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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Citing Critical Missions and International Tensions, House Committee Advances Coast Guard Authorization Act

For fiscal years 2022 and 2023, $300,000,000 would be authorized for the acquisition of a twelfth National Security Cutter and $210,000,000 for Fast Response Cutters.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed on Wednesday a Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022 that Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said would ensure the service has “the resources they need to accomplish their critical missions and protect our nation, including keeping coastal communities safe, maintaining the security of our ports and waterways, carrying out critically important drug interdictions, and responding to emergencies and disasters.”

“Given the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, we need to ensure our armed forces, including the Coast Guard, are prepared and have the assets they need to carry out their missions,” Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said after advancement of the bill. “The Coast Guard has national defense responsibilities, as well as port security and commercial vessel safety and security oversight missions which are of particular importance during this time of heightened international tension.”

H.R. 6865 states that for each of fiscal years 2022 and 2023, up to $585,000,000 would be authorized to fund the acquisition, construction, rebuilding, or improvement of Coast Guard shoreside infrastructure and facilities necessary to support Coast Guard operations and readiness.

For the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, $175,000,000 would be authorized to improve facilities including improvements to piers and wharves, dry dock, capital equipment utilities, or dredging necessary to facilitate access.

The United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May, New Jersey, would get $60,000,000 for recapitalization of the barracks.

For fiscal years 2022 and 2023, $300,000,000 would be authorized for the acquisition of a twelfth National Security Cutter and $210,000,000 for the acquisition of three Fast Response Cutters.

For fiscal year 2022, $350,000,000 would be authorized for the acquisition of a Great Lakes icebreaker “at least as capable as Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw.”

For fiscal year 2023, $20,000,000 would be allotted for “the design and selection of  icebreaking cutters for operation in the Great Lakes, the Northeastern United States, and the Arctic, as appropriate, that are at least as capable as the Coast Guard 140-foot icebreaking tugs.”

The bill also addresses the Coast Guard’s efforts to increase opportunities for women and underserved minorities, directing that no later than 180 days after the enactment of the bill the commandant should “determine which recommendations in the RAND representation report can practicably be implemented to promote improved representation in the Coast Guard” and submit to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee a report on “the actions the Commandant has taken, or plans to take, to implement such recommendations.”

No later than two years after enactment, the bill requires the commandant to “conduct a pilot project to enhance cutter readiness and reduce lost patrol days through the deployment of commercially developed condition-based program standards for cutter maintenance.”

The bill directs USCG to “select at least one legacy cutter asset and one class of cutters under construction with respect to which the application of the pilot project would enhance readiness; use commercially developed condition-based program standards similar to those applicable to privately owned and operated vessels or vessels owned or operated by other Federal agencies (such as those currently operating under the direction of Military Sealift Command); create and model a full ship digital twin for the cutters selected [and] install or modify instrumentation capable of producing full hull, mechanical, and electrical data necessary to analyze cutter operational conditions with active maintenance alerts; and deploy artificial intelligence, prognostic based integrated maintenance planning.”

The commandant would submit to House and Senate committees an interim report within six months detailing progress in carrying out the pilot project, with a final report due within two years on the results of the project, including “options to integrate commercially developed condition-based program standards for cutter maintenance to Coast Guard cutters; and plans to deploy commercially developed condition-based program standards for cutter maintenance to Coast Guard cutters.”

The legislation also presses for progress in the area of unmanned system, requiring within six months “a detailed description of the strategy of the Coast Guard to implement  unmanned systems across mission areas, including the steps taken to implement actions recommended in the consensus study report of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published on November 12, 2020, titled ‘‘Leveraging Unmanned Systems for Coast Guard Missions: A Strategic Imperative’; the strategic goals and acquisition strategies for proposed uses and procurements of unmanned systems; a strategy to sustain competition and innovation for procurement of unmanned systems and services for the Coast Guard, including defining opportunities for new and existing technologies; and an estimate of the timeline, costs, staff resources, technology, or other resources necessary to accomplish the strategy.”

“The Commandant of the Coast Guard, acting through the Blue Technology Center of Expertise, shall conduct a pilot project to retrofit an existing Coast Guard small boat with commercially available autonomous control and computer vision technology; and such sensors and methods of communication as are necessary to demonstrate the ability of such control and technology to assist in conducting search and rescue, surveillance, and interdiction missions,” the bill continues.

The legislation also asks for a report to committees within six months giving an overview of maritime domain awareness around San Diego, including a description of current USCG partnerships in the area as well as “any gaps in maritime domain awareness within the area of responsibility of such sector resulting from an inability to meet the enduring maritime domain awareness requirements of the sector or adequately respond to maritime disorder,” along with “an identification of current technology and assets the Coast Guard has to mitigate the gaps.”

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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