gCaptain is reporting an oil well fire in the Gulf of Mexico, on a PEMEX rig, has killed four and injured several more.
No word yet on degree of polution or USCG involvement.
gCaptain is reporting an oil well fire in the Gulf of Mexico, on a PEMEX rig, has killed four and injured several more.
No word yet on degree of polution or USCG involvement.
The New York Times calls it, “The Biggest Ship in the World (Though It Isn’t Exactly a Ship)”
“It’s called Prelude, and it’s bigger than big. More than 530 yards long and 80 yards wide, it was constructed with 260,000 metric tons of steel, more than was used in the entire original World Trade Center complex, and it’s expected to displace 600,000 metric tons of water, or as much as six aircraft carriers.”
This one is to be anchored in North West of Australia, but if one comes to the US EEZ, it is going to be an incredible Marine Inspection task.
According to a report by the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board as reported by gCaptain, the problems that caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster have gone unresolved.
“Industry practice and federal safety rules currently in place in the Gulf may not prevent another catastrophic spill, according to the report. U.S. regulations fall short of standards used for drilling off the coasts of Norway, Australia and the U.K., which require more rigorous, regular and independent safety-equipment checks, the agency said.”
The copyrighted Bloomberg story also reports government and industry reaction.
The CSB draft report can be found here.
The new addition of the Acquisition Directorate’s news letter, “Delivering the Goods” (pdf), is available here.
It is an informative issue. There are stories about
gCaptain is reporting Rear Admiral James Watson who has been serving as Director of Prevention Policy for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship, will assume leadership of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Adm Watson served as Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response.
The DOI news release is here:
“BSEE was one of the two agencies to succeed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) on Oct. 1, 2011. Admiral Watson will begin as BSEE Director on December 1, 2011, and will succeed Michael R. Bromwich.”
“BSEE is responsible for enforcing safety and environmental regulations for oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf. BSEE’s functions include: permitting and research, inspections, offshore regulatory programs, oil spill response, and newly formed training and environmental compliance functions.“
gCaptain points out that the administration is planning to expand offshore drilling and in this particular case the expansion will include drilling off the North Slope.
“U.S. officials acknowledged they lack a full understanding of the Arctic’s environment and ecosystem. For that reason, the U.S. decided to delay lease auctions in the Arctic until 2015 and 2016 “to use the intervening years to better address the science gaps,” Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes said.”
This puts a rush on the Coast Guard to develop infrastructure in this area. Considering the pace of Congressional action and the hesitance to add to appropriations, it will be very difficult for the Coast Guard to be fully ready when the initial capability is required.
Lack of accurate estimates of the amounts of oil from the Deepwater Horizon blow out was a frequent criticism, so perhaps this method is good news.
The FY 2012 budget for “vessels” is a year without major funding for the National Security Cutter (NSC) project. It only includes $77M to finish funding the fifth ship. Consequently, even though vessel funding dropped from $851.7M in the FY2011 request to only $642M, we see the start of a program to update 140-foot WTGBs, 225-foot WLBs and 175- foot WLMs, beginning with the oldest WTGB and funding of five Mission Effectiveness Projects (MEP) for 270 foot WMECs. We also see an acceleration of the Response Boat-Medium and Fast Response Cutter Programs.
But of course the plan has been to complete the NSC program before starting the OPC program and having the first OPC delivered in 2019. I don’t see how this can happen without a major bump in AC&I funding or at least a major diversion from other areas. The funding for the first five NSCs was spread over eleven years. In the last ten budgets, from FY 2003-2012, NSC funding has averaged $312M. Only in FY 2011 did funding for the program approach the full cost of an NSC ($615M requested compared to a projected cost of $697M for NSC#5), that year, there was no funding for the Fast Response Cutter Program. The Coast Guard is unlikely to get $1.2B it needs in FY 2013/14/15 to complete the “In Service Vessel Sustainment” and WMEC Mission Effectiveness Projects and each year build:
Short of canceling one or more of the NSCs (my preferred alternative), the only way to deliver an OPC by 2019 is to build the NSCs and OPCs in parallel.
This is the third part of a detailed look at the “Annual Review of the United States Coast Guard’s Mission Performance (FY 2009)” from the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security. The report is available in Acrobat PDF format from DHS. (I’ll refer to it as the DHS IG report.)
Here, we are going to look at what I consider the informative and important part of the report, that was buried in Appendices C and D. My earlier commentary, parts 1 and 2 are here and here.
Much of Appendices C and D is lifted from the United States Coast Guard Fiscal Year 2009 Performance Report which is also available as a pdf (couldn’t get a link to work, but it’s on google). (I’ll refer to it as the CG report.) This document does a much better job of explaining the categories and the performance measures than the DHS IG report but only goes back to 2004. It does, however, also include the targets for FY 2010. It would probably be better if the IG had just put a cover sheet on the CG report and forwarded it.
Both reports provide the essential same results but their are some differences, which I will note.
24 measured are applied to the eleven Coast Guard missions. For FY 2009, the Coast Guard met 8 of 11 performance measures for its 6 non-DHS missions, and 6 of 13 performance measures for its 5 homeland security missions.
—THE GOOD NEWS—
“Non-Homeland Security” missions did well. Standards were high and even when targets were not met, we came close.
SAR: Percentage of people in imminent danger saved in the maritime environment. Target 76% Actual 77.3%
(I find the math used in this section hard to follow and somewhat questionable–there was a reported improvement over FY 2008, but deaths went up 20%, while total number in danger changed very little (see CG report p15,16))
Aids to Navigation:
Ice Operations: Number of days critical waterways are closed due to ice. Target 2 avg. and 8 severe. Actual 0. (Note there is no criteria for Polar Operations.) Success in this criteria is strongly influenced by weather.
Living Marine Resources: Percentage of Coast Guard boardings at sea in which no violations are detected when domestic fisheries regulations apply. Target 97% Actual 96.7%, a miss, but close enough to be insignificant.
Marine Safety: (None of these standards were in place until FY2008)
Marine Environmental Protection: (Here too, these standards did not apply until FY2008)
—THE BAD NEWS—
Homeland Security missions did not fare so well. In general, even when targets were met, the targets were low.
Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security:
Drug Interdiction (This standard was not applied until FY2009): Removal rate for cocaine from noncommercial vessels in a maritime transit zone. Target 15.7% Actual 15%. (Probably reasonably accurate and probably about as good as we can hope for, but not good enough to truly discourage the smugglers.)
Undocumented Migrant Interdiction:
Defense Readiness: These three measures are to be replaced next year.
Other Law Enforcement (Foreign Fisheries Enforcement):
Some of the things we did not see measured, that we might want to get a handle on:
We really need to consider Domain Awareness for vessels under 300 tons too. Even sailboats can bring in some nasty weapons.
The Department needs to see that their future is in disaster preparedness from whatever cause. Hopefully the terror threat will fade. They need to see, that the “non-DHS missions” complementary DHS missions. When we have a disaster, we need to do SAR and restore Aids to Navigation. Icebreaking may be necessary to get access to a disaster or to prevent one, and environmental disasters are still disasters.
The Coast Guard needs to embrace the DHS missions and recognize that the greater capability, that we really do need to do these missions, also means greater capability to do traditional missions. That Long Rang Identification and Tracking (LRIT) will help SAR is just one example. More boats, more aircraft, more command, control, communications, information, and reconnaissance systems translate to doing all our missions better. To get those assets, we need to make our case, and it can only be made on the basis of DHS missions.
Congress needs to recognize that we are an Armed Service. They don’t expect to see a product out of the Air Force every year. It’s buying insurance. Most of the time, there is no product. Counter terrorism missions are dealing with statistically unlikely, but high impact events. Congress and DHS have a hard time dealing with a multi-purpose organization. From year to year they don’t know what we will be doing because we don’t know either. Mariel Boatlift, Katrina, Haiti, Deepwater Horizon, what’s next? We don’t know!
When it comes time to decide the Coast Guard budget, I would suggest Congress take a different approach. Consider return on investment. If you like the return you are getting from the Coast Guard now, invest more. Don’t say, “Agency ‘X’ isn’t working, we need to put more money into that.” “The Coast Guard, is doing a good job with their current budget so we don’t need to give them any more.” I don’t quote scripture very often. I’m not religious, but there is some wisdom there. Check out the story of the “good and faithful servant” Mathew 25:14-30.
This is a continuation of a look at a report the Department of Homeland Security presented to Congress regarding Coast Guard mission performance begun in part one.
The report divides the Coast Guard’s 11 missions into Department of Homeland Security Missions and Non-Homeland Security missions as follows (percent of hours associated with each mission is in parenthesis):
Homeland security missions include:
Non-Homeland Security Missions include:
The first thing you may notice is that the “Homeland Security Missions” were Coast Guard missions long before the creation of DHS.
This distinction is artificial. DHS seems fixated on terrorism. Once the DHS is reconciled to the fact that they are the department responsible for disaster prevention, response, and mitigation regardless of whether that disaster is natural, accidental, or a terrorist attack, then they will see that the remaining Coast Guard missions are also to some extent DHS missions. (Notably the previous year when GAO testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, “Drug Interdiction” and “Other Law Enforcement” were listed as non-homeland security missions.)
Marine Safety and AtoN help prevent accidental disasters. Living Marine Resources and MEP help prevent environmental disasters. Any SAR case is at least a small scale disaster for those involved. SAR can be a major part of disaster mitigation as in the case of Katrina or Haiti. The SAR organization is the frequently the basis for post disaster communications. Even Ice Operations can mitigate the possibility of flooding by preventing the accumulation of water behind Ice dams that may release catastrophically–all good DHS missions.
As noted in part 1, the report seems to miss a signifiant part of the Coast Guard’s operation, but for now lets look at what it does show. We will look at Measures of effectiveness later.
The report actually covers the entire period from 2001 to the present and compares current operations with a baseline established on the basis of eight quarters prior to 9/11. One important item is that although total resource hours declined since 2005, hours are still up considerably compared to pre-9/11 levels, up from a little less than 500,000 hours to 717,992 hours, so a decline in percentage doesn’t necessarily reflect a decline in activity.
Homeland Security Resource Hours:
Hours increased significantly as might be expected, 115%, from a baseline of a bit less than 200,000 to 400,742.
Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security: By far the greatest percentage of hours (181,264 hours/25.25%) was taken by ports, waterways and coastal security missions. Resource utilization is up ten fold from the baseline after peaking in 2003/4/5.
So maybe we ought to add another 25.25% to MEP, another 25.25% to SAR, and another 25.25% to Drug interdiction. Still do we patrol enough? The vessel and aircraft related measures of effectiveness targets are being exceeded. But the targets are abominably low, considering we are dealing with events with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Drug Interdiction: Hours are down 34% from the pre-9/11 baseline from a little over 120,000 down to 80,564. Here we are getting substantial help from DOD but that doesn’t show up in the hours, and the efforts of our LEDETS, like those of the small boats, are also not reflected by the resource hour measure.
Undocumented Migrant Interdiction: Up more than 150% to 76,100 hours. Reportedly we are achieving record high interdiction rates.
Defense Readiness: Hours are up considerably, to 56,128 hours or 7.82% but the baseline was ridiculously low at what looks like less than 7,000 hours or less than 300 unit days. The results have been poor with little improvement expected until the National Security Cutters and Fast Response Cutters replace the 378s and 110s.
Other Law Enforcement: (6,686 hours 0.93%) The number of hours has bounced around quite a bit by percentage (now 19.2% below the baseline). The entire effort is less than 280 unit days, but the service is exceeding its performance goal by a wide margin.
Non-Homeland Security hours (317,250 hours or 44.18%) dropped below the baseline in 2002/2003/2004 but are currently slightly above the baseline.
Search and Rescue: SAR Hours are down more than a quarter, from over 80,000 to 58,607 hours or 8.16%. Even so, we are meeting our performance objectives. SAR hours are demand driven. In 2005, hours were still below baseline, but bumped up 14.8% from 2004 as a result of Katrina. Hopefully we will be able to do more rescuing and less searching as a result of innovations like Rescue 21. The depressed economy may have a role here too. If we were a SAR only organization we would have to fly or get underway just to train and maintain proficiency. As it is, much of the proficiency training is done working on other missions, so perhaps we should credit a few more percentage points to the hours we spend on SAR.
Marine Safety (52,579 hours 7.2%): The Coast Guard did not even report commitment of resource hours to Marine Safety before 2005. I’m still not sure what we are doing with this much cutter and aircraft time that effects the number of commercial mariner and commercials passenger deaths or injuries (two of the three measures of effectiveness) Most of these hours must go to Recreational Boating Safety (the third measure of effectiveness). This may be another way to count patrol hours.
Aids to Navigation: AtoN hours show a drop from the baseline of about 10% to 1000,904 hours, but it is still 14.05% of the current total. Improved reliability of aids appears to have made this possible without a drop in service.
Ice Ops (8,033 hours/1.12%): This category is primarily a reflection of ice conditions on the Great Lakes and navigable waterways that can fluctuate substantially year to year. It says very little about our Arctic capabilities, long in decline.
Living Marine Resources (94,178 hours/13.12%): Hours declined after 9/11 but now slightly exceed pre-9/11 baseline.
Marine Environmental Protection (MEP) (2,949 hours/0.41%): Like Marine Safety, MEP recorded no resource hours committed before 2005. Hours are down over 40% since 2005, but in FY2009 we exceeded our goals for prevention of chemicals and oil discharges per units shipped. There were no performance measures specifically related to safety of or pollution from offshore wells. I suspect most MEP work is not done by the cutters and aircraft included in this report, but that we will see a big increase in MEP hours when figures come out for FY2010. In the minds of most people, fisheries enforcement, both “Living Marine Resources” (domestic fisheries) and “Other Law Enforcement” (foreign fisheries) is a form of “Marine Environmental Protection.” Perhaps we need to group them with regulation of the chemical and petroleum industries and pollution clean-up under an expanded Marine Environmental Protection Program, so that there will be a better appreciation of what the service does.
Traditional Coast Guard missions continue within the Department of Homeland Security. They have not been neglected.
For the Coast Guard to have gone from less than 500,000 resource hours to consistently over 700,000 hours, a more than 40% increase, when there has been no substantial increase in assets and as the average age of the assets increased has got to be a strain.
Coming in Part 3: Performance Measures and Where the Problems are.