FierceHomlandSecuroty brought to my attention a Study by DHS (.pdf) they obtained under the Freedom of information act.
A cursory scan of the study suggest that (at 392 pages), it is a rich source of data and probably of continuing interest, so I have added it to the blog’s references page. I’ll try to give a more in depth review later. I have also added an earlier report–GAO briefing slides for Congressional Committees, April 20, 2012, “Observations on the Coast Guard’s and the Department of Homeland Security’s Fleet Studies”[PDF]
The study helps explain the apparent cancellation of NSCs #7 and 8, in that the DHS study finds very little difference in mission performance between NSCs and OPC, to justify the NSCs apparently much higher price, but it also leaves room for a revision of this decision because, they expect not building NSCs would reduce the fleet’s capabilities at least into the 2030s. The study recognized there remain many unknowns and at least to some extent recognizes the urgency of replacing the cutter fleet, so, at least to my reading, it identifies no definitive single best course of action.
Navy Times is reporting that the House of Representatives is miffed at the Coast Guard for failing to provide three studies they have requested. Reading between the lines, it appears that the studies have been done, but the Department of Homeland Security or the administration did not like the results and is quibbling.
There is also bad news on the Fast Response Cutter (FRC) program here with an FY 2012 cut from six to four vessels.
“The report also notes that the first fast response cutter, under construction at Bollinger Marine in Lockport, La., is suffering from structural deficiencies that will delay its delivery, originally scheduled for this spring. The committee cut two cutters from the budget request for six and directed the service to hold off on expanding the annual FRC request from four to six until the first ship is delivered and has undergone operational test and evaluation.”
Who is really to blame for delaying the studies is not something we can determine, but the effect of all this is more dithering, ships getting too decrepit to do their jobs, and an inability to conduct SAR and enforce US law in the Arctic and far Pacific EEZ.
Not having a completed study is just an excuse for inaction on the part of the Administration and Congress. I hate to allow them that excuse, but while we may not know what the final fleet size should be, it is pretty obvious, we need to build more ships and faster. We need to start building OPCs yesterday and down the road will be soon enough to decide when we have enough.
Related: Fleet Mix Where Are the Trade-offs and DIY Fleet Mix Study