The Nov. 30 Coast Guard statement notes that other
problems, such as deck cracking and hull deformation,
were discovered following completion of the conversion project in June 2005.
Allen’s revelations in November were followed by
criticism in the press and on Capitol Hill.
In a Seapower interview, Blore said the service recognizes that some of the criticism is justified, “but the
overall assessment that the program is somehow critically flawed is just not correct.”
For example, Coast Guard engineers warned of
problems with the patrol boats and other Deepwater
projects prior to completion of the conversion project.
The service had planned to convert 49 of its 110-foot
boats but curtailed that effort because of the dilapidated condition of the vessels, which had been in service
for 20 years.
In addition, the Coast Guard took steps in 2005, a
year before Blore was assigned to Deepwater, to bolster
its oversight by increasing communication between
the Deepwater program office and the Coast Guard’s
technology, logistics and acquisition officials.
“There was not as good communication [in 2004]
as there is now,” Blore said.
He noted he consults with Gabel on every technical
decision he makes, but said, “I don’t know if that rela-
tionship has always been like that,
although that’s the way it should be.”
But some view the failed patrol
boat project as indicative of central
flaws within Deepwater. Program
costs have risen substantially, for
example. Deepwater was created
prior to 9/11 with an estimated
cost of $17 billion. The current
estimate of $24 billion derives in
part from additional mission
requirements, such as an increased
emphasis on homeland security
missions, which the Coast Guard
assumed after 9/11.
The growth is “not because of a
lack of cost control,” Blore said,
“but because of $7 billion more in
Moreover, some question whether the Coast Guard exercises sufficient oversight of Integrated
Coast Guard Systems (ICGS), a
joint venture entity created by
Lockheed Martin and Northrop
Grumman in June 2002 to be
Deepwater’s lead systems integrator
with substantial management
responsibilities under the service’s direction.
Ronald O’Rourke, a defense specialist for the
Congressional Research Service, said in a December
report that the use of a lead system integrator, such as
ICGS, transfers “too much responsibility from the government to the private sector,” thus reducing the “
government’s visibility into program costs, system trade-offs and contractor performance” and creating a potential for conflicts of interest on the part of ICGS when
executing the Deepwater contract.
“The Coast Guard clearly does not understand that
transparency and accountability are essential to a program of this magnitude,” Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, chairwoman of the senate panel overseeing the
Coast Guard, told the New York Times in December.
Leo McKay president of ICGS, said in a Seapower
interview that “any sort of insinuation that industry
has been left alone to do this work is just not true.”
He points to the integrated product team environment in which ICGS functions, meaning that ICGS is
part of a joint venture with 566 subcontractors and is
regulated by the Coast Guard which, in turn, is regulated by Congress. McKay added that ICGS is subject
to a “panoply” of design and readiness reviews, and
has, “at every step,” delivered documentation to the
Coast Guard for acceptance or modification.
U.S. COAST GUARD
From left to right, Coast Guard 87-foot patrol boat Sawfishand 123-foot patrol
boats Manitou and Attu sit moored at their homeport of Key West, Fla., in
November. Manitouand Attu were among eight converted 110-foot cutters, all
based in Key West, that had their operations suspended because of structural
failures and other flaws that have emerged since they were recommissioned.