“Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress Updated January 28, 2020” –CRS

The Congressional Research Service has again updated its look at cutter procurement. (Note, this link will take you to the latest version of the report and is subject to change with each update.) While I cannot be sure there are no other changes, I believe the significant changes are a reflection of the result of the House and Senate Conference Committee. From page 25.

Conference In final action, the FY2020 DHS Appropriations Act became Division D of H.R. 1158, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020. The explanatory statement for Division D of H.R. 1158/P.L. 116-93 of December 20, 2019, provides the funding levels shown in the appropriation conference column of Table 2. The explanatory statement for Division D of H.R. 1158 states: The agreement [for the Coast Guard’s Procurement, Construction, and Improvements account] provides an increase of $537,850,000 above the request, including … $260,000,000 for a total of four FRCs…. The bill makes available $100,500,000 for long lead time material for a twelfth National Security Cutter, consistent with the direction in the House Report….

I have reproduced Table 2 from page 21 of the report below. The following explanatory note is quoted from the CRS report:

“Source: Table prepared by CRS based on Coast Guard’s FY2020 budget submission, HAC committee report, and SAC chairman’s mark and explanatory statement on FY2020 DHS Appropriations Act. HAC is House Appropriations Committee; SAC is Senate Appropriations Committee.”

Summary of Appropriations Action on FY2020 Acquisition Funding Request

Table 2 summarizes appropriations action on the Coast Guard’s request for FY2020 acquisition funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs.

Table 2. Summary of Appropriations Action on FY2020 Acquisition Funding Request Figures in millions of dollars, rounded to nearest tenth

  • Request______Request______HAC_______SAC_____Final
  • NSC program ____60 _______160.5 _______60 _____160.5
  • OPC program ___457 _______457 _______457 ______312
  • FRC program ___140 _______290 _______240 ______260
  • TOTAL _________657 ______907.5 ______757 ______732.5

So again Congress is providing funding above that requested by the administration.

The increase from two to four Webber class is consistent with previous Congressional action, and should actually result in a savings over the life of the program, in that it is in line with the current contract options and will not require a renegotiation that might have raised the cost of individual cutters by up to $10M. That means a total of 62 Webber class will have been funded. Only two additional in FY2021 are planned, for a total of 64, 58 in the program of record plus six for PATFORSWA to support CENTCOM, but I would not be surprised to see four in the final FY2021 budget.

The addition of $100.5M for Long Lead Time items for a twelfth National Security Cutter looks like a strong commitment to fund another Bertholf class National Security Cutter.

Relative to the OPC program, from page 26:

OPC Program.- The contract awarded to construct the OPC was recently amended to address increased cost estimates after the Acting Secretary determined that relief permitted under Public Law 85-804 was appropriate and necessary to the national defense. An associated delay in delivery of the first two hulls reduced the fiscal year 2020 requirement for the OPC by $145,000,000. Funds included in the agreement continue necessary program requirements. The agreement maintains the commitment to ensuring the Coast Guard can continue the program of record for these critical vessels. As a condition of the granted relief, the vendor will be subject to increased oversight, including additional scrutiny of the costs borne by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard shall brief the Committees quarterly on the metrics used to evaluate adherence to production timelines and costs, including those attributed to reestablishing the production line and maintaining the skilled workforce required to ensure contract performance.

So Congress is going to let the decision to allow extraordinary relief to Eastern Shipbuilding go ahead. The reduction of OPC funding that had been requested is only due to delays in the program and presumably the deletion of long lead time materials for OPC #5 from the payments that had been planned for Eastern.

“France confirms order for six new POM Offshore Patrol Vessels” –Naval News, Another Cutter X

French “POM” Offshore Patrol Vessel. Credit: Socarenam

Naval News reports that the French Navy has ordered six Offshore Patrol Vessels (Patrouilleur d’Outre-Mer – POM). with the intention of basing two each in New Caledonia (Nouméa) and French Polynesia (Papeete) in the Western Pacific and la Réunion (Port-des-Galets) in the Indian Ocean. 

The POM will have an endurance of 30 days without refueling. Each ship will accommodate a crew of 30 sailors and 23 passengers and operate an unmanned aerial vehicle. Their armament will include a 20mm caliber remote-controlled turret (Narwhal by Nexter), as well as 12.7 mm and 7.62mm machine guns. The POM vessel will be 80 meters (262.4′) long and 11.8 meters (38.7′) wide, with a draft of 3.5 meters (11.5′)(I provided the conversion to feet–Chuck)

These ships will replace 180 foot long P400-class patrol boats.

We talked about these ships and also discussed the French Navy’s coast guard type missions and other French OPV projects here. Incidentally all the previous reporting indicated that these would be 70 meters (230′) in length. These really do not look like 80 meter ships. I would prefer a flight deck and hangar suitable for a medium sized helicopter like on L’Adroit, but in any case, it is bigger and, at 22 knots, faster than a 210 with a crew less than half as large.

These ships certainly could be considered as candidates for “cutter X,” taking the crew and equipment of the Webber class cutters and putting them in a larger, more seaworthy hull. Looking at these new CGI images,

they look like a supersized Webber class, with the gun on the main foc’sle just forward of the super structure and four crew served .50 calibers sited almost exactly as they are on the Webber class; a very similar 360 degree view pilot house mounted well back where it will experience less vertical acceleration; and a boat launch ramp notched in the stern. Taking advantage of the larger hull it also incorporates a davit launched RHIB starboard, space for a 20 foot containerized mission module, a flight deck and hangar for a 700-kilogram-class rotor-blade drone more berthing, and a holding area for up to six prisoners.

A CGI of the French Navy’s future POM OPVs (Credit : Socarenam)

It is now extremely unlikely the OPCs will be obtained at the low price initially bid by Eastern. They are now seen to be as large as the Bertholf class National Security Cutters. Perhaps if we look ahead to the time when Polar Security Cutter funding will have been completed, we should think about building a true “bridge” between the over 4,000 ton NSCs and OPCs and the under 400 ton Webber class. We might choose to continue building one OPC a year and build three Cutter X for about the same price as a second OPC. We could replace the WMECs that much quicker and perhaps build to a total of over 50 truly ocean going cutters. (11 NSCs, 14 OPC, and 30 Cutter X for about the same price as 11 NSCs, and 25 OPCs)

105th Anniversary of the Formation of the US Coast Guard

Photograph of Ellsworth P. Bertholf, Commandant of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service from 1911 to 1915 and Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard from 1915 to 1919. Coast Guard photo.

Today mark the 105th Anniversary of the formation of the US Coast Guard. “An Act to Create the Coast Guard” (Public Law 239) was signed into law on 28 January 1915.

Credit for this should go to Ellsworth Price Bertholf. First he saved the Revenue Cutter Service from being disassembled and then after WWI saved it from being absorbed by the Navy. He was one of three heroes of the Overland Relief Expedition. He died at age 55.

Did you know he was court marshalled and dismissed while a midshipman at the Naval Academy?

“Call for Articles: A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority” –CIMSEC

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)

CIMSEC has issued a call for articles regarding the CNO’s recently issued “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority” the document does not mention the Coast Guard, but I think we have a part to play.

This is a good opportunity for some of those who follow this blog to try your hand at writing for a professional readership.

New Thai Patrol Craft

Graphical rendering of the new patrol craft for the Royal Thai Navy (Image from Marsun)

MarineLog reports that the Thai Navy has chosen MAN 16V175D-MM, IMO Tier II engines, each rated at 2,960 kWm at 1,900 rpm, to power a new class of two Patrol Craft. With two engines for each vessel that is just under 8,000 HP.

This new class is only the latest in a string of patrol craft, indigenously built by Marsun. This class appear to be closely related to the T995 and T996 patrol gun boats. if so it should have a speed of about 27 knots.

It appears to be equipped with a small RHIB, but the boat handling equipment does not appear as convenient as a dedicated davit or stern ramp.

Recently, the Thais seem to have been providing more powerful weapons for their patrol vessels than do most other countries. They recently equipped an Offshore Patrol Vessel with Harpoon Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles in addition to a 76mm gun. The choice of gun for this class appears to be a departure from the weapons that equipped previous patrol craft. The caliber, 30mm, is the same, but the rate of fire and the origin of the weapon are different.

The gun appears to be a Russian 30mm AK-306 barrel rotary cannon, a lighter version of the ubiquitous AK630. Maximum rate of fire is 1,000 rounds per minute. It should be quite effective as a short range anti-surface weapon.

AK-306 rotary cannon, Zbroya ta Bezpeka military fair, Kyiv 2017, Photo from VoidWanderer via Wikipedia Commons


SNA 2020 Virtual Tour

Again, I as many of you, was not able to attend the Surface Navy Symposium. Fortunately a number of videos are available to give us a taste of what went on.

Below are three videos from Naval News followed by a video of a panel discussion provided by Defense News.

The “Day 1” video includes:

01:09 – Austal HSSV high speed support vessel
03:55 – Update on the Littoral Combat Ship program with NAVSEA
05:40 – NSM firing from USS Gabriele Giffords
06:58 – Northrop Grumman SEWIP Block 3 EW system
09:47 – Raytheon SPY-6 family of radars

The “Day 2″ video covers:

00:57 – Fincantieri Marine Group FFG(X) Frigate based on Italian Navy FREMM
04:34 – Fujitsu collaborative table for JMSDF AEGIS destroyers & Japan AEGIS Ashore
05:53 – Raytheon SM-3 Block IIA ballistic missile interceptor

The “Day 3” video reports on:

00:59 – BAE Systems double docking of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers
01:54 – BAE Systems precision guided munition for 5 Inch gun: Hyper Velocity Projectile & Vulcano
02:31 – Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard expansion plan for FFG(X) frigate
06:08 – L3Harris FVR-90 future vertical lift VTOL UAV
08:26 – General Dynamics NASSCO John Lewis-class TAO 205
09:23 – Titanium 3D printing

The panel discussion, “Building the Future Fleet” is a bit over 90 minutes. Most of it is Navy of course. If you are a regular reader here, I don’t think you will hear much new about the Coast Guard. Rear Admiral Douglas M. Schofield (CG-9) is on the panel and began speaking at time 6:00–11:00. He also speaks briefly at 1:00:30 and answers the last question at about 1:28:30.

Huntington Ingalls still provided no information on their proposal for the FFG(X) program.

“Coast Guard engages industry on boat acquisitions” –CG-9

Petty Officer 2nd Class Dale Veverka, a boatswains mate, Seaman George Degener, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Post, a machinery technician, conduct maneuvers on the Coast Guard Cutter Northland’s “over-the-horizon” small boat during transit to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, April 9, 2008. UNITAS exercise, a multinational naval exercise the helps tests the interoperability of U.S. and foreign naval forces. U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA2 Nathan Henise.

The Acquisitions Directorate made a presentation at the 2019 International WorkBoat Show Dec. 6, 2019, discussing future acquisitions.

The 19 slides that accompanied the presentation provide a good overview of the Coast Guard’s current and planned future fleet of small boats, in addition to covering contracting procedures and considerations. They also offer expectations for the fifth generation Over the Horizon boat, the new trailable navigation boat, and the third generation Long Range Interceptor.

It appears the Coast Guard may not be entirely happy with the existing solutions to the interface between cutter boats and the “notch” in the stern of cutters. The 17th slide (labeled 16 in the lower right corner) is titled “Discussion Topics.” It appears the Coast Guard is seeking improvements including “Decrease failures from notch-impact” and “Notch-Friendly Propulsion, Alternatives to waterjets.”