02 May 2007

Deepwater; Big Trouble

Deepwater is the five year old program to replace almost all of the ships in the Coast Guard with new an improved models over 20 years for $24 billion. It is in big trouble, something I've been aware of for a few months but not found time to post about. The link in this post to Defense Tech has a nice summary of the problems.

Integrated Coast Guard Systems -- a partnership between electronics maker Lockheed Martin and shipbuilder Northrop Grumman -- the “lead systems integrator” for the program, meaning the firms, rather than the Coast Guard, would be responsible for selecting subcontractors to handle the aircraft, electronics and shipbuilding work. . . . [T]he service has terminated the lead-systems-integrator relationship, citing shoddy work on a $100-million effort to stretch and modernize eight 110-foot patrol boats -- the first major shipbuilding portion of Deepwater. Those boats are being decommissioned due to hull buckling, leaving the Coast Guard with a 15-percent gap in its patrol boat force, Commandant Thad Allen said while announcing the decommissioning and the Deepwater changes on April 17. Earlier, Allen had cancelled the so-called Fast Response Cutter being designed from scratch by Integrated Coast Guard Systems to eventually fill that gap, instead expressing his intention to seek off-the-shelf boat designs. [There were also electronics and software problems.]. . .

According to Allen, all aspects of Deepwater that are already far advanced -- including work on patrol planes, helicopters, short-range boats and several large cutters -- will remain intact. But overall management of the program will pass from industry to the Coast Guard.

I personally think that we need, as a nation, to shift resources from the Navy, which provides relatively modest benefit to national defense for the money we spend on it, to the Coast Guard, which provides a high return for the money we spend on it, particularly on the counterterrorism front.

Indeed, given my druthers, the National Guard, Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol would be a unified force in charge of its own procurement and coordinated domestic security and crisis response duties, rather than the current approach, which treats the National Guard as a poor cousin of the Army.

1 comment:

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

A summary of the pre-Deep Water Coast Guard can be found at dkospedia (written by me). The Deep Water program site has lots of detail on the new proposal. A Congressal Research Service report does a nice job of summarizing the program in six pages.

In a nutshell, the status quo is:

The Coast Guard operates ten classes of Cutters, from 87 feet to 378 feet in length for a total of 144 cutters. The largest is slightly smaller than a Navy Frigate. The largest of them have 3" naval guns, the smaller ones have grenade launchers or .50 caliber machine guns. They are slower than most naval ships.

12 WMEC-378’ Hamilton class cutters, its largest cutter, commissioned in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is 3,250 tons, it has a range of 14,000 Nautical Miles, it has a crew of 19 officers and 148 enlisted sailors. It carries one helicopter and two small boats. The Helicopter is either a HH65 Dolphin or a LAMPS MKI (SH-2). It carries a 30 knot rigid inflatable boat, and a 12 knot motor surf boat.

1 WMEC-282’ Alex Haley class cutter based in Kodiak, Alaska, re-commissioned after a prior recovery tug role in 1999 and initially commissioned in 1977. It is 3,496 tons, has diesel engines, it has a crew of ten officers and 96 enlisted men.

12 WMEC-270’ Famous class medium endurance cutters in service, with the first entering service in 1983. Each is 1,780 tons, it has a 10,250 mile range and a 20 knot top speed. It has a crew of 14 officers and 86 enlisted men. It carries one helicopter (an HH-65A, an SH-2 LAMPS I or an HH-60J), and two boats, a 26 foot motor surf boat and a 6 meter rigid hull inflatable.

1 WMEC-230’ Storis class medium endurance cutter based in Kodiak, Alaska, which is the oldest cutter in service entering service in 1942. It is 1916 tons, the crew is 10 officers and 96 enlisted. It has a range of 22,000 n miles.

1 WMEC-213’ Diver class cutter based in Ketchikan, Alaska commissioned in 1944. It is 1746 tons, the crew consists of 7 officers and 65 enlisted men. It has a range of 13,700 miles.

The Coast Guard has 16 WMEC-210 Reliance class cutters. It is 947-1000 tons, the crew consists of 12 officers and 63 enlisted. It has a range of 6,100 miles. It has one HH-65A helicopter. Most were commissioned in the 1960s.

1 WPB-123’ Patrol Boats, part of the Deep Water project, with seven more scheduled to go into service by the end of 2005. Each is 170-175 tons, the crew is 2 officers and 14 enlisted men. The range is 3180-3300 miles.

49 WPB-110’ Island class patrol boats commissioned between 1985 and 1992.

49 WPB-87’ Marine Protector class patrol boats in service. The first was delivered in 1998, and more deliveries are scheduled through 2005.

2 WPB 82’ Point class patrol boats. They will be removed from service when the last replacement Marine Protector class patrol boats are brought on line in 2005.

211 aircraft (the C-130 and a smaller fixed wing aircraft, plus three kinds of helicopters).

A number of smaller boats.

In a nutshell, the new plan is, from CRS:

"The revised Deepwaterimplementation plan, submitted on March 25, 2005, includes the acquisition ormodernization over a 25-year period, at an estimated cost of $24 billion, of the following:

Ships, boats, and surface craft:
*8 new National Security Cutters, or NSCs, displacing about 4,000 tonseach (i.e., ships analogous to today’s high-endurance cutters);
*25 new Offshore Patrol Cutters, or OPCs, displacing about 3,200 tonseach (i.e., ships analogous to today’s medium-endurance cutters);
*58 new Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) displacing 200 tons each;
*33 new Long Range Interceptor (LRI) craft displacing 15 tons each; and
*91 new Short Range Prosecutor (SRP) craft displacing 9 tons each.

*22 modernized HC-130H/J Long Range Search (LRS) aircraft;
*36 new HC-235 Medium Range Search (MRS) aircraft, also known asMaritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), based on based on the EuropeanAeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) CASA HC-235Persuader MPA aircraft design;
*42 modernized HH-60J Medium Range Recovery (MRR) helicopters;
*95 re-engined and modernized HH-65C Multi-Mission CutterHelicopters (MCHs);
*45 new HV-911 Eagle Eye VTOL (vertical take-off or landing)Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (VUAVs); and
*4 leased RQ-4A Global Hawk High Altitude Endurance UAVs(HAEUAVs).