"In order for the Coast Guard to win the future, we need to continue recapitalizing our fleet," said Coast Guard Commandant Bob Papp in his State of the Coast Guard address, delivered today. Here are some extracts:
"No one disputes the obvious woeful condition of our over 40-year old 378 ft high endurance cutters and 210' medium endurance cutters. In my opinion, they cannot be replaced soon enough. The good news is that we're making progress - we've brought two state-of-the-art National Security Cutters into Operation, the 3rd ship, Cutter Stratton, was recently christened by First Lady Michelle Obama in July, and is 75% complete. We've just signed a contract for the fourth ship - the Hamilton - and we've also purchased materials to set up the construction process for the fifth ship.
"But we're replacing our 12 high endurance cutters with only eight National Security Cutters - our concept of operation for layered maritime security, particularly in the Pacific, makes it essential that we get all eight!"
"We expect to see the first delivery of a planned 58 Sentinel-Class Fast Response Cutters later this year -- the Fast Response Cutters will replace our Island Class 110-ft patrol boats. The FRC's are capable of speeds of 28-plus knots, they hold a mix-gender crew of 23, and are outfitted with command and control systems that are fully compatible with both our DHS and DOD partners.
"FRCs will be a real game-changer in our ability to patrol and protect our littorals... And, because I strongly believe that every one of our new officers - regardless of the specialty they ultimately choose - should start off by going to sea, I'm putting two ensigns on every FRC!"
"Our acquisition team is also working to develop the replacement for our medium endurance cutter fleet - the Offshore Patrol Cutter - we plan on building 25 OPCs. We're currently working with our partners, and industry representatives to develop the OPC's requirements, and an affordable acquisition strategy. But make no mistake - acquiring a capable OPC is critical to our long-term mission effectiveness"
"As we work to recapitalize, we will do our utmost to ensure we are good stewards of the taxpayer's dollars...and we will seek savings in administrative services, overhead and non-operational activities. But unless we continue to update our ships, planes and boats, and improve our shore stations, we will not be able to maintain an acceptable level of readiness to perform our missions...'More with Less' is not an acceptable option - without continued recapitalization, we will not be Semper Paratus. So I'm working closely with Secretary Napolitano to ensure the American people understand this."
You can access the complete text of Admiral Papp's address HERE.
February 10, 2011