State of the Coast Guard

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp’s State of the Coast Guard Address
February 23, 2012 Navigating Uncertain and Stormy Seas was just realeased.

He mentions current building projects:

“Since last year, we have awarded contracts to construct the 4th and 5th National Security Cutters. We’ve also received funding for NSC #6 long lead time materials… two things made this possible: the strong support of the Congress, and the excellent work of our acquisition workforce.
We are also grateful to Secretary Napolitano and the President for requesting full-funding in the 2013 budget to complete NSC # 6 . . . as well as money to continue the Offshore Patrol Cutter, or OPC project.
We have 18 new Fast Response patrol boats on contract, and we’ll commission the first one in April.
Response Boats Medium –
We have delivered 82 boats to date – and we will receive 30 more this year.
We have accepted 13 new “Ocean Sentry” Maritime Patrol Aircraft – and numbers 14 and 15 are under contract . We have six missionized C-130J Maritime Patrol Aircraft numbers 7 and 8 are under contract, and thanks to Congress’ support, we will begin building the 9th later this year.

Patrolling the high seas requires multi-mission cutters and maritime patrol aircraft capable of sustained offshore operations. These assets are the most expensive to acquire and operate. Much of our current fleet of high and medium endurance cutters is beyond 40 years old – costly to repair, and in need of replacement.”

Also the Arctic is growing in importance and the new NSC Bertholf (WMSL-750) will be heading there. This is an important step to sovereignty.

At 4500-tons and armed with a 57 mm gun, 20mm Close-In Weapons System, 4 50 Caliber Machine Guns, 2 M240B 7.62mm Light Machine Guns and space for two helicopters, along with passive EW and SRBOC systems, it is about as heavily armed as current US Coast Guard cutters get. Of course, I'd like to see a few Harpoons, six Mk 32 Torpedo tubes and maybe a RAM missile system on her too, but that's just me.

Papp goes on to say, ” Coast Guard polar ice breakers are the only ships in our national inventory capable of performing this mission, and right now, HEALY is our only operational polar ice breaker. We are working hard to return POLAR STAR to operations in 2013 – and when she returns, we will regain one of the most powerful conventional ice breakers in the world – and another 10 years of service from her.
I want to be clear. This is only a bridging strategy. As I mentioned earlier, this is an example of scaling back where we must in the short term, so that we can do all that our Nation requires of us in the long term.
We need to come to a Whole of Government determination on the capabilities and resourcing our Nation must provide to protect our Arctic interests.”

Its a start. Call your congressman and be sure to tell them we need some new, armed icebreakers in the polar regions, while we still can. How much more shovel ready can you get?

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