The Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget request calls for fully funding the next phases of the service’s two most significant cutter programs but leaves a third class on hold for the time being.
As part of the $12.3 billion FY 2021 proposal, the Coast Guard is requesting:
- $555 million to fully fund construction of a second Polar Security Cutter icebreaker. The Coast Guard awarded VT Halter Marine a $745 million contract to start the first PSC in 2019.
- $546 million to construct the third Offshore Patrol Cutter and to buy long-lead-time material for a fourth. The Coast Guard is in the process of recompeting the contract for this program, which is nearly a year behind schedule because of hurricane damage to the Florida yard contracted to build the first OPCs.
- $20 million to pay for post-delivery, technical support and government-furnished equipment on Fast Response Cutters.
The PSC and OPC programs are potentially worth billions. The Coast Guard wants to buy six polar ice breakers and has plans to buy up to 25 OPCs to replace its current fleet of 29 medium-endurance cutters, some of which were built during the Vietnam War.
However, by asking for money to only fund some post-delivery work on Fast Response Cutters, the Coast Guard’s budget request suggests the service isn’t planning to purchase any FRCs during FY 2021.
The Coast Guard plans to buy 58 Fast Response Cutters. Last March, Adm. Karl Schultz, the commandant of the Coast Guard, said the Fast Response Cutters were critical to the service’s operations while appearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on homeland security.
“The cutters are absolutely needed. We would love to continue the momentum toward the program of record of 58 fast response cutters, with the support of Congress,” Schultz said during his March testimony.
The Coast Guard is asking for $215 million to fund overseas operations. The Coast Guard regularly supports overseas Department of Defense operations by deploying law enforcement teams and conducting maritime counter-terrorism security operations on patrol vessels, such as the Fast Response Cutters.
As of this month, the service has received 37 FRCs, with six more being built.
Overall, the Coast Guard’s proposed $12.3 billion budget represents 16 percent of the entire $49.7 billion FY 2021 Department of Homeland Security budget request released Monday by Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security. During 2020, the department received $50.5 billion.
The Coast Guard’s funding request is about $77.3 million more than what the Coast Guard received for FY 2020.