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The Coast Guard Keeps Trying To Build Ships Before Finding Out If They Work, Watchdog Says

The Coast Guard continues to build new ships long before the required technology and design parameters have been finalized, costing delays in construction due to ship rework, the watchdog said recently. warned in the report.

The service will retire parts of its aging fleet and add three new icebreakers, known as Polar Security Cutters (PSC), and an Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), which is essential to the Coast Guard’s day-to-day national security mission. ) plans to commission 25 ships. Years ago, the General Accounting Office (GAO) warned of undesirable consequences if the Coast Guard did not meet the basic design requirements of both programs, but as of 2023, both the PSC and OPC programs will not meet initial costs. It exceeds estimates by billions of dollars and may not be completed by 2023. When our ancestors grow old, according to for congressional testimony in July.

“However, the Coast Guard continues to face increased costs and schedule delays on some new acquisitions due to a lack of access to the right knowledge at the right time,” GAO said in a statement. . (Related article: “Real threat”: China significantly leads in shipbuilding potential, US Navy Intel leaked information)

For example, the GAO recommended that the Coast Guard finish designing davits, cranes attached to offshore cutters that raise and lower boats, and test them in realistic environments before construction begins in 2020, the report said. Says. report. As of June 2023, Davit is yet to be proven as the service is building his fourth OPC.

Other systems, such as central heating and cooling, were similarly deficient, according to the report.

The Coast Guard began construction of the cutter when the functional design was 97% complete. “While the difference may seem negligible, this design instability led to construction rework and contributed to a 19% increase in the estimated cost of the lead ship,” GAO wrote. ing.

Estimated costs jumped from $12.5 billion to $17.6 billion, according to GAO.

For icebreakers, the Coast Guard presumed there was no need to test certain technologies because they have been successfully employed on other vessels. according to to Gao. The project is now three years behind schedule and $3.5 billion over budget, with construction of the lead ship not beginning until at least March 2024.

Coast Guard officials said there were several challenges in multiple design revisions, including the need to incorporate steel thick enough to slip through thick ice sheets, and a unique and unusually blunt hull design. . Building a hull at least twice as thick as a normal ship also translates into longer production times.

A mathematical error on this side also contributed to the delay, according to the report. At this pace of design completion, it would take him eight years to come up with a viable plan.

The United States now operates the icebreaker Polar Star, which has been patrolling the Arctic for about half a century, according to the GAO. The Coast Guard has invested $75 million to extend its life beyond its scheduled 2023 deadline.

The Department of Homeland Security “remains committed to procuring the icebreaking capabilities needed by the Coast Guard to represent U.S. interests in the polar regions cost-effectively and efficiently,” it said in response to the GAO’s findings. .

The Coast Guard did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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