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Marine Log

February 14, 2007

Another worrying OIG report on Deepwater

Another report on problems with the Coast Guard's Deepwater program has surfaced.

The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General has now published its findings of an investigation of a Hotline Complaint alleging that the Coast Guard's 123- foot Island Class Patrol Boats (123 ft cutter) and short-range prosecutor (prosecutor) contained safety and security vulnerabilities. You can access the report here.

The complaint said that the vulnerabilities were the result of the contractor's failure to comply with Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) design requirements as defined in the Deepwater contract.

Specifically, the complainant alleged that:

The safety of the 123 ft cutter's crew was compromised by the contractor's failure to utilize low smoke cabling;

The contractor knowingly installed aboard the 123 ft cutter and prosecutor external C4ISR equipment that did not meet specific environmental requirements outlined in the Deepwater contract;

The cable installed during the upgrade to the cutter's C4ISR system represented a security vulnerability; and,

The video surveillance system installed aboard the 123 2 cutter does not meet the cutter's physical security requirements. Finally, the complainant provided information detailing his attempts, over a 2 1/2 year period, to compel the contractor to comply with Deepwater contract requirements.

The OIG found that aspects of the C4ISR equipment installed aboard the 123 ft cutters do not meet the design standards set forth in the Deepwater contract.

Specifically, two of the four areas of concern identified by the complainant were substantiated and are the result of the contractor not complying with the design standards identified in the Deepwater contract. For example, the contractor did not install low smoke cabling aboard the 123 ft cutter, despite a Deepwater contract requirement that stated, "all shipboard cable added as a result of the modification to the vessel shall be low smoke."

The intent of this requirement was to eliminate the polyvinyl chloride jacket encasing the cables, which for years produced toxic fumes and dense smoke during shipboard fire.

Additionally, the contractor installed C4ISR topside equipment aboard both the 123 ft cutters and prosecutors, which either did not comply or was not tested to ensure compliance with specific environmental performance requirements outlined in the Deepwater contract.

The remaining two areas of concern identified by the complainant were in technical compliance with the Deepwater contract and deemed acceptable by the Coast Guard. Specifically, while the type of cabling installed during the C4ISR system upgrade to the 123 ft cutter was not high-grade braided cable; the type of cable used met the Coast Guard's minimum-security standards as required by the Deepwater contract.

Concerning the installation of the video surveillance system, while the system did not provide 360 degrees of coverage, it met minimum contract requirements.