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House subcommittee considers speeding up Coast Guard’s Deepwater

House subcommittee considers speeding up Coast Guard’s Deepwater

   The U.S. House Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee will consider testimony Wednesday to speed up the replacement of aging Coast Guard cutters and helicopters needed for future homeland security operations.

   “The Coast Guard has experienced increasing maritime homeland security operational requirements, as well as maintenance and repair costs associated with rapidly deteriorating legacy assets,” the House subcommittee said in a statement.

   On June 25, 2002, the Transportation Department awarded a joint $17 billion contract to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman for the Coast Guard’s so-called Integrated Deepwater System. The 20-year contract is intended to replace or modernize 90 ships and 200 aircraft for the Coast Guard.

   However, the Coast Guard’s fleet of 110-foot patrol boats has recently suffered 20 hull breaches requiring emergency dry docks. According to the House subcommittee, the agency’s high and medium endurance cutters routinely miss operations (671 lost cutter days) due to sub-systems breakdowns. The Coast Guard’s fleet of HH-65 helicopters are experiencing engine power failures at “an alarming and dangerous rate,” the House subcommittee said.

   The Coast Guard is considering accelerating the delivery of vessels and aircraft in 10 to 15 years instead of 20 years initially dictated in the Deepwater contract.

   Testifying at the House subcommittee’s April 28 oversight hearing will be Vice Adm. Thomas J. Barrett, vice commandant for the Coast Guard; Philip A. Dur, president of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems; and Fred P. Mossally, president of Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors.