With new processes in place, Coast Guard program delivers assets
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Assistant Editor
49 of the service’s 110-foot patrol
boats to 123-foot versions was
scrapped after eight had to be taken
out of service because they were
structurally unsound. There also
were questions about the hull life and
structural integrity of the NSC.
The Coast Guard took over control of the program in mid-2007,
serving as both lead systems integrator and prime contractor. The
ICGS contract runs through 2011.
The program still faces some
challenges, though not on the scale
of those experienced early on. The
service in March told the House
Transportation and Infrastructure
subcommittee on Coast Guard and maritime transportation that the $24 billion, 25-year program is projected to
go over budget by $2 billion. In October, the Bollinger
patrol boat contract was protested by Marinette, Wis.-based Marinette Marine, but the Government Accountability Office (GAO) upheld the award.
During a July 7 hearing of the Senate Commerce,
Science & Transportation’s oceans, atmosphere, fisheries
and Coast Guard subcommittee, the GAO issued a report,
“Coast Guard: Observations on the Fiscal Year 2010
Budget and Related Performance and Management
Challenges,” that said the total cost of Deepwater could
continue to grow beyond the estimated $2 billion increase.
The report was presented by Stephen L. Caldwell,
GAO’s director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues.
Adm. Thad Allen, Coast Guard commandant, told
the panel he was hopeful any increase could be minimized, but could not offer a definitive cost figure.
The service also is continuing to monitor several
different VUAV models but will not make a decision on
whether to buy one until fiscal 2011, at the earliest.
Original Deepwater plans called for a VUAV to be part
of the fleet by now.
Problems with the U.S. Coast Guard’s $24 billion, 25-year Deepwater program peaked in 2007 when House lawmakers contemplated legislation threatening to withhold funding. The past two
years have seen a dramatic turnaround.
■ The service wants to have the fourth National Security Cutter
under contract by fiscal 2010.
■ The Sentinel-class patrol boat contract was awarded in September and production has begun.
■ Deepwater is estimated to go over budget by $2 billion due to
cost overruns and delays from early program failures.
The Coast Guard’s No. 1 acquisition program — Deepwater — reached significant mile- stones for the second straight year, but its success has been tempered by cost concerns, a contract
protest and no movement on plans to buy a vertical
unmanned aerial vehicle (VUAV).
Program highlights from the past 12 months
include the commissioning of the first Legend-class
National Security Cutter (NSC), Bertholf; continued
operational testing of the cutter so it can join the fleet
in 2010; and a contract award for the Sentinel-class
patrol boat — formerly known as the Fast Response
Cutter — to Bollinger Shipyards Inc., Lockport, La., in
September. That deal could be worth $1.5 billion.
“The Deepwater that you knew from two years ago
is in the rearview mirror. As far as we are concerned,
it’s behind us now,” said Capt. Bruce Baffer, the surface
acquisitions program manager.
In 2007, the House and Senate held hearings critical of
the service’s monitoring of the program’s lead systems integrator — Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS), a joint
venture of Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. The
breaking point came when the planned conversion of all
SEAPOWER / AUGUST 2009