September 26, Fiercehomelandsecurity posted a story (“GAO: Not eliminating two National Security Cutters will cause ‘difficult choices'”) on a recent GAO report, “COAST GUARD, Portfolio Management Approach Needed to Improve Major Acquisition Outcomes” (download the report, GAO-12-918 (.pdf)).
I’m going to look at other aspects of the report later, but there were a number of items addressed in the report that readers may not be aware of. This is not an exhaustive list, the report contains even more, but I thought these most interesting. We may have touched on some of these changes already, but here goes.
“DHS stated that future breaches in Coast Guard programs would almost be inevitable as funding resources diminish.” (p.17)
Maritime Domain Awareness/C4ISR:
Nationwide Automatic Identification System–Indefinitely deferring plan for continuous nationwide coverage. (p14)
Common Operating picture:
“The Coast Guard planned to buy an integrated C4ISR system for each asset to enable greater awareness. As we reported in July 2011, the Coast Guard has spent over $600 million purchasing a C4ISR system that is difficult to maintain and does not yet achieve the system-of systems capability and the Coast Guard’s helicopters are no longer going to be a part of this system” (p.26)
–Neither the OPC or the FRC are expected to be able to exchange near real time “battle data” (tactical data link?) with DOD assets. (p.25)
–Why don’t we use LINK 16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals on all these platforms?
Fast Response Cutter:
“…the Coast Guard has attributed the more than $1 billion rise in the Fast Response Cutter’s cost to a reflection of actual contract cost from the September 2008 contract award and costs for shore facilities and initial spare parts not included in the original baseline.”
Coast Guard’s Aviation Logistics Center told us they recently identified that the end of service life for the HH-60s and HH-65s could be reached as early as the 2022 time frame—not the 2027 time frame as originally planned. Officials added that this will require the Coast Guard to either buy new HH-60s and HH-65s or conduct a service life extension—previous service life extensions have been funded with acquisition dollars.(p16)
H-65 program: dropping both a helicopter handling, traversing, and securing system and a surface search radar. (p.13)
H-60 Program: deferring indefinitely upgrades to include a surface search radar and C4ISR due to budget constraints. (p.13)
A revise baseline program for C-130s has been forwarded DHS that recommends 11 H models and 11 J models (p.40) (I think this is an increase in the expected number of “J” models.)
The Coast Guard has dropped its plans to deliver boarding parties on potentially hostile ships by helicopter (p.27)
A Small Bit of Surprisingly Good News:
The National Security Cutter can do 32 knots (“speed is based on the results of an operational assessment” p. 32), making it almost certainly the fastest major cutter ever.