Coast Guard Academy cadets in the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department test out their ship design in a water-testing tank at the Academy as part of their capstone project, Feb. 14, 2019. Their capstone project is to design a replacement Waterways Commerce Cutter to ensure these vital trade routes can be cost effectively maintained through future generations. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin

Tomorrow’s leaders designing tomorrow’s ships

The Coast Guard relies upon a fleet of 31 inland river buoy tenders averaging 52 years old, becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and sustain operations that support 2.3 billion tons of waterborne commerce along the U.S. Marine Transportation System. As part of the Coast Guard Academy’s capstone requirements, a group of cadets have been working in partnership with the Coast Guard Office of Ship Design to improve and replace the Waterways Commerce Cutter.


The Coast Guard Buoy Tender Harry Claiborne deploys the Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System during a pollution response drill in Galveston Bay, Feb. 28, 2008. The Coast Guard's VOSS equipment is strategically pre-positioned at several locations across the country and may be transported to a spill site on a single truck or by Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft. The mobile equipment is totally self-contained and capable of being used quickly and effectively aboard any available vessel.

The Inland Fleet: Quiet Keepers of the Heartland

The Coast Guard’s Inland Fleet provides a vital service to the United States through its work in maintaining fixed and floating aids to navigation along coastlines and riverbanks throughout the country. Hundreds of Coast Guard members tirelessly battle with outdated equipment and substandard accommodations to ensure the mission is completed. As the Coast Guard continues to modernize its assets, replacing the Inland Fleet is a necessity to ensure the service can remain Semper Paratus in all of its missions.