As I suggested in the recent review of news from the Acquisition Directorate (CG-9), I did ask Master Chief Brett Ayer (MCPO for CG-9), “Why is the Coast Guard using a different helo haul down and traversing system from Navy?"(RAST) I thought perhaps he would answer in the newsletter, but instead he answered me directly:
"If you are talking about the ASIST system, it was installed on the first few NSCs under Deepwater. As you know Deepwater was a performance type contract with ICGS. We provided our performance requirements and it was up to them to figure out the best way to meet them.
"My understanding is that we did not specifically spec ASIST. The Coast Guard had a requirement for recovering helicopters and ASIST is what ICGS provided (it met requirements).
"As you know Deepwater is not longer a program, and we are now managing our own acquisitions (although a few Deepwater contracts are still in effect for a little while longer).
"Since the original Deepwater requirements were put together, a few things have changed, one of which is that the Coast Guard had decided that we will not deploy H60s on our cutters. This changes the helicopter handling requirements and somewhat negates the need for the ASIST (or similar) systems. I do not believe the MH65 (as configured) is compatible with either ASIST or RAST.
"Our needs for shipboard handing of helicopters in currently under review, and I have no doubt that we will look at the Navy and their systems as a possible option"
In response to his e-mail I mentioned the discussion in the comments section of an earlier post regarding the possibility of H-60s could operate from the National Security Cutters. this was his response:
"I think the confusion has to do with the decision not to deploy H-60s on cutters. The NSC were initially designed to deploy HH-60s equipped with the ASIST system.
"However as I stated, the Coast Guard made the decision that the MH-65 would be the primary cutter deployed helicopter not the HH-60. Because of this the Coast Guard never outfitted our HH-60s with the ASIST hardware, they also removed the blade folding equipment from the HH-60s and added other external equipment that makes them incompatible with cutter deployment.
"So in short the HH-60 can operate off the NCSs, but it cannot use the ASIST system and there is no way to fold the blades. This is not a limitation of the NSC, but of the helicopter configuration and policy.
"I cannot answer the question about the Navy HH-60s, but I will ask someone who should have the answer"
I hope the decision not to use the CG MH-60 as a ship board helo does not mean the previous plan to provide accommodations for H-60s on Offshore Patrol Cutter will not be scaled back to accommodate only the H-65. The ability to operate and service H-60s is a potentially important military capability and also will allow the Coast Guard more options when it ultimately replaces the H-65.