Budget Request Eliminates Last Two National Security Cutters In Budget Plan

  Budget Request Eliminates Last Two National Security Cutters In Budget Plan

Despite a stated mission need for eight new high-endurance cutters, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) FY ’13 budget request excludes funding for the final two National Security Cutters (NSC).

The funding request sent to Congress on Monday includes $658 million for the sixth Legend-class NSC but a budget chart shows that the Coast Guard program would end after that ship is delivered.Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] builds the NSCs and Lockheed Martin [LMT] outfits them with the C4ISR package.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday that the reason for proposing a pause in the NSC program is due to budget constraints as well as examining how it fits with the Navy’s plans.

“We will look at [NSC’s] seven and eight in light of what the Navy is doing,” Napolitano told the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee during a hearing to examine her department’s budget request. “So we need to look at what the DoD is doing with respect to their own force lay down to see what we need to be putting in the acquisition pipeline.”

Napolitano said that DHS will still be part of the “mix” in the maritime domains of the Caribbean Sea and South America “but rather than just look at the NSCs in isolation from everything, and I think this is actually a better way to do about it, we’re really going to be working with the Department of Defense so they the have their revised lay down, we’ll put our next to it and where we are.”

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he is concerned about proposed cuts in Coast Guard patrol boat hours as well as planned decreases in the service’s personnel. He also pointed out to Napolitano that the there is an established Mission Needs Statement and Program of Record for the NSC calling for at least eight ships.

The Program of Record was developed in 2004 and needs to be updated “in light of” the current budget environment, Napolitano said.

“We need to make sure that our resources are correlated, particularly with what the Navy is going to do moving forward after that,” she said.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) said the DHS budget request fails in several areas, including modernizing the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection assets, defenses against agricultural and biological threats and the need for more illegal alien detention capacity at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In a separate DHS budget hearing later yesterday, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the ranking member, both expressed concerns around Coast Guard modernization in the funding request. King pointed to the proposed reduction of 1,000 Coast Guard personnel, the decommissioning of units and decreased patrol hours. Thompson said he worries that ongoing modernization efforts won’t keep pace with the planned decommissioning of certain Coast Guard assets.

Napolitano told the appropriators that in part the service can afford fewer personnel because newer vessels require less manpower to operate.

The Coast Guard’s acquisition-related budget request is $1.2 billion, $271.7 million less than the amount enacted in FY ’12. While the request for vessels was boosted significantly, by $237.5 million, almost that much is proposed to be cut from aircraft while shore needs, aids to navigation, and the Rescue 21 distress communications program bear the brunt of the rest of the reduction. The Rescue 21 program, which is performed by General Dynamics [GD], would have its funding eliminated beginning in FY ’13.

As for the aircraft account, the HC-144A Maritime Patrol Aircraft program would see a significant cut in FY ’13 to $43 million with just one aircraft produced before jumping up to $220 million in FY ’14. The five-year capital investment plan (CIP) for the Coast Guard shows the HC-144 also receiving $220 million annually through FY ’17. The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. builds the HC-144.

The HC-130H and HC-130J Long-Range Surveillance Aircraft programs are also bill payers in FY ’13, with no funds requested versus a $62 million appropriation in FY ’12. However, according to the CIP, funding would return in FY ’14 at $200 million, followed by $180 million in FY ’15 and then $90 million in both FY ’16 and FY ’17. Lockheed Martin is the HC-130 manufacturer.

Also during the Appropriations hearing, Rogers told Napolitano not to expect Congress to approve a hike in aviation security passenger fees. DHS is counting on the additional fees to pay for some of the aviation security screening equipment it buys.