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Marine Log

February 10, 2007

Waxman weighs in on Deepwater

Opening a February 8 hearing on the management of large homeland security contracts, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said the Coast Guard's Deepwater contract "has produced a series of lemons that have cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars."

"Today," said Waxman, "the Committee will release disturbing information about the largest and most ambitious element of the Coast Guard's Deepwater program: the new 425-foot National Security Cutter. In March 2005, the Deepwater Program Office asked the Navy to evaluate the vulnerability of the new ship to fatigue. The Navy followed through and nine months later provided a damaging assessment of the new ship to the Deepwater Program Office."

"According to the documents we have obtained," he continued, "the Navy report included a series of 'bottom line' warnings--printed in red ink-- that concluded the ship would not last for its full 30-year lifespan."

"What happened next," said the Chairman, "raises many questions. The Deepwater Office transmitted an edited version of the Navy report to the Commandant of the Coast Guard. The briefing slides given to the Commandant were nearly identical to the slides prepared by the Navy with one critical exception: all of the Navy's 'bottom line' conclusions about the ship's problems had been deleted. This took place just months before the Coast Guard renewed and extended the Deepwater contract."

You can access the full text of the Committee's memo on the Deepwater program here, along with the prepared statements of witnesses at the hearing, who included Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, Dr. Leo S. McKay of Lockheed Martin and Philip A. Teel of Northrop Grumman.

Also testifying was David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, whose statement is available as a GAO report.