Cutter Delay is Latest Evidence of Systemic Problems with Coast Guard Ships

Cutter Delay is Latest Evidence of Systemic Problems with Coast Guard Ships

The formal acceptance of the new U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf, slated for last week, was supposed to be good news for the nation's troubled fifth military service. Instead, the 5,000-ton ship -- the largest and potentially most powerful vessel in Coast Guard history -- has become another chapter in the mounting scandal surrounding the service's $25-billion Deepwater modernization program. Deepwater, launched in 2002, aims to build new ships and airplanes and connect them all with a secure, electronic command-and-control network using common components.

In recent years, the 50,000-strong Coast Guard has been buffeted by a rapidly aging fleet of boats and ships, steadily expanding responsibilities -- both at home conducting law enforcement and safety patrols, and overseas as a junior partner of the U.S. Navy in anti-piracy patrols -- and a string of problems related to Lockheed Martin's and Northrop Grumman's work on Deepwater.

The first major Deepwater items, a group of eight updated 123-foot patrol boats worth $100 million combined, were prematurely retired last year after their hulls buckled. During the furor over the hull problems, several industry and Coast Guard whistleblowers came forward alleging that Deepwater's "system of systems" plan was fundamentally flawed, with bad design processes, poor oversight and a leaky command and control network that would allow snoopers to overhear secret military communications. In response, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen promised to hire more acquisitions experts to oversee the program. With the 123s laid up, the Coast Guard was looking forward to the Bertholf commissioning as proof that Deepwater was back on track.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review