Since May 2008, unsubstantiated claims have appeared through various blogs speculating that prior to the arrival of U.S. Navy inspectors aboard the National Security Cutter Bertholf, the U.S. Coast Guard removed electronics and communication equipment, purportedly to improve the outcome of rigorous tests and trials. No evidence has been offered to support these claims, because they are not true.
In fact, at no time did the Coast Guard remove or re-install equipment to mislead Navy examiners. The Coast Guard has regularly and frequently discussed in detail with congressional oversight staffs the many actual activities associated with preparation and follow-on work for acceptance trials and delivery. Specifically, the Coast Guard presented Congressional staff with information that directly counters the false assertions and unsubstantiated claims regarding this matter. Because of the sensitive nature of the information provided to Committee staff, the Coast Guard cannot publicly disclose those documents, because that would disclose equipment capabilities.
The Coast Guard has worked diligently during the last two years to ensure that all Bertholf’s equipment, including electronic and communication gear, meets very strict operational requirements. These efforts have been complemented by expertise from the U.S. Navy, including its Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Commander Operational Test and Evaluation (COMOPTEV) and Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).
This spring, more than 80 representatives of INSURV tested shipboard equipment, assessed the quality of Bertholf’s construction, and evaluated the cutter’s compliance with contractual specifications and requirements established by the Coast Guard. During the course of the acceptance process, INSURV conducted inspections and surveys of the ship and its systems to determine whether they are ready for delivery. This included the electronics equipment then certified for operation. In addition, INSURV observed and determined whether the contractor’s equipment operates satisfactorily in accordance with contract requirements.
After inspection, the INSURV Board concluded that Bertholf is a “unique and very capable platform with great potential for future service.”
Prior to INSURV’s inspection – at each step of Bertholf’s construction, delivery and testing – the Coast Guard has exercised diligent, prudent and proven program management oversight. While delivery – which represents conditional acceptance by the Coast Guard – was a major milestone, thorough contractual oversight has continued. Bertholf now is well into an 18-24-month post-delivery work period, including operational testing and evaluation to ensure the cutter is suitable and effective, and that she meets all requirements for deployment.
TEMPEST testing of installed systems is still scheduled for later this year in the cutter’s homeport of Alameda, Calif.