With Coast Guard in control, vice commandant sees
service marching smartly forward with Deepwater
Vice Adm. Vivien S. Crea, the Coast Guard’s vice commandant and
chief operating officer, oversees the operations management of the service and is responsible for its daily functions, policy development, mission
execution and mission support delivery. Crea is the most experienced
active-duty aviator in the Coast Guard and became the first woman to
hold the vice commandant position when she took office in June 2006.
JIM LO SCALZO
She did not expect to be nominated as second in command and said
she never expected to stay at that post for three years. Crea previously served as commander of the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area,
Defense Forces East and the First District. She also commanded Air
Stations Clearwater, Fla., and Detroit.
Crea discussed acquisition adjustments, modifications and other
aspects of the Deepwater modernization program with Assistant Editor
John C. Marcario. Excerpts follow:
What has been the biggest Coast Guard story
during the past 12 months?
CREA: I’d like to think it is that we have restored our credibility and our oversight of the acquisition process. We are
spitting out products that are great products and we have
weathered the bad press [from past Deepwater problems].
I was there from the beginning [of Deepwater], in
the budget shop. I have no buyer’s remorse, quite
frankly, over having gone the path we selected to go
three years ago because I knew the challenges we were
facing with block obsolescence and the fact that we had
a really marginal recapitalization capability and that it
was going to take something major to be able to look
through that glass ceiling of what was, yesterday, the
normal way ahead. We chose the path of the lead systems integrator and we got the big guys involved in
terms of the big defense contractors. …
But then it was time to change and we started seeing
some of the flaws in that thought process and some of the
inadequacies of the products we were getting and realized
that we had separated Deepwater capitalization out of the
Coast Guard and it was extremely harmful to the Coast
Guard. Re-integration of that capability and capacity and
that decision-making process into the Coast Guard was
absolutely essential, and I think we’ve gotten there.
What are your top operational priorities?
CREA: Mine is to ensure we’ve got the best tools for
our people to get the job done effectively, safely and to
get back home.
How important is it to replace the older assets
in the fleet?
CREA: It’s hugely important for a couple of reasons. One
is that the old [assets] are inadequate. They don’t have
the capability and the capacity to do what we need to do
as smartly and as effectively. They’re extremely expensive
to run. I’m concerned about the safety of our crews and
operating these inadequate things, their quality of life, of
the inability to get the mission done and just the fact that
these are just huge sinkholes of amounts of money. And
then the operational impact, of having something come
SEAPOWER / AUGUST 2009