By Hunter Keeter
The Coast Guard’s portion of the fiscal year 2008 President’s Budget Request totals $7 billion and includes approximately $837 million for the Deepwater Program, with more than $327 million for aircraft and $297 million for surface assets.
“This budget request supports our highest priority objectives for
Deepwater while prudently allowing the Coast Guard’s leadership the
flexibility to consider a range of options relevant to the acquisition
of future key platforms, including the fast response cutter, offshore patrol
cutter and the vertical-take-off-and-landing unmanned Aerial vehicle,” said
Rear Adm. Gary T. Blore, Deepwater’s program executive officer.
In context, the FY’08 budget request outlines about $34 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an 8 percent increase over the $32 billion in discretionary funding requested for FY’07. The Coast Guard’s share is roughly $7 billion in discretionary funding for FY’08, a reduction of $47 million compared with FY’07. The request also includes more than $5 billion in operating expenses, reflecting the service’s commitment to balancing near- and long-term requirements and resources.
While the FY’08 budget includes reduced investments in some areas of the Deepwater program portfolio, the Coast Guard is maintaining its commitment to acquiring a new generation of capabilities, informed by the operational requirements of the post-9/11 era.
The budget request provides $170 million to accelerate production of four HC-144A maritime patrol aircraft. When procured, the Deepwater program’s 12 multi-mission HC-144A aircraft will perform search and rescue, illegal drug and immigrant interdiction, marine environmental protection, international ice patrol, cargo and personnel transport operations.
The request includes nearly $166 million to continue production of the National Security Cutter, including completion funds for the first four NSCs and long lead procurement for a fifth. The first NSC, USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750), was christened Nov. 11, 2006, at Pascagoula, Miss. On September 11, 2006, the keel was authenticated for the second NSC, the Waesche. The NSC will allow the Coast Guard to extend its operational capacity in the domestic littoral, as well as providing power projection capability to support the fleet’s interoperability with the U.S. Navy and other partners.
Additionally, the FY’08 request sets aside almost $90 million for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) upgrades. The investment provides additional information management and knowledge dissemination capacity for a broad cross-section of fleet airborne, surface and shore-based assets. This capacity is critically needed to integrate Coast Guard assets, command and control, and to perform joint operations.
Contracted in 2002, the Deepwater Program includes fifteen major acquisition projects. Collectively, the program’s modernized and recapitalized assets represent an improvement in the operational capabilities of the Coast Guard.
For example, a climber who fell last July in the Olympic National Forest owes his life to a well-trained aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, Wash., and Deepwater’s newly re-engined HH-65C helicopter. More than 80 HH-65Bs have been converted to HH-65Cs, giving them greater load-carrying capacity and longer endurance. Also, sensor and communications equipment upgrades on 39 cutters are providing improved capability for operations world-wide.