WASHINGTON — Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp testified before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on the Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request, Tuesday.
Papp is scheduled to appear before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. and is also scheduled to testify, along with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt, before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Marine Transportation at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
Referring to the need to replace aging ships and aircraft, through his prepared remarks for Tuesday's hearing, Papp stated his top budget priority, “If we do not have the tools to confront these threats [terrorism, drugs, piracy, poaching, etc.], they will pose significant risk to America’s economic prosperity This is why responsibly rebuilding the Coast Guard – and providing our hard-working Coast Guardsmen with the tools they need to do their job – remains my top budget priority.”
“Despite the best efforts of our crews – and the support from this Committee [U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security] – the state of our major cutter fleet – most of which is in excess of 40-years old – is deeply concerning,” Papp said in prepared comments. “Our legacy high endurance cutters are only achieving 70 percent of their programmed underway hours – and, more than 50 percent of the time, they are sailing with major debilitating casualties.”
Papp cited an example of those best efforts, referring to a recent drug interdiction.
“Just this past weekend, the Coast Guard Cutter Northland was on patrol when its embarked helicopter sighted a vessel with three outboard engines and numerous bales visible on deck. The go-fast vessel refused to stop – even after the helicopter fired warning shots – the helicopter gunner then fired into the go-fast’s engines to disable it. Cutter Northland’s boarding team recovered 1,600 kilos of pure cocaine - worth an estimated $42 million dollars.”
Papp’s written statement and oral statement to the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security are available to read online.