Defense News Interviews the Commandant

DefenseNews.Com just posted a three part video interview with the Commandant. Each segment is five to ten minutes in length.

Impact of Sequestration:

The Commandant notes, in the first two months of 2015 we have seized more drugs than we seized in all of 2013. He talks about establishing priorities and specifically mentions the Arctic and Western Hemisphere Drug enforcement.  He did not say what will drop out.

Capability vs Affordability

The Commandant has quite properly put emphasis on the OPC, and he has hit the point that spreading out procurement will cost more in the long run. He talked about icebreakers and discussed how we will need help funding them. He is pushing the results of the previous High Latitude study, saying the US needs three heavy and three medium icebreakers.

Coast Guard Modernization

Here he repeated themes from the State of the Coast Guard address. The importance of defending against Cyber attacks both within the Coast Guard and in the larger Maritime Transportation industry, the formation of an Arctic CG forum, and making the Coast Guard a hostile environment for those that might attempt sexual assault.


Seems the Commandant has recognized the need to sell the service and push for more funding, particularly for AC&I. It would not hurt to see the rest of the Coast Guard repeating the themes that he seems to have focused on, to make sure the message gets delivered.

The Commandant will continue to focus on the six major topics he highlighted in the State of the Coast Guard Address. Specifically I expect to see a lot more Coast Guard effort in the Eastern Pacific Transit Zone; we will continue to hear that the US needs three heavy and three medium icebreakers as the Commandant pushes for supplemental icebreaker funding; less obvious, but I think he is laying the ground work for an attempt to speed up the OPC construction schedule which would require at least another $500M annually in the AC&I account. There will be a lot more emphasis on cyber and tougher action on sexual assault. In terms of the objective of “maximizing return on investment,” I think we will see closer examination of fuel efficiency, manning, and other operating economies as a basis for where to invest modernization dollars.

Offshore and Aviation Fleet Mix Study Published

The Coast Guard has made public the Executive Summary of its Offshore and Aviation Fleet Mix Study. “FierceHomelandSecurity” has published a short summary of the content.

They also provided a direct link to the “Executive Summary” (a 24 page pdf). It is heavy with acronyms, and there is no list of acronyms attached to the Executive Summary, although there is probably one in the full study. I’ve attached a list of those I found, at the end of the post for those who might want a little help going through the summary.

“This initial phase of the FMA (Fleet Mix Analysis-ed.) is intended to address offshore surface and aviation capabilities. Follow-on FMA phases will assess capabilities needed for coastal and inland missions as well as emerging missions, such as Arctic operations and those of the Deployable Operations Group (DOG).

“ES.5.1  SCOPE:

“The FMA explored the projected Fleet mix requirements to meet the CG’s 11 statutory missions in FY2025. Mission requirements were based on nine Mission Performance Plans (MPPs) and an assessment of critical activities, such as training and support, which consume asset mission availability.

“The FMA included all CG aviation (fixed- and rotary-wing), all white-hull cutters (FRC up to NSC), and all applicable C4ISR systems.

“The FMA focused on activities in the offshore and aviation operating environment. Offshore and aviation are defined in the FMA as being generally 50+ nautical miles offshore and/or requiring extended presence. The FMA also considered missions within 50 nautical miles that consume air asset availability.

“The FMA used the 2007 CG Fleet, as defined in the 2007 Modeled CONOPS (Concept of Operations-ed.) and the “Deepwater” POR (Program of Record-ed.) as Baselines for comparative performance and cost analysis.


“Preliminary Operational Requirements Document (P-ORD) thresholds were used for the OPC (Offshore Patrol Cutter-Chuck).

“The OPC and NSC will operate 230 days away from homeport (DAFHP). No specific crewing method is assumed (i.e., crew rotation concept [CRC]).

“The HC-144A will operate at 800 programmed flight hours (PFH) per year. (This is a reduction from previous assumption–Chuck)

“U.S. Navy out-of-hemisphere (OOH) (2.0 OPC/NSC) and Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S) (7.0 OPC/NSC) support was consistent with the FY2010 demand.

“Additional acquisition/next generation platforms have the same capabilities and cost as the FMA Baseline Fleet mix cutters and aircraft (e.g., the next-generation short range recovery (SRR) helicopter is an MH-65C).


“The High Latitude regions of the ice shelf and Deployable Operations Group (DOG) mission requirements were not considered.

“No specific MDA performance measures have been established to model.

“87-ft coastal patrol boat (CPB), 225-ft seagoing buoy tender (WLB), Department of Defense (DoD)/Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and foreign asset contributions were considered, but force level requirements for 87-ft CPB, 225-ft WLB, DoD/DHS and foreign assets were not assessed.

“Additional shore facilities (e.g., schools, berthing, simulators/training aids, etc.) beyond those directly associated with platforms (e.g., piers, hangars, etc.) are not included in costs.

“”The need for non-operational/shore billet increases commensurate with the projected increases in operational manning was not assessed and is not included in costs.

“All cost estimates are rough order of magnitude (ROM) and are not budget quality.

“Additional specific assumptions utilized for modeling, simulation, and costing are included in their respective chapters of the final report.

“ES.3  Methodology:

“The Fleet Capacity Analysis (FCA) combined information developed in the mission validation phase, the capability definition phase, and a Warfare Analysis Laboratory Exercise (WALEX) to produce an objective Fleet mix and incremental Fleet mix alternatives. To develop the objective Fleet mix, the FMA used three independent teams with unique force projection tools or methodologies – the Database Enhanced Center for Naval Analysis (CNA) IDS Asset Assessment Tool (CIAAT) Model (DECMv2), the Mission Effectiveness Asset Needs Model (MEAN), and a qualitative analysis by a panel of CG SMEs – to develop a force structure that was aligned with MPP capability and capacity targets. Each team applied their methodology using a common set of asset characteristics and mission demands to develop a zero-based force mix (capable of meeting all mission requirements) projection. The results from these independent projections were considered as three “lines of position” (LOPs) and were consolidated to form a conceptual “fix.””

Seven Alternative Fleets:

The Study looks at seven levels of effort: Continue reading

FY2013 AC&I Budget Request

Thanks to, we have a summary of the FY2013 budget request for the Coast Guard. They also provide a link to the full budget justification.

I would like to focus on the AC&I portion and compare and contrast it with the FY 2012 appropriation which we talked about here.

Total AC&I funds go down from $1,463,968,000 to $1,192,309,000, a drop of almost 18%.

In the out years (FY 2014, 2015 and 2016) the AC&I budget is projected to rise above the FY2012 level.

A number of programs are zeroed out in FY 2013, either because they are cancelled, are on hold, or because they are complete. These include “In-service Vessel Sustainment,” Response Boat-Medium, HH-60 conversion projects, Long Range Surveillance Aircraft (C-130H/J), Rescue 21, Inter-agency Operations Centers (IOCs).

AC&I for vessels went up from $642M to $879.5M, but last year did not fund an NSC as this one does. As has been reported the seven and eighth NSC have been removed from the out-year budgets.

The breakdown for “vessels” (cutters, small boats and related equipment) looks like this:


Total for Vessels ……………………………….$642M……….$879.5M

  • Survey and Design – Vessels & Boats ….$6M ………….$2.5M (175 ft WLM begins)
  • In Service Vessel Sustainment (ISVS) ….$14M…………..(Restarts FY2014)
  • Response Boat – Medium (RB-M) ……$110M…………. (Complete)
  • National Security Cutter (NSC) …………$77M………….$683M
  • Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) …..………$25M……………$30M
  • Fast Response Cutter (FRC) …….……$358M………….$139M
  • Cutter Boats ………………………………$5M…………….$4M
  • MEC Sustainment ……………………….$47M…………..$13M
  • Heavy Icebreaker …………………………………………….$8M


There is a total of $770M identified for a new icebreaker in FY 2014, 2015, and 2017. Total acquisition cost “TBD.”

“The survey and design phase (for the new icebreaker) would last from the second quarter of fiscal 2013 through the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016, according to the justification.”

Offshore Patrol Vessels:

The $30M is to fund competitive design efforts by up to three short-listed competing ship building organizations.  This is expected to be a two step, three year design process beginning after the end of FY 2012, followed by a presumably three to four year construction process to hopefully deliver the first OPC before the end of calender year 2019. Surprisingly the out-years appear to provide for OPC construction at the rate of only one ship per year. Only $360M per year in FY2015 (first ship), 2016, and 2017. If we continue to build OPCs at only one per year it will take until 2043 to build the 25 projected by which time the newest 270 will be 53 years old. 2045 if we build two extra to replace the cancelled NSCs. (That would be truly ridiculous.) Stretching out the production run will inevitably lead to higher unit costs in contrast to the multi-year production contracts the Navy used for the Littoral Combat Ships (two five year contracts with options for up to 10 ships each).

Fast Response Cutters

The cutters are being built at a rate of four per year. Last years budget included funds for six. FY 2013 request funds number 19 and 20, and will keep the line going. FY 2014, 2015, and 2016 go back up to a $360M/year level.

AC&I for aircraft dropped from $354.4M to $74.5M.

Out years are all higher than FY 2012, as purchases of HC-144s are projected to go back up from $43M in FY 2013 to $220M/year for the succeeding three years and a total of $470M is projected for C-130s 2014-2016. Some notes of interest below:

“The LRS program continues efforts to extend the operating life and enhance the capability of the HC-130H fleet by replacing key component Center Wing Boxes (CWBs) and adding new capability (avionics-A1U), permanently defers the second avionics upgrade (A2U), and reduces the scope of the mission systems upgrade in favor of C-130J production. Consolidation of the C-130H and C-130J PPAs into one new LRS Project enables greater flexibility toward achieving an 11H/11J fleet configuration, which is expected to result in increased mission effectiveness and minimizes lifecycle cost. The eventual goal is to transition to an all C-130J fleet by the mid-2020s, when it will no longer be practical or affordable to keep the C-130H in service.”

“The Coast Guard intends to leverage FY 2012 funding initially intended for the H-60 Radar Sensor System for sustainment segments now underway, including life-limiting component recapitalization and replacement of obsolete components. These revised plans will focus resources on sustaining existing capacity and capability.”


AC&I for “Shore, Military Housing and Aids to Navigation dropped from approximately $200.7M to 69.4M.

If we could get the Air Force’s nearly new C-27Js in lieu of HC-144s as has been discussed, it might allow us to build a second OPC each year.

(Note most of the cost breakdown information is found on page CG-AC&I-12)

Relative Size, Navy and CG, Manpower and Budget

A quick comparison between the size of the Navy Department (which includes the Marines as well as the Navy) and the Coast Guard and the relative size of their FY2012 budget requests:

  • Active Duty Personnel: ……………………12.7 times larger
  • Budget Request: …………………………….15.6 times larger
  • Navy Dept Acquisitions/CG AC&I: …..33.3 times larger

Selling (and Saving) the Offshore Patrol Cutter Project

Since seeing indications the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) program may be in jeopardy (here and here), I’ve been thinking about how the program might be “sold.” There are a number of approaches that might be considered.

Conceptual Rendering of the OPC

It Is a Money Saver

Get it started as an alternative to the NSC. As discussed in an earlier post (Rethinking the New Cutter Programs), we can get more new cutters on line more quickly if we truncated the NSC program at six and started the OPC program two years earlier. This could also be sold as a money saving step, in that we can probably get two OPCs for little more than the price of one NSC. There is very little the NSC can do that the OPC can’t. (If we include the features suggested below, the OPC will be able to do things the NSC cannot-further justifying the change.) This gets us “over-the-hump” of starting the program. Having built the first ships of the class it will be much harder to kill the project and much easier to revive it, if interrupted. The winning shipyard and their legislative representatives will work to keep the project going.  It will also mean the MECs and one HEC will be retiring at least a year earlier–the 210s will only be 54 to 56 years old.

Make the Consequences of Not Building Them Clear

Publish the decommissioning schedule. This should make the news in all the Congressional districts that will loose assets.

What is the performance difference. Publish an addendum to the latest “United States Coast Guard Fiscal Year 20XX Performance Report” showing the decrease in performance if there had been no MECs.

Publish a plan to scale back or delete missions if the the MECs are not replaced.

Pork with a Purpose:

An infrastructure (shipyard) program. It might be more expensive, but Congress can decide they want to spread the work around. They have been doing this, almost since the day the republic was formed. It would certainly be reasonable to say they wanted the construction contracted to more than one yard, perhaps even one West Coast, one East Coast, one Gulf Coast or some other split. As a stimulus program that also delivers a tangible good, building four a year, two each on the West and East Coasts would not be unreasonable. That this spreads the support base for the program wouldn’t hurt either. It might even promote some competition in the long term.

Mobilize our Allies

Mobilize the shipyards that hope to win contracts. They have political clout.

Get the fishing industry on our side. Some times they don’t like us, but we keep the foreign competitors out, and when there is a medical emergency or their boat starts sinking they’re mighty happy we are around.

Mobile the Navy League. Despite the name, this organization is a great ally of the Coast Guard as well, but I’ve yet to see us make the case for the OPC in the pages of their magazine.

Get the Navy to endorse the program. Not sure they will want to, but there are lots of reasons they should (Offshore Patrol Cutters, Why the Navy Should Support the Program), particularly if the design chosen has the potential to be a useful “low-end” warship. These are exactly the types of ships needed for partnership station, and they are the kind of ships many of our allies should include in their Navies and Coast Guards through Foreign Military Sales.

Strengthen the National Defense Angle

Bring back the ASW mission. Adding a passive towed array to the ship could help in our law enforcement mission, improving the chances of  detecting and tracking semi-submersibles, but the additional military capability could also make the ship easier to justify. Beyond the support for a passive sonar usable for law enforcement, the only additions needed for a credible ASW capability would be having magazine and other storage space for torpedoes, sono-buoys, etc. to support Navy MH-60R helicopters that would prosecute contacts. There is more than enough reason for rejuvenating American ASW assets. As illogical as a US/Chinese confrontation would appear, they have been acting increasingly bellicose. The Chinese Navy already has more submarines than the Germans had at the beginning of WWII, the largest submarine force in the Pacific, while we and our allies have far fewer escort ships than any time in at least the last 70 years. There seems to be a particular need for escort ships for the underway replenishment ships, normally unarmed and unescorted, as they move from the ports where they load their supplies, to the areas where they deliver them to forward deployed task forces. OPCs could perform that mission.

Use the LCS Module Concept. This is ideal for the Coast Guard because it makes the ships adaptable for war time roles without requiring the Coast Guard to maintain either the equipment or the people. It also potentially gives the ships greater flexibility to perform peacetime roles. This requires very little more than some open space, foundations, and bringing up connections for utilities.

The Back Story

As an alternative to the LCS. Not that we can take this as an official line, but if the LCS program continues to draw criticism, particularly if the OPCs are designed to accept mission modules, it is something friends of the Coast Guard can suggest. It has been suggested in the past:

On 5 July 2009, Retired U.S. Navy Adm. James Lyons, former Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, suggested the LCS “program should return to its original target of $220 million per ship and combine with the U.S. Coast Guard to build a dual-purpose ship with a credible integral combat system that can meet limited warfare requirements. This very different ship should be built in large numbers as part of the coming Ocean Patrol Cutter Program…Such a change would achieve huge savings for both the Navy and the Coast Guard tied to large production numbers. The funding saved from canceling the LCS could be used to procure the most capable high-end combatant ship with margins enough to allow future modernization.” –This could ally us with those in the Navy who would like to divert Navy money from the LCS program to other purposes.

Coming Soon-How We Got In this Mess

Commandant on the Stump

Looks like the Commandant is going on stump to tell people how bad its has gotten, Commandant: Coast Guard Suffering Under Strain of Tight Budgets. While previous Commandants have gotten kudos for “doing more with less,” soon Admiral Papp is going to have to say we are doing less with less.

This is the second time I’ve seen reference to the OPC being killed. (First time here)

Not everything gets reported of course. The Commandant talked about the fact that even the newest ships, the 270s, are going to be over 40 years old when they are replaced, but he may have missed the opportunity to point out that even if we stick to the current plan, all the 210s are going to be 55 to 57 years old before they are replaced–I don’t think we should let people forget that.