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 Reporter November 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Shipbuilding

Cecon Secures Finances to Complete Newbuild

Cecon ASA has petitioned for a debt restructuring agreement (in Norwegian: gjeldsforhandling). Certain funds managed by York Capital Management Global Advisors,

NMEA Updates Installation Standards

2014 edition of NMEA 0400, Version 4.00 features extensive updates and new information   The National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) has published Edition 2014, Version 4.

HII Board of Directors Elects Two VPs

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) board of directors has elected Kellye Walker to serve as corporate vice president and general counsel and Charles R. “Chuck” Monroe Jr.

Maritime Security

NASSCO Opens Bremerton Repair Facility

General Dynamics NASSCO celebrated the grand opening of its new location in Bremerton, Wash., yesterday. The facility will support the company’s recently-awarded contract to repair and maintain U.

USCG Commandant to Address PVA Convention

Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Paul F. Zukunft will attend the PVA Annual Convention at MariTrends 2015 in Long Beach, Calif. and deliver a keynote

Philippines to Buy Naval Assets, China Sea Dispute Simmers

The Philippines aims to buy two frigates, two helicopters and three gunboats for deployment in the South China Sea where a territorial dispute with China has lent

Coast Guard

USCG Says Unaffected by Cuba Policy Changes

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) issued a statement today stating that the United States’ Cuba policy change will not impact its missions annd operations. “Coast Guard

Italian Shipbuilder Pleads Guilty to Environmental Crimes

An Italian shipping firm based in Genoa, Italy, pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships by falsifying required ships’ documents to hide

Bulker Chief Engineer Convicted of Environmental Crimes

A chief engineer from the M/V Trident Navigator was convicted by a federal jury in New Orleans late yesterday after a week-long trial, of knowingly falsifying the

Eye on the Navy

NRL Researchers Demo Ship-to-Shore Data Link

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) along with Mercury Continuity (MC) have demonstrated the Tactical Reachback Extended Communications (TREC) system in the port of Miami.

NASSCO Opens Bremerton Repair Facility

General Dynamics NASSCO celebrated the grand opening of its new location in Bremerton, Wash., yesterday. The facility will support the company’s recently-awarded contract to repair and maintain U.

NASSCO Opens New Facility for Naval Repair

General Dynamics NASSCO opened a new location yesterday in Bremerton, Wash. to support the company’s recently-awarded contract to repair and maintain U.S. Navy

Government Update

Jaenichen Tours Port of Brownsville

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administrator Paul ‘Chip’ Jaenichen today visited the future site of a marine cargo dock at the Port of Brownsville made possible,

Abigail Ross Hopper Named BOEM Director

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today named Abigail Ross Hopper as the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which manages the development

USCG Says Unaffected by Cuba Policy Changes

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) issued a statement today stating that the United States’ Cuba policy change will not impact its missions annd operations. “Coast Guard

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | 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: 0.1593 sec (6 req/sec)