At-sea presence will be an issue. Apparently someone has noticed this:
Severe deterioration of the 110-foot fleet, coupled with increased post-9/11 operational hours, the delays in delivery of operational 123-foot cutters, and the continued deployment of 110-foot cutters to the Persian Gulf, created a gap in patrol boat availability. The Coast Guard says it recognizes that ending the conversion program requires aggressive implementation of an immediate and sustained strategy to fill badly needed patrol boat mission hours and mitigate the impact on operations.
The transfer of five 179-foot patrol craft from the Navy to the Coast Guard will immediately lessen short falls in patrol boat hours. The Coast Guard is also testing a multi-crewing concept for the two 179-foot patrol craft stationed in Pascagoula, Miss., with the goal of obtaining more mission hours per hull.
Advancement of the FRC
Longer term, the Coast Guard'srevised Deepwater implementation plan builds improved post-9/11 advances the FRC's delivery from 2018 to 2007.
The fast-response cutter is being built by Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS), a joint venture between Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), under the Integrated Deepwater System Program.
A successful Systems Requirement Review (SRR) was completed on April 27, 2005, representing a major milestone in the development of the FRC.
The purpose of the systems requirements review was to present the ship concept to the Coast Guard and to confirm the customer requirements have been sufficiently developed, so the ICGS team can proceed to design development.
The new composite-hulled craft, to be manufactured at Northrop Grumman's Gulfport, Miss., composites center, will have a 40-year hull-life.
"We are facing very aggressive schedule goals for this program," said Mike Duthu, Northrop Grumman Fast-Response Cutter program manager. "To meet specific homeland security defense needs, the program has been accelerated by nearly 10 years from what was originally proposed at the time of contract award in June 2002. During the execution of each phase, we will have a Northrop Grumman team continually planning, scoping and proposing the next phase to achieve program milestones."
The systems requirements review, held at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems sector's shipyard in New Orleans, included demonstrations on the fast-response cutter's hull, mechanical and electrical design, the Command, Control, Communications and Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) suite and logistics support. ICGS also presented information on the ship's preliminary operational plans as an asset in the Integrated Deepwater System.
As a result of the systems requirements review process, the Fast-Response Cutter program now moves into the preliminary design phase, with the customer review scheduled for this August.
The Lead FRC is scheduled to be delivered to the Coast Guard in December 2007. The first ship will undergo an extensive test and evaluation period prior to starting construction on the follow-on hulls. .
Length: 140 ft
Displacement: 320 LT
Max Speed: 30+ knots
Endurance: 5 Day Threshold, 7 Day Objective
Range: 3,200 nautical miles
Propulsion: (4) 3,650 BHP Diesel Engines
Boats: (1) SRP
Armament: 25mm gun, .50 caliber machine gun mounts
So, does anyone else have concerns that:
a) the same corporation that won the 110 upgrades contract is building this new FRC, and
b) the delivery time for the boat has been cut by 11 years???