Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress Page: 5 of 48
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides background information and potential oversight issues for Congress on the
Coast Guard's programs for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol
Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs). The Coast Guard's proposed FY20 19
budget requests a total of $705 million in acquisition funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC
The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Coast Guard's funding
requests and acquisition strategies for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs. Congress's decisions
on these three programs could substantially affect Coast Guard capabilities and funding
requirements, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
The NSC, OPC, and FRC programs have been subjects of congressional oversight for several
years, and were previously covered in an earlier CRS report that is now archived.1 CRS testified
on the Coast Guard's cutter acquisition programs most recently on July 25, 2017.2 The Coast
Guard's plans for modernizing its fleet of polar icebreakers are covered in a separate CRS report.3
Older Ships to Be Replaced by NSCs, OPCs, and FRCs
The 91 planned NSCs, OPCs, and FRCs are intended to replace 90 older Coast Guard ships-12
high-endurance cutters (WHECs), 29 medium-endurance cutters (WMECs), and 49 110-foot
patrol craft (WPBs).4 The Coast Guard's 12 Hamilton (WHEC-7 15) class high-endurance cutters
entered service between 1967 and 1972.5 The Coast Guard's 29 medium-endurance cutters
include 13 Famous (WMVEC-901) class ships that entered service between 1983 and J99J,6 14
Reliance (WMEC-6 15) class ships that entered service between 1964 and 1969,7 and 2 one-of-a-
kind cutters that originally entered service with the Navy in 1944 and 1971 and were later
1The earlier report was, Coast Guard Deepwater Acquisition Programs: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for
Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke. From the late 1990s until 2007, the Coast Guard's efforts to acquire NSCs, OPCs, and
FRCs were parts of a larger, integrated Coast Guard acquisition effort aimed at acquiring several new types of cutters
and aircraft that was called the Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) program, or Deepwater for short. In 2007, the Coast
Guard broke up the Deepwater effort into a series of individual cutter and aircraft acquisition programs, but continued
to use the term Deepwater as a shorthand way of referring collectively to these now-separated programs. In its FY2012
budget submission, the Coast Guard stopped using the term Deepwater entirely as a way of referring to these programs.
Congress, in acting on the Coast Guard's proposed FY20 12 budget, did not object to ending the use of the term
Deepwater. Reflecting this development, CR8 Report RL33753, Coast Guard Deepwater Acquisition Programs:
Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke, was archived in early 2012, following
final congressional action on the FY2012 budget, and remains available to congressional readers as a source of
historical reference information on Deepwater acquisition efforts.
2 See CRS Testimony T E10020, Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Coast Guard Sea, Air, and Land
Capabilities: Part II, by Ronald O'Rourke.
3CRS Report RL34391, Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Program: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald
4 In the designations WHEC, WMEC, and WPB, W means Coast Guard ship, HEC stands for high-endurance cutter,
MEC stands for medium-endurance cutter, and PB stands for patrol boat.
SHamilton-class cutters are 378 feet long and have a full load displacement of about 3,400 tons.
6 Famous-class cutters are 270 feet long and have a full load displacement of about 1,800 tons.
7 Reliance-class cutters are 210 feet long and have a full load displacement of about 1,100 tons.
Congressional Research Service
Here’s what’s next.
This report can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Report.
O'Rourke, Ronald. Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, report, July 6, 2018; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1228585/m1/5/: accessed March 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.