Draft Technical Package for the Offshore Patrol Cutter Released

The Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) has issued the draft technical package for the Offshore Patrol Cutter. It was announced on the Federal Business Opportunity website, March 12, 2012.

“The red-lined draft System Specification contains all of the changes that the Coast Guard incorporated as a result of industry comment. This document will be automatically distributed to those companies and individuals that received the draft OPC specification released in May 2011. The other draft documents will be available on the USCG OPC website at: http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/OPC/default.asp

A two step Acquisition process is expected. First, three contractors will be selected to develop their preliminary designs into fully detailed contract proposals. They will compete for the final award which will include the first OPC and all documentation. It may (and probably will) also include options for follow-on ships. So far, the Coast Guard is saying they will maintain their flexibility regarding who will build follow-on ships.

On the Acquisitions directorate website, you can down load hundreds of pages of technical requirements for the contractors, but don’t expect to find updated information on the specification of the ships. As noted above, revised draft specifications were sent to companies and individuals that received the draft OPC System Specification released in May 2011. Hopefully the Acquisition Directorate will release at least some basic information in the near future.

Still going through the documents yields some useful information of more general interest. The list of Government furnished Equipment (GFE) and Government Furnished information (GFI) tells us about much of the equipment the vessels are expected to carry. (I will not list all the normal items included on every cutter.)

Armament:

  • Mk 48 mod 1 Gun weapon system
  • Mk 110, 57mm gun system
  • Electro Optical Site Sensor (EOSS), MK 20 MOD 0
  • 25mm, MK 38 MOD 2
  • Two SSAM gun systems, (remotely operated .50 Caliber)

Sensors:

  • IFF, AN/UPX-29A
  • AN/SLQ-32B(V)2 (and Mk 53 NULKA decoy system)
  • Multi-Mode Radar (air as well as surface? AN/SPQ-9?)
  • Encrypted GPS
  • CBRN monitoring

Boats: 2 x 7m OTH IV (apparently no 11m boat)

Aviation:

  • TACAN
  • Visual Landing Aids (VLA)
  • Glide Slope Indicator (GLI)
  • Wave Off Light Assembly (WOLS)

The Mk48 Mod 0 (www.dtic.mil/ndia/2011gunmissile/Thursday11660_Aswegan.pdf) is apparently the system on the National Security Cutter. Perhaps, the Mk48 mod 1 is simply an improvement, but unlike some of the other components of the system, the AN/SPQ-9 radar is not called out specifically, so this system may not have a radar. It may be that the “multi-mode radar” refers to the AN/SPQ-9. Hopefully that is the case.

A quick scan through the other documents shows that the Coast Guard has not ruled out the possibility of hybrid or integrated diesel-electric propulsion.

“One Line Diagram. During Contract Design the Contractor shall provide the Electric-Drive Propulsion System One Line Diagram (if an Electric Propulsion System or IDE is provided). [235-01-2219]”

Other included systems are:

  • Two encrypted computer networks including one for classified material.
  • Television systems for both monitoring security and entertainment and training.
  • UHF MIL SAT COM Equipment
  • A crane for loading stores
  • A bow thruster
  • An unmanned air system (UAS)

It appears there may also be a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility).

Generally it appears, a much more sophisticated ship that the WMECs they are replacing.

(illustration: French shipbuilder DCNS concept)

Progress (or lack of it) on the National Security Cutters

Over at www.informationdissemination.net I got into an off topic discussion of the NSC deliveries, when another poster, “RhodeIslander,” asked me why the contract for the for the fourth  National Security Cutter had not been awarded.

He shared this with me,
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“Chuck, one of my old co-workers down in Mississippi sent me an interesting Build Schedule for NSC. Evidently this is only for… (STRATTON) 752 which is next to be finished off for USCG.

“At the moment of Contract start, there begins a 4 year cycle for WMSL-752:

“FIRST YEAR: Pre-fab begins down in Mississippi yard. While down in Washington D.C. the USCG orders long lead time stuff, like engines, generators, gears, etc. After about 2 months, “Start Fabrication” commences. And scattered all around the large Mississippi shipyard, many various modules are being constructed.

“SECOND YEAR: Keep is “laid” which now-a-days means the shipyard starts moving all those modules slowly down to the waterfront and welds them all together. This erection process goes fairly quickly and the cutter is all put together outwardly in less than 7 months. Production continues inside the cutter while on land.

“THIRD YEAR: The cutter is “launched” with really means “float off” in modern yards like the one in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Production continues in the water, electrical cables and Command and Control soon start testing. Then diesels engines get lite off, followed by generators and gas turbine.

“FOURTH YEAR: Sea Trials and Dockyard Trials are conducted at the beginning of Year #4, and the cutter is soon delivered to the Coast Guard. The crew moves onboard, trains up, does a few short underway periods. The Mississippi shipyard corrects some deficiencies and finally the new cutter sails away for California. Once in their permanent homeport, the ship gets a short post shakedown overhaul period, where the Mississippi Northrop Grumman yard does Warranty work. At the very end of the fourth year, the Warranty period expires and the Cutter is no longer ever associated with DEEPWATER INC. again.”

—————————–
“RhodeIslander” was disappointed in the time required from award to completion. My concern was more that we were falling behind on even a one per year delivery schedule. If we awarded a contract every year and we were using the four year cycle as a routine, you would think there would be four or at least three ships in the pipeline. That does not seem to be happening.

Acquisition directorate says “The U.S. Coast Guard commissioned the second National Security Cutter, Waesche (WMSL 751), on May 7, 2010. Stratton (WMSL 752) was christened on July 23, 2010 and is 59% complete.”

It appears that the NSC2 is in the last 2 months of the cycle (although it has lasted more than four years) and that NSC3 is in the third year. This means we have more than a two year gap (instead of only one year).

Here are some of the milestones for the first three ships. All three were nominally ordered in 2001 and were/are being built at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi:

NSC 1: Bertholf
Laid down:     March 29, 2005
Launched:     September 29, 2006
Christened:     November 11, 2006
Commissioned:     August 4, 2008
Formally Accepted: May 8, 2009

NSC 2: Waesche
Laid down:     September 11, 2006
Launched:     July 12, 2008
Delivered:   Nov. 6, 2009
Commissioned:     May 7, 2010

NSC 3: Dorothy C. Stratton
Contract awarded: Aug. 8, 2007
Laid down:     July 20, 2009
Christened:     July 23, 2010

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/USCGC_Waesche_by_Yerba_Buena_Island.jpg

From Wikipedia, “‘On 7 July 2009, the Government Accountability Office reported that delays in the NSC program are likely to result in “the loss of thousands of cutter operational days for conducting missions through 2017.’ The GAO also that month reported that problems in the NSC program have delayed the OPC program by five years.”

Frankly I think we will continue to see the ripples of this disaster until at least 2027 when it looks like the last OPC might be finished. By that time the newest 270 will be 39 years old. When the youngest 210 is replaced it will likely be at least 54 years old. And if the Acushnet can last until she is replaced by the first OPC she will be 75 years old.  (While the average Navy ship  is something like 14 years old.)

Here is RhodeIslander’s latest comment, “…WAESCHE NSC-2 is evidently in California getting her post delivery overhaul and last of warranty. Stratton is supposed to Deliver towards end of next summer. That means NSC-4 Hamilton, if and when they ever commence her, will break up the “assembly line” of NATIONAL SECURITY CUTTERS that has finally started to look pretty good down at the Pascagoula yard. So NSC-4 will gap and some expertise will be lost forever, early retirement, taking jobs on other Navy ships, moving to the offshore oil well industry, etc. Even worse than breaking up the “assembly line”, will be the big gap between delivery of NSC-3 and NSC-4 to USCG…Too bad that NSC-4 is not already under construction, and finishing her first year, and beginning to start KEEL LAYING. It’s both a mystery and a shame for the Coast Guard sailors on those ancient High Endurance cutters.”

What really bothers me is that I don’t see that there is any attempt to play catch-up on the part of the Administration, the Congress, or the Coast Guard.  I hope I’m wrong, but at the rate we are going, the eighth NSC will not be operational for at least nine years and possibly longer, meaning the newest 378 will be at least 47 years old when it is replaced. We really ought to be awarding a multi-year contract and building more than one ship a year. If we want to award contracts for the OPCs in FY2014 and we don’t want to have to award a contract for NSC(s) in the same FY, it means that we will need to contract for NSCs 5-8 in FY 2012/2013. (Perhaps more evidence we ought to be looking at getting other ships to fill the gap.)

I know Acquisition Directorate is still getting their feet on the ground, and they are short of people, but I hope we will recognize the urgency and that we will get some support from the Administration and Congress. We have to do a lot better than we have so far.

More news on the 123 WPB front

As reported here there is more news on the 123 WPB legal fight:

“Yesterday the United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division denied a motion to dismiss Deepwater whistleblower Michael DeKort’s false claims act suit against Integrated Coast Guard Systems LLC (ICGS) and Lockheed Martin Corporation. The court has not prevented the case from moving forward, finding that DeKort’s allegations to be true, ‘well-pleaded factual allegations.'”…

Check the link for more details and background.