SAN DIEGO — A top Coast Guard official said the service is trying to balance and coordinate depot availabilities with Navy ships at private shipyards as the Navy has started using more private shipyards for maintenance work.

Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, Assistant Commandant of the Coast Guard for Engineering and Logistics, said this issue holds for both aviation and surface forces, but the Coast Guard is struggling on getting ship repair work done, for example.

RDML Nathan A. Moore, Assistant Commandant of the Coast Guard for Engineering and Logistics. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

“We have one organic shipyard out of Baltimore which is not nearly big enough – it doesn’t do anything out here for us in the Pacific, obviously. So as the Navy has pushed out into the commercial shipyard industry now in the last couple of years, they really have sort of blocked out the sun in terms of our availability of using those commercial yards that we relied on,” Moore said here March 3 at the 2020 annual AFCEA West conference.

Moore explained ship repair companies are getting asked to do $40 billion LHA amphibious assault ship dry dock maintenance work and then the Coast Guard does not see any responses when it says “how about our little Coast Guard ship for $2 million?”

The service is seeing “almost no responses today to a lot of our drydock and dockside repair packages, which means we pay for the ones that do respond. So I think we just need more coordination on that,” Moore continued.

He noted this “is not a new revelation or anything,” with the two services working on it already to some extent.

Moore said the Coast Guard is trying to get the Navy’s maintenance schedule so “the Coast Guard will be filler work between the Navy projects. That’s how we do it and the yards love that.”

That means instead of the Coast Guard asking shipyards to do their work during a specific six-week period, it can ask the “Navy, what six weeks do you have available between big Navy projects that we can use. So we’re getting there,” Moore argued.

“We make all the shipbuilders sign a noncompetitive clause that says they couldn’t negotiate, we’re sorry about that. We’ll work on that,” Vice Adm Thomas Moore, Commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), joked while speaking at the same panel discussion.

More seriously, the NAVSEA leader responded they should “sit down and talk about it because I think stable, predictable work in the ports is what gets us the performance level that we want. It gets the industry to grow capacity.”

He added, “So there’s an opportunity for us to marry our maintenance programs up–I’m all ears–so let’s have that conversation.”