The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed a fiscal year 2014 budget cut that funds the service at a level below fiscal year 2012.
The Coast Guard is proposing a fiscal 2014 budget of about $9.8 billion — compared to a fiscal year 2013 budget that with the continuing resolution effects totaled about $11 billion, and a fiscal 2012 budget of about $10.7 billion. The budget provides about $743 million for surface assets, including funding of the seventh National Security Cutter (NSC), meant to replace the aging fleet of High Endurance Cutters that were first commissioned in 1967.
“The acquisition of NSC-7 is vital for performingmissions in the far offshore regions, including the harsh operating environment of the Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, and Arctic as well as providing for robust homeland security contingency response,” the Coast Guard says.
The budget also provides funding to procure two fast response cutters (FRCs), meant to replace the aging fleet of 110-ft. patrol boats, and provide the coastal capability to conduct search-and-rescue operations, enforce border security, interdict drugs, uphold immigration laws, prevent terrorism, and “enhance resiliency to disasters,” the Coast Guard says.
The budget also includes funding for the following: continued initial acquisition work and design of an offshore patrol cutter (OPC), meant to replace the Medium Endurance Cutter class to conduct missions on the high seas and coastal approaches; for pre-acquisition activities for a new Coast Guard polar icebreaker; production of multimission cutter small boats that will be fielded on the Coast Guard’s major cutter fleet beginning with the NSC; sustainment projects on 140-ft. ice-breaking tugs, 225-ft. seagoing buoy tenders, and the training Barque EAGLE; and continued multiyear engineering and design work for multiple cutter classes in support of future sustainment and acquisition projects.
The funding plan also includes $28 million for aircraft projects, including continued modernization and sustainment of the Coast Guard’s fleet of HH-65 helicopters — converting them to MH-65 Short Range Recovery (SRR) helicopters — and sustainment of avionics systems on existing C-130H aircraft. The Avionics 1 Upgrade (A1U) installations on C-130H aircraft enhances the capability of the C-130H fleet by replacing aging and obsolete equipment, and updating avionics to comply with Communications Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) requirements.
The budget includes $14.2 million in savings from the decommissioning of two high-endurance cutters and about $9.4 million in savings from the retirement of the eight remaining HU-25 aircraft assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; Aviation Logistics Center, Elizabeth City, N.C.; and Aviation Training Center, Mobile, Ala. This will allow for the transition to HC-144A aircraft.
The Coast Guard is saving another $7.7 million by retiring two HC-130H aircraft to make way for the newly acquired HC-130J aircraft that should provide increased operational reliability.