WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 8 SEAPOWER / MARCH 2014
Cutters Likely Focus of
USCG Budget Request
The Coast Guard’s fiscal 2015 budget, expected to be released this
month, is shaping up to have an
emphasis on cutters.
Coast Guard Commandant ADM
Robert J. Papp Jr. hinted Jan. 24,
during a Navy League special topic
breakfast series event, that the service would be requesting funding for
the eighth National Security Cutter
(NSC) along with funds for the
development of the Offshore Patrol
Cutter (OPC) and an increase in
money for pre-acquisition activities
for a potential new icebreaker.
During a Feb. 4 House Homeland Security border and maritime
security subcommittee hearing Rep.
Candice Miller, R-Mich., chairman,
said she supported both the OPC
and NSC programs.
The NSC program of record is
for eight cutters, and the effort to
get funding for the entire program
has been challenging. The OPC
program of record is for 25 ships to
bridge capability between the NSC
and the Fast Response Cutters.
The OPCs are intended to replace
the 32 aging 210- and 270-foot
Medium-Endurance Cutters over
the next decade.
The service requested $909 million for Acquisition, Construction
and Improvements (AC&I) for fiscal 2014, down from $1.2 billion in
2013. The fiscal 2015 AC&I request
is expected to fall somewhere in the
middle. Funding for the eighth NSC
— around $650 million — would
eat up a large chunk of that acquisition budget.
The Coast Guard issued preliminary OPC design contracts Feb. 11
to Bollinger Shipyards Inc., Lockport, La.; Eastern Shipbuilding
Group Inc., Panama City, Fla.; and
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works,
Bath, Maine. The total value of the
award, to be split among the three
firms, is approximately $65 million.
Should the program move forward
as planned, the service expects that
steel could be cut on the first OPC
as early as 2018.
Icebreaker research funding was
requested at $2 million in fiscal
2014, down from $8 million in fis-
cal 2013. Papp has suggested that
the 2015 request will seek a slight
increase to allow the service to
continue its initial analysis work
before a final decision is made on
whether to move forward with a
new icebreaker acquisition.
The Coast Guard retains the
nation’s only polar heavy icebreaking
capability and has one heavy icebreaker, the recently reactivated Polar
Star, and one medium icebreaker,
Healy, in service. One additional
heavy icebreaker, Polar Sea, remains
in an inactive status.
The service is not expected to
request funding to purchase new aircraft after it was granted 14 C-27Js
from the Air Force through the National Defense Authorization Act for
2014. That move has left the HC-
144A Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol
Aircraft program in limbo as the service examines whether to continue
it — currently with 18 purchased —
or end it. The original plan was to
buy 36 HC-144As.
The service has not requested
funding for any new aircraft since its
fiscal 2012 budget, when $289 million was sought for two HC-144As,
one HH- 60 Jayhawk helicopter and
asset enhancements and upgrades.
The Coast Guard National Security Cutter (NSC) Stratton returns to its homeport of Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif.,
after a two-month deployment Aug. 17. Stratton, the third NSC, was commissioned in 2012. It completed the patrol to validate the ship’s systems to ensure the crew and cutter were fully operational. Funding for the eighth and final NSC is
expected to be included in the Coast Guard’s fiscal 2015 budget request.