New Coast Guard acquisition chief balances
murky budget waters with recapitalizing the fleet
Rear. Adm. John H. Korn became the assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer in May, taking control of the Coast
Guard’s 22 major acquisition projects and a diverse
$30 billion acquisition portfolio. Korn inherits the
remodeled $27 billion Deepwater modernization
program amid an uncertain budget climate where
all of the military services are expected to be
asked to do more with less.
For the past two years, Korn served as the service’s program executive officer and director of
acquisition programs, with oversight of all Coast
Guard acquisition programs and projects for the
sustainment, modernization and recapitalization of
surface, air, command and control, and logistics
assets. He previously served as the commander of Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, Texas; chief of
the Inventory Management Branch at the Aircraft Repair and Supply Center in Elizabeth City, N.C.; and
has held numerous management positions during his 32 years in the service. Korn is a 1979 graduate of
the Coast Guard Academy.
He discussed acquisition strategy and planning with Assistant Editor John C. Marcario. Excerpts follow:
What are your top acquisition priorities?
KORN: To recapitalize our major cutter fleet. That consists of the National Security Cutter (NSC) and the
Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) that will replace the High
Endurance Cutters (HECs) and Medium Endurance
Cutters (MECs). The 378-foot HECs were designed to
last a quarter century and now they’re approaching half
a century of age and they are starting to show it.
They’ve endured 50 years of extended at-sea conditions, often in high sea states in the Pacific, the Gulf of
Alaska and the Bering Sea. We’re losing hundreds of
patrol days per year due to breakdowns.
The NSC program has stable requirements, predictable costs and is delivering great ships. Bertholf and
Waesche are operational and proving to be extremely
capable and relevant ships to address current and
future maritime threats to the economy and sovereignty of the United States. Command and control; air
search radar; and chemical, biological, radiological and
nuclear crew protection capability make this ship valuable for counterterrorism and natural disaster response
And the third NSC, Stratton, just completed remarkably successful builder’s trials. It’s scheduled for a
September delivery, at the cost that we predicted about
three years ago [of $551 million]. Prefabrication also
began recently on the fourth NSC, Hamilton. We have
awarded the contract for long-lead-time material for the
fifth NSC and we’re hoping to award the production contract for the fifth NSC in the next couple months.