Marine Log

June 15, 2006

Coast Guard rethinks FRC

"As with any extremely large acquisition of Deepwater's scope and complexity, not all has been smooth sailing," said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen in testimony yesterday before the House subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

He told the panel that "as the result of a number of technical issues associated with its initial design," the critical design review of the Fast Response Cutter was deferred during model tow-tank testing.

"This decision was a prudent step consistent with the Deepwater Program's iterative design process, focus on cost control, and strategy for risk mitigation for our $3 billion-plus investment in the FRC," said Allen.

The FRC is being designed to deploy independently to conduct multiple missions, including maritime security, national defense, fishery patrols, law enforcement, and search-and-rescue operations.

It was orginally conceived as an $18 million a copy steel hulled vessel but became a $40 million a copy composite hulled craft under the revised Deepwater implementation plan unveiled last year. Under that plan, the lead FRC was to have been delivered in December 2007.

Number Planned: 58
Length: 140 FT
Displacement: 325 LT
Max Speed: 30+ KTS
Endurance: 5 Day Threshold, 7 Day Objective
Range: 4,230 nautical miles
Propulsion: (4) 3,650 BHP Diesel Engines
Aircraft: None
Boats: (1) SRP
Armament: 30mm gun, .50 caliber machine gun mounts

"In early April," Allen's prepared testimony says, "we issued a request for information for research to identify patrol boats currently in production with the potential to satisfy the majority of requirements for patrol boat capabilities."

Allen said that more than 20 design submissions had been received. The designs, submitted by a wide range of U.S. and international ship designers and builders, are being reviewed by a working group composed of representatives from the Coast Guard, Integrated Coast Guard Systems, and technical engineering-support contractors. This initial review will assist the Coast Guard in refining requirements for procuring an existing patrol boat design. This preliminary technical assessment will be followed by a more detailed, in-depth review to determine the viability of acquiring existing patrol boats to address urgent operational requirements. The working group's final assessment is expected later this summer.