A House appropriations panel’s decision to fund procurement of four of the Coast Guard’s new Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) in fiscal 2013 would avoid having to shift two of the ships from this year to next, the service’s top acquisition official for ships said yesterday.

Rear Adm. Bruce Baffer, the Coast Guard’s program executive officer for ships, said if the legislation submitted by the House Appropriation Committee subpanel for the Department of Homeland Security is ultimately approved, the service will meet the minimum of vessels required to be purchased annually under the contract with Bollinger Shipyards.

The Coast Guard had proposed only two of the Sentinel-class FRCs for 2013 and would and have delayed contracting two of the planned six ships for this year until next to fill the gap, Baffer said. The plus-up would avoid having to take that step, he said.

Baffer said the Coast Guard plans to issue the contract for fiscal 2012 this summer. Baffer spoke to reporters during a media excursion on the Potomac River aboard the first ship of the Sentinel-class, the Bernard C. Webber, which was commissioned in April and is homeported in Miami.

Building four in 2013 would also help keep Bollinger’s production line at its Louisiana facility running efficiently, he said.

So far, the Coast Guard has 12 Sentinel-class FRC’s under contract and can extend the number to 34 under the agreement with Bollinger that is potentially worth up to $1.5 billion. The Coast Guard, which holds the data rights for the class, plans to re-compete with the contract for the remaining 24 in 2015, Baffer said.