Tenth Webber Class WPC, Raymond Evans, Delivered

Some progress on recapitalization. MarineLog is reporting delivery of the tenth Webber class WPC (Fast Response Cutter) named for Raymond Evans. Evans was with Munro when largely Coast Guard manned boats pulled a Marine detachment out of a trap. More information:

http://www.uscg.mil/history/weboralhistory/EvansOralHistory.asp

http://www.uscg.mil/history/WEBORALHISTORY/Ray_Evans_Video_Interview.asp

CG issues Draft RFP for Second Phase of FRC Procurement

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The Acquisition Directorate is reporting that they have issued a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new contract to build Webber class WPCs.

It will provide for options of either four or six cutters per year for seven years. If all options were exercised the maximum number of cutters that could be built would total 42, but this probably will not be the case.

In February 2012, the Coast Guard exercised a $27.2M option to purchase the “Procurement and Data License Package” for the Webber class Fast Response Cutters, so the Coast Guard can allow other shipyards to bid to build follow-on ships of the same class.

25 September 2013, the Coast Guard exercised an option for six more cutters. This resulted in a total 24 Webber class built or under contract. I believe this was FY2013 money and we will see another contract to exercise the final option on the existing contract bringing the total to 30, which leads to a question. There is a statement in the RFP that I find difficult to understand, B.2.(b) “The total number of cutters obtained under this contract will be limited to twenty-six (26).” All along the program of record has been 58 of these vessels. The maximum number of vessels that can be funded under the phase one contract is 30 cutters so why limit this second contract to 26 when we have a stated requirement for 28 more? Does the Coast Guard plan on making a sole source buy of two ships in FY2015 and award this contract in FY2016?

Why preemptively limit the buy to less than the total of the options anyway. There might be a change of plans that would increase the Coast Guard requirement. The Navy might want to buy some using our existing contract, or the Coast Guard might want to make a Foreign Military Sale purchase on behalf of a friendly foreign government.

Despite being probably the best candidate we will ever see (a mature program with a proven product, approved by the Department for full rate production, that will continue for at least another five years), I saw no indication that a multi-year procurement was considered. I would hope that savvy ship builders would offer this as an additional option. It is still not too late for the Coast Guard to obtain Congressional permission to award a Multi-year Procurement for these ships. Or for Congress to direct this money saving procurement method.

Unfunded Piority List

The US Naval Institute has published an online copy of the DOD’s unfunded priority list. The Navy’s list runs pages 9-13 of the 49 page document reproduced there.

Which got me to thinking, where is the Coast Guard’s unfunded priority list? Do we have one? If not, shouldn’t we? The FY2015 budget proposal includes only two Fast Response Cutters. First on the list, four more. The additional 14 C-27Js still leave us four Maritime Patrol Aircraft short of the program of record. Four more C-144s (or C-27s) please. There is a documented requirement for three heavy and three medium icebreakers. Lets fix the Polar Sea. To do all its statutory missions, the Coast Guard Fleet Mix Study  indicated we need nine National Security Cutters not eight and not 25 Offshore  Patrol Cutters but 57. We are not ready to order the OPCs yet, but a ninth NSC is something we could use right now. Plus the Coast Guard needs replacements or rebuilds for the inland fleet of tenders and the 65 foot icebreaking tugs. Incidentally the Fleet Mix Study says the Coast Guard need 65 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (listed as C-144s in the study) not the 36 in the program of record or the 32 in the works currently.

The Commandant has been saying the Coast Guard needs $2.5B a year in AC&I. Why not tell Congress how we would spend it. If I remember correctly, Congress has in fact asked for this. The Coast Guard would be remiss in not providing it.

 

 

Changes in the Fleet

Defense Industry Daily has an update on the status of the National Security Cutter (NSC) program. The seventh (Kimball) has been ordered and they report how the previously ordered cutters are progressing.

HII receives a $497 million fixed-price, incentive-fee contract from the U.S. Coast Guard to build WMSL 756, the 7th Legend Class National Security Cutter. Construction is expected to begin in January 2015, and delivery is scheduled for some time in 2018.

Ingalls has delivered the first 3 NSCs. WMSL 753 Hamilton is 81% complete and will deliver in Q3 2014; WMSL 754 James is 52% complete and will launch in April 2014; and WMSL 755 is scheduled for launch in the Q4 2015.  Sources: HII, “Ingalls Shipbuilding Awarded $497 Million Contract for Seventh U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter”.

Hamilton will be the first of two NSCs expected to be based in Charleston. Note the contract prices quoted are not the full cost of the ships.

Gallatin is being transferred to the Nigerian Navy, making this the second 378 transferred there. This leaves the Coast Guard with ten “high endurance cutters”, seven 378s and three NSCs, all on the West Coast.

The eighth Fast Response Cutter (FRC) has been commissioned and the ninth has been delivered.

 

Decommissioning the 110s

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Photo: USAF photo, USCGC MUSTANG (WPB 1310), underway at Port Valdez, Alaska, while providing harbor security during Exercise NORTHERN EDGE 2002.

The Coast Guard recently commissioned its eighth Webber Class Fast Response Cutter, and it has accepted the ninth. Since these are replacements for the 110 foot Island class, we should not be surprised that Island class cutters are being decommissioned.

This is the first I have heard about since the decommissioning of the 123 conversions: USCGC Bainbridge Island (WPB-1343).

The FY2015 budget provides for decommissioning eight 110s.

The Coast Guard plans on 58 Webber class, so presumably they would want to retain enough 110s to provide a total of 58 larger patrol craft with the 110s filling in until replaced by the new ships. It does not look like this will happen. Since the decommissioning of eight Island class as a result of the failure of the 123 conversion, there have been 41 Island class WPBs. Adding the Webber class WPCs currently commissioned that gives the Coast Guard a total of 49 large patrol craft. It appears the total will not exceed 49 at any time in the foreseeable future.

If 110s are decommissioned at the same rate Webber class are built, the number may stabilize at 49. If on the other hand the Coast Guard is unable to keep these older vessels going, the total is likely to drop. If that happen, as little as I like the idea of multiple crews, perhaps it is time to look at multi-crewing the Webber Class. .

OPC Multi-Year Procurement-a Clarification

I have been made aware that the earlier post on this topic might lead to some confusion. Lets look at it in more detail. This is what the bill actually says about this,

“SEC. 215. MULTIYEAR PROCUREMENT AUTHORITY FOR OFFSHORE PATROL CUTTERS.

” In fiscal year 2015 and each fiscal year thereafter, the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating may enter into, in accordance with section 2306b of title 10, United States Code, multiyear contracts for the procurement of Offshore Patrol Cutters and  associated equipment.”

First, it should be apparent that this applies only to the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). This will not help with the Fast Response Cutter (FRC) program.

Second it refers specifically to section 2306b of title 10, the section governing muti-year procurements (MYP), which brings with it some specific requirements, one of which is that to be eligible for consideration for a multi-year procurement, the program must be  “stable.” In the case of shipbuilding, this usually means that the first ship is at least complete. That will probably be in 2020, by which time, at least the first three ships should have already been contracted.

There is a form of contracting that would provide many of the advantages of multi-year procurement (MYP) that can include these first few ships, this is Block Buy Contracting (BBC) as was used at the start of the Navy’s current submarine program, but that was not what was authorized.

Clearly the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee wants to allow the Coast Guard to exploit potentially more efficient forms of contracting, but the potential of multi-year procurement of OPCs is still years away. If they want to realize savings earlier, they will need to authorize Block Buy Contracting for the Offshore Patrol Cutters and/or Multi-Year Procurement for the Fast Response Cutters.

There is another issue here also. That is the disagreement between the Department and Administration (in the form of OMB) on one side and the Coast Guard and some members of Congress on the other about what elements of the project must be funded before it is considered fully funded and a contract can be awarded. This is a funding approach question. and it is actually not directly connected to the contracting mechanism. Authorizing MYP does not resolve this disagreement. The Department and Administration’s apparent reticence may be symptomatic of a desire to delay committing, which would work against the long term commitment required for a multi-year procurement, but it should be obvious to anyone that while the final number of OPCs may be open for debate, the Coast Guard does need at least the eleven that are currently planned to be included (one contracted and ten as options) in the initial construction contract.

Honoring More CG Heroes–Naming Ten More Cutters

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US Coast Guard Illustration

As names were announced for the first fourteen Webber class Fast Response Cutters, the official USCG blog, “Coast Guard Compass” gave a short description of the service of the enlisted heroes these ships were named for. (You can find links to these fourteen posts here.)

Now ten more names have been selected and Coast Guard Compass is again posting descriptions of their service. The first five are:

Recapitalization Plan in Eight Slides

FierceHomelandSecurity has a slideshow that summarizes the “Recapitalization Plan” in only eight slides.

If you have been following this web site, there won’t be much new here, but I did note a couple of things that might be significant (or maybe not).

In describing the Webber class Fast Response Cutters (FRC), their endurance is now described as seven days instead of the five that was the contract minimum. (Always figured they were probably good for more than that.)

In describing the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) the speed is given as specifically 25 knots, not as a range from 22 to 25. I hope this is true, because it the increase from 22 to 25 makes the ships a lot more useful as potential naval vessels, if we ever need them to go to war.

The slides do seem a bit out of date in calling the helicopters HH-60 and HH65 instead of the current designations, MH–60 and M-H-65.

Getting Outflanked along the California Coast

FierceHomelandSecurity is reporting the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection are admitting that Pangas smuggling north from Mexico are going around existing patrols. Shouldn’t surprise anyone, there is a lot of money in it. In addition to drugs they could be  smuggling terrorist just as easily.

Perhaps we need a few of those Webber Class WPCs in the Pacific. Reportedly the administration is taking another look at border security. Its time to make our case that the water side is way too porous.