U.S. Snub on Cutter Funds Seen as Threat

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Obama administration’s failure to budget $1.6 billion for two of the Coast Guard’s flagship vessels is drawing criticism from U.S. lawmakers, who contend that the service’s missions will be threatened.


The Department of Homeland Security’s proposal for the fiscal year, beginning October1, requests $683 million to fund only the sixth of eight planned National Security Cutters, made by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. The agency, which oversees the Coast Guard, didn’t seek funding for the remaining two cutters for fiscal years 2014 to 2017.


The 418-foot-long cutters are needed to replace an aging fleet of vessels, many of which are more than 40 years old and expensive to maintain, according to the service. The older ships also aren’t equipped for some of the Coast Guard’s missions, which expanded after the service moved in 2003 from the Department of Transportation to Homeland Security, created following the September 11 attacks.


“I’m very concerned that the department’s budget is spreading our maritime resources too thin,” Representative Chip Cravaack, a Minnesota Republican, said in an interview after a March 7 hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s Coast Guard subcommittee. “This puts our nation at risk.”


The Coast Guard, more than two centuries old, had 38,000 active-duty men and women, 8,000 reservists and 35,000 auxiliary personnel in 2010, according to its website. The service defines a cutter as any ship more than 65 feet long and with space for the crew to live on board.
Shipbuilder Huntington, spun off from Northrop Grumman Corp. a year ago, has received contracts to build the first four new cutters and was awarded the fifth in September, according to the Coast Guard website. Three of the six cutters are in service, the last of which was commissioned in September.


The largest builder of Navy surface warships, Newport News, Virginia-based Huntington depends on the U.S. government for “substantially all” of its revenue, the company said.


Huntington had $6.58 billion in estimated revenue in the 12 months ended September 30, 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its shares rose $1.16, or 3.2 percent, to close at $37.46 Friday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.


About 1,000 people work in the National Security Cutter program, Bill Glenn, a Huntington spokesman, said in an e-mail. He declined to comment on what might happen to those workers if the project doesn’t receive future funding.


Whether the two cutters receive funding remains in doubt, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp said in a March 6 interview, after testifying before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security.


“Each and every year we will have to do an assessment of what we can afford,” he said.


President Barack Obama’s proposed budget reduces the Coast Guard’s total funding by 5.7 percent in fiscal 2013, to $9.97 billion, from the $10.6 billion, enacted in fiscal 2012. The service’s capital budget would decline 19 percent, according to budget documents.


“Congress has never supported a plan which so bluntly guts operational capabilities,” Representative Robert Aderholt, an Alabama Republican and chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security, said at the hearing. “I believe what is at stake is no less than the future of our Coast Guard.”


The Coast Guard’s budget is able to meet the service’s needs, given the constraints of the U.S. budget deficit, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified March 8 at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security.


Lawmakers from both parties disagreed.


“I have strong reservations about the inadequate funding requests to replace aging Coast Guard ships and planes,” Senator Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat and chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security, said at the March 8 hearing. “I will work with my colleagues to identify resources to restore those cuts.”


The new National Security Cutter is the largest and most technically advanced ship the Coast Guard has ever commissioned, according to its website. The vessel replaces the 378-foot Hamilton Class High Endurance Cutters, first built in the 1960s. The new cutter is faster and can operate farther from shore, the website says.


The Coast Guard’s mission has expanded beyond U.S. shores to include drug enforcement, terrorism prevention, and environmental protection in the Arctic, South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The service’s goal is to detect and deter threats to the nation, and the National Security Cutter plays an important role in those efforts, Papp said in the interview.


While the new cutter performs traditional Coast Guard duties, such as search and rescue, it’s also equipped to detect and defend against chemical, biological and radiological attacks.


The service may face additional burdens as the Navy reevaluates its fleet size and patrol commitments, Papp told the House Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee March 6. The Navy’s Perry-class frigates, for example, are leaving service, and those warships are critical to counter-drug missions, he said.


The Department of Homeland Security’s budget request for fiscal 2012 was for $795 million in fiscal 2014 and $853 million the following year for the two cutters. The entire National Security Cutter program is estimated to cost $4.75 billion through 2018, according to budget documents.


The U.S. Government Accountability Office, Congress’s investigative arm, found that figure to be conservative. In a July report, it put the cost of the eight cutters at about $5.6 billion, or 19 percent higher than budgeted.


The budget request for fiscal 2013 also included $860 million through fiscal 2017 to build a polar icebreaker, a ship capable of plowing through ice-filled waterways. The U.S. currently has only one medium-size icebreaker.


Funding for cutters must be provided in multiple budget years to keep the production line going, said Thad Allen, a former Coast Guard commandment who is now a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, the McLean, Virginia-based government contractor. This allows equipment to be purchased and personnel hired for the next stage of development, he said.


“Since there was no money in this budget, the production line is broken,” Allen said in a March 9 interview. “No one has said that the cutter program is terminated. But, without the money, and particularly because they did fund the ice breaker, it essentially is.” (Bloomberg)

 

 

 

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter July 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Shipbuilding

Horizon Delivers Towboat Marty Cullinan for FMT

In June 2016 Horizon Shipbuilding, Inc. of Bayou La Batre, Ala. delivered the M/V Marty Cullinan, a 120’ towboat with a retractable pilot house, to its home port of New Orleans, La.

New Dredger for North Carolina’s Coastal Waterways

The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently took delivery of a new, fully customized cutter suction dredge, which it christened the Dredge Manteo in a ceremony held April 28,

New 'Mega Passenger Ship' for Star Cruises

Elomatic Ltd and Deltamarin Ltd have signed a tri-party engineering contract with shipbuilder MV Werften for the design of Star Cruises’ new Global Class “mega passenger ship,

Navy

This Day In Naval History - July 29

1846 - During the Mexican-American War, a detachment of Marines and Sailors, led by Arm. Col. John C. Fremont from the sloop USS Cyane, commanded by Cmdr. Samuel F.

Det Norske to Restore Production at Alvheim after Leak

Norwegian oil firm Det norske said it expected to reach full production at its Alvheim FPSO (floating storage, offloading and producing unit) overnight after a leak,

This Day In Naval History: July 28

1861 - During the Civil War, the frigate, USS St. Lawrence, spots a schooner flying English colors and gave chase. Some four hours later, as she is overhauling the schooner,

Maritime Security

Libyan Oil Exports to Resume from Closed Ports

Libyan oil exports from closed ports should resume in no more than one to two weeks after a deal was signed between the government and an armed brigade controlling the terminals,

SNMCMG2 Completes Third Black Sea Deployment

Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) has completed its third deployment into the Black Sea under the command of Captain Ramazan Kesgin, Turkish Navy.

China, Russia Navies to hold S. China Sea Drills

China and Russia will hold "routine" naval drills in the South China Sea in September, China's defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a news conference on Thursday.

Coast Guard

Safety and Preparation on the Brownwater Radar

Weather Channel Forecasters are predicting a “near-average” hurricane season for 2016, but warn that an average season does not mean businesses and residents shouldn’t prepare for the worst.

Alaska Juris Sinks, 46 People Rescued

The Fishing Company of Alaska, based in Renton, owns the  238-foot  Alaska Juris that started sinking in the Bering Sea shortly before noon on Tuesday, says a report in Seattle Times.

Sunken Barge Impedes Waterway Traffic Near Galveston

A barge sank east of the Galveston Causeway railroad bridge Tuesday, causing the U.S. Coast Guard to issue a safety zone and temporarily restrict traffic on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Eye on the Navy

This Day In Naval History - July 29

1846 - During the Mexican-American War, a detachment of Marines and Sailors, led by Arm. Col. John C. Fremont from the sloop USS Cyane, commanded by Cmdr. Samuel F.

This Day In Naval History: July 28

1861 - During the Civil War, the frigate, USS St. Lawrence, spots a schooner flying English colors and gave chase. Some four hours later, as she is overhauling the schooner,

SNMCMG2 Completes Third Black Sea Deployment

Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) has completed its third deployment into the Black Sea under the command of Captain Ramazan Kesgin, Turkish Navy.

Government Update

Libyan Oil Exports to Resume from Closed Ports

Libyan oil exports from closed ports should resume in no more than one to two weeks after a deal was signed between the government and an armed brigade controlling the terminals,

China, Russia Navies to hold S. China Sea Drills

China and Russia will hold "routine" naval drills in the South China Sea in September, China's defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a news conference on Thursday.

India Govt, Cochin Shipyard Pact on FY17 Growth Targets

Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)  with the government of India for the ongoing fiscal under which targets agreed

 
 
Maritime Contracts Naval Architecture Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.0874 sec (11 req/sec)