U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, called on the Coast Guard to submit the designs for National Security Cutter (NSC) 3 for analysis by the Naval Surface Warfare Center
(Carderock Division) and to submit the results of the analysis to Congress.
In a letter to the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen, Chairman Cummings also called on the Coast Guard to commit to having the design and construction of all future NSCs certified by an independent, third party.
Chairman Cummings said, "Last week, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure unanimously adopted by voice vote the Integrated Deepwater Program Reform
Act, H.R. 2722, a bi-partisan bill that would create within the Coast Guard the systems and personnel positions that the Committee feels are essential to ensuring that the Coast Guard is able to effectively manage not only the Deepwater program, but also all future acquisitions efforts.
"H.R. 2722 would require that the design and construction of each NSC beginning with NSC 3 be certified by an independent third party with expertise in vessel design and construction to be able to meet a 185-underway-day requirement under general Atlantic and North Pacific sea conditions for a period of at least 30 years.
"The bill would also require the Coast Guard to have the design for NSC 3 analyzed by the United States Navy
. Specifically, the bill would require the Coast Guard to report the results of an assessment of the hull design for NSC 3 - including changes incorporated into the design to resolve the structural design, safety, and performance issues identified by the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General report OIG-07-23 - prior to the award of a task order for the construction of NSC 3.
"These provisions in H.R. 2722 respond directly to the Committee's concern to ensure that all future NSCs be free of any problems with their hull fatigue life - and that the NSCs be capable of meeting all requirements of the contract issued for Deepwater, including being capable of being underway at least 185 days per year for 30 years.
"It appears at this time, however, that the Coast Guard may issue a production and deployment delivery task order
for NSC 3 in July 2007 - before the full House of Representatives may have the opportunity to consider and adopt H.R. 2722.
"As such, it may not be possible for the results of a Carderock analysis of the design for NSC 3 to be submitted 30 days prior to the planned award of the delivery task order for that ship - particularly as the Coast Guard appears poised to issue the delivery task order for NSC 3 before the designs for the ship have even been analyzed by Carderock and also intends to have Northrop Grumman incorporate changes into drawings for NSC 3 as part of the task order.
"For that reason, I am calling on the Coast Guard to commit to providing the full, unedited results of a Carderock analysis of the hull design for NSC 3 to the Congressional committees previously named before any construction begins on NSC 3. I further request that the Coast Guard commit to having the design and construction of NSC 3 (and all subsequent NSCs) certified by an independent third party as called for in H.R 2722.
"Given the significant problems that have been encountered in other Deepwater acquisitions and the troubling questions surrounding the hull fatigue life of NSCs 1 and 2, the Coast Guard should commit to take every available step to ensure that all future NSCs - the most expensive assets to be acquired under Deepwater - meet the highest technical and performance standards as well as all contractual requirements.
"I believe that by submitting the designs for NSC 3 to Carderock for a full analysis by technical experts of the United States Navy and by committing to have the designs and construction of the ship certified by an independent third party, the Coast Guard can best ensure that NSC 3 meets these standards and requirements."