“In Deepwater”

About a year ago, Mr. Charles Dragonette, Senior Analyst at the ONI’s Civil Maritime Analysis Department, in publicly criticizing an assertion by the FBI Director that “There have been any number of attacks on ships that have been thwarted”, stated that: “I would like to ask for any examples, let alone ‘any number of them’. Uncritical acceptance and repetition of security scare tactics serve no useful purpose. No one in industry will be served in their legitimate security concerns by such assertions … It appears the game is to make industry so scared that it will put up with anything in the way of interference and more regulation … Activism at all levels of government needs to be tempered …”

Mr. Dragonette’s issued his criticism shortly after the U.S. sought voluntary disclosure of all information about ships that may be anywhere within 2,000 nautical miles of our coastlines. The UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, however, states that territorial waters can extend only up to 12 nautical miles, while an exclusive economic zone can extend up to 200 nautical miles.

Most countries have registered disapproval of the U.S. proposal, and India, China, Iran and Russia were among those in opposition at last year’s Maritime Safety Committee meeting of the International Maritime Organization in London. But the U.S. continued to push ahead … by throwing more taxpayers’ money around. The Coast Guard’s Deepwater Program is a typical example of the “activism” that has annoyed Mr. Dragonette.

It annoyed Elijah E. Cummings, the House Subcommittee Chairman on Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation, too. “The Deepwater procurement process has had significant and highly publicized problems,” he said, “including a failed effort to rehabilitate and modernize eight 110-foot legacy cutters and problems with the design of the Fast Response Cutter that required the design process to be halted …

The Coast Guard’s Integrated Deepwater System had originally planned to convert 49 of the service’s 110-foot cutters, but because the cutters lacked adequate capabilities to meet performance requirements, the conversion process was discontinued at eight hulls.

“The DHS IG’s report would suggest,” said Chairman Cummings, “that the Coast Guard and its contractors have knowingly and willfully spent close to $ 1 billion – a figure that is likely to rise – to build a flawed ship and that, as a result of this decision, the U.S. taxpayer is likely to now have to pay for repairs on brand new vessels – which may nonetheless still not serve their full anticipated service life.”

Chairman James L. Oberstar was quite blunt when he stated: “I will never understand why the Coast Guard chose to give the contractor full technical authority over all Deepwater design and construction decisions … The Coast Guard let the fox guard the chicken coop”, he said.

[Taxpayers will pay the $ 24 billion tab for this Deepwater Modernization fiasco, by the way.]