Prioritizing recapitalization of Coast Guard assets

Written by Rear Adm. Michael J. Haycock
Assistant Commandant for Acquisition and Chief Acquisition Officer

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, a National Security Cutter, prepares to tie up, June 2, 2017, at its homeport in Charleston, S.C. The Hamilton crew returned from a three-month interagency patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and also participated in Fleet Week in New York. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony L. Soto

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, a National Security Cutter, prepares to tie up, June 2, 2017, at its homeport in Charleston, S.C. The Hamilton crew returned from a three-month interagency patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and also participated in Fleet Week in New York. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony L. Soto

Recapitalization. It’s a word that gets used regularly in the Coast Guard, but what does it really mean for the service? The Coast Guard’s fleet of polar icebreakers, high endurance cutters, medium endurance cutters and legacy patrol boats has provided unparalleled capability to carry out the service’s full range of offshore missions over the past half-century. These assets have all reached, or will soon reach, the end of their expected service lives, and there is an urgent need to deliver new and more capable assets to meet mission demands.

The commandant recognizes this challenge, and the Acquisition Directorate is working at full speed to design, produce and deliver the next generation of Coast Guard assets and capabilities. Last month, I had the opportunity to update Congress on our continued efforts, and I was able to point to the successes that our operators in the field are achieving with our new national security and fast response cutters, response boats and long-range surveillance aircraft and upgraded helicopters and command and control systems.

Photo of HC-130J Super Hercules long range surveillance aircraft. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Photo of HC-130J Super Hercules long-range surveillance aircraft. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Recapitalization means that the Coast Guard is operating multiple NSCs that have already interdicted hundreds of millions of dollars worth of drugs before they reach our shores. It means our ships, aircraft and boats can better communicate not only with each other but with other state and federal partners more effectively and securely than ever before.

Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter. U.S. Coast Guard image.

Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter. U.S. Coast Guard image.

But recapitalization doesn’t stop there. We are moving forward with the design of the offshore patrol cutter and will award the contract for the first long lead time components in the coming months. We are also working closely with five industry teams to study polar icebreaker design elements to drive down cost and schedule of acquiring the nation’s first new heavy icebreaker in more than 40 years. Additionally, we’ve started the process to identify requirements for the next generation of cutters to operate along the inland rivers.

By prioritizing recapitalization, the Coast Guard is ensuring that it will receive the appropriate assets and systems necessary to successfully meet today’s demands and is laying the framework for continued efforts to replace and enhance the fleet in the decades to come.

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