The Coast Guard’s proposed budget request for fiscal year 2024 offers a solid increase to the service’s operations and support (O&S) account, which has been a point of emphasis, while spending on acquisition would fall.

The budget proposal for O&S is $10.2 billion, 5 percent more than the $9.7 billion Congress enacted in FY ’23 and 12 percent above the $9.2 billion appropriated in FY ’22.

After pushing its acquisition agenda as the top priority for a decade or more, the Coast Guard the past few years has lobbied for annual increases of between 3 and 5 percent to its O&S account to better keep up with operating needs and buy down a backlog in infrastructure projects. The service is seeking $1.6 billion in acquisition funding in FY ’24, 7 percent below the $1.7 billion Congress funded in FY ’23.

“The condition of our shore infrastructure challenges both readiness and resilience,” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan said last week in the annual State of the Coast Guard address. “Investment in new construction and strong funding for maintenance will secure the shore facilities we need to complete our missions at sea and in the air.”

Within the O&S request, funding for military personnel accounts for the largest portion and is proposed at $5.4 billion, up 6 percent versus FY ’23. Field operations makes up the next largest chunk and the budget recommendation here is $4.4 billion, up 5 percent. Spending on mission support would increase 2 percent to $432.9 million.

The request for acquisition funding in FY ’24 is $1.6 billion, down 7 percent from $1.7 billion appropriated in FY ’23. At one point, the Coast Guard consistently said it needs at least $2 billion in annual procurement funding to maintain the pace of its modernization efforts but the service hasn’t seen those funding levels often.

The Coast Guard is seeking $579 million for its offshore patrol cutter (OPC) program, which would fund construction of the sixth medium-endurance cutter and long-lead material purchases for the seventh ship. Eastern Shipbuilding Group is building the first four OPCs, the first of which is expected in the water later this year, and Austal is under contract for ships five through 15, although Eastern has protested that award.

The request for the polar security cutter (PSC), the Coast Guard’s new heavy polar icebreaker program, is $170 million, which would be used for long-lead materials and government furnished equipment on the third of three planned vessels. Bollinger Shipbuilding is the PSC contractor.

Overall, in FY ’24 the Coast Guard’s request is $13.9 billion, up 3 percent from $13.5 billion in FY ’22.

Fagan said she is “encouraged” by the funding the administration and Congress continue to give the service.

“I am confident that our trajectory of enhanced mission excellence can be matched by a similar trajectory of consistent, 3 to 5 percent annual budget growth,” she said. “This means that by 2033, the United States Coast Guard would be a $20 billion a year organization.”