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Old 18-04-2005, 10:31   #1
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News From MarineLog.

News From

April 14/05
House panel authorizes $8.1 billion for USCG in FY2006

Legislation that authorizes $8.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2006 for the U.S. Coast Guard's maritime strategy for homeland security, core mission performance and operational assets has been approved by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

"The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2005" (H.R. 889) was unanimously approved by a voice vote.

H.R. 889 was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), and is cosponsored by Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Transportation Committee Ranking Democratic Member James Oberstar (D-MN), and Coast Guard Subcommittee Ranking Democratic Member Bob Filner (D-CA).

H.R. 889 authorizes $8.1 billion for fiscal year 2006 for the Coast Guard--$212,900,000 above the Bush Administration's FY 2006 budget request.

The added funding includes:

# $39 million in Operating Expenses to fund a West Coast Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron;

# $134 million for Integrated Deepwater Systems (Deepwater), the Coast Guard's long-term replacement program for its operational capital assets;

# $24 million for Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E);

# $15.9 million for the alteration of bridges designated as obstructions, the amount appropriated in fiscal year 2005.

The bill authorizes an end-of-year military strength level of 45,500 active duty personnel for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 and military student training loads for fiscal year 2006, and makes technical corrections to existing law.

Subcommittee Chairman LoBiondo said the subcommittee is concerned with the Administration's request for the Coast Guard's Deepwater program and the recently submitted proposal to "re-baseline" the program.

"The Subcommittee is currently studying the Coast Guard's proposal and will review the plan in depth next week during a Subcommittee hearing," he said.

"Following our review of the findings from next week's hearing, I anticipate that we will have the opportunity to re-address the funding level for this critical program at Full Committee.

Subcommittee Chairman LoBiondo noted that bill also restores funding for the Service's research and development program directly to the Coast Guard as is required by current law.

"Once again," he said, "the Administration has proposed to transfer the Service's research and development funding to the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. I cannot stress enough how much this Committee disagrees with that proposal. We were successful in rejecting this flawed proposal last year, and this Subcommittee will lead the effort to do so again this year."


And from March 11, 2005
Coast Guard faces "readiness gap"

"Despite spending increasing amounts to maintain operational assets, the Coast Guard is experiencing a continuing decline in fleet readiness," U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Tom Collins said yesterday in his prepared statement when testifying on the Coast Guard FY 2006 Budget Request before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

You can access the whole of his prepared statement here:

Meantime, here's a small excerpt that underscores just how urgently recapitalization of the Coast Guard is needed:

The majority of the Coast Guard's operational assets will reach the end of their anticipated service lives by 2010, resulting in rising operating and maintenance costs, reduced mission effectiveness, unnecessary risks, and excessive wear and tear on our people. Listed below are some specific examples highlighting alarming system failure rates, increased maintenance requirements, and the subsequent impact on mission effectiveness:

# HH-65 helicopter in-flight engine power losses occurred at a rate of 329 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours in FY 2004. This is up from a FY 2003 rate of 63 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours. The comparable Federal Aviation Administration acceptable standard for a mishap of this severity is approximately 1 per 100,000 flight hours. The engine loss rate has resulted in flight and operational restrictions and high levels of risk to our aircrews. Re-engining the HH-65 will remain the Coast Guard's highest legacy asset priority until complete.

# The 110-foot Patrol Boat fleet has experienced 23 hull breaches requiring emergency dry docks. The resultant loss in operational days is unsustainable, and risks to our personnel are unacceptable. By the end of 2005, the Coast Guard will have taken delivery of eight reconfigured 123-foot patrol boats, which are upgraded 110-foot patrol boats designed to sustain this cutter class until replacement with the Integrated Deepwater System's Fast Response Cutter.

# Our high and medium endurance cutters are experiencing sub-system failures due to old and unserviceable systems. The 378-foot WHEC fleet averages one engine room casualty, with potential to escalate to a fire, on every patrol. One-quarter of our fleet have recently missed operations due to unscheduled maintenance required to repair failing sub-systems. The total number of unscheduled maintenance days for the major cutter (medium and high endurance cutters) fleet has skyrocketed from 85 days in FY 1999 to 358 days in FY 2004 (over a 400 percent increase). This loss of operational cutter days in 2004 equates to losing two major cutters, or 5 percent of our major fleet for an entire year. The 2006 budget includes funding for six mission effectiveness projects to help sustain the medium endurance cutter fleet, and funds construction of the third National Security Cutter, the replacement for the Coast Guard's high endurance cutter class.

Despite spending increasing amounts to maintain operational assets, the Coast Guard is experiencing a continuing decline in fleet readiness. Legacy cutters are now operating free of major equipment casualties (equipment failures that significantly impact mission performance) less than 50 percent of the time, despite the investment per operational day increasing by over 50 percent over the last six years. The resulting "readiness gap" negatively impacts both the quantity and quality of Coast Guard "presence"--critical to our ability to accomplish all missions. The FY 2006 budget continues the urgently-needed Coast Guard fleet recapitalization to address this readiness gap.
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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