The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has released an updated “In Focus” brief on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) program, which envisages procuring up to 35 replacements for the Coast Guard’s 35 aging river buoy tenders (WLRs), inland construction tenders (WLICs), and inland buoy tenders (WLIs).
The CRS brief notes: “The Coast Guard wants to award the first contract for constructing the new WCCs in FY2022, and to have the first new WCC be in service by 2025. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2021 budget requested $25.0 million in procurement funding for the WCC program; Congress, as part of its action on the Coast Guard’s FY2021 budget, approved this request. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Coast Guard’s proposed acquisition strategy and funding requests for the WCC program.”
The Coast Guard has determined that three WCC variants will meet mission needs best. Each variant will perform one mission set river buoy tending, inland construction, or inland buoy tending. The CRS brief notes that the Coast Guard is planning to acquire the WLRs and WLICs on one contract; these variants are expected to be common except for hull length, working deck layouts, and deck equipment, including the crane. The WLIs will be procured separately from the WLRs and WLICs. The Coast Guard is examining whether commercial vessels will meet this variant’s top level requirements.