The Commmandant Answers–Future of WLR, WLI, WLIC, WTGB, WYTL

Shortly after the “State of the Coast Guard” address, the Commandant contacted us and offered to take some questions. Ryan Erickson, Bill Wells, and I took advantage of this generous offer and generated several–probably more than we should have. We may have overloaded the system, but the Commandant is being a good sport and says he will answer them all. Rather than try to answer them all at once, which would make for a very long post, they will come out individually or in small groups. This is the first:

Is there a plan for replacement or life extension for the old small
ships, including the WLR, WLI, WLIC, WTGB, WYTL?

The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget request includes funds for the completion
of engineering change work, materials purchasing and production for the first 140-foot
WTGB Ice Breaking Tug Service Life Extension Project (SLEP).  The goal is to add 15
years to the service life of the 140s.  We are not looking at a replacement project for the
140 fleet at this time.

In FY 2009, we were appropriated $5 million to begin the Inland River Tender
Recapitalization Project (formerly the Heartland Waterway Vessel Project), which is
planned to cover the WLR, WLIC & WLI classes.  Since that time, we have completed
the necessary mission analysis reports and drafted the mission needs statements.  The
U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Marine Design Center in
Philadelphia are collaborating on various Inland Fleet studies including some notional

There are currently no plans to replace the 65-foot WYTL Harbor Tugs.


There is a bit of news on some of our smaller vessels.

The November 2008 issue of the Acquisition directorate’s newsletter included some information about planning for the replacement of the WLR/WLIC inland buoy tenders.

“We are in the process of updating propulsion, generators, steering systems, and fire suppression on our WLIC fleet, with similar updates for the WLRs in the future. For the long term, we have been appropriated funds by Congress in the fiscal year 2009 budget to initiate a WLR/WLIC replacement project, which we’re calling the “Heartland Waterway Vessel (HWV) Project”.  The sponsor in CG-7 and the ATON Program Manager in CG-5 are jointly developing the requirements for the HWV.  The final form of the HWV depends upon completion of the requirements development process and an alternative analysis, but the HWV may very well take the form of a WLR-like tug and barge but with enhanced C4I capabilities plus a high-speed, multi-mission cutter boat.  The good news is this effort has the necessary highest-level support and momentum for the first time in recent history.”

I did a little follow-up, and with the help of MCPO Brett F. Ayer, who is master chief for the Acquisitions Directorate, I contacted Ms. Maureen Schumann,Director of Communications, Assistant Commandant for Acquisition (CG-9), and she was good enough to answer some questions:

Q: …was wondering about the current status of the WLR/WLIC refurbishment and replacement program. Could you provide an update that I can share with our readers?

A: In FY09, we were appropriated funds to begin the Inland Rivertender Recapitalization Project (former Heartland Waterway Vessel Project). Since that time, we have completed the necessary mission analysis reports and drafted the mission needs statements.

Q: Is there a plan for replacement of the 65 ft WYTL harbor tugs? Are they part of the HWV program?

A: There are currently no plans to replace the 65′ WYTL harbor Tugs and they are not part of the WLIC-WLR Recapitalization Program.

Q: Have we begun planning replacements for the 140 ft WTGBs? (I know they are newer than a lot of our vessels but they are hitting the 30 year mark.)

A: There are currently no plans to replace the 140′ WTGBs. However, we are in the process of standing up a 10-year Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) for this fleet. The 140'WTGB SLEP is tentatively set to begin in late 2013.

Is the Fleet Shrinking?

Is the Fleet Shrinking?

I got curious and did a small survey of the fleet size using resources I had at hand (that’s why I used 1982 instead of the more logical 1980). So here is a comparison of the  fleet composition in 1982, 1990, 2000, and 2010 with some notes about the future. To make the information more meaningful, I have grouped the ships in categories by displacement and provided subtotals of all the ships in that category or larger. There is a more specific evaluation of patrol vessels near the bottom.  My sources are at the foot.

(note: loa is length over all.  tons (fl) is full load displacement)

Type         Class               loa    tons (fl)      1982    1990    2000    2010

WAGB     Healy              420    16,000          –           –             1           1
WAGB     Polar               399    12,087           2          2            2           2
WAGB     Glacier            310      8,449           1           –            –            –
=> 8,000 tons                                                  3         2           3           3
WAGB     Wind               269      6,515            2          –             –            –
WAGB     Mackinaw      290      5,252             1          1            1            –
WMSL     Bertholf          418      4,306              –          –            –            2
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