk areas in the ability or availability of United States naval forces to defend combat logistics and strategic mobility forces from the threats….”
My earlier post talks about what the Coast Guard could do to mitigate this shortfall, but the most significant step would be to bring back the Coast Guard ASW mission. Equipping eleven NSCs and 25 OPCs with ASW systems could make a huge difference.
We have an Icebreaker program that enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress and support from the President, but there is a good possibility it will not get funded this year because of a fight in congress over a totally unrelated program to build a wall along the southern border.
About half the Coast Guard’s missions are “Homeland Security” related, but about half are not.
Our pay system is different from all the other parts of the Department of Homeland Security.
The Coast Guard has been part of three different Departments. There has never been a perfect fit, because the scope of Coast Guard duties has always extended outside the strict confines of the mission of whatever Department it was part of. The Coast Guard combines military, public service, policing, and regulatory functions. The Coast Guard might have been spun off as an independent agency, but that would have required additional oversight in the form of a service secretary or commission and their staff. In many respects DHS is a good fit, but much of the Coast Guard operates outside the department’s focus and the Department’s budget process is a drag on Coast Guard funding.
The funding of the Coast Guard’s new Polar Security Cutter has brought this problem into focus. There is a general recognition that the new icebreaker is urgently needed. It (and the Coast Guard in general) enjoys bipartisan support in Congress and support from the President, but we there is a real possibility no DHS budget will be passed this year. There is too much conflict between the Executive and the House over the wall. We could go the whole fiscal year with nothing better than a series of continuing resolutions that would, as currently understood, preclude starting icebreaker construction.
Perhaps the solution is to separate out the Coast Guard budget for separate consideration. Combining the budget with other DHS agencies does not simplify the process, it introduces complications and conflict. A separate budget would provide some of the advantage of an independent agency, without the additional overhead of a separate service secretary and staff.
While not as comprehensive a solution, if the sense of the Congress was that the Polar Security Cutter program had already been initiated (small amounts for it was appropriated in FY2017 and 2018) or that the program is simply part of the larger Coast Guard recapitalization program already underway, then its likely there would be sufficient money in a continuing resolution (since the FY2018 Procurement, Construction, and Improvement budget was relatively large) to order the first of class and long lead time items for the second and the project could be started this fiscal year even if no DHS budget is passed.