Twitter Facebook Google RSS
National Defense > Blog > Posts > Commandant Sees Bright Future for Coast Guard Acquisition Programs
Commandant Sees Bright Future for Coast Guard Acquisition Programs
By Stew Magnuson

One day after the Coast Guard’s 225th birthday, its commandant predicted that the service would be receiving a big present this year: the largest acquisition budget in its history.

Attitudes on Capitol Hill have changed when it comes to the service, Adm. Paul Zukunft said Aug. 5 in a speech at the National Press Club.
“We are seeing a shift in direction. Where the value proposition of the Coast Guard … is fully being appreciated. A number of members, both sides of the aisle, both chambers are saying, ‘We need to invest in the Coast Guard,’" he said.
The Coast Guard, which sails ships that are more than 50 years old, has always been down in the national security funding list. It has a wide variety of missions, but its $10 billion per year budget is small compared to the other services. It is considered a military service but it falls under the Department of Homeland Security.
The Coast Guard has seen less than 2 percent growth across its entire acquisition portfolio over the past few years. “What we haven’t had over the last several years is a reliable and repeatable acquisition budget. We’ve seen swings as wide as nearly 40 percent,” he said.
The service has a sustainable program of record to recapitalize its ships and aircraft, it just hasn’t had enough funding. “It’s like saying your mortgage is not affordable when someone just took 50 percent of your disposable income away from you,” he said.
Nevertheless, Zukunft said there has been a sea change in attitudes on Capitol Hill. “I am very optimistic, with the markups we’ve seen so far … it may very well bring the largest acquisition budget for the Coast Guard in Coast Guard history. I’m pretty excited about that.” He declined to be specific on the plus-ups.
The service may also soon see an end to the funding conundrum that has prevented it from acquiring new polar icebreakers, he said.
When he entered the service, the Coast Guard, which is the only agency charged with maintaining icebreakers in the federal government, had seven such ships. It’s now down to two, one large 40-year-old ship the Polar Star, and a medium-sized ship, the Healy, which is used for scientific research.
“This is drawing a lot of attention. I have been working very close with the national security staff, both House and Senate, authorizers and appropriators,” he said.
There has been a three-fold increase in human activity in the Arctic in recent years. Sea lanes are opening as the ice retreats. Next year, a cruise ship company intends to traverse the sea from Alaska to Greenland with 1,000 passengers aboard. But very little of  the region has been charted, he said.
“What happens if one of those cruise ships were to find a pinnacle in 39 degree water temperature? We know what happened to the Titanic 103 years ago,” he said.

“When you look at an icebreaker, it’s a national asset. It’s not just a Coast Guard asset and it serves multiple stakeholders’ interests,” he said. The Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, Arctic Research Council and Department of Interior all require icebreakers, but have no obligation to fund them. “It’s not like passing the hat or passing the plate at church,” Zukunft said.

“How do you fund it? That is really the billion-dollar question right now,” he said, referring to current estimated prices to build one heavy icebreaker.
“This is generating a lot of interest and I’m very optimistic that on my watch we will see — no fooling — forward progress as we look at building a national fleet of icebreakers,” he said.

Photo: Adm. Paul Zukunft (Defense Dept.)


Re: Commandant Sees Bright Future for Coast Guard Acquisition Programs

  It would be nice if this meant bringing the number of NSC's to the original 16 proposed.
Steve Waldron at 8/6/2015 8:39 AM

Add Comment

Items on this list require content approval. Your submission will not appear in public views until approved by someone with proper rights. More information on content approval.

Name: *

eMail *

Comment *



Name: *

eMail *

Comment *


Please enter the text displayed in the image.
The picture contains 6 characters.

Characters *


Legal Notice *

NDIA is not responsible for screening, policing, editing, or monitoring your or another user's postings and encourages all of its users to use reasonable discretion and caution in evaluating or reviewing any posting. Moreover, and except as provided below with respect to NDIA's right and ability to delete or remove a posting (or any part thereof), NDIA does not endorse, oppose, or edit any opinion or information provided by you or another user and does not make any representation with respect to, nor does it endorse the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement, or other material displayed, uploaded, or distributed by you or any other user. Nevertheless, NDIA reserves the right to delete or take other action with respect to postings (or parts thereof) that NDIA believes in good faith violate this Legal Notice and/or are potentially harmful or unlawful. If you violate this Legal Notice, NDIA may, in its sole discretion, delete the unacceptable content from your posting, remove or delete the posting in its entirety, issue you a warning, and/or terminate your use of the NDIA site. Moreover, it is a policy of NDIA to take appropriate actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other applicable intellectual property laws. If you become aware of postings that violate these rules regarding acceptable behavior or content, you may contact NDIA at 703.522.1820.



Bookmark and Share