Coast Guard Information Technology, Sensor Needs Go Unfilled

By Stew Magnuson
The Coast Guard is operating ships with obsolete command, control, computer and communications systems, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general said. 

The budget crunch is causing the Coast Guard to scrap some shipboard and aircraft information technology and sensor upgrades, the IG said in a report: “U.S. Coast Guard Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Modernization.”

Some of its older, legacy ships are relying on obsolete technology, which is having an impact on mission performance, the report said.

“Significant budget reductions” are forcing the service to delay upgrades, the report said.
“Revised plans do not fully address how the Coast Guard will meet the critical technology needs of these aircraft and legacy ships,” the report said. This makes missions more costly, it added.

The service is in the middle of a 25-year plan to modernize its ships. Among them is the national security cutter fleet. There will be eight of those, with four currently sailing.

The offshore patrol cutter is still under development, and will replace the workhorse 210-foot and 270-foot medium endurance cutters, but the first of the 25-ship fleet is not expected to be delivered until 2021. The service will have to rely on its legacy ships with their outdated information technology systems for years to come as that fleet is built out, the report noted.

The IG said there is no plan in place to give this mix of old and new ships and aircraft a common system baseline in which they could all operate.

“The Coast Guard … did not have plans in place to migrate to a common system baseline for the ships and aircraft included in the modernization project, or to ensure effective support for multiple systems,” the report said.

“As a result, the Coast Guard may experience higher lifecycle costs and reduced mission effectiveness in the future,” it continued.

The inspector general recommended that the Coast Guard implement a plan to provide the older ships with the systems needed to carry out their missions as replacements are being built. It also needs a strategy to manage multiple technologies across legacy and new platforms, the IG said.
The Coast Guard concurred with its findings.

Topics: C4ISR, Tactical Communications, Procurement, Acquisition Reform

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