The U.S. government is laying plans to market the Coast Guard’s
Integrated Deepwater System Program—a major effort to modernize
the service’s aging ships, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft—to
friendly nations all around the world.
The reason: Most countries have navies that greatly resemble the
U.S. Coast Guard, according to Rear Adm. Patrick M. Stillman, program
executive officer for Deepwater. They operate primarily along their
country’s coasts. Their missions focus mostly on search and
rescue, smuggling and fisheries enforcement, and they sail relatively
inexpensive, small ships, he told a recent conference sponsored
by the U.S. Navy’s International Programs Office and the National
Defense Industrial Association.
In fact, Coast Guard studies estimate that the projected global
market for frigates, corvettes and off-shore patrol vessels over
the next 15 years is $57 billion, and the market for other elements
of the Deepwater system over the next 10 years is $40 billion.
With this in mind, the Coast Guard in March signed a five-year
memorandum of agreement with the Commerce Department to export elements
The Commerce Department is assigning the task to the foreign commercial
service, which has 1,800 employees in 83 countries, said James J.
Jochum, assistant commerce secretary for export administration.
The department has hosted Deepwater briefings for foreign embassies
and corporations in Washington, D.C., and overseas, he told the
conference. It also has placed Deepwater exhibits at major trade
shows from Australia to India to Britain.
“Later this year, we also will be hosting exhibits with the
Coast Guard at trade shows in South Africa, France and Chile,”
Jochum said. “And we look forward to participating in future
shows with the Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman team.”
Commerce officials hope that international sales of Deepwater assets
will “help stimulate a sluggish U.S. maritime industry, Jochum
said. Since the end of the Cold War, foreign orders for U.S. warships
have dropped 60 percent. In the year 2000, he said, the United States
ranked tenth in the world in shipbuilding, constructing approximately
one percent of all new commercial vessels larger than 1,000 gross
The marketing is receiving some attention in Britain, Canada, France,
Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden.
Many countries, however, have small, shrinking defense budgets,
warned Air Force Lt. Gen. Tome Walters, director of the Defense
Security Cooperation Agency. Some probably will need financial assistance
in order to buy Deepwater technology, he noted.
Aware of that need, the Commerce Department is helping to line
up export financing from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation,
the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Transportation Department’s
Maritime Administration and the Defense Export Loan Guarantee Program,
Under U.S. law, exporting defense technologies can be difficult,
Jochum acknowledged. Commerce officials will work closely with the
Navy, the State Department and the Defense Department to identify
and address any export-control issues that may arise related to
Deepwater, he said.
Deepwater is drawing attention even from the U.S. Navy, whose officials
see many similarities between it and their plans for a new littoral
combat ship. The LCS is envisioned as a small, specialized variant
of the DD(X) family of future surface combat vessels.
Like the planned Deepwater vessels, the LCS is seen as a small,
fast, relatively inexpensive vessel designed to operate along the
world’s coastlines. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vernon
E. Clark would like to build as many as 60 of such ships. Their
mission, he told a Senate hearing in April, would be “to defeat
enemy defenses, such as mines, small boats and submarines.”
The LCS’ modular design—like those for the Deepwater
vessels—”will provide significant flexi-bility in both
displacement and combat capability,” said John J. Young Jr.,
assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition.
“These qualities may make it a good candidate for coordination
with the ... Deepwater program.”
Deepwater finally got underway—after years of planning—when
the Coast Guard in June awarded the first in a series of five-year
contracts for the program, which is worth up to $17 billion over
the next 20 to 30 years. The contract went to Integrated Coast Guard
Systems, a joint venture led by Lockheed Martin Naval & Surveillance
Systems-Surface Systems, of Moorestown, N.J., and Northrop Grumman
Ship Systems Ingalls Operation, of Pascagoula, Miss. If the team
performs satisfactorily, the contract can be renewed repeatedly,
Stillman explained in a wide-ranging interview, conducted in his
spacious office overlooking the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.
The award—the largest ever for the Coast Guard—calls
for ICGS, over that period of time, to rebuild or replace the service’s
ocean-going ships and aircraft to meet its needs in fighting terrorists,
drug smugglers and illegal immigrants, conducting search-and-rescue
missions and enforcing fishing regulations.
The program is long overdue, Stillman said. Of 39 navy and coast
guard fleets around the world, he said, the U.S. service’s
is the 37th oldest.
Deepwater will involve the acquisition of 91 new ships, 35 fixed-wing
aircraft, 34 helicopters and 76 unmanned surveillance aircraft,
Stillman said. The service plans to begin retiring its oldest cutters,
which were built during World War II, he said. Older fixed-wing
aircraft and helicopters also will be retired. Many of the newer
vessels and air assets, however, will be upgraded, Stillman explained.
Immediately after the award was announced, Coast Guard officials
began the process of obligating $290 million in Deepwater funds
from the 2002 budget, which ends on September 30. That money, Stillman
said, is going toward:
Of these, Stillwell said, the C4ISR upgrade “is the most
significant to overall Coast Guard capability. The C4ISR improvements,
he said, will enhance real-time sharing of data and intelligence
inside the Coast Guard and with other services, and identification
of high-risk threats from vessels and cargoes before they reach
During fiscal year 2003, Deepwater’s pace will continue to
increase, Stillman said. Early on, the Coast Guard will select a
replacement for the Guardian, and the winning manufacturer will
begin initial production of five aircraft. The service is considering
the Spanish-made CASA CN 235 maritime-patrol aircraft.
The Deepwater industry team includes a number of European contractors,
such as EADS Eurocopter, EADS CASA and Italy’s Agusta. These
companies’ aircraft, for example, are included in the Lockheed-Northrop
team’s proposal to the Coast Guard, but the service is not
expected to make final procurement decisions for several years.
At the same time, the Coast Guard will decide on a detailed design
for the planned national-security cutter, which is intended to replace
the service’s 378-foot Hamilton class of high-endurance vessels.
The Coast Guard’s existing 12 Hamilton-class cutters, which
date back to the 1960s, are the service’s largest multi-mission,
Also in 2003, the service will conduct more detailed studies of
unmanned air vehicles. UAVs will be “a major innovation for
the Coast Guard,” Stillman explained. “Right now, we
don’t use them.”
The Coast Guard plans to use ship-based vertical-takeoff UAVs (VTUAVs)
and land-based, fixed-wing Global Hawks to conduct surveillance
and reconnaissance missions over large areas of ocean, Stillman
The contract may be extended up to 30 years, Stillman said, but
during the first five years, the contractor is slated to deliver:
Under the Deepwater program, three new classes of these vessels—the
425-foot national security cutter, the 341-foot offshore patrol
cutter and the 130-foot fast-response cutter—have been designed
from the keel up solely to perform Coast Guard missions, Stillman
Upon departure for patrol, each cutter will be outfitted with the
small-boat package and aviation detachment most appropriate for
the mission. Most cutters will deploy with two small boats. The
Deepwater project includes two kinds.
Long-range intercep-tors, with small cabins and mounted automatic
weapons, are capable of operating some distance from their mother
ships in relatively benign sea conditions. The smaller, faster short-range
prosecutor is designed to plow through rougher seas.
Larger cutters normally will deploy with two VTUAVs. Also, cutters
beyond the range of the Coast Guard’s land-based, manned surveillance
flights usually will embark either a multi-mission cutter helicopter—an
upgraded version of the Dolphin—or a vertical recovery and
surveillance helicopter—a Bell Agusta AB-139.
In addition, the larger cutters can deploy with two armed helicopters—MH-68
Makos, militarized versions of the Italian Agusta A109E Power helicopter—for
use against drug smugglers or terrorists. The Mako is armed with
M240G machine guns, .50 caliber sniper rifles, stun guns and entanglement
Helicopters embarked upon cutters become extensions of the ship,
Stillman said. They increase the vessel’s monitoring range
for small-boat operations and surveillance of potential targets.
Fast-response cutters, he explained, could be deployed for a variety
of rapidly changing missions, including law enforcement, port security,
search and rescue, and defense operations. Their key capabilities
will include maintaining a high state of readiness, patrolling near
shore and intercepting targets of interest. An active fin stabilization
system provides enhanced operations in rough seas.
Among the Coast Guard’s existing fixed-wing aircraft, Stillman
said, the Guardians and HC-130Hs will get a modern sensor suite.
In addition, the service has ordered six HC-130J aircraft—the
latest version of the series—made by Lockheed Martin, a partner
in the ICGS team.
Some critics have said that the Deepwater program focuses too much
on the Coast Guard’s ocean-going missions, especially with
the post 9/11 need to improve port security, but Stillman disagreed.
“We have to get out there and get on top of those problems
while they’re still at sea, before they get to Boston or Norfolk
or Seattle,” he said. “For us, Deepwater is all about
getting that boarding party on board another ship in a large body
of water. That need became more profound after 9/11.”