Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress Page: 2 of 48
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Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
The Coast Guard's acquisition program of record (POR) calls for procuring 8 National Security
Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cuffers (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cuffers (FRCs) as
replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard high-endurance cutters, medium-endurance cutters, and
patrol craft. The Coast Guard's proposed FY20 19 budget requests a total of $705 million in
acquisition funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs.
NSCs are the Coast Guard's largest and most capable general-purpose cutters; they are intended
to replace the Coast Guard's 12 aged Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters. NSCs have an
estimated average procurement cost of about $682 million per ship. Although the Coast Guard's
POR calls for procuring a total of 8 NSCs to replace the 12 Hamilton-class cutters, Congress
through FY20 18 has funded 11 NSCs, including two (the 10th adJth) in FY20 18. Six NSCs are
now in service, and the seventh, eighth, and ninth are scheduled for delivery in 2018, 2019, and
2020, respectively. The Coast Guard's proposed FY20 19 budget requests $65 million in
acquisition funding for the NSC program; this request does not include additional funding for a
OPCs are to be smaller, less expensive, and in some respects less capable than NSCs; they are
intended to replace the Coast Guard's 29 aged medium-endurance cutters. Coast Guard officials
describe the OPC program as the service's top acquisition priority. OPCs have an estimated
average procurement cost of about $391 million per ship. On September 15, 2016, the Coast
Guard announced that it was awarding a contract with options for building up to nine ships in the
class to Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, FL. The first OPC was funded in FY20 18
and is to be delivered in 2021. The Coast Guard's proposed FY20 19 budget requests $400 million
in acquisition funding for the OPC program for the construction of the second OPC (which is
scheduled for delivery in 2022) and procurement of long leadtime materials (LLTM) for the third
OPC (which is scheduled for delivery in 2023).
FRCs are considerably smaller and less expensive than OPCs; they are intended to replace the
Coast Guard's 49 aging Island-class patrol boats. FRCs have an estimated average procurement
cost of about $58 million per boat. A total of 50 have been funded through FY20 18. The 27th was
commissioned into service on April 20, 2018. The Coast Guard's proposed FY20 19 budget
requests $240 million in acquisition funding for the procurement of four more FRCs.
The NSC, OPC, and FRC programs pose several issues for Congress, including the following:
* whether to fully or partially fund the acquisition of a 12th NSC in FY20 19;
* whether to fund the acquisition of four FRCs in FY20 19, as requested, or some
other number, such as six, which is the maximum number that has been acquired
in some prior fiscal years;
* whether to use annual or multiyear contracting for procuring OPCs;
* the procurement rate for the OPC program;
* planned procurement quantities for NSCs, OPCs, and FRCs; and
* initial testing of the NSC.
Congress's decisions on these programs could substantially affect Coast Guard capabilities and
funding requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
Congressional Research Service
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O'Rourke, Ronald. Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, report, July 6, 2018; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1228585/m1/2/: accessed January 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.