Coast Guard Defends New Cutter

Thursday, February 01, 2007
According to reports, lawmakers expressed outrage over reports of design flaws in the Coast Guard's new flagship patrol boat and urged Commandant Adm. Thad Allen to strengthen oversight of the much-criticized $24b shipbuilding program.

Reacting to the latest critical government review, the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation raised concerns that taxpayer money was being wasted and the Coast Guard had ceded control of the Deepwater program to private contractors.

The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security said in a report issued Monday that the 418-foot National Security Cutter, part of a new fleet of rescue and patrols boats, has design flaws that would increase maintenance costs and shorten its promised 30-year service life. The cutter was built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems at its Pascagoula yard and is scheduled for delivery in August. The report also said that the Coast Guard had failed to exercise technical oversight of design and construction, ceding control to contractors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which were allowed to self-certify their work.

The biggest black eye came when the Coast Guard sought to extend by 13 feet the workhorse of its fleet: the 110-foot patrol boat. The first boat retrofitted by Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana developed cracks in the hull. Ultimately, all eight were pulled from service last year, leaving a serious gap in the fleet. At the same time, plans for a new patrol boat using "composite materials" also have experienced problems in early tests. The committee put the cost of the missteps at $96 million. Source: Nola

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