|U.S. Coast Guard photo.|
Forget for a moment about the U.S. Navy and its "pivot to Asia." Over the next few decades, the woefully underfunded and thoroughly unsexy U.S. Coast Guard will likely hover near the center of the action.
The reason, in three short words: the Arctic Ocean.
|Vigor Industries image|
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp Jr. said at the Naval Surface Association conference in January that the Offshore Patrol Cutter will be the service’s “workhorse” for the next 40 years. He has stated many times in public that the ship is the Coast Guard’s most important project.
“We’ve put an awful lot of effort into it,” he said of the program.
“There seems to be significant interest out there to build 25 ships, and we’re very pleased about that. I think people are thinking out of the box. They’re looking at new designs. We need to think out of the box as well as we go forward, because as I said, this ship is going to be very, very important to us.”
Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard’s parent agency, attempted to explain the elimination of the two cutters when she testified before Congress on Feb. 15 on the budget.Which is, I suppose, is Washington speak for "screw the Coasties" but you may have your own interpretation. No matter the interpretation, I hope Admiral Papp is not holding his breath while waiting for money to flow for 25 ships.
“What we are going to do, and this is all guided by really looking at the nation’s resources and the Budget Control Act and how it works, and there’s language in the budget request to this effect, we will look at seven and eight in light of what the Navy is doing,” Napolitano said.
“So we need to look at what the Department of Defense is doing with respect to their own force ... to see what we need to be putting in the acquisition pipeline.”
Napolitano did not elaborate on how the Navy’s shipbuilding plans affect the Coast Guard requirement for eight NSCs, but she noted the struggle to get funding for the ships.
|Vigor Industries image|
It is interesting that one design possibility, put out by Vigor Industries (to whom credit for the illustration above goes) involves an "Ulstein X bow hull" - a patented design now being widely adopted for offshore oil vessels.
Good luck in these political times.
However, I truly urge all citizens to support the vital needs of the Coast Guard, which is too small, too underfunded, has too much territory to cover at its current level of funding, manning and ship count.